The Pint is Mightier: Standard Brewing

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

Last time we took it easy, getting back into the swing of things with a Pint is Mightier trip to Reuben’s Brews. Didn’t want to pull any beer-drinking muscles after so long without a brewery review.

This time though, we really came out swinging.

In our most expansive review to date, we covered four beers each at Standard Brewing, the Central District’s first craft brewery. Aided by the fact that Standard is a mere three blocks from Eric’s house and thus not requiring a car to get to, we dove mouth-first into the beers proffered by one of the new kids on Seattle’s brewery block. With a jewel of an outdoor area and a broad selection of beers ranging from old standbys to unique treats, this is absolutely worth a trip (walking recommended).

Standard Brewing

Standard Brewing

Quinn’s first beer – West Coast IPA (3.5/5 caps on Untappd)

With a golden profile and an excellent hop aroma, I was excited to start my review of Standard with the West Coast IPA. The flavor was heavy on hops, but not in a way that was excessive or unpleasant. The blend of bitter and citrus notes was well done, although it lacked a bit in complexity. In short, the West Coast was a quintessential (see what I did there?) Pacific Northwest IPA. It wasn’t the best of it’s style that I’ve had, but it’s well-crafted and enjoyable nonetheless.

West Coast IPA & Wheated Red

Eric’s first beer – Wheated Red Ale (4/5 caps)

This beer poured a cloudy red color with a mild aroma and tasted exactly as the name would suggest: a red ale with a wheaty malt flavor. The first thing I noticed was a great malt balance, the rye and the wheat in perfect harmony. The hoppiness was at just the right level of bitterness to support the malt harmoniously.

All the malt contributed a sweetness to the overall taste, which made the beer harder to drink and less appetizing on a hot day. The Wheated Red is definitely a sipping beer. Though I really liked the bitterness, people who are not used to hoppy beers might find it to be too much.

Quinn’s second beer – Dry-Hopped Rye Saison (4/5 caps)

The pale yellow Dry-Hopped Rye Saison was probably the most interesting brew in Standard’s lineup. It had a robust aroma that hinted at it’s Belgian lineage. After taking a sip I was surprised by not just how flavorful it was, but also how light-bodied it was as well. The mild, spice-laden Belgian notes, slightly sweet malt, and subtle hopiness all balance together effortlessly without overpowering the delicate body of the beer. It was like the brewing equivalent of balancing three zoo animals on a life raft without sinking it.

Eric would have given this 4.5 caps, and I was on the fence for a while before ultimately settling on a 4. Regardless, we both agreed that it was the best beer among our (extensive) tasting. So next time you’re headed to the beach, grab yourself a growler of Dry-Hopped Rye Saison. It’s still extremely drinkable with a lower-end ABV, but unlike most of the terrible beers you’ll find people drinking in warm weather, it actually has a complex and well-crafted flavor.

Rye Saison & Belgian Black Ale

Eric’s second beer – Belgian Black Ale (4/5 caps)

Putting the word ‘Belgian’ in the name of this beer is a bit misleading. You might think this is a Belgian dark ale, but it really is not. It tastes like a porter with some very mild Belgian yeast tones. A better name might be ‘Porter with Belgian Yeast,’ which I’d abbreviate to PWBY.

Despite my quarrel with the name of the beer, I thought it was excellent.  It is always hard to craft a porter that really stands out. As Quinn and I frequently say, “It is easy to make a good porter, but hard to make one that is truly great or truly terrible.”  This one definitely stood out though. Using the Belgian yeast added an extra, spiced dimension to the beer that complimented the roasted flavors quite nicely.

The Belgian Black Ale was balanced, very smooth and pleasantly sweet without being overly thick or syrupy. It was also a beautiful dark hue that light could not penetrate.  If you like porters, but want a short adventure from the mainstays, definitely try this beer.

Quinn’s third beer – Rye IPA (3.5/5 caps)

I was curious when first examining the Rye IPA. It had a dark amber hue that suggested a heavy usage of rye, but lacked any hint of the aroma that is typically associated with a Rye or Red beer. Would it be robust, balanced or mild?

The first sip made me inclined the think the latter. Initially I tasted mostly bitter notes, with a hint of rye that blended and intertwined with the hops to form an almost herbal profile. I couldn’t say I was a fan, but as I continued drinking the rye and malt began to emerge a bit more. As the beer became more balanced and nuanced I began to enjoy it – it just took a little while to get in to.

Overall I was still a little disappointed with this beer compared to other Rye IPAs that I’ve had. If you like the style or generally are a fan of rye then you’ll still probably like it, but I recommend you temper your expectations a little bit.

Rye IPA & CDA

Eric’s third beer – Cascadian Dark Ale (4/5 caps)

Ah, the Cascadian Dark Ale. What a style of beer! CDAs are great when done well, but always have the potential to be awful if made poorly. Balancing roasted malt with high levels of hops is no easy task. Some of my favorite beers are CDAs – but there are also some you couldn’t pay me to drink again.

Standard’s Cascadian Dark Ale falls into the former grouping. This beer poured an incredibly dark color into a small tulip glass, with an impressively hoppy aroma for a CDA. I was afraid that it would not be balanced – but if there is one thing that Standard does especially well it’s making sure their beers have balanced flavor profiles. This was particularly impressive in the CDA’s case, since it weighed in at 9.3% ABV.

Overall, this was a very solid beer and recommended for fans of the style.

Quinn’s fourth beer – Altbier (3/5 caps)

The Altbier poured an oaken color with little head. There was no aroma coming off the brew, which turned out to be unfortunate foreshadowing of the flavor as a whole. A sip revealed the beer to be one-dimensional and unimaginative. It was heavily skewed towards the filtered, lager-esque taste, with a slight sweetness being it’s only distinguishing feature.

I wish I had more to say about the Altbier, but I wasn’t given a whole lot to work with. If you like lighter, lager-style beers then you won’t be unhappy with it. Otherwise I would recommend one of the many other solid beers that Standard offers.

Altbier & Pale

Eric’s fourth beer – Pale Ale (3.5/5 caps)

My final beer was Standard’s Pale ale. This beer had a hoppy aroma and a hoppy taste, closer to an IPA than a pale really. If I were not told it was a pale I probably would have guessed it to be an IPA. This is not inherently a bad thing, but might be off putting for some who are looking for something a little more middle-of-the-road in terms of hoppiness. Despite the strong, hoppy flavor the malt was noticeable and well-balanced, making for a generally pleasant beer.

Want more beer commentary? You can follow Quinn and Eric on Untappd.

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