Archive for December, 2015

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: McTarnahan’s Amber Ale

Author: Jason Harris
December 9, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the eleventh in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

McTarnahan’s Amber Ale gains its name from one of the first investors to Portland Brewing Company. This beer pours amber/reddish in color, with about two inches of fuzzy head on the top of the glass.

photo - Pyramid MacTarnahan's Amber Ale

How does it taste?

McTarnahan’s Amber smells of lemon zest, grapefruit and other citrus with a hint of toasted nuttiness and toffee. The beer isn’t overtly strong in smell, which foreshadows it’s taste profile.

To your tongue, you’ll pick up on the light floral hoppy notes. Portland Brewing says they use Cascade hops in the brewing process and I’m estimating that its not in high quantity because this beer is a little bland overall. Its light body and low ABV would suggest the same.

Focusing back on taste again, there are lingering notes of grapefruit, lemon and maybe a bit if pine bitterness. Again, this isn’t a very hoppy/bitter beer – all the tastes and flavors are subdued.

Should I buy it?

Honestly, no. As far as Ambers go, there are so many other options on the market, such as Full Sail Amber (previously reviewed last week).

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: Deschutes River Ale

Author: Jason Harris
December 8, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the tenth in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

Deschutes River Ale, from Deschutes Brewing, is a session ale, which is an easy drinking brewing style.

According to Beeradvocate, their definition is:

Any beer that contains no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish – a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication.

From my experience, session ales are super flavorful and not as strong in alcohol. One of my favorites is Full Sail’s Session Black IPA.

River Ale

What does it taste like?

This particular beer, Deschutes River Ale, pours golden and clear. the aroma isn’t overpowering but is complex and pleasing with hints of orange, lemon and herbal essences. The brew tastes of slightly toasted malt with hints if citrus, orangey hops. There’s hardly any bitterness, but someone who’s used to Coors Light would notice it.

Deschutes River Ale is floral and a little bit fruity but it has enough malty influence that makes for a balanced, good drinking ale.

Should I buy it?

As a beer lover, I’d actually recommend Session Ale from Full Sail as a first session ale. But for mainstream beer drinkers who are new to craft beer, Deschutes River Ale is a perfect entry point.

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: Portland Brewing IPA

Author: Jason Harris
December 7, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the ninth in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

I’ve been a fan of Portland Brewing for years, before they were acquired and integrated into the Pyramid family of breweries. The brewery has a long acquisition story of being bought and sold. For the scoop on that, I’ll refer you to Wikipedia.

Portland Brewing lives on because as a group, they produce really good brews. Today, we’ll take a look at Portland Brewing IPA.

Portland Brewing IPA

How does it taste?

Wow, where do I start? With 5 different types of hops and 5 different types of malt, there’s a lot going on with this beer. But, don’t let the quantity of that ingredient list make you believe this beer tries too hard. It doesn’t.

Portland Brewing IPA pours a golden-almost reddish color with a sizable head that leaves moderate lacing on the glass.

To the nose, this beer gives off the smells of a light caramel malt, the hops are earthy and grassy. If you’ve had an English IPA, you’ll know what I’m describing.

In this IPA, there are some hints of malty sweetness, but it doesn’t last long.

This is a classic bitter IPA. The hops are strong with thing one, overwhelming your palette from the malty sweetness you first picked up on. Finally, there are some obvious aromatic tinges, but mostly it’s just bitter.

Should I buy it?

If you love a classic West Coast IPA, then you’ll love Portland Brewing’s IPA. It’s available in 22 oz bombers and on draft.

Editor’s note: This is the eighth in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

Today we’re looking at Mirror Pond Pale Ale, perhaps the most well known beer from Deschutes Brewing other than Black Butte Porter.

Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Named after Mirror Pond that winds through downtown Bend, Oregon, this pale ale is popular because it’s easy drinking and smooth. Mirror Pond Pale Ale is available widely in 6 packs of 12 oz bottles, 22 oz bombers and on draft.

What does it taste like?

Mirror Pond Pale Ale combines four different malts and Cascade hops to give it a unique taste. This beer pours a clear golden color that leaves little to no lacing on the glass.

When you first taste Mirror Pond, your tongue senses the gentle hoppy-ness first, which can be described as more floral than citrus. There’s a hint of pine on the palette to accompany the caramel aroma.

When I first started drinking Mirror Pond Pale Ale, I remember it being more hoppy. I estimate that Deschutes Brewing has toned down the hops to maximize this beer’s widespread appeal.

Should I buy it?

Yes. If you like a smooth drinking mildly hoppy pale ale that is plain tasting and goes down easy. If you want a more interestingly tasting beer with amped bitterness or malt complexity, then skip Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: Petrus Aged Red

Author: Jason Harris
December 5, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

I was recently in San Francisco for a business trip and at local pub, the wait staff announced Petrus was having a tap takeover. I’m always up for trying something new so I asked for Petrus Aged Red.

This beer, crafted in Belguim, is made by De Brabandere

Petrus Aged Red pours a deep red hue with no lacing or head at all. The brew iss 8.5% ABV so it’s a stronger, sour ale.

How does it taste?

The aroma of Petrus Aged Red is overwhelmingly tart with strong notes of cherry, masking the sour flavor that should hit you first. This brew smells exactly like a cherry wine.

Then, when you sip the beer, the cherry dissipates fast and the sour notes kick in.

This beer is very hard to pinpoint: it slaps you in the face at first with cherry sweetness, then finishes dry and a little lackluster.

I was unimpressed by Petrus Aged Red and actually asked to send it back. I had a full pint glass and just found it repulsive.

Then, to my surprise, the Petrus distributor came over to our table and asked me about my experience. She explained that the Petrus brewers are a huge fan of blending, meaning combining their beers. She brought over a Petrus Aged Pale. I blended the two 50/50 and found that I liked the pairing! It was the perfect combination of two beers that by themselves left me disappointed.

Should I buy it?

Sure, if you are willing to buy two pints and can blend them. Or otherwise, order pale and aged red with a buddy and blend them 50/50.

I think on its own, Petrus Sour Red is unimpressive and repulsively sweet.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

For today’s Advent ale review, we’re heading back to Bend, Oregon to try out Pinedrops IPA. Let me preface this review with the fact that I’ve had many, many IPAs over the years. I’m pretty picky when it comes to IPA and it takes a notable taste to make me excited.

With that, let me introduce you to Pinedrops IPA. It’s pretty darn special because of how it’s created.

How does it taste?

In three words: pretty damn good.

Deschutes Pinedrops IPA pours a surprisingly clear golden color with a very light head on the top. To your nose, you smell the pine along with spruce with a hint of grass.

Pinedrops IPA

This beer is as much a treat to your nose as it is to your tongue. It’s brimming with atmosphere and flavor. It tastes a little dry at first. There’s no hoppy punch-you-in-the-face action going on with this IPA. Its strength is its subtle flavor and experience. There’s a slight grapefruit taste followed by a unique pine aftertaste.

With the mix of tree like freshness including pine, spruce and herbal hops that remain in your palette, the formula is complete with the light sweet and graham cracker tastes of the brew. What remains is a dry and crisp hoppy lingering taste on your tongue.

This beer is complex yet simple. It doesn’t try hard…but it’s incredibly tasty.

Should I buy it?

OMG YES. It’s worth the extra money you’ll pay for this limited edition ale. Get it, share it and let me know what you think of it!!!

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: Full Sail Amber

Author: Jason Harris
December 3, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to review for some time.

At Pints and Steins, we cover Full Sail Brewing on a regular basis as it’s a favorite brewery. One of Full Sail’s most popular beers is Full Sail Amber and it is well known for a reason: it was Oregon’s first amber ale.

How does it taste?

In yesterday’s review, we discussed Stormbreaker’s Mississippi Red. Full Sail’s Amber is similar in taste profile. When you first pour it, this amber is a deep orange/red-ish color that can be seen through. It’s pretty fizzy and bubbly, suggesting high amounts of carbonation.

Any amber or red ale is an interesting balance of hoppy sweetness and malt-earthy tones. Full Sail absolutely nails this balance with their amber. The cascade and Hood hops greet your tastebuds at first followed by a smooth malty aftertaste. Again, like Mississippi Red, Full Sail Amber has caramel notes that make it distinctive versus other brews in the category.

Should I buy it?

I’d recommend you buy a six pack, no doubt. This is a sharable beer that will appease any craft beer fan. Even if you’re a Coors Light or pilsner fan, try an amber ale as it’s not overly bitter and it is a great introduction to craft beer.

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: Stormbreaker Mississippi Red

Author: Jason Harris
December 2, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to try for some time.

Stormbreaker Brewing isn’t as well known as other Portland breweries, but this institution has a local reputation of producing fantastic ales. Located on Mississippi Ave in Portland, Stormbreaker’s pub is fantastic. The staff is always friendly and are very urban Portland hipster.

mississippi red

Today we’re discussing Mississippi Red, a red ale that comes in at 5.8% ABV and a mild 29 IBUs. This beer is available on tap at Stormbreaker’s pub and in limited availability in 22 oz bottles.

How does it taste?

Mississippi Red pours an opaque and leaves a small white head that’s sudsy. Your nose picks up on floral hops and the toasted malts.

At first sip, you sense a hoppy presence, more so than a 29 IBU rating indicates.  Then, the sweet caramel malts kick in for a toasty malty finish.

This is a well balanced and nicely hopped subtle beer.

Should I buy it?

Yes you should. I think this beer will appeal to a wide variety of beer fans who will enjoy it’s floral taste and smooth finish.

2015 Advent Beer Calendar: Pray For Snow from 10Barrel

Author: Jason Harris
December 1, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the third in the Beer Advent Calendar 2015 series. Likewise, I’m going to be posting a beer review each day. Some will be Christmas or Winter ales and other selections will be beers I’ve been wanting to try for some time.

Today let’s travel back to Bend, Oregon and visit 10Barrel. This brewery generated waves in the Central Oregon brewing community when, in January, it was bought by Anheuser-Busch.

Despite being owned by a large corporation, 10Barrel is still doing routinely pumping out fantastic beers and Pray For Snow is one of them.

Pray for Snow is 10Barrel’s fall beer that comes out every November. It’s a strong beer, coming in at 7.6% ABV and it’s moderately hoppy at 75 IBUs. Pray for Snow is available in 22 oz bombers and in a 6-pack of 12 oz bottles.

How does it taste?

Pray For Snow pours a deep, dark brown. It leaves a ton of lacing on the glass after the head dissipates.

When you sip Pray For Snow, the smooth malty tones overwhelm your senses followed by a sweet hoppy finish that can only be described as earthy.

The aromas are quite strong with this beer, making you think it’ll be overly complex, but its taste is simple and smooth. If you’re a fan of

This strong ale has a few different flavors going on, but it’s not overly complex and Deschutes is careful to make this beer to seem like it’s trying too hard. Each component of the flavor profile compliments the other.

According to the 10Barrel web site, 10Barrel has used 5 different malts and used new hops this year. It’s profile this year is less fruity and more herbal and hoppy. I dig it.

Should you buy it?

I’d try this beer at a pub first before committing to a 6-pack. If you’re feeling experimental, buy the 22oz bomber.