Tag Archives: seattle

Thanksgiving Reviews #3

Wet Coast cream aleTime to wrap it up! (I…went a little overboard this year).

Wet Coast- Cream Ale (they were a new-to-me brewery, so I got a couple different beers). Faint hit of bread in the nose, but nothing too strong. The beer is sweet though; not sickly but definitely malt forward. The slight haze of the beer makes me feel not as bad about the cream ales I made, though this is clearly a better product.

Wingman-Stratocaster ale; a Belgian dark, kept on cedar planks. This is a fascinating beer; thick, with a hit of molasses. There’s a tart quality, too though-nothing very intense. Milder than any tart ale I’ve had, even the Flemish reds that I’ve had. But that’s a pretty good comparison. I dig it.

Northwest Brewing-102 IPA. WHOA that is a bright, clear beer. But the nose is faint and the finish is…grassy? Is this a fresh hop ale? I take a look at the can: ah. It’s 4% so this is a sessionable IPA, not an IPA. It’s not bad for that, but they’re damn lucky I read the label before passing final judgment.

Post Doc-Alpha Factor IPAPostdoc Brewing-Alpha Factor IPAs. Nice nose-a little grassy, a little spicy and dank, too. The flavors are surprisingly spicy but they still keep that grassy quality on the finish. Still, it’s not quite grabbing me-the spice quality isn’t playing nice with the other flavors and I’m not sure I am eager to have a second. It may also be that the grassy quality is starting to taste a little stale, this late in the day.

Kulshan Brewing-Red Cap Irish red ale. The nose has some immediate roast quality to it, and wow, do does the flavor. I think the roasted malt got away from the brewers on this one, because its presence is so strong, it almost has a smoky quality to it. Not sure if I’d want another.

Thanksgiving Reviews 2019 #2

Let’s keep this Thanksgiving trip rollin’!

Nightmare brewing hazy IPANightmare Brewing: Exposure IIPA with cryogenic Mosaic and Citra hops. Look at this label. Holy crow. I bought it just because of that, and am rewarded with a fairly solid hazy IIPA! It’s not too sweet, but it isn’t so grapefruit oriented that I feel like I’m just eating pith. Nicely done, people!

Matchless-Hedelhell Helles lager. I do like me a Helles ale. However, this tastes like I’m drinking sparkling water, not a beverage with hops and malt in it. This is because I cannot pick up a thing on the nose, even after multiple attempts. All that leaves me with is what’s on my tongue and that…just doesn’t give me anything. Sorry. No dice.

Triceratops Brewing Co- Mrs Vorhees Peanut Butter Stout. Um..ok, so while it’s not bad, it’s lacking peanuts. Even though the beer says it contains peanuts, I do not taste them. But it’s a nice stout aside from that. Still, if you promise me peanuts, then you ought to deliver on that.

Loowit Shimmerglow imperial stoutLoowit- Shimmerglow Imperial Stout-Some coco in the nose: this tastes like a stout. Coffee, burnt malt flavor and I dig it. Also, the can is amazing: it’s got a giant dragon on it. What more do you want?

Silver City Brewery- Old Scrooge Christmas ale. What the heck is a Christmas ale?Nose has some caramel, maybe a bit of red apple too. The beer itself has this as well. Not a lot of spice at the front but there is a lingering back end, hanging out at the back of my throat of some spice. This is getting better as I sip it and that’s always a good sign.

Airways– Pre Flight Pilsner-while there’s some  malt there, it’s just a bit too light for me to really dig on. Crushable, but tilts too far to the light lager family for me to endorse heartily.

Wander Brewing- Synthesiah Kveik IPA. I expected more, getting a Kveik yeast IPA because I’ve been reading about this yeast online-…but it’s just a hazy. It’s not bad, but I don’t get anything special out of it, certainly not $5 worth for a single can of beer.

Thanksgiving Reviews 2019 #1

The bonus of being on vacation: Lots of new beers to try! So here are the lightly edited notes, taken in between chats with family, a little television and a lot of card games.

Paradise Creek Brewery-Hop Pyramid IPA. Orange nose? It disappears so fast I can’t get a grip on it. The hop flavors aren’t too strong: lots of caramel flavors, with only a hint of hop bitterness. Feels pretty standard, and I wouldn’t be opposed to another.

unknown hazy IIPAWhat is this beer? Who made this beer? Omnipolis-Fatamogarna? Iberia IPA? What wording there is could be a black metal album logo and the fine print is…well, fine. This is a weird way to market this beer. But it’s reasonably well balanced and not too sweet. I’m not just a little surprised by how tasty this hazy is but I am definitely baffled by the marketing choices.

Wet Coast Brewing-Soppin’ Wet wet hop ale. While the nose is hop forward and a little tangerine, I don’t associate that with fresh hop ales. Still; the beer itself is pretty mild and very juice forward. It’s not so sweet that I recoil form the beer and as a mildly juicy not quite hazy ale, I can get behind it.

Blackberry Farm-Classic saison: this is classic in every sense. Funky,  with a solid malt backbone to it. It’s a proper sipping beer, with just enough funkiness to balance out the sweetness.

Fat Orange Cat blonde stoutFat Orange Cat-All Cats Are Gray In The Dark-blonde stout: this smells like goooood milk chocolate and holy crow it tastes like it too. Wow. I like it a bunch.

Two Beers brewing-Overhang Imperial Porter, bourbon barrel aged. Kinda like I’m chewing on a piece of wood. There’s a sour finish-is this infected? The nose seems smoky,  and then my friend says “The sound you’re making is horrible, so I can’t imagine that it’s good.” And he’s right-I am just not enjoying this beer, I’m trying to lick the flavors out of my mouth. It tastes like flat coke with rum.

Counterbalance brewing-IPA; this tastes like a classic, dank IPA. Not as much malt flavor as I’d like for balance, but a hop lovers delight.

Seattle 2017 Trip 2 pt 2

The wra38128333395_af72cd6760_cpup of the beers I got to try in Seattle:

Sumerian-Hopruption Double IPA: the nose has some solid dank, piney qualities. There isn’t much in the middle, which tracks for a DIPA but that also means that there is much between the nose and a very strong bitterness that is working the same pine qualities of as the nose. Still, I’d personally like a little more malt in the middle: this isn’t a bad beer, I just feel like it’s a lost opportunity.

Lucky Envelope-Eniac IPA: The nose on this is amazing. Mosaic hops, as though I’d just cut open the bag to put them in the beer. I’m really impressed by that. The beer itself isn’t as intensely bitter as I might expect, though, given the IPAs I’ve had recently. There’s a bite, sure but it’s not scouring and it doesn’t linger. There is even a little sweetness in there, leading into something faintly grassy. I’m pretty happy with this one.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse-Little Red Cap alt: I don’t get much nose but what I can get, there’s some malt there, little caramel, maybe some C60 malt? But it’s not a sweeter ale: a little roasted quality, a little dry on the finish. The Red Cap is a pretty drinkable beer that I could see going really well with some pub food. I’d have another: heck, I’d try something else by the brewery.

Black Market Brewing-Enemy Within IPA with dragonfruit: so, this beer kinda exploded. No reason for it that I can tell, but the initial pour was 85% foam and took a little time to settle out. But there’s a nice nose on it and the beer is reasonably drinkable. There’s a fruity quality that is close to citrus but not quite, which I suppose is the dragonfruit. The finish is a little weird, too: not quite dry but I get a strange, tacky sensation on the roof of my mouth.

38128333655_373257569d_cUrban Family-Island Crusher Dry hopped sour w/pineapple: has a fruity funk on the nose but the beer itself isn’t too sour-tart, yes but not mouth puckery/dryingly so. It works more like a lemonade, maybe a bit stronger but definitely the kind of beer that I could see going to frequently during the summer. The finish is also surprisingly clean, making for a remarkably drinkable sour.

Aslan Brewing-Dawn Patrol Pacific IPA: Nice nose, with some watermelon and guava in it. Not what I was expecting but pleasant nonetheless! The beer itself continues the tropical fruit flavors, and then finishes very clean, with a lot of bubbly pop at the end. I’m still not up for pacific ale as a style-I don’t think this exists-but it’s a nice beer all the same.


Seattle 2017 Trip 2 pt 1

The holiday allowed me to visit the Seattle area and, of course, I got a bunch of beer to try so…here are the slightly edited reviews:

25144252488_f9135a88d9_cPayette Brewing-North Fork Lager: Nice bready nose, like uncooked bread. It’s sweet on the finish, like corn, that evaporates after the last swallow. It’s pretty damn good! The bread flavor in front with the corn on the end gives this beer some dimension.

Dru Bru-Belgian Bordeaux: Belgian pale aged in Bordeaux wine barrels. The wine really comes through in the nose; like church wine, only pricier and meant to be drank. The flavors follow through, too. A tart fruit quality rides through the ale, with some hop bitterness on the finish. The problem is; those two things don’t play nice with each other. It’s a beautiful drink, with a pink hue I rarely see and a pleasant floral nose but the sum is less than it’s parts. An interesting experiment that didn’t quite play out.

Counterbalance brewing- Counterbalance IPA: sweet orange nose; citrus but I get a little caramel under it. The first sip was a little overwhelming; a lot of bitterness, not much else. As I continue though, a inkling of sweetness crawls out from under the bitterness. The beer becomes a little more palatable as I go, which is novel but a nice experience.

39014539821_7c71506834_cMollusk-Briny Deep stout: A coffee nose but it’s not overwhelming. The beer itself is pretty smooth and finishes remarkably cleanly. It’s an 8% beer-which I don’t get at all-and I’m not picking up much in the way of oysters, which the label says is included in the beer. But I’m actually kinda impressed by the beer. Plus, 10/10 on incorporating the brewery name into the ingredients.

Dystopian State– The Gold Sigil, Imperial honey wheat ale: The nose has some honeysuckle to it, but the wheat malt doesn’t shy away either. While this beer is a sweet, it doesn’t linger and almost has a slight dry quality. It’s pretty nice and I’d have more.

Highwater Brewing-Aphotic Imperial Porter: the nose is a lot of mocha. Coffee chocolate blend. And the beer has a lot of that, too! But it’s awfully effervescent on the finish that that feels weird. From a sensory perspective-that is, the sparkle on my tongue is so intense that it feels weird. It also gives the finish a strange twist that doesn’t quite work. It doesn’t ruin the beer, but it makes me feel like I should have some misgivings about it.

Black Market Brewing-Invasion Red IPA: This has a great nose: pine and a little caramel  in it and it makes me look forward to the beer a lot. But the mouth is thin, the midrange is flavorless, the finish is dirty and where it’s isn’t dirty it tastes like raw hops.

Seattle 2016 (pt 2)

30625505974_8db797aa14_cLet’s just get to it.

Cloudburst: Tigers and Lazerbeams IPA- This beer is not shy about it’s grapefruit influences; the nose is full of it and from about 3/4 of the way on through a sip and well after the bubbles have cleared away, the grapefruit element is very strong. Too much, honestly: this isn’t just hoppy bitterness, it’s including the rind of the fruit and that’s just excessive for me. I don’t think it’s flawed but it also isn’t balanced either and while I can see this appealing to someone, I wouldn’t ask for another.

Holy Mountain: King’s Head double oat brown ale- I don’t pick up much nose but WOW is this a smooth, tasty beverage. The mouthfeel is luscious and has chocolate going on, with a thread of raisin under it. It’s really, really good.

30658619343_d645da573e_cRuben’s brews: Life On Mars double IPA- The nose has a really solid fruity nose, lemon, orange with the inevitable grapefruit in there too. But there’s a really solid body in this beer, a great sweetness that is stepping in like a smiling host before introducing the counterbalance of the bitterness. I have to say, I’m really I pleased with this and hoping I can see more of Ruben’s brews soon.

Old Schoolhouse Brewery: Hooligan Stout- so much coffee in the nose, it’s got a whiff of gasoline, as though there’s something oily about this beer. The beer itself adds a nice punch of chocolate though to keep things balanced. It’s not too sweet by any measure; bitter notes of both coffee and cocoa show up to finish the beer off. It’s n to overwhelming though, which is nice. The mouthfeel is, in a rare instance for me, something that could go either way. I can see the argument that it’s just thick enough to call itself a stout, but another that says it’s not quite there. I’m going to let this one pass.

31351696551_c7a05e04fc_cWingman: Dark Waters Imperial Stout- Let’s just admit that I am going to have a very, very difficult time resisting a beer with a label like that. There’s a green Chuthlu on it. But at 10%, it really doesn’t taste like it. The addition of chilies provides this beer with a very interesting element, because the spice element is very subtle. However that spice touch might blunt the feeling of potency there. Setting that aside, there is a big old chocolate ribbon of flavor through this. It’s not overly sweet by any means but it also doesn’t have the kind of unsweetened cocoa flavor that I’ve picked up on many beers. It’s pretty damn good though.

Seattle 2016 (pt 1)

While in Seattle for the holiday, I had enough time to try some new beers! Between the recommendations I got from the Beer subreddit and Tacoma’s Pint Defiance, I found a bunch of new things to taste. As always, the lightly annotated notes.

30658518873_99e6d2a404_cBellevue: IPA- nose is a little stale, like those hops were old. The beer has a kind of stale taste to it, too. Nothing crisp about it; the flavors want to linger on my tongue in a really unpleasant way.

It was so unusual that I poured out my glass, rinsed it, and poured the beer again to make sure I wasn’t out of my tree. But again; something almost stale, even meaty in that hop flavor and a little salty on the finish too. I don’t know what’s going on but something is severely wrong with this beer.

Kushan: Winter ale- maple and a little thin. There is a very strong chocolate flavor too but it just isn’t dense enough for me to enjoy.

31351651721_f3c9cc2611_cThree Magnets: Wreathing Havoc imperial red rye ale. The Winter Warmer effect that they want is right in front, with a big sundae sweet, banana and whip cream flavor. As it warmed up, there’s a little bit of cinnamon spice at the end.  Now, I can’t say that this is flawed, exactly, but I also couldn’t recommend it to anyone. Except that label is awesome.

Georgetown: Patrice Saville Belgian tripel- This is an interesting trick, because it’s sweet but the hops are trying to keep it all in check. I shared some with Jason who suggests there’s some whiskey reflected there and he’s not wrong-but in a good way.

Holy Mountain: Witchfinder Saison- The farmhouse nose is so strong I’m a little taken aback. The beer itself is OK. Certainly not as pleasant as the hype had lead me to believe. The finish is what really torques it to the negative: it’s lingering around the roof of my mouth like gray paper, and the brettanomyces isn’t really adding anything for me. This beer is expensive and I’m not happy with it and wondering if I got an old bottle.

So what else did you do when you weren’t writing?

Well, I went to Seattle and tried a few beers there. Well, OK, a great many beers but here is what I took notes on.

Firestone Walkers Pale 31 is wonderful. Spicy, lime nose, orange creamy finish, nice toasty caramel background. I guess that isn’t a surprise considering the pedigree of the brewery but sometimes, you have to have a gimme, you know?

Alaskan Bitter Biliken is an English style bitter that is too unbalanced with grapefruit bitterness.

12 Bar Brews Wicked Riff IPA (pic) is just a mouthful of grapefruit. A little spicy touch arrives as it warms up, but by then it is too late to save this beer.

I know that IPAs are supposed to be an unbalanced style but I am confused by people who want to make them taste like grapefruit rind. It’s just…no. Don’t do that. Malt is not a bad thing! Hell, hop variance isn’t a bad thing!

I also made my annual pilgrimage to the Elysian brewpub on Capitol Hill, where I had their Woodruff maibock. It was nice and pretty mild; I do get a red wine influence in the nose-it’s just a little tart there. I had something else but I was too busy eating lunch to take notes. Writer hungry!

However one of the best surprises was Bellhaven Scottish stout. I was introduced to this by friends, and it was fantastic. It has a whiff of whiskey in the nose and is super creamy all the way to the finish. A really lovely surprise. I think I need to find some more of that as soon as possible.

Black Raven Brewing

Getting a brief respite from the traditional Thanksgiving activities was easy. Driving to the Black Raven brewery in Redmond, a little less so. I’m currently willing to bet that the Seattle metro area was cityscaped by people who hate human beings, robots and lesser gods. Nothing makes any sense while driving there, unless you use the logic of hate.

That said, we still found our way to (and from!) the brewery which from the outside: not so impressive. Camouflaged in a business park, the Black Raven brewery could be anything: a CIA front, deliverers of teddy bears, spawning ground for Elder Gods-whatever bland, nondescript, terrible thing that tends to hide in these places. It did not inspire confidence.

The inside was a totally different story though; only two televisions, neither of which were oversized or too dominant, warm lighting which was easy enough to see by but low enough to bring a date, plenty of space to get comfy and a staff that enthusiastically expressed their knowledge of Black Raven’s beverages. I felt a little like Dorothy walking into Oz, though with much more comfortable shoes.

And then there was the beer. In the foreground is the Scottish ale, in the background is the sampler tray (with my Scottish ale obscuring the Scottish sample.)

Not a bad beer in the bunch. Favorites included the pale and the brown ales; they were a cut above due to the drinkability. However, this drinkability ran through the entire line of beers and worked against the stout, IPA and Scottish ales. Not that those beers were bad by any means, merely that because they were so drinkable, I felt that some of the elements of the style that I’d come to expect, like denser flavors or a more viscous mouthfeel, these things were held back in order to serve a more ‘sessionable’ brew.

Again: They were not bad! I heartily recommend Black Raven’s stuff to anyone who has the chance to try them. Getting to taste samples and picking up what I felt was an overall philosophy (we want to make drinkable beers across a range of styles) is a hell of a thing. It may very well be that, due to being spoiled in Portland, I occasionally neglect to appreciate beers that are well within their style guidelines. Even lesser deities are not perfect.

Seattle wrapup

While spending much of the last weekend at PAX, I made sure to take some time taking in what the locals drink and here’s what I recall:

Fremont Brewing had a lovely summer pale ale that made a very positive impression on me. It had an easy drinking quality and I would compare it to Deschutes’ Mirror Pond. I’d like to go back and get some more of their wares, because it really was a tasty beverage that I’d like more of and I’d like to see what else they do.

Brouwer’s pub is a great place to catch a pint or two. Go during happy hour though; it’s a little pricey. I can’t remember what brews I had exactly but I can tell you they were tasty and served properly. I was distracted by getting tiny plates of fries and sliders for dinner, which were super good. The staff was also tremendously helpful, returning a map for me that I very much needed to navigate the rough paths of Seattle. To the staff: thanks so much!

black raven ipaFinally, I had some of Black Raven‘s Trickster ale at the Parkway in Tacoma. As readers probably know by now, I have a thing for any beer named after mythological creatures and the Trickster is one of my favorite ones. It was an IPA that tasted like raspberries up front, drop of malt, then hoppy goodness at the end. Wonderful beer and if you have the opportunity, try it.

The beer was almost good enough for me to overlook the surliness of my server. Fortunately for us, she was soon supplanted by a much more pleasant one.