The Pint is Mightier: Skagit River Brewery

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

We confess: this brewery review is from almost a year ago. It got buried in the to-do stack and we just got around to finishing it up. A blast from the past, and from Mount Vernon, WA…

Skagit River Brewery

Tired – and definitely not hung over – we were on our way back from Bellingham when we drawn in by the siren’s call of another brewery. Although occasionally disrupted by a loud train careening by right outside, Skagit River generally held the same sleepy, relaxed atmosphere as the town around it. Digging the laid back attitude, we settled in for some reviewing.

Our first beer was the Highwater Porter, which poured a thick, dark black with no head to it. The aroma was light, but carried hints of the roasted malt flavor that made up the base of the flavor. A sip revealed mild grassy and earthy notes as well, but not in any unpleasant sense. There was a hint of strength, but nothing to suggest the actual potency of the brew – 7.2 percent. Overall the Highwater was good and well fortified porter, but nothing to shout from the mountaintops about.

The next beer that we tried was the Sculler’s IPA, a dark amber beaut. It had poured with a relatively small head, and had a rather see-through appearance for an IPA. The beer had a characteristically fruity-hop aroma that was quite enjoyable. The first sip revealed an incredibly power hop flavor, a hop-hurricane (patent pending) you might even say. It wasn’t until the aftertaste that the citrus hops really shone through however. This IPA was tasty and strong, but somewhat unremarkable. You’ll enjoy it if you like IPAs, but it won’t hook you on the style if you don’t.

We were not very impressed with our first sip of the Gospel IPA, with it’s faint banana undertones and overly bitter finish. Something about the hops, malts and yeast were out of whack.  There wasn’t enough body to make up for the force of the hops, which themselves were too weighted towards floral tones without any hint of bitter or earthy notes.  Although we found that this deep amber, medium carbonation beer did grow on us somewhat towards the end, we think that probably had more to do with our taste buds acclimating than anything else.

We concluded our daydrinking session with the Farm to Market Bitter. We don’t often have the chance to review an ESB, much less a regular old bitter (if you don’t know the distinction, don’t be troubled, it’s minor). It poured an amber color with a delightful half inch of head, with a malty and mildly hoppy aroma. It lacked opacity and appeared quite bubbly and carbonated. Just as it smelled, this beer had a good malty flavor with a perfect level of bitterness to balance out the flavor. At 5 percent ABV wasn’t a weak beer, unlike other bitters. We were quite pleased with this beer, judging it to be better than the similar but more widely imbibed Redhook ESB and Mac and Jack’s African Amber. If you like either of those beers, you ought to give this one a try.

The Skagit River Brewery was a fairly pleasant place. It has a good atmosphere, and we imagine that it’s a great local spot for those who live in and around Mount Vernon. While it would be worth your while to stop by if you’re passing through, we don’t recommend an expedition unless you’re as crazy about trying new breweries as we are.

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