Lazy Boy Belgian Style Golden Ale

LazyboyGuess which brewery’s products just made it into my neck of the woods? Well, as the title line would suggest, that would be Lazy Boy Brewing from Everett, Washington. Yes, the same state that brought us the Pike, Pyramid, Elysian Fields, and Odin breweries seems to have sent yet another of its craft brewers north of the border. And looking for something new, I decided to get my hands on a sample. And since the choice was between this and their IPA, and the fact that I was in the mood for something lighter and more conducive to hot weather, I grabbed a bottle of their Belgian Golden.

lazyboy_belgianAnd I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Given the description and strength (8.7% alc/vol), I expected a lightly colored ale with syrupy, strong malts with that distinctive nose and aftertaste that comes from Belgian yeast. What I got was in fact a strong, sour ale, reminiscent of a Flanders Red thanks to the addition of that specialized yeast that brings out a beer’s lactic acid. And while not as potently sour as some of the Flanders I have come to know and love (the many beers that make up Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series), that does not diminish the overall impact it had on my taste buds. In fact, in many ways, it led to all-around more pleasurable drinking experience, since the lighter taste was more conducive to hot weather drinking. Yes, sour, tart, but ultimately clean and refreshing, this beer was an all-around pleasure!

Appearance: Deep amber/orange, cloudy, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sour ale notes, lactic acid, mild yeast and malts
Taste: Immediate burst of lactic acid, notes of sour cherry and raspberry
Aftertaste: Lingering tartness, clean and refreshing
Overall: 9/10

Yes, a most interesting combination; a sour golden ale. But I think it’s fair to say this beer just became a current favorite of mine. Here’s hoping the rest of the brewery’s lineup, which includes the usual suspects plus a few very interesting customers – a Christmas Brown and another Strong Belgian – is just as good. And here’s hoping it will be available in my neck of the woods too!

Visit to Pike Brewery!

Pike-SignHello all! I’ve just gotten back from an exciting trip to Seattle with the family. An annual, or semi-annual thing, the purpose of this trip  was to see my sister and brother-in-law and exchange our belated Christmas and birthday gifts. Due to the border between us, visits are not a regular occurrence, so every such trip is considered a very special occasion.

And in addition to spending time with the people I love, exchanging some choice swag and visiting a lot of interesting places, I finally got a chance to do some on-site sampling at the PIke Brewery this year. Last time I was in Seattle, I got to the front door, but was forced to double back with the rest of my troupe and wasn’t able to dine in. But this year, thanks in part to my darling wife, we managed to secure ourselves a table for some light lunch and some brews.

And let me tell you, it was an experience I would very much like to repeat. Not only is the decor very industrial-chic, punctuated by sculpted metal ceilings, columns, and art deco, it’s also got an unmistakably historic feel to it. Having been established in the early 80’s, only the third brewpub of its kind to open in North America before everybody and their brother was doing it, this place has been around for some time, but still manages to keep things honest.

pike_2Not only was our beer top shelf, we got some awesome food and some choice service. In fact, our server – Melanie, who’s kind of my hero right now – managed to score us some free pints because of a tiny error in our order. How cool was that? And just to return a small shred of that courtesy, I let her and the others know that they would be featured in this review. Hello Pike People! Anyhoo, onto our selection…

As those who follow this site may know, I have reviewed the bulk of Pike’s beers in another post, so I shan’t go over the same ground here. And while I did take the chance to resample some older favorites, I was sure to tackle a few I knew I hadn’t had the chance to review yet. They were…

Space Needle Golden Anniversary Vintage IPA:
Pike-Space-Needle-Golden-IPA-225x225Commemorating 50 years of the Space Needle being built, and roughly 30 years of independent brewing, this golden IPA is a multifaceted and pleasing take on the traditional India Pale Ale. Combining a variety of Yakima Valley hops – Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, Summit – the overall effect is an ale that is both citrusy, slightly sweet, floral and even tropical in nature. Since it is of such limited availability, I’m glad I got some while I could. No telling if it would be available north of the 49th parallel!

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Varied hops, tropical and floral, heavy on the passion fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of hops, starting with citrus and moving to tropical, then bitter
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and citrus rind flavor
Overall: 9/10

Tandem Double Ale:
pike_tandem_labelNamed in honor of the Finkel’s tandem bicycle, this beer is a Belgian-style dubbel that is available year round. And like many dubbels, it is spiced with coriander and is double-fermented to get a deep, heavy flavor that is reminiscent of pudding and sweet breads. Though I’ve had this one before, I somehow failed to dedicate a review to it. Not sure why, seems so un-snob like of me! In any case, I made a special point to get some takeaway so I could give this standout its due!

Appearance: Deep brown, very cloudy and almost opaque, mild foam and carbonation
Nose: Ruddy malts, sugary and molasses-like, slight notes of spice
Taste: Immediate dose of mild spice, heavy malts, syrupy and pudding like, mild tang
Aftertaste: Slight notes of coriander and coarse malt
Overall: 8/10

Cask Conditioned IPA:
pike_ipa_labelThis beer was brought to me free of charge thanks to our heroic barwoman (Thanks again, Mel!), and was my choice for last call since Casks are the truest ales around, and hence the ultimate test of a brewer’s mettle. And I was very pleased that this beer was as consistently good with their standard IPA, but still managed to present a few surprises of its own. Served at cellar temperatures, low in foam and carbonation, unfiltered and unpasteurized, true ales are not for the uninitiated, but are a real pleasure once you get a taste for them.

Appearance: Deep amber, very cloudy, low foam and carbonation
Nose: Floral hops, slight citrus notes, mild malts
Taste:  Lighter malts, tawny and clean on the tongue, followed by notes of grapefruit
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness, relatively clean aftertaste
Overall: 9/10

wingsAnd of course, our food! As is customary for us whenever sampling lighter fare, my wife and I decided to get the chicken wings and the spinach salad. Naturally, Pike Brewery has their own twists on both, and they skyrocketed to the top of my list of the best wings I’ve had since moving to the West Coast! Baked, not fried, plump and juicy, with a spicy sauce that achieved a slow-to-build but powerful burn, and with a divine blue cheese dressing, these wings achieved a trifecta of wing perfection! I know nothing comparable to them except for what Craig Street Brewing used to do.

spinach_saladAnd the spinach salad was equally good, made up of mushrooms, pine nuts,sun dried tomatoes, garlic, Parmesan, dried bits of prosciutto, and a light vinaigrette. The merger of these elements achieved a sort of healthy, crunchy, salty goodness, equal parts health food and guilty pleasure! And as always, a good spinach salad is the perfect accompaniment to hot wings and beer!

All around, it was a great time and I’m glad my wife and I had the wherewithal to force the issue. There was no way we were going to miss out on this place a second time! And I look forward to going back someday. Hopefully it won’t take two more years this time!

Christmas Beer!

This holiday season, my sweetheart treated me to some new microbrews from the great state of Washington. For some time, I’ve known that there are beers from Pike, Rogue and others that are not available here in B.C. So when she decided to head down there with some girlfriends for a weekend getaway, I was sure to put in a request for as many tall boys as she could legally bring back. She did good! And considering that I got me some awesome mugs from Hofbrau, I had the perfect vessel with which to enjoy them. Here are some of the labels I enjoyed!

Pike Monk’s Uncle Tripel: The closest thing I’ve tasted to Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde without being the real thing. Combining wheat and barley malts with a generous dose of hops and then triple fermented, this beer comes off as heavy, rich, yeasty, and with a distinctly Belgian flavor. It’s bite and its intoxicating nose are not to be underestimated, neither is its strength (9% alc/vol) 8.5/10

Odin’s Gift Juniper Ale: A delicious pale ale that my wife substituted for Rogue’s own Juniper Pale, which she could not find. This was an ample replacement however! Like a good pale ale, this beer is crisp, has a floral nose, a good hop bite and a lingering finish. It is complimented by the mild aroma and flavor of juniper berries, giving this beer just the slightest essence of gin. A nice twist on the a pale ale, and well paired with pastas and meats or just on its own. 9/10

Pike Dry Wit: I’ve had several wheat beers over the years, and this was definitely one of the most rare and complex! A strong flavor of wheat malts, a light spice palate that lingers and grows more intricate the deeper one drinks it. I noticed notes of coriander and orange on the first few sips, which is common in witbier. But gradually, I became aware of chamomile and lavender-like notes as well. A definite winner and a very interesting twist on the traditional wit. 9/10

Pike Old Bawdy Barley Wine: At 10% alc/vol, this beer definitely lives up to its name! Heavy, rich and very strong, this beer starts with a sugary nose, a rich malty sweetness, a good hop bite and a long, syrupy finish. Not for the faint of heart, but one of the best dessert beers I’ve had in recent years. 9/10

New Belgium Super Cru: A very interesting fruit beer, reminiscent of poached pears and distinctly Belgian in its flavor. In addition, it’s also very strong, 10% alc/vol, and that’s in spite of its light, fruity taste. Hard to believe they doubled the malts and the hops of the usual Fat Tire. Very good when paired with salads, cheeses, and lighter fare, and also pleasant on its own. 7.5/10

Rogue Brewery!

Many a time I’ve reviewed individual Rogue products and thought to myself, “damn, I need to do a full on review of the brewery, give credit to every beer I’ve ever had from them”. Hell, I think I’ve even said as much in a post here or there. Well, I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is – literally, since some of them were hard to obtain and involved the cost of travel to procure! And coupled with others that I’ve tried over the years, I’ve finally been able to prepare a full list. It’s been difficult given the fact that seasonals come and go, and one can scarcely remember everything one tries (especially when they drink like I do!), but I assure you, I’ve done my best. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

American Amber Ale: I’ve sampled many amber ales in my day, and I’ve come to expect a certain consistency from them. More often than not, they are smooth, light, tawny on the tongue, and are more malty than hoppy in terms of flavor. This is certainly the case with the American Amber. The taste is both complex, yet light, with smooth, slightly viscous malts and a light hop finish. An enjoyable beer when paired with food or as light-drinking fare. 3.75/5

Brutal IPA: This beer I sampled and reviewed last november, as part of my “Month of IPA’s”. And little’s changed since I reviewed it last! A year later and I still it a fitting examples of a west coast IPA, combining a crisp taste, powerful, floral hops and a good alcoholic bite! Definitely not for the faint of heart, as it more than lives up to its name! 4/5

Chipotle Ale: An interesting experiment in beer-making, and one which I just had to try. And I was not disappointed, nor particularly surprised. Overall, this is a perfectly fine ale and characteristic of rogue brewing, combing a good hoppy ale with the slight hint of peppers and a mild spicy aroma. Perhaps I was expecting something different, but with a name like Chipotle, one would expect more of a punch! However, this remains a very decent ale and given its mild bite, would be well-paired with spicey food. 3.75/5

Chocolate Stout: A first for me, in that it was the first time I had ever tried a chocolate stout. Since that time, it seems like everyone is doing a chocolate or coffee stout/porter. And having tried several, I can still honestly say that this one is my favorite. Whereas most stouts tend to have a bitter, almost burn like flavor to them due to the dark malts used (what is typically described as coffee notes), Rogue’s own manages to come off very smooth. And the chocolate notes are the result of real chocolate being used. No artificial flavors here! 4/5

Dead Guy Ale:One of Rogue’s most famous beers, and definitely the easiest to find here in Canada. Done in the style of German Maibock but still boasting a Pacific Northwest character, this beer is deep honey in color, has a rich, malty profile, a strong bite of hops and a relatively sweet profile. It’s also garnered several awards, including silver medals three years running at the World Beer Championships (from 2005 to 2007).4/5

Hazelnut Brown Nectar: I believe I’ve mentioned several times in the course of my reviews how craft brewing has been coming back into vogue in the last few decades. And if there’s one beer that is consistently becoming more popular, its the Brown Ale. True to form, Rogue recently released their own spin on the traditional Brown, combining the flavor or roasted nuts with brown malts in order produce this beer. Living in Victoria, nestled between so many great micro-breweries, each one producing its own exceptional browns, I felt this baby had some stiff competition. And yet it still came out with top marks!  Rich, dark and tawny, like a good brown, this baby is also smooth and boasts a true nut flavor that is paired well with deserts and Christmas cookies (recent experience will attest to this)! 4/5

Irish Lager: This is going back a ways, but many years back, I spotted this brew in my favorite LCBO located on Rideau street at the edge of downtown Ottawa. I believe I bought it as part of a Rogue taster pack, since this particular LCBO could always be counted on to stack plenty of Rogue products. At the time, I was relatively un-wowed, but that was before I developed an appreciation for lighter beers. Today, I would classify this as a nice, light fare, clean, crisp and refreshing, like a good lager! Its also good when paired with food, though it is also recommended for making Guinness floats. That I will have to try… (personally, I’d recommend using a different stout, but a good idea is a good idea!) 3/5

Juniper Pale Ale: Yet another rare one that I tried when visiting my sis and bro-in-law in Oregon. And, much like with the Yellow Snow IPA (see below) I’ve tried to get my hands on some ever since! It was seriously that good. A delicious ale, red in color, with strong, floral hops, a crisp bite, and a lingering finish that is highly reminiscent of juniper berries, this beer is an all around hit! If you can’t find some, I recommend finding a local beer store that’s been known to carry some Rogue products and putting it on order. 4/5

Yellow Snow IPA: The name might deter some, but for me, this beer is a classic, one which I discovered by accident when visiting Portland in 2004 with my sis and bro in law. The color is consistent with the name, a nice golden orange. Strong hops, a good bite, a long dry finish, and a rating of 80 IBU make this a genuine IPA. After trying it for the first time, I would struggle to get my hands on some here in Canada.  It’s not easy, but thanks to my sweetheart, I enjoyed a nice cold bottle this Christmas, and thanks to my folks, I enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug! What a perfect experience! 5/5

Ah, and speaking of this Christmas, my darling bride was also able to procure for me some tasty samples from the Pike Brewery that I have been unable to get here in Canada as well. Expect a review dedicated to them as well soon. As with all my Christmas beers by Rogue, they too were enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug!

As a finale note, here is a link to Rogue’s website, and a picture of Jack Joyce, the co-founder and CEO of Rogue which I happened to come across in the course of my research into them. Doesn’t he just look like a brewer?!

http://www.rogue.com/

Jack Joyce, Co-Founder and CEO

 

 

Pike Brewery (Updated!)

From September 2011, my review of Pike Brewing, Seattle’s famous microbrewery:

You know, its surprising to me that it took me this long to do a review of Pike. Not only is it a great purveyor of spirituous beverages, it is also pretty famous as micro-breweries and craft brewing go. And wouldn’t you know it, it originated in the same market where Starbucks got started. That’d be Pike Place Market, located in the heart of downtown Seattle. It was at the Great Canadian Beer Fest that I first noticed their label and got to try some of their products. I even had the honor of visiting the market where the brewpub is located. And let me tell you, it was pretty cool! Unfortunately, due to our errant social calendar, I did not get to step into the pub, grab a seat and enjoy some samples! Instead, my dear brother-in-law fetched me a six pack later that day, and I eventually found a string of liquor stores back here in BC that carried their products. Thus far, I’ve managed to try three, and since I managed to get my hands on some again recently, I thought I’d give them their due! Here goes…

Kiltlifter Ruby Ale: Ordinarily, I find Scotch Ales (that would be beers brewed with single malt scotch) to be a little overpowering. However, this ale, hilariously named, manages to combine a sweet, tawny taste characteristic of scotch ales, with a strong bitter finish. All in all, its a good balance, neither too sweet or too grating. And at 6.5 % alc/vol, its also got a good alcohol content for people not looking to get smashed.

It was a friend (hi Katrina!) who first told me of this and it became a mission to find some! But as we live far apart, we were never able to hold onto our procurements for long (aka. we drank em before we could meet again). Finally, we got together and tilted some bottles. No clothes were shed in the course of it ;). 8.5/10

Naughty Nellie: I made the wise choice of picking some bottles of this up as well when hoarding the Kiltlifter. And in many ways, it is better than its counterpart. Lighter, crisper, and with a more noticeable dry hop finish, the name “Golden Artisan Ale” pretty much says it all. It is a nice golden color, has a clean taste, is light in the alcohol department (4.7% alc/vol) but is still stronger tasting and more complex on the pallet than your standard pilsner or lager. A truly creative creation! 8.5/10

Extra Stout: I enjoyed this one during a stint with stout. Despite the stiff competition, this baby held its own! Overall, it was smooth, velvety in texture, and with notes of chocolate and espresso. Like a good stout! At 7% alc/vol, its also stronger than your average stout or porter. A fitting accompaniment to ice cream, desert coffee, or something chocolatey. 8/10

Pike IPA: A deep amber color and clear hue greet the eyes the moment this beer hits the glass. Follow that up with a sharp floral aroma, and a strong, herbal taste, sweet pale and crystal malts, and a lingering dry finish, and you’ve got some idea of what this IPA is like. Definitely one of the better IPA’s I’ve tasted, and a nice break from the citrusy varieties (awesome though they are!). 9.5/10

Pike Dry Wit: I’ve had several wheat beers over the years, and this was definitely one of the most rare and complex! A strong flavor of wheat malts, a light spice palate that lingers and grows more intricate the deeper one drinks it. I noticed notes of coriander and orange on the first few sips, which is common in witbier. But gradually, I became aware of chamomile and lavender-like notes as well. A definite winner and a very interesting twist on the traditional wit. 9/10

Pike Monk’s Uncle Tripel: The closest thing I’ve tasted to Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde without being the real thing. Combining wheat and barley malts with a generous dose of hops and then triple fermented, this beer comes off as heavy, rich, yeasty, and with a distinctly Belgian flavor. It’s bite and its intoxicating nose are not to be underestimated, neither is its strength (9% alc/vol) 8.5/10

Pike Old Bawdy Barley Wine: At 10% alc/vol, this seasonal beer definitely lives up to its name! Heavy, rich and very strong, this beer starts with a sugary nose, a rich malty sweetness, a good hop bite and a long, syrupy finish. Not for the faint of heart, but one of the best dessert beers I’ve had in recent years. 9/10

Man that was good beer! Can’t wait to sample more of their wares, of which there are several!