Daily beer project

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.


6 Responses

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  1. etiberius said, on August 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    glad you liked it- sours can be a spendy habit. They are truly special occasion beers and I love everything jolly pumpkin makes.

    Have I mentioned how jealous I am of all of your available selections.

    I’m making a run for the Tennessee line soon and a beer festival there- I need to see if they have any of your Uthan recommendations.

  2. etiberius said, on August 17, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I meant to add that I think the ESB is one of the best styles out there for flavor. If you haven’t had the Red Hook ESB do yourself a favor and try one- a beautiful Fall beer.

  3. dailybeerproject said, on August 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Have fun in Tennessee. I’ll give that Red Hook ESB a try, assuming I can find it.

    It’s easy to complain about our screwy liquor laws, but the selection we have at the state stores is better than anything I’ve encountered out of state other than at the big box liquor store in Phoenix.

  4. […] macrobrews that claim to be Pilsners, but real, golden-colored, well-hopped Pilsners in the vein of Pilsner Urquell. This one really hit the spot. The malt was spot-on. It was hopped just-so. Everything came […]

  5. Porters and more « Daily beer project said, on December 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    […] other beers. They typically use some black and or chocolate or smoked brown malt. And according to Dave from Desert Edge, it doesn’t take much in the way of a dark malt to color a beer. Hence the deep, dark, opaque […]

  6. Retrospective « Daily beer project said, on January 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    […] 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 […]

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