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: Vicious Mosquito IPA from Sunriver Brewing

Author: Jason Harris
February 29, 2016

Mosquito IPA“West Coast IPA” is a term that is thrown around in Oregon so much that it’s almost useless at this point. Even so, I was excited to review my first beer from Sunriver Brewing, a newer brewer in Central Oregon. Vicious Mosquito IPA is the company’s flagship IPA and I was pleased to discover it in 20 ounce bottles here in the Willamette Valley.

How does it taste?

I’m not sure where the name came from, but I’m sure there’s a story there! This beer pours almost clear and has a very floral, citrusy smell. This IPA is graced by five different hops including Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe.

When you first sip this brew, you are hit in the face with a grapefruit-like, overwhelming punch of hops. It’s a punch that is brief, but it overwhelms your palette and leaves nothing in the way of malt kick to counter the hop attack.

It’s too much of a strong hop taste and I don’t like it. This, coming from an IPA fan.

Should I buy it?

No, skip it. If you’re truly curious, get a taster.

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 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!!!

Review: Deschutes Brewing Chasin’ Freshies [Fresh Hop]

Author: Jason Harris
October 19, 2012

Deschutes Brewing knows their stuff when it comes to fresh hop beers – in fact, last year they had the most amazing event where they debuted 5 different fresh hop editions of their best beers.

This year, the company is bottling two fresh hop beers, the always great Hop Trip Ale and a brand new one called Chasin’ Freshies, which is an IPA, not just a straight pale ale.

 

Weighing in at 7.2% ABV and a very low 60 IBU, this beer features fresh hops that are rushed from Goschie Farms (from just outside Salem, Oregon) to Bend. According to the site, this special type of Cascase hops is an heirloom strain, from one field, restored from the original rhizome developed at Oregon State University so many years ago.

As you pour Chasin’ Freshies, it’s astounding at how clear this IPA is..as most IPAs are copper in color. This beer is simple, crisp and clean – and displays the hops so well. Most IPAs (especially here in the Norhtwest) are a little heavy and way bitter. This is a clean and smooth IPA that just lets the hops glide onto your tongue.

I’ve had 3 fresh hop beers so far this year, and Chasin’ Freshies is by far the best.

So, how does it taste, it’s bright, fresh and utterly amazing. The hops taste of a citrus quality with a little tropical hint as well. The beer is quite fragrant to the nose. Like Jon says, it’s “super drinkable with a simple but clean malted-rich cracker malt base”.

Head down to your favorite pub or bottle shop and pick up some Freshies today.

 

Review: Watershed IPA from Oakshire Brewing

Author: Jason Harris
October 3, 2012

Oakshire Brewing is a brewery based in Eugene, Oregon that has been making a name for itself in the last year or two. Most Oregon beer snobs have likely heard of them, as their ales are excellent and consistently good.

Watershed IPAToday’s review will be of a new (to me) India Pale Ale called Watershed IPA from Oakshire Brewing. This ale is available year-round and is sold in kegs and also in 22-oz bottles, which is how I consumed it.

Watershed IPA pours very orange-y in color. I can’t find what hops are used in the ale’s brewing process, but the label says it’s 7.1% ABV and has 75 IBUs. To the nose, the beer has a fantastic scent of citrus hops with a bit of malt for a very balanced aroma. There’s a bit of carbonation in this IPA that gives it a nice bubbly appearance.

Upon first taste, you get just a hint of bitterness from those yummy hops, however it is not overpowering (read: it doesn’t cause bitter beer face – far from it). I also picked upon a nice hint of pine, herbs and maybe even slight grapefruit and then the crystal malt hits, making for a very nice drink.

 

Watershed is the smoothest IPA I’ve had in a very long time. Even my wife, who likes lighter beers, found it to be pleasant. I found Watershed to be so drinkable – which is a bit dangerous considering its high alcohol count. The lingering of the caramel sweetness leaves you wanting another sip.

Watershed IPA would go perfectly with a nice hamburger or steak. This beer is highly recommended if you are a fan of IPAs.

Review: Maui Brewing Company Big Swell IPA

Author: Jason Harris
July 17, 2011

Editor’s note: This post begins a four part series that will feature four brews from the islands, specifically Maui and the Maui Brewing Company.

I am positively a huge fan of IPAs. It’s likely my favorite style of beer. That said, I’m pretty picky on Imperial Pale Ales and I only have a handful that I get again and again.  Will Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Company join that list?  Let’s find out.

First of all, Maui Brewing Company comes from my most favorite vacation spot on the globe: Maui, Hawaii. I’ve heard great things about Maui Brewing Company and know of the company because they came to the Oregon Brewers Festival last year where I had a brew of theirs. This brewery has some fans in Portland, Oregon, which is why I know of them.

Big Swell IPA has a slogan that I dug from the beginning of the buying experience: “Big, Hoppy, Bold, Smooth, And Hoppy…Did We Mention Hoppy”. I mean, with expectations like that, this brew better own up.

The hops for Big Swell IPA come from the Northwest including Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe and a few others.Big Swell IPA comes in at an ABV of 6.8%, so it’s a sipping beer and a not so bitter IBU rating of 50+

At first sip, this beer does taste very flavorful. I wouldn’t say bold, but smooth and hoppy is the way to go. Bold to me sounds overpowering and like getting a sucker punch right in the kisser.

Big Swell IPA is smooth and flavorful. As advertised, the malt is the first flavor that your mouth picks upon. Then the hop flavor, a bit floral but more just punchy, kicks and makes for a very balanced drink.

Big Swell IPA is a very nice balance of all the ingredients. I was sad when I finished my can (yes can…this beer is not bottled) I desired more of the flavor of this beer.

I can easily say that Big Swell IPA will make the shortlist mentioned above. This beer is amazing and is a very very good IPA any beer lover would enjoy.

Review: Lagunitas IPA

Author: Jason Harris
November 20, 2010

With this review, we begin a new series of reviews, this time of Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California.  Lagunitas is sort of a cult favorite up here in the Pacific Northwest.  We are a pretty territorial bunch up here, typically preferring beers that are made locally (like within 20 miles); but the Petaluma brewery has some fans up this way.

So, with that, lets take a look at Lagunitas IPA.  Their take on the India Pale Ale is an interesting one.  Here’s how the brewery’s website describes their IPA:

India Pale Ale
Thanks for choosing to spend the next few minutes with this special homicidally hoppy ale. Savor the moment as the raging hop character engages the imperial qualities of the Malt foundation in mortal combat on the battlefield of your palate!

So, they describe it as super hoppy.  To me, this would imply bitter and therefore uber yummy.

However, I had a 22-ounce bomber of this IPA and I was thoroughly disappointed.  This beer is not very hoppy at all – in fact, it tastes like a weak pale ale.  A barkeep could have served me this beer and told me it was a pilsner and I wouldn’t have flinched.

Lagunitas IPA is very pale in color.  It is almost tan, again, like a pilsner.

I guess up here in the Pacific Northwest, where we grow hops and wear flannel and like our coffee strong, this IPA doesn’t cut it.

Also, I’m being brutally honest here and perhaps I’m missing something.  Are you a Lagunitas fan – can you shed some light and perhaps show me the way?  Or am I justified in my dislike for this IPA?

Review: Pelican Brewing India Pelican Ale

Author: Jason Harris
November 7, 2010

Pelican Brewing, as said before, is located on the Oregon Coast in Pacific City.  This amazingly beautiful spot on the beach is augmented by the fact that there is a very strong brewing presence in town in Pelican Pub and Brewing.

Today’s Pelican ale we are evaluating is India Pelican Ale.  This brew is named after the mascot of Pelican Brewing, Phil the Pelican.  This IPA (amongst my favorite type of ale) is made with Cascade hops, giving it a noticeably sweet aroma.  However, this isn’t a sweet citrusy beer, the hops are balanced with a mild malty flavor that provides a bit of spice.

At first sip, India Pelican Ale has a strong hoppy bitterness.  You can definitely tell that Pelican Brewing uses a robust mix of hops to give an initial bitter sting.  However, India Pelican Ale transitions quickly to being a smooth tasting balanced beer.

Any IPA lover (even the picky ones) will feel at home with an India Pelican Ale in their hands.  It’s a familiar taste, making this brew a very good example of what any Oregon IPA should strive to me.

Review: Alaskan Amber Ale

Author: Jason Harris
May 26, 2010

Alaskan Amber is from Alaskan Brewing of Juneau, Alaska.

Alaskan Amber looks more pale in color in the bottle I had than the image on the right.  However, even though I was expecting a Pale flavor, this is very much a classic Amber ale.  It has enough malt and hops to bring forward a flavorful sip that is sure to satisfty.

This ale is a perfect beer going into summer, as it has enough flavor to keep you satisfied, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed.  I can easily see this beer going well with a salmon or other white meat on the grill.

I have also had the Alaskan IPA which is a healthy, hoppy beer, so Alaskan is a beer that comes highly recommended.  The guys and gals up in Juneau know what they are doing when it comes to the brewing!  Nice job guys!