Max and I are forward thinking people. We’re smart, liberal, and tech savvy (well, that’s mostly Max). And we are proud to proclaim, as next generation Americans, that we stand against Valentine’s Day and all the expensive ceremony that accompanies it. Therefore, instead of spending $100 on dinner (for one), we spent $15 on beer. And it turned out to be our most successful beer week to date!
As Max is working diligently to introduce himself to previously unknown styles of beer, I considered it my responsibility to provide him with his first sour ale. Now, I won’t say that I spent a lot of time choosing the sour – I got the one that was on sale. But as it turned out, Hermitage Brewing Company’s One Door Flemish Style Sour Ale was a good starter for anyone who hasn’t tried a sour (I’m looking at you, everyone not in my immediate family). The texture was light and airy, and while the traditional tart bite was present, it was balanced by a certain sweetness, probably from the dominant cherry notes. I felt that there was a certain woodsy flavor, almost a cedar background to the beer. Max felt it was like drinking a tangy soda with a 7% ABV. We also decided that it would pair well with any and all Italian food, which would have the zest and spice to balance out the sourness. Possibly this was because we were eating pizza.
Our next choice was Tied House Brewing’s Cascade Amber – both beers are native to Northern California. Now the Cascade Amber started out entertaining, as the bottle read like a romance novel. Who knew an ale could have long crimson hair? I expected it to be a little spicy – instead, we found it to be extremely creamy. It lacked depth – the only real taste was of vanilla – and was almost the alcoholic (5.2% ABV) equivalent of cream soda. As odd as it may seem, we categorized this beer as a brunch beer. I know there aren’t a lot of you drinking your pints before noon, but the best thing with this beer would be waffles. Maybe a side of bacon. So next time you really don’t want to face the morning, but you have a few Eggos in the freezer – consider Cascade Amber. Currently on sale at BevMo, and you can read the full romance novel (or at least the short story equivalent) online.
Finally, we got to the piece de resistance…ROGUE. Max and I are both big fans of Rogue Ales, which I had the opportunity to visit during my last trip to Portland. You should all go, their beers are delicious. This particular bottle, First Growth Creek Ale, is one of their GYO brews (Grow Your Own – part of their booze revolution). They grow the hops, barley, and malts themselves, controlling the beer’s quality from start to finish. And I think it’s pretty hard to argue with the result. First Growth Creek Ale was actually similar to the One Door sour – both had cherry flavors and a tangy bite. However, the mouthfeel of the Rogue was (I think) much richer and more filling, with a burst of sour goodness mid-sip. There was also a nice taste of carmelized grain and a hint of peat moss, making the taste much more complex. Even the pour was different – rich and cloudy, and with a musty scent of wood in the rain. It would be perfect for a picnic, and at 6% ABV, you could still hike home.
Our Ratings – and yes, we will standardize these at some point.
One Door: 8
Cascade Amber: 6
First Growth Creek Ale: 7.3/8.4 (Emily preferred the Rogue!)
We apologize that we didn’t get through the draft beer – we made poor choices, and we apologize. However, we have been granted a second chance with our field trip to Stone Brewing Company in Escondido this weekend. Who could ask for anything more?
Until we write those bad boys up, spend your time with those you love – drinking. 🙂
It’s not often that I’m blown away by something rather predictable. An exception to this rule is the Hop Henge Experimental IPA from Deschutes. I’ve had a few experiences with the Portland, Oregon brewery in the past, and I have yet to be disappointed by anything with their name on it. Aside from it being out of the Deschutes brewery, I was sold on the label – a recreation of Stonehenge out of, you guessed it, hop bales. After reading the label, I’m still unclear as to what makes Hop Henge “experimental”.
Moving on to the more important part of the beer, the cap-topped IPA comes in at a robust 9% ABV. Hop Henge has a pleasant, but predictable, hoppy aroma of what you would expect from an IPA which surprised me little. I do admire it for its color, though. It pours smoothly into a natural amber color, leaving a thin head that recedes quickly.
This IPA goes through a bit of a transformation between when it crosses your lips to when it moves down your throat. It has an expected strong, hoppy kick on the tip of your tongue, morphs into a smooth, sweet middle, and finishes with a bit of crispy burnt toast. Hop Henge, like most IPAs, has a very strong presence, and would be paired well with a more mild-flavored meal. Emily suggested that it would go well with a variety of comfort foods, including, but not limited to, macaroni & cheese or chicken & dumplings.
Maybe it’s my predisposition to loving Deschutes, or maybe it’s the dependable nature of a good IPA, but I couldn’t get enough of Hop Henge. I would have gladly had several more glasses of it, had we not had other brews to sample.
I give Hop Henge a well-above-average 8.2
More to come in the next few days. Cheers!
ps- in other news, eventually we’ll get some better beer glasses. These will have to do for now. Sorry.