The second installment of our Pacific Northwest brewery review series, The Pint is Mightier. Hailing from Redmond, WA, our next brewery is…
Black Raven Brewing Co.
The Black Raven is hidden away in the outskirts of Redmond in an unassuming business park. It has a dark but subtly inviting ambiance. Dimly but cozily lit, the wooden bar counters, chairs, and tables all fit together perfectly. We strolled in and immediately fell under the spell of the place.
Eric and I both got started with a pint of Morrighan Nitro Stout. It poured very dark with a creamy tan head. Typical of a stout, it had a strong roasted flavor that was paired with a more subtle chocolate note. We both agreed that it was quite light for a stout, similar in body profile to Guinness. However the Morrighan had substantially more flavor than a standard American Guinness with flavors of caramel and the aforementioned chocolate. The biggest knock against this brew was that fact that it was very top heavy; the flavor hit the tip of your tongue will almost no depth in the aftertaste.
My next brew was the Trickster IPA. After one sip all I could think was – Fellow hop-heads rejoice and be merry! This is not a beer for the fair-weather IPA drinker. As soon as it hits your mouth you’re overwhelmed with floral, citrus and bitter notes. The body is a rusty amber color but light nonetheless, leaving nothing to interfere with the hop profile. At 6.9% ABV this beer packs a wallop as well. If you’re an IPA true believer, I can’t recommend this beer highly enough. It’s worth a journey from wherever you’re from to get it right from the brewery.
Eric followed with the Totem Northwest Pale Ale, which he described as the little brother of the Trickster. It was a nice reddish amber color with a good amount of carbonation. The beer’s hoppy aroma hinted at its robust nature. It was stronger and more bitter than other pale ales, which Eric didn’t think was necessarily a bad thing at all. Overall the flavor was very well balanced with a subtle citrus flavor that grew more prominent in the aftertaste.
We rounded out our evening with a pair of lighter beers (we still had to get back home!). I opted for one of Black Raven’s rotating specials, the Citrus Hefeweizen. The Hefe was a cloudy pale yellow and smelled strongly of grain. It’s name told no lies about it’s taste; the beer was wheaty and sweet, with lots of citrus and hints of spice. As I drank I couldn’t help but think that I’d tasted this somewhere before. It wasn’t until I’d almost finished my pint that I sussed out the parallel to the flavor: corned beef. The spice taste of the Citrus Hefeweizen tasted almost exactly the same as the spice blend in corned beef. As odd as that sounds, this beer was still pretty good. I am not generally a fan of Hefe’s, but this one had enough going on to make it a solid brew.
The Suntheif Kristallweizen was Eric’s last pint of the night. When it comes to wheat beers Eric has a similar disposition to me, but he had to admit this one was good. It had an aroma similar to other light wheat beers, with a faint scent of hops as well. It was very light bodied and a pleasant hint of cloves in the flavor. He recommends any fan of hefeweizens to try this beer, he will remember this one as one of the best in the style that he’s had.
A great location and kind-hearted, helpful staff round out the whole experience. They have pretzels and peanuts free of charge (they serve them to you individually too, so you don’t need to worry about germy strangers rooting around your peanuts) and the beers are true gems. They were out when we went this time, but Eric and I have both had the Tamerlane Porter on other occasions and found it to be one of the best porters we’ve tried. All in all, the Black Raven Brewing Co. is an eastside spot worth your time and money, especially if you need a break from the Eastside’s most ubiquitous brewery, Redhook. We both highly recommend giving it a try.