Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Esmeralda Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dOne of the best things about joining the NW Peaks Mountain Beer club with a friend (in this case Annie S.), is that you don’t need to decide which of the 2 beers that NW Peaks is producing that month  you are going to take home, you just take both. The added benefit is that when they are 2 similar beers, you get to try them side by side. Back in March, they did “adjunct beers”. I know the term, thanks to Budweiser, has a bad connotation, but the reality is that any beer brewed with more than just grain, water, yeast and hops contains adjuncts and many of them are delicious. This project gave us the Granite Oat Ale (reviewed here) and the Esmeralda Ale.

From the NW Peaks website:

The name. The mountain. Esmeralda is located in the Teanaway River drainage just S of Ingalls peak and SW of Mt Stuart – one of our favorite areas. It’s on the other side of the Teanaway River from its beastly neighbors and is a much easier approach/climb than that of it’s neighbors. The “class 2″ trek to the summit offers some great views of the massive Mt Stuart and the Stuart range and is part of a great loop for a day hike.

The story of two experiences. Because of its popularity from past renditions, we bring Esmeralda Ale back for another late winter mountainBeer. Of course it is always fun (or not) to remember the comedy of errors that was our first batch brewed on our current system (Esmeralda Ale), while now we have everything dialed in.

The Beer. Esmeralda is one of our ‘adjunct’ beers for March. The adjuncts in Esmeralda are corn and molasses that create a unique character. The corn provides a nice sweetness and smoothness and complements the molasses notes. Esmeralda was fermented with an English ale yeast adding a smooth fruity flavor on top. With very little few hop notes, the slight grain sweetness and dark sugar properties are uniquely featured.

Malts: ESB, munich, corn, special B, biscuit, carafa 2. Hops: Apollo and Goldings. Fermented with British Ale yeast. OG/TG 1.058/1.016 ~5.5% ABV


The beer pours amber/orange with a fizzy white head. Strong notes of molasses, corn and malt are on the nose, giving this beer an almost syrup like character. The initial taste is slightly sweet with hints of molasses yielding quickly to strong notes of corn before transitioning into a malty finish that lingers and has notes of caramel interspersed. Nicely balanced, flavorful and different; probably not a beer that everyone will enjoy, but it should appeal to a larger audience because of a distinct lack of hop character. This beer is very different from just about anything that is on the market from any other brewery in the Northwest, so I would highly recommend trying this one if it every makes another appearance.

NW Peaks Esmeralda Ale gathers up a crew and skips in with 3 yellow brick roads out of 5.

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