Posts tagged ‘ESB’

May 14, 2013

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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November 15, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Diamond Knot Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

On our way back from Scuttlebutt Brewing we made a pit stop in Mukilteo, WA to cross another brewery off our list. Today we bring you the ales and tales from…

Diamond Knot Brewing Co.

Located on the Mukilteo waterfront no more than a dozen paces from the ferry terminal, the Diamond Knot brewery is something of a local institution, having been around for more than 20 years. When we entered we were greeted by a brewpub full of warmth and character; the brick walls and wooden ceiling beams fit perfectly with the homey aromas wafting out of the kitchen and broken peanut shells on the floor.

Eric’s first beer was Diamond Knot’s Scottish Ale. It was light bodied and possessed a hint of caramel and relatively no aftertaste. The scotch flavor was subtle and included a hint of pleasant smokiness. The carbonation was light, but well suited for the style of beer. Making the most of his supreme rhetorical gifts, Eric described this beer as ‘pretty good,’ deeming it superior to Pike’s Scotch Ale, but not quite as good as Boundary Bay’s or Black Raven’s. If you don’t like Scotch Ales, skip it. If you do, definitely try it out. And if you don’t know? Try it anyway, live a little.

Rarely seeing this style on the taps even at craft breweries, I was compelled to give their ESB a try. I will put this bluntly: do not make the same mistake I did. Rarely are either Eric or I hyper-critical of a beer – brewing is a hobby, art and passion of the people who make it – but sometimes a little tough love is necessary. The ESB arrived looking normal enough, pale brown with no head, and even tasted fine at first sip, malty and slightly sweet. However, when the aftertaste hit I know something was wrong. The flavor turned musty and dirt-like, finally concluding with a vaguely manure-like note. Diamond Knot had many fine beers, this just wasn’t one of them. Do not get the ESB if you go to this brewery.

Eric’s beer was the Brown Ale. It was medium bodied and had a somewhat crisp taste to it. The beer had a nutty malt flavor to it was quite pleasant, with an aftertaste was faint but unequivocally malty. Characteristic of the style, thus brown ale had no bitterness to it. Though not typically the biggest fan of brown’s, Eric thought this one was good, certainly better than the ubiquitous Newcastle. Overall this beer was straightforward and enjoyable; a solid, dependable brown ale good for someone looking to break into the style.

Somewhat wary after my first pint, I decided to go a different direction with the Steamer Glide Stout. When it showed up at our table it was dark and opaque, with a small, but thick, white head.  The profile belied a surprisingly lightness to the beer. It was feathery and dry with a hint of sweetness to it. The beer was akin to an American Guinness, but with more complexity and depth in the flavor profile. The Steamer Glide Stout was a very good example of a lighter, drier stout, as well as a solid Diamond Knot brew.

With local charm and a stellar location, Diamond Knot has more character than perhaps any other brewery we have visited. The walls are adorned with old posters and advertisements for the brewery from back in the 80’s and 90’s and peanut shells line the corners of the floor. The beers, though not exemplary, are, with one exception, very solid brews. If you find yourself nearby or are looking to kill some time waiting for the ferry, this is the place to go.

August 21, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Harmon Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

We’re back with another review! From Tacoma, WA we bring you…

Harmon Brewing Co.

Located in a very nice part of Tacoma with a view of the port, this brewery was a real treat. It had a large pub area, a game room located in the back and an unpretentious, beautiful nice beer garden. In the field of inconsequential – but nonetheless awesome – amenities, it also had the coolest sinks that Eric and I had ever seen.

Eric started with one of Harmon’s special brews: the Vanilla Porter. It was the same recipe used in their Puget Sound Porter with the addition of vanilla beans. If this sounds good to you, you’re right, because it was excellent. The added notes of vanilla were not overpowering and complimented the roastiness of the porter excellently. The beer itself was very roasty in flavor and texture that lingered pleasantly in the aftertaste. This porter seemed to be more carbonated than many others Eric has tried. There was little bitterness in the beer, which allowed for the creamier notes to merge seamlessly with the vanilla flavors. This porter boasts a good deal of complexity but isn’t overdone, a problem with many beers that try to add flavors. It is a good example of how to make a good porter and infuse it with unique flavors. (Which, if you weren’t paying attention, is carefully and subtly).

My experience at this brewery was an interesting one. I sampled a specialty fruit IPA – more on that later – but opted to go first with the Browns Point ESB. It arrived a rusty copper color and medium-light body; the carbonation was excellent. As I sipped it I tasted mild bitterness, citrus notes and some sweetness, and came to the conclusion that they must have poured me the IPA on accident. It was not until checking with the server after finishing the pint that they confirmed that I had indeed been drinking the ESB. Ultimately this was quite a good beer and I recommend getting it, but it was so far out of the scope of a traditional ESB that I thought I was drinking something else.

After the confusion I did get my hands on their Floridian IPA. This beer made no attempt at subtlety. Even before I took my first drink I could smell the fruit. It was infused with grapefruit, orange and pineapple, though the first was the dominant flavor of the three. The hop profile was citrusy and floral, which played perfectly with the fruity notes. Although the initial flavor of the fruit hit you square in the jaw, the hoppiness became more pronounced as I continued drinking. The beer itself was medium bodied with solid carbonation but very little head. This beer probably is not for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Eric rounded out the trip with a pint of the Point Defiance IPA. This IPA is dialed in at a bitter 70 IBUs, which is very apparent from the first taste. The IPA had a nice hop aroma that went well with the flavor. The citrus notes hidden in the big hop character were nice and carried over into a subtle but pleasurable aftertaste. The IPA lacked a lot of complexity that other IPAs possess. Eric did not have too much to say about this beer; it was a pretty good IPA, but there are better ones out there.

Harmon Brewing is unassuming and thus easy to pass without second thought, but you most certainly shouldn’t because it’s a brewery well worth checking out. The atmosphere is exceptional and the beer is unique and tasty. In particular, we recommend making the trip for their happy hour, when pints are only $3 each. Eric and I definitely recommend it.

August 3, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Elysian Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

The Pint is Mightier is back! Today we review local Seattle favorite…

Elysian Brewing Co.

Named for the Grecian final resting place of the heroic and virtuous – Elysium – the flagship brewery of Elysian is located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.  We mere mortals journeyed to this mythical spot looking for some epic brews.

Eric’s first beer was the Perseus Porter, named for the legendary hero who slew Medusa. A bold name, he noted, but fitting of one of the most bold porters he’d tried. The beer was a lovely dark brown color that poured with a light head. Upon first taste Eric noticed that this beer was a bit hoppy for a porter; unusual, but quite pleasant nonetheless.  The different roasted flavors of the porter were harmoniously balanced, and after a few more sips Eric noted a hint of creaminess in the mix as well that brought the whole beer together. Overall this beer was medium bodied and extremely drinkable. Eric found this to be an fantastic and unique porter that handily lived up to its legendary namesake.  He highly recommends to anyone who enjoys dark beers

I couldn’t resist trying one of Elysian’s specialty brews on tap, the Rhubarbarella. It was billed as a wheat beer brewed with over 45 pounds of rhubarb in each batch. I was intrigued and interested, but unfortunately the first sip met with disappointment; there was not a single hint of rhuburb in the flavor profile. Instead, as I worked through the pint, I realized I was drinking a traditional – and rather generic – Hefeweizen.  As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I’m a sucker for innovative and unique brews, but this one just never came together.

The Immortal IPA was Eric’s second pint of the afternoon. He rightly pointed out that whenever you’re out tasting beers you should always save the more bitter and hoppy ones for last, as they tend to distort the flavor of beers that follow. Simply put, Eric found the Immortal IPA to be a splendid beer. It had a nice light copper color with minimal opacity and a pleasantly hoppy aroma. For an IPA it was not very bitter, but the hop flavors really shone through and played well with one another. The beer also had a pleasant aftertaste that lingered on the tongue, daring one to take another sip. As far as IPAs go, this one was very good. Eric recommends this as one to try for those who are curious about IPAs, but also a little nervous about their hoppier flavor.

My second beer, The Wise ESB, came out looking like the twin of Eric’s Immortal IPA – and for good reason too. Compared to more traditional ESBs (Extra Special Bitters, a traditional English ale similar to an American Amber) it was much hoppier and lightier-bodied. In essence, it looked and tasted like a hybridization between an IPA and an ESB.  It poured a rusty copper color with a light head.  It was mildly malty but still light bodied, with hop flavors interwoven throughout.  Overall this is quite a good beer, but it will definitely surprise you if you’re expecting a classic, English-style ESB.

Elysian has some great tasting brews that are very unique in their particular style, although occasionally they overreach in their experimentation. The brewery itself has a stylish atmosphere and attentive staff.  Food runs rather expensive, so we recommend sticking to beer and heading to one of Capitol hill’s many delicious food joints if you get hungry.  All in all, we definitely recommend checking out this brewery.

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