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Bay Area 2017 (pt 2)

Part 2 of the Bay Area reviews!

Fieldwork- Chocolate milk: this is a milk brown ale and….whoa.It tastes like it should have a lot more weight-my friend Kate (who is playing tour guide for me today) says “heavier and a little creamy and it’s not” which is a good assessment. But it’s also damn good-which we also agree on. Unexpected yet tasty.

I a35167038146_cb750d861e_clso got the Power Glove double IPA which is equally wonderful, one that Kate (who does not like IPAs) says is “almost drinkable”. For me it’s super drinkable and has a really pleasant orange flavor, which is a welcome change. The bitterness gets a little sharper as the beer warms up but nothing undesirable.

Faction (reviewed again because I went to their brewery): Moon Germs pale-made with oats, this pale has that kind of roundness that you get in the mouth from that addition. But after that, it seems like a pale. The hop finish is a little intense, however it’s not enough for me to suggest that the beer shouldn’t be drank.

Headlands: Wolfback Ridge IPA-good nose with a pine sway but the beer itself wants to put the malt forward. I’m not complaining, as there is a subtle bitterness that appears on the finish. That bitterness seems to get a little stronger as I go, keeping things in the IPA realm.

Barebottle: Galaxy Dust IPA. Ah, the NE strain of IPAs has indeed made it to the Bay array. But this isn’t bad! The grapefruit isn’t too pronounced, the bitterness isn’t too strong. It’s almost like drinking a less abrasive, more alcoholic Sprite, actually. I’m kinda down with this.

35167038886_d0057a14d2_cMagnolia Brewing: Kalifornia Kolsch-The nose has me wanting to like it already: with that yeasty, dough rising scent. And huzza! It pays off; the mouthfeel is just rich enough to keep the beer from feeling watery, with a soft, grainy flavor and a very crisp finish. Really solid ale and especially good for summer.

Alvarado Street: Hive Mind double IPA. The nose isn’t very prominent, so I’m not sure what I’ve got here. Visually, it’s cloudy like a NE IPA, but this is a sweeter beer. As it warms, there’s a little bit of a skunky note that comes out, along with a little more bitterness. Which is good, because that prevents the beer from becoming cloying. Solid and I’d try another.

Bay Area 2017 (pt 1)

I was fortunate enough to visit the Bay Area recently, so I recruited some friends for advice and in some cases as a tour guide, while trying as many beers as I could. Here are those notes:

35042163792_31a99227be_cDrake‘s IPA: nice pine nose-oh how I’ve missed that. The pine finish in the bittering qualities is also present, and it’s definitely prominent. The midrange isn’t very supportive at first, but as the beer is drank, a smidgen of malt starts to show up.

While I can’t say that this is balanced, I can say that for an IPA it’s pretty solid and definitely is good for the hop head audience.

Track Seven: Left Eye Right Eye DIPA: another IPA with the dank pine nose. I suppose the grapefruit craze hasn’t made it to San Francisco/Oakland? This is a pretty solid beer too; there’s a very nice malt quality in the middle to keep up with the Bitterness Jones’s. I’d have another.

Faction A-Town pale: ok so this makes it official-the grapefruit IPA craze has not made it south. THANK YOU GOD. A marijuana skunky nose takes the stage but it isn’t pungent and the beer finishes like a regular ol’ pale, though with a slightly sharper plink on the bitterness. Not sure if I can recommend this; it isn’t bad, but the bitterness is sharp enough to overwhelm the rest of the beer.

35042165602_9419ef5705_cOld Kan Standard Pub Ale-this is described to me as a British pale and that’s a pretty solid turn of phrase. There’s a malt note to keep the beer a beer instead of colored water, and just a enough bitterness to keep it real. Otherwise, it’s an easy drinking beer-the kind that you want to serve a bunch of in a pub.

The Woods specialized in non-hopped beers.  A friend brought me there and we got taster trays of what they had on offer which you can get an impression of here: http://www.woodsbeer.com. Some were more successful than others and I was too busy conversing to really take notes. What I want to point out is that this is the kind of place that any beer enthusiast should check out, because they’re creating stuff I don’t see very often at all.

Catsitting Rewards 2

31583020014_d601a3f4e2_cBut wait, there’s more beer to talk about!

New Holland; Dragon’s Milk bourbon aged milk stout. First thing, it smells like red wine. This is very odd, but it almost works with the heavy chocolate flavors that come when I drink it. The sweetness of the bourbon barrel arrives near the end and the stout resides warmly in my belly. Definitely a beer I’d like to share.

Roak; Roaka Cadabra Spiced Apple Brown: the brown ale is there, but the spice element-cinnamon, more than anything else-is so strong that the beer becomes one dimensional. It isn’t bad but it doesn’t encourage me to drink another.

Burnside; Coax IPA: This is very nice, as there’s an intense but not overwhelming tropical fruit nose that gives this a pleasant but distinguishable profile. It’s a nice change from all the grapefruit oriented IPAs I get now. The bitterness isn’t very strong though. I’d almost call this a pale, because it’s working such a midrange of flavors. The sweetness does offer me an interesting challenge, as I’m not sure how I’d pair this beer with food. It may not want that-which is fine-but I can see this fitting better in the autumn or spring rather than on one of the coolest days in Portland.

Crackers Brewery; Fifth Voyage coconut porter. The pour is…a little worrisome. Very foamy; the top third of the beer is nothing but brown foam, dense like some kind of sci-fi restraining foam. Despite that, I don’t get a much to smell and the flavors aren’t very strong. I don’t pick up any coconut, though there is a decent chocolate taste, and the finish has a texture I’m not enticed by. Something I want to scrape away, almost chalky.

Coronado Brewing; Señor Saison, brewed with jalapeños and piloncillo. The nose is promising, as it has the saison, farmhousey funk. The flavors are pretty solid on the saison range, a little funky/lemon, with a very, very subtle spice note-one that doesn’t even linger-to add some dimension that most saisons do not exhibit. It’s still quite drinkable though which I’m very pleased to discover, because holy crap I hate spicy beers. But this, this I approve of!

31614713973_f2ac6fd83d_cOddside Ales; Colossal Oversight barleywine. Fantastic caramel nose and my first sip goes right with it. A little maple to tweak the roasted elements; the beer has been barrel aged, though it doesn’t say in what. I could see a spiced rum though, given the sugary flavors, although it’s more likely whiskey, which I figure because of the way it warms my stomach.

Old Nation-Sanders Chocolate Stout: It is what it says it is. Chocolate goes through the whole thing-the nose has a chocolate milk mix in it and the beer is so chocolaty, it’s almost like chocolate soda. The finish is a bit at odds with the rest of the beer though: while there is a nice touch of coffee to help keep the beer reigned in, it’s very effervescent and that gives me a sparkly texture. I don’t really dig on that for a stout; it feels wrong. It doesn’t make the beer undrinkable but it definitely skews the beer away from the creamy texture it wants to evoke.

Organic Beer Fest 2016 Reviews

I arrived early to the Organic fest, and I’m glad I did. The lines were nonexistent and that gave me plenty of opportunity to try some beer without waiting in line. Reviews are mildly edited, as per usual.

Coin Toss-Half Penny Lager: smells like a lager and the flavor is one where I can detect the rice sweetness. It’s got a creaminess to it, giving it a little more body than other lagers might have and the finish isn’t too crisp. But it’s solid.

Old Tow Cardamum’s the Word

Old Town-Cardamum’s The Word (Hibiscus and Cardamon wheat ale)-There’s an herbal nose, so I can pick up the cardamon and the hibiscus is near the finish and also very light…but there isn’t quite enough there, there. I can’t recommend it, but I also can’t recommend against it, either.

Falling Sky-Organic Matters Pale-skunky nose and while it’s not off putting, it suggests something old, not nice. The bitterness on the finish is countered but a slightly sour note that really torques it all poorly.

Yachats-Cetacea saison: if someone had just given me this beer, I would insist this was a lager. Same kind of nose, same kind clean middle. This saison is something I have to dig for, like an archeologist, with its floral spiciness beneath it all. I think someone should else should try it for perspective, just know you may not get what’s expected.

Thirsty Bear-Valencia Wheat: it’s sweet at the start but the finish is just nasty. I want to rinse my mouth out with mouthwash to get this dirty flavor out.

Aslan-Dawn Patrol “pacific ale”: I should’ve known before I even got it that when they didn’t ID it by a style that exists, trouble lay ahead. Candy fruit in the nose leading into a touch of malt on the tongue but vegetal on the finish.

McMenamins’ Pavol the Collector

McMenamins-2016 Hogshead Barrel Aged Pavol the Collector Baltic Porter: it’s a pretty damn good beer. A hit of that whiskey sweetness in the nose, with a touch of vanilla and then a pleasantly chocolaty beer that has a remarkably smooth finish.

Fecken-Arnold Fecken Palmer Golden Ale: the cold brew tea is in the nose, but the beer itself is a a pleasantly sippable beer: the lemon peel flavor on the finish is a touch offputting, preventing this from becoming a really great session summer beer but I’d have another.


Smattering of Birthday Beer Reviews

I decided to treat myself for my birthday (a few weeks back) and buy some beers for review. So here we go:

Belching Beaver-Damned double IPA. It’s grapefruity! There’s a half-hearted attempt at caramel in the middle but the nose and the finish shoo that along like a cat you’re trying to get out of the kitchen. I enjoyed it.

26236649560_30979028b1_cSound-Old Scoundrel barleywine style. There’s a chalky quality to the finish which is really, really weird. It’s unfortunate because the nose has the perfect caramelized scent. That nose gets a little toasty too, as it warms up and is still delicious. It’s the best part of the beer, though, as the midrange just doesn’t feel weighty enough, which would be a compliment in a different style but here means that it just gets blown out by that chalky texture at the end.

Breakside- bourbon barrel-aged salted caramel stout. Hoooo, man is this tasty. The salted caramel ribbon runs under the chocolate and bourbon flavors quite nicely. The nose has the bourbon but not too much of it, so there isn’t a hint of the possible recoil that one might get from a really strong or harsh spirit.

There’s a pleasant effervescence to the stout which plays in its favor. This is a beer with some very rich flavors and the bubbly keeps the beer from being too thick.

The aftertaste is all coffee. It’s not too acrid or dark but it’s not very luscious or counterbalanced, either. I don’t dislike it but it is a letdown after such a robust midrange of flavors.

Stone Sotchasticy project HiFi + LoFi Mixtape. This is a blend and it’s not one that works for me. The nose has that woody funk from barrel aged beers, so I was initially hopeful.  The flavor and finish is all bitterness and more wood, however. Ugh.

Gigantic-Massive. This ale pours densely. Close to chocolate syrup, and it’s got that kind of sweetness, too. But it’s a lush, decadent ale, the kind you have when you’re saying, “I’m worth it”.

26483533526_2a9ef273a5_cGrain Station-Bet the Farm IPA. This has a resiny nose that fades very quickly. Surprisingly so. It’s a little sweet at the start but that’s quickly replaced with a tongue scouring bitterness that make this beer difficult to appreciate. I’m starting to grok why people revolt against IPAs: if nearly every IPA I encounter refuses to balance then what’s the point? It’s just as bad as spicy food: if you have one dimensional food or drink, it really looses a lot.

Perennial Artisan Ales-Sump, stout with coffee. This beer pours thick, like chocolate milk you’ve added a little too much mix to. It smells like coffee beans, which is helpful since it also tastes like coffee beans. There are some sweeter, caramel notes in there, which is good and I wouldn’t go so far as to say this evokes the chocolate covered espresso bean flavor that Elysian’s The Fix has, but it’s definitely using similar colors.

26509473005_612e719522_cRoyale Brewing pilsner-it is almost exactly what it is supposed to be. That noble hop nose with a  hint of corn, a beer that has zero aftertaste & wants to quench thirst, it’s all right in that pilsner style box. Buuuut the body is just a bit too thin. It isn’t that something in this beer doesn’t just jibe, it’s just that it plays into the US pils stereotypes. It’s close, but not quite there.

Three Random Pulls

Last week I was fortunate enough to be at a friend’s house when they pulled out a large cardboard box full of beer.

“Extras from the Craft Brewing Festival,” they said. “Take whatever you’d like.”

So I reached inside, grabbed three bottles and brought them home. With a friend, we tried all three and I got down my (and some of her) thoughts.

Wild Wolf Brewing: Primal Instinct American IPA
I picked this bottle out because there was a wolf on the cap. Why not, right?

This style usually suggests pine flavors, especially in the bitterness but this beer is far more citrus oriented. There’s a sweetness in the middle to help keep it balanced but neither of us can really put our finger on it. However, this IPA leaves a chewiness on the end and as we drink, we start to get a wet paper quality that really keeps this beer from sticking the landing.

“It gives me a feeling that I’m not really swallowing, like it’s residing in the mouth basin, instead of actually swallowing.”

So there’s that.

This beer’s carbonation is steady but doesn’t allow for any aromas to be released, except a small grassy hint, and the sweetness in the middle gets cloying fast without some real counterweights.

“This feels like a beer I’ve been talked into trying at a surburban sports bar, and you can tell they’re trying but you’re sitting at the bar by yourself with this beer”

So; not so awesome.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing: Davy Brown Ale
Has just a hint of chocolate in the nose and then…

“It’s just good. There’s nothing wrong with it…I’m not going to flash my tits at somebody for this beer but it’s not….the best beer I’ve ever had,but I would drink probably a lot of it.”

This is most likely a brown porter-too alcoholic for standard brown ales at 6% but without the hop character that I’d expect from an American brown ale. It’s damn tasty though and I could see a great many pints of this disappearing from my table.

It’s difficult to write further about brown ales, because they are by design more nondescript. Still, there’s a nice chocolate note without it being too heavy and a nice finish.  It’s delicious, belonging just as easily with a dessert or a slice of pizza. Have some.

Great Rhythm: Resonation Pale
Piney, but not super intense. The beer itself isn’t too intense and tries to finish crisply but there a dirty flavor that comes back to haunt the Resonation that I’m trying to scrape off the top of my mouth.

“I thought I would stop drinking this but I’m still drinking it. I feel like it’s one of those beer like PBR. I can drink it but I don’t know if I like it.”

Something grassy at the end, before the dirty finish. It isn’t really helping but I think they were trying to get some hop character in there.

“I don’t feel like we should be friends, but I will drink this beer.”

That’s pretty good for the last word.

OBF Beer Reviews

I present, for your edification, my bare bones, only barely edited OBF notes on beer.

Gigantic’s & Juice; nose of mango! Grapefruit is too strong and bitter, flavor centered around the rind of the fruit. Really dislike.

Prodigal Son: Jackson Sundown (pictured)
Sweetness to this saison I was not expecting. Dry finish though: I enjoyed initially but after that it gets dirty. Muddy. Don’t like that.

Natian: Herbal Tenacious
It just tastes like weak tea, the herbal qualities lingering in a hateful way.

Ice Harbor: hefe
Dry Belgian nose,which I like, actually resembles a saison with its dryness, and I like that

Ohio Brewing: O’hoppy IPA
I don’t know that I love this, but after all the other weak sauce, this is a relief. Probably better as a red ale; this is not an IPA, but I’ll take it.

Yakima Craft Brewing: Heather
Why do I get fruit in the nose? Honey providing something? Clean finish hard to notice the heather. Not bad at all.

Surly: Overrated IPA
It’s got the bitter part down, solid not too piney, but there isn’t a middle to speak of.

Wildwood brewing: Organic Ambitious Lager
It’s good.  A beer I would have midafternoon on a Saturday when its too hot.

Stone: IPA (pictured, Firewood Walker in the background)
Very bitter, nice , biscuit note through the whole thing two asshole bitches cut in line, fuck them
(Late note: I think I might have enjoyed this beer more if I hadn’t had to stand in line for 10+ minutes and then been cut in front of.)

Elysian: Oddland Sliced Pear Ale
Nose is pleasant, with a solid malt strain enjoyed more than HUB’s pear offering.

Deschutes double impact Belgian ipa
Isssssss….ok. The drier finish of a Belgian is present, the hop nose and bitterness is there, but after waiting 15+ minutes, I didn’t care.

Boundary Bay: Bravo pale ale
Not much nose but it’s ok. Wants food, bitter finish, but drops off nicely.

I’ll wrap this all up on Friday.

My name in print

So after going to the Beer Trials release party on Wednesday, I was rewarded with this:

beer trials book

Pretty neat, huh?

You can’t see it from the cover but I’m credited inside as a tester and Seamus was even nice enough to mention this blog as part of my bio. A fairly sweet deal for tasting beer for twelve weeks.

The book itself I dig. The scoring system includes things like label design so I’m ambivalent there, (edit-actually it doesn’t; see the comments) but if you want to get a proper snapshot of a beer the descriptions are brief and accurate. As a tool for people who may not be well versed in the beer world, I think it’s exceptionally helpful. You can flip through the book, open a page and in under a minute, get a pretty good sense of the beer you’re reading about and if you think it’s worth your time.

Plus, the intro looks to be chock full of good overview information about beer styles. I haven’t had a chance to delve into it but the skimming I did I liked. Again, this seems really helpful for people who want a better beer but aren’t sure where to start.

At the same time, because the beers selected were ones that are widely available in the US, if you’re say, stuck somewhere that doesn’t serve Rogue or Lagunitas or whatever, the Beer Trials can give you a solid recommendation for a beer that is available. Pretty handy.

Plus, it means my Father’s Day gift? Solved.

And on top of it all, I got an emergency beer opening device.