Review: Winter Ale from pFriem

Author: Jason Harris
December 21, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day nine in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Winter Ale from pFriem Brewing!

pFriem Brewing hails from Hood River, Oregon, a beer lover’s town that’s also known for Full Sail Brewing and Double Mountain Brewing. While pFriem might be slightly lesser known, the family-run brewery is known for producing high-quality ales that beer snobs all over the Pacific Northwest look forward to enjoying.

Winter Ale from pFriem pours an orangy-copper color that’s mostly see-through. There’s a very small head left at the top of the glass and moderate lacing. When you inhale Winter Ale, you pick up on some super aromatic hoppy notes with hints of spice, orange and even spruce.

pFriem Winter AlepFriem Winter Ale is 7.5% ABV and comes in at 65 IBUs.

How does it taste?

Winter Ale tastes exactly how it smells – it’s a yummy, sweet, citrusy ale with a clear pine finish. There’s a caramel sweetness that balances out this ale. This is definitely more on the IPA-side of winter warmers and is a beautiful beer with a fantastic smell and taste profile. The beer finishes with a delightful dry pine-like finish.

So, even though pFriem calls this a winter ale, this beer bucks the malty dark trend and presents a super hoppy pale ale/IPA combination that is delightful and memorable. This is an easy drinking beer that makes you want to order another to extend the joy.

Should I buy it?

Absolutely – look for it in 22 oz bombers and on draft at your local taphouse. If it’s not on tap, ask your bartender to order it so you have it on hand.

Review: High Voltage IPA from Gigantic Brewing

Author: Jason Harris
December 20, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day eight in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, High Voltage IPA  from Gigantic Brewing!

Gigantic Brewing is one of the newer breweries in Portland and hails from inner South East, just east of the Willamette River between the Ross Island and Sellwood bridges. The company is proud of their Gigantic IPA and seasonal beers that are made by the small team.

Today we look at High Voltage IPA, which is a blend of Mosaic, Citra and Cascade hops, which, according to the label, is balanced with Crystal Malt.

High Voltage IPA

High Voltage pours quite dark for an IPA – it’s barely clear and is a dark coppery amber color. It leaves no head whatsoever and hardly any lacing – meaning this beer is watery and light. Your nose picks up on hints of tropical fruit, spice and a little bit of citrus.

How does it taste?

High Voltage IPA starts out quite fruity and is quickly replaced with a roasty malt and a bit of a toffee taste. This ale is ridiculously dry throughout and the taste profile definitely matches the smells.

This beer is super flavorful but not overpowering. The trio of malts produce a taste that’s refreshing and fulfilling at the same time.

Should I buy it?

Yes. Without question. This is my second favorite beer of this twelve day series behind Ecliptic’s Filament Winter IPA.

Review: Red Elephant IRA from Laurelwood Brewing

Author: Jason Harris
December 19, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day seven in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Red Elephant IRA from Laurelwood Brewing!

Red Elephant IRARed Elephant IPA is a hybrid between a red ale and an IPA. In this case, Red Elephant uses the malts from Laurelwood’s popular Free Range Red and the hops from Green Elephant IPA to produce a hop-forward beer that has a nice malty backbone.

Red Elephant is 7.0% ABV and 70 IBUs. The hops comprise of Nugget, Amarillo, Centennial, Citra and Ahtanum.

How does it taste?

Red Elephant pours a hazy reddish-brown colour and has a head about an inch high. To your nose, you’ll pick up on floral and piney hops. This beer doesn’t smell very malty but is more aromatic of an IPA.

When you taste Red Elephant IRA, you pick up on the caramel malts shortly followed by citrusy and piney hops and grapefruit-like citrusy smells. This beer is a well-hopped red ale. I thoroughly enjoyed this ale and would easily order it again in the Laurelwood Brewpub on NE Sandy in Portland, where I had it last night.

Should I buy it?

You’ll find Red Elephant IRA in 6-packs or on draft at the Laurelwood brewpubs and where good beer is sold in Oregon.


Review: Bifrost Winter Ale from Elysian

Author: Jason Harris
December 18, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day six in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Bifrost from Elysian Brewing!

Elysian Brewing is based in Seattle and turns out really fantastic brews. The one small brewery was bought by big beer earlier in 2015, but the innovation hasn’t stopped from Elysian.

Today we take a look at their annual winter ale – BiFrost. Tale is 8.3% ABV and is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial and Styrian Goldings hops.

Elysian isn’t shy about the hop profile in this beer – it’s a strong, hoppy winter ale.

How does it taste?

I poured Bifrost from the 22 oz bomber you see here and it has a toasted bread scent – my wife reported that she immediately smelled grapefruit. I’d say it was similar to orange spice tea. Don’t let that fool you though – this is NOT an orangey tasting beer.

The beer pours a hazy orange with a big off-white head.

At first sip, you pick up on the sweet hoppiness that’s notable but not overwhelming. Then, the citrus and sweet flavors produce a lovely feel in your mouth. This is a well formulated, smooth beer that both my wife and I enjoyed.

Should I buy it?

As long as you’re ok with mild bitterness in a beer, you’ll love this holiday warmer from Elysian. I bought it at Safeway and I’ve seen it at most stores that sell bomber bottles.

Review: Santa’s Reinbeer from Vagabond Brewing

Author: Jason Harris
December 17, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day five in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Santa’s Reinbeer from Vagabond Brewery!

Santa's ReinbeerSanta’s Reinbeer is a lesser known holiday beer because it’s not bottled and it’s only available from the Vagabond Brewing taphouse and select Salem-area taphouses during the holiday months.

Billed as a “winter warmer with spices”, Reinbeer pours a brownish mahogany color. When poured, it leaves light lacing on the glass and has a two-fingered pale head at the top of the glass.

How does it taste?

When you sip Santa’s Reinbeer, you’re immediately greeted with smooth malty, nutty overtones. This ale isn’t overly carbonated and goes down easily. Then, the spice overtones kick in and give flavors of nutmeg and allspice.

I’m a fan of this beer because it’s not too sweet and not too malty, however, if you’re one who doesn’t like overly-spicy beers, this one will not appeal to your palette.

The spice force is strong with this one, beer Jedis.

Should I buy it?

Yes, it’s a great beer that Vagabond fans will love, granted you like medium-spicy ales.

Find it at Vagabond’s Taphouse at 2195 Hyacinth St NE #172, Salem, OR. Also, I’ve seen Santa’s Reinbeer on tap at Salem taphouses such as Heroes on South Commercial.

(Photo credit: Untappd user Rich C.)

Review: Pyramid Snow Cap

Author: Jason Harris
December 16, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day four in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Snow Cap from Pyramid Brewery!
Pyramid Snow CapToday we check out Snow Cap – a beer that is celebrating its 30th anniversary from Seattle-based Pyramid Brewery. Personally, I think Pyramid beers are hit and miss as this establishment is known for turning out beers that are universally approachable by a varying audience. Therefore, they don’t make many beers that snobs enjoy.

However, I’d argue that Snow Cap is one of their better beers and is a favorite winter beer of mine.

Available October through January, Snow Cap is a dark mahogany beer that’s 7.0% ABV and 47 IBUs. This beer pours a dark reddish brown and has no head whatsoever. It’s heavy on the caramel and roasted chocolate malts.

How does it taste?

To your nose – when poured into your pint glass, this beer smells of biscuit and light chocolate flavor. On your tongue, you’ll be surprised by the beers’ dryness.

Snow Cap starts off full and then ends with a sweet caramel malt finish that carries a sense of chocolate. This beer has a very slight hoppy aroma to your nose, but it’s super soft.

Pyramid’s Snow Cap is an easily drinkable winter warmer ale that qualifies as a must-have.

Should I buy it?

Yes, without question. I hope you love it too.

Review: Full Sail Wreck The Halls

Author: Jason Harris
December 15, 2016

Full Sail Wreck The HallsEditor’s Note: Today is day three in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love brought to me: Wreck The Halls for under my tree!

Today, we take a look at one of my favorite big breweries, Full Sail, out of Hood River, Oregon. The company’s annual holiday-time seasonal is called Wreck The Halls.

This holiday beer is a hybrid of an IPA and a winter warmer. Brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops, Wreck the Halls comes in at 6.5% ABV and 68 IBUs. It’s available, for the first time this year, in a 6-pack of 12 oz bottles and on draft at your local taphouse.

How does it taste?

Wreck the Halls pours a rich malty amber color and brings smells of cookies, raisins and dark wine. When you pour it, you get a frothy off white lacing. At first sip, this beer is super sweet and smells of a dry hopped IPA with a mild dry and somewhat sticky finish. When I taste this beer, I  definitely pick up on the grapefruit-like citrus notes and to me, it’s too strong.

Should I buy it?

If you like super citrus-y IPAs, yes. But for me, I’m not a fan of Wreck the Halls this year – there’s just too much competition out there with winter beers and this one is so lackluster I don’t recommend it.

Review: Gilgamesh Dark Prince

Author: Jason Harris
December 14, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day two in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

In today’s Twelve Days Of Brewing Christmas post, we highlight a brew from Gilgamesh Brewing. Gilgamesh is one of the oldest operating independent breweries in Salem, Oregon. The company started in the neighboring city of Turner, Oregon and moved to the industrial district of SE Salem a few years ago.

GIlgamesh Dark PrinceToday, let’s consider Dark Prince from Gilgamesh – a Cascadian Dark Ale, which means it’s a proprietary style of Oregon origin that’s heavy on hops and malt.

Now that we’ve established the medium where CDAs exist, let’s judge Gilgamesh’s Dark Prince. So – about that name – apparently someone at Gilgamesh has a crush on Will Smith, because it’s a thread that weaves many ales that come from the Salem brewery. “Fresh Prince” IPA, “DJ Jazzy Hef” and “Dark Prince” are all ales that stem from Will Smith roots.

 What does it taste like?

Dark Prince pours a dark amber colour. The amber colour dominates and this beer has almost no head – and the lack of carbonation in the first sip is instead dominated by nutty malty brilliance.

The dark grain backbone shows through heavily on this beer – it has almost no hoppy brilliance and instead comes through with dark grain flavors instead. In this beer, it’s almost as if the brewer chose grain and malt instead of hops, which is rare in a CDA – typically is BIG on hops at first and then rushes in the malt. Instead….Gilgamesh skipped the hoppy overtones and instead relied upon the aftertaste.

So, in a few words, Dark Prince from Gilgamesh is absolutely delicious.

Should I buy it?

Oh yes. Go now and buy thee. This beer gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from this beer nut.

You’ll find it at your local taphouse in draft. If you can’t find it. I have pity upon you.

Review: Ecliptic Filament Winter IPA

Author: Jason Harris
December 13, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today starts our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

Filament IPAIn today’s twelve days of Christmas celebrations entry, we look at a new-ish brewery in Portland called Ecliptic Brewing. Located in North Portland, Ecliptic is known for high quality ales no matter what time of year you check out their brewing line-up.

Typically ‘winter beers’ mean dark, malty beers that are also called winter warmers. They’re strong in alcoholic content and rely upon toasted malts do drive home, big, robust flavor.

Ecliptic bucks this trend with Filament Winter IPA. Filament pours a beautiful clear-amber color that has copper hues and a white foam.

The description on the bottle puts it very well:

As the winter sun hangs low in our sky, some 93 million miles away, solar filaments, giant arcs of cool, dense plasma explode from its surface. Filament Winter IPA celebrates this cosmic wonder. Pale, Munich and Caramel malts create a rich malt character with a honey-like flavor. A bounty of Crystal, Chinook and Centennial hops combine to lend spicy, citrus hop notes.

Filament IPA comes in at 7.2% ABV and has 70 IBUs.

How does it taste?

At first sip, you pick up on a slight grapefruit and citrus scents and a bit of pine. The flavor, in a word, is outstanding – as a bread-like taste comes in and finishes with a slight caramel malt after-taste.

This beer is super drinkable – and those who don’t like hop-forward bitterness should not be put off by the 70 IBUs – this is a well balanced beer that is not hoppy at all. It’s super smooth from start to finish.

Whereas some winter beers overdo it with the spices, Filament bucks this trend with a flavorful IPA with malts that provide a symphony of malt sweetness.

Should I buy Filament IPA?

Yes, absolutely. Pick up a bomber (22 oz) bottle or if you can find it on draft – order and enjoy.

Spotlight on Santiam Brewing “Govna’s Reserve”

Author: Jason Harris
December 5, 2016

The pirates over at Santiam Brewing are up to generating really unique ales, just in time for the holiday gifting season. I had the chance to go over to the brewery on Thursday, December 1 and witness the super limited edition bottles of Govna’s Reserve being hand-dipped in wax.

I was able to wax a handful of bottles myself – it’s a time intensive but fun process!

The first step involves waxing the cap of the bottle

And step two involves waxing the the neck of the bottle as a final touch.

Govna’s Reserve is available only in kegs and in a very limited bottle release and the ale is Pirate Stout that’s barrel aged and is imperial strength.

Govna’s Reserve is aged in rum and bourbon barrels for a minimum of six months. At the end of fermentation, the beer’s infused with coconut for a warm, rich taste.

The ale was debuted over the weekend in Portalnd at the Holiday Ale Festival and received high 4+ star ratings by those who rated it on Untappd.

To catch Guvna’s Reserve, head to the Santiam Brewing taproom or look for the ale at your favorite specialty beer store.