Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beer #170 - W'10, Pitch Black IPA, Widmer Brothers Brewing - Portland, Oregon

The new seasonal release from Widmer is the W'10 Pitch Black IPA. This style combines the hop bitterness typical of most IPA's with the backbone of darker ales. Let's pour!

With black malt and roasted barley, the beer pours a deep brown, nearly opaque with a tight head.

The aroma carries hop fragrance with evident malt tones. Chocolate and biscuit combine with tones of the roasted barley.

The ale begins with hop liveliness, mellowing on the tongue where the malt backbone becomes pronounced. It has a smooth body, almost creamy, as mild dark chocolate and toasted flavors develop. It finishes more aggressively as the hop delivers decent bitterness and freshness that keep the malt tones from dominating the palate.

As the bitterness subsides, citrus is evident in the clean aftertaste.

At 6.5% and with it's dark hue, the beer fits in perfectly with our grey winter. The hop delivers the much needed hope of summer!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beer #169 - Highland Ambush Scotch Ale - Bridgeport Brewing Company, Portland, Oregon

Part of the always tasty Bridgeport Big Beer series, the Highland Ambush is 33% ale aged in oak bourbon and 67% ale. Wow, enough said. Let's pour. Now.

It pours a cloudy brown with a big head.

The aroma holds strong vanilla and sweet oak.

It starts smooth with distinct vanilla. The smoothness holds through the full body with oak and caramel malts. The ale develops some subtle backbone flavors of rich malt as it warms.It finishes bitter with alcohol tones and vanilla malt - the strong backbone and full body keeping it from being overly sweet.

The aftertaste is quite smooth with vanilla balanced with bitterness and alcohol tones.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beer #168 - Killer Penguin Barleywine Ale, Boulder Beer Company, Boulder, Colorado

And part of the joy of winter are the wide releases of barleywine style ales. Characterized by their sweet and strong elements, they help to warm these cold months. The Boulder Beer Company's barleywine selection is the Killer Penguin. Barleywine's age well, their finer tones evolving and developing over time. This particular one is from 2008 and is 10%. Let's pour.

It pours an auburn color with a big head.

The aroma holds tones of sweetness, fig, alcohol and molasses.

It is a very very smooth and silky sipper. Indeed, rarely have I had barleywines so smooth. Oak and fig develop in the body, slightly coating the tongue with molasses and burnt caramel, but distinctly steering clear of the stickiness that pervades the heavy ales. Alcohol tones arrive late, firing up the taste buds.

The aftertaste hold the alcohol tones which round out subtly and smoothly with oak and fig sweetness.

Highly recommended for fans of very smooth ales and newbies of barleywine styles, to help you ease into the realm of these ales.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beer #167 - Adoration Special Winter Ale - Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY

Ommegang specializes in Belgium style ales, providing consistent American brewed ales that adhere to the distinctive standards that make Belgian style ales so unique and so tasty. Their winter ale, a dark ale, is spiced with cardamom, coriander, mace, grains of paradise and sweet orange peel. Pop the cork and let it breathe and breathe in the wonderful aroma...

It pours a cloudy brown with a big tight head.

The aroma holds scents of vanilla, cardamom, and general spice with fragrances of yeast.

It is a full ale with immediate pronounced sweet spice. Coriander, orange peel and alcohol tang develop in the body. The spice gives way to effervescent sweetness on the tongue. Orange peel intensifies in the finish where the alcohol tones mix with the yeast flavors to complete a complex and strong sipper.

The aftertaste holds the orange peel sweetness with a spice that rounds off quickly. Yeast and slight bitterness lingers at the very end.

A delicious way to make the winter ales linger - if we have to deal with a few more months of the rain here in Portland, the thought is eased by the knowledge that Ommegang is out there, at your local beer store, making the dark days more quaffable, one sip at a time.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beer #166 - Hop-Head Imperial IPA, Bend Brewing Company - Bend, Oregon

Happy New Year and Happy 2010! My intuition is that this will be a great year, indeed! To start this year, indeed, this decade off right, I thought it good to start with the Hop-Head Imperial IPA from Bend Brewing Company. My beer goals this year are to keep the blog updated more frequently and to brew more! This started last weekend, when my friend Dustin and I brewed up a batch of "Santa's Dilemma Ale" a winter ale with ginger, honey, cinnamon and orange peel. It was my first time brewing a concentrate on the stove top indoors - I'm used to freezing outside while brewing. A few weeks and we'll know how it went.
The Hop-Head won a Bronze medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. It's available in the 22oz bottles and on tap in the late fall at the brewpub.

It pours a golden honey with a decent sized head.

The aroma holds big flowery hops with citrus and earthy tones.

Flower notes give way to an earthy smooth body. Honey smoothness on the tongue also holds citrus tones. Earthy bitterness and alcohol tones arrive late on the back of the tongue.

The aftertaste bounces bitterness around the mouth, but it is cut short by a velvety body - smoothing out with a slight vanilla at the very end.

A great way to kick the year off!

Happy drinking -