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!
Finally, a new Bond Street Series beer from Deschutes. It’s a series of beers dedicated to hop experimentation, and this one is interesting. First, the hops: An heirloom strain of Cascades fresh from the farm. There’s also some Bravo, a high Alpha hop. Second, the malt: Nothing but Pilsner with some flaked oats. That’s fairly unusual for an IPA. But who needs any pesky Crystal malt to get in the way of fresh hop glory?
American India Pale Ale. 7.4% ABV. 60 IBUs. Oregon. Limited Release.
The Pilsner malt gives the beer a nice yellow golden glow. Decent head with some lacing sticking on the glass.
Nice hop aroma, but it actually doesn’t overwhelm the malt. Nice cracker type malt aroma with a lovely citrus quality. Smells just fantastic.
Mouthfeel is very nice. Good medium body with enough carbonation for drinkability.
Lovely floral to citrus hop flavor. Just a hint of pine comes through, but a surprisingly delicate flavor profile, and the malt does still make an appearance with a great malty, cracker flavor. The only thing that reminds you of an IPA is the medium bitterness that follows. The finish is ridiculous with a hint of peach.
Delicious. I need to make an IPA like this one. The hop flavor is killer and doesn’t destroy your palate. Nice balance, nice complexity, and another example to me that Deschutes is one of the best breweries in the world. 92 points
There’s a new thing Deschutes has been playing with. They call it a white IPA, a hybrid of a wit and IPA. This beer features Pilsner, Wheat and unmalted wheat with Bravo, Citra, Centennial and Cascade hops. Oh, and don’t forget the sweet orange and coriander.
Belgian India Pale Ale. 5.6% ABV. 55 IBUs. Oregon.
Very pale yellow color with a fluffy, loose head.
Orange peel and lemons with a little bit of clove on the nose. Little bit of hops as well, but nothing that would make me think it’s an IPA.
Mouthfeel is light to medium in body with high carbonation.
Lemon and orange peel with that clove and spice component. Fairly light hops, but they bring a medium bitterness and it ends on a citrus note.
Very citrusy with a bit of a hopped up profile and a fairly uninteresting beer. The whole white IPA thing hasn’t taken off yet, but if this is what we can expect, it’s a style I can’t get behind. 84 points.
This is another beer generously donated by my friend Maggs. Thanks again, Maggs! I had this beer once when it was fairly fresh, so it will be very interesting to see how it is now, both in regards to the age in the beer and the change of my palate. You can read my original review here.
Barleywine. 11.0% ABV. 30 IBUs. Oregon. Limited Release.
Rose and caramel in color with just a tiny bit of head on top.
The nose is outrageous. I’m getting some caramel, figs, wine, oak, brown sugar, vanilla, and a hint of mint.
Mouthfeel is huge, but the carbonation is still all there.
Sweet, boozy, sweet, oh and boozy. Holy crap, the alcohol has not calmed down at all and my mouth is on fire. Everything that you get on the nose, is on the palate, as well. It’s quite sweet still and has a huge finish of figs, dates, and vanilla.
Wow. I’m really surprised by the booze and the sweetness. The hops have begun to break down, creating a menthol-mint action, but it’s still a huge, full-flavored bruiser of a beer. 92 points.
February gave us a chance to try something that wasn’t just a seasonal. After the Winter seasonals and the stout tastings, I wanted to try something on the lighter side of things. The American Pale Ale is arguably the most important American craft beer other than the IPA. These beers are a nice way to show what American brewing is often about, without getting too hoppy. Besides, I love these beers because they are sessionable and go great with so many types of food.
We started with one of my favorite beers to come out last year, 21st Amendments Bitter American. It’s a 4.4% session beer that packs a great flavor punch. This beer was generally liked, but fell a bit flat compared to the bigger beers that we drank after this.
We moved on to one of my favorite party beers. The plain old Full Sail Pale. There’s nothing amazing about this beer, but it’s more than solid beer at a great price point.
Deschutes Mirror Pond is a classic. This was definitely on the malty side compared to the other pales. I think this was pretty well liked because of that, but I personally prefer on the hoppy side.
Of course, the most classic of them all is the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. This might have been the least favorite of all the beers we had. I was really surprised by this, especially since this was actually MY favorite of the bunch. It’s got this amazing citrus hop flavor that didn’t resonate with the other palates.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale was next and quickly became the favorite of the night. This was the biggest beer at 6.5% and was definitely on the malty side. Go figure, this was MY least favorite of the bunch, but people really loved that grainy malt flavor.
We finished the night with another Deschutes beer, this time the Red Chair NWPA. I put this last because I figured this would be the hoppiest of the beers. And it was, in terms of hop flavor, but actually had a very mild bitterness. Because of that, people actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I did notice a hint of diacetyl, that I don’t recall before, but the tasting would probably make that more noticeable.
This month’s beer club was all about stouts. Nothing in particular, just a random assortment. We had our biggest beer club yet. There were about 13 or 14 people. As I suspected, this was a bit too large of a group. It was more of a party than a tasting, but those are fun too.
We started with the Deschutes Obsidian. It’s a classic, in my opinion, and I think it was still one of the better stouts of the night. Full flavored, but the most sessionable of the bunch.
Next up was the Pike XXXXX stout. I’ve really liked this beer in the past, but was amazingly shallow after the Obsidian. This was a very forgettable beer during the tasting.
We had a couple oatmeal stouts after that. The first being the American Caboose. This was the first time I got to try this beer, and it was another great offering from the Sasquatch in Edmonds. This one had a little more roast quality than the previous beers.
Ninkasi Oatis is one of my favorite stouts and the tasting didn’t change my opinion. It actually showed a huge vanilla component, and had a little bit of sweetness. I think this was one of the favorites of the night.
Another local brew, the Skagit River Trumpeter from Mt. Vernon was next. This one did not show well. It tasted very sweet, with a very heavy caramel component. Most found this beer to be overbearingly sweet and lacked the roast.
Then the Yeti attacked. I was pretty excited that the soy sauce component was recognized immediately. It’s a very common flavor profile on high ABV stouts, and this one showed it big time. Still a great beer, and was probably one of the best made beers. Very complex and delicious.
Port Brewing’s Old Viscosity is an oak aged stout. I’ve always liked this one and the oak compliments it nicely.
The Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas was a shock to the palate. The coffee actually came across as a very green, almost salad like flavor. I got green peppers, while cilantro and lettuce was also mentioned. This wasn’t very well liked, and it really is a beer that should be enjoyed on it’s own.
We ended on a delicious note. The Mokah is very delicious, but well-balanced. The high ABV is very well hidden. This might be my favorite of the Blackwater Series.
Yes, I’m finally getting around to posting a recap of the last beer club. This one might be on the shorter side, because we consumed the largest amount of beer for a beer club yet. It was also the smallest crowd that we’ve had for a beer club. So we drank a lot. I grabbed a bunch of random Winter seasonals. Some are my favorites, and some I just thought would be interesting.
We started with the Winter Bock from Silver City. This one was actually a big hit. It’s an easy-drinking beer, with a hint of sweetness, which went over very well.
The 10 Degrees Below is one of my favorite seasonals from this state. It’s a weizenbock, which makes it an interesting, and delicious, twist for the season.
Moving back to Silver City, we have the Old Scrooge. This is actually considered an English Barleywine. I have to say that the beer seems like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s more like a cross between a winter warmer and a barleywine. I don’t think this one was a winner for anyone.
Moving on to a winter warmer from Oregon, the Laurelwood Vinter Varmer went over pretty well. It’s an alright beer, but doesn’t blow me away, especially with all the other great examples out there.
Then one of my favorites, the Deschutes Jubelale. I love this beer, but it didn’t seem to be a huge hit that night. It’s my favorite winter warmer, and it’s just a delicious beer. This year’s batch is actually quite a bit different, but every bit as excellent as last year’s.
And now for something a little different. This hopped up New Belgium Snow Day actually went over pretty well. Even though it’s a hoppy mother of a beer, the bitterness was on the lower side, which made it fairly drinkable for the rest of the club. I was expecting people to hate this, but they didn’t.
And here’s another one of my favorite Winter beers. This barleywine was a bit too much for everyone, except the one person who is a big fan of barleywines. I love this beer, and I’ve got one stashed away for next Christmas.
To end the night, we had the imperial stout from Port Brewing called Santa’s Little Helper. The beer was surprisingly light for an imperial stout, but it still had a bite. I wish we would have had this one before the HotD barleywine, because it wasn’t a very roasty beer and the hops from the barleywine really destroyed the palate.
We’ll see you next month!
This is always a special release that I look forward to. I’ve had several vintages of this beer and always like to see the differences on each batch. Deschutes is one of my very favorite breweries, and their reserve stuff is unbelievable. Let’s see how this year’s batch is.
Imperial Stout. 11.0% ABV. 65 IBUs. Oregon. Limited Release.
About as dark as they get, but does have some dark brown on the edges.
I don’t even know where to begin on the nose. There’s chocolate, smoke, anise, caramel, vanilla, and bourbon. It has a slight earthyness, but the sweetness comes across heavy.
Mouthfeel is a bit more carbonated than I was expecting, but it’s still a huge body.
Give me a second to consult the thesaurus. All of the above, from the nose. There’s some much flavor in here, it’s ridiculous. But it’s not just the flavor, it’s the balance. Nothing overtakes the palate. The length is tremendous with chocolate and coffee.
This is one of the most complex, delicious, and balanced beers that I’ve had. This is drinking extremely well right now. It’s possible this won’t age quite as well as previous vintages, but don’t worry about it. Buy it. 96 points.
This is a limited release in the Bond Street Series of hoppy beers from Deschutes. I was super excited to get this beer, as I’m a big fan of Mirror Pond, and can only assume this will be even better. It’s hopped with Cascade’s.
American Pale Ale. 5.0% ABV. 40 IBUs. Oregon. Limited Release.
Coppery golden color. Not that much head, but has some really nice lacing.
Nice nose. You can really smell the Cascades in here. I get a hint of vanilla and tobacco, as well, and a nice orange citrus aroma.
Mouthfeel is perfect. Great medium body with just the right amount of carbonation.
A little bit of fresh pine and citrus hit the palate. It kind of fades after that. The finish is decent and has malty flavor.
Well, it’s not terrible, but probably the most unimpressed I’ve ever been by a Deschutes beer. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t just love this beer, but I find it lacking flavor. I’m not even sure how that happens. This is the second time that I’ve bought it, because I thought maybe my palate was off the first time, but it’s pretty clear that this is a let down. 84 points.