Alameda Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale

alameda_barnowlBrewer: Alameda Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.9%

Description: A seasonal ale, this southern English-style brown ale is an enhanced version of the original (being an Imperial). This includes particularly strong brown malts, an alcohol strength of 7.9% alcohol, and an IBU rating that is clearly in the 70s or 80s.

Tasting Notes: Compared to your conventional brown ale, this beer basically the nutty flavor and hop flavor and shoves a hot pepper up its tail pipe! This is both appealing and unappealing, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, the flavor of roasted walnuts, coffee and chocolate are quite appetizing, but the level of bitterness is a bit intense for the uninitiated. Personally, I don’t mind so much, but others (aka. the weak of taste buds) might.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Brown, roasted malts, roasted nuts, hop bitterness
Taste: Immediate malt bitterness, roasted walnuts, strong hops, coffee, bitter chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering hops, nutty flavor, and coffee bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

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Alameda Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA

alameda_ipaBrewer: Alameda Brewing, Portland, OR
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.2%
IBU: 103

Description: Since 1996, the Alameda Brewery has been producing a wide variety of craft beers in Northeast Portland. Their Golden Wolf Imperial IPA is hoppier and stronger than anything in either their regular lineup or their limited-release and seasonal releases. As one of their “House Beers”, it is available year-round.

Tasting Notes: This brew was a little different from what I’ve come to expect from Imperial IPAs. At 103 IBUs, it was certainly as bitter as I expected it to be, but the malt profile was decidedly light in terms of color and flavor. With a name like “Imperial”, one would expect the usual combination of sweet and coarse malts to be twice as potent. Still, this brew was strong and appetizing and did not slouch in the flavor department!

Appearance: Light golden/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Passion fruit and citrus notes, grassy, piney hops
Taste: Subtle malts, dry hop flavor, passion fruit and bitter citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and grapefruit rind
Overall: 8/10

Hopworks Survival 7-Grain Stout

hub-organic-survival-7-g-20605-864zAnother beer from south of the border has been lingering in my fridge for some time, again due to the fact that I was saving it for my beer class. But given my affinity for Oatmeal Stouts, and the fact that this is one I had yet sample, I predictably caved. Lucky for me its not too hard to find around these parts, since it comes to BC from the great state of Oregon.

I’ve tried only one other beer by the Hopworks Urban Brewery, their organic HUB Lager. And that was a most pleasing drinking experience, so I expected good things from this beer as well. And consistent with what I’ve come to expect from an Oatmeal Stout, this beer poured a deep black, had good foam, carbonation and a creamy head. And of course, the flavor was a profile of coffee and cocoa, roasted malts and some nice hop and malt bitterness.

But what was also pleasing about this particular stout was the combination of grains – which included wheat, amaranth, quinoa, spelt and kamut in addition to Barley and oats – led to a very smooth taste and mouth feel. Hence, I give it a particularly high rating that I haven’t given to a stout since the introduction of Hoyne’s Voltage Espresso Stout.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, minerals, hint of coffee, mild hop bitterness
Taste: Smooth malts, slightly bitter, creamy, hint of espresso, grassy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering coffee and roasted malt bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Onto the next tasting and the next HUB product! There are quite a few, and I’m not entirely sure about the prospects of finding them all up here, north of the 49th Parallel!

Base Camp Brewery Has Arrived!

basecamp_ipl
It seems there’s no end to the amount of beer coming up from the south lately. In addition to American, Diamond Knot, and Skagit, a great deal of hubbub is also being made by the operation known as Base Camp Brewing, which like many stellar brewing operations comes to us from Portland, Oregon. I was immediately drawn to their spot in the aisle when I noticed that they store their beer in aluminum tallboys, much like Surgenor brewing – may she rest in peace – used to do.

As it stands, only two beers in their lineup are available locally. And after having tried both, I was quite impressed. This included their IPA and Pilsner, which combined some serious authenticity with just enough experimentation to make them surprising.

In-Tents Lager:
in-tents_IPLThe flagship beer of the brewery, this beer is one of the few that makes it to export. And unlike many India Pale Lagers I’ve tasted in recent years, this beer manages to marry the best of both worlds – rich malts and a strong hop bite with the clean-tasting, refreshing qualities of a lager – without compromising on either. According to the commercial description, this beer is dry-hopped with a combination of Pacific Northwest hops and aged in caskets of toasted white and red oak. The end product is then lagered, which creates a beer that is at once malty, dry, fruity and sugary, but also refreshing and crisp. The play on words that is this beer’s name is clearly well-deserved.


Appearance:
Orange-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation

Nose: Strong malts, sweet, citrusy hops, ruby red grapefruit
Taste: Sweet and sugary malts, strong citrus, pine, passion fruit hops
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, mild fruity notes
Overall: 9/10

Ripstop Rye PIls:
ripstop-rye-pilsAnother beer that is available for export, the Ripstop Rye Pils is the breweries reinterpretation of the classic pilsner lager beer. Basically, this beer is a marriage of traditional Pilsner with west coast hops and toasted rye malt. This results in a beer that smells of European malt and noble-type hops are discernible, as are some interesting traces of orchard fruits. In terms of flavor, the characteristic Pilsner taste mingles with some spicy rye notes, added fruit, and some grassy hops. And of course, it all finishes off crisp, clean, with a little lingering spice for emphasis. Quite the pleasing and refreshing hot weather beer and well paired with spicy foods. I think this one just might be a contender for my “Beer that tames the fire” list.

Appearance: Light golden blonde, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp hops, mild fruit, notes of peach and plum
Taste: Immediate tang, slightly bitter, grassy hops, rye spice, touch of peach
Aftertaste: Lingering crisp hop flavor, discernible rye aftertaste
Overall: 9/10

From just a passing glance at their website, I can see there are many left to try. Apparently, their expanded lineup includes 19 beers, ranging from a Pale Ale to a Sessional, from a Saison to a Doppelbock. I can only assume that many of these are only available on tap and not for sale outside of the local brewpubs. Guess I’ll just have to arrange a road trip!

Deschute Fresh Squeezed IPA

deschutes-fresh-squeezedAs the summer comes to an end, it seems fitting to get in as many seasonal beers as I can before they cease to be available. Might as well since I’m sure to have my hands full with Marzens, Browns, Pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. So I decided to start my evening with an IPA that once again comes from south of the 49th – Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. I’ve seen it around my local beer store for many weeks now, and thanks to the endorsement from my friend at I think about beer, I finally decided to give it a try.

Though my range of sampling has been limited with Deschutes, I have come to expect a very high standard from them. My introduction came back in 2004 when I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Oregon and he introduced me to some of the local brews. Mirror Pond Pale Ale, their flagship production, just happens to be one of his favorites. And for me, it has come to be represent what brewing in Bend and Portland is all about, or at least a big part of it.

In any case, I found this version of an India Pale Ale to be quite faithful and very pleasant to drink. Pouring a deep orange color, the beer is clear and has a relatively good head. Citra hops are clear on the nose and come through especially well on the tongue, and the addition of the Mosaic hops add an added dimension of rich tropical flavor.

Appearance: Deep orange-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good citrus and floral hop aroma, tropical fruits
Taste: Immediate hop burst, citrus and pineapple, mango and passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering tropical, mild sugars and sweet malt
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, its quite the delicious beer, consistently hoppy, but not overwhelmingly so. Not a bad intro to the Deschutes Seasonal lineup, or their Bond Street Series. No doubt, I am going to take this as an invitation to start cruising their other products. But when did I ever NOT want to drink more of what a brewery has to offer?