Category: ipa

The Center Cannot Hold Last week, Old Town Brewing earned three…

The Center Cannot Hold 

Last week, Old Town Brewing earned three bronze medals at the Oregon Beer Awards, the annual celebration of our fair state’s best brews. Shanghai’d IPA came in third in the Classic UK Styles category. Add that to a GABF Gold Medal in 2015, and you’ve got a nicely outfitted “English-style” IPA. I figured I give this award winner another go around. It’s amber. It’s bitter. It’s sweet. 

Shanghai’d tastes less like London and more like Portland in 2010. The color is the first sign. These days, dark malt is rare, and sugary crystal is verboten. But here is an IPA with a reddish color which is actually a little sweet on the tongue. Old Town only lists 2-row malt and honey as ingredients, so maybe it’s all in my mind. The hops list is a trip down memory lane – Nugget, Liberty, Crystal, and the classic Cascade. The hops are used less for aroma than tongue coating bitterness. It’s bracing with hints at grapefruit and a long piney finish. Is this an IPA?

It’s mind boggling how far we’ve come in the ten years I’ve been drinking. This would not be out of place on any tap list when I was in school, but now, it tastes like an old relic. I’m amazed at how far our collective palates have shifted. We once revered beers with hundreds of IBUs. Now, we are adding vanilla and lactose to make milkshakes. And somehow, they both fall under the same three letter heading: IPA.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: we need a new word. India Pale Ale can’t be all beers all the time.

Level 1-1Level Beer opened last summer in an old barn near the…

Level 1-1

Level Beer opened last summer in an old barn near the Portland airport. It’s a strange location, but a I’m sure welcome change from the usual industrial office parks. The brewery coats everything in retro video game visuals. At this point, Level doesn’t seem to have a particular beery niche in mind, but their tagline is “brewed with balance.”

Game On! their first bottled IPA is incredibly balanced, if a little dated. It’s a deep gold without a trace of haze. This is not one of those fruity IPAs. No Mosaic hops here. It’s actually bitter and a bit malty. The hops notes present as citrus, but not in your face with juice. If I had to guess, I’d say there are classic Cascade hops in there. The bitterness is bracing, but it’s balanced by a golden malt syrup sweetness. 

Let’s Play! is equally balanced. The dry-hopped Pilsner has a great fresh and floral scent.The body is snappy and fizzy. The malt is crisp and the finish has a great dried herbal flavor. Let’s Play! is not exactly a traditional pilsner, but it’s not completely out of a left field either. 

They also offer a canned Saison and the current seasonal is a chocolate Stout, which I cannot bring myself to buy. They bottled it in clear glass, and all my geek senses tell me that is a huge mistake. But these guys are veteran brewers, maybe they know something I don’t. They definitely know how to make beer.

The Haze Craze2017 was the year of absolutely thick fruity IPA…

The Haze Craze

2017 was the year of absolutely thick fruity IPA smoothies. Some were dead good. Some were just bad. But the consumers demanded haze, and the brewers delivered.

I’ve never seen a fad catch on so quickly, and strangely, without the reflexive backlash. There seems to be a few middle-aged beer writers who hate the yogurty new IPAs, but from every corner you see small and large breweries trying to catch the wave with their own interpretation of the New England style – maximum haze, almost no bitterness, tons of fruity hops.

But when Sierra Nevada makes a hazy IPA the trend is dead, right?

Hazy Little Thing looks the part, opaque and orange, sporting a fluffy head and thick body. It tastes ultra fruity – that unnamable citrus flavor of Mosaic hops. If this doesn’t push the hazy trend into the mainstream of the mainstream for years to come, or –god willing– it will signal the end of the fad. 

Personally, I’m done with the haze. Correction, I am done with the hunting for haze. There’s a certain mania that follows these beers. Every release is turned into a craze, fueled by social media and general fear of missing out. You have to drink a hazy IPA the day it was canned – always canned, why canned? – or your doing it wrong.

More than the flavors and the floaties, the manipulated scarcity is the worst thing imported from New England. Breweries like Tree House and the Alchemist before them have perfected the hype machine, and now, every brewery is trying to do the same thing. Every Instagram and Twitter is a mix of hazy IPA, pastry infused stout, and a barrel aged sour. It’s a great time for people who love queuing, but I stopped waiting in lines years ago.

Beer Sans-GlutenLast month, Jeff at Beervana wrote about his…

Beer Sans-Gluten

Last month, Jeff at Beervana wrote about his experience at Ground Breaker Brewing, a totally gluten-free brewery. Owner and head brewer James Neumeister uses sorghum, lentils, and toasted chestnuts in place of barley and wheat. It sounds like a weird mash, but as Jeff pointed out, “By sixteenth-century standards these ingredients would have been entirely normal.”

More important to me, Jeff says the beer tastes good. And unlike some gluten-free beers, they look and feel like normal beers. They roast and toast the nuts and lentils by hand to get exact flavors, just like malting. When you add it all together, I think Jeff’s right, Ground Breaker might be “the Most Interesting Brewery in Oregon.”

We’re sensitive to the needs of the gluten intolerant. Sarah and I haven’t eaten meat in almost a decade and – spurred by a lactose intolerant baby – have eaten an almost entirely vegan diet for the last three years. (Full disclosure: I got a whole milk latte by accident last week, and I drank it.) I hate it when people assume vegan food is gross, so I figured I owed Ground Breaker a try, if only to see what lentils do to a beer.

I defy you to find a problem with Ground Breaker’s Dark Ale. It’s their flagship for a reason. It’s dark, ruby edged and roasty.

I got a whiff of something odd on the nose, but it was quickly subsumed by a wave of black coffee.

The body is full and flavorful. The full mash includes belgian candi sugar, which must enhance the dry finish. I got a whiff of something odd on the nose, but it was quickly subsumed by a wave of black coffee. The beer has depth and would easily pass as a porter at any bar.

The IPA No. 5 on the other hand has a few more issues. The coppery color is a little dark, but it is crystalline. It’s hard to get a barley beer that clear. The hops are spot on. Citrusy Crystals are on full display, bright and fresh. The malty replacements come out more with every sip. The color says crystal malt, but it’s not quite sweet. And then there’s the lentils. Like I said, we’re vegan. We can taste lentils. There’s a savory flavor that’s off putting in a beer like this. The IPA is admirable, if flawed.

Would I drink Ground Breaker again? Sure. I would definitely suggest Ground Breaker to any friends going gluten-free. They make good beer, full stop. No need to qualify it. 

Kith and KinComposting fruit, orange juice, pink grapefruit,…

Kith and Kin

Composting fruit, orange juice, pink grapefruit, Welch’s grape juice, fresh farmstand apple cider – Little Beast Brewing created a whole fruit basket out of nothing but yeast and wood. Animal Family is named for the blend of yeast and bacteria that fermented it. There is a mixture of French and Belgian strains, lactobacillus for acid, and three kinds of wild Brettanomyces. The grist is a mixture of barley, wheat and oats, for a foam and a full body. Animal Family is a wonderland of flavors.

i was wracking my brain looking for another beer that tasted like this. It’s far more complex than a fruity farmhouse brew. It’s not sour enough to taste like lambic. Animal Family’s nearest cousin is probably one of those ultra fruity IPAs that are all the rage. It has that same sort of melange of flavors, from the forest to the field. And look how cloudy!

New Hops!Hopsworks has a brand new IPX on draft and bottles….

New Hops!

Hopsworks has a brand new IPX on draft and bottles. It’s fruity and fresh, though there is a hint of Hopworks house bitterness. Is it the house yeast? Bad packaging? Thank god, it fades if you let the it breath, leaving behind a soft apple and lime flavored beer.

The secret to the flavor is Strata hops, which recently graduated from the Oregon State University and Indie Hops breeding program. Strata started with the chance pollination  of a Perle hop. Testers described the flavor as tropical and citrus, and dank – smelling of cannabis. My taste buds detected more light, ephemeral flavors like watermelon.

You may have tasted Strata a few years back when it was experimental hop X331, but you can soon taste it properly in beers from Sierra Nevada, Fort George, and others. Worthy Brewing is already making a new Strata hopped IPA, StrataSphere, look for it in bottles soon.

Sail & Anchor IPA, Watch the video beer review here…

Sail & Anchor IPA, Watch the video beer review here

#CraftBeer #RealAle #Ale #Beer #Beerporn #IPA #SailAndAnchor (at Victoria Park, Barry)

#Beer 440. Flying Dog Brewery Easy IPA. 7/10. Pair with mowing…

#Beer 440. Flying Dog Brewery Easy IPA. 7/10. Pair with mowing the lawn (apparently) #FlyingDog #EasyIPA #IPA #Frederick #Maryland #ArtPlusBrewing #BeerArt #BeerDiary #BeerGeek #BeerGram #BeerPorn #BeerReview #Beerstagram #BrewPix #CraftBeer #CraftNotCrap #Fanaticbeer #GraphicDesign #Helvetica #illustration #InstaArt #InstaBeer #RateBeerBest #RealAle #spreadthebeer #vector

Last of the FreshiesHere’s one last fresh hop beer for the…

Last of the Freshies

Here’s one last fresh hop beer for the season, Sodbuster V: The Simcoe Strikes Back. As you might’ve guessed, the guys at Gigantic Brewing picked up a ton of fresh Simcoe from Sodbuster Farms hops to give their IPA a mighty hop flavor. It’s still tasting super fresh. It’s full of tangy citrus and a heaping handfuls of fresh herbs. Lemon grass and lemons. It’s got that same fresh bell pepper flavor I was talking about, but again, I don’t mind it.

#Beer 439. Infra Red by Hardknott. 7/10. Earthy #Hardknott…

#Beer 439. Infra Red by Hardknott. 7/10. Earthy #Hardknott #Millom #Cumbria #InfraRed #IPA #ArtPlusBrewing #BeerArt #BeerDiary #BeerGeek #BeerGram #BeerPorn #BeerReview #Beerstagram #BrewPix #CraftBeer #CraftNotCrap #Fanaticbeer #GraphicDesign #Helvetica #illustration #InstaArt #InstaBeer #RateBeerBest #RealAle #spreadthebeer #vector