Beer of the Week: Diamond Knot Calypso Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

diamond-knot-brewing-coI really love the concept of the DNA Project that is run by Diamond Knot, North Sound and Anacortes because it gives you some insight how changing a small thing can lead to very different beers. The first DNA project in 2012 used the same yeast in 3 different beers. This year, they used the same grain bill and each used a different hop to produce a pale ale. Next time this rolls around, you should take a trip up to one of the 3 breweries involved to try this interesting experiment.  First up is the Diamond Knot Calypso Pale – brewed with Calypso hops. It clocked in at 5.4% ABV.

In case you are unfamiliar with Calypso, from a homebrew site, they are described as “Pleasant, fruity aroma, with hints of pear and apple.”

The beer pours golden orange in color with lots of grain and malt on the nose backed by light citrus notes. A hint of pleasant bitterness show initially quickly giving way to a strong grain bill with notes of tropical fruit (I got mostly passion fruit) interspersed. The finish is a long, slightly bitter pineapple/pear combination, lingering just long enough between sips to remind you what you are drinking. The tropical hop notes dominate the beer, but there is enough grain and balance in this beer to make it light and easy drinking and would be perfect on a warm summer day.

The Diamond Knot Calypso Pale starts the party and limbos in with a strong 3 steel drums out of 5.

Beer in Review: Crowning the Best Beer of 2012

By Iron Chef Leftovers

In 2012, I started writing beer reviews on this blog in a semi-regular segment titled “Beer of the Week”. It is a bit of a misnomer since some weeks you got 2 beers of the week (hey, those are good weeks) and some weeks you got none. Anyway, I don’t review every beer I drink and I don’t always post them right after I drink them, so you sometimes end up with beers that are out of season or just not available anymore. What I am most proud of is my 5 point rating system.

In case you haven’t realized, instead of awarding stars or mugs or whatever else, I usually award a rating out of 5 based on something to do with the beer or the brewery. For example, I rated the Diamond Knot Whip Ale 4 out of 5 Silent Lucidities based on the idea that the recipe came from Michael Wilton of Queensryche (get it…Queensryche…Silent Lucidity). Coming up with these can be a challenge sometimes – anything animal or plant related is easy, just use the scientific name. Some are harder and probably not quite as funny. My favorite for the year was when I awarded Firestone Walker Wookey Jack 3 Kashyyyks out of 5. Kashyyyk being the home planet of Chewbacca, Chewy being a Wookie, get it? See how my brain works?

I digress, I reviewed a number of beers this year and several of them score a perfect 5 out of 5 on my rating scale. Several of those were vintage beers, so unless you know someone who happens to be sticking stuff in their cellar for 5 or 6 years (like I do), I figured that I should eliminate them from the running for the beer of the year. That really brought me down to 2 beers for the coveted title: Latona 25th Anniversary Cask by Anacortes and Pumpkin Ale by Reuben’s. It isn’t an easy choice; both breweries are great, both are breweries whose beers I really love and the styles are completely different. I am a shameless hophead and the Anacortes beer really appeals to me, but I also love pumpkin beers, especially ones where you can really taste the pumpkin and Reuben’s really knocked it out of the park with a pumpkin rye, a style which you don’t see too often, giving everything that I love about pumpkin beers with an interesting twist (and if you haven’t tried any of their rye beers, you should, they are fantastic).

So after much debate and locking the judges in a room without food and water until they made a decision (not really, I just spent 15 minutes thinking about who should win), we have a winner.

In a stunning upset, the new kid on the block, Reuben’s Brews wins the coveted beer of the year award for their Pumpkin Ale! I highly encourage you to try this beer when it comes back around next year. It is so good that it is close to replacing Elysian’s Dark of the Moon as my favorite pumpkin beer on the planet, which is no easy feat since I pretty much consider Dark to be the second best beer brewed in Washington, behind Anacortes IPA of course!

Congrats to the wonderful folks from Reuben’s for brewing such delicious beers and keep it up. You will have some stiff competition in 2013 if you want to retain your title.

Beer of the Week: Diamond Knot Whip Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I have a soft spot in my heart for Diamond Knot beers. I really like their IPA’s and I learned a significant amount of what I know about beer from the late Brian Sollenberger, one of the founders of Diamond Knot. On a beer shopping trip, I saw a new beer from DK, Whip Pale Ale and I figured what the hell, I will give it a shot, not really knowing anything about it other than the description on the bottle. The description of this beer:

Diamond Knot Brewery has been working with Seattle metal legend Michael “Whip” Wilton of Queensryche for quite some time to perfect the recipe for the new Whip Ale. Whip Ale is an American Pale Ale bittered with Nugget, Simcoe and Cascade hops. Pale, Caramel and Vienna malts provide a balance to the bright, citrusy hop flavors. American Ale Yeast generates a clean, crisp finish.

I purchased Whip in a 22 oz. bottle (it can also be found on tap) for $5. It comes in at 6% ABV and 30 IBU.

Whip pours a golden orange color. Hops, caramel, malt and spice dominate the nose – this beer smells wonderful, and really reminds me of a Belgian IPA more than an American Pale Ale, it is a really complex olfactory experience. Malt and hops dominate the palate with a long, lingering, tannic finish, showing just a hint of hop bitterness as it fades. As it begins to warm, hops dominate the front of the palate and Belgian flavors – coriander, spice and yeast, dominate the back.

I really loved this beer and would not hesitate to pick up a bottle or have a pint if I was in the mood for something with hop character without being a hop bomb.

Whip Pale Ale strums in with 4 Silent Lucidities out of 5.