Northwest Beer Review Northwest beer reviews Sat, 31 Mar 2012 05:30:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Deschutes Brewing The Abyss Imperial Stout 2008 Sat, 31 Mar 2012 05:30:10 +0000 I was lucky enough to be brought a bottle of Deschutes Brewing They Abyss from 2008. Wow.

I could just end the review there. Wow. But, that’s not why you come to the site now, is it?

Chocolate, coffee, black licorice charred molasses are all up front on the nose. As it warmed in the glass, a slight hint of fig came through. The tiny bubbles open up the alcohol warmth. Originally labeled as 11%, we’re guessing it’s much closer to 13% after about four years in the cellar.

Needless to say, this pours a syrupy dark brown that I’d qualify as about 50w20 or so. Definitely passes the stout hole test with ease. Showing its age, the head didn’t stick around long, but the deep brown, tight bubbles carried the warm alcohol upward.

First tastes were muted. Thick and viscous, the chocolate and coffee dominated. The bitterness matched that of a cheap cup of coffee, but the sweetness from the molasses and oak barrel aging balanced that out nicely. It finishes very dry and nearly chalky in the back of the mouth. As it warms up, the alcohol dryness definitely emerges.

Here’s the deal. When you’re drinking a beer that’s more than a year old, it’s going to do some funky things. This is a funky beer, but in the best possible way. If you see this in the stores, pick up four bottles or so and enjoy one each year and see how it changes.


Alaskan Brewing Birch Bock Sun, 18 Mar 2012 05:22:29 +0000 Fresh of the plane, the latest in Alaskan Brewing’s Pilot Series is a take on the traditional dopplebock. Birch Bock features an infusion of syrup boiled down from the birch tree’s sap, which apparently yields an 80-1 ratio of gallons of sap to syrup. I read a bit about the history of this while letting the pours open up. Fascinating stuff.

Alaskan Brewing Birch Bock pours a ruby creme color, red undertones on a cream soda yellow; not unlike maple syrup. A fine, tight lace pours alongside, which is pretty common for a dopplebock. These warming, heavy-bodied beers tend to be malt forward and low effervescence and this was inline with that.

A faint earthy sweetness hits the nose, but the emphasis is on the faint. I’m still working on training my nose, but it has a hint of orange peel oil, like when you squeeze the skin of an orange. Aside from that and a brown-sugar undertone, there’s not much on the nose of this.

But then it hits the lips. Medium-bodied, tight bubbles and the delicious syrup comes forward. Citrus notes from the hops balance out the sweetness to keep this in check. Overall it’s fairly decent and I enjoy when an established brewery takes a small risk.

And that’s what this is; a small risk. Roasty malts and a dryness come through over the top of the hops profile, which is good, but sometimes a good, mellow desert beer is what you need. This fills that void nicely. I’m not rushing out to get a case of it, but go try it, let it warm up a bit and sip it slow. The label puts this beer at 8.5% ABV, but I’d imagine a year in the cellar would bring up the heat a bit. So buy two bottles. One for in front of the last fire in the fireplace and one to bring out next year for the first one.

Three Skulls Blackbeard Dark Lager Sat, 17 Mar 2012 06:24:08 +0000 So, Three Skulls Brewing is a relatively new brewery here in the Northwest and they came out of the gates taking some risks (Bacon Ale anyone?) and I’ve enjoyed a couple of their offerings in the past. That’s why I was excited to pop a cap on the Blackbeard Dark Lager.

Pouring a caramely brown like that’s a little deeper than a soda, it features a dense foam head that quickly dissipated. It opens with a peaty maltness on the nose, almost musty. Also comes across as a dryness that coats the nostrils. Underlying chocolate as well. I’m probably over thinking it a bit, but if you try, you’ll find the chocolate, citrus and a bit of oak/wood.

First tastes are very malt forward. Roasty and a touch of sweetness comes through. The hops profile comes through as citric acid, not fruit sweet, but tangy on the side of the tongue. Overall it’s pretty sessionable and mild. At a really reasonable price point, this is something worth keeping in the fridge so there’s always something good and cold on hand.

Have you had the bacon beer yet? Three Skulls also makes a Blood Orange Wit that is AMAZING for cooking with. Look for a review of that to come soon.

As the weather warms, I’m looking forward to more good, solid lagers and this is one of them.

Elysian Brewing’s Nibiru Fri, 17 Feb 2012 23:15:19 +0000 After a stressful week at work, I took a break to devote some attention to Nibiru, which is the first of Elysian’s 12 Beers of the Apocalypse series. Nibiru is a Belgian tripel-style brew that’s been infused with yerba mate, which is a highly caffeinated herb. Not much wrong yet. Beer and caffeine. I’m sold.

First take

Did a small pour to get the nose going. Has the traditional malty sweetness of a tripel and there’s hints of the yerba mate on the nose, but it comes through faintly, like the lid of a Lipton bottle. Pours clear and deep golden with a good amount of bubbles. There was an earthiness to the smell too that I thing comes from the yerba mate. But I’ll be honest, that’s not a flavor I’m used to.

First taste

Almost sparkling cider dry, but a bit more body and slightly viscous. Has a lot of the traditional tripel flavors. Slightly hoppy, slightly malt sweet. But underneath it all is the dry mouth from the tea. If you’re a tea drinker, the underlying notes of the herbs will be more prevalent.

Side note, I am really excited to see what Elysian does with the rest of this series. I am a fan when the local big boys experiment and take risks. So far this one is a risk, but one I could see myself taking again.

So, Nibiru is a solid change up from the tripels that other local breweries are doing. As we march toward the apocalypse, I’ll likely have a full array of these beers littered behind me.

Elysian Brewing Nibiru

The first in the "12 Beers of the Apocalypse" series, Nibiru is a Belgian tripel brewed with yerba mate.



Washington Belgianfest 2012 Sat, 04 Feb 2012 22:23:08 +0000 Northwest Beer Review will be at Belgianfest 2012 in Seattle this year. We’re looking forward to sampling some super-rare and experimental brews from the northwest. Over at the Seattle Beer Blog, you can find a complete list of Belgianfest 2012 beers, but here are a couple of special items we’re looking forward to.

  • Black Widow from Wingman Brewers. Described as a dark Belgian strong ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. This beer also weighs in at 11.4% ABV. I’m interested to see how the CDA trend carries over to the Belgian style.
  • Ferme noire Cascadian Dark Sasion from Elysian. Elysian is also bringing a dark ale, but uses Saison yeast. I’m not a lambic/saison fan usually, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the maltiness and dryness play nicely with each other.
  • Frosty “The Waldman” from Georgetown Brewing. Boosted with 10 lbs of molasses per barrel, plus a helping of cinnamon and nutmeg has this one on my must try list for sure.

Check back for pictures and maybe even a video or two from the show floor and make sure to follow us on Twitter @nwbeerreview.

First up for team NW Beer Review is Black Widow from Wingman Brewing. Huge Cabernet on the nose. Greg says it’s like carbonated wine. For Eric, it has almost a root beer finish. The 11.4% ABC hangs with you a while too.

OK, sometimes a line is worth it. Black Raven’s bourbon barrel aged La Petit Mort was definitely that time. Evokes a heavy bodied, yet light Bourbon. Definite vanilla and coal notes. Finishes like an effervescent Bourbon. Greg says it’s missing the beer-like qualities and carries through too much Bourbon. Good thing he is the one that waited in line…

Special entry from @bangfalse for the Elysian saffron sour wheat ale. Good, balanced sourness plays well with the wheat and the classic Belgian flavors. The saffron is subtle, on the verge of being unnoticable. A beautiful slightly cloudy appearance completes the package on a very nice and unique beer.

Wow. Just had my face rocked by Snipes Mountain. Dark Strong brings a Warhead-like sourness to every part of my palette. Not yogurt sour, but a rough lemon bitterness, which does not match the dark color or slightly heavy mouth feel.

New Belgium Brewing at Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012The beers at the Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012 were a little heavy.Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012Silver City Brewing at the Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012Odin's brewing at the Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012Justin Yorke and Liana Shanes at Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012Thor's Equinox from Odin's Brewing at the Washington Beer Lover's Belgianfest 2012.

Washington Cask Beer Festival Sat, 09 Apr 2011 16:31:36 +0000 Northwest Beer Review is headed to the Washington Cask Beer Festival today. Our friends over at Washington Beer Blog have the full cask list for you.

What are you excited to try? We’ll be posting photos and video from the event. Don’t forget to follow along in real time on Twitter at @nwbeerreview.


Coming soon… Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:27:02 +0000 A beer review site dedicated to the finest brews the Northwest has to offer.

Lucky Lager Beer

Hint: It’s not this. Well, maybe it is.