Beer of the Week: Anacortes Galaxy Pale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitl4edThe final beer in the DNA project is another pale ale, this time by Anacortes Brewing using Galaxy hops. Galaxy hops are described as “Australian high alpha dual purpose triploid cultivar with a marked and unique hop aroma, described as a combination of citrus and passionfruit. The initial aromas and flavors are quite intense, but these moderate as the beer matures.” The beer clocked in at 5.5% ABV.

The beer pours hazy yellow in color with strong notes of passion fruit and grain on the nose, reminding me a bit of Sam Adams Summer Ale without the lemon notes. Lots of citrus up front on the palate of this beer, dominated by lemon and passion fruit. The hops show well and linger for a long time before yielding to a slight malt sweetness as the beer fades on the palate with very little bitterness. Easy drinking, a beer that is perfect for the back deck on a warm summer day.

Anacortes Galaxy Pale jets in with a solid 4 Milky Ways out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Anacortes Mai Oh Maibock

By Iron Chef Leftovers

This is the first Anacortes beer that I ever had, fist trying it way back in the first spring that I lived in Seattle and starting my love affair with Anacortes brewing. Virtually no one in the Northwest makes a Maibock so that was what originally drew me to the beer. It takes guts to make a beer that is the opposite of hoppy in the land of hops, and Anacortes is up to that task.

From the Anacortes website:

Mai Oh Maibock

OG 1.070 / 6.5% ABV / 30 IBU

This golden seasonal version of the classic bock style is malty with a delicate hop character from German Perle, Tettnang and Hallertau varieties. Named in honor of Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus’ classic exclamation.

brewery_10The beer pours golden yellow in color with light notes of grain and hints of citrus on the background of the nose. Slightly sweet on the initial sip, with a nice long grain and citrus middle and finishing clean and crisp with hints of apple and wheat, making it a great beer to drink on a warm, sunny day on the back deck. As the beer warms, the sweetness dissipates and the citrus and grain becomes more pronounced, making the beer more complex and appealing to those who like hops.

Anacortes knocks it out of the park with a call of 4 Grand Salami’s out of 5.

Beers of the Week: Anacortes Brewing/North Sound Brewing Maple and Smoke

By Iron Chef Leftovers

You may remember last week when I posted a terribly disappointing review of the Rogue Voodoo Maple Beer and I said the following:

I am willing to admit that I am not a huge fan of rauchbier, but I can appreciate the subtle flavors that smoke can add to a beer, lifting it up to a different plain. Stay tuned to next Tuesday where I actually review a beer that does this.

Well, lucky for you, I am going to keep my word and take it one step further, I am going to give you 2 beers that use maple and smoke well.

Back during Seattle Beer Week, Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle held an Iron Brewer event. Basically a pair of breweries are given an ingredient that they have to use in a beer and then the two are put up head to head in a blind tasting with the winner receiving the most votes. In this case, North Sound Brewing and Anacortes Brewing were paired up together in this smack down. Here is what they turned out:

Anacortes Maple and Smoke – Amber in color with hints of brown depending on how the light catches it. Strong notes of maple and smoke on the nose, covering any other scents in the beer. Tasting it was a different experience; the beer was not as big as I was expecting, starting out slightly sweet with notes of nuts and malt and finishing up with a long maple syrup ending. There is very little smoke on this beer and it tasted like drinking a lightly smoked, maple glazed almond – all that was really missing was the salt. The beer was well balanced and easy to drink but I found myself wanting just a hint more smoke flavor to add more complexity.

The Anacortes beer fanned the flames with 3 roasters out of 5.

North Sound Maple and Smoke – tan/orange in color with light smoke and hops dominating the nose on this beer and maple in the background if you go looking for it. Slightly sweet on the initial taste before yielding to some resin hops and grain and then finally finishing with a long, slow transition to light smoke and hints of maple – reminded me of smoking fish over maple but being some distance from the fire. Incredibly restrained with the use of maple and smoke – they are there and in balance with the other flavors, but don’t completely overwhelm the other notes in the beer. North Sound made a maple and smoke IPA.

The North Sound beer torched the competition with 4 bonfires out of 5.

A few things about this event – there were 6 beers (3 pairs of beers with different ingredients) and I thought the North Sound was the best of the 6. I was absolutely convinced the North Sound beer was brewed by Anacortes – North Sound is not known for their IPA and Kevin at Anacortes brews what I feel is the best one in the state. These beers go to show that you can brew something with smoke and not have it taste like you are eating a smoldering log.

The Top 5 Washington Breweries

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am insanely lucky to live where I do – we have over 130 breweries in the state and by the end of 2013, I should have at least 10 breweries within a mile of my house. It is a good thing that I like beer. In visiting all of these breweries, I have had some great conversations with the owners, brewers and patrons about beer in general and Washington beer specifically and one topic that usually comes up is who are your favorite/who are the best breweries in the state? I have been floating around the idea of writing a post about this for a while, so I am finally putting pen to paper and coming up with my list.

A few lines about how I came up with this list. First, I thought about the brewery’s overall lineup; how consistent are their beers, do they regularly exceed my expectations, how often do they make a beer that falls flat on its face? Second, would I order their beers if I was out at a pub and saw it on a tap list, over everything else on the list? Third, would I recommend a couple of beers from the brewery or would I recommend everything they have on tap without hesitation? Finally, the below list is not ranked by preference, but rather in alphabetical order. I don’t know that I could actually rank these in my order of preference because they each excel at something different and that list would change depending on my mood.

So, without further delay, the Iron Chef Leftovers Top 5 Washington Breweries:

– Anacortes Brewing – The Masters of Hops
For those who know me, this is really no surprise. I have been a fan of Anacortes for almost as long as I have lived here and (contrary to popular opinion) long before I got to know the guys from the brewery. Anacortes excels at IPA’s, so much so that I firmly believe their regular production IPA to be one of the 10 best beers that I have ever had. I ranked it higher than Pliny the Elder in 2 separate blind tastings and I have been known to make the 160 mile round trip to Anacortes just to get a growler of that beer. As good as the IPA is, the rest of their lineup ranges from good to outstanding, only occasionally faltering. The My Oh Maibock is an outstanding summer beer, their Klosterbier is one that I will go out of my way to drink when I see it on tap and their Dopplebock is probably the best in the state. They usually don’t disappoint at beer festivals and I feel that their brewer,  is as good as anyone in the world with his barrel aged beers – the oak character is there when he uses them, but they are restrained so that the oak compliment, rather than overpowers the beer, so you get to appreciate the beer and all of its character rather than just drinking liquid oak. Anacortes flys under the radar in Seattle since they are not widely available, but their stuff is usually gone in a couple days when it shows up on tap here.  Website

– Elysian Brewing – The Master of Pumpkin
untitle3dElysian is like the Rick Barry of Washington Brewers (In case you don’t know who he is, he is one of the greatest free throw shooters in NBA history) – the produce a ton of different beers and are successful with a very high percentage of them. One of the highlights for me every year is the release of their pumpkin beers, especially Dark of the Moon, another beer I would put in my 10 ten beers in the world. They make around 12 pumpkin beers a year, and most of them are excellent with the occasional miss (The Dill Pickle Pumpkin beer from a few years back was a mess). They are not just about pumpkin – their Apocalypse series last year produced 12 (mostly) wonderful and bizarre beers; their Maniac IPA series gave us such stellar beers as Idiot Savuin, and Prometheus; and they cover beer styles from a Corona clone, to a Yeungling Porter knock-off (which was as good as the original), to just about every beer style imaginable. I love going into their pubs just because you never know what new and interesting beer you are going to find. Website

– Reuben’s Brews – The Master of Rye
untitled2Reuben’s is the new kid on the block and is probably a surprise to most people that I would have them on my list. They have an impressive lineup and got through their growing pains very quickly, producing some of the most outstanding beers in the state (and winning actual awards for them). I named their pumpkin beer my “Best Beer of 2012” winner and called the cask version of their Imperial IPA one of the 10 best beers I have ever had. They are more than just rye based IPA though – their Mocha Stout was outstanding, they make a fantastic Kolsh, their Brown is easy to drink and tasty and Porter is a great beer for a cold winters day. The even are daring, producing little know styles like Roggenbier (a rye base Hefe) and Auld Heritage Ale, both of which have received high marks from me. These guys have been raking in the awards, and deservedly so. You want to know how good Reuben’s is – they won the 2010 Phinney Beer Taste People’s Choice award against about 30 other breweries, while they were still hombrewers. How about them apples?  Website

– Sound Brewery – The Master of Belgian Yeast
untitledSound Brewing is finally getting the recognition it deserves by beer drinkers. For a long time, Sound had been known for their outstanding Belgian style beers like Monk’s Indiscretion and Dubble (and Triple) Entendre, while their other beers lurked in the shadows. Unknown to most people, Sound produces a top flight IPA in Reluctant IPA and an exceptional double IPA – Humulo Nimbus as well as what I think might be the top Imperial Stout in the state with Ursus Spelaeus and incredibly good stout called Ursus Americanus. Their beers tend to be high alcohol brews, but they are incredibly well balanced and you should seek them out whenever you have the chance. Website

– Walking Man Brewing – The Master of Playing Hard To Get
walkingmancolor21The selection of Walking Man might surprise most people and a good number of people might say “who”, but Walking Man produces West Coast IPA’s that I feel are second to only Anacortes in terms of how good they are. In case you don’t know, Walking Man is located in tiny Stevenson, Washington, on the shores of the Columbia River, about 45 minutes from Portland and their beers are hardly available anywhere outside the brewery. Heck, they don’t even have a website. Their best beer is probably their Double IPA – Homo Erectus but they have also produced some other outstanding beers such as Fire Walker Jalapeño Lager (one of the few I have ever liked), Walking Stick Stout, Jaywalker Russian Imperial Stout and Knuckle Dragger Pale Ale. Their barrel aged beers, like Anacortes, are incredibly well balanced and worth seeing out under any circumstance. If you haven’t had Walking Man’s beers, make the drive from Portland next time you are there. Heck, forget Portland, just go to Stevenson and try their beers. It would be worth the trip. No Website, but here is their beer list from ratebeer.com.

You are probably wondering how I could leave Fremont or Black Raven off this list. Well, stay tuned for part 2 where I give out a few honorable mentions and explain to all of you pissed off Black Raven fans why they are not in the top 5.

The Other (Tastier) March Madnesses

By Iron Chef Leftovers

March Madness is upon us and there is more going on than just basketball. There are at least 2 beer related competitions going on in Seattle.

First up is the Thirsty In Seattle Beer March Madness. This is just a paring of 64 beers in a bracket and you vote on the better beer. It seems to be somewhat random parings and I don’t think I agree with some of their selections (some breweries have multiple entries, some do not), but it is what it is, so vote early and often.

If you happen to be voting, please consider voting for my friends at the newly opened Populuxe Brewing in their matchup against Foggy Noggin’s Bit O’ Beaver. Populuxe is getting smoked right now and they could use some help. If you haven’t been to the brewery, you should stop by. They have really good beers and the owners are nice people. You can also stop by Ballard’s only wine tasting room, Domanico Winery, across the street (OK, my shameless plug is done).
Also consider their Ballard neighbors, NW Peaks, in a tough matchup of their Redoubt Red vs. American Brewing’s Caboose Oatmeal Stout. Both are fantastic beers and worthy of moving on in this competition.

The other pairing that was tough for me was Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA (which has been previously reviewed on this site) against Anacortes Old Sebastes. If it was any other Anacortes beer, I probably would have voted for Anacortes, but Old Sebastes is their beer I like the least, and I have a beer crush on the Imperial Rye, so you can guess how that one went. I feel like a guy cheating on his hot wife with an even hotter girlfriend with this matchup.

Opening round voting ends March 22nd at 10 PM

The other and, in my opinion, more fun March Madness is going on at the Latona Pub. Their annual March IPA Madness started last night. Each Monday and Friday for the next couple of weeks, they will be tapping 3 beers. The most popular beer from those 3 advances to the final 4. You will most likely find yours truly at the Latona on March 25th when they are tapping the Anacortes IPA. It should make easy work of its 2 competitors – Triplehorn IPA (although I have never actually had it, I may have to size up the competition) and Laurelwood Workhorse IPA. The Final Four tapping is April 2nd.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Imperial Rye IPA

By Blaidd Drwg

Ah, liquid love!
Ah, liquid love!

A while back, I wrote a post on food memories. Smells and tastes can invoke a powerful emotion and sometimes they can come from an unexpected place. A recent trip to visit my friends at Reuben’s Brews was such an experience. With their extensive and ever changing tap list and usually stellar beers, I am always torn between trying their new stuff and old favorites. A recent trip to the brewery saw the Imperial Rye IPA on their board; a rye based imperial IPA clocking in at 8.4% alcohol and 90+ IBU. This beer is not really for the faint of heart – it is a big, bold hop monster.

The beer pours amber, almost rosy in color. There is lots of citrus on the nose (predominately grapefruit) and rye – you take one whiff of this beer and you have no doubt that this is going to be a big IPA. The beer has a smooth, almost creamy feel on the palate with a slightly sweet hit giving way to a light bitterness with tons of grapefruit. For a beer with that high an IBU, the hops bitterness is incredibly well balanced with the rest of the beer. The Imperial Rye then gets really interesting – the grapefruit gives way to a dramatic rye finish with such a rye hit that it brought back memories of my grandmother making me fresh rye toast from the Jewish bakery in my home town. My only complaint, and this is because of the memories this beer invokes, is that the beer goes from sweet to bitter to citrus to rye too quickly – I really want that rye to linger on the palate for a long time. The reality is that this beer does have a fairly long finish and it is very pleasant and not overpowered with the high alcohol content it possesses. The bitterness does become more pronounced as it warms and I think this beer would be a good candidate for a cask treatment (Note to Adam: Big Hint!)

I did try this beer a second time without my notes from the first tasting handy and compared the two – they were both virtually identical with what I initially wrote. I loved this beer. As Rye IPA’s go, I probably rank this one as my 3rd favorite behind Anacortes and Laughing Dog, but this one has the childhood memory associated with it, so it really does make ranking it a lot harder.

I would have given this beer an easy 4 out of 5 if it weren’t for the memories, but since I do consider emotion as well as price when I come up with my ratings, Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA invokes a perfect 5 Judicke’s Bakeries (that is where my grandmother usually got the rye bread from – it is still there and has been in operation since 1924) out of 5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane as well as the fantastic beer!