Tag Archives: common ale

Common Ales: Modern Times Lomaland

With Modern Times moving into the Portland market, now is an opportune moment for me to talk about their beer again. Previously I only found their stuff in Washington and I liked it a bunch, so I’m excited to give a different style a review.

The nose is funkalicious. Straw and dirt and outdoors.

The rest is also quite accomplished. The can says ‘rustic’ on it and that’s not a bad inclusion from the marketing folks.

33894410526_24af5d4d36_zVisually, it’s WHOA clear. I’d mistake it for a pilsner just by looking at it. Well done, there.

The beer itself is pleasantly chewy; there’s some sweetness in the middle but it isn’t overwhelming at all. It’s grainy, this mouthfeel: there’s a little weight to this saison that provides some nice body to it. The finish is dry and a little spicy, like pepper maybe?

I like it. I like it a bunch: it’s easy drinking despite having so many flavors going on and has a lot of “let’s drink this in the shade when it’s hot” vibe.

If there’s a drawback, I don’t see this pairing with a lot of food. Maybe a bread, cheese, and olive picnic? It’s just fine on its own, though.

Common Ales: Bridgeport Tiny Horse Pils

33459339115_76066ba34a_cRecently, there was an article in the Willamette Week about how Bridgeport Brewing has been negatively impacted by current craft beer trends. I’d certainly hate to see them fall by the wayside, so when I saw some beers that were new to me at the store, I thought: “Well, let’s see what Bridgeport is doing.”

Lager funk nose is dead on there. The beer itself is very light, very clean, and finishes with just a hint of hop bitterness. There is a smidgen of sweetness that rides in the middle, subtle enough that I don’t notice it at first but I like the effect.

The ABV is contributing to the quality, I think: 5.6% isn’t too high but it is definitely enough to give this Tiny Horse a bit of power. It doesn’t feel like drinking water and I like that.

It’s good, is what I’m saying. If you’re the kind of beer drinker that figures there are two kinds of beer: yellow and brown and you like the yellow stuff, then this is absolutely for you.

If you’re just someone who wants a good beer with pub food of any stripe: this beer is also for you.

Or, maybe you’re someone who feels like having a decent pilsner. Then I’d say give this a go, too.

If Bridgeport goes down making beers like this, Portland will be worse for it. But if they go down making beers like this, then they will be going down swinging.


Common Ales: Melvin Killer Bees

I’ve liked other beers I’ve had from Melvin and I have finally seen one at a Fred Meyer so I thought this would be a great time to check it out. Here is: Melvin’s Killer Bees American Blonde Ale.

I am confused by this beer. The nose has just a nuzzle of that lager funk but not enough to distinguish it as a proper l33264535952_9ff7582748_cager. It also goes flat in the nose rather quickly, leaving behind a scent that almost reminds me of the beach, with that hint of salt to it.
The flavor profile tilts Kolsch, with that bready push in the midrange. It’s hidden behind a sweetness in front and a bitterness that creeps around the back of my tongue, however.

I honestly don’t know what to make of all that.

So let’s look up the style. 18A, Blonde Ale under American Ales (there is an American Pale and that is where American styles seem to end), suggests that yes, some bread notes are acceptable, the hop flavor should be kept low, a sweeter beer.

On further tastes, I have to admit the got the medium-dry finish right. This does want to encourage further drinking, in that regard. But I think the addition of honey-a substance that completely ferments out leaving no sweetness behind- may have pushed this beer in the wrong direction. I’m not certain, mind you, that whatever the honey may be adding to this beer did that, but it’s my best guess, given the other beers I’ve had from Melvin were well made.

Not for me; might be worth checking out for someone else though.

Common Ales: Ninkasi Dino Ales

When I was small, I loved dinosaurs. I was ahead of the curve on that one-most kids I  knew were not into dinosaurs; it wouldn’t really be until the 1980s that they became cool. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that my love of dinosaurs translated, at least a little bit, to a love of any kind of monster, especially giant ones.

So when I saw that Ninkasi had two beers with dinosaur themed names, I thought; if this isn’t a perfect excuse to compare them, then what am I doing with my life?

The Tricerahops Double IPA first. This beer has been around for a bit- I think it might even be part of their regular lineup, but there’s never a bad time to revisit a Ninkasi beer. The label says ‘earthy hops’ and that’s not an inaccurate description. Like wet forest. There isn’t much malt to sweeten it up though; they’ve gone in on a dry finish which accentuates the bitter send off. It’s pretty straightforward beer, when all is said and done. I don’t know if it’s a flaw in my pour or not but I wish I was getting more nose off the Tricerahops because the ending is coming on very strong and there isn’t much to prepare my mouth for it.

31828736314_f44128b458_cNext is the Velocihoptor Double IPA. The nose has a nice grassy note to it but there’s as lot more malt to the flavor. The finishing bitterness isn’t as strong but leans more into a citrus family tree. As the beer develops an  orange peel flavor comes out a little more but it still isn’t overwhelming. I think I like this beer over the other: the sweetness is fuller, with a little roasted quality helps make this beer more drinkable and balanced.

Common Ales: 21st Amendment Sneak Attack

21st Amendmend SaisonIt’s odd to see a saison in the winter-which, according to the marketing from 21st Amendment, is entirely the point. It certainly is a change of pace from all the stouts that tend to fill the shelves during winter, so I went for it.

Earthly and peppery in the nose. I don’t often reach for the word “peppery” because I often associate it with something spicy, or olfactorally reactionary.

But for a saison, it’s pretty appropriate. Citrus could exist in the style but I’m glad 21st Amendment went for the more farmhousey, earthy version. It finishes quite dry and very crisp, approximating a nice white wine.

It’s also a welcome relief from all of the dark ales that have shown up this winter. Don’t get me wrong: I love dark ales and this time of year is when many exceptional beers appear, as I said. But contrast matters and I don’t know that I could ask for a better one than this. Recommended.

Common Ales: Pyramid 1977 Lager

31712396156_b307df47e2_cBecause I live in Portland and not enough time has passed for the Timbers’ soccer championship to become a nostalgic memory, (I can’t wait until we look back on 2015 with rose colored glasses-though I doubt it will take long…) the Trailblazer’s basketball championship is something that…just kind exists in the air around here. All the time. And so we have: Pyramid’s 1977 lager, celebrating the time when the Portland Trail Blazers did good.

Thing is, this is precisely the kind of beer that non-craft beer people would purchase. Which means it’s exactly the kind of beer I want to review and talk about.

It smells like beer used to smell in the 70’s, alright: sour and skunky and not just a little off putting. But the beer itself is sweet and has a reasonable weight on my tongue. It finishes pretty clean and would probably serve well as a compliment to any hot dog, whiskey, or summer day. I don’t know that I’d drink a lot of it but I’d eagerly drink one if offered to me.

So Let’s Talk About This For A Day

Let me begin with a picture of this ad from the local weekly:
So, that’s a thing. It’s a couple months old-what can I say, it took me a little while to get around to it, because Rainier isn’t high on my “to drink” list.

Regardless of how timely I am, the fact of the matter is that Rainier won an award for best beer in its style. Which is relevant because when many beer aficionados talk about how terrible American macro lagers are, what most of them neglect to mention, likely because they don’t know, is that those beers are exactly what they are supposed to be. Complaining that they are flavorless, near water beers is like complaining about a knife that cuts things.

We have to judge the beer on its merit, within the goal(s) of the brewer and that’s not an easy thing to do. We all want what we want, so taking that next step to say, “Nevermind what I want, what is this supposed to be” isn’t easy.

Thing is, Rainier is high on someone’s “to drink” list. And I am in the field to talk about beers people drink, in addition to the stuff I drink and make. So when I found Rainier on draft at the Slow Bar, I started my evening with a pint.

28084765755_d91ba9057d_zThe nose is low on the lager funk.
This is a very bright, clean beer. The effervescence pops long after the beer is gone, leaving a sparkly feeling on my tongue.
Somewhere in there is a nice bready flavor sneaking up before the finish. Giving the beer just a pixie dust of depth. It’s not just water and bitterness.

Do I want another? No. I’d prefer a little more hop and malt to draw from. But is this a bad beer? Would I refuse it? Not at all. For the style it is, it’s a quality product.