Monday, March 31, 2014

Base Camp Brewing Company - Smith Rock Red Lager

Red: Cure for the Monday blues.
One of the most awesome things about living in Portland, Oregon is that you can find great happy hour deals every day of the week. I'm talking cheap pints at some of the best brew pubs and brewery tasting rooms in town. On Mondays, you can get tasty pints of fresh brewed beer at Base Camp Brewing for only $3.50 ALL DAY. And I'm talking about everything they have on tap. How's that for a deal? You bet it's a deal!

I was really needing a pick-me-up after a long day at the office today. We made a quick stop at Lardo, loaded up on some sammies and headed over to Base Camp. They are totally cool about folks bringing in food. There's also a collection of food carts right outside. Inexpensive pints and tasty eats? That'll fix up any crummy Monday!

I had a number of delicious brews at Base Camp today, but the one that intrigued me the most was their Smith Rock Red Lager. First, what a beautiful beer it was! It also had a unique, spicy flavor that I loved, but just couldn't identify. I even had my supertaster wife give it a whirl. She said it was clearly some kind of "hard spice" but she couldn't pin down the flavor either. I had to check Base Camp's website when I got home. "Ah-HA!" I proclaimed when I read the description. "Of course!"

The beer was presented in an elegant pilsner glass. It was a clear, red-orange color with a foamy, bright white head. The head was a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Lots of sudsy lacing was left behind. That head was quite creamy and left copious amounts of whipped cream-like foam in my 'stache.

Aroma was earthy malt up front with pleasant floral notes in the background. Interesting, spicy, spuce-like smell that I had difficulty describing. (It was my third HH beer, BTW.)

Taste was sweet, bready malt. Light, ripe, indistinct fruit flavor. Well-balanced, mild hops bitterness. There was an herbal spiciness, as mentioned before, that I couldn't identify. Now that I know the beer "features the aromatics of Oregon sage and juniper", it all makes sense. That's what it was! I really liked it! How they do that? Very different and totally tasty! Base Camp certainly stumped my tired, old taste buds, but in the most delightful way.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Semi-dry finish with that distinctive spice flavor left behind on the palate, gently competing with the malt. No noticeable alcohol taste. Very crisp and refreshing.

What a great brew, and it absolutely fits Base Camp's "adventure-based brewing" genre of beers. Unique and forest inspired. I'm giving Smith Rock Red Ale a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff! Makes me (almost) want to go rock climbing or something.


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