Beer of the Week: Fremont Bonfire Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I sometimes really love Fremont beers and sometimes really don’t, but I do give them a fair shake and will generally try them all. I was a bit skeptical about Bonfire Ale; I have had way too many smoked beers that the smoke just overpowers everything else and made them undrinkable. At $5 for a 22 oz. bottle, I figured that it was worth the risk in trying this beer.

From the Fremont website:

Bonfire Ale steals from the winter   fires its gift of dark barley and gentle hops to provide you, beer drinker,   with this delightful winter treat. Fremont set the sky rockets to flight and   wrote the book on afternoon delight before waking the night on the wings of a   great blue heron to soar below the radar and above the clouds, raining down   beer to blow your mind and caress your soul. Light a Bonfire today.

Down & Dirty: 2-Row & White Wheat, Midnight Wheat, Rye, Smoked, & Chocolate Malts with Cascade and Goldings hops. 6% ABV


untit21321ledThe beer pours deep brown in color with a dark cream head and presents heavy notes of roasted malt supported by more subtle notes of rye and spice with just a hint of smoke noticeable in the background. The beer starts off on the palate slowly with mild malt before building win to more pronounced notes of roasted grain, chocolate and very mild hops. Up to that point the beer was very enjoyable, but then things went horribly wrong. The finish was astringently smoky, almost too harsh to drink – becoming very off-putting, and felt like someone had just dumped and ashtray into the beer. There was no depth, just burnt wood and ash on the finish, killing what was shaping up to be a very balanced beer (all 3 of the other people I tasted this with had the same opinion of the beer). This beer came so close to me liking it but lost me at the end, although we did discover that it paired better with spicy/fatty food – pepperoni worked well at taming the ashtray qualities while leaving enough of the roast and malt flavors of the beer to make it enjoyable.

Fremont Bonfire Ale is carless with it matches and burn down with 2 forest fires out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Elysian Dark o’ the Moon 2012

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I was not overly impressed with the 2013 version of Dark o’ the Moon, but fortunately for me, I have a small stash of the previous versions of the beer, so I decide to crack one of the 2012 bottles open to see if I just forgot what the beer tasted like and my tastes have changed or the cinnamon was too overpowering in the 2013 version of the beer.

From the Elysian Website:

STYLE Pumpkin Stout

BODY Medium to Full

TASTING NOTES Pours dark as night with creamy tan head. A little smokiness on the nose with malty bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee with subtle earthy pumpkin and spices for an overall nice and creamy mouth.

MALTS Great Western pale, Crisp 77° Crystal, Munich, Cara-Vienne, roasted, chocolate and Special B

HOPS Bittered with Magnum and finished with Saaz and crushed cinnamon

SPECIAL Pumpkin in the mash, kettle and fermenter

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: 20

dmThe beer poured jet black as expected with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice present on the nose joined by mild hints of roasted malt and pumpkin. The beer stars off with pleasant chocolate notes on the palate before moving into lightly roasted pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. The beer then transitions into the spice realm with distinct notes of nutmeg and cloves balancing out the pumpkin flavors before being joined by a mild dose of cinnamon mixed in. The finish is long and slightly sweet with dominant notes of cinnamon and roasted malt/pumpkin, providing a deep chocolate finish with just a touch of heat from the cinnamon.

The 2012 version of Dark reminded me why I loved this beer so much.

Elysian 2012 Dark o’ the Moon comes to the edge of the cliff and lets out a deep howl with 5 Canis lupus out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Spickard Spiced Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

The Mountain Beers from NW Peaks in November had a decidedly seasonal tone to them – Thanksgiving dinner. There was a pecan pie beer (review forthcoming) and a beer that invokes the flavors of stuffing – the Spickard Spice Ale. You don’t see too many beers that use savory (herbs) rather than sweet (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) spices, so I was really excited for this one.

From the NW Peaks Website:

The name. The mountain. Spickard is juxtaposed to Mt Redoubt (the namesake for our red ale) and is a great alpine destination, although accessibility is limited to put it mildly. To get to Ouzel lake located at the base of Spickard, you have to travel through Canada and then hike back into the US to Depot cirque. The waterfall en route is one that might not be matched by another in the N cascades. Truly a splendid location.

The Beer. While many breweries are doing pumpkin spice beers in October, we decided to wait until November. And instead of using Halloween spices (pumpkin), we went towards Thanksgiving spices/ingredients. We started with a base that includes more than 25% maize giving the beer a thicker, sweeter flavor. We then added some spruce, rosemary, and thyme that give the beer a flavor reminiscent of thanksgiving stuffing. A great beer on its own and a perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner.

untitle8dThe beer pours and amber reddish brown with a cream colored head. The nose is dominated by strong notes of rosemary and sage with hints of corn and grain supporting the herbal character. The beer leads off with solid herb flavors of sage and thyme with supporting notes of wood (not oak – think tree branch) and rosemary (probably the spruce in the beer), before moving into a slightly sweet middle, supported by grain and a mild corn character before finishing long with notes of yeast joining the herbs and corn. The finish is long and all of the flavors integrate perfectly, forming a liquid cornbread stuffing beer. The beer drinks well on its own but it truly shined with a traditional thanksgiving meal where its depth of flavor truly stood out when paired with turkey and stuffing.

NW Peaks Spickard Spiced Ale makes a glutton out of itself, rolling in at 4 turkey induced comas out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Silver Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dA few months back, the NW Peaks Mountainbeers were both pale ales, brewed with different hop varieties. I was excited for both of them, but especially for the Silver Pale Ale, which included spruce tips in the beer.

From the NW Peaks Website:

The name. The mountain. Like one of the April beers (Tinkham), Silver is off Snoqualmie pass. In fact, it’s juxtaposed to Tinkham just off the PCT and a great place for a good, light summer excursion. The climb is ~ 1,000 feet of a boot path from the PCT. The summit offers great views of the ever popular summits peppering the Snoqualmie area and serves as part of the boundary that surrounds one of Seattle’s 2 major watersheds (the Cedar River watershed).

The Beer. Silver pale is a standard NW style pale, featuring a couple of interesting ingredients, namely the sorachi ace hop variety and spruce tips. It has a medium body with nice hop notes and slightly forward bitterness. However, the sorachi ace imparts a “lemony” and to a lesser extent “dill” aroma which we paired with the (very subtle) spruce tips (and a few other hop varieties to round out the taste). The result was a nice, slightly bitter, NW pale ale.

Malts: Pale, ESB, Rye, crystal. Hops: Sorachi Ace, halertau, chinook. ABV: ~5.0%


The beer pours hazy yellow in color with light hops on the nose coupled with grain and faint raspberry/spruce hints. The beer starts off as a combination of slightly bitter and sweet before transitioning into light grain middle with strong notes of hops and lemon. The beer then pushes to the finish with a slightly sweet notes of grain and significant notes of raspberry and lemon in a very long finish. The beer is interesting, producing pronounced flavors from both the hops and the spruce tips and is one that is definitely not your average Northwest pale ale.

NW Peaks Silver Pale Ale pans the river and comes up with a solid 3 prospectors 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.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Cask Kolsch

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Kolsch is a style that you normally would not find done in a cask, so when Reuben’s decided to give it a shot, I of course had to be there to try it.

The beer pours pale yellow in color and surprisingly cloudy – reminds me of a hefeweisen, with lots of grain, slightly floral notes and hints of grapefruit and citrus on the nose. The initial taste yields a significant amount of very mild grapefruit with hints of spice and grain playing hide and seek among the hop flavors. The beer fades in a long and subtle finish with very little bitterness and just a touch of sweet grain and yeast character. Very easy drinking and smooth, probably more hoppy than a light beer drinker would enjoy but a pleasant hop character coupled with the subtlety of the kolsch make this a beer which you could be happy with drinking all day on a warm summer afternoon.

Reuben’s Cask Kolsch surprises with a refreshing 4 summer winds out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peak Double Redoubt Red

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dNW Peaks recently upped their number of taps from 4 to 7, which means more tasty beers to try. One of the new beers on tap is Double Redoubt Red, which is effectively the regular Redoubt Red with the recipe doubled.  The Double clocks in at 7% ABV.

The beer pours dark red in color with lots of hops on the nose and a nice grain background.  The beer starts out very malt forward and slightly sweet before moving into its hop character in the middle – somewhat hoppy but tempered by the malt and grain, making it just a touch smoky. The beer then finishes with a small amount of hop resin and a malty sweetness with an ever so subtle alcohol burn at the very end. Well balanced and slightly fruity as it warms, it is easily a beer that you could knock back several in one sitting.

My only complaint about Double Redoubt was the alcohol burn at the end; otherwise this beer is delicious and solidly put together, perfect for a fall day in the Northwest.

NW Peaks Double Redoubt Red removes all doubts with a self-assured 4 affirmations out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Roggenbier

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Until about a year ago, I had no idea what a Roggenbier even was, let alone what it really tasted like. Reuben’s changed all of that by putting Roggenbier on the menu and even making it one of the beers they initially bottled. The review is for the beer on tap, which clocks in at 5.3% ABV and 19 IBU. What is a Roggenbier you ask, well, the short version is a rye based hefeweizen. A much longer answer comes courtesy of the German Beer Institute:

Roggenbier is a medieval ale usually made from a grain bill of about half barley malt and equal portions of wheat and rye malts. Today, a Roggenbier may be either an ale or a lager. Modern renditions of the brew have about 5 to 5.5% alcohol by volume. Rye ales are mildly hopped, which allows the grain flavors to be dominant. Filtration appears to be optional in a rye ale and many, such as the Paulaner (depicted right) are “naturtrüb,” meaning naturally turbid. A yeast-turbid Roggenbier is more authentic, considering that the style had been around long before beer filtration was invented in 1878.

Being ancient brews, Roggenbiers can have a faint whiff of earthiness in the nose that is reminiscent of rye bread. The up-front sensation is one of mild fruitiness. There is a slight to extreme yeastiness and breadiness in the middle, and an almost smoky, spicy, faintly sour and very dry finish—clearly the effects of the rye malt. Effervescence ranges from medium to spritzy like a Hefeweizen. The body is substantial, almost reminiscent of a Bockbier. The brew has a pleasant, rich, off-white head when poured.

For the most part, Roggenbiers are tart, refeshing summer quaffing beers, a nice alternative to a Hefeweizen. They go extremely well with a succulent slice of barbequed roast pork.

untitled2Roggenbier pours dark amber in color with notes of rye, bananas, cloves and coriander on the nose. Slightly sweet when you first take a sip with notes of banana and wheat. The sweetness quickly drops off into light citrus and cloves before dropping the hammer with a rye finish = intense rye notes with hints of cinnamon with a dry mouth feel which lingers for a fairly short period of time before mellowing out and hanging around the palate with a background malt/rye/banana finish, noticeable well after you have taken a sip. For some strange reason, this beer seems like a liquid pretzel and that is a good thing. Incredibly well balanced and complex, you should try this beer if you have not done so already.

Roggenbier is a great alternative to a hefe or any other light beer if you are looking for something that isn’t terribly hoppy, is fairly low in alcohol and is refreshing, but still has a complex character.

Reuben’s Brews Roggenbier twists in with 4 Rolled Golds out of 5.