Red Hook ESB

redhook_esbBrewer: Red Hook Brewery, Woodinville, WA
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 28

Description: As part of their regular lineup, this brew is fashioned in the style of a traditional British ESB. A mainstay of the brewery since 1987, it is fashioned using (what I assume are) caramel and amber malt, and lightly bittered with a combination of dry, earthy, and citrus hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the second time I’ve tried Red Hook’s ESB, which I first drank while visiting family in Seattle back in 2011. This time around, I am drinking it as part of a sample pack sent to me in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, I was quite pleased with the natural balance it struck. Smooth caramel malts mingle with dry, earthy and mildly citrus hop flavor, before finishing with a tang of minerals. In may ways, I was reminded of a Marzen. And, given my predilection for that style, that’s not a bad thing.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, syrup, caramel, mild floral and citrus notes
Taste: Smooth, semi-sweet malt, tang, English shortbread, citrus and earthy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavors and mineral tang
Overall: 8/10

Central City Red Racer ESB

red_racer_esbBrewer: Central City, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 60

Description: This brew, which is part of their regular Red Racer lineup, is Central City’s take on the classic English ESB. It combines with UK Maris Otter and Superior Pale Ale malts with a blend of Crystal malts, and is then bittered using a combination of German Magnum, Horizon, Centennial and Cascade hops.

Tasting Notes: I’ve come to expect good things from Central City, and the ESB has been something I’ve been meaning to review for awhile now. Like a classic bitter, it has the smooth malt base and the dry hop flavor. But owing to a combination of British and Pacific Northwest influences, it also has some a nice balance of citrus, grassy and herbal notes, and a hint of sweet malt flavor that rounds everything out nicely.

Appearance: Ruby amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, mild citrus, dry hops, grassy, herbal, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, mild sweetness, dry hop flavor, grapefruit, citrus rind, grassy, herbal
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, grapefruit and herbal hops
Overall: 9/10

Central City/Elysian I-5 Amarillo Ale

Central-City-Elysian_Amarillo_I-5Brewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver BC, Elysian Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: American-Style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 35

Description: Brewed in tandem by Elysian and Central City, and as part of the cross-border effort Brewers Without Borders, this pale ale is crafted specifically for Joey Restaurants in Canada, WA and soon CA. Brewed using Munich malts and all Amarillo hops, it is available on tap at Joey locations and in 650ml bottles as a limited release.

Tasting Notes: As a single malt, single hop combination, there’s very little that is obscure or complex about the taste of this pale ale. However, it still manages to have a layered profile, with a good malt base that calls to mind baked bread and biscuits, and hops that provide a dry, citrusy and slightly peppery flavor that is not unlike an ESB. Definitely a good collaboration brew and an example of what brewers all over the Pacific Northwest can do.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Biscuity malts, dry, grassy, citrusy hop notes
Taste: Good malt, tang, baked bread, burst of dry hop flavor, herbs, citrus, pepper
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop finish, herbal taste
Overall: 8.5/10

No-Li Silent Treatment Pale Ale

photoBrewer: No-Li Brewery, Spokane, Washington
Style: American Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.75% alc/vol
IBUs: 67

Description: This pale ale is the brewery’s flagship beer and is made using Pale 2-Row, Munich, Carapils malts, and bittered with Cluster and Cascade hops for the initial boil. It is then dry-hopped with an added infusion of Cascade afterwards.

Tasting Notes: Slightly cloudy and relatively light in color, this beer possesses a dry, floral aroma and a light, refreshing, crisp, and subtly hopped taste. It also comes with a touch of sweetness thanks to the Munich malt, and has a nice, citrus hop profile that is slight but lingering – not unlike an ESB. I’m beginning to sense a trend with this brewery!

Appearance: Light amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong, floral, and dryly bitter hop aroma
Taste: Dry hop bitterness, slight sweetness, mild honey and melon and citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and citrus rind, relatively clean
Overall: 8.5/10

No-Li Spin Cycle Red Ale

no-li-brewhouse-logo-squareBrewer: No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane, Washington
Style: Extra-Special Bitter (ESB)
Alc/Vol: 5.75%
IBUs: 49

Description: A combination of English, German and American brewing techniques, this beer takes its name from the fact that it brings 2-Row, Crystal, Munich, and Chocolate malts together with Cluster, Liberty, and Cascade hops to achieve a balanced pale ale. Formerly known as Crystal Bitter ESB, this beer has the distinction of being the 2012 Gold Medal Winner of the Great American Beer Festival.

Tasting Notes: As ESB’s and Red Ales go, this beer is certainly consistent, combining that dry, subtle hop flavor with a malt profile that is nicely syrupy with just a hint of sweetness. The combination of malts is also discernible, with a sharp tang and a slight taste of cocoa that comes from the Munich and Chocolate malts. It also manages to finish clean, with a slight bitterness that lingers just long enough on the tongue. A refreshing and complex brew.

Appearance: Dark copper, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Subtle malt nose, mild syrups, light hint of dry hops
Taste: Sweetbread, honey, dry herbs and hop bitterness, mild cocoa
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness, quite clean finish
Overall: 9/10