Thursday, May 22, 2008

Elysian Brewing Co. - The Immortal IPA

IPA fit for a God.

Elysian Brewing Co. has a real fondness for Greek mythology and their beer. Zeus, king of the gods and hurler of thunderbolts, appropriately graces their India Pale Ale, "The Immortal". This pours a clear yellow-copper with just a bit of lacing on top. The nose is a refreshing herbal breeze with some Bing cherry, but not excessively floral like some IPAs. On the tongue, this one is all apricots and a brisk, grassy bitterness. The finish is slightly sweet, toasty malts with a touch of grapefruit but fades quickly. An easy drinker with an earthy freshness, this one's a favorite - keep my glass filled, please! The Immortal is a solid all-purpose IPA and would pair well with cumin-heavy chili con carne topped with roasted JalapeƱos and lots of soda crackers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brouwerij Huyghe - Delirium Nocturnum

Revelry for Your Tongue.

Unlike their Delirium Noel, Brouwerij Huyghe makes this Strong Dark Belgian ale all year round so there's no need to wait for Yuletide merrymaking! Delirium Nocturnum pours a nice, clear, ruby-brown with a solid head. The lovely nose is redolent with woody overtones of cedar and incense with hints of yeast and candied fruit. For the tongue the complex flavors center around a strong, bittersweet base with lots of nutty yeast and a bit of bitter papaya. Unmistakably Belgian, the flavor is bold and complex enough to keep the mind busy as well as mask the 8.5% kick - so tread lightly. The finish is yeasty with the lingering tang of hops and herbal notes. This is another brew that ages well so you may want to lay a few bottles up. Revel in the flavors of this beer along with some whole-wheat Water Crackers and soft French cheeses.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Samuel Smith's - Old Brewery Pale Ale

Ale's the thing...

Samuel Smith's brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire was established in 1758 and still brews beer the old way, though it would be nice if they gave the 21st century the nod with a website. Today I'm drinking their Old Brewery Pale Ale, a clear coppery amber with a thin, ephemeral head. The nose has notes of caramel and banana with just a hint of floral hops. On the tongue this beer is a refreshing, medium-bitter tang with lots of strong biscuity malt and a nice, tactile carbonation. The finish is only very mildly bitter and fades to a pleasant malty tartness rather quickly. This one is a great easy-drinking English-style Pale Ale with enough unique character to make it an attractive choice when the mood for something less astringent than an IPA but bolder than a Pilsner strikes. I'd drink this with sweet sausage, garlic-mashed potatoes and red cabbage slaw.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Port Brewing - Old Viscosity

Blacker than night.

Port Brewing's Old Viscosity is one of the most unusual beers I've ever had. True to its name, it pours as opaque and thick as you can imagine with a nice dark, but not persistant, head. Sweet malt is the first component to assail the senses quickly followed by molasses and bitter plums. The finish is like a black French Roast coffee with a hoppy lingering resonance and just a whiff of bourbon. There are very complex flavors at play in this brew and each part of the tongue gets its own workout! At no point does the flavor ever give away its surprising 10.5% punch, its as mellow as can be. This one is hard to pigeon-hole as its as far off the beaten track as some of the weirder American fruit beers or some remote Belgian hamlet's local pub favorite. This beverage blurs the line between Stout, Porter and Barley Wine style ales but still remains its own, a blacker-than-night, strong American Dark Ale. I'd have a tall glass of this with Sharp English Cheddar toasted with black pepper on hearty Irish brown bread.

Redhook Brewery - ESB

Bold and Basic.

Redhook Brewery is another Northwest stalwart, creating signature craft brews since the eighties. Though now distributed by the monolithic Anheuser-Busch, they have retained their own brewery and brewmeisters in Woodinville, Washington. Redhook ESB is a rather nice medium-hopped ESB. Originally my favorite as a "beer neophyte" some years ago, I still consider this ESB as a great "everyday" brew. This brew pours a clear amber-red and presents a light nose of floral hops with a touch of green apple. Intial hoppy tartness on the tongue gives way to a light, yeasty body. The finish is tart but does not linger. For those of you trying to get a pilsner-loving friend to try an ESB, this Redhook would be a great introduction. This beer would go particularly well with whatever is on your favorite channel after 10:00pm...and popcorn of course. Say "hi" to Joel and the Bots for me, will ya?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hale's Ales - Mongoose IPA

To catch a Cobra...

Hale's Ales is an "old friend" to folks in the Pacific Northwest, making solid micro brews since the mid-eighties. Their Mongoose IPA is a relative newcomer to their fold and is a nice stand out with a great character. A rusty red brew, it has a healthy, yeasty aroma with a hint of malt. On the tongue, it presents a nice hoppy body without the over-the-top intensity of some IPAs. There's a hint of lemon peel but the overall finish is a long, tart grapefruit thanks to the Centennial and Nugget hops. This one's a great IPA that doesn't pretend to be anything else - not a Cobra, something a bit more "sly" but still with some "bite". A great brew with Italian cured meats, aged cheeses, Kalamata olives and rosemary cracker-bread out on the porch.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Brouwerij Huyghe - Delirium Noel

Lemons and Spice.

Brouwerij Huyghe is the Belgian home of this winter-seasonal "strong dark ale" that weighs in at a heavy 10%abv. This pours a semi-cloudy mahogany with a nice, solid head. The nose presents a spicy tang with a hint of traditional Belgian sweetness. On the palate, there is a very strong citrus and walnut element with overtones of persimmons. This one is absolutely delicious with none of the heaviness I usually associate with this style of Belgian ale. The finish is yeasty with winter spice overtones masking the alcohol nicely - tread carefully. You'll want to lay a few bottles I did. This would go nicely with Mom's pot roast, mashed potatoes and steamed, buttered Brussels sprouts.

If you can't find the Noel this time of year, don't fret. In a few days, I'll be tackling a similar brew from Brouwerij Huyghe that's available year-round.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Deschutes Brewery - Hop Henge Imperial IPA


Deschutes Brewery produces the Hop Henge IPA as part of their specialty "Bond Street" series, their brewmasters' homage to their roots. Reddish brown with a solid citrus nose, this brew demands attention! If you're a big Hop-Head or a fan of Northwest-style IPAs, this will not disappoint - in fact it may smack you right in the kisser! WHAM! I love hops and this was still a very vibrant brew to my jaded senses! Floral with a nice solid, bitter finish, this one's not for the faint-of-heart but well worth seeking out. This would go well along the way to dousing the fire of a four-star Lamb Vindaloo or taming the demons amidst a sweltering summer night tangled in sweaty bedclothes - you decide.