Tofino Reign In Blonde

tofino_breweryThe Tofino Brewery is one of those island operations who’s beers I have few chances to ever sample. While their distributorship appears to be growing, it seems opportunities for me to try their wares are few and far between. The first time I tried anything by them, it was their Tuff Session Ale, which I tried while the wife and I were on vacation there last year. The second time came just a few months ago, when their Hoppin Cretin IPA appeared at my local beer store. And now, I finally found my way to their Reign In Blonde, the third beer to be introduced in their general lineup (followed by their wheat and porter).

Tofino_reign_in_blondeAnd honestly, I had mixed feelings about this one. While it was very refreshing and clean, it was light to the point of being quite watery. And while I do enjoy a lighter beer as much as anyone, I do insist that a craft beer have some range and a degree of subtlety to its flavor. And if its going to be light on hops, the malt profile should have more depth. Otherwise, its virtually indistinguishable from generic brands.

Appearance: Deep golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, very light citrus and honey
Taste: Mild, clean malts, quite light, slight notes of honey
Aftertaste: Very clean finish, mild hops, quite refreshing

As my sampling from this brewery continues, I remain largely impressed, and happy that the west island has its own operation named in honor of its coolest town! Now if only they would brew a dark lager, or some seasonals and limited releases, like a good old fashioned bock or Barley Wine!

The Season of IPA’s, Cont’d

wash_breweriesSpring, or as I’ve come to think of it, the season of the India Pale Ale, continues with more samples procured from my faithful local purveyors! And since I’m apparently taking on more new beers than I can review at any one time, I’ve decided to do another two-fer today, acknowledging two distinct examples of brewing excellence. And though they come from vastly different places, one the very farthest outpost on the West Coast (Tofino), and the other nestled in the very heart of Cascadia (Eugene, Oregon), I found them very similar in style, taste, and their dedication to Pacific Northwestern brewing.

Tofino Hoppin Cretin’ IPA:
hoppin_cretin3First up, a long-awaited second helping from the Tofino Brewery, which I got a chance to sample well over a year ago during my wife and I’s summer visit. Unfortunately, I only ever got to try their Tuff Session, and lamented that we couldn’t stick around long enough to do a little brewery tour. I tell ya, its about time Tofino had its own brewery, and one that bore its name proudly!

And I was quite impressed with this installment in their lineup. Boasted strong malts, a variety of hops (and plenty of them), and a solid alcohol content (7.5% alc/vol), it’s got pretty everything you’d expect from a good India Pale Ale. But there’s still room for pleasant surprises, like how the hop profile is well balanced between tropical, piney and citrus flavors.

Appearance: Deep amber, cloudy, good carbonation and foam retention
Nose: Notes of tropical fruit, pineapple, pine and a hint of citrus
Taste: Strong burst of citrus, followed by strong, slightly coarse malts
Aftertaste: Dry finish, lingering bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA:
Tricerahops-Double-IPA-A-20073PNext up is another faithful addition from the Ninkasi brewery, which once again impressed the hell out of me with their Tricerahops (very punny!) IPA. Much like their standard IPA, it combined a good dose of tropical hop aroma with citrus and pine. This also came through in the flavor, which was varied and very powerful, especially when combined with the high gravity malts, semi-sweet, viscous malts.

This is the result of multiple varieties of malt and hops – which in the former case include Pale, Munich and Carahell, and in the latter Summit, Amarillo, Centennial, and Palisade – and a hefty dose thereof. Overall, this beer rates at a hefty 100 IBUs, a Starting Gravity of 1080, and an alcohol content of 8.8% alc/vol.

Appearance: Golden-amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Floral hops scent, tropical fruit, pine, citrus
Taste: Strong hop burst, immediate citrus bite, giving way to semi-sweet malts
Aftertaste: Malt coarseness, lingering bitterness
Overall: 9/10