Monday, January 24, 2011

Full Sail LTD Lager Recipe No 04

4 out of 5 Hops

Full Sail is one of those amazing Oregon Brewers that most of my casual drinking friends are not familiar with. Admittedly I was not familiar with them until 2007 when I brewed my first beer; a Full Sail Amber clone. Located on the Hood River, brewing commenced in 1987 and no sign of slowing down now. There are currently 3 LTD Lagers released at different times of the year; 02-March to June, 03-June to September, and 04-December to March. The 04 is a single malt, single hop lager masterpiece. Most beers consist of a blend of malted barley grains for color, flavor, and a base malt for alcohol. Additionally, beers commonly have 2 or more hops for bittering, flavor, and aroma. The LTD 04 allows the drinker to single out the malt and hop flavor independently which is unusual in commercial beer. This lager has a light floral and honey aroma courtesy of Willamette hops and Pale malt barley. Pale malt and lager yeast give this beer a crisp, clean, flavor that makes it suitable for any occasion. I grew up as most of us in the US on watery, tasteless light lagers. It is time for the delicious full body lagers to take a stand change my old expectations of that "lager flavor". Full Sail is amazing. Try the Amber, Pale, Wassail, and the original Session lagers in the shorty bottles. "Stoked to Brew, Brewed to stoke"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hales Ales Two Fisted "O'brien Harvest Ale" and "Mongoose IPA"

4 Hops out of 5 Each

Hales Ales is an established and respected Brewery located in Fremont near Seattle. I have not had any complaints about their long list of offerings. This Harvest Ale is no exception. Available from Sep to Nov. ABV is 6%. First time I have had the pleasure. The aroma is very slight; toffee and hint of hops? The color is rich and red/amber. The flavor is a hop punch right away. I cant find the hop listing yet or the IBU, but I would guess its around 70. The flavor finish is hoppy and slightly oily with a pleasant bitter aftertaste. Wish I had bought more of this one in November.

Next up is Mongoose IPA. This has been a standard Hales Brew for some time. This IPA is dry hopped, which is what I do to all the beers I brew. The aroma is a fine citrus/piney smell. The flavor is malt with a balanced hop finish. Not a hop bomb IPA; this is an extremely daily drinker IPA. ABV is in the 6% range which is also appealing. I appreciate the English mentality of moderate alcohol so I can drink more than one and not fall down. This beer has moderate aftertaste of hop oils courtesy of Amarillo, Centennial and Nugget Hops. IBU appears to be in the 60 range. Earlier this week I actually had the pleasure of meeting Mike Hale at Costco. He was promoting their Irish Style Nut Brown Ale. They even had the double decker bus parked out front. BTW the Brown ale is available until Mar.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Widmer Brothers "Brrr" Winter Ales

4 out of 5 Hops

Brrr is another fine addition to NW Winter Beers this season from Widmer Brothers in Oregon. This a malty strong ale with unique hops and a slightly sweet tasting warmer. Aroma is caramel and pine with a hint of citrus. At first taste, this beer seemed very malty and sweet. After a few sips I began to taste the hops more. Widmer lists "Alchemy" hops as the bittering hop. Upon investigation, this is a proprietary blend of hops including Warrior and Millenium. This blend gives this beer a great independent and complex hop profile. Thumbs up for the Alchemy. The finish is slightly dry, with a clean, pleasant aftertaste. Alcohol level is enjoyable at 7.2%. Opinions run the gamut for classifying this beer as an American IPA, or Winter, or a version of a Red, but I say shuck the categories and pick this beer up ASAP for a holiday party in your mouth. Great job Kurt and Rob!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Ale Party

5 Hops each!

Today I am tasting 3 Northwest Winter/Christmas Ales. I thought a side by side comparison of 3 would give you a range of choices for beers of the season.

First up is Bridgeport 'Ebenezer'. This is brewed in Portland, OR and would be considered an English Strong Ale. Bridgeport makes a tasty traditional IPA as well. Ebenezer pours a rich amber color with scents of malts and fruit with a small hint of hops. Taste is on the malty/toffee side with only a hint of hop bitterness. At only 40 IBU, it is not a Hop Killer. I think it has a mellow refined taste and very enjoyable. I cannot find the hops used other than being "local and imported hops" according to the brewery. I don't detect a lot of late addition hops for flavor and aroma, so I would assume most are early boil for bitterness.

Next up is Rogue Ales 'Santa's Private Reserve' from Newport, OR. Rogue is by far one of my favorite breweries. They brew amazing beers that transcend boundaries and styles. All their beers are class acts. So Santa pours a light red hue with awesome citrus hop and malt aromas. Flavor is a hop fest in your mouth. Not overpowering at 65 IBU, but enough to get your attention; especially at the finish. This is in the range of an IPA for reference. Bittering is courtesy of Chinook hops with flavor and aroma by Centennial and the mystery "Rudolph" hops. The 3 C's hops: Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook are west coast favorites producing evergreen sprucey and citrus flavors/aromas. Mmmm...bitter never tasted so good. Abv is around 6%.

Last but certainly not least is 'Jolly Roger Christmas Ale' by Maritime Brewing in Seattle/Ballard, WA. This is one of my early holiday beers I first tasted in 2006. I even brewed a half decent clone of it last year. This 8-9% brew pours a red/amber color with complex malt aroma. For me, this is a rich, delicious, alcohol laced treat each year. The malt profile and hops are perfectly balanced in my opinion. It may be high in the IBU department; upper 80's I estimate, but I love the taste as a confirmed Hop Head. Bitterness, Flavor, and Aroma hops used are Chinook and Cascade alternatively with Chinook doing the bittering. Don't listen to any naysayers, pick one of these up ASAP and support Seattle!

I believe these selections present a variety of flavors that can be enjoyed by all. For those who prefer a milder, smooth and malty ale, try the Ebenezer. If you prefer a solid hoppy seasonal, go for the Santa. And if you enjoy a winter warmer with extra warmth and more malt, grab a Jolly Roger. Cheers!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Browar Amber "Grand Imperial Porter"

3 out of 5 Hops

Unique Baltic Porter from Poland. I think this is my first Polish Beer. Its a dark brown with a sweet fruitlike smell. At first sniff, I thought it smelled like a flat Pepsi. Funny how we all have our own unique smell-abilities. The taste at first is sweet Port Wine with a slight hop bitterness at the finish. Mouthfeel is thin which seems odd for a Porter until you learn that this brew is bottom fermented according to the Brewery. A bottom fermenting beer is made with lager yeast. There is not much of a "lager" taste; much the way a New Belgium 1554 (also lager yeast) is not lager-y either. Maybe the dark and chocolate roast grains offset the taste. I like the dry, light aftertaste This beer is 8% and very drinkable; albeit unique to my palate. I cannot find the hop info for this one but I would guess they are mostly early boil since I don't detect much aroma.