For our 21st Beer Club I wanted to discuss hybrid styles. Hybrid styles are those with both ale and lager characteristics.
Our first stop on the hybrid journey is the cream ale, and we started that with the more mass-market one, the Genesee Cream Ale. This was actually far from the worst beer. It was refreshing with a nice grainy finish. Fairly well-liked.
The next beer was Henry Weinhard’s Blue Boar. This made the Genesee look like craft. Very little flavor, very forgettable.
The final cream ale was the Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale. I really enjoyed this beer, and had a wonderful fruity-ness. Really tasty beer.
We had the Kolsch after that, and one of my favorite beers, the Sunner Kolsch. This is a fantastic beer that I’ve enjoyed many times. Good price point for a great beer.
The only other Kolsch was the Alaskan Summer. Not a bad beer, but a bit of a let down after the Sunner.
The biggest representation of hybrid’s is the Blonde Ale category. We started with the Kona Big Wave, which actually had an enjoyable fruity-ness in a crisp package. Shockingly, not a bad beer.
Widmer’s Citra was alright, but again, pretty forgettable. I don’t even think most people had any thoughts about it.
The Deschutes River Ale was a particularly unsatisfactory beer when I had it last, but in the tasting it turned out quite well. The grainy finish made this beer and became a favorite of mine during the tasting.
We had a couple locals up next, starting with the Diamond Knot Blonde Ale. It was infected. Not the first infected beer that I’ve had from them, so it’s pretty upsetting.
The American Blonde was next, but it had a surprising hop kick that didn’t vibe with the other beers. Just felt off-balanced.
Steam Beer was the second to last style we tried. Anchor Steam was first. I don’t need to tell anyone about this beer. I don’t know if it showed that well in the tasting, but I thought it was fantastic as I always do.
I’m actually pretty shocked I was able to find another Steam Beer, but luckily Widmer just released their Columbia Common. It’s a pretty tasty brew with a bit of a hop kick and a dusty malt flavor.
Bringing up the rear, and a well-liked change from the others is the Alaskan Amber which is actually an altbier. The little kick of sweetness was a welcome end to the night.
I think this tasting turned out pretty well, and it was a fantastic night. Some new faces were in the crowd and I hope they got a little taste of something new. Not bad for our 21st. We’ve got Black IPAs lined up next.
Yes, this is a cellphone pic, and yes, that’s my girlfriend hiding behind a pillow. Moving on…
This month was all about Witbiers, those spiced Belgian wheats so popular these days.
You can’t talk about Wits, unless you talk about Hoegaarden. It’s a nice, light beer, but has more complexity and finesse than many of the others after it. Still a classic.
Blue Moon was next in line. I think it’s an important beer because it really helped to popularize the style being from a big brewery. Everyone has had this beer and it was certainly a “gateway” beer for me. I still think it’s a solid beer.
Might as well try the other big brand version, Shock Top. Blue Moon is considerably better.
Another mass market beer was after that with the R.J. King WingWalker. Some liked this beer, but I personally think it’s garbage.
The Lost Coast Great White is the first American craft beer for us to try. It was also bad.
Luckily, the Alaskan White was pretty damn good. It was my favorite of the night with the possible exception of Hoegaarden, and was liked all around.
Unibroue Blanche De Chambly had great flavor, but for some reason this bottle wasn’t very carbonated. Not sure what the deal was there.
For something a little different, I threw in the Chainbreaker from Deschutes. They call it a White IPA. Basically, it’s a hopped up Wit. I’m not a huge fan of this beer, and others didn’t enjoy the added hops.
The tasting ended with a non-Witbier. The Snoqualmie Spring Fever was a darker Belgian beer with coriander added. It was a nice way to finish the tasting with another look at how coriander comes through in a different style.
This was one of the most unimpressive Beer Clubs we’ve had. It’s a bit unfortunate as it doesn’t do the style justice. But I do think it’s important to taste what the rest of America is drinking. Hybrid Styles next month!
Here’s a new beer in the Pilot Series lineup from Alaskan. This beer features Centennial, Citra, Meridian, and Summit hops. So hopefully it won’t taste like crab.
American Red Ale. 8.5% ABV. Alaska. Limited Release.
Nice coppery-red color. Quite a nice head on here on the pour.
Hoppy! Smells like an IPA actually. Lots of pine, little bit of citrus (grapefruit, orange) with a little bit of vanilla and caramel. Smells strong, hint of booze.
Really nice mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium carbonation. Really nice “tooth”.
Really hoppy up front with a bit of sweetness that gets fairly earthy on the mid-palate and dries out on the finish, which may just be the result of bitterness. The finish is really lovely with a floral, grapefruit, and honey flavor.
Really loving this beer. I’d just go ahead and call it an DIPA. It’s perhaps a bit too dark, but we are splitting hairs. 91 points.
I’ve never had their Baltic Porter before, so I was pretty excited to get the chance. This one is brewed with cherries, brown sugar, vanilla beans and aged on oak chips. Sounds interesting.
Baltic Porter. 9.8% ABV. Alaska. Limited Release.
Dark brown to black in color. No real head on this one.
Lots of chocolate, hint of soy sauce, spices, and vanilla on the nose.
Mouthfeel is quite lovely. Full bodied with medium carbonation. Very full.
Chocolate, licorice, with a hint of vanilla and oak. Not getting much else. A ton of roast on here as well.
Not really digging this one. All that good stuff gets pretty lost. 85 points.
Despite having this beer many times in the past, I’ve never reviewed it. No idea why. This is actually referred to as an Old Ale, not a Winter Warmer, but let’s not get carried away with the style guidelines. Oh, and this brew has Spruce tips. I’ll let them tell you all about that below.
Old Ale. 6.4% ABV. Alaska. Winter Seasonal.
Light orange color. Head fades really quickly.
The nose is really sweet smelling. Almost a cotton candy smell with a hint of citrus and malt.
Mouthfeel is solid. Lots of body with highish carbonation.
The palate also tastes like cotton candy with a hint of orange and vanilla. Little bit of malty-ness with an almond characteristic that sticks on the palate.
Not a bad beer, but it’s oddly sweet and sugary tasting which doesn’t make it a favorite for me. 86 points.
Well this was an interesting tasting. Strange beers, lots of people, and half of us were sick. This beer club was inspired by the Rogue Voodoo beer, but I’ve been wanting to do a smoked beer tasting for a long time. I love these beers and the pairings they make with food. Several cheeses were brought to pair, and I think it was awesome…but I could barely taste anything.
I found some funky brews for this one. We started off with the Piwo Grodziskie, which is a sour smoked wheat beer. Yeah, strange, but very cool. The locally made Three Skulls Buccaneer Bacon was next. It’s a bacon lager, but the bacon didn’t seem to come through much. The Stone Smoked Porter has been a disappointment for me every time I’ve had it, and I think this tasting mirrored my opinion. The classic Alaskan Smoked Porter ended up being a favorite for many that night. The Schlenkerla Marzen also seemed to be liked. It’s definitely one of my favorite beers of all time. Now something a little different. I found this beer called Bog from Epic Ales in Seattle. They specialize in weird brews. The beer featured smoked malts and Shiitake mushrooms. Yep. The reactions to this beer were the best I’ve ever seen. It ended up being very tart, but I’m not sure how. Some liked it, some hated it. The Left Hand Smoke Jumper seemed to also be universally liked. The Evil Twin Ashtray Heart did not get off to a good start. Some found the name alone to be appalling. When they actually drank it, they nearly marched out of Beer Club. The most hated beer ever at Beer Club. I liked it. The Sam Adams Cinder Bock was next to last, and was actually an easy drinking beer despite the ABV. It was a welcome change. Last, but not least was the Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale. The notorious beer was a hit and miss. Some enjoyed it, some did not. As I’ve recently posted, I really enjoyed this beer.
A bunch of people came out for this Beer Club and I got to see some folks I havn’t seen in ages. It was an awesome time that ended on some home brews and a game called Cards for Humanity, which is the best game ever. Unfortunately, some of the people there won’t be able to come back to a Beer Club for a long while. Namely Jackie, who’s been to every single Beer Club since I started it. She’s pretty awesome and will surely be missed.
Havn’t had this one in awhile. I didn’t blow me away when I compared it in the Witbier tasting that I did. It features wheat and 2-row with NW hops, but their website doesn’t list the varieties. Of course, as a witbier it has coriander and orange peel.
Witbier. 5.3% ABV. Alaska.
Cloudy yellow color. Head fades away quickly.
Lots of citrusy-ness with a hint of spice. Just barely a hint of wheat. Nothing amazing here.
Mouthfeel is very light with a frothy carbonation.
A little more coriander comes through on the palate than the nose with that orange peel and a nice little grainy finish.
Nothing great here, as it’s very light in flavor and comes off quite watery. It just needs more oomph. 82 points.
Another new addition to the Pilot Series, we have a doppelbock brewed with Alaska birch syrup. They’ve used this birch syrup in a couple of beers, namely the Perseverance Ale. I’m not sure if this is a product that ferments or is just used for added sweetness in the beer.
Doppelbock. 8.5% ABV. Alaska. Limited Release.
Nice caramel color with a little bit of head.
It smells very sweet and malty with that brown sugar and vanilla component coming through. It just smells cloying.
Mouthfeels is quite thick, but also has a fairly high amount of carbonation which cuts through just a bit.
Quite sweet with a ton of a malty-ness. It’s got caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, honey. It also has a fairly noticeable bitterness on the finish. Lots of length of caramel and honey.
First of all, this is definitely not a beer for me. It’s sweet, malty, and thick. That certainly doesn’t make it a bad beer, it’s just not for me. It’s a big, warming beer, and has some lovely flavors. Unfortunately, it is a bit cloying and a bit over-the-top. 87 points.
This beer is apparently a more “sessionable version of the Double Black IPA” that Alaskan released. The website says it has eight different malts and at least Cascade and Centennial hops.
American Black Ale. 6.4% ABV. 65 IBUs. Alaska. Spring Seasonal.
Really nice reddish hue with a tan head.
Nice nose of chocolate and orange. Reminds me of those jelly candies covered in chocolate. Hint of pine needles come through as well.
Mouthfeel is actually pretty nice. Medium body with a crisp carbonation.
Pine and orange meets that chocolate with a hint of caramel. Definitely has some bitterness, but fairly well-balanced.
Another solid black IPA here. To me, this is the proto-typical example of the style that has emerged, so why not give it a chance? 88 points.