Tag Archives: common ales

Common Ales: MacTarnahan’s Amber

MacTarnahan's AmberWhen was the last time you had a MacTarnahan’s tho’?

I picked this up because it’s the equivalent of comfort food. MacTarnanhan’s has been a staple in Portland since I moved here 20 years ago. But also: it’s what people see in a store, and it’s been awhile since I dove into one.

The nose emphasizes the malt-it’s not quite bread but I certainly recognize it as a cousin to bread. The beer is on the sweeter side, with a little caramel malt in the middle to give it something. It feels thin though, even for a 5% beer. I’m not sure why that’s the case however it’s really the only detriment.

There’s a pleasant (but not overpowering by any means) hop bite on the finish to keep the caramel from running away with it all, and the effervescence does a decent job of cleaning everything away.

Unfortunately, the mouthfeel just irks me. I wouldn’t refuse one! But I don’t know that I’d seek it out.

Common Ales: Sierra Nevada Resilience

Sierra Nevada ResilienceI bought this beer for a couple different reasons, not the least of which was for research. This year is the year that I make IPAs as my style of choice and try to build a beer I enjoy.

I love the nose on this; faintly weedy, skunky, a little pine, it evokes almost exactly what I’m hoping for from IPAs.

What really is nice is the balance; there is a soft but still palatable malt sweetness there that helps pave the way for the bitterness on the finish. The bitterness doesn’t slouch away either; this isn’t a juicebox IPA. This is 90’s era IPA, just before they started over hopping everything to hell in styles that didn’t want or need it.
But when an IPA really was a standout from the pack and a lot of forest notes were being brought into the spotlight.
And while I certainly don’t want to be a cranky, ‘back in my day’ human, I do appreciate this beer for standing out from the current trends of sweet grapefruit ales. More please.

Common Ales: Terminal Gravity Festivale

Terminal Gravity FestivaleTerminal Gravity’s Festivale is a strong winter ale. It has a sweet nose that fades rapidly so I can’t get as much as I would like off of it. There’s a little woody quality there, too, again difficult to detect because the scents seem to evaporate so quickly.

This beer is problematic for me. The body of it has a sweet, roasted quality along with a bit of maple. The issue is the finish, which is startlingly bitter. It clashes hard with the beer and makes me think of that period of time in Portland where everyone was over hopping their ales, trying to shove that bitterness into styles that did not want them.

And that’s where that orange bitterness rolls up; it’s not horrible but it really isn’t going well with the rest of the beer. A rare miss from Terminal Gravity.

Common Ales: Full Sail Atomizer

Full Sail Atomizer IPA“Sci-fi suds for a wi-fi world” reads the label. So I think it’s fair to say that we know going in that there’s some self-hype nonsense going on, with more wording that promises ‘ultrasonic infused’ hops.

I don’t know where the ‘atomizer’ part comes in. I know there’s a marijuana reference in there but as far as I’m concerned, all it means is that they played Black Sabbath loudly at the wort. (As if there was any OTHER way to play Black Sabbath).

Fine, though; let’s get to the beer, right? That’s what matters.

The nose is really intense; pine, little bit of citrus. Definitely smells like opening a bag of Chinook hops: really green and intense. The first impressions are strong and positive.

There’s a big push of sweetness in the flavor. The Atomizer is lemony and bright but not cloying at all.

It’s a pretty good beer. I’d have another.

Common Ales: Ale Smith Nut Brown

Ale Smith Nut Brown aleLook at this: what a lovely shade of brown. I wish I’d seen this beer when I was brewing brown ales last year, because it would’ve been a great example of the style, visually. Translucent enough that I can see through it when I hold it up to the light, but dark enough that it won’t be mistaken for an amber ale.

The nose has a subtle nuttiness to it running behind some chocolate. Nothing strong but present and when the beer is drank; the exact same. It’s not sweet, like some of the peanut butter porters I’ve drank, which is a good thing. A bit of sweetness but it settles on the more slight bitter chocolate flavor on the end. It’s easy to sip on and very, very tasty.

Common Ales: Three Creeks Crowd Pleaser

Three Creeks Crowd Pleaser IPA
There’s some grass in the nose with a little citrus there, too. It’s more lemon/orange than grapefruit, which I approve of. The citrus note is not too strong though, just making sure you know it’s there more than making a statement. It sticks through the life of the drink, which is nice.
The beer has a sweet front end that lands right on the middle of my tongue. I enjoy that, as it helps keep things in balance. The bitterness on the finish tilts to lemony, which is nice too: that bitterness lingers in the sides of my mouth but again, nothing to sharp. The Crowd Pleaser wants you to know it’s there, but doesn’t need to take up the whole room.

I can appreciate that.

Common Ales: Bridgeport Rose IPA

Bridgeport Rose IPAI bought this beer in the middle of summer and liked it so much, I bought it again so I could write about it for the blog.

The color on the Rose IPA is just fantastic. A lovely shade of pink, evoking the wine it’s named from.

They didn’t shy away from the hibiscus, either; the nose is very floral but it isn’t citrusy or piney in the way of most hops. It also isn’t overpowering, which is nice.

Which is something that can be said about this Rose IPA at large: it’s fairly subtle and pretty easy to drink.

The can says they use hops in this but the finish is pretty floral too, and dry to boot. Again; a homage to a refreshing glass of wine. That’s pretty cool, I think and I definitely would recommend it.

Common Ales: Portland Brewing MacTarnahans NW Amber

Yike. The title of this post might be longer than the post!

Portland Brewing MacTarnahan's ale

First thing’s first: the nose is way hoppier than I expected, and I was really surprised until I read the “NW” part of the amber ale. “NW” is now code for “hopped”. It’s pleasant enough: piney without being overpowering, but it’s a little different.

The flavors are trying something unusual, too: there’s a bit of roast from the malt, but this is a pretty light beer, designed to be a more sessionable ale. The label says 5.1% so that tracks. Then the bitterness arrives and it’s a strong echo from the nose; not exactly pine needle bitter but lobbed in that vicinity.

The nose holds up nicely through the drink which is a definite plus, if this is what you’re hoping for. But it’s such an unusual style; hoppy ambers may not always play nice with each other.

I can’t say that it’s a bad beer but the flavor profile just doesn’t ring my bell.

Common Ales: Faded Flannel Blonde

Faded Flannel blonde aleWhat a fantastic toasty note in the nose. It lasts through the beer, too, which is pretty damn impressive, considering a lot of hoppier ales cannot provide a sustained hop presence after the first sip.
There’s a bit of that toasty quality on the tongue, too but nothing about this beer is intense or overwhelming. It finishes pretty cleanly and sets the palate up for another drink, I believe.
I like it.

Common Ales: Ninkasi Pacific Rain

Ninkasi Pacific Rain paleI get more caramel in the nose than anything else, and only after some swirls and really¬†intently¬†sniffing do I pick up some dank hops. A little earthy scent is happening, even if it’s hard to pick up.

The Pacific Rain is pretty easy drinking; the midrange is wispy in it’s presentation of flavor, the bubbles spark off my tongue and leave a mild but not overwhelming bitterness behind. It’s drinkability is a plus, but it doesn’t really give me much of an impression, which isn’t so rad.

It’s the kind of beer I could sip mindlessly, noshing on some chips and watching TV. As a one-of, sure! But I don’t know that I’d be aching for another.