Beer of the Week: Populuxe Horizon Pale Ale Cask

By Iron Chef Leftovers

As contrast, Populuxe release 2 different Pale Ale casks in consecutive weeks, one that was with Crystal hops and one with Horizon. From the site:

Horizon will add notes of a floral bouquet to the aroma, as well as provide some essence of citrus fruits. Horizon can be used from beginning to end throughout the brewing process.

imagesCAAR87MMThe beer pours hazy orange in color with significant citrus and spice on the nose. The beer starts out with light citrus before quickly moving on into an interesting spice – think of black pepper, but subtle, not spicy, before finishing off with citrus oil and orange heel that bring a light bitterness that pleasantly lingers on the front of the tongue with more subtle notes of black pepper at the back of the palate. The beer drinks well with a great deal of complexity, but it moves quickly though its range of flavors, making you want more and more.

Populuxe Horizon Pale Ale Cask sets sail for the edge of the world with 4 sunsets out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Crystal Pale Ale Cask

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Cask beer really affords the opportunity to understand exactly what a specific hop does to a beer, especially if you have the opportunity to taste the base beer side by side with it. Pale Ales tend to be great vehicles for this so it was nice to see Populuxe doing a Pale cask with Crystal Hops. What exactly do Crystal hops do to the beer? From

Crystal Hops was born in 1983, created in Corvallis Oregon. Drink a Rogue Brutal Bitter, and say colchicine induced tetraploid three times. This type of Hallertau was crossed with USDA 21381M, which is resistant to downy mildew.

Out comes a hops variety, which is a half sister of both Mt. Hood and Liberty Hops.Crystal Hops bears a low alpha acid rating of 3.5%-6.0%, and carries a relatively high myrcene oil content. This combination makes it ideal for aroma additions as it bring with it a mix of woody, green, some floral and fruit notes, with some herb and spice character. Crystal Hops lends itself to a number of beers like Light Ales, such as Goldens, Pale Ales, Aroma for India Pale Ales, and even Stouts and Lagers.

imagesCAAR87MMThe beer pours hazy orange in color with significant amounts of citrus and notes of spicy hops on the nose. The beer drinks light on the palate, starting off with light grain before moving into hints of hops and resin and finishing off with a nice citrus fruit and mild citrus peel bitterness that lingers pleasantly for a long time.

Very easy drinking and approachable, a great beer for just kicking back and drinking on a lazy afternoon.Populuxe Crystal Pale Ale Cask runs through and doesn’t break anything with 3 chandeliers out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Cask Citra Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMOne of the best things about Thursday nights is cask night at Populuxe Brewing. They have had a nice variety of cask options from the strange (Smoked tea bitter) to the nice and approachable (Pale Ales and IPA). Pale ales make for really fun casks – they allow you to really give a base for what individual hop varieties taste like and you get a real appreciation for what it is about certain hop varieties that you might like. A recent cask of the Populuxe Pale with Citra really illustrated what I like about citra hops. This beer clocked in at just 4.8% ABV.

The beer pours hazy yellow-orange in color with light notes of citrus and grain on the nose with very mild notes of sugar. The beer starts off slowly with a nice grain beginning accompanied by a mild sweetness, followed by a touch of very pleasant bitterness before moving to a slightly dry finish that smacks you with a burst of citrus. Very easy drinking and well balanced – there are no dominant flavors but the beer is layered and distinct and you can really appreciate the subtle flavors of both the beer and the hops. With well integrated flavors and low alcohol, this is easily a 3-4 pint beer and a good beer to introduce someone to the wonderful experience that is craft beer.

Populuxe Cask Citra Pale Ale rolls out 4 barrels out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Fresh Hop Chinook Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMI will admit that it is a bit odd writing about a fresh hop beer in March, but yes, I still have a backlog of beer notes to get through (it is getting better) so eventually I will catch up and you will be seeing reviews for beers relatively close to their release date. Populuxe did make a couple of fresh hop beers in 2013, one with chinook and one with citra hops. This was the chinook version of the pale which clocked in at 4.8%.

The beer pours light orange in color with a mellow hop character and hints of citrus. The beer starts out on the palate with a nice grain character before quickly becoming more complex and hoppy – orange and grapefruit first make an appearance, giving the beer a slightly sweet character, before heading in a different direction with light notes of citrus peel and spice, medium notes of green hops and a pleasant bitterness. The beer finishing with long notes of pine needles, hops and citrus coupled with a very long mild bitter finish. The beer is layered and complex at the same time being easy drinking and not palate blowing. This was probably my favorite fresh hop beer in 2013.

The Populuxe Fresh Hop Chinook Pale Ale strikes the line and lands a whopping 5 big fish out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Cascadia Shale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dIn 2012, NW Peaks made a dark version of their Eldorado Pale Ale which was outstanding.  In 2013, they made a hoppy dark beer called Cascadia Shale Ale. The beer was a bit big at 6.5% ABV and was available on tap at the tasting room.

The beer pours very dark brown in color with a light tan head, showing lots on malt on the nose with hints of chocolate and hops supporting the malt. On the palate, the beer is hop forward; mild bitterness with hints of pleasant and not overpowering citrus followed by malt with hints of chocolate before finally yielding back to hops with more light bitterness and a hint of alcohol and resin on the very end of the beer. I would have liked a slightly smoother finish (the beer did come off as slightly hot) but it was still outstanding and complex with multiple layers of flavor. This was a somewhat malty version of a CDA, perfect for an overcast Northwest evening in the fall.

NW Peaks Cascadia Shale Ale rumbles in with 4 subduction quakes out of 5.

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 of the Week: Populuxe Solstice Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMToday’s beer takes us in the way back machine 6 months to a warmer and sunnier time in Seattle – June, specifically the summer solstice*. I had forgotten about these notes as they are buried in the middle of my notebook, but Populuxe brewed a pale ale to celebrate the Fremont Solstice Parade, with the beer aptly being named Solstice Pale Ale.

The beer pours hazy yellow in color with light orange and citrus peel on the nose. The initial taste yields light notes of grapefruit followed by mild grassy/resin notes from the hops (they used Chinook and Simcoe) before finishing with a pleasantly light bitterness. The beer has great hop character on both the nose and palate, but that character is restrained wonderfully giving you just small amounts of bitterness and a nice complexity that allows you to appreciate the grain character of the beer and pick up on the subtle flavors the hops are providing. Very easy to drink and a beer you could easily have more than one of, it was clean and refreshing, perfect for a nice summer day.

Populuxe Solstice Pale Ale strips down and rides in with 4 naked bicyclists out of 5.


*if my memory serves, it was cold and foggy the morning of the Solstice, but did become nice in the afternoon.

Beer of the Week: Elysian Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

fuzzI am a sucker for blood orange anything – I just really love the flavor. Back during the Beers of the Apocalypse series, Elysian brewed a blood orange IPA that was outstanding, so I couldn’t wait to try their blood orange pale ale – Superfuzz. The beer was available on tap and in 22 oz. bottles; the review is for the bottled beer.

The beer pours hazy orange in color, reminiscent of a hefe it is so cloudy, with lots of grain and malt on the nose coupled with hints of orange and orange zest. The beer tastes much milder than I was expecting with light grain quickly transitioning in to like orange and very little hint of hops. The orange does linger for a long period of time, finally finishing slightly sweet before fading quickly with an ever so slight bitterness. The beer lacked dimension – it had a dominant orange flavor but lack any supporting cast to go with it and probably could have used a bit more aggressive hopping or more citrus peel as some bitterness would have cut the sweetness and grain notes. I feel like this beer was drinking a hefe rather than a pale ale, so I was expecting more depth of flavor from the beer.

Elysian Superfuzz flashes back with a disappointing 2 bell bottoms out of 5.

Ed. Note: I did try this beer on tap and thought it was much better (don’t have tasting notes though). I so I picked up a second bottle and retasted it. Here is what I came up with:

The second bottle had a huge amount of sediment in the bottle. Light notes of citrus and hops on the nose with mild hints of citrus oil and grain supporting it. The beer starts off with a mild bitter component of orange peel before moving quickly into the pale ale, grain and hops and finishing quickly with notes of burnt orange and orange juice. The blood orange component is there, just more on the back of the palate as the beer fades out. It was better than the first bottle but not as good as the beer on tap, so the redux does a little better with 3 huggy bears out of 5.

The moral of the story? If you want to drink Superfuzz, do it on tap. You will be happier for it.

Beer of the Week: Sam Adams New Albion Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am not sure why I waited so long to review this beer. I wrote about the beer here a few months back, and, in case you don’t want to go back and read it, the short version is that this recipe is generally considered to be the first American microbrew. It was available in 12 oz. bottles and ran about $9 for a 6 pack. Some additional info on the beer here:

 Jack McAuliffe’s pioneering spirit paved the way for the American craft beer revolution. We’re rereleasing his original Pale Ale, with its distinct American hop character for the first time in 30 years in honor of Jack and his contributions to craft brewing. Cheers!

Not quite Helen of Troy, but pretty damn close.

The beer pours golden in color with a fizzy white head. There are major grain notes on this beer – from a foot away, I immediately thought of a baguette when I smelled it. Upon closer inspection, grain dominates the nose with hints of hops and a touch of yeast interspersed.  A very crisp and refreshing beer that is light on the palate – mild grain dominates and is followed by just a very light touch of hops, finishing long with a strong grain profile. Has some very lightly roasted character and very mild hop characteristics, such that you might not recognize this beer as a pale ale, but enough punch from the yeast that you know this beer is not a pilsner of lager.  More of the pale character shows through as the beer warms but it is light enough on the palate that you can enjoy several in one sitting.

The beer is a study in how far craft brewing has come from its infancy in the 1970’s and New Albion Pale is a beer that every craft brew drinker should have at least once, just so that you can appreciate a time when that beer was so much different than anything else on the market.

New Albion Pale Ale waxes nostalgic with a solid 3 antiques out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Every once in a while, you come across a beer that will please multiple segments of the drinking population; Populuxe Pale Ale is one of them. The latest new beer in the ever growing Populuxe lineup. Lighter than you would expect, this beer clocks in at 4.8% ABV and is a nice summer addition to their lineup. As with all of their beers, it is only available on tap in their tap room.

The beer pours golden straw in color. Grain and hops dominate the nose with hints of malt. The beer starts out very mild – much lighter than you would expect based on the way it smells and then you get hit with the wall of flavor – light sweetness gives way to a significant hop profile without being bitter. You know there are hops in this beer but they don’t overpower everything else. The hops linger for a bit before giving way to a really nice long grain finish, sort of reminiscent of a hoppy pilsner. The beer is probably a little hoppier than a light beer drinker would enjoy, but it has a restrained enough hop profile that a good number of beer drinkers would enjoy. The added bonus is that the beer has enough character and complexity that a hop head like me would not hesitate to order one (or two or three) as the beer goes down easily. I could see this being my go-to beer for a warm, sunny day out on the back deck when I want hops but don’t want to be drinking a hop monster IPA.

Run down to the Populuxe brewery and try their pale. You won’t be disappointed.

Populuxe Pale Ale sings in with a beautiful 4 Whiter Shades out of 5.