Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Magic Brown

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I have come to realize that one of my guilty pleasures in beer drinking is brown ales. For years, one of my favorite beers was Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, and then, for some reason, I took a very long break from drinking them. In the last couple of years, there has been resurgence in browns, and with that, they have become my dirty little secret – a beer that I wouldn’t generally order, but when I am in the mood, there is nothing quite like a brown. NW Peaks does a couple of browns – the Pecan one they do in November and the Magic, which makes an appearance in March.

From the NW Peaks Website:

The name. The mountain. Magic is situated right off of Cacade pass (near Sahale), but it is just S and E from the pass rising above Trapper Lake. I climbed Magic Mtn on the front end of a week long trip, on the famous Ptarmigan Traverse – one of the most traveled alpine climbing traverses. The day trip to Cascade Pass is certainly one of the “must go to” areas of the N Cascades, with several options for continuing the trip, including over to Magic and it’s environs.

The beer. Magic Brown fits the schizophrenic March Seattle weather perfectly. It is dark and malty for the cold/wet, but it’s body is light enough that it will be great on a warmer day as well. Unlike the typical “brown,” we built this brown up to have some more residual malt character by adding some extra munich, caramunich, and other specialty malts, but keeping the overall alcohol content and roast character down.

Malt: ESB, Special B, Crystal, muncih, caramunich, carafa 2, flaked. Hops: Apollo, golding. British ale yeast.

untitle8dThe beer pours deep brown with hints of amber. There are strong notes of malt on the nose with mild hints of chocolate, coffee and hops. The beer starts off on the palate with a pleasant grain note and a touch of sweetness before moving off into very light notes of milk chocolate with just a hint of coffee hiding in the background. Those flavors are joins by a malty sweetness that embraces the roast and the finish displays just a touch of hop character, playing hide and seek on a long fade. Not as deep as some browns, but easy to drink and well layered.

NW Peaks Magic Brown takes the stage and pulls 3 rabbits out of a hat out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

If you subscribe to the national IPA championship results, generally the best IPA’s are from the Midwest, particularly the Cleveland area. Of course those results are skewed since they are basically a popularity contest held at a bar within driving distance from Cleveland and it is not a blind study, so I believe there to be a great deal of bias in the results. Fortunately for me, I do have a friend who lives in the Cleveland area and he has sent me many of these “great” IPA. One of the breweries that a recent shipment contained was Hoppin’ Frog. I had some high hopes for their beers since they have won a ton of medals at the GABF as well as other competitions. First up was the Double IPA. It arrived in a 22 oz. bottle and carried a price tag of $11. According to the label, this beer was 8.2% ABV and 168(!!) IBU.

From the Hoppin’ Frog Website:

Explore the extremes of hops, and experience all of their bitterness, flavor and aroma with this Double I.P.A. An extreme, super-assertive and satisfying amount of American hop character is balanced with a toasty, caramelized, intense malt presence.

MeanManalishi2The beer pours deep orange in color with high amounts of hops and hints of grain and caramel on the nose with just a touch of floral character. The beer starts off on the palate with significant amounts of fruit and citrus peel before mellowing out a bit into a significantly bitter grain character. The finish is long with a huge amount of citrus and peel with slightly floral characteristics and a very light caramel note. There is a touch of resin and alcohol burn at the end but overall the finish is pleasant and enjoyable. The balance is good, but I expected a bit better given the pedigree – the alcohol was not off putting, but probably should have been a little better balanced and I would have liked the beer to show a little more malt and a little less bitter as the bitter was occasionally overwhelming the malt at times (this is why you don’t just keep ramping up the IBU in a beer). Overall it was a great drinking experience (although the bottle may have been just a touch past its prime) and definitely worth trying if you get the opportunity.

Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA takes a flying leap onto 3 lily pads out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Bitter with Goldings Cask

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMI do have a love for cask beer, and, while I have a soft spot in my heart for the ‘hoppy’ casks like IPA, CDA and Pale, I do really love the more traditional casks of Mild and Bitters. I was excited then when a few weeks ago, Populuxe went very traditionally British with their cask and rolled out a Bitter with Goldings hops. I am a big fan of the Bitter and with its sub 5% ABV, it is a great beer if you are planning on bellying up to the bar for a long evening.

The beer pours hazy orange in color with hints of grain and lemon on the nose. The beer starts out with a nice light grain component with hints of caramel on the palate before moving into light lemon with hints of mild malt sweetness. The beer finishes pleasantly with just a hint of bitterness and light tannins, coupled with notes of toffee and just a touch of chocolate. The finish is surprisingly long for a cask and the beer is complex without being too deep and drinks easily and goes down smoothly. If you want a nice change of pace from the big hoppy stuff you normally find in the Northwest, this is the beer you want to be drinking.

Populuxe Bitter with Goldings brings you all the way back to the station with 5 double deckers out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Silver City Whoop Pass Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

It has been interesting to see what I have been drinking and it seems to come in runs. Lately it has been IPA’s. Silver City out on the Kitsap Peninsula has produced some great beers over the years and have really cemented themselves as one of the better breweries in Washington, including a strong reputation among IPA’s. Fortunately for us, they bottle and are pretty readily available so I can enjoy their beers almost any time. Whoop Pass, their Double IPA, is one of my favorites, available in 22 oz. bottles.

From the Silver City website:

Without a doubt, the boldest and hoppiest mother of a brew Silver City has ever created. More than 50lbs of Washington State Cascade and Columbus hops are infused, injected or otherwise inflicted upon a single 15 barrel batch. Welcome to hop country!


Food Pairings: Strong Cheeses, Smoked Meats and Seafoods,

Perfect with a Big Daddy Burger!

Alcohol By Volume: 8.5%

Hops: Columbus, Cascade

Malts: NW Pale, Caramel, British Pale, Munich

un1titledThe beer pours deep orange in color with a creamy white head. Strong notes of orange peel and citrus show on the nose with hints of grain and floral notes. The beer starts off on the palate slightly sweet before quickly building into a significant amount of citrus and citrus peel with a mild bitterness. Those notes continue to build and reach a pleasant plateau before fading and lingering for a significant amount of time with just a bit of warming alcohol. As he beer warms, the citrus is much more pronounced and it really enhances the beer. The balance between the hops and bitterness is pleasant and enjoyable and this is a surprisingly drinkable beer for its size.

Silver City Whoop Ass comes in and takes names with 4 Ass-Kickings out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Bad Jimmy’s Habanero Amber

By Iron Chef Leftovers

forpinterestIt is both a good and a bad thing to be a brewery in Ballard these days. Having 10 breweries in a one mile radius means that from a consumer standpoint, I can hit multiple breweries on a single trip. The bad thing is that it leads to the inevitable comparison of beers between the breweries. The newest kid on the block is Bad Jimmy’s Brewing, tucked away in a garage behind the Bourbon and Bones BBQ restaurant, just across the street from Hales. They have been open since late last year with the idea that their mission “is to reinvent intensity as it exists in the craft beer world.” One of the beers that they produced to keep with their mission is the Habanero Amber. I am a lover of spicy foods but there have been very few pepper based beers that have been worth drinking – they all tend to be overpoweringly spicy and miss their mark.

The beer pours dark red in color and smelled like stale beer on the nose with hints of ground pepper. The beer starts out with just a hint of grain before the pepper sets in, building in quickly and completely overwhelming everything else that might be in the beer. While the spice is pronounced and dominating on the first sip, it becomes completely overwhelming on the subsequent sips through a cumulative effect – the spiciness from the previous sip lingers on the tongue and does not fade before the next sip, so it just continues to build with each subsequent sip, becoming completely intolerable, so much so that I couldn’t finish a 5 oz. taster of the beer due to the overwhelming heat. One note and completely unbalanced, this is one of the least enjoyable beers I have had in a long time.

Bad Jimmy’s Habanero Amber attacks the senses and sprays you in the eyes with just 1 pepper sprays out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

port-brewing-company-high-tide-fresh-hop-ipaIt is strange that I had a bottle of fresh hop beer sitting in my fridge for several months without having opened it or even realizing it was there. That is what happened with the my 22 oz. bottle of Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA. The beer was fresh hopped with Centennial and Simcoe hops and came in at 6.5% ABV. Because it had been sitting for a while, I figured that I would have pretty low expectations of the beer, and honestly, figured that all of the hop flavor would have been dead by this point. I am happy to report, I was wrong.

The beer pours golden in color with a hint of orange and an off white head. There is significant hop character on the noes with strong notes of citrus and citrus peel with light notes of grain and resin. A major citrus bomb on the palate – the beer starts off with a slightly tannic dryness before quickly switching to hops, and lots of them. There are strong notes of citrus peel and grapefruit before finishing off with more citrus peel and a pleasant lingering bitterness on the front of the tongue that keeps going for quite a while. Well balanced and higher alcohol than most fresh hops, it goes down smooth while displaying nice character.

Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA cycles in with 3 ebb tides out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Boundary Bay Imperial IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Boundary Bay up in Bellingham, Wa, makes some of the finest IPA’s in the country. So much so that in a blind tasting a couple of years ago, their REGULAR IPA actually beat Pliny the Elder. So needless to say, I was excited when I came across an Imperial IPA by Boundary Bay, which I had no idea they made. I picked up the beer in a 22 oz. bottle for about $9. From what I have been able to gather online, the beer was actually pretty low in alcohol for an imperial, coming in at just 8.5%.

From the BB website:

A full bodied, copper colored India Pale Ale. Strong alcohol content and an agressive fresh hop finish. Only in the great Northwest can you find such a well balanced, over the top, highly hopped draft ale. Original Gravity 1.086

untit84006ledThe beer pours orange in color with a light cream colored head. There are significant hop notes on the nose with hints of grain and citrus supporting. The beer starts off with a touch of malt sweetness before quickly transitioning to a pleasantly bitter component with touches of hop resin and citrus before finishing long with pleasant burnt citrus peel and juicy citrus, which linger for quite a long time. The balance is nice and layered with no alcohol perceptible on the finish. The beer is slightly fruitier as it warms with a touch more burn from the resin, but still nicely balanced and very drinkable for an Imperial IPA, but with enough hop character to let you know this is a hop monster.

Boundary Bay Imperial IPA hoists up the mainsail with 3 Sloop John-B’s out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Brooklyn Brewing Sorachi Ace

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Somehow, despite both its size and profile in the craft brew community, Brooklyn Breweries beers are not available in Seattle (You can’t find their beers in Oregon, Washington or California, but you can find them in BC, go figure). That is disappointing since they make some pretty special beers. Because of that, I made it a point when I was back in NJ over Christmas to seek out a few of their beers for transport back to the Pacific Northwest. One of the ones I was able to come by is their Sorachi Ace – a saison hopped with, wait for it…Sorachi Ace hops. I had it once a while back and I really liked it (this was really before I was familiar with Sorachi) so I thought it was time to try it again. The beer came in a 750 ml bottle and ran about $10.

A rather long read from the Brooklyn website:

Most Brooklyn beers are made with a blend of hop varietals. As a chef does with spices, we look to get the best qualities of each hop and create a harmony of flavors and aromas. However, a few years ago, our brewmaster ran into a hop unique enough to deserve its own moment in the sun. A large Japanese brewery first developed the hop variety “Sorachi Ace” in 1988. A cross between the British “Brewer’s Gold” and the Czech “Saaz” varieties, it exhibited a quality that was unexpected – it smelled really lemony.

The unique flavor of Sorachi Ace was bypassed by the big brewers, but we thought it was pretty cool. So we made a special beer with it, and added the beer to our Brewmaster’s Reserve special draft beer program last year. Most Brewmaster’s Reserve beers are only available for a short time, and then they’re gone. But we liked this one so much, we decided to bring it back and give it the star treatment. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a classic saison, a cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, but made entirely with now-rare Sorachi Ace hops grown by a single farm in Washington. We ferment it with our special Belgian ale strain, and then add more Sorachi Ace hops post-fermentation. After the dry-hopping, the beer emerges with a bright spicy lemongrass / lemon zest aroma backed by a wonderfully clean malt flavor
It tastes like sunshine in a glass, and that suits us just fine, especially with seafood dishes and fresh cheeses. It’s just the thing on nice summer days and beyond.


Style: Single-hop Farmhouse Saison
Malts: German two-row Pilsner Malt
Additions: Brewer’s white sugar
Hops: Washington-grown Sorachi Ace
Yeast: Our special Belgian strain (primary); Champagne yeast (secondary)
Alcohol by Volume: 7.6%
IBUs: 34
Original Gravity: 15.7° Plato
Calories: 208 (per 12oz)
Food Pairings: Pork buns, fish tacos, shrimp, smoked salmon, sushi, prosciutto, curries, salads, grilled meats and fresh goat cheese (such as Westfield Bulk Chevre.)


23_image_sorachiace_largeThe beer pours hazy pale yellow in color with a foamy white head and shows significant notes of yeast and passion fruit coupled with some grassy/dill funk and hints of lemon peel on the nose. The beer starts out dry with a mild grain component and just a touch of hop character before moving on to notes of sugar and Belgian yeast and finally finishing long with hints of grass, lemon, yeast and dill and just a tinge of bitterness before lingering with a pleasant, tannic dryness. The hops and Belgian notes become a bit more pronounced as the beer warms but the grass and dill and the farmhouse notes also become significantly more pronounced, making this beer a pretty deep and complex item. Despite all of the interesting flavors, the beer is well balanced and you really don’t notice the alcohol until you try to stand up after putting back the entire bottle. A great beer showcasing Sorachi Ace with the added benefit of Belgian flavors,


Brooklyn Brewing’s Sorachi Ace shows its hand with 4 of a kind out of 5.


Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Randall Red

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Randalls are a fun way to infuse flavors into beer without having to brew an entire batch of beer with those ingredients. It means you can use fun stuff like fruit or obscure hops to get some additional flavor in the beer without being intimidating and making it a cask beer. Reuben’s has started its randall project thanks to their new employee, Thor (yep, that is his name), who comes to them from Fremont Brewing where he was responsible for their randalls. One of the first randalls that Reuben’s had was a simple one – their Red with centennial hops.

The beer pours deep ruby in color with a creamy, light tan head with light amounts of hops and grain on the nose. The beer has a light sweetness at the front, joined by a mild fruitiness to start before moving into pleasant grain middle and finishing with a nice light bitterness/hop character that lingers with the grain in a fairly long finish. Nicely layered and a nice progression of flavors, this beer is balanced and the subtleties are not overpowered by hops.

Reuben’s Randall Red storms into Valhalla swinging 4 Mjolnirs out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Machine House Brewery Imperial Oatmeal Stout

By Iron Chef Leftovers

unti50tledI really do love oatmeal stouts, especially in the winter. The beer is hearty and warming and really just fits the bill with what I am looking for in those situations. One thing that I can say that I have never tried is a cask version of an oatmeal stout, but Machine House Brewing took care of that for me.

The beer pour jet black in color with deep chocolate and espresso notes dominating the nose, coupled with secondary notes of vanilla and malt. The beer has an interesting first sip – not as heavy as I was expecting with mild coffee notes appearing first before switching to a distinctive oat profile. I wasn’t sure of what to make of this at first – this was a very pronounced flavor, similar to uncooked rolled oats. The beer finishes long with hints of chocolate and dried cherries and just a hint of vanilla, coupled with the oat profile. That is when I got it, the oats blended with the deeper flavors to produce a rich profile with a slightly gritty mouth feel making the beer deep and complex but at the same time balanced and easy drinking. I would have liked more coffee/chocolate notes from the beer, but it was a cask and the amount of depth that this one contained made me want to go back for more.

Machine House Imperial Oatmeal Stout races in with 4 thoroughbreds out of 5.