I have to admit it’s neat that they’re using spent grains for cereal. The marketing is a little cheesy but what’re you gonna do?
Fortunately, you can have jam with that.
On the hottest day of the trip, I visited the Kohola brewery. This felt more like Portland: the brewery was located in a warehouse and behind some other buildings, so we had to go down an alleyway to get there. The serving area was blocked off by mobile guardrails and I could see the brewing equipment easily, with tubes running from the outside where the grain was stored, to the milling machines.
It was the classic ‘up and comer’ look.
I started with the Pilsner and it was a classic pilsner: little spicy, very clean finish. Can’t ask for better than that. It’s a great hot day drink.
Just to mix things up, I went for the Mean Bean Coffee stout next. With a chocolate covered espresso beans nose, this leans into the coffee bean addition nicely. But I’m glad I had a short pour of it, because coffee notes just don’t quite mesh with hot days like this, at least for me. It’s a fine ale, even holding its flavor as it warms, and finishes remarkably clean for the style. It just belongs to night time.
Last, I got the Red Sand Amber: this is a pretty damn solid Amber that has some coffee flavors on the early back end. There’s a prominent malt sweetness though that is really working for me and the color is great. As the beer warms up, a hit of brown sugar appears and I totally dig it.
I didn’t intend to start my trip to Maui by breaking my ankle but…well, it rains on the just and the unjust, right?
So, in an attempt to make my trip more bearable, my family was kindly willing to indulge me with trips to the two breweries I was able to find on the island. I enjoyed my stops there and picked up a couple beers from each place to talk about, so here we go!
The first stop was at Maui Brewing and Maui has an upper scale brewpub feel; there’s a full kitchen, a separate bar area where tours of the brewery kick off from, and because it’s Hawaii, damn near everything is open-air in it’s design. Birds flew in and out of the building as we ate lunch. I enjoyed the Double Overhead IPA but didn’t take any notes. On the way out, I purchased a couple things for later and here’s what we got:
Maui Brewing Star Maps Kolsch (collab with Smog City). Kolsch brewed with star fruit.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had star fruit but it’s tart. What that does to a Kolsch is obliterate the milder flavors of the beer by the tartness of the fruit. The combination means that the beer is easy to drink on hot days, but doesn’t pair well with others because the finish isn’t clean anymore.
I don’t dislike this beer, though I will confess it took me a minute to get used to. However, I’d recommended it for hot days only and the Star Maps might be worth tasting before hand, because star fruit has such a distinct flavor to it. It’s not for everyone.
The Pueo pale ale mines much more familiar territory. The nose has honeydew and citrus qualities, with a melon element on the finish, too. The citrus qualities turn to the bitterness I’d expect, which may be a little stronger than your average pale ale but within reason I think.
This is, I think, a local pale: meant to reflect what people might want in the warm, steadily humid environment of Hawaii. It’s a thirst quencher for sure.
Ok, so this is cool:
The front of the bottle is scratch-off, and the back of the bottle also has a scratch-off strip that gives you more information about the skull. The brewers were inspired by archaeological digs near Burgos, their home base.
As far as packaging goes, Cerveza Dolina has won me over.
Now, the taste? It’s definitely tending more German than most Spanish beers, which (if you’re getting the commercial stuff) tends to be more like Budweiser. (As an aside, I have to say…if you go to a halfway decent-looking bar and ask for a beer, you’re probably going to get something that is of good quality and taste, even if it’s been mass produced. But I digress.)
Even though the label says pilsen, this isn’t a pilsner–it’s really more in the kölsch line. (Heck, their own Web page for this beer is titled Kölsch.) The colour is a lovely darker gold, there’s carbonation–but not a lot–, and the taste is softly bitter and spicy and earthy. I say softly because nothing really lingers with this beer, but with this style, you’d not want it to. I just wish I had warmer weather to better appreciate its virtues.
Now: can we all go back and appreciate that label again? Because that’s a really neat label.
I went back to Más que cervezas, and mined the Spanish section, where I found this beauty.
And I do mean beauty.
The Brother Shamus from Bidassoa Basque Brewery is a brut IPA, the new style with illusions of champagne.
Most of what I’ve had in this style has met some of the profile of champagne–the dryness, the bubbles–, but the end product doesn’t satisfy, because the brewers have gone too far and the beer ends up overly biting and disagreeable. I wish there were a stronger brut IPA movement, to counteract the hazing of all our IPAs (please stop hazing all our IPAs), but I’ve largely been disappointed with what I’ve had.
The Brother Shamus is nothing like any of the brut IPAs I’ve had before. They’ve managed to pull the beer back from the brink, and retain some sweetness. While there’s definitely a drying note at the last, the front end is floral, citrusy (specifically, lemony), and tropical. It’s even a bit syrupy…almost as if they made the beer extra sweet to anticipate the consumption of sugars that happens to make a regular IPA a brut IPA.
Whatever they did, I’m a fan.
I’m currently in Madrid, and as I was wandering around, I came across a lovely store called Más Que Cervezas (More Than Beers) disturbingly close to my apartment. While there, the clerks and I joked about Belgian beers invading the Canada section on their shelves, one of them tried to sell me on the beer from his hometown, so I picked up two beers to try: one Belgian and one local to Madrid.
La Gata Orgullosa by Cerveza Madriz has an…aggressive pour.
It was described to me in the store as a blonde ale, which I’m willing to buy…but a dark blond.
I wish I could find more information out about this particular beer, but I’ll have to make do with what I have…eyes, nose, and taste buds. Eyes you’ve already heard about. Nose: it is beer. I wish i could be more specific than that. It smells like beer with a slight caramel overlay.
Taste: It’s not unpleasant. It tastes a little bit like homebrew. And I’m not saying that to slight homebrew. But there’s sometimes where you’re having homebrew, and you think, “This isn’t bad, but a bit more polish and practice and this could be really tasty.” Well, this is like that. The front end is competently beery, if perhaps a bit watery and the back end drags some grains across my palate. If both parts were smoother, I’d be a happy camper. As it is, it’s not terrible, but I’d not reach for another if I had a choice.
It’s my second to last day in Panama. “Whatcha doin’ there?” My Dad asks as I reach for some beer at the store.
“Taking advantage of an opportunity that won’t come again,” I replied. He nodded, and this is what I got off the shelf-I present; Common Ales, Panama Edition!
Flensburger Gold-for a beer that includes hop extract as part of its ingredients list, this is pretty drinkable. I’ll admit, that last statement is a little snobby. I wouldn’t expect a professionally made beer to use such ingredients but here we are. It’s as little sweet-there’s enough of a hint of hops in the nose (pine oriented) and just enough bitterness on the finish for this beer to stay in the ‘easy drinking’ zone. You know the one; where you find yourself drinking half a sixpack or more on a warm autumn evening. But the malt backbone of the beer holds it together nicely.
The Presidente appears to be from the Dominican Republic and it has the nose of a Pilsner; a little yeast funky, definitely old school, pre-craft beer revolution. As the head of the beer subsides, a little more malt comes up but as with most American-light lager styles, it’s just not enough to give the beer any body to speak of. I say that with the acknowledgement that if I was experiencing Panama in a warmer season, I’d probably be sucking these down like they were going out of style. As it is, I have the luxury of going back home to Portland and getting some much tastier pilsners.