2010 Washington Beer Fest: Brouwer’s Cafe
Yet again, Brouwer’s Cafe rises to the occasion and presented local beer drinkers with the best of local beer. An entire 5 day stint dedicated to Washington state brewers. From Naked City to Silver City, Peaks to Paradise, Snipes Mountain and Iron Horse, it was a tap list to remember.
This post will be more informal then our other event reviews: less time = less beer. One subject that absolutely must be breached is the recent trend in WA to infuse tea with beer. Our first experience was at Naked City, who, in the summer months, released an incredibly refreshing Ginger Peach Hefe where all of the the ginger and peach flavors came from infused herbal tea bags. This night, we must give honorable mention to Port Townsend Brewing Co. for their Green Tea Golden Ale. We are generally not inclined to jump on the golden ale train, but PT gave it a twist and the tea like essence really came through. Several people at our table voted this their favorite of the night. It is flavorful, clean and aromatic. The earthy green tea flavors really pop in the nose and playfully mingle with the light ale malts in the finish.
Yet another example came to us via Epic Ales Mathilda. Though we have very little information about the ingredients used, Timperial’s love for both tea and beer seemed most inspired by this concoction. It took some warming up, but this one seemed to grow on us like Ca…stan…za (Seinfeld reference, deal with it). Initially, there was questions about…chamomile…no…mint…possibly both? It was light in color and the epitome of curious in flavor. Respect for ingenuity.
Der Blokken, a brewery out on Bremerton Island which recently opened showcased their Brown Porter. I thought I was ordering an IPA and despite the mix up, was pleasantly surprised. Dark and chocolaty, it had some bittering qualities and a perfect body. Not too thin, not to syrupy, just right!
Next, and is this really a surprise, but Black Raven’s All Washington Fresh Hops was amazing! It tasted like peaches with a perfect pairing of a bittering hop profile.
The Iron Horse Fresh Hop was a no brainer for Timperial, who sampled said beverage at the Yakima Fresh Hop fest 2 years ago and was floored. This years version may or may not be the same in recipe, but surely produced a similar reaction as the ’08 did in him. A near perfect example of a well balanced wet hopped IPA. It’s a cloudy dark amber with amazing lacing. The flavor profile is overwhelmingly syrupy sweet with a slight raw hop skunkiness in the nose and flavor. A sizable pine profile accompanies the cannabus in both fronts as well. Ultimately, very smooth in the mouth and a near perfect finish with little dryness and a lingering malt quality that rears many smiles.
Snipes 2 Fresh was another selection that took little to no effort to choose. If you live in WA and drink fresh hop beers, you have most likely tasted something that Snipes head brewer Chris Miller has had a hand in. He is the local fresh hop guru in these parts and has most recently assisted in the production of Black Raven’s and Naked City’s fresh hop IPAs. This version, like Iron Horse’s had a green hop skunkiness and a respectable pine nose. There was enough residual sweetness to make me happy, but not nearly on the plane of IHB. Here, bitterness takes the reigns above and beyond anything else. This is a great example of balance in a fresh hop and would be a supreme example for the newcommer.
At the recommendation of Brouwer’s manager Ian, a Yakima IPA 1 was ordered. Apparently, this is a different brew than the bottled version bearing the same name. It was clear bronze in color with a stark white head. I felt that this would have been a much more appropriate beer to begin with than to follow all of the above. It seemed a bit thin, but the malt core had some legs. This was a bitter bomb of an IPA with very little floral hop flavor. The malt profile made a gallant attempt at bringing balance, but inevitably it failed to compete against the bitter power that assaulted the back of the tongue well into the aftertaste.
Let us know which ones were your favorites!