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Friday, October 29, 2010

Widmer Bros Barrel Aged Brrrbon



Barrel Aged Brrrbon
Brothers' Reserve Series
Brrr aged in Bourbon Oak Barrels
9.4% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Fresh white oak, if there is such a thing. I say fresh and white because the wood character comes off the top edgy and young. Second to the oak you'll find Bourbon notes and alcohol, with the Bourbon slightly winning over. No hop aroma, little to no malt in the nose either. There is an underlying 'rust' aroma, and I don't mean to imply Metallic. Simply an earthy blend of wood and alcohol.

Appearance: The lightest brown to mahogany red with crystal clarity. Head is but a trace of an off-white ring at the edge of the glass. Touches of lacing here and there.

Flavor: Sweet toasted bread malt with the expected wooded bourbon quickly following up the malt. These two flavors dominate the palate, while black pepper, some clove and all-spice blend into the mix. Finish is biting from the bourbon, but the malt sweetness hangs on.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. The carbonation is similar to cask conditioned ales, with only the slightest presence. 9.4% Alcohol hits the back of the throat in the finish

Overall: There is a welcoming Winter Brew character to this beer that fits the season nicely. The Bourbon oak aroma is like sticking your nose in a freshly toasted oak barrel. Typically I find oak aged beers have a deeper wood presence, but the barrel aging here tells of youthful oak. Personally I enjoy the change, but some will find the wood to be too 'green' I imagine.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.


Note: After rating this beer on BeerAdvocate.com I noticed my rating carried a deviation of 12% greater than the current norm. Overall, as of this writing, this beer scores a solid “B”. While I am certain I have a bias toward Widmer Brother’s for my own reason, I am also certain there are many people who carry the opposite bias, for whatever reason.

I may choose to write further on this subject. Though for now I can only speculate why I often see negative comments toward this long-running and successful brewery. Perhaps it’s their relatively large size, their affiliation with AB-Inbev, or perhaps because they weren’t going out on a limb with extreme brews for a number of years. Whatever the reason I would challenge any beer dork to blind taste tests with Widmer in the mix, it would probably be healthy for me as well. I would wager the results would be surprising.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oskar Blues GUBNA



Oskar Blues GUBNA
Imperial IPA
On Tap at the 4 Daughter’s Irish Pub. Medford, OR


Aroma: At first, and especially when the beer is cold, the primary aroma is rich citrus and grapefruit hop aroma. Letting the beer warm up, a deeper oragne-peel cooked in bread malt aroma will make itself present, accompanying the straight up hop presence. Light traces of alcohol burn the nose just enough to let you know this beer is 10% ABV.

Appearance: Light diluted copper with a medium amount of chill haze, or more likely a haze from excessive hop additions. A thin white head forms along the sides of the glass, though not across the top of the entire beer. Alcohol presence aids in good lacing down the sides.

Flavor: Sweet malt presence is surprisingly strong with this beer. There is almost the sense of under-attenuation here but thankfully there is enough hop bitterness and alcohol presence to balance things out. Bitterness comes out a moderate amount at the middle, but is more pronounced at the end. Alcohol warmth and bite are probably the most prominent, along with biscuit-malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with medium carbonation. Prickly carbonation combine with hop bitterness to clean out a sticky-sweet malt from your palate. The finish is an equal balance of the hop bitterness and alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is certainly the sweetest representation of a Double IPA I’ve tasted in memory. In a way it’s overly sweet, as you drink the glass it becomes a bit too much as your palate adjusts. It’s a delicious brew never the less and I recommend it, as it’s a tasty interpretation on this sometimes over-the-top style. Easy drinking, warming and certainly packs an alcohol punch.

I rated this beer a “B” on BeerAdvocate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stone Ruination IPA

The movie How to Train Your Dragon was recently released. My house has been overrun by Dragons. Here they are with Stone's Gargoyle. Note the actual beer to the left...


Stone Ruination IPA
American Double IPA
ABV 7.7%
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Moderate levels of orange peel hop aroma with some pepper thrown into the mix as well. Quite resinous throughout the nose, but not unbalanced or undesirable. Malt is hidden but you can pick up some bread crust if you look past the hop cones.

Appearance: Deep golden to nearly orange with a well retained, but thin, white head. The beer is quite hazy which makes you expect a yeast presence, though I suspect it is from dry-hopping. Good lacing down the sides of the glass.

Flavor: A sting of hop bitterness right off the bat, then there is just a touch of bready-malt sweetness coming through for a moment. More orange peel and grassy hop bitterness and flavor come through in the middle and they hold on to the bitter end.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to high carbonation. The prickly sensation of extreme amounts of hop bitterness could be perceived as carbonation in a way. Hops attack the tongue and back of the throat with bitterness that both cleans the mouth dry, yet leaves an oil in your mouth that continues to spew bitterness long after the beer flows down the throat.

Overall: The hop aroma in this beer oddly doesn't fully give the full story as to just how bitter this beer truly is. It has a beautiful hop nose, but the bitterness and flavor far out weigh the aroma. This is liquid hops. Citric and grassy hops are highlighted in ways that I've only seen otherwise in fresh hop beers.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stone Vertical Epic 10.10.10


Stone Brewing Company
Vertical Epic 10.10.10
Purchased at 99 Bottles.

Aroma: Clove, coriander and Belgian yeast phenolic spice all come to mind with the first intake of this beer. A mild alcoholic pepper fills in the background of this generally flowery brew. Hop aroma is not detectable beyond the floral notes, but there is a faint undertone of fresh white bread to bring out the malt here.

Appearance: As gold as a wedding band with diamond clarity. There is a strong presence of carbonation bubbles seen rising to the top. They break to form a solid but thin layer of white head. Traces of lacing.

Flavor: Light pale malt sweetness hits the tongue for just a moment then it's pushed away by a tangy, but not quite sour, grape skin. There is a blend of pepper and spices that constantly crash together in your mouth. Trying to pick out each one is nearly impossible, but I'd say clove and all-spice are prominent. The blend of spices, as well as a touch of alcohol, does tend to confuse the palate if you focus on it too much.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. The culmination of Herbs and Spices in this beer tingle the tongue, roof of the mouth, and back of the throat as it works its way around your mouth. This has a refreshing effect overall. Finish is dry with a final report from the alcohol as it bites the back of the throat.

Overall: There is a mess of flavors in this beer that I admit I am not able to entirely pick out. Looking into each spice can be daunting with a beer like this. And while there is a lot going on, the beer does not come off mottled or overdone. Taking a straight forward sip however, this years Vertical Epic has a cooling and refreshing quality. The spices are crisp with just enough alcohol to let you know it's there. Though I wouldn't have guessed it's the 9.5% as stated on the bottle.

I purchased 2 bottles, and I doubt the second will last in my house 6 months. But if you're the aging type, I'm guessing this beer will mellow quite nicely. But if the spices remain as clearly defined, only time will tell.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.
99 Bottles. Federal Way, WA

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Punkin Ale


Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
7% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Prominent nutmeg will hit the nose first with an underlying aroma of pumpkin pie. The label says cinnamon but I get a lot more clove than cinnamon. No notable hop aroma or malt texture.

Appearance: Polished copper with brilliant clarity. The head pours a low layer of white frosting on top of the beer and sticks lightly to the edge of the glass.

Flavor: A delicate balance of malt sweetness blended with candy sugar and light nutmeg. These flavors hit the tongue right away, but as the palate gets used to the sugar and spice the malt sweetness becomes more prominent overall. It's reasonably lightly spiced, which pleasantly allows some hop bitterness through. Finish is dry with traces of sugar sweetness left behind.

Mouthfeel: Medium light body with light carbonation. The body starts out slightly watery but there is the presence of light syrup in the middle which fills things out. Finish leaves some stickiness behind. Little to no alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is a surprisingly easy drinking pumpkin ale that doesn't try to go over the top on the pumpkin aspect. Though on that note I would say they could push the pumpkin in a little more. If you were handed this beer without knowing what it was you'd probably call it an Amber Ale with nutmeg added. Not necessarily a Pumpkin Ale. Definitely a nice drinking beer with an even blend of spices, sugar, and malt sweetness. I'd buy it again. But it could use a little more pumpkin.

I rated this beer a "B+" on BeerAdvocate.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Schell's Barrel Aged Schmaltz's Alt


August Schell Brewing Co.
Barrel Aged Schmaltz's Alt
Batch No.1
Purchased at Blue Max Liquors

My wife went to Minnesota and brought back a few local ales. Here is one of them which she bought because Schell's holds "a special place in her heart" due to Bock Fest.

Aroma: A bright and full nose of red cherries with just a hint of oak following that up. Some dark fruits are also noted. ABV is not stated on the bottle but there is a moderate among of alcohol spice coming off the beer as well. A bit of chocolate is just barely noticeable. No hop aroma.

Appearance: Black body with clear ruby highlights along the edges and top. Head poured about one finger of tan large bubbles, but faded quickly to a trace of a ring along the outside.

Flavor: Light caramel blended with some plum and roasted malt. Sweet chocolate works its way in as well toward the middle where hop bitterness makes a showing ever so slightly. Finish is very clean with a touch of malt sugars left behind for sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Light body with light carbonation. It's either the roast or barrel aging that give a sense of dryness on the palate right in the middle, then the beer ends very crisp and dry. Light visit from hop bitterness in the finish.

Overall: Surprisingly light flavors coming off this beer, especially when you consider the relatively complex aroma. The dark fruit and light cherry character is very nice in the nose, but doesn't fully transcend to the flavor. A nice beer to enjoy on a cool Autumn evening, but still an easy drinking ale.

I rated this beer a "B" on BeerAdvocate.
Blue Max Liquors (Link is to Yelp. Blue Max appears to have no website.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maui Brewing Coconut Porter


Maui Brewing
Coconut Porter
Style: American Porter
5.7% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles.

Aroma: Deep sweet chocolate almost completely dominates the nose. A rustic dry hay-like presence is noted lingering in the background. This can come of as somewhat grainy as well. No hop aroma. No detectable coconut.

Appearance: Black. Black like the shadow of a thousand crows. A light tan head forms after the pour but fades quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass. Light lacing.

Flavor: Sweet chocolate once again up front with a quick follow up of light coconut. The coconut adds a level of tartness, though it is very subtle. Roast presents itself toward the finish as well as a trace of hop bitterness. Finish is lightly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to high carbonation. I say this because the carbonation comes off a bit 'fizzy'. Roast dries out the palate toward the finish and carbonation scrapes the tongue dry.

Overall: A surprisingly sweet porter with just enough coconut milk presence in the mix to make it noticeable. I would welcome a splash more coconut, but it's probably very easy to go too far with that. Carbonation is too high for me, but it does make this beer refreshing. Even with the thermometer at 90 degrees F today, the beer goes down well.

I rated this beer a “B+” on BeerAdvocate.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Midnight Sun Monk's Mistress




Midnight Sun
Monk’s Mistress
Belgian Style Special Dark Ale
11.5% ABV
Purchased at Tacoma Boys

Aroma: First up is a beautiful blend of dark fruit and alcohol spice. A welcome aroma that brings me back to my winter beer tastings... Some fig, plums and chocolate come out nicely here. The phenolics off this beer represent the Belgian style nicely and very successfully hide the 11.5% ABV, there is very little alcohol aroma.

Appearance: Nearly black. I’ve seen porters and stouts that allow more light through, but there is a cherry wood glow that shines from this beer if you hold it up to the light. Also some small bits of yeast settled near the bottom of my glass, suggesting bottle conditioning even though the bottle itself mentions nothing of it. Head pours a creamy tan. Frothy. Excellent retention and good lacing.

Flavor: Light molasses and deep candi syrup come to mind and the tongue first, but these sweet flavors are quickly over taken by roasted malt and deep toasted bread. There is some chocolate in there too, but you’ll mostly recognize the roast. Once you get passed the deep malt and syrup there’s a subtle bread dough to the beer that seems to be coming off of the yeast. Once again nearly no alcohol presence, it’s almost hard to believe this is so high in alcohol. The finish does bring out an alcoholic spice, though there seems to be a touch of hop bitterness lingering there too.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. Malt and candi sweetness bring out a touch of stickiness through the middle but the beer cleans up very nicely in the finish. Alcoholic warmth will bite the back of the throat for just a moment as the beer goes down.

Overall: A stellar display of balance and complexity in what could have turned out to be a very “boozy” beer. Midnight Sun Brewing has done well in hiding the 11.5% ABV with a nice balance of aroma, sweet and roasted flavors, with just a touch of warming mouthfeel. This is a very easy drinking dark ale that offers complexity only Belgian yeast can bring. Some of the sweetness comes off a little surprising at first sip, but while the beer warms and your palate warms up to the beer, this beer becomes more and more enjoyable.

I rated this “Monk’s Mistress” an “A+” on BeerAdvocate.


note: Midnight Sun declares the beer to be a Belgian Style Special Dark Ale. But BeerAdvocate categorizes it as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, which I am more familiar with.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sierra Nevada Porter


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Porter
Purchased at Fred Meyer

Aroma: Vegetal? Yup just the slightest hint right away off the top of the glass. It fades quickly as you breath in, but I certainly catch a quick whiff of it. It’s not over powering or even prominent, but it’s there. Prominent aromas are what you’d expect with a slight roast, balanced nearly equally with sweet chocolate and light toffee. It’s hard to pick out the hops in this porter, but you can pull out some floral character if you’re patient.

Appearance: Deep brown to mahogany red with good clarity. At first glance you may think this porter is pure black, but against the light it is anything but. Head retention is solid with nut brown bubbles holding well. Light lacing.

Flavor: Sweet chocolate at first which holds nicely into the middle. Then the hops finally shine through with herbal and light citrus spice. Hop bitterness and roasted character blend nicely through the middle. Flavors drop out toward the end where the beer moves toward watery for a moment, then finishes with just a touch more hop bitterness before fading out clean.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with medium carbonation. Roasted flavors and hops will tingle the palate for a moment through the middle. If you hold the beer in your mouth just slightly longer than normal the hops will bite the back of your throat nicely before it goes down with a subtle sting.

Overall: Despite my descriptions of the specific aroma and flavors, don’t expect this porter to blow your palate away. This is a very easy drinking porter with an even blend of hop bitterness and roast. Both qualities offset malt and chocolate sweetness well. I believe Sierra Nevada intended for nice quaffer here, and that’s what they got. The vegetal aroma may not be detectable to some. I seem to have this issue with Porters specifically, where I’ll pick up on vegetal pretty easily. I can look past it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I rated this beer a “B” on BeerAdvocate.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Westmalle Trappist Tripel


Westmalle Trappist Tripel
Style: Tripel
Purchased at Tacoma Boys

Aroma: Ripe pear skin. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hold a glass of this beer to your nose. There is a light sense of brown sugar and sweet bread dough. Not bread crust mind you. Dark grapes are also noted in the aroma. No hop aroma and only a hint of alcohol despite the 9.5% ABV.

Appearance: A deep yellow to light golden amber with a yeast haze. Effervesant carbonation bubbles can be seen rapidly rising to the top that produce a frothy billow of pure white head. Excellent retention and very good lacing.

Flavor: Light spices of coriander, clove, and alcohol combine evenly on the palate with a very gentle presence. The alcohol lingers the most through the middle where you’ll find an almost peppery spice. This seems to come from a combination of the alcohol and yeast. While the flavors are light, there’s a lasting sensation of color on your tongue into the clean finish. If there’s a hop presence it’s only found at the back of the throat and with an earthy/noble presence.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with high carbonation. Alcohol presence is certainly noted with a warming presence in the mouth and through the finish. This beer warms you up as it goes down. The carbonation is high and seems to renew the flavor if you hold the beer in your mouth.

Overall: Since there is a fair amount of yeast in the bottle, a careful pour will yield a brighter and more clear beer. But I poured this into two glasses, and the second glass got much more yeast than the first. If you don’t care for yeast in your beer, pour slowly. Personally I call small bits of yeast “flavor crystals” in my beer. The same goes for hop flakes, though you won’t find those here. There is nothing overpowering about this beer and the flavors blend together surprisingly evenly, with the alcohol winning out only slightly. Hop presence is minimal while the beer exhibits a noble spice given off by the Wesmalle yeast.

Enjoy this beer in quiet appreciation. You owe it to yourself, and the Monks.

I rated this beer an “A+” on BeerAdvocate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bayern Brewing "Amber"

[Edit]
While publishing this blog entry I noticed from Bayern's Website that what I thought was an Amber Ale, is actually an Amber Lager. Think Yuengling Traditional Lager...HOWEVER...Bayern describes their 'Amber Lager' as a Märzen, which I would say misses the mark as well. Either way I was reviewing this beer based on the premise of an Amber Ale, and of course didn't find the qualities I was expecting. I will leave my review on this site as I wrote it at the Pub. I have deleted my review on BeerAdvocate because my comments do not accurately reflect the style of beer Bayern brewed. My apologies. Next time I will be certain to leave no doubt as to what style of beer I am drinking. In my defense however, the Tap Handle (from the brewer) and Menu Description at the pub simply stated the beer was an "Amber". What would you presume?



Bayern Brewing
Amber
On tap at the Iron Horse Pub
Missoula MT

Aroma: Light caramel and sweet white bread. There is a yeast phenolic that comes off as a light diacetyl. No hop aroma.

Appearance: A diluted amber, near yellow, but there's just enough red allowed to pass through that a slight amber hue present. Beer was served with a full head of white but this quickly faded the trace of a white ring. Brilliant filtered clarity.

Flavor: Noble hop flavor upfront that holds the palate for a moment, until it is replaced by a cream-like caramel. Hop flavor comes back again through the middle with more earthy presence. Bitterness comes out near the finish and bites the back of the throat and tongue.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with high carbonation. The carbonation has a tendency to come off 'fizzy' if the beer is held on the palate for too long. This scrapes the tongue... Finish is almost completely dry save for a touch of malt sweetness mixed in with the bittering hops.

Overall: Amber Ale...well that might be a stretch. Without truly knowing I'm guessing this beer was fermented with a lager yeast at higher than lager temperatures. This gives it a crisp finish that one would look for in a summer ale, but the carbonation really doesn't allow for a smooth drinking beer. Aroma isn't well defined and the color resembles more of a blond, or a dark Kölsch.

Bayern Brewing on BeerAdvocate.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Diamond Knot "Industrial IPA"


Diamond Knot Industrial India Pale Ale
Style: American Double IPA
Purchased at Fred Meyer
$4.69 (22oz)

Aroma: Rich nose full of hoppy grapefruit rind and orange juice (and I mean that in the best possible way) combined with some slight boozy alcohol notes in the background. There’s also a follow up presence of rich bread dough and a slight detection of molasses. The molasses was not at all suspected, but I think the malt and alcohol are combing to create this effect. Something I haven’t found in an Imperial IPA before. Nice aroma.

Appearance: Light amber to copper body with a thin white head that forms with a moderate pour. Slightly hazy likely from heavy hopping, or a chill haze. Moderate lacing follows the glass down.

Flavor: Alcohol seems to hit the palate first quickly followed by fresh cut grass jammed in a blender with a heavy handful of grapefruit rind hop flavor. Malt begins to back this up with some melanoidin character toward the middle. Sweet as well at the midpoint. Finish is surprisingly crisp and dry with only a mild amount of lingering malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Hops fade quickly in the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. Alcohol warms up the palate throughout while the hops provide a light to moderate amount of sting at the back of the throat. Not quite what you’d expect or hope for with a Double IPA, but there certainly is a hop bite at the back of the throat.

Overall: The aroma of this beer is excellent, maybe even outstanding. Rich hop character is all over the map for the Northwest IPA style and that molasses is quite unexpected. I shouldn’t say it’s an overpowering molasses aroma, it’s not, but if you take just a moment to think about what you’re smelling, you’ll pick up on aroma’s found in some Baltic Porter’s or Oatmeal Stout’s. The flavor doesn’t quite follow through however. It seems the hops fight with the alcohol for dominance, and the alcohol probably wins by a nose. The bitterness falls a little flat in the end. I would like to see it carry through with a little more ”Industrial” punch.

While I probably won’t be buying this beer again if I’m looking for a Double IPA. It’s interesting and tasty enough where I am definitely looking forward to picking up other beers Diamond Knot has to offer.

I rated this beer a “B+” on BeerAdvocate.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bridgeport Stumptown Tart


Bridgeport Brewing Co
Stumptown Tart
Raspberry Framboise
Purchased at Safeway

Aroma: Rich, bright, and slightly sour character of raspberries as well as a nearly equal blend of dark cherry pushing through the nose. While I’ve never smelled an actual “horse blanket”, this beer exhibits the sour aroma often found in beers spiked with Brettanomyces, and often described as horse blanket. No hop aroma. Little if any malt character here other than a hint of light biscuit.

Appearance: Golden amber with a translucent, unfiltered haze throughout. Moderate carbonation bubbles are seen rising to the top which form a low creamy-white head. Shortly after pouring the head fades to a light ring along the edge of the glass only. No lacing.

Flavor: Surprisingly “malty” upfront with quite a focus on wheat bread, or maybe even white bread. Not biscuity, but the malt dominates the palate. Sour character only slightly transcends the aroma into the flavor adding only a faint sour twang at the back of the throat. Very light raspberry with some lemon actually playing in. Finish is sweet white bread.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. Bread character of the malt fills the mouth nicely and the sweetness holds the palate with a near chewy texture into the finish. Just enough sourness to bite the back of the throat and jaw muscles at first sip, but the palate quickly adapts. In the finish you’ll find the remnants of raspberries.

Overall: I loved the aroma of this beer. Sour, raspberries, and some cherry all present themselves very clearly in the nose. There is certainly a nice touch of a spontaneously fermented ale here, but there is little follow through into the flavor. Raspberries are hardly noticeable in the flavor, and the sourness is muted. The bread-like qualities of this beer are not off-putting by any means, it’s a nice drinking beer. With a Framboise I hope for a little more fruit sparkle and stinging sourness.

I rated this beer a “B” on Beer Advocate.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Saison du Buff

A collaboration brew between Stone, Victory and Dogfish Head.


Saison du Buff
Style: Saison with Spices and Herbs added
Purchased at 99Bottles

Aroma: Heavy blend of herbal notes are forefront on the nose. Spices seem to lean toward Thyme and Rosemary, at least that's what I can pick up on the most. Some black pepper and hints of caramel and light malts, white bread, push through the herbs. No hop aroma.

Appearance: Pale yellow and slightly hazy with active carbonation bubbles seen rising to the top. Head holds low with a ring of white foam around the edge.

Flavor: Hops! A fresh blast of hops surprisingly hits the tongue at first sip. Grapefruit citrus comes out hard, but is quickly quelled by the herbal presence of Rosemary and thyme. There is a sweetness that seems to come not only from expected barley/caramel, but there is also an herbal sugar that seems blended in. Thin through the middle where the flavors all seem to fade for a moment, then the beer finishes with another visit from the hops and fresh grass herbs.

Mouthfeel: Light body with medium carbonation. The carbonation lifts the body somewhat but the beer still comes off light and refreshing in the mouth. Very dry finish with some lingering hop resin in the finish.

Overall: If you've never had a 'spice, herb, or vegetable' beer this is a very good place to start. The beer nicely demonstrates that herbs normally thought of solely for cooking, can be successfully applied in brewing. The hop bitterness and flavor are surprisingly high considering they're not recognizable in the aroma. In fact I wouldn't mind if the hops were backed off a little to let the spices come through even more.

I rated this beer a "B+" on BeerAdvocate.


Saison du Buff on BeerAdvocate

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Washington Brewers Festival 2010


I volunteered at the Washington Brewers Festival selling tokens from 1:30 to 5:30 on Saturday (6/19/10). Personally I don't think I could have had such a well rounded experience at a Beer Fest otherwise. I worked with some great people volunteering and had fun bantering with people as they entered the fest. A special thanks to Abby the Ticket Seller, Holly the Organizer, Anastasia the Manager, Neal the Brewer from Georgetown for talking about Cask conditioning, and the three Drunk Australians...


With the task of volunteering for 4 hours I was granted free parking, free access, and free tokens after my shift at the festival. I was also able to eat for free, and yes there's more, a free t-shirt! Why would you not volunteer? I didn't take the time to do a formal review on any of the beers there, but I can say I didn't have a single beer I didn't like. Yes there were some I liked more than others, but all beers were nicely done in their own way. My favorite had to be the Hale's Seattle Beer Week Double IPA on Cask. I also enjoyed taking the time talking to the brewers and operators of many of the smaller Seattle breweries.

I certainly look forward to volunteering at future beer festivals, it seems a nice way to see the action from both sides of the taps.

That's me.


Here are more pictures from the Washington Brewers Festival:

Ninkasi Kid


Odin Brewing Co.

Hale's Seattle Beer Week Double IPA on Cask.

Elliot Bay Brewing


Black Raven

Friday, June 18, 2010

Deschutes Hop in the Dark


I'm trying something a little new here, since hyperlinks in the text can be distracting from the overall content. For the next few posts I will publish all links at the bottom of my beer reviews. That way you can read the review without distraction, but can still find helpful links at the end of the post. We'll see how it works.

Deschutes Brewery
Hop in the Dark
Cascadian Dark Ale
Purchased at 99 Bottles.



Aroma: Citrus. Grapefruit and orange peel in characteristic Northwest IPA style, with a touch of hay playing at the edges. Once you get past the hops there is a definite chocolate presence, that while quick to be pushed to the back by the hops, comes off quite sweet. A minor amount of roasted barley also lingers.

Appearance: Solid black. Not brown, no ruby highlights at the edges. Black. Light dusty-brown head forms easily with a moderate pour and has good retention. A few points of lacing stick to the edges of the glass.

Flavor: Surprisingly strong roasted malt upfront on the palate. Burnt coffee comes to mind. The roast holds your taste buds tightly, letting in some chocolate for a moment before the hops finally take over. Moderately strong hop bitterness through the middle comes off as tannic grapefruit rind, but also earthy when mixed with the strong roasted presence. Finish is drying and bitter with yes, more roast. Dark toast, dark chocolate, burnt coffee.

Mouthfeel: Medium light body with medium carbonation. The roasted character of this beer causes the palate to dry out quite quickly and even leaves your mouth feeling a little rough, or edgy. Hop bitterness hits the top and back of the throat in the finish with a desert dryness.

Overall: The incredible amount of roasted presence in the flavor is very surprising when you nearly can’t find it at all in the aroma. This is definitely a hop forward ale both in aroma and bitterness, but there is room left for the “dark” portion of this emerging style to show a presence. Sweet chocolate aromatics are a pleasing blend to the citrus hop in the nose. Roasted dryness is pushing the palate to be overly stimulated and causes a great deal of drying.

If you like dry stouts or imperial stouts, and you like IPA’s, you’ll love this beer.

I rated this beer an “A” on Beer Advocate.


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Beer enthusiast and advocate. Recognized beer judge and traveler of west coast beer destinations.