Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dogfish Head Brewery - Punkin Ale 2014

Going outta my gourd.
Ah, man, it's pumpkin beer season already? I gotta tell ya, I think most pumpkin beers are abysmally craptastic. They are hideous, satanic abominations that need to driven back through the Autumnal gates of hell from whence they came! Oh, the humanity! Nothing saddens me quite like seeing premium spots in the supermarket cold case being taken up by pumpkin brews from late September through early January. It just isn't right!

Brewers often over-spice these seasonal nightmares with buttloads of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. Hey, pumpkin pie is for eating, not drinking. Blech! But they aren't all awful. Every once in a while, I'll run across a pumpkin beer that could even be worth drinking more than once.

Dogfish Head Brewery is world renowned for making some primo craft beer. Their 90 Minute IPA is epic. They are also known for being extremely innovative and never afraid to push that creative envelope. I would expect a fairly exotic pumpkin beer from Dogfish Head--and maybe that's the case with their Punkin Ale. It's far from over-the-top and very, very drinkable, in other words, DIFFERENT than most other pumpkin beers! Imagine that!

The beer poured into my snifter from a 12 oz. bottle a slightly hazy, golden amber color. The head rose up to only about a 1/4 of an inch tall and dissipated quickly. A thin ring of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was pumpkin and mild pumpkin pie spice--nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. Over-ripe fruit and sweet malt in the background.

Taste was surprisingly mild on the spice. Nice, clean, NATURAL pumpkin flavor. Brown sugar. Earthy malt. It tastes like a beer, not like a pie. Good!

Medium mouthfeel with low carbonation. Smooth, slightly creamy finish. Just a tinge of booze to this 7% ABV brew.

Overall, this is a perfect pumpkin beer for my palate. I'd drink it again anytime. Nothing weird, over-powering or too pie-like. I'm giving Punkin Ale a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fort George Brewery - Fresh IPA

From bine to brew to can to you!
Fort George Brewery has just proven that a craft brewer doesn't have to be witty, or clever, or controversial when naming a beer. All they have to really do is make sure that whatever they bottle (or can) is freaking delicious.

Fort George's Fresh IPA is exactly what the name foretells: It's a fresh hop IPA. Fort George's website advises that over a ton of wet Simcoe hops were packed into brew tanks within 24 hours of harvest from Loftus Ranches. This beer comes with an ABV of 6.4%. I purchased a single 1 pint can at New Seasons for $2.99. I've been hearing a lot about this brew, so I couldn't wait to pop the top and try it. How did it stack up, you ask?

The beer poured into my IPA glass a clear, golden orange color with a bright, white head. The head was a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. A significant amount of foamy lacing was left behind. Quite an attractive brew, I must say.

Aroma was pine resin, citrus and tropical fruit. Wow, quite a nose full of fruit, actually. Orange, grapefruit, pineapple, guava, mango. Sweet malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Hops bitterness gave way to orange and grapefruit. Tropical and stone fruit. Just a tinge of herbal, grassiness. Just right. The malt flavor was left on the palate at the end. Nice balance. Much more complexity than I anticipated.

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. Juicy finish. No detectable alcohol.

Overall, this is a fantastic fresh hop beer. Delicious, and just what I'd expect from Fort George, a brewery that has yet to disappoint me. This one is a keeper. I recommend getting some in your fridge ASAP, because I'm probably going to swoop in and snatch up multiple purchases at every store in Portland. You've been warned. I'm giving this wonderful beer a perfect BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 and a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle put out six inch drool tendrils for this one.

Monday, September 22, 2014

No-Li Brewhouse - Inland Empire No. 8 Session IPA

Session anyone?
There's a YouTube video called 50 State Stereotypes (in two minutes). If you've never seen it, I recommend you click on the link that I so thoughtfully provided in the previous sentence. You're welcome in advance.

The line in the video for Oregon is pretty funny: "Dreadlocks on Caucasians." Ha! And then there's the line for our neighbor to the North, Washington State: "Richer hippies than Oregon." Ha, ha!

Truth is, Oregon and Washington have kind of a lukewarm relationship. No real love, no real hate, but we do tend to irritate the hell out of each other every once in a while. We're like dorm-mates: we get along because we're forced to live together, but if we weren't in such close proximity, we'd probably never hang out--or even talk.

One thing the two states do have in common is a love for fine craft beer. They brew a lot of great beer in Washington, that's for sure. Oh, it's not NEARLY as awesome as the beer brewed here in Oregon, but seriously, nothing is... (Let's see if I can start a fight, or at least a tweet war.) Yes, Washington craft beer is a-okay.

Tonight, I'm reviewing a "session IPA" brewed by No-Li Brewhouse in Spokane, WA: Inland Empire No. 8. The label advised that this 5.5% ABV has 67 IBU's and was dry-hopped with Cascades. How was it?

The beer poured into my IPA glass a light, golden orange color with a huge, foamy head. The head rose up to more than two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of sudsy lacing was left behind and lasted until I finished the bomber off.

Aroma was citrus hops: Lemon, orange and grapefruit. Mild stone and tropical fruit. Some floral notes. Sweet malt smell underneath it all.

Taste followed the nose. Loads of citrus hops flavor. Grapefruit and lemon. Very flavorful for a "session" beer. Nice malt backbone to this brew, too. No noticeable alcohol taste at all, as you'd expect from the lower ABV.

Medium to slightly thinner mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. This one was an easy drink. I polished off the bomber pretty quickly. The citrus hops flavor was left pleasantly behind on the palate.

Nice! I would call this an excellent beginner IPA, or a perfect lawnmower IPA. Lots of flavor, but very quaffable. I'm giving Inland Empire No. 8 a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. Good job, Washington! Keep brews like this one coming across the border, but keep your rich hippies at home, um-kay? ;-)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Portland Growler Co. - 32 oz. Sprocket Growlette

Keepin' it chill, PDX style.
It was my birthday on Wednesday. My gawd, I hate birthdays. Yeah, yeah, I thought September 17th was the most awesome day of the year when I was a dumb kid. Now, let's face it, I'm almost as old a Mathuselah and the only purpose my birthday serves is as a stark reminder of that long dirt nap that is waiting right around the corner for me. Humbug to birthdays! (Shakes cane in Death's general direction.)

Anyway, the only good thing about my birthday nowadays is that I get to drink loads of beer and folks give me presents--well, my wife gives me presents. This year, she surprised me with an awesome little ceramic growler made right here in Portland, Oregon by the Portland Growler Co.

My growler is a 32 oz. model (they call it a growlette) with a "sprocket" handle. It's satin grey. These babies also come in 64 oz sizes and in a variety of finishes and styles. My lovely missus presented me with this great gift at our favorite taproom, so of course, I got it filled immediately. 32 ounces of Boneyard Beer's Hop Venom IPA. It was filled at around 8:00 PM last night and has been sitting in my fridge all day. How did it hold up?

The flip-top lid opened with a little bit of a pop. Good. As soon as I started pouring, a healthy head rose up from the glass. Good! It was 91 degrees in my living room this afternoon. I closed the lid after every pour and it took me about an hour to polish off the 32 ounces. That little growler kept the beer cold the entire time. With this heat, I thought it was a pretty good test.

What I really like is the fact that I can fetch home some of Oregon's finest craft beer in a piece of fine, local, artisan-crafted pottery. This little growler is functional, beautiful and made right here in my hometown. How cool is that? The wide-mouth lid is great. It looked very easy to fill. 

Of course, hand-craftsmanship is never cheap. My 32 oz growlette cost $55. A larger 64 oz model will set you back $65. Personally, I think it's worth every penny. I've gotten many compliments and questions already. What a great gift for the beer drinker in your life--even if that's YOU!

I highly recommend this product. Go get one!

More growler reviews here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hopworks Urban Brewery - Ace of Spades IIPA

A winning hand?
I love, love, love India Pale Ales. L-O-V-E, love them! The IPA is absolutely my favorite beer style. Specifically, I prefer Northwest style IPA's, with their hop forward flavor profiles. Big, bitter, piney, citrus-y hops. The best IPA's provide a healthy sting to the taste buds. A pucker that makes you shake your head for just a second and go "BLUH-UH" and then go right back in for another sip. Yes!

Portland, Oregon truly lives up to the nickname of Beervana. There are so many awesome breweries here in Stumptown, and many of them have absolutely perfected the humble IPA. That's not surprising. We have the water. We have the hops. We have an infinite number of craft beer fanatics that demand awesome beers and a multitude of talented brewers willing to oblige. Yes, you should be jealous.

Tonight, I'm drinking a bomber of Hopworks Urban Brewery's (HUB) Ace of Spades Imperial India Pale Ale. The bomber was a a bit pricey at $8.99. The label reported an ABV of 8.6% and 100 IBU's. No specific naming of the hops used in this brew. Was it worth the price of admission? Let's see.

The beer poured into my IPA glass a clear, amber/orange color with a foamy white head. The head rose up to slightly more than a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A solid cap of lacing was left behind throughout most of the drink.

Aroma was light, resinous pine and citrus hops up front. Orange and a whiff of grapefruit. Lots of tropical fruit. Floral, herbal notes punctuated throughout. Earthy. Spicy. Caramel malt.

Taste followed the nose. Not particularly dank, but respectable hops bitterness up front. Herbal, spicy. Pleasant tropical fruit behind orange and grapefruit flavors. Sweet caramel malt with some earthy, grassy notes that provided some unexpected complexity.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Relatively low carbonation. Some noticeable alcohol warmth at the end, but still a very smooth, slightly slick finish.

Overall, this is a very easy drinking IIPA. Perhaps a little on the milder side for a serious hophead, but probably a perfect "starter" imperial IPA for anyone willing to take their first plunge. Good stuff! I'm giving Ace of Spades a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle was drooling up a puddle for this brew.