I think it’s safe to assume that many of my fellow Aleheads residing in the Northeast region share the same plight. While we’ve got a ton of beer around here, both local and from all over the country, the one area that always seems to be lacking is a Pacific Northwest representation. Sure, we’ve got plenty of Rogue and breweries like Widmer and Pyramid seem to pop of from time to time, but overall I feel like we’re missing out on what is clearly one of the best regions in the country for good beer. I will say that we’ve recently been blessed with the presence of Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing, as evidenced by my recent review of their Wassail, so maybe things are changing. Still, the fact that I can’t get Deschutes out my way is reason enough to get my panties all in a bunch. Thankfully, once a year, the good folks at Redbones BBQ in Somerville, MA go out of their way to bring in some of the best beers that the West Coast has to offer. Let’s see what the good Doctor got himself into last night.
First, I would like to reference the post that I’m sure everyone read yesterday titled – “Ask the Aleheads: Beers of the Northwest“. When I’m confronted with a beer-related uncertainty, I always make it a point to reach out to my fellow Aleheads for advice. The fact that some of our crew either lives or has spent time in the Northwest helps in this case, but even if I was taking a trip to Nepal I’d shoot a quick email to see if anyone had some thoughts on what I should be drinking. I think it’s important to do your research before embarking on any beer adventures. “Important” might be a tad ridiculous, but I don’t want to be that guy kicking myself the next day because I missed out on something special on the tap list. One nice thing about the internet age is that many bars publish weekly if not daily draught lists that can easily make their way around the interwebs for discussion. So, without further ado, here’s what I ended up with last night.
To start things off I ordered up a sampler of 4 beers that I’d never come across before. Aside from the Deschutes offering, which I would have ordered regardless, I’ll admit that I would have probably passed every one of these by if not for the advice that I received earlier in the day.
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (Bend, OR) – Not exactly a crowd pleaser among the Aleheads, but nonetheless it was recommended as a solid session beer that should be tipped back if only I had the time. That’s the great thing about a sampler – You’ll always have the time for at least one beer that wouldn’t be tops on your list. Nice nose, bits of citrus with fresh, floral hops. Nothing too overly complex, but drinkability is off the charts. If this is the most ordinary of offerings from this great brewery, I can only imagine what else they can produce.
New Old Lompoc Brewery Proletariat Red and LSD (Portland, OR) – First, let’s talk about the Proletariat Red. Just before Nurse Van Drinkale spilled roughly an entire pint of Allagash White all over our table, my sleeve, and our menus, she made quite an astute observation about this brew. To paraphrase, the Mrs. pointed out that it’s a red beer that tastes like a red. That may not seem like a great observation, but keep in mind that my wife doesn’t drink a wide array of beers and probably couldn’t pull an Amber beer out of a blind taste test at gunpoint. Add to this the fact that the beer glasses got mixed up in the spilling incident and I told her that it was a Pale Ale and you’ll understand how impressed I was. Anyway, this was a nice Red Ale that provided plenty of malty backbone to go along with a slightly bitter finish. A little plain for my tasted, but well done in any case.
The Lompoc LSD (Lompoc Strong Dark) provided a far more complex brew than the red. Lots of fruit, sweetness throughout, but balanced by some sticky hops and nice smokiness in the finish. Chewy and viscous, very impressed by this delicious Strong Ale. Highly recommend to anyone that finds themselves in the Portland area.
Silver City Brewing Co. Fat Scotch Ale (Silverdale, WA)- While it’s not called the Fat Slouch, as Slouch Six Pack so hoped it would be, this was a fine example of the style that still had a pretty cool name. Very rare for me to get a treat from Washington so I was psyched to check out this 9% beauty. Roasty, toasty, smokey – Those are the things that I want in every Scotch Ale and they’re abundant in the Fat Scotch. Plenty of booze, subtleties of spice, just an incredible example and one of the best I’ve had in a long time.
Alameda Black Bear Stout (Portland, OR)- After appetizers, a full plate of ribs, and a few warming brews in my belly, I wanted to cap things off with this Export Stout. No head to speak of up front, but the brew did supply a good level of lacing from beginning to end. Typical dark appearance with tons of roasted malts coming up from the glass. Mouthfeel is full for sure, but the effervescence gives just enough of a balance to make it more than drinkable. Boatload of hops in the finish bring this from a good Stout to a great Stout. Enjoyed every last sip.
Not to fault Redbones at all since supplies are extremely limited in this type of setting, but I was pretty bummed about missing out on two beers. First was the Deschutes Jubliale since it was regarded so highly by my fellow Aleheads. Apparently I missed that one by about a week. Second was the Green Flash Hop Head Red on cask. While not a Pacific Northwest brew, I was so looking forward to this beer and was crushed to find that Redbones had nothing left on cask at that moment. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. I also would have loved to try some of the brews from Cascade and Eugene City, but there’s only so much you can drink in a limited amount of time. All in all this was a fantastic night of sampling and I applaud my poor wife for sitting with me while I lifted glasses up to the light and shoved my nose into each beer every time she tried to speak. Even though she tried to drown me with her Allagash, I still appreciate the efforts.