Hailing from Olympia – unarguably the coolest named state capital in the nation – comes our next brewery review…
Fish Brewing Co.
The Fish Tale Brew Pub, across the street from the actual brewery, has the appearance and atmosphere of your standard brewpub with an added bit of a seafood flair. Set aside your fears though, there are no fish parts in these beers. The Fish Brewing Co. is actually well known their commitment to organic brews, with every one of the standard lineup meeting USDA Organic certification.
Eric went big for his first brew, snagging a pint of the Starfish Imperial Red Ale.
The Starfish was one of the Fish’s specials served in the summer months. Despite its seasonal affiliation it was definitely not what you would think of as a typical ‘summer brew.’ Eric jumped at the chance to get this beer, since Imperial Read Ales aren’t widely available. It definitely packed a punch at 7.5% ABV and a hoppy 63 IBU (International Bittering Units). The Starfish was appropriately red in hue and had a distinct opacity without being cloudy. It had no head but did possess a pleasant hoppy aroma, much like an IPA, that Eric found to be pleasantly subtle. Upon the first sip he could definitely taste the rye, which is the grain used to make red ales so red. The taste was complex and interesting. The aftertaste, though less intricate, was powerful, long lasting, and had a strong citrus taste, much like the rind of an orange or grapefruit. Overall Eric found this beer to be interesting and unique. The combination of the rye beer with an IPA (Which I believe should henceforth be known as a RyePA) made this beer fun, tasty, and memorable.
I opted for one of their flagship ales for my first beer, the Wild Salmon Organic Pale Ale. This beer is probably one of the most drinkable I have ever tasted. It poured copper with a light head like most traditional pale ales, but one sip revealed the difference. The Wild Salmon was light-bodied and extremely crisp. The hops flavors were citrusy, but quite shy and only stayed on my tongue for a few seconds. The best way to describe this beer, however, is uncomplicated. That isn’t a knock against it – sometimes simplicity truly is the ultimate form of sophistication – it just means this beer is perfect to enjoy when you just want to kick back, relax and crack a bottle.
Next I chose their Organic IPA. The most striking aspect of this IPA was the flavor of the hops; they leaned heavily on citrus flavor, with only hints of floral and bitter notes. At times they even gave this beer a fleeting lemony taste. Aside from the hops, this beer had a light aroma and minimal head. It was light-bodied and had a near-perfectly balanced amount of carbonation. Overall this is a good IPA that is definitely a change of pace from the powerful, northwest-hopped IPA’s usually seen around these parts.
Eric closed out this brewery with the Organic Amber Ale. It was somewhere between light and medium bodied and had an amber color and aroma that was consistent with others of its kind. What was interesting about this beer though was its hoppier flavor than a traditional amber, which added a nice little zest to its profile. It went down easy and Eric found that he enjoyed it more and more as he drank. He thought this beer was better than ubiquitous Mac and Jack’s African Amber and recommends it to a beginning beer drinking looking to expand his/her horizons.
Fish Brewing Company has some very solid beers, although none particular stood out compared to some of the other places we’ve visited. If you find yourself in Olympia it’s definitely a place you should go to, but it probably isn’t worth a long drive unless you’re particularly interested in the organic aspect of their brewing. (Ed: They just opened a satellite brewpub in Everett, which is closer if you’re worried about a long drive)