I think I had only had this previously as a sampler. I enjoyed it at the time, but I didn’t have much to enjoy. At the recommendation of a friend, I tried a pint at Geeks who Drink last week. It was awesome. So awesome in fact, that we went back to Red Rock for dinner Saturday night, and I ordered another pint. One of the best stouts I’ve ever had. It is so incredibly smooth, and all the flavors are in perfect harmony. It’s like a really good piece of dark chocolate–so nicely balanced that nothing acerbic or bitter stands out at all. Just dark, rich, and easy drinking beer.
I sampled Tetley’s as part of a black and tan a few weeks ago, noting “I imagine I’d like it straight up,” which it turns out I do. It’s good, not out of this world fantastic, but highly drinkable. It’s a typical English pale ale, a little more flavorful than Bass, but a little more subtle in its flavors than a typical American pale ale. Good beer, especially considering it comes from one of the largest brewing conglomerates in the world, and a safe choice if you don’t recognize anything else on the beer menu and aren’t feeling adventurous.
When I stopped in at Epic a few weeks ago to grab the Mid Mountain Mild, I couldn’t leave with just one beer. So I got a bottle of the Captain Crompton’s Pale Ale, something I tried fairly early on in the project when I was still getting used to hoppy beers. At the time, I said “pale ales aren’t my favorite style…” What a difference a few months make. Even if I hadn’t yet embraced the hops, I still appreciated the quality, commenting “It’s hoppy to be sure, with three hops in the boil, plus a dry hop during aging. But the hops plus the malt provide a broad spectrum of flavor that is immensely satisfying. An awesome pale ale.”
And I can’t think of anything to say now that would disagree with what I said then, I just enjoyed it that much more than I did then. Really a fantastic beer, medium amber in color, appears to be unfiltered, and a nice, fruity, complex bitter from the hops. One thing I would be curious about, though, is where this beer stands by the numbers. I can guess based on what I know about other beers, but it would be nice if Epic published some of the brewing stats beyond abv on their website, such as IBUs, beginning gravity, and ending gravity, the way Sierra Nevada does. Since I’m pretty sure Dave from Epic reads this blog from time to time, what do you say, Dave?
The Albion day lodge at Alta has PBR on tap. I got done skiing and gave it a try. It tasted better than PBR in cans. If you don’t know what that’s like, here’s Blackdog’s review: tastes like water, makes me pee. And yet, somehow, under the right circumstances, that is still awesome.
About a year ago, I began this project in an attempt to learn to like beer. It was a new year’s resolution of sorts. I had no idea at the time how far this would go. What began as 30 beers in 30 days led to a total of 229 beers, including 113 Utah-made beers, 67 non-Utah domestic brews, 47 imports, and 2 home-brews.
If you read some of my early posts, you can see just how far I’ve come. No question, my tastes have evolved–beers I didn’t like early, I love now. Beers I liked early aren’t as exciting now. The journey, though, has been amazing.
My experience with beer has been an inch deep and a mile wide–very few are the beers I’ve tried more than once. That said, a few stand out as favorites. Here they are:
Go-to Utah Beer: Bohemian Czech Pilsner. This was a tough decision, as there are a lot of good beers made in Utah, Full Suspension, Chasing Tail, First Amendment, and WYLD among them. But ultimately I chose Bohemian because 1) it’s good; 2) it’s readily available, both on tap, and at the grocery store; 3) it comes in cans–cans are a better way to store and transport beer than bottles.
Favorite Utah Beer: Epic Sour Apple Saison. This is the Utah-made beer I most enjoyed drinking. It’s expensive, so it’s more of a special occasion beer, but in terms of highlighting the skill of Utah brewers, this may be the best example.
Favorite Import: Traquair Jacobite Scottish Ale. And to think, I may have not sampled this one had my first choice been available. It’s one of the most expensive beers at the liquor store, but well worth it for a special occasion.
Favorite Domestics: This is hard. The unintended outcome of this project has been a real passion for American Craft Beer. It would be hard if I just had to name my favorite beer from Oregon, which in my mind is the epicenter of craft beer. Dale’s Pale Ale is worthy of a nod because it’s way good and comes in cans. But I can’t get it locally. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is always good and is readily available, but it doesn’t stand above the crowd in any regard. Deschutes ESB is one of the best beers I’ve had on tap, but finding it is a huge challenge–they didn’t even offer it on tap out of Woody. McTarnahan’s Bah Humbug’r is my favorite porter, but it’s a seasonal offering, and I don’t think I’d want to drink it in the summer. Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, Deschutes Jubelale, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Full Sail Wassail are all among the tastiest beers I’ve ever tried.
But if there’s one beer I’d want to have on hand at all times, one beer I don’t think I’d ever tire of drinking, with a nice balance of flavorful malt and hop bitterness, one beer that is as refreshing on a hot day as it is soothing on a cold one, that tastes great with pizza but doesn’t feel out of place with a fine meal, that’s readily available and priced reasonably enough to drink every day, that’s approachable and easy to share with people who aren’t beer geeks, that one beer is Full Sail Amber Ale. It’s not the most notable beer in any one regard, it’s just a solid beer that does everything well.
Thankfully, I don’t have to limit myself to just one beer. Here’s to 2011 and hopefully many more.
My English colleague describes mild ale as “old man beer.” He says that in England, old men are the only people who drink them. It’s just not a style that’s in vogue with younger beer drinkers.
It’s not the most exciting style, and certainly won’t tickle the fancy of a hop head, but that’s not to say Epic’s version isn’t well-executed. It’s got a very mild, fruity malt and minimal hops. Super easy to drink, with nothing objectionable. Seems like a beer that would be a good alternative for the hefeweizen crowd, as it’s easy to drink like a hefeweizen but with a little more character. It’s not my favorite beer, but for what it is, it’s well done and worthy of an awesome rating.
For a brand-new brewery, Epic has produced a remarkable array of beers. This is the 17th beer I’ve sampled from that brewery. They haven’t all been winners for me, but I’ve enjoyed most of them. And I love that they are all sold as single 22 ounce bombers, which makes sampling easy but still leaves you with enough to share.
This is Red Rock brewing’s very Belgian take on a winter seasonal. A very Belgian-tasting deep orange malt is offset with a variety of spice, including cinnamon, orange peel, ginger, coriandor, and cloves. The spices are a little surprising at first, as one expects a bit of hop bite to offset the malt, and that’s not what you get at all. But the surprise is a pleasant one and makes for a unique, delicious, awesome beer that nobody would begrudge receiving under the tree or at a holiday party. If you’re drinking it at a party, though, just be careful–at 8.5% abv, this one packs a real punch. It’s available in bottles only, and to my knowledge, only at the brewpub.
Trite. Really what’s the point of a beer cocktail? Nevertheless, curiosity got the best of me, so I ordered a black and tan made from Guiness and Tetley’s. I like Guiness served on tap. Hadn’t had Tetley’s, but I imagine I’d like it straight up. Interestingly, although the beers were poured into the same glass and were more or less blended, the flavor of each was somewhat distinct and identifiable. It was as though the flavors were alternating in my mouth. Which was kind of cool.
I probably won’t order one again, but it was fun to try. I will, however, try a Tetley’s on its own. Probably next time I go to Piper Down for the pub quiz, in fact.
I stopped by the Beerhive in downtown SLC before meeting the wife and kids and my brother and his family at Temple Square to see the lights (Brother Brigham would be proud, especially since the Beerhive is decorated with a variety of old photos of Utah’s first brewing heyday in Brigham’s time when there was a brewery at the mouth of every canyon).
First thing I ask whenever I visit a local beer bar is what seasonals they have on tap. On this occasion, they had Red Rock’s Harvest Ale. I would characterize this beer as a hoppy amber ale or perhaps a not-quite-so-pale pale ale. It’s only brewed once a year from fresh hops less than a week after they are harvested in Washington’s Yakima Valley.
The result is a bright, flavorful beer where the hops are the star and the malt plays a supporting role. The fresh hops yield a difference in flavor that’s hard to describe but is best compared to the added zing of fresh-squeezed citrus or freshly-ground pepper. The resulting hoppiness is strong but in a pleasant way. I just had time for the one pint but would gladly have another of this awesome beer.
Cascade Lakes Brewery Santa’s Little Helper: Prior to visiting Bend, I had not heard of Cascade Lakes Brewery. It was located near where I was staying, and I drove past every day, stopping one evening for dinner. I ordered the Santa’s Little Helper, their winter seasonal. It’s a wonderful beer. 6.4% abv and 50 IBU make for a nicely balanced beer, and crystal, chocolate, and honey on the grain bill make for a rich, complex malt.
Cascade Lakes Brewery Paulina Lake Pilsner: Very different than the Santa’s Little Helper, this would make a good transition beer for the Bud Light drinker looking to explore the world of craft beer. The hops are more noticeable and the flavor more sour than in an American lager, enough so to keep it interesting to a beer snob without putting off someone used to stuff that is best summed up with a quote on the menu at the Bayou “Light beer is for people who don’t like the flavor of beer and who like to pee a lot.” It’s a lot like Session lager and something I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again.
Deschutes Brewery Green Lakes Organic Ale: This Deschutes beer isn’t available locally, but I wish it were. It’s a lovely beer, described as an amber, though oddly, comes in a little higher in IBU (45) than Mirror Pond (40). Not that I’m complaining. Had this on tap from Woody, and it was great. It’s a highly versatile beer, as ambers tend to be, and I can’t imagine a beer drinker that wouldn’t like it.
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale: I’ve enjoyed exploring the range of winter seasonals and seeing how different breweries interpret the style. This one is very similar to an ESB, with a noticeable hop presence typical of an English IPA (not an American IPA, which tends to be much hoppier), but with a richer, more robust malt flavor. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, thought I had served it too warm (it was probably around 50 degrees). Interestingly, as I sipped it and it warmed further, I liked it more and more. By the end, I didn’t want to be done. And if it were priced locally the way it is in England, I’d solve that problem by purchasing more. But since Full Sail Wassail can be had for less than $8 for a six pack, it’s hard to spend nearly twice that for something I like about the same.
Sierra Nevada Celebration: Sierra Nevada’s take on a winter seasonal is similar to that of Full Sail’s Wreck the Halls. They describe it as an IPA right on the label, and that’s what it tastes like. But the thing I like about many of these winter seasonals is that they’re not IPAs or ambers or really anything else you can get year-round. They’re a unique offering that just tastes like what you should be drinking in cold weather. Which is not to say you shouldn’t be drinking Celebration if you have a chance.