Sunday, June 28, 2009

Malt Liquor Madness

Beer tasting parties are something I have been wanting to try, but I knew my friends weren't quite ready for it. Now don't get me wrong, they have been really good sports about my beer fetish by going to brewpubs most every weekend and trying countless styles of beer. But that doesn't mean they have always liked it. With this in mind, Malt Liquor Madness was born.

To begin, I had to find 8 different kinds of malt liquor, which was harder than you might think. Seven liquor stores later, I had my lineup of contenders and started peeling labels so that this could be a blind taste test. All of my friends participating were then given a scorecard with space for tasting notes on each of the five categories (I was the only one to actually take down notes...) and were asked to give the beer an overall score from 5 to 1. (Odds are the best malt liquor in the world is a 5 on a 10 point scale, so this worked out about right...) As for the tournament, there would be four contenders going head-to-head on either side of the bracket, with the two beers receiving the highest total of points from the judges advancing to the finals. (20oz was split nine ways into clear solo cup so that there would be enough left if that beer advanced to the championship match...) With all of this worked out, we were ready to start.

And as samples of contender number one were being passed around, every single person at the party asked me what a malt liquor is. Oi. Okay, let's take a step back. Beer advocate?

"For the most part, Malt Liquor beers are sold in the infamous 40 oz sized bottles. Straw to pale amber in color, most use excessive amounts of adjuncts, such as corn, rice, refined brewers sugar (dextrose) and as a result there are very few "all malt" brewed malt liquors. Hops are barely used, just enough is added to balance off any cloyingness. Higher alcohol versions tend to have a loads of fusel alcohol, which gives off solvent or fuel like aromas and flavors. They are attenuated very well, meaning a higher ratio of fermentable sugars are present over other beers, but without using as many ingredients and still ending up with a high alcohol content. Some breweries enable the use of special enzymes to further breakdown the malt and adjuncts so they will yield a larger percentage of alcohol. This makes for quite a dry beer, with only a small amount of unfermented sugars and a kick that will knock you on your ass."

Bottom-line? It's a macrolager with alcohol. Our contenders started at 5.6% abv and topped out at 8.1% (Steel Reserve). This was one of the reasons I chose malt liquor; even in the small samples we were doing, you will feel the alcohol a little. That would not be the case with the Bud Light's and Coor's. I originally toyed with the idea of doing this tournament with these macrolagers but feared that when something like Miller Light won, people would take it as an endorsement to drink that vile stuff. I doubt we will have that problem with malt liquor. (Although, I will say I was surprised to the extent that all of these beers were owned by the big boys... probably should have seen that coming.) Alright, let's do this! I will list these in the order that they finished, with my own notes and score below. May the best malt liquor win! Please?

#8 Steel Reserve 211
40 oz -- Shovel Shop Spirits, Easton
hold on, steel reserve finished dead last?! you have got to be kidding me! i don't think these people are even qualified to rate malt liquor! okay, deep breath. this malt liquor from texas was my favorite beer of them all. good head retention and actually has an aroma of light malt and even a few faint hops. corn isn't the only flavor going on, with some clean malts and not unpleasant alcohol. i will actually buy this again. i think the problem was that this was the first beer tasted of the night, and for most people the first malt liquor they had ever tasted... well, live and learn.
Score: 5

#7 Mickey's
22 oz -- Blanchard's, Brockton
owned by miller. i had high expectations for mickey's as well, but i can't disagree with the low rating. i found this to be very watery.
Score: 2

#6 King Cobra Premium Malt Liquor
40 oz -- Cheers, Brockton
a product of A-B. very bland, with the little flavor being corn. light bodied. very bad.
Score: 1

#5 Colt 45 Malt Liquor
40 oz -- Shovel Shop Spirits, Easton
from pabst, the classic 40. picked up some faint hops here. taste is quite sweet. very creamy mouthfeel. really what you would expect in a malt liquor. that said, i wish i had liked this more than i did.
Score: 2

#4 Haffenreffer Private Stock
40 oz -- Shovel Shop Spirits, Easton
in my mind, this was the favorite going in. very classy label stating that this has "the imported taste." funny. again, misseeding may have cost them here as this was the last beer of the night... this was the hoppiest of the beers in my opinion (which isn't saying much), but bitterness does show up here. as a result, it was also the most balanced.
Score: 4

#3 Olde English 800
40 oz -- Shovel Shop Spirits, Easton
A-B. raw taste of corn and water. very light. very unpleasant. nevertheless, it only missed advancing to the finals by one vote! oi.
Score: 1

#2 St. Ides High Gravity Malt Liquor
40 oz -- Blanchard's, Brockton
this pennsylvania malt liquor advanced to the finals from the first bracket. fresh malt, lots of corn, and very creamy. fairly well constructed. my third favorite of the contenders.
Score: 3

#1 Molson XXX
22oz Can -- Blanchard's, Brockton
molson xxx?! in a landslide?! what a shocker! well, this was the only contender coming from a can and weighs in at 7.3% abv. husky alcohol, grainy, with some bitterness. in no way pleasant to drink. to be absolutely clear, i in no way endorse this beer. the only lesson to take away from this little experiment is what a bunch of savages my friends are. apparently it is going to have to be a while longer before i have a proper beer tasting party. or as dan suggested, we may need to get some new beer friends.
Score: 2

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cambridge & Somerville

My friend Heather, who I met in PDX, recently moved to the city of Somerville (located just north of Boston.) This is happy news for many reasons, not the least of which is it will give me a much better opportunity to get to some of the bars I have been meaning to get to on the other side of the Charles River.

Cambridge Common Restaurant
1667 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA
#1 on my to-do list for several months now. It has an interesting ambiance to it, with both indoor and outdoor seating, dark lighting but bright colors. Heather seemed to think it was a little too trendy, but I thought it struck a good balance that would appeal to most people, whether they are most inclined toward that dive bar or an upscale restaurant. And it is a restaurant. The food is very good, with more of an emphasis on comfort food than the "imaginative cuisine" of cross-town Cambridge Brewing Company. What I will be returning for is one of their "beer dinners," with several courses and an accompanying beer for each. (Stone is coming on August 25th...) As for the beer, there are 30 taps, with way more new options than I am used to. I loved their idea of having a tap for certain brewers, but rotating the style regularly. Berkshire, CBC (which is generous of them), Sixpoint, Troegs, and Rogue all are on this list, which is pretty cool. My sampler tray was great and the service was excellent, so high marks all around..
Atmosphere: 3/5, Selection: 10/10, Quality: 9/10, Service: 5/5, Overall: 14/20, Total: 41/50
Total rating: A-

The Independent
75 Union Square, Somerville, MA
Heather didn't have a good first impression of this place, but I talked her into giving it a second chance. There are three parts to this place: a roped in patio section on the square, a nice looking dining room, and a dark, study-esque bar, which we chose. Very comfortable with lots of leather books lining the walls and the ballgame showing on several TV's. The beer list is pretty impressive in terms of quality, but they are mostly familiar choices (Dead Guy, Boont Amber, Avery Brown, Hennepin, Old Rasputin.) Service was lackluster but the Korean Calamari was delicious! I think Heather was a convert.
Atmosphere: 4/5, Selection: 8/10, Quality: 8/10, Service: 2/5, Overall: 12/20, Total: 34/50
Total rating: B+

And then there were the beers...

Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA
Sample -- Cambridge Common Restaurant, Cambridge
clear with nice head... really hoppy aroma you would expect in a double IPA... grapefruit flavored hops have sharp edge. didn't particularly enjoy this.
Score: 6

Peak Organic IPA
Sample -- Cambridge Common Restaurant, Cambridge
totally see-through... yeasty / grainy smell I can't place... floral taste with light bitterness, very grassy. i enjoyed this.
Score: 7

Rogue Captain Sig's Deadliest Ale
Sample -- Cambridge Common Restaurant, Cambridge
another one of rogue's gimmicky beers, this one a nod to the show deadliest catch. (i find this whole racket very annoying -- let's hope it doesn't catch on...) very cloudy amber with thick head... sharp hop nose... very bitter citrus flavor, verging on grapefruit... very textured and drying. not bad actually.
Score: 6

Sixpoint Righteous Ale
Sample -- Cambridge Common Restaurant, Cambridge
a rye. reddish and translucent with head that coats beer. balanced aroma. interesting, a distinct cherry taste materialzes in flavor. some citrus too, but bitterness is checked. best of the bunch.
Score: 8

Stoudt's Gold Lager
Bottle -- The Independent, Somerville
translucent... grain and light hops on aroma... flavor is malt and mild corn... quite clean, sterile bitterness... perfect beer to accompany most any meal.
Score: 8

Friday, June 12, 2009

PDX illustrated

The 100 beers I drank pale in comparison to the hundreds of pictures taken by Kelly over the course of our one-week honeymoon. Many times when I asked why we were taking this particular picture, she would exclaim "It's our honeymoon!" Apparently, this was an explaination in and of itself. But I digress.

I thought I would put at least some of these pictures to use. Since much of our time was devoted to pub crawling, they are very relevant to this beer blog. They also give you a better idea of how one drinks 100 beers over the course of 7 days. (I am not a terrible husband, I swear!) Anyways, enjoy!

Day 1: Arrive at our hotel / brewpub, McMenamins Kennedy School. It was really late, but thankfully I did manage to get started by finding their Terminator Stout.

Day 2: I got started early, with Deschutes Black Butte Porter for breakfast at Tin Shed. Tell me that doesn't look amazing. By midafternoon, I was hungry again at Alameda Brewhouse.

With samplers at Alameda and Laurelwood on our first full day, we accomplished two of my top priorities right away. 21 different beers is a pretty solid day, too.

Day 3: Logging 22 beers on Day 3, this Brockton-based beer blogger was at his most prolific. Now this was a pub crawl: checkers at Roots [above], an out-of-body experience at Hopworks Urban Brewery, the very fun Horse Brass Pub, and delectable Pix Patisserie.

More pics from HUB. Wow, I have already tried 44 different beers after only two full days of drinking...

Day 4: Token happy married couple picture -- pretty sure I had to include this. Day 4 was our winery tour too. Moving on.

Ah, Full Sail! Kelly was particularly taken by their mural of the brewing process, from field to table.

I, however, was taken by Full Sail's Berliner Weiss -- red on the right and green on the left.

Day 5: Natural hot springs, a mason jar, and The Bruery's farmhouse ale... now how can you beat that?

Back in PDX, we hit old favorite Amnesia Brewpub [left] and the new (to me) Old Lompoc [right] in succession. Note the HUB t-shirt. Wow, I have already drank 73 beers with two days to go! What if...

Day 6: My bride up at Portland City Grille enjoying a... hey, that isn't a beer, at all! Well, at least I enjoyed a few beers at Deschutes, even though there aren't any pictures of my favorite brewery, for some reason. Here is the aftermath, anyways...

Day 7: Sampler number 10 at Bridgeport. And without even trying, I wound up at an even 100 beers! That is something. Well, bye, bye, Beervana. We will miss you!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PDX... and beyond

So we have covered much of the best of Portland (besides Hair of the Dog.) But what of the rest of Oregon -- Eugene and Enterprise, Newport and Ontario? Not to mention the rest of the west. Cali, Washington, Colorado, Alaska. Some high scores here. Good bottle stores and great beer experiences. Read on.

Alaskan Amber
Bottle -- Portland City Grille, PDX
Had heard a lot of positive things about this beer, so I ordered it when I got the chance at the uber-swanky Portland City Grille's happy hour. I was surprised to see this is classified as an altbier, not an amber. I was surprised again to find mostly fresh hops on nose. Solid flavor and washed down my sushi more than adequately.
Score: 7

Beer Valley Pigskin Pale Ale
22 oz -- Vindalho Restaurant, PDX
Bought a big bottle from this western-Oregon brewer to accompany our fancy Indian meal. Very active in appearance... smell of stale hops and taste of sweet malt... medium bodied and quite sticky. Little one-dimensional, but washed down my samosas well.
Score: 6

Big Horse Russian Redneck
Tap -- Big Horse Brew Pub, Hood River
Kelly and I stopped at this brewpub almost on a whim while in Hood River. Glad we did though because this was a really cool place. Built on a hillside overlooking Columbia Gorge, the view was as good as any you will find at a brewery. Comfortable atmosphere with these pretty cool two-tiered tables that work well with bar stools and pitchers of beer (I would definitely copy these for my bar...) Anyways, 7 staple beers on tap but how could I pass on a beer called Russian Redneck. You definitely taste the bourbon that this Russian Imperial Stout is aged on. Malts produce strong sweetness, while hops are quite tasty. Alcohol does come through. Velvety smooth. Very impressed.
Score: 8

Dick's Best Bitter
Bottle -- Belmont Station, PDX
Product of Washington. I wanted to see how this Oregon neighbor compared, but I don't think the two beers I picked up were a fair judge... Dark brown with sustained head... apple juice, note of coffee, sweet malts -- not as bad as it sounds... pretty light. Just fine.
Score: 6

Double Mountain The I.R.A.
Pint -- Hood River Theater & Pub, Hood River
I had planned on going to Double Mountains brewery in Hood River, but it wasn't meant to be. I was glad to find it when we went to see Angels & Demons at the theater across from our hotel (but I still fell asleep 30 minutes in...) Robust bitterness for a red, but caramel malts strike balance. Smooth. I should brew one of these so called, India Red Ale's.
Score: 9

Hair of the Dog Fred
Bottle -- Horse Brass Pub, PDX
Horse Brass Pub was number one on my list of beer bars to hit for the trip. It matched expectations too: lots of rotating taps, knowledgeable (although slow) waitresses, and a bright, fun atmosphere. Reccomended. First brewer selected off the list? Hair of the Dog, very highly regarded Portland-based brewer, but without a brewpub (or else we would have visited...) Their barleywine was named Fred after a friend of theirs (a theme that is repeated for most of their beers.) Anyways, aroma contains alcohol and fruity sweetness... taste has expected sweetness, but it has a unique apricot-like component... Kathryn opined that Fred has a taste of licorice to it, which I don't disagree with. Would never guess alcohol is 10%, so a well-constructed barleywine.
Score: 9

Hair of the Dog Ruth
Bottle -- Lorenzo's Restaurant, PDX
An "american ale," i.e. pale ale. Pure golden color, hops on nose (but I am pretty stuffed up), solid sweetness smack in middle of taste, creeping bitterness. Alcohol seemed rather raw to me, but it was only 4.5% -- not a good sign. Too sweet in my opinion. But still, when do these guys get a brewpub?!
Score: 6

Hale's Ale Kolsch
Bottle -- Belmont Station, PDX
On our way back to the city from our trip to Mount Hood we stopped at Belmont Station, the southeasts elite bottle store/bar. We don't really see these store-bar hybrids out east, and this one seemed to work especially well with two seperate rooms (much better than the odd atmosphere at Concordia Ale House, which we walked out of.) Anyways, interesting selection here. As for Hale's it had a light straw color, nose of grain, corn flavor, extremely light bodied. Not bad actually.
Score: 6

New Belgium Fat Tire
Bottle -- Belmont Station, PDX
THE Fat Tire. Only beer I drank on the trip outside of the west coast, I believe (Fort Collins, CO.) Very appealing looking beer. Very aromatic caramel/nutty malts... fruity overtones blend seamlessly with nutty malt... level of drinkability that is hard to find in an amber. I'd like to say that one of these qualities is why Fat Tire is so popular, but that is probably mostly the marketing... Good beer, nevertheless.
Score: 8, Original Score: 8

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA
Tap -- Mother's Restaurant, PDX
Another Oregon brewer I wanted to be sure to try. It took until the last day, but I did get to try them. Very fresh nose, citrusy flavor, cloying bitterness in throat.
Score: 7

Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA
Bottle -- Hotel Monaco, PDX
Slightly hazy gold... sweeet, hoppy smell of a barleywine... pleasantly sweet flavor... can't spot an imperfection here. I'm really going to miss these west coast IPA's.
Score: 10

Rogue Chocolate Stout
Tap -- Pix Patisserie, PDX
Ah, a beer float! I haven't done one of these in a while! Pix Patisserie is a pretty ingenious creation. It's a desert bar, as in pastries and (mostly Belgian) beer. For a dollar more they served me a glass of the beer in addition to my float. Most memorable characteristics (because this was the end of a long drinking day) were robust charred malts and lots of different chocolates. Pretty heavy but drinkable. The float was delicious too.
Score: 8, Original Score: 8

Rogue Morimoto Soba
Tap -- Portland Saturday Market, PDX
I have talked about this before but Rogue doesn't have the greatest of reputations in PDX. Their brewpub is pretty crappy and they seem more about clever marketing than anything else. Like say, their Morimoto series, brewed for Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef. However, this fruit beer was better than expected. Lightly hopped, good flavor, extremely drinkable. Surprisingly good. Maybe I will give their brewpub a second chance next time too...
Score: 7

Russian River Blind Pig IPA
22 0z -- New Seasons (Grocery), PDX
My first beer from the legendary California brewer, Russian River. I leapt at the chance to buy this highly-rated IPA on our first trip to this grocery store across the street from our hotel. Quite light, straw golden... big grapefruit nose and flavor, bitterness early not late, malt profile is present but minor, no hint of 6% alcohol, very tasty... pretty light body for such a big flavor. A beautfiul beer, and fitting start as the first IPA I would drink in Portland.
Score: 9

Russian River Pliny the Elder
500 ml -- Cork: A Bottle Store, PDX
The #7 beer in the world according to BeerAdvocate! This double IPA is pretty light in color with a huge piney hop aroma. Taste is very orangey with unmissable biscuity malts. Well-balanced with a well-hidden 8% abv. Hype is deserved. This is the best IPA I have ever had.
Score: 10

Terminal Gravity IPA
Tap -- Horse Brass Pub, PDX
An IPA from Enterprise, OR. Fresh, grassy hops. You feel the nearly 7% abv. Good beer.
Score: 7

The Bruery Saison Rue
750 ml -- Cork: A Bottle Shop, PDX
This was one of the brewers I was watching for and my friend at Cork Bottle Shop told me this was one of the best beers he had tried. And you know how I love those farmhouses! I saved this for our trip to Bagby Hot Springs (pictures to follow...) Anyways, poured a slightly hazy orange with a huge head (into my mason jar, to be fair...) Citrus fruit, spice, yeast, and alcohol mix together on nose and flavor. Flavor is in your face, yet nuanced. Balanced and lively. Lovely. Wish I could try more from these guys.
Score: 9

Trumer Pils
Sample -- Horse Brass Pub, PDX
A German pils straight from Berkley, CA (and then stolen from friend Kathryn.) Lemon and hay are main characteristics (alongside a general skunkiness...) Very easy going down. Not bad. And just like that, 100 beers up and 100 beers down.
Score: 6

Monday, June 8, 2009

PDX: The Best

Drum roll, please...

The Best:
#2. Hopworks Urban Brewery2944 SE Powell Blvd, PDX
Hopworks Urban Brewery only recently celebrated its first birthday so it wasn't even on the radar screen during my time in PDX. HUB is an all organic brewery, but get this: it is really, really good! Some 3,000 miles away it was hard to figure out how much of this was hype, but it was obviously at the very top of my to do list. It is a little out of the way on a busy street in the southeast, but once you get there it is nothing but convenient. They have four different types of seating: beer garden, family-friendly restaurant, function mezzanine, and, our choice, the biker bar... as in bicycle bar, of course. Most of the bar is actually made of bicycle parts -- pretty cool. Beyond that they turned some brewery equipment into a fireplace, have a solid stein collection, as well as a pool table and the basketball game on. Food looked good and prices were reasonable. What more can you ask for? Tables are very classy but we sidled up to the bar. Here the bartenders were good and even started you off with a water, which I especially appreciate when sampling ten plus beers. This was a very impressive set of styles, not to mention the highest average alcohol by volume from a line-up of beers that I have ever seen!

I hope you will still read about these beers below, but I have to say up front that this place totally blew me away. It was an almost surreal experience, as each beer seemed to get better and better. By the time I got to the real beers (IPA, strong ale, stout), I was downright giddy. I came in expecting good beer, but for every beer to be this well-crafted and be organic is unheard of. I mean, these guys have only been around for a year and the quality is more consistent than any brewer I have ever encountered yet. Just imagine what is possible for these guys! Or put another way: Hopworks is impressive enough for this cheap bastard to buy a t-shirt on the way out.

Hopworks HUB Lager - Sample
An organic Czech pilsner -- my kind of Budweiser substitute. Fresh hop and pilsner malt aroma. Light hops make this very pleasing. As light as you are looking for.
Score: 8

Hopworks Totally Raddler - Sample
I am going to rate this one and try not to hold it against the brewer. They took that delicious lager I just rated and added 30% lemonade. So, of course, Kelly had to order it. Obviously that delicate lager is totally overwhelmed by sugary sweet lemonade. I'll try not to hold that against HUB, but it was quite sad.
Score: 3

Hopworks Anniversary Cream Ale - Sample
Above the bar where we were sitting HUB had a huge chalkboard with all of the beers on tap listed down to the original gravity. At first glance I didn't see any beer weighing in below 5% abv... except for this one at a still healthy 4.7%. Nitro pour produces creaminess you would hope for. Nice pale malt flavor and again gently hopped. Nice!
Score: 8

Hopworks Crosstown Pale Ale - Sample
An organic pale ale. Clear golden. Potent grassy hops. Flavorful. Sessionable. This was the point that I started getting excited after starting off with three exquisitely crafted beers, in three not-so-exciting styles, mind you! What will they do with an ESB?
Score: 9

Hopworks Velvet ESB - Sample
Attractive red pour... minor fresh hop aroma... caramel malts dominate, not hops as you might have expected in an ESB... chocolate malt and oats do create a very velvety texture... billed as a session beer, which really does. An incredibly unique ESB, and I loved it!
Score: 10

Hopworks Secret Alt - Sample
German Altbier... fruity hop aroma... beautifully balanced flavor... very smooth like all their beers so far.
Score: 8

Hopworks Terry Porter - Sample
Obviously the Trailblazers are huge in town, so how is it possible no one had thought of this beer name yet? Anyways, great name for a beer. Chocolate malt aroma... definite hop presence, with lightly charred malt... heavy aftertaste. When all was said and done, this would actually be the least impressive of the bunch. And it was a pretty good porter!
Score: 7

Hopworks IPA - Sample
Spiderwebs nicely on glass. Big sweet, grapefruit hop aroma. In flavor, hops are deliciously citric and piney. Sweet and lemony flavors come through as well. Flavor has great bitterness, without rawness of East Coast IPA's. Very smooth for an IPA. Probably one of the best IPA's I have ever had... and remember, it is organic!
Score: 10

Hopworks Deluxe Organic Ale - Sample
Well, this is certainly a different sort of name for an American Strong Ale. I had a sense of what I was in for right away since there is no hint of the 6.9% abv on the nose. Any alcohol blends in perfectly with malts in flavor. Lots of caramel malts but very smooth. It would be easy to drink a few of these, so you have to be careful. What an amazing beer!
Score: 10

Hopworks Survival "Seven Grain" Stout - Sample
They used coldpressed Stumptown espresso... and it smells like it too. Coffee in flavor is quite sweet and velvety smooth. Delicious and enjoyable.
Score: 9

Hopworks Rise Up Red - Sample
Cask-conditioned. Strong hoppiness I love in these West Coast/IPA reds. And just like that, HUB's beers finished as strong as they started. This was simply one of the greatest beer experiences I have ever had. Now I cannot in good conscience call them the best brewer in Portland after 1 1/2 hours of drinking their samplers. However, if Hopworks is still churning out beers of this quality next time I get to try them again, they will be sitting atop this list. Go Hopworks!

#1. Deschutes Brewery & Public House 210 NW 11th Ave, PDX
But until that point, Deschutes reigns supreme. One of my favorite trips from my previous time out in Oregon was a road trip to Bend, home of Deschutes Brewing. Since that time they have opened a brewpub in the heart of the previously discussed Pearl District. Huge place with very classy look of a Scottish bar with the large paned windows. Inside there is lots of wood -- from the tables to the spectacular carved murals hanging throughout the building. Good space inside, with several different types of seating, including out on the street. Beautiful stone fireplace and popular gift shop. Did I mention this place is big? We had dinner here and one thing I was not expecting was the quality of the food. Kelly's spicy Tillamook mac and cheese was one of the best meals we had all week. Best of all, they had 17 taps! Yes! Fortunately, I had already had my two favorite Deschutes beers earlier in the week, and was ready to try some new stuff. I had a blast here and it is actually very fulfilling to see one of my very favorite brewers reaching this wider audience. Ladies and gentlemen, the number one brewpub from Josh and Kelly's Beer Trip / Honeymoon! (And yes, that order is correct...)

Deschutes Black Butte Porter - Bottle, Tin Shed Garden Cafe
Deschutes beer was one of the things I was most looking forward to about our trip out to Portland, so it didn't take long for me to find one of their beers. Deschutes Black Butte Porter was available with our first breakfast at Tin Shed Garden Cafe, so I couldn't very well pass. I reranked this beer just a few months ago, so let me just say this beer also goes well with biscuits and gravy.
Score: 10, Original Score: 10

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale - Bottle, Downtown Chapel Cafe
My #1 favorite beer from my time in Portland. Picturesque pour of amber body with tight head. Distinctive aroma of Cascade hops. Sweet citric hops blend perfectly with crisp malt. Balance and smoothness makes this a perfect beer for session drinking, with a meal, or on its own. If I could only drink five beers for the rest of my life, this would still be one of them.
Score: 10, Original Score: 10

Deschutes Cask Conditioned Bachelor ESB - Deschutes Brewpub, Sample
Oh boy! One of my favorite ESB's from a cask! Big creamy head... sweet malts play with bitterness... served a little colder than I would like, which made it even smoother than normal. Top notch session beer, that is even better from the cask.
Score:9, Original Score: 8

Deschutes Red Chair IPA - Sample
63 IBU, 7% abv. Hops are almost singularly sweet on nose... some of the most flavorful hops I have ever encountered. This IPA is almost creamy with pitch perfect balance. Wow, what a beer! What I wouldn't give for an IPA of this caliber in Massachusetts.

Deschutes Inversion IPA - Sample
How have I never rated this beer? Citrusy, but it is caramel that strikes senses first, which is impressive. Hops do tickle your tongue (in a good way.) I would never in my wildest dreams guess this was 80 IBU. Awesome.
Score: 9

Deschutes Obsidian Stout - Sample
Dark with hot chocolate-like head. Unmissable chocolate malt aroma with solid roastiness in flavor. Very tasty. Perhaps a little thin. Still, a great beer, that belongs in class with flagship pale, porter, and IPA.
Score:9, Original Score: 9

Deschutes Cascade Ale - Sample
Hazy golden. Healthy dose of floral hops actually. Graininess is present as well. Refreshing to see a pale ale weigh in at an appropriate 4.6%.
Score: 8

Deschutes Pilsner 005 - Sample
Light color. Recognizable skunky, German malt and a little banana if I am not mistaken. Seemed a little directionless to me. Didn't make it.
Score: 5

Deschutes Twilight Ale - Sample
Three American pales on tap? Niiice. By this point in the trip, my new found allergies were limiting my sense of smell. But my wife was kind enough to observe: "Hoppier in aroma than taste. Hops smell funny, like wort." Okay... I think I know what she means. Nice lacing anyway, with pretty lemony flavor. Pretty good.
Score: 7

Deschutes Armory Extra Pale Ale - Sample
Now correct me if I am wrong, but I thought Extra Pale Ale's were usually lighter, right? This has big sweet hop aroma with sharp bitter finish. Seemed unusual to me. Not bad though.
Score: 6

Deschutes Miss Spelt - Sample
I was curious to see the style designation on this one too, but neither beer was listed on BeerAdvocate (their coverage is much better on the East Coast...) Anyways, cloudy appearance, strongly spiced, flavor of bananas and clove. Not a bad Belgian.
Score: 7

Deschutes Big Mountain Bock - Sample
A Maibock. Sweet malt but raw mouthfeel. Not badly brewed, but a pretty superficial beer.
Score: 5

Deschutes Streaking the Quad - Sample
I ordered this on my first sampler paddle, but quickly realized that if I drank this quadruple (9%) and the barleywine (11%), I would be done. Second sampler paddle later, there strong beers had conveniently arrived at room temp. Deschutes brewed this Strong Belgian Ale for Portland's Cheers to Belgian Beers competition. Smell all of 7% and robitussen. Like taking a shot... specifically like taking a shot of bourbon/whiskey. Too much, unpleasant.
Score: 3

Deschutes Mirror Mirror- Sample
Supposedly Deschutes took the recipe for Mirror Pond and doubled it for this beer. What a great idea. Clever name too. Forget "hint" in description, strong raisin smell. Taste of sweet cherry and licorice, or maybe just cough syrup. I really liked it.
Score: 8

And there you have the top 10 brewpubs we visited in Oregon. Now before you think this series is over, we still have another 18 beers to rate from several other top-notch western brewers. I think you all might appreciate some of the pictures from our beer trip too... stay tuned.

Friday, June 5, 2009

PDX: The Better

Okay, this is going to be a long one. Another 37 beers from Beervana. You have been warned.

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention last post was that I decided to spice up the order in which I usually list the beers. Being my perfectionist/obsessive-compulsive self, I usually carefully list the beers in alphabetical order. Instead, I thought it would be interesting to list the beers in the order in which I drank them. As I mentioned, most all of these beers were drank as samplers, so I was careful as to the order in which I drank them. Now, as I have talked about in past posts, the order isn't so simplistic as lightest to darkest as most brewpubs will tell you, but rather, considers alcohol by volume, IBU's (bitterness), and heaviness of the beer. More of a judgement call that you would think since I was drinking so many high-IBU IPA's...

The Better:
#7. Roots Organic Brewery1520 SE 7th Ave, PDX
I am pretty sure that Roots was Portland's first all-organic brewery, which is worth something. Despite this, I feel like Roots kind of flies under the radar of a lot of Portlanders with its small, somewhat out of the way location. I've always loved this place, since it proved to me that organic beers can be good too. The island theme is pretty fun -- bright colors, surfing, reggae, etc. Outside seating is available and the back of the restaurant has an industial thing going with the brewing equipment fully visible. Probably the least pretentious place on this list, which is just what you need sometimes.

Roots Burghead Heather Ale - Sample
One of the most unique beers you will ever try since it doesn't use hops! How is this possible you ask? Why heather tips, of course. And this is what I love about Roots -- talk about adventurous. (The absense of hops makes it a Gruit, by the way.) It was a little flat, but that was because I got the dregs of the keg (they switched out immediately after...) Lot of fruity esthers, which translates to a certain juiciness. Light and drinkable too. Highly recommended, just to say you once drank a pretty good beer that contained no hops.
Score: 6, Original Score: 7

Roots Organic Pale Ale - Sample
Very nice bitter hops early without bite at end... some bready malts balance this out very neatly... they call this an English style Pale Ale, but it would have to be an English Pale on roids!
Score: 7, Original Score: 8

Roots EXXXcalibur Stout - Sample
One of my fondest memories of PDX was this delicious, smooth Imperial Stout. Sure enough, this is still one of the smoothest beers I have ever tried... big coffee roast and sweet nose... silky sheet of a head... flavorful chocolate joins roast sweetness in flavor while hops work quietly in the background. Love this beer. Best stout in PDX.
Score: 9, Original Score: 8

Roots Woody Organic IPA - Sample
Haven't rated this yet, but I have drank it. Pours a striking orange... big hop aroma... dual hop nature blends in taste, both citrus and grapefruit... what a flavorful IPA... nice body to it too. This is their most popular beer.
Score: 8

Roots Island Red - Sample
Billed as a "red stout"... oats do give this one a heavier body... rosy amber, nice lacing... malts with coffee note and hops in aroma... balanced flavor... very nice red.
Score: 7

#6. Amnesia Brewing832 N Beech St, PDX
Probably my favorite brewpub from my time in Portland (of the top 5, 1 is outside the city, 2 are new brewpubs, and 2 brewers I had never tried before...) Basically, it is a tin shed with an enormous partly covered patio of long, communal picnic tables. Very German. As is the food, brats grilled right in front of you, year round. How awesome is that? And there is live music. The beers rotate and are very hop-centric. Most everyone orders pitchers. So basically, it is heaven on earth.

Amnesia Dusty Trail Pale - Sample
Harsh bitterness at end, very bready... lighter than you might expect... flavor/palate is a little unrefined... I really enjoyed the Pale Ale's in town, but you can find better.
Score: 5

Amnesia The ESB - Sample
Nice looking beer with steady carbonation and a creamy head (like seemingly all of Amnesia's beers)... bitter up-front... fruitty overtones and quite nutty... well-balanced but missing some umph.
Score: 7, Original Score: 7

Amnesia Copacetic IPA - Sample
Shockingly creamy head... all oranges and plums in aroma... and flavor... very smooth and creamy mouthfeel... a unique and delicious IPA. Not to mention probably the greatest name for an IPA in the history of the world. How did no one else think of this?
Score: 9, Original Score: 8

Amnesia Slow Train Porter - Sample
Nice tan creamy head... sweet chocolate nose... roastiness seems to cake mouth... little watery. Amnesia specializes in the hoppy, but this really isn't a bad dark.
Score: 7

Amnesia Blonde Beech - Sample
Okay, now hold on. Their seasonal is a blonde ale with 7.2% abv?! Just wow. Smell is grainy German malts... taste is an odd mix of alcohol, skunky yeast, and indescribable fruitiness. You feel all of the 7% and I am pretty sure Kelly got drunk off the first 4 sips of her pint. Don't believe me? Here is Kelly's only rating of the weekend: "Very beery beer but beery delicious! Easy drinking but full of malt flavor with a light hop taste... Beautiful golden color... Gets you buzzed in a hurry... Yum..." If that isn't an endorsement, I don't know what one is.
Score: 6, Kelly's Rating: 9

Amnesia Desolation IPA - Sample
PDX just does IPA's right... thought for sure this 6.2% IPA would be over the top, but surprised me with complexity and subtlety once again. Fruity hops. Mouthfeel has real huskiness at end. Step below Copacetic, but an almost equally cool name.
Score: 7, Original Score: 7

Amnesia Double Dry Hopped Desolation - Sample
Description reads: "If you have to ask, you probably shouldn't order it." Little Arrogant Bastard thing going, I like it. Hoppy aroma is both citrus/grapefruit... extent of malts was unexpected. Missing bite of double IPA, but thought this was more on par with Copacetic.
Score: 8

#5. Laurelwood Public House & Brewery5115 NE Sandy Blvd, PDX
Laurelwood has an impeccable reputation about town, so this was at the top of my to-do list. They have a few sites (including pizza pubs) but we went to their main brewery on the Northeast side of town. Whole brewery is visible from the street... it's like chem lab meets garage. Hugeness of place is immediately apparent. Somewhere on the three floors you are going to find the kind of place you are looking for to drink your beer. We chose the rooftop, with a very attractive wooden balcony, replete with a garden boxes everywhere you look. Didn't try the food, but sounded very organic, original, and appealing. Beers were very solid (if a little too slickly marketed), but I feel like if I returned a year from now, the beers on tap would be the same...

Laurelwood Bottled Blonde - Sample
Yellow in glass, not quite see-through with decent head… minor hop aroma, mostly spicy… slight taste of banana comes through… served too cold, so mouthfeel isn’t all that pleasant. Not really true to style at all -- definitely hoppier than most blonde’s.
Score: 4

Laurelwood Mother Lode Golden Ale
- Sample
Entirely translucent… grassy hop aroma and taste. I liked this much better than the Golden I just tried at Alameda… Kelly thought this was too one-dimensional, and weak on the malts. What a bride!
Score: 5

Laurelwood Free Range Red (Organic)
- Sample
This beer has some buzz around town, and is seemingly available everywhere. Once again very translucent (apparently a common characteristic at Laurelwood.) Mild malt aroma, and hops only punch through in aftertaste. Light/medium body and quite well balanced. Very nice.
Score: 8

Laurelwood Workhorse IPA
- Sample
Won a competition as the Best IPA in America! So that is impressive. A clear golden with remarkably potent smell of pine needles and cat dander (it works though)? Aroma stands out as unique, which is hard to do when you are beer number 800-something… Aroma transfers to flavor, and is somewhat balanced at same time. Very lively. Not going to call it the Best IPA in America, but reputation is deserved.
Score: 10

Laurelwood Hooligan
- Sample
Is this an amber? A brown? Clear again with note of coffee in aroma. Otherwise nondescript malts are balanced by bitter hops. Not bad. (P.S. It is a brown.)
Score: 6

Laurelwood Hop Monkey IPA
- Sample
Slightly darker than the Workhorse. Grapefruit hops on nose alongside small malt profile. Quite bitter and really dries out mouth.
Score: 7

Laurelwood Organic Tree Hugger Porter
- Sample
Coffee/cola smell… dry barley flavor with a little chocolate… translucent and fairly light bodied for a porter. Judging by their menu of organic this and free range that, I think tree hugger is meant as a positive attribute…
Score: 7

Laurelwood Space Stout
- Sample
Creamy chocolate, heavy roast, and medium bodied. Like most darker beers in Portland – it is well-brewed but doesn’t stand out.
Score: 6

#4. Alameda Brewing Company4765 NE Fremont St, PDX
I had walked by Alameda several times but never actually went in. In a very trendy part of town, but I will try not to hold that against it... A lot of different things going on here: concrete, brick, metal, wood, and these pretty cool burlap tapastries hanging on the wall. I kind of liked it. They have a lot of taps on and serving temperature was actually about right. We hit happy hour so prices were really excellent. Seemed pretty busy for a weekday afternoon, mixed crowd. Nice place.

Alameda Bavarian Hefe - Sample
Cloudy with thick lacing… Belgian cloves… lemony, yeasty flavor… good carbonation. A very flavorful Hefeweizen. Seems more Belgian inspired than German, but whatever. I was very impressed by this beer.
Score: 8

Alameda East Village Amber
- Sample
A German altbier, that is, half ale, half lager. Toasted caramel aroma… very malty with note of coffee… hops play on tongue… medium-bodied. Not bad.
Score: 6

Alameda Klickitat Pale Ale
- Sample
Look is a very opaque amber-orange. Piney hop aroma with a very fruity flavor. Nicely balanced too, which makes me think this would be a good candidate for a starter beer.
Score: 7

Alameda Irvington Juniper Porter
- Sample
Juniper as an ingredient, huh? Well, that is new (and exciting.) Brown color, creamy coffee aroma. Nearly charred coffee bean flavor with only a glimpse of juniper at front of taste. Kelly picked it out of the aroma, but I failed to. Interesting beer.
Score: 7

Alameda El Torero Organic IPA
- Sample
Copper-orange color… flavor is balanced with malts and an assertive grapefruit bitterness. Another good IPA. Wish New England good figure out how to brew organic beers this well…
Score: 8

Alameda Black Bear XX Stout CO2
- Sample
This is Alameda’s much hyped Stout. Sweet chocolate and cocoa aroma, vanilla makes its presence known in flavor. Simply robust bitterness. Creamy mouthfeel. Enjoyable.
Score: 7

Alameda Black Bear XX Stout Nitro
- Sample
Should I rate the nitro separately? They are visibly different beers, so I think so. Nitro produces much bigger, creamy head you would hope for. Smoother and creamier too. Seemed less hoppy – not sure why that would be. I would definitely give the nitro the nod between the two.
Score: 8

Alameda Wolf Imperial IPA
- Sample
I have found this to be the case with several other double IPA’s, but there seems to be a tendency toward a very pleasant peach/apricot taste. Not that I am complaining. Really does dry out mouth and you do feel all of the alcohol.
Score: 7

Alameda Siskiyou Golden
- Sample
A kolsch. Stale wheat taste. What can I say? This is bad.
Score: 3

#3. Full Sail Brewery506 Columbia St, Hood River, OR
Hood River is a very nice little city about an hour east of PDX on Columbia Gorge. Wind surfing on the river is huge here, with lots of good wineries and hiking around as well. Full Sail was one of the first microbreweries to start up in Oregon and is pretty popular as a result. Whole place is employee owned too. Last time I was out here I took a tour of the brewery, but this time Kelly and I had dinner, which was surprisingly good. They had redone the bar and opened a patio since I was last there. Very comfortable atmosphere with good staff and the game on. The beers speak for themself.

Full Sail Chris's Summer D-Lite: Red - Sample
This was a beer drinking experience I was looking forward to after reading about Full Sail’s experiment with the Berliner Weiss on my favorite PDX beer blog, Beervana. This distinctive German style adds flavored syrup to the beer, and it’s your choice, you can order the green or red. The red has an uber-sweet aroma of pixie sticks or a red snowcone. I suppose you could call flavor tart raspberries. Very smooth and easy drinking but it has this syrupy sweetness that sticks to lips and creates kind of odd mouthfeel. Nevertheless, I would choose this over most fruit beers.
Score: 6

Full Sail Chris's Summer D-Lite: Green - Sample
The green was my pick of the two. More traditional smell of subdued hops and spice. For taste you should think of a Flemish sour – which I really like. Very fun sessionable summer beer. Recommended.
Score: 7

Full Sail Session Lager - Sample
Session was one of my fondest memories from Portland. Can't miss it in its stout 11 oz bottle. Light golden, fresh grain aroma, perfect sweetness and modest bitterness in hops, very clean. Session is beautiful in its simplicity. Earns its name -- as good of a session beer as you will ever find.
Score: 9

Full Sail LTD Series - Bottling 03 - Sample
Apparently this is the third of this year round series of rotating seasonals. Stronger bitterness than I am used to in a lager. Crisp and still light, but doesn't translate to an especially nice mouthfeel though.
Score: 5

Full Sail Pale Ale - Sample
Very appealing fresh hop aroma. First impression of taste: delicious! Great flavorful hop mix that is balanced with just enough malt presence. Love that balance! Crisp. One of those beers you would love to drink a few of. Somehow I don't remember trying this beer when in Portland, but this was my absolute favorite Full Sail brew.
Score: 10

Full Sail Keelhauler Brewmasters Reserve 2009 - Sample
Expected malt aroma... flavor has a kick to it... but it is kind of a little off. Didn't run across many Scottish Ales in the Pacific Northwest, so it was nice to find it, but once I did it was nothing special.
Score: 5

Full Sail IPA - Sample
Leaves lacing... modest aroma... at first I read the delicateness of taste as balance, but I really didn't pickup much of a malt profile. Kind of a weak IPA, in truth. Drinkable enough though.
Score: 7

Full Sail Grandsun of Spot - Sample
A double IPA. Would be interested in the story behind the name here. Sweet, strong hoppiness you are expecting. Bit much.
Score: 6

Monday, June 1, 2009

PDX: The Good

I've mentioned in passing that I had a big beer trip coming up, aka my honeymoon. The destination: Portland, Oregon, aka PDX, aka Beervana. Now most people who heard that this was the location were confused, those who knew me were not. My wife, Kelly, and I each lived in Portland for a year, loved it, but rarely get a chance to go back and visit. And it is called Beervana for a reason.

So Portland has the highest number of breweries per person in the world, but it is the quality of beers that come out of Portland that sets it apart in my opinion. So you can imagine what happened. I drank 100 different beers! Now before you call me a bad husband (there will be plenty more chances for that) I would like to point out that many of these were samples and we did get to do a lot of other fun stuff throughout the course of the week. But this ain't no travel blog (for that check out

So 100 beers. Where to begin? Let's do it like this. There were 10 main brewpubs that Kelly and I went to over the course of the week. I am going to seperate them into three tiers: the good, the better, and the best. With each I will speak a little to the brewpub itself, but obviously the focus will be on the beers themselves. There will probably be a fourth post with the other beers I came across as well, so get comfortable. While very few Oregon beers are available on the East Coast (Rogue and Widmer Hefeweizen are all I have seen...) any serious beer enthusiast should consider a trip for themselves out to The Beervana.

(And now is probably as good a time as any to report back on the wedding beer situation. The site where we held our wedding reception was honestly a little difficult about the whole situation. I erroneously reported that Ipswich Original Ale and Cape Anne's Fisherman's Brew would be the bottles of choice. In reality we had Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (something I wasn't even considering, but it was fine) and Shipyard's Export Ale, a welcome session beer. Honestly, my wedding homebrew, It Must Be Wedding Saison!, was the highlight of the weekend. Wow, I really have to catch up on my posting, I guess!)

The Good:
#10. McMenamins: Kennedy School5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR
In Portland, Oregon, McMenamins is an empire. Started by a couple of brothers, McMenamins opened Oregon’s first brewpub and now is some 55 sites strong. All of these are fun and unique in some way – theater pubs, a ballroom, a chapel, an ex-mental institution, and, our favorite, the old Kennedy School in northeast Portland. This is a must-visit, with very intricately decorated themed rooms, like the boiler room and detention bar. We stayed at the hotel here three nights and still didn’t get to everything we would have liked to. Anywhere else in the country, McMenamins would be one of the top spots. But in Beervana, the atmosphere draws you more than their beer, and McMenamins starts our list at number 10.

McMenamins India Pale AlePint
Smell of citric hops and biscuits – more than I usually am able to pickup… piney bitterness that is almost puckering… much closer to raw, unsophisticated type of IPA’s we get back east…
Score: 5

McMenamins Ruby Ale
Distinctive appearance with hazy, pinkish pour… by Kelly’s own admission this one tastes like a juice. Often a crowd pleaser with the non-beer drinking ladies, but not much more than that.
Score: 2

McMenamins Terminator Stout
22 oz bottle
Forceful pour need to produce head, but looks nice on top of jet black body… sweet java / brown sugar nose… sweet roast, with vanilla note that adds needed depth to flavor… hop bitterness well-placed… medium-bodied and smooth enough to be accessible to most drinkers… by far their best beer, in my opinion.
Score: 8, Original Score: 7

#9. Bridgeport Brewpub 1313 NW Marshall St, PDX
Bridgeport’s brewery was closed for most of the year that I was in Oregon as it underwent extensive renovations. It looks beautiful now, with a classy combination of brick and black metal. Love the look of the bar with tanks visible immediately behind and a huge board with all of the beers specs above. Their beer is widely available in six-packs out here, but their focus on brand identity and pretty static lineup of beers seems to bore most of the beer community. Personally, I respect the place, as it was definitely ahead of its time by building in the warehouse district that has now morphed into the uber-trendy Pearl District. And again, I would kill for a place like this in Boston…

Bridgeport Blue Heron AleSample
A Pale Ale. Translucent… floral hoppiness… barley flavor comes though to an extent that I am not used to… sessionable, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is kind of a week pale for PDX.
Score: 7, Original Score: 6

Bridgeport Ropewalk Amber AleSample
Flavor is of caramel malts first, followed by very fruity overtones… light bitterness is concentrated up front… another kind of watery beer, doesn’t bog you down, but doesn’t satisfy you either. This trend towards watery beers is something I remember now about Bridgeport.
Score: 6, Original Score: 6

Bridgeport Haymaker Extra Pale AleSample
Lemony, grainy aroma, taste follows. Soft, light mouthfeel. Reminds me of a light hef. Quite good actually, a lawnmower beer.
Score: 7

Bridgeport ESB
Billowy head… lemon on nose again, alongside malts… malty for an ESB, bitterness only shows itself cumulatively. Over-emphasis on balance makes this kind of an unusual ESB in my opinion, closer to a brown in style.
Score: 6

Bridgeport IPA
Unmistakable aroma of piney hops and, wait for it, wet dog! My friends mock me, but pet dander is most definitely a characteristic in some beers, just like children’s cough syrup. Flavor is piney and sweet… with a heavy, breathiness in mouthfeel. Not as good as I had remembered.
Score: 6, Original Score: 8

Bridgeport PorterSample
Creative beer namer here at Bridgeport, huh? Low carbonation is visible from distance. Heavy, coffee roastiness you would expect. Solid.
Score: 7

Bridgeport Black Strap Stout
An Irish Stout. Light roast, I guess. Silky smooth, but downright watery. Color me very unimpressed.
Score: 4

Bridgeport Hop Czar
Saw the new, slickly marketed bombers of this double IPA all over town, so excited to actually try it. And the wet dog is back, and stronger than before! Hops are piney with nearly puckering bitterness. Missing depth and subtlety of other IIPA’s came across.
Score: 6

#8. Lompoc 5th Quadrant3901B N Williams Ave, PDX
This is a brewer that I did not encounter in my time in Portland, despite their four sites scattered through the city. We went to the 5th Quadrant in the up-and-coming Mississippi District, and honestly, it kind of had a weird feel to it. Now it is common place in Portland to throw together a bunch of different styles and just call it eclectic, but this one didn’t really work for me. I think they were going for chic meets comfort, but it came across as Gilded Age with picnic tables. If you know what I mean (I am sure you don't). Beer was a little disappointing too.

Lompoc Fool’s Golden AleSample
Very clear, golden pour… aroma is light, sweet licorice, I think… sweetness is a bit bold in flavor. Unusual.
Score: 4

Lompoc Condor Pale Ale
Taste is nearly totally of apple… body is light and lively. One of strangest Pale Ales have ever tasted. Personally, I like the normal style better.
Score: 4

Lompoc Proletariat RedSample
No head, appears to be flat… malty aroma and body, with note of darker coffee malts typical of many Irish-style reds… I may try brewing a Red next, but it would be closer to the west coast style red(i.e. India Red Ales) that we will talk more about soon.
Score: 4

Lompoc Centennial IPA
Like these hops a lot, nice floral fruitiness to them. Add in some nutty malts, and you have a solid, balanced IPA. Best in show.
Score: 8

Lompoc LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft)
Okay, name is pretty clever… surprised the Feds let them get away with that one. Billed as a drinkable Russian Imperial Stout, or something of the like. Not sure I buy that, but it is pretty good. Coffee, vanilla, touch of smoke is what you are getting here.
Score: 7

Lompoc Sockeye Cream Stout
Mild coffee malts, that are probably closer to toffee than anything else, I suppose. Pretty light and watery though.
Score: 6

Lompoc C-Note Imperial Pale Ale
Double IPA of 100 IBU’s… what you would expect with big, aggressive pine hops. Pretty good, but not great. Just like the Lompoc.
Score: 7