Tag Archives: common ales

Common Ale: Pelican Midnight Malt

A porter from Pelican brewing, this has as a prominent cocoa scent in the nose.

Porter in glass, on kitchen counter, with can of ale

That’s…almost, but not entirely, the beer. The flavors here also offer a little vanilla to provide some sweetness to the porter. I find this to be a great shift from the go-to accompaniment of coffee. This choice helps make this porter stand out and gives me something to recommend.

As the beer warms up, a bit more roasted quality comes out; it stops shy of smoky but there’s absolutely more intense, dark malt flavors going on. Still no coffee though.

Really, a damn fine accomplishment from the folks at Pelican and I say give this a go.

Common Ales: Ft George- Cathedral Tree

Fort George's Cathedral Tree ale, in glass, with can, on table.

The can says “Barrel Aged Pilsner”.

However, it doesn’t say what kind of barrel. Now, this is weird for multiple reasons, right? Because you’ve got a 4.8% beer-well within alcohol tolerances for pilsner-that has apparently been put in some kind of barrel.

But it seems unlikely that the barrel has been previously used to store alcohol, because the ABV is so normal. Wine or spirits tend to boost a beer’s alcohol percentage by a couple points, meaning I would expect this to be a 6% beer if aged the way I typically think of beer being aged.

So what did they do?

The nose is yeasty-has that funk that makes me think of bread rising.

The beer is a bit fruity, though. If I had to take a stab, I would guess that this had been kept in a white wine barrel, maybe chardonnay? It also finishes dry, contributing to that idea.

What if it was just aged in an oak barrel that had had no previous occupant?

I’d say that this beer doesn’t have the same thirst-quenching punch that I’d expect to get from a Pils, but there’s nothing wrong with it; set me down with a place of nachos and a pint of this and I’m good.

Common Ales: Cascade Honey Ginger Lime

Cascade Honey Ginger Lime ale

Cascade Brewing has always been a complicated brewery for me. They do what they do very well-but what they do is sour ales. Which I do not like: they all just taste like vinegar to me.

Yet, one of my most memorable ales was Cascade’s Cherry Lemon Quad ale, kept in Maker’s Mark barrels. I love telling people about this beer, because it was just so interesting!

So, when Cascade went into making mass market ales, I knew that they had to do something different because most people just were not going to go for the sour ales that Cascade usually produces. The intensity of their sour ales is just that strong.

I was right and at least so far, delightfully so.

The  lime is forefront in the nose. I think: is it lime, or is it just that this is a sour ale and that’s the scent I usually pick up? It really seems like more the latter, but I want to give this beer the benefit of the doubt. However, that nose is not an indicator of something I usually like.

But the thing is; it’s a great drink. There is a solid midrange of sweetness but the finish does show off the lime and the ginger. This gives the beer a delightful drinkable quality, and a finish that isn’t exactly dry, but still has a little pucker to it. 

Now, as the beer warms up, ginger starts to take over .Your mileage may vary as to whether or not that is a positive quality. I don’t mind it, because of the refreshing aspects of the ale, initially. I just felt it was worth noting, in case there are readers who really dislike ginger.

Common Ales: Ruben’s Summer Ale

Ruben's Summer IPARuben’s Brews Summer IPA. Not a super strong nose on this one-citrus flower is what I get off this but not citrus itself.

This is a very middle of the road beverage. It isn’t bright enough to be a regular IPA but it’s not hazy, exactly, either. It wants to express citrus without getting into grapefruit, doesn’t want to make a bitterness statement but isn’t going to leave it behind, either. The nose carries a little sweetness but leaves it at the door so you don’t taste it.

It’s nearly a forgettable beer, which given the summer of 2020, maybe that’s appropriate. I don’t dislike it. I can’t rave about it.

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.