Pelican India Pelican Ale

December 28th, 2010 beckel

Today I have a brew from Pelican Pub & Brewery out of Pacific City, OR. I know almost nothing of Pelican other than the massive notoriety received for their Mother of all Storms, a barrel aged Barleywine. Their website doesn’t say much about their history but it appears they have been winning countless awards since 1996. I was lucky enough to get this brew sent to me by an acquaintance from the area, but it appears you can also order their brews directly from their website, though the shipping is rather steep and they don’t ship to Minnesota…

Pours an attractive copper hue that is very translucent. Over three fingers of tight off white head blossomed as I poured, slowly but steadily building and creating an enjoyable presentation. A vast amount of lacing and residual head are left behind, but what is more impressive is the aroma. Fantastic notes of grapefruit, orange & lemon support an assertive bitterness and enough malt to create just the aroma I am looking for in an IPA. Hops are not as forward in the flavor with malty sweetness hitting my palate first, evolving into solid bitter esters and then the citrus hop notes found in the aroma finally shine. Intense grapefruit is the primary player in the hop profile making the use of Cascade abundantly obvious. The malt backbone is spot on to support the serious hops used in this brew but currently I am getting a notable astringency that could possibly come from the quantity of hops and overall bitterness of the brew, but more likely has to do with the hops deteriorating over time. This bottle has been sitting in my fridge for about two months and while the bottle isn’t dated I fear I have left this brew to stew for too long. Even with the imperfection that I fear I am at fault for this is one damn good beer with pretty much everything I am looking for in a quality India Pale Ale.  Body is medium and the mouthfeel is reasonably light for the style. At 7.5% ABV this ale is far too drinkable for those who love hops. The intense bitterness is more than enough to completely distract your palate from the alcohol content and encourage you to drink this 22oz bottle with out  a second thought. As the beer warms, or perhaps as I get used to it, the astringency lessens but I would still love to try this brew fresh from the tap for comparison. If you enjoy bitter, citrus laden, hop forward IPAs you will certainly enjoy this brew. A very solid ale that I wish I could get in my market. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Pelican India Pelican Ale

New Belgium 2° Below Ale

December 15th, 2010 beckel

Today I have one of my favorite seasonals from New Belgium Brewing Company. As a Minnesotan the name alone has a special place in my heart. When New Belgium made their way back into our market this was one of a few seasonals that I was very excited to sample, and though we didn’t get it until the next year I was quite satisfied. Their website calls 2° Below a Winter Warmer, but it’s more like an Extra Special Bitter, though the 6.6% ABV it will certainly keep you warm after a few. Lets see how it tastes on this lovely 16° winter day.

Two fingers of bright white head adorn this translucent copper colored Ale. The residual head and notable lacing are a bit surprising for the style, but create a lovely appearance. Smells of light grains, gentle nuttiness from the Victory Malt, Caramel Malt sweetness, a touch of alcohol and esters that remind me a bit of lager yeast (which is of course not present). Flavor is even more nutty than the aroma making this holiday ale a solid candidate for a variety of food parings throughout the season. Malt esters play the central role in the brew, as they should, but enjoyable citrus esters and mild bitterness compliment the malty sweetness and nutty esters creating a very palatable and well rounded brew. Body is medium-light and the moutfeel is relatively clean. While the 6.6% ABV of this brew is a nice bonus, it is not overly noticeable. This clean malty ale is unassuming but still has enough flavor to make most happy. While it’s past Thanksgiving this brew would pair perfectly with turkey and stuffing and probably similarly well with your Christmas dinner. A solid brew that I will happily drink, particularly in cooler weather. While not as hoppy as the beers I tend to gravitate towards this ESB is to style and has enough contrast to please most people. As with many brews from New Belgium’s catalog this approachable brew is a great gateway beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

New Belgium 2 Below Ale

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

December 13th, 2010 beckel

Today we have one of the three brews in the Morimoto line of Rogue beers. The beers were made with input from Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef fame and are designed with food in mind, yet tasty on their own. You can read a bit more about Soba in my review of their Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale from two years ago. This bottle was provided by Lake Wine & Spirits as part of their “Citizen 4-pack” concept. I first had this brew in June of this year at the National Homebrewers Conference here in Minneapolis while enjoying a fascistic meal prepared by Sean Paxton AKA “The Homebrew Chef”. In that meal Soba Ale was paired with a simple salad with a variety of fresh fruits.

Pours a cloudy yet slightly translucent apricot tinted copper hue. Two fingers of bright white head are produced and fade slowly leaving attractive lacing and a few millimeters of residual head. Tinny bubbles flow to the top of the glass repeatedly, asking to quench your thirst. Grain aromas are forward and remind me quite a bit of wheat but with more earthy, husk like esters & nice lemon citrus to contrast. Lemon and other citrus esters hit my tongue immediately, followed by rich, sweet, complex, yet bright grains. Earthy esters are equally diverse, remind me of lemon grass, oats and almost a hint of dirt. Mouthfeel is relatively full and enjoyably dry. The light body makes this beer reasonably smooth and refreshing and very sessionable at 4.8% ABV. A good beer that is somewhere between an American Lager and a Wheat Ale. Complex yet refreshing this brew will be enjoyed by most and will pare well with anything from seafood and gently fried vegetables to caramelized pork chops with rich root vegetables. Not a beer I would buy a lot but a great beer for hot days and most meals. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

December 11th, 2010 beckel

Today I have a beer, that like many others I can’t believe I’ve never gotten around to writing about. Dead Guy Ale is with out a doubt Rogue Brewing’s staple beer. I can’t even start to give Rogue enough praise for what they do for the homebrewing community and their reputation speaks for itself so I won’t bother. As I’ve said before I always appreciate how informative Rogue’s website is in regards to ingredients and additional information on the brews they produce. With Dead Guy Ale we are working with a grain bill of Northwest Harrington, Klages, Maier Munich and Carastan Malts. Perle and Saaz Hops, and as (almost) always Rogue’s signature Pacman Yeast. This is another beer that has been provided by Lake Wine & Spirits, this time as part of their Citizen 4-pack concept.

Onto the point. Dead Guy Ale pours an attractive amber tinted copper hue, with red and brown hues adding depth to the appearance. Almost 3 fingers of off white head was produced when poured into the middle of the glass, though less is typically created. The head retention of this ale is usually somewhat minimum, but this time around a surprising amount of lacing was created. Smells of sweet malts, cereal grains & soft bitterness. Rich sweet malt plays front runner followed by gentle citrus and very soft bitterness in the flavor. The reasonably light body and smooth mouthfeel makes this Maibock much more quaffable than many of the style. Sweetness is evident and the prime character in this brew, as is expected for the style, but Dead Guy’s hop characters, while subtle in both citrus esters and bitterness, does a fantastic job of creating contrast and showing the unique approach that Rogue tends to take to brewing. At 6.5% ABV this very drinkable Maibock is almost sessionable and will be very approachable for most people. While Dead Guy is one of the more simple brews from Rogue it is a good example of the beauty that can be created from simplicity. Both an easy gateway brew for those not accustomed to craft beer and a great beer for easy drinking on both hot and cold days, making it just right for this snow storm. If you enjoy Bocks and are looking for a bit more flavor contrast you will be all over this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale