Posts tagged ‘Pale Ale’

June 30, 2014

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.

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January 13, 2012

The Pint is Mightier: Fremont Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

Nestled in the heart of the center of the universe, WA, our next review is none other than…

Fremont Brewing Co.

The Fremont Brewing Co. is a quaint, quirky place to grab a pint. It has an “urban beer garden” complete with concrete floors, florescent lights, benches made out of kegs, etc. The atmosphere is colorful and inviting – and more than a bit cold, prompting one of us to remark “I think they keep it chilly in here so you’ll drink more beer to get warm.” (The December winter and lack of insulation may have also been contributing factors)

The first beer up was the Dark Star Oatmeal Stout. This incredibly dark beer poured blacker than the blackest black – times infinity. It had exactly the aroma one would expect from an oatmeal stout, pungently roasty. It wasn’t particularly carbonated, and interestingly enough it was not nearly as heavy-bodied as other stouts that we have tasted. The malts were well toasted and brought out notes of coffee that lingered in the aftertaste. The beer also had a good amount of yeastiness to it, which helped build on the complexity of flavor. Overall the Dark Star was a pretty good beer, and if you are fan of stouts, or dark beers in general, we recommend it.

The Sisters Imperial IPA was our next brew. Almost rubyish in color, quite cloudy and served in broad-topped snifter, this definitely didn’t look like your daddy’s IPA. One taste revealed that it didn’t taste like it either. The Sisters possessed a perfect balance of bitter, citrus and floral hops, but the most unique element was the way the flavors intermingled. Normally, different flavors of beer proceed in a linear fashion – that’s why you always see us use the words ‘precede’, ‘follow’ and aftertaste – but in this beer the flavors shifted in and out so many times that we lost track. Neither us have ever had an IPA, or any other kind of beer, like it. The Sisters is a must-try, bottom line.

We moved on (begrudgingly) to the Universale Pale Ale. It was a golden, translucent pint of beer with very little aroma to it. This beer had firm, malty base that was balanced by a lightly bitter hop finish. The most interesting element of the Universale Pale was the mildly filtered taste of it, almost like a lager. The flavor was firmly grounded in the Pale camp, but this gave it some depth and complexity compared to other Pales that we have tried.

We finished the evening with the Interurban IPA, a Fremont mainstay. The first thing we noticed was the pleasant hop aroma wafting into our nostrils as soon as the bartender handed it to us. It was golden in hue and had a low opacity for an IPA. The base of this beer was a light malt taste, but the real flavor came from the hops. The profile leaned towards bitterness, but the citrus hops emerged strongly in the aftertaste. Overall the strongest element of this beer was the balance between the variety of different flavors. After some discussion we both agreed that it doesn’t hold a candle to The Sister Imperial IPA. It’s not the Interurban’s fault – it’s a damn good beer – the competition was simply too fierce.

Fremont Brewing Co. is a fun, unique brewery in one of Seattle’s most upbeat and interesting neighborhoods. More importantly, they have some damn good beer and a good variety of it. It’s definitely one of Seattle’s top microbreweries, and we highly recommend checking it out – although it wouldn’t hurt to wait until it’s a bit warmer out.

August 30, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Maritime Pacific Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

Returning to the sea of Seattle breweries, we get a bit nautical in our latest review of…

Maritime Pacific Brewing Co.

This brewpub was one of the most interesting and innovative we’ve visited so far. As you enter a giant pirate flag hangs from the ceiling beams. The entirety of the floor is painted like a big, old-fashioned nautical map, making it nearly impossible to look at anything else for the first five minutes after you arrive.

Eric’s first beer was the intriguingly named Nightwatch Dark Ale. It had a very dark color but was not the least bit cloudy. The best way he found to describe this beer was like a light porter with a bit of a bite from the strong hop flavors. The aftertaste, on the other hand, brought about a lingering roastiness. Eric best described this beer as a almost a ‘dark pale ale.’  While the combination of these two flavor profiles were interesting, overall this beer fell short. It gets points for being original – coming at a Cascadian Dark Ale style beer in a different fashion – but the formula just didn’t work in this case. The biggest detractor was that the hops didn’t balance the beer at all, leaving your tongue is assaulted by a beer trying to do too many different things at once. If you’re curious and have a hankering for something unique, try it, but if you like to play it safe Eric suggests that you go with an alternate brew.

The Dry Hopped Islander Pale Ale was my first choice of the afternoon. This was their standard pale with the addition of a substantial amount of hops in the final processing, and the flavor definitely reflected that. It was unabashedly hoppy, with powerful notes of bitterness typically reserved for a strong IPA. However, it also possessed a very light body and lack of malt typical in a standard American Pale. Further sips revealed this truly was an exercise in hops, as the strong, bitter flavors built over time. In the end I definitely enjoyed this beer, but unless you are a fan of really bitter beers it might be best if you looked else.

Eric opted to get the Flagship Red Alt Ale next. An Alt is a style of German beer originally brewed in Rhineland and possesses its own unique characteristics. Although not usually a fan of German beer, this one looked interesting so he figured he would give it a shot. This beer was poured with a good head and with a very amber color. It was mildly cloudy and possessed very little aroma. Eric’s first sip of this beer tasted like and amber, but this soon gave way to a more unique flavor. This beer tasted very filtered, like most German beers, and so went down quite smoothly. The flavor was not very complex and was very clean and crisp in character. The aftertaste was mild but there was a definite lingering of slight maltiness. The hop profile on this beer is nothing to take note of, and it lacked a certain sharpness characteristic of most Red Ales. Overall Eric thought this beer was better than many ambers and recommends it to anyone who likes that style but wants to try something different.

My second beer was the Portage Pay Pilsner. Normally you would never see me drinking anything of the sort at a brewery where I could be getting excellent, full-bodied beer; however, in the interest of covering a wide variety of beers, I agree to take this one on. I must say, I was not disappointed. At first sip the Portage Bay Pilsner seemed like a classic representation of the style, very light and crisp with substantial filtration. However, this one had more depth to it than others.  It had more of a body to it and was lightly seasoned with citrus hops, giving it a new dimension. The carbonation was also pitch perfect. Ultimately I had to give credit where credit was due: this was a highly drinkable, unique take on a classic pilsner.

Maritime Pacific is a good place to stop if you’re in the Seattle area. They have a great atmosphere and a wide variety of interesting brews that are excellently priced ($4 for a 16 oz. pint and $4.50 for a 20 oz.), although some do fall a bit short. Although we didn’t have any, the food looked quite spectacular as well. We recommend you don on an eye-patch and get yourself some grog!

August 13, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Fish Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

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)

July 12, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Black Raven Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

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.

July 9, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

Welcome to the other half of this blog: The Pint is Mightier!

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once said “Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.”  My good friend Eric and I agree.  In the beginning of the summer we decided to embark on beer pilgrimage across the Pacific Northwest, visiting all the breweries we’ve been loving from afar all these years. Using only our wits (and useful website Brew-Ha!) we’re tracking down the tastiest brews in Washington and Oregon.  We’ll be talking about our findings here.  First up?

Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Co.

Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Co. is a quaint brewery in a cute town nestled in the cascade foot hills a stone’s throw away from the gorgeous Snoqualmie Falls.  They have the standard selection of brews along with several rotating specials.

The first beer that Eric tried was the Steam Train Porter.  This beer was dark and quite flavorful.  The aroma was not incredibly strong and it did not feel a particularly heavy.  The porter shone through with its complex flavors.  It had the standard ‘roastiness’ one would find with any porter but the additional and subtle caramel flavors really rounded out this beer.  It wasn’t the best porter he ever tasted, but it was still fantastic and anyone who is a fan of darker beers ought to try it.

His second beer was one of the rotating special they had on tap – the Powerhouse Double IPA.  The beer had a cloudy look in the glass, something Eric personally always enjoys.  He love myself some opacity. It had a great aroma, you could really smell the bitterness of the hops. The tease given to the nose did not let down the mouth. It was a fantastic tasting IPA, very hoppy but still well balanced and drinkable. This beer is an excellent choice for anyone who likes IPAs, you wont be disappointed.

I couldn’t resist the most interesting sounding beer they had available for my first drink – the Coconut Porter.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a sucker for adventurous brews, and this one did not disappoint.  The Steam Train Porter base was just as Eric described: light, medium roastiness with light and sweet caramel notes.  Perfectly balanced with the base was a bold, but not overpowering, coconut flavor.  I’ve had a few coconut porters before this and I was always disappointed.  Usually they were decent beers, but the coconut flavor never really emerged.  This brew managed to meld the roasty porter flavor with the coconut flavor perfectly.  Whether you’re a fan of beer, coconut or outlandish drinks, I highly recommend this beer.

My second beer was the Copperhead Pale Ale.  I honestly don’t have too much to say on this one; it was a pretty standard Pale Ale.  It was a bit less hoppy and bitter than other Pale Ales I’ve had, which I wasn’t a particular fan of but might suit others better.  All in all it wasn’t bad, but nothing special either.

Overall, Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Co. is a bit of a drive from Seattle, but the beers are definitely worth the while.  If you’re ever crossing I-90 and have a minute, we recommend you take the opportunity to check out this gem.

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