Thanks to Letspour.com I got to bring some good memories of living in Washington State. I lived on Bainbridge Island near Seattle for two years several years ago. One of my favorite places to go was the Silver City Brewery in Silverdale. Considering Kitsap County is a fairly rural county, heavily reliant on two Navy bases for economic activity, it is remarkable that there is such a good microbrewery there. Washington is definitely a Mecca for beer, so I suppose it should not come as a surprise. Of all of the delicious beer they made at Silver City, Whoop Pass was my most favorite. At the time, it was not a regular offering, but only available as a special. Now it is apparently available in bottles, at least on the West Coast, and via Letspour. Whoop Pass pours a beautiful dark golden to almost copper color with a substantial head. There are strong pine and grapefruit tones to the aroma from the generous helping of hops. However, the malts balance out the hops, giving it a nice smooth flavor. There are hints of biscuit, grapefruit, pine, and a little caramel. This beer is scarily drinkable considering it comes with an 8.5% ABV. I give it 5 out of 5 proper pints.
Awesome discovery – letspour.com. You can buy West Coast beer on the East Coast and have it shipped. It’s literally crazy how many great beers that are not available normally in the DC area are available from letspour. Including this one. I couldn’t pass this one up when I saw it. I did think it would be a little more orangey tasting, but this is a good beer. It pours a golden color with notes of orange. I didn’t detect a strong scent of orange at first. You are hit with a noticeable whallop of pine and grapefruit from the hops. When you take the first few sips, you will get a little hint of the the orange pith (the white stuff in an orange). It mellows as the beer is exposed to the air for longer and the orange flavor comes out more fully. The hops recedes a little as the beer mellows. This one is very smooth and drinkable. I would have this one again. Apparently letspour.com is already sold out. I give it 4 out of 5 proper pints
Dogfish Head Positive Contact is another of Dogfish Head’s experiments with mixing unique ingredients or combining beer styles to make something a little off center. Positive Contact is made with Fuji Apple Cider (from 300 lbs of Fuji Apples), Cilantro, and Cayenne Pepper. The base beer is meant to be an Imperial Belgian Wheat beer. The end result pours a nice bright golden color with a thick, long lasting white head, that will give you beer mustaches. It does carry an 8% ABV punch though, so you need to watch out. It does drink very easily. It has a distinct Belgian wit flavor to it. The apple is not clearly detectable. Nor is the cayenne pepper. There is a hint of the cilantro though, along with some honey, a little banana, some yeast and a little citrus. I really like this one a lot. I give it 4 out of 5 proper pints.
Urkontinent was a special project of Dogfish Head. As many of you no doubt know, Dogfish has some great core beers, but often experiments with adding unique ingredient to their beer. This project involved challenging beer people from around the world to suggest ingredients to add to a beer. In this case, they selected wattleseed from Australia, toasted amaranth from South America, rooibos tea from Africa, myrica gale from Europe and honey from the United States. I’m not sure why they left out Asia. I don’t think there any great ingredients from Antartica, but it would have been interested if they could add anything from there, just to touch every continent in the world. The base beer is supposed to be a Belgian dubbel with the aforementioned ingredients added. It did pour a nice brown color with a thick off-white head. I did detect quite a few interesting flavors in this beer. Apricots, vanilla, caramel, maybe some plum and a little coffee. There was also the distinctive estery aroma and flavor of the Belgian yeast. It had a slightly creamy, but very smooth texture. I really liked this beer, though it was a little pricey a $14.99 from Norm’s Beer and Wine in Vienna. I would give it a 3 out of 5 proper pints.
I had this as part of a collection of beers from the West from my beer club at Grateful Red. I don’t know of many breweries in Utah, so I want to like anything put out by a brewery there. I can’t say Skipping Stone was bad, but it didn’t roll my socks up and down. It was very light bodied and light in color. It did have about a one finger white head with good lacing. I’m afraid I have to say the aroma and flavor reminded me of PBR or maybe Anchor Steam. It seemed very much like an adjunct lager, but a good one. There was a bit of malt to the flavor, but I detected little in the way of hops. It did have a crisp and dry finish. It doesn’t give the alcohol content on the bottle, but after a little research, it seems it comes in around 4% ABV. That does make it a very sessionable beer. It is probably good on a hot day. However, it will probably cost you as much for a 6 pack of this as it would for two of PBR and maybe 1 1/2 of Anchor Steam. I might go with one of those if I were in the mood. I give it 2 out of 5 proper pints.
A straight ahead, forcefully hopped IPA, this one will win over the biggest hopheads. With a mixture of Amarillo, Centennial and Simcoe hops, this has a nice floral and citrus aroma, followed by the bite of hops as it goes down. It is nicely balanced by the 2-row and crystal malted barley in enough quantity to raise the ABV to 7.2%. In some cases, these imperial style IPAs need the extra malt to balance the bitterness. Schlafly achieves a great balance with this one. I would put it up against Stone IPA or Green Flash West Coast IPA. I’m not saying it’s better that those two, but I would put it in the same class. I give it 4 out of 5 proper pints.
I am a sucker for craft beer from Colorado. Colorado is where I was introduced to craft beer in the 90s and there are some great breweries there. There is nothing like hiking in the mountains or skiing and then having a burger and a craft brew. Singletrack evokes that feeling in the labeling, but it falls a little short on the flavor. It is a copper ale that pours a bright copper color with a thick white head that lingers for a long time. It has a malty, nutty flavor, but is very mild. It reminds me of a British mild ale. It is lightly hopped, in fact the hops are hardly noticeable. It is a session beer at only 4.9% alcohol, you could have several of these and not be weighted down. It is overall not a bad beer, but I don’t think I would seek it out. I give it 2 out of 5 proper pints.
Another concoction I tried while at the Third Annual DC Homebrewers Competition at Meridian Pint in Washington, DC. This one pours a light copper with a finger of white head. The head dissipates quickly. There is a slight lemon-y citrus aroma to this one followed by the spicy aroma of the rye. At first glance this is like an IPA, but not. The spice of the rye and the slight bready flavor of the malt that remains on your tongue tells you this is a little different. This drinks light and sessionable, though it is 6.4% alcohol. While not heavy, it can lead you down the primrose path of thinking you can have many of these and then it sneaks up and hits you over the head. This is a very good beer. I would have it on a warm day, or if I really did plan on having 2 or 3 in a session. I give it 3 out of 5 proper pints.
While attending the Third Annual DC Homebrewers Competition Finals at Meridian Pint in DC I had the opportunity to sample a couple of the offerings of Meridian Pint in addition to the 16 finalists in the competition. Oxbow Number 7 was one of them. Oxbow Brewery is one I had not heard of before. They hail from Newcastle, Maine. I don’t know where that is. It seems most of their beers are in a series called Freestyle. It seems their beer is only available in Maine and in limited quantities in the Washington, DC area. They brew almost exclusively Belgian farmhouse style beers. This one is a Belgian Stout. I have to say I like the Belgian style stout. The combination of the roasty malts with the banana-y esters of the Belgian yeast makes a very nice combination. This one also has some chocolate notes, I’m guessing from chocolate malts. There are also some other mild fruity notes. It’s not real hoppy, my guess is they used noble hops to keep the alpha acids low and the bitterness down. The body is silky smooth and it is dangerously drinkable. I give this one 4 out of 5 proper pints.
This one is an example of my beer club’s Western theme for this month. Left Hand is a brewery out in Boulder County, CO. It is a good brewery, but not my favorite among the many great breweries in Colorado. This beer is commendable in the sense that they are trying something a little different. The idea seems to be along the lines of a ginger ale with kick. It is a light-ish beer. A golden ale, I would say, though it is classified as an herb/spice ale because of the ginger. It would be refreshing on a hot summer day. The beer is light in body, but has a slight happiness like the pale ale that it is, but there is clear taste of ginger that catches you and holds on to your tongue for a little do-si-do. At 4.5% alcohol, you can clearly indulge in a few without getting too giddy. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I would go with 2 out of 5 proper pints.