Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rogue Ales - Santa's Private Reserve 2017

It's beginning to taste a lot
like Christmas...
Is it just me or does anybody else feel like Christmas snuck up on you and kicked you square in the butt? What the heck! Christmas is only 11 days away and I don't have a tree, decorations or presents bought yet! I'm doomed! I didn't even put together my annual Beer Guy PDX Gift Guide! I'm about to climb up on the roof of the ol' Shotgun Shack and shout HUMBUG at the top of my lungs. 

HUMBUG!

I also have a fridge full of Christmas beers and Winter Warmers to drink. Some of these beers are regular seasonals that I look forward to quaffing every December. What's the matter with me?

Gratefully, Oregon's own Rogue Ales sent me a little surprise package that shook off some of the doldrums. The mailman, who typically only brings me bills and bad news, showed up with a box marked "FRAGILE" yesterday. (That's pronounced  "FRA-GEE-LAY" for any of you not familiar with A Christmas Story. FRA-GEE-LAY. It's Italian.) Inside, I found a bomber of Rogue's 2017 Santa's Private Reserve AND a nifty glass. Yay! Christmas!

Santa's Private Reserve 2017 is a Belgian Strong Ale brewed with Belgian Candi Sugar, Cherries and Raspberries. ABU at 7.8% and 23 IBU. 

The beer poured into my glass an opaque, dark brown/amber color with a creamy, thick, tan head. The head rose up to more than two inches tall because I over-poured it (see above photo of my lame pouring skills) but it dissipated slowly and left copious clumps of lacing behind throughout the drink.

Aroma was sweet malt, chocolate and fruit. Cherries and berries as advertised.

Taste followed the nose. Sweet but not cloying. A nice balance of sweet and sour. Cherries and raspberry flavors with a hint of chocolate. No off-putting flavors or weird phenols like I'm often afraid I'll find in big beers brewed with fruit. Everything tastes fresh and natural in this beer. I like!

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Smooth, creamy finish. Pleasant malt and fruit flavors left mingling on the palate at the end. Quite a pleasant sipper with little or no alcohol detected. Nice!

Overall, this is a great Christmas/Holiday Season beer. Quite a delicious beer to casually sip on while the holidays flash by. I'm giving Santa's Private Reserve 2017 a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.


BridgePort Brewing Company - Tiny Horse Pilsner

Yeah, it's a Portland thing...
My little house in NE Portland is probably close to 100 years old. I call it The Shotgun Shack, and that's not just me trying to be ironic. The place literally IS a shotgun shack--one of those little houses where you could open the front and back doors and fire a shotgun through it without hitting anything. Well, almost. My Shotgun Shack is a bit more substantial (but not by much) and we love living here. 

There's a massive Douglas Fir in the front yard and an old cherry tree that still produces fruit. Both trees are probably as old as the house. When the weather is nice, I string a hammock up in the yard. You can find me out there most summer days with a tasty local beer perched on my belly. (The neighbors LOVE that, especially with their fancy AirBnB customers rolling through every day.)

Portlanders used to take a lot of pride in the old neighborhoods. I suppose most still do but with the recent population explosion and seemingly unchecked development, things are definitely changing. Last week, somebody chopped down a Doug Fir about the same size as ours on the next block over, apparently to make way for a set of condos. Grrrr.

One cool thing about our neighborhood and many of the others surrounding us is the existence of horse rings in the curbs. Many newcomers are initially confused by the rings and confounded by their presence. Transplants often come from places like Van Nuys, CA that were developed long after horses were used as the primary mode of transportation.
Ring-a-ding, ding!

These rings were mounted in the curbs when they were first built more than 100 years ago. Back then, most deliveries were made by horse-drawn wagons. Those rings provided a firm anchor for people like your milkman to tie up his horse while dropping off your milk and eggs. Yes, that was a real thing, too!

The rings remained an unused vestige of an era gone by until Portlanders started tying tiny model horses to the rings. Just keeping it weird, Portland! Or in this case, keeping it cute and kitschy. We actually had a tiny horse tethered to the ring in front of our house for a while, but of course, somebody stole it. Just keeping it sketchy, Portland!

That was certainly a long, rambling introduction to a beer review, but it's pertinent. Today's  beer is BridgePort Brewing Company's Tiny Horse Pilsner. The beer's name was inspired by those Portland horse rings and the tiny horse fad that followed.

The beer poured into my pilsner glass a clear, bright, straw yellow with a white,  bubbly head that dissipated quickly. Thin spots of lacing were left behind.

Aroma was grain, yeast, and lemony hops.

Taste was what you would expect from a pilsner with just a bit more of a hops punctuation mark at the end of each sip. BridgePort's website advises that Sterling, Crystal, Cascade and Saaz hops were used and I definitely appreciated this hopped-up pilsner. Lemony, slightly grassy, slightly herbal. Clean malt finish. I like!

Thin to medium mouthfeel. Lively carbonation. Refreshing.

Overall, I found Tiny Horse Pilsner to be a very quaffable, pleasant drink. This isn't often my style of beer, but on the occasion that I'm looking for a thirst quencher, this would be a respectable pick. On the BeerGuyPDX scale, I'm giving this one a rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reuben's Brews - Roasted Rye IPA

Along for the rye'd?
I've been regularly toasting a small, unorganized group of beer nerds on Twitter. Somebody drinks a beer, takes a picture of said beer and tweets a photo out to the rest of the crew. This morning, I proclaimed today #RyeTuesday. I seriously doubt any of the other folks will drink a rye beer, but I made the commitment, dammit!

Recently, I've become a fan of Reuben's Brews out of Seattle, Washington. Every one of their beers that I've tried so far has been excellent. Good stuff, Maynard! I spotted their Roasted Rye IPA in the cold case of my local bottleshop yesterday and decided that it would be the perfect subject of my #RyeTuesday tweet. Is it? Let's find out!

The label declares Roasted Rye IPA to be a "winter warmer India pale ale." Here's what Reuben's Brews' website had to say about this beer:

"ABV: 7.0% IBU: 80+
Citrus and tangerine in the nose, supported by chocolate, roast & caramel, with a full and warming mouthfeel. The best of an India Pale Ale and a winter warmer wrapped into one brew."
The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, deep, ruddy amber color with a thick, clumpy, off-white head. The head rose up to two inches thick and dissipated slowly. Thin, webby lacing was left behind on the glass and a thin spotty cap remained throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was sweet malt and toasted grain. Indistinct citrus hops with chocolate and caramel notes, as advertised.

Taste was less citrus hops than the nose belied and definitely malt forward. Roasted, toasted maltiness with the spicy, herbal notes of rye. Some pine and light fruity flavors in the mix. This is a big malt beer. I'm not so sure I would call it an IPA. Definitely a winter warmer, though.

Medium mouthfeel with a smooth, creamy finish. Good carbonation. Spicy rye finish.

Overall, this is a terrific beer. I really like it. I'm giving Roasted  Rye IPA a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. I would definitely drink it again.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Loowit Brewing Company - Super Shinobi Triple IPA

Perfect beer for a ninja or two?
Here's a tip for any beer tourists out there currently planning a trip to Beervana, aka Portland, Oregon. Set aside a day for a trip across the river to our sleepy neighbor to the North, Vancouver, Washington. Vancouver breweries have really come into their own. They are brewing all kinds of awesomeness up that way and one of my favorites is Loowit Brewing. Their beers are great and their labels are super cool. Speaking of super cool, tonight's beer is Loowit's Super Shinobi TRIPLE IPA. Let's get right to the imbibing!

Super Shinobi poured into my IPA glass a clear orange/amber color with a creamy, off-white--almost tan--head that rose up to more than two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious patches of webby lacing were left behind all over the glass. 

Aroma was sweet caramel malt and indistinct citrus hops right up front. Hints of tropical and stone fruit and resinous pine in the background, but that malt aroma is the star of the show.

Flavor followed the nose, with plentiful rounds of sweet caramel malt, citrus and piney hops alternating across my tongue. Nice! A bit of grapefruit pith. Notes of tropical and stone fruit. Resinous pine lingered on the palate after every sip. Super nice! Not your typical PNW IPA hops profile, though, as there was a hint of grassy, spicy, herbaceousness lurking in the mix.

Medium mouthfeel with a slightly creamy finish. Surprising lack of alcohol taste for a beer with  11% ABV. Yoink! This one is dangerously easy to drink. Zero harsh. 

Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable triple IPA with an excellent malt/hops balance. I like! Ha, it's different enough that I might even be able to pick it out of a crowd, even with my rudimentary taste buds. Good stuff, Loowit, and I'm giving Super Shinobi a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. This brew also earns the coveted Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle perked right up from a late dinner nap when the aroma wafted in her general direction.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Reuben's Brews - Life on Mars Imperial India Pale Ale

Cold Case Space Invader?
Has anybody else noticed that there seems to be a significant lull in the number of new beers offered at the supermarket? I wonder what that's all about? I'm thinking perhaps there are now SO many popular local beers that the empty space in the cold case is getting mighty sparse. I find myself in the specialty bottleshops more and more, especially when I'm looking for a new release.

Now, more than ever, it's nice to find a new-to-me beer in the supermarket cold case. It's a special surprise!  Recently, I found a bomber of Reuben's Brews Life on Mars Imperial IPA at Green Zebra Grocery. $6.99 for the 22 ounces. Hey! That's a decent price.

Reuben's Brews is stationed up in Seattle, Washington. I've had a few of their beers and I've  been very impressed with those. Thus, I was pretty enthusiast about drinking their IIPA. How was it, you ask? Let's get to it...

Life on Mars poured into my glass a deep, clear orange/amber color with a foamy white head that rose up to more than two fingers thick with no coaxing. Thick, webby lacing was left all over the glass after the head slowly dissipated.

Aroma was citrus and pine. Sweet caramel malt. Hints of ripe mango in the background. Nice!

Taste followed the nose. Sweet malt balanced nicely against some big, bitter hops. Flavors of orange, tangerine, tropical and stone fruit. Resinous pine. Excellent!

Medium mouthfeel with a smooth, clean finish. Both malt and hops flavors took turns reannouncing themselves on the palate after every sip.

This Reuben's Brews website describes this IIPA as follows:

A DEEP RED BREW, WITH A BRIGHT NOSE OF CITRUS, TANGERINE, AND PINE SUPPORTED BY A MEDIUM FULL BODY AND SMOOTH CARAMEL NOTES. JUST WHAT THE LUNAR LANDER ORDERED!

Life on Mars certainly has the malt profile of a red ale. ABV comes in at 8.2% but I didn't get any hint of booze or alcohol sting. Overall, this a stellar brew. I would drink it anytime if found on a tap list. I'm giving this one a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff!