Daily beer project

Wind River Brewing Blonde Ale

Posted in American Craft Beer by dailybeerproject on August 28, 2010

This was courtesy of a friend whose family cabin sits near the Wind River brewery in Pinedale, Wyo. It comes in cans, and so far is the only beer available outside of the brew pub.

I’m a fan of blonde/golden ales and was excited to try this one. It’s good to be sure, but I would have liked a bit more hop presence. It’s 5% abv, stronger than beers of this style made in Utah, but it didn’t taste any stronger. It’s easy to drink, but I would have liked it to have a little more to it.

This beer would be a good introduction to craft beer for someone who drinks domestic macrobrews, and I think that’s how the brewery has positioned it. The nice thing about it is that it’s interesting enough to satisfy a craft beer drinker without turning off the Bud Light crowd. Hopefully I’ll make it up to the brewery at some point to sample some of their other offerings.

St. Peter’s India Pale Ale

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on August 27, 2010

Just as the Landlord Strong Pale Ale was a bit milder than pale ales typically produced by American craft brewers, so too was this English-made India Pale Ale. At 5.5% abv, it has about the same alcohol content as most American pale ales, and was lower still than most American-made IPAs.

All of which is not necessarily a bad thing. IPAs have their own unique appeal, but they don’t need to take the enamel off of your teeth in order to be good. As I mentioned in my previous post, session beers have a certain allure that one simply doesn’t get from a really strong beer. And while this isn’t really a session beer, it wasn’t so strong that having more than one or two would be irresponsible.

The strength of the beer is irrelevent if it doesn’t taste good. Like the Landlord, the hops weren’t so strong that you couldn’t taste the malt, which was sweet and caramel. The hops were quite fruity, so while there was definitely bitter, it wasn’t all that you tasted. Overall, an awesome combination, and again, something I’d love to drink again if I could find it around here.

Landlord Strong Pale Ale

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on August 25, 2010

Utah beer drinkers accustomed to 4% abv beer would feel right at home in England, as most beer served in English pubs comes in between 3-5% abv, with an average of about 4%. Landlord Strong Pale Ale from Timothy Taylor Brewery is a typical pale ale, a bit darker and hoppier than an English bitter, with alcohol content at 4.1%. All of the beers made by the Timothy Taylor brewery are between 3.5% and 4.3% abv–session beers, beers you can sit at the pub and have a few of without staggering home. 

This beer poured a medium amber color (or should I say colour?), with a really thin head that dissipated quite quickly. I poured it and had the first sip right out of the fridge, but the recommended serving temperature is 54-58 degrees. That seemed really warm to me, but I took it out to the garage to sip as I did some work on my bike. I drank it over the course of an hour or so, and indeed, the flavor improved as it warmed. By the end it was probably right around 55-60 degrees, and I’d say the sweet spot was cooler than that. But perhaps the English palate is more attuned to the warmer temperature than I am.

Either way, this beer was delicious and awesome. Very much a session beer, even though I just had the one. My wife referred to it as a good “weekday beer,” which I think is a good assessment–something to enjoy at the end of the day.

The hops weren’t nearly as strong as they are in a lot of American pale ales, but they were noticeable without overwhelming the malt. The malt was sweet with just a hint of sour and caramel, which made for a nice aroma and flavor. Overall a really great beer and one I’d gladly have again if I didn’t need to cross the Atlantic to get it.

Just arrived

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on August 23, 2010

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Fresh off the plane from England, courtesy of a UK-based colleague. Can’t wait.

Epic Galloway Porter

Posted in American Craft Beer, Epic Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on August 22, 2010

Galloway Porter was the last remaining beer from Epic (15 total) that I hadn’t sampled. With this, I round out another brewery, leaving me just a couple of beers from Desert Edge (that I’m hoping to get to this week) to complete phase 2 of this project.

I’ve been drinking a lot of Epic beer lately for reasons of sampling what they have as it becomes available, the convenience of having everything available in bottles, and the geographic proximity of their brewery to my office. Not to mention, they make good beer. But with phase 2 wrapping up, I’m looking forward to revisiting some of my Utah favorites, such as Chasing Tail, First Amendment, and Viennese. I’m also looking forward to trying more of what’s available at the state liquor store, their problems with freshness notwithstanding. In other words, finishing phase 2 is a milestone rather than a destination. Especially because I’ve found that the range of what I like has broadened, and the sweet spot of what I like best seems to have shifted.

Which brings us back to the Galloway Porter. I think of Porters as fall or cool weather beers, and I had this one at the end of a hot day. It seemed a little weird at first, but it worked in the end. The flavor was chocolaty and rich. The malt was toasty and caramel like when you toast bread to a dark brown with just the edges starting to get a hint of black. It has only the faintest of hopping to make sure that the malt stands out.

I drank it while eating Mexican food for dinner, which seemed an odd pairing at first, but it actually worked really well. The Mexican was quite spicy, and the malt of this beer seemed to contrast nicely with that, while the dark, rich flavor stood up well to the pungency of the peppers and cilantro. Which I guess makes sense since Negra Modelo, another dark beer, is my Mexican beer of choice.

As Porters go, this is a good one. Porters aren’t my favorite style, so I’ll leave the rating as good rather than awesome. People who favor dark beers should check this one out for sure.

Epic Spiral Jetty IPA

Posted in American Craft Beer, Epic Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on August 18, 2010

One more from Epic. With this, all I need is the Galloway Porter to have tried all they have to offer, which is a lot. This one is awesome. Hoppy and strong. Pours with a thick, foamy head and has a cloudy, amber body. Substantial mouthfeel without being gummy. This beer would go great with food, as there’s plenty to it to stand up to even strong flavors without being overwhelming. Would be especially nice with burgers or barbecue, but I can also see it as a nice beer to have with pizza. It’s also great on its own, sipped from a pint glass, sitting on your front porch on a pleasant summer evening.

Beer Tasting Weekend

Posted in American Craft Beer, Desert Edge, Imports, Macrobrews, Uinta Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on August 17, 2010

Saturday night, my university alumni association held a beer tasting event. It’s the first alumni event I’ve attended pretty much effort, so now it’s apparent just what will motivate me to get out and meet people that went to the same school I did.

The event was held in a member’s home and was presented by Dave Watson, one of the brewers at Desert Edge Brewery. Dave is such a beer geek and so passionate about the craft that he spent a couple years in Germany to learn how to brew and then came back home to put his skills to work as a brewer. He walked us through the beer making process and then gave us samples of various different styles and explained their origins and how they were made. It was a great way to spend an evening.

This was followed up on Sunday with an informal tasting my brother and I did of a couple more Oregon brews and another one from Epic. In order of consumption (more or less):

Pilsner Urquell: This was presented to provide a quality benchmark of the most frequently  imitated beer style in the world. When American macrobrewed lagers claim to be Pilsner-style, they’re lying. They’re not made with all barley malt, they’re not triple decocted, and they’re not nearly hoppy enough. This one, thankfully, satisfied those requirements and was awesome.

Pinkus Munster Alt: Alt beer or “old” style beer is a German beer made in the old style, with an ale yeast, rather than the newer method of using lager yeast. Even though it’s made with an ale yeast, it’s stil lagered, or stored after fermentation, leading to a cleaner, crisper beer than typical English-style ales. This one was a bit lighter in color than most alt beers, but it still tasted awesome.

Spaten Optimator: An example of a bock, a style of strong beer developed by German monks to drink on days when they were fasting (makes fasting sound awesome, right?). I tried this very early in the project and didn’t care much for it then. I liked it a lot better this time around. It was good enough that I’d gladly drink another, if offered. Not ready to buy it for myself, though.

Anderson Valley ESB: The ESB stands for “extra special bitter,” a typical English-style beer that’s a bit stronger and hoppier (to balance the malt of the stronger beer) than ordinary (session) bitters or best bitters. This one was also awesome and left me pining for a trip to England to do some pub crawling. Even though this English-style ale was brewed in California.

Moab Brewery Tripel: Tripel is a Belgian style and tends to be pretty malty, with very light hops and quite high alcohol content. It’s a bit too malty for me–I like balanced beers. But I can see the appeal of the style and certainly wouldn’t turn it down.

Anderson Valley Tripel: This was a backup to the Moab Tripel, in case he ran out. Tasted quite similar, with same criticism that I’d prefer it to have more hops, even though that’s not consistent with the style.

Lambic Cuvee Renee: This is probably the one beer I was most excited to sample, especially sinc Etiberius’s admonition in the comments that I explore true beer geekdom by sampling an unfruited Lambic. I loved it. Super sour and tart. Tastes very different than beers fermented with cultivated yeast. The cool thing is that the same recipe brewed elsewhere would taste different due to different yeast strains. Perhaps not as good, either, since one of the reasons this style is popular around Brussels is that the yeast there is known to be good. Awesome stuff. Expensive enough to only be a special occasion beer, but worth trying for sure.

Detour Double IPA (Uinta): This is a sample from a new high-end label from Uinta that makes super-premium craft beer. Loved it. Really strong, but not so overwhelmingly hoppy as to be difficult to drink. It ain’t cheap, though, so again, even though it’s awesome, it will have to be a special occasion beer.

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter: The IPA and the Porter have us back to English styles. And while I tend to prefer medium to lighter-colored beers, this one was quite tasty. So I guess I claim to like the lighter-colored beers, but the reality is that I just like anything that’s good. And this one is.

Cutthroat Pale Ale: Hadn’t had a Cutthroat in a while, but after the formal presentation, Dave opened the cooler to reveal a bunch of Uinta’s regular beers. This one tasted better than I remember. But it could also have been that I’d had quite a lot of beer at this point in the evening, so everything just seemed enjoyable.

Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale: Another of the big bombers of lovely craft beer brought home from Oregon. The first thing that struck me about this one was how dark it was. It’s called a red, but it was pretty brown. Almost as brown as the Red Rock Nut Brown Ale. As for the taste, well it was awesome. Balanced between malt and hops, with the malt being the star of the show but not so much that it gets stuck to the back of your throat. Great beer to have with food–we enjoyed ours with burgers on the grill.

Epic Imperial Red Ale: It was fun to try two red ales back to back and surprising that this one was darker and browner than the previous. So I guess “red” is a term used loosely to describe a beer. As with the Ninkasi, this beer was awesome. Seriously, these reds are like a big bold red wine that stands up well to rich food or red meat. But they weren’t so big as to be hard to drink on a hot day. Just awesome beer.

Full Sail Spotless IPA: This is a brewmaster special seasonal that I wish were available locally. Full Sail just doesn’t make a bad beer among those I’ve tried. This one was lovely and tasty. Slightly darker and a little less hoppy than a lot of IPAs I’ve tried, this one still had plenty of flavor and character to be considered a “real” IPA. Interestingly, when I asked Dave about 4% abv IPAs, he agreed with me that it’s impossible for it to be a true IPA. Desert Edge makes one they call Utah Pale Ale, because they won’t call it IPA if it’s not.

Latter-day Stout, Hopulent IPA, Maker’s Mark, & Drifter Pale Ale

Posted in American Craft Beer, Desert Edge, Epic Brewing, Not Beer, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on August 11, 2010

Another catch-up post, including a couple I tried a few weeks ago and forgot to write about, another bourbon, and one I brought home from Oregon.

Desert Edge Latter-day Stout: This is served on Nitro at the Beerhive, which, by the way, is a nice little pub for some evening refreshment. Honestly, nothing spectacular about this beer, but nothing to complain about, either. Just a good stout, served on nitro, so it has a nice, creamy head with no dissolved bubbles in the beer. Also, I love the name. Utah beer names with wordplay on mormonism never get old.

Epic Brewing Hopulent IPA: Lives up to its name, and is perhaps the hoppiest beer I’ve had. A bit too hoppy for my taste, but still good. They somehow managed to brew it with that much hops without making it taste like Pine Sol. Epic beers seem to run the gamut of hardly any hops to as much hops as anyone could possibly tolerate. How many beer drinkers enjoy that full spectrum, I wonder?

Maker’s Mark: Enjoyed some of this on the rocks before dinner at the wonderful Laurelhurst Market in Portland. Smoother and easier-drinking than Jameson’s, in my opinion, without the hefty price tag of Booker’s. Something I’ll probably keep in the house going forward.

Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale: I bought a bottle of this in Oregon and just got around to drinking it last night. Glad I didn’t love it, since it’s not available locally. The interesting thing about beer styles, is that there are no clear-cut lines. Pale ales are generally medium-colored beers with a fairly generous amount of hops. Ambers tend to be similar in color to pale ales, but less hoppy. This pale ale, however, seemed hardly hopped at all and was less hoppy than a number of ambers I’ve tried, notably Full Sail and Squatter’s Emigration. I’d rate this on the low end of good–I wouldn’t turn it down if offered, but I’d certainly look at the other options if it weren’t the only beer available.

SOB Na Zdravi Czech-style Pilsner

Posted in American Craft Beer by dailybeerproject on August 7, 2010

Bought this mostly because I hadn’t sampled something from this brewery yet. Wish I had chosen something different. It’s not bad, just a bit malty for my taste–I would have preferred more hops to balance things out better. Bohemian’s Pilsner does a good job in this regard, and this beer isn’t quite up to that standard.

Maybe Southern Oregon Brewing’s other offerings are better, but they’re more expensive than most other Oregon craft beers, so I’ll likely not find out.

Dale’s Pale Ale

Posted in American Craft Beer by dailybeerproject on August 7, 2010

I’ve seen ads for this stuff in Beer Advocate. It’s from Oskar Blues brewery out of Colorado and only comes in cans. Perfect for camping, the beach, picnics, and pretty much anything outdoors. Because while you can bring bottles for that stuff, cans are way easier and way more idiot proof. If all beer came in cans, we wouldn’t have to worry about idiots breaking or throwing bottles, either. But I digress.

Anyway, a canned beer isn’t of much use for the aforementioned activities if it isn’t good. Fortunately, Dale’s is awesome. Highlight of my trip to the Northwest, so far. Even though it’s not a beer from the Northwest.

It’s described as “voluminously hopped,” and while hoppy, is not overwhelmingly hopped nor the hoppiest beer I’ve tried by any means. The hops are more notable than the malt to be certain, but it works well for this beer. It goes great with food, but is also a good thirst quencher. And it’s strong. At 6.8% abv, it doesn’t take much.

If you can find it, buy some.