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.
This is the newest in the Manic IPA series they have going. I’ve pretty much been a fan of all of them, and this one excites the crap out of me because it features Citra and Amarillo hops. Give me citrus or give me death!
American India Pale Ale. 7.2% ABV. Washington. Limited Release.
Burnt orange color. Lovely head on here. Lacing is just as nice.
Lots of citrus on the nose. The citra hops really come through with that lemon-y thing.
Mouthfeel is fantastic. Beautiful medium body with medium carbonation.
Grapefruit, orange, and lemon all come through with a bit of pine. A little more bitterness shows up than I’d prefer. Lots of vanilla on the finish, but it’s quite a dry one.
I love the citrusy hops, but I’d prefer the balance to be a little tighter. 88 points.
The neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle is teaming with breweries these days. The Washington Beer Commission set up a walking tour of 6 of them. I hadn’t even heard of two of them when I found out about the tour.
We started off at Reuben’s Brews. I was most excited about this place as they’ve been getting a lot of publicity for such a young brewery. I can see why. The beer was quite good. I started off with a Kolsch, which was tasty, but the stars were the selection of dark beers that my friends got. It was a good start! They just started bottling, so I’m looking forward to some proper reviews.
NW Peaks was next. This place is the very definition of Nano. You can barely fit inside, they had four beers on tap, and their beer garden was more similar to a construction site. I can’t say I was blown away by this brewery. I do have to give them credit for putting a berlinerweisse on the menu. They actually had the syrups for it too.
Hilliard’s was the next stop. I’ve had a couple of their beers before as they come in tallboy cans, which is pretty cool. Man, was I impressed with this place. Not only was the brewery big and open, they didn’t have anything sectioned off. You can get right up to the equipment and check out their barrel program. I guess they aren’t too concerned with people opening valves or start the canning line. The other reason it was cool is because of their Chardonnay Barrel Aged Saison, which was by far the most impressive beer of the day. It was fantastic.
Peddler brewing was next and was a completely new brewery for me. Fairly small tap room, but a ton of beers on tap. The brewer gave a quick tour. Most of the beers didn’t stick in my mind except their coffee saison, which was damn tasty. I’d like to check this place out again when it isn’t so crowded. We had to hold our taster tray.
Populuxe was another unheard of brewery. Another pretty small place with only a couple beers on tap. The Wit and the Bitter weren’t bad, but the CDA was off the mark.
Maritime Pacific was the last stop on the tour. They are a restaurant, so it took quite awhile before we got a seat. They make some solid beer, but the cask pale ale was quite awesome.
Brand new seasonal from Elysian. This beer features Pale and Munich malts with Northern Brewer and Cascade hops with some tasty blood oranges.
American Pale Ale. 5.4% ABV. 45 IBUs. Summer Seasonal.
Pale orange color, decently fluffy head.
Mostly malty on the nose, hint of fruit, but I wouldn’t think of blood orange.
Mouthfeel is quite nice. Pretty drinkable with medium carbonation.
Malty with a little hint of sweetness, but it dries out with a medium bitterness on the finish. It’s got a bit of a fruity flavor that I suppose I would describe as orangey, but I wouldn’t suspect there were any in here. You can taste a hint of orange zest on the finish.
It’s a solid beer, but I’m not really getting the blood orange flavor. 88 points.
Elysian has been playing around with hops in their new Manic IPA series. I’ve enjoyed the beers so far. I’ve reviewed both the Prometheus IPA and the Valhalla Red IPA. This beer features NW Pale, Munich, Cara-red, and Crisp 120 Crystal malts with Chinook and Nelson Sauvin hops.
American India Pale Ale. 6.3% ABV. 66 IBUs. Washington. Limited Release.
Looks like a great Washington IPA. Coppery color. The head is just beautiful.
Smells like a great Washington IPA. Little bit of malt underneath that nice piney hop profile. Little bit of that grapefruit, orange thing going on.
Mouthfeel is nice. It’s a hair light on the body, but the carb is good.
Starts with grapefruit and orange and transitions to a nice grainy mid, hint of sweetness and a pretty legit bitterness on the finish.
It’s good. It’s just a solid Washington IPA and another good one from Elysian. 90 Points.
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!
This beer has been around awhile, but this is really my first chance to try it. It’s their Spring Seasonal, but don’t ask me what’s in it.
English Brown Ale. 5.8% ABV. 22 IBUs. Washington. Spring Seasonal.
Dark toffee brown color. Head is decent, but doesn’t last very long.
Little bit of caramel and toffee on the nose. Nothing too exciting.
Mouthfeel is pretty light and pretty lacking.
Some caramel and toffee flavors again. Gets a bit watered down on the mid, but ends on that lovely brown ale flavor with a lot of brown sugar and toffee.
This beer just falls short of being really solid. It’s just too light on the mouthfeel and needs some work on the mid-palate. Otherwise it would be a perfectly respectable, but I’d stick with Moose Drool here. 82 points.
What does it mean? A hoppy red ale, apparently. This starts with medium Crystal, Biscuit, and Vienna malts with a healthy dose of hops. What kind of hops? Don’t question miracles.
American Red Ale. 7.0% ABV. Washington.
Dark amber to red in color. Decent head, and has a nice bit of lacing long the glass.
Bit of a toffee, caramel thing going on but with a dose of hops. There’s also a raspberry thing that I’m getting now.
Mouthfeel is fantastic. Medium-full body, medium carbonation.
Caramel, toffee, raspberries. Hops come in after, with a hint of pine, but not much else. The finish is a beautiful sweet grain flavor.
I love hoppy reds and this is no exception. I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS! 90 points.
Great label, hopefully great beer. No info on their website about this brew.
American Stout. 5.5% ABV. Washington.
Nice dark color, nearly black. Very limited head on this brew. The cap was a little indented from the capper, so I was afraid it didn’t seal well.
Bittersweet chocolate on the nose, hint of coffee and roast.
Carbonation higher than expected and a medium body overall.
Some chocolate and coffee with a little bit of vanilla and a whole lot of roast on the finish.
Feels a bit uninspired. Not a bad beer, and not overly chocolately, but I’m a bit bored of it. 84 points.
Here’s another brown ale for ya. This is a local one brewed with Pale, Munich, Caramel, and Chocolate malts with black and flaked barley, Galena, and Willamette hops. I’m glad to see Diamond Knot finally updated their website.
American Brown Ale. 6.0% ABV. 27 IBUs. Washington.
Well, it’s brown. Nice dark caramel color. Head is decent, but doesn’t stick around for too long.
Aroma is not bad after you swirl it a bit. It’s got that nice toasted nut thing going on with a hint of sweetness. Pretty much what I look for in a brown.
Mouthfeel is pretty solid. Medium body with medium carbonation.
Hint of toasted nuts, especially on the back, with a little bit of caramel. Slightly sweet but has just a little bit of bitterness on the finish.
I rarely find brown ales to be exciting, and this is no exception. Some nice flavors here, but tastes quite watered down. Amplify the flavor and the beer would be fantastic. 82 points.