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Monday, July 13, 2009

My Oregon Craft Beer Month: Four Beers

Posted by Patrick Alan Coleman on Mon, Jul 13, 2009 at 9:51 PM

Today I’m saving the jibber jabber and just jumping straight into some tasting notes. If anything, the last week and a half have shown a big blinding light through the holes in my beer knowledge, which when I think about it, is a good thing. As I look towards the coming days and weeks, I’m going to try and track down some of the ingredients of these beers to see what they look like in their raw form. I’m sure there’s information to be had in sticking your face in a tub of hops and taking a deep curious breath.

On Saturday night some friends and I had a little beer tasting in my palatial dining room. I posted our favorite yesterday, but we tried four others.

We began with a Cascade Lakes Brewery Blond Bombshell. Maybe it was because we were so excited to have this endeavor before us, but we were very happy with this selection.

In the glass it was nice and clear, appearing light and sparkling. The aroma was reminiscent of Meyer lemon—a sweet, citrus hops scent—and very mild.

On the palate the taste came on with a hint of that citrus and an effervescent brightness similar to champagne. The front end of the flavor also carried with it a good deal of hops bitterness that I wasn’t expecting with a 26 IBU beer. But what was nice about the bitterness was that it had a drying quality that seemed to prepare the palate for a long toasty malt finish. A nice dynamic start.

There were some that didn’t like our second beer, but I’d have to say that the Golden Valley Red Thistle Ale was my favorite of the evening. In the glass it had a dark caramel hue with tints of red, and the aroma was absolutely delicious with a good hit of dark chocolate and raisin.

The dark chocolate continued to the palate, and the brew progressed quite deliberately through a cocoa-esque bitterness, to vanilla, to slightly sweet maple tones on the finish. The Red Thistle had a cool dense, roasted flavor. Nice and bold. I was impressed how well the bitterness was balanced with the heavy malt. Even though it was rated at 40 IBU, it tasted less hoppy than the Blonde before it.

Though I’d drink it any time, we agreed it would be a great holiday beer, and pair well a cloved spiral cut ham.

Two More after the Jump!

After reaching the pinnacle of the night with Cascade Lakes Pine Marten (see yesterday’s post), we embarked on an all out meat-stravaganza, before coming back for the final two beers. It may be that our palates were fatigued, but we liked the last two less than those we’d started with.

First was Bridgeport’s Haymaker. The haymakers color is a bit of a pale yellow and the brew has a sweet, slightly grassy nose.

On the palate it has a very bright start and carries a subtle wheat beer-like sweetness. Here were tones of beet and orange before a very aggressive hoppy finish that carried with it hints of pepper.

We ended the tasting with Full Sail’s Amber. After giggling our way through the label text (why aren’t I writing beer labels?) we poured our final round and found the beer to have a nice dark amber hue, which was largely unsurprising. In the aroma we found some nice chocolaty malt tones and a hint of apple. This was the least complex beer of the evening, but I don’t think that’s bad for what it is. I’d be happy to drink this amber all night long at a party of barbeque.

I know I need to stop sexualizing Full Sail beer before they sue me for harassment, but I swear it wasn’t my fault this time. It was my sausage addled friends (and my wife, for shame). They claimed that the Amber was like a woman with a large bosom and no posterior—calling it “top heavy.” I did agree with that assessment, but also found the bold malty apple butter tones in the flavor quite pleasing, even if the finish fell away too quickly.

At this point in the game, I am well behind on my tasting notes. I’ll do some catching up tomorrow. Hope your craft beer month is going as well as mine. What have you been drinking?

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