Friday, November 7, 2014

Beer Tasting Notes: Lagunitas, Deschutes, Sam Adams and More

Born Yesterday Pale Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

I'm really laughing at myself right now. I've been racking my brain, trying to think of a good place to record my beer tasting notes — someplace handy so I can quickly access them when at the store and also where I can easily share them with fellow beer lovers. The app Untappd is decent, but I get annoyed by the character limit (I'm a wordy gal) and I find it difficult to find specific beers when I can't remember much about them beyond "that one beer? I had at that bar in San Francisco? Two months ago?"

After trying this and that and feeling frustrated with everything, I finally remembered that I have this blog here, a.k.a. the perfect spot to record notes, post pictures, and share my favorite beers with the world at large. Fancy! Also, yes, I'm a bit dense sometimes and I forget that blogs aren't just for talking about Big Important Things, but also for sharing small day-to-day things.

So let's try this: an occasional post of tasting notes on what I've been drinking and loving lately. Nothing fancy. Nothing too glamorous. Just some notes, clean and simple, and maybe a pretty picture or two. Sound fun? Let's go!

Smoking Wood from The Bruery

The Beer: Born Yesterday Pale Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Date Tasted: 11/1/14
Brewery Notes: Lagunitas harvested fresh hops from Yakima Valley, dumped them un-kilned (so all the oils were preserved) in a batch of their regular pale ale. They also then bottled and delivered the beer within 24 hours for an optimally fresh experience. A feat to be sure!
Major Takeaway: Yes! So good! Find it now, love it asap!
Appearance: Clear light gold and very bubbly, nice cap of creamy soft foam
Aroma: SUPER aromatic — you can practically see it hanging over the glass like a cloud. Sweet hops, hop flower, citrus, marijuana (hee!), lemon candy, citrus zest, peach?, fresh fruit, tart
Taste: Light malts — biscuity/cracker-like. Rounded hop flavor present throughout. Good amount of straight-up hopitude — perfume, head-on bitterness, citrus pith — that also lingers on into the finish. Looooove how the aroma and the flavors come together as you sip.

The Beer: Hop Trip Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewery
Date Tasted: 10/30/14
Brewery Notes: Another fresh-hopped beer to celebrate the fall hop harvest!
Major Takeaway: Nicely bracing, very easy to drink
Appearance: Sunset orange and very clear with a long-lasting cap of off-white foam
Aroma: Fruity hops, sweet peach and lemon, a hit of fresh hop flower aroma (especially as it warms), heady and appealing
Taste: Super nice. Lots of hop flavor, but not aggressively bitter. Citrus pith bitterness hits mid-tongue and then lingers on into the finish. Lots of juicy orange and lemon flavors.

The Beer: Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale from Sam Adams
Date Tasted: 10/22/14
Brewery Notes: Special fall release with 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel
Major Takeaway: A good one if you like pumpkin spice flavors and malty brews
Appearance: Clear russet with a fizzy cap of off-white foam
Aroma: Toasty malty, like wet leaves on a fall day (in the best possible way!)
Taste: Warm baking spices — very well-balanced and not too aggressive. Surprisingly full-bodied, almost syrupy, but just shy of cloying. Super smooth. Nutty, soft caramels, bread and winter baked goods. To be honest, I don't really taste "pumpkin" per se, but that's fine with me. Still a tasty brew on a chilly fall day.

The Beer: Smoking Wood from The Bruery
Date Tasted: 10/4/14
Brewery Notes: Imperial porter brewed with beachwood and cherrwood smoked malts, and aged in rye whiskey barrels.
Major Takeaway: Perfect after-dinner beer, especially for Thanksgiving
Appearance: Opaque brown/black, dark foam (almost purple!)
Aroma: Black strap molasses, tobacco/cigar, old leather, wet firewood, peat, burnt sugar
Taste: Less heavy than expected, which makes it very drinkable. Slick and so so so smooth. Like velvet. Tastes of burnt caramel, melted brown sugar, dried plums and figs, some nice oakiness and vanilla from the barrel-aging (maybe a tad too much for my taste? A bit tannic and drying). Alcohol warms the throat. The smokiness lingers in the aftertaste, otherwise the beer finishes very clean. Reminds me of dark fruit cake.

The Beer: Peach Porch Lounger (Lips of Faith Series) from New Belgium Brewing Company
Date Tasted: Beer was bottled September 2012; tasted 9/5/14
Major Takeaway: Perfectly tasty, but I was hoping for more funky Brett character
Appearance: Very clear, very warm gold color, super foamy head that settles down into a sticky film
Aroma: Funky, boozy, a bit sherry. Fruity, but not necessarily peach
Taste: I first tasted this right after it was bottled and wrote about it on The Kitchn — I liked it then, but was a little underwhelmed and hoped that some aging would develop its character. I meant to taste it after a year, but then forgot about it (as happens...) and just got around to tasting it now! This 2-year-old bottle has aged well. It's nicely crisp with a more rounded fruitiness than I remember in the younger beer. Lots of soft peach and stone fruit flavors. There's some barnyard funk from the Brett yeast, but I expected more after 2 years of aging. As it is, it's still a very pleasant, easy-drinking beer, perfect for splitting with a friend over a late lunch.

Peach Porch Lounger (Lips of Faith Series) from New Belgium Brewing Company

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