Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon) – Jubelale 2008 (Winter Seasonal)
One of my all time favorite beers, the Jubelale is back for the fall and winter season. Yes! This strong ale is a dark mahogany color with a beautiful dark fruits (apple resin) and spices (cinnamon, coffee) aroma. It avoids the burst of evergreen pine that many IPA’s have, it is subtler and yet more stable and even more mature tasting (An IPA tastes experimental compared). The taste is very full but not overly complex and it actually does taste like the holiday season; I don’t know how they do it, but I immediately think of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the snow. This beer gives you the comfort of a porter or stout but without the heaviness, and with some extra hoppy kick that is classic for the Pacific Northwest. Don’t pass this one by.
Hale’s Ales (Seattle, Washington) – Kölsch
I should have reviewed this one earlier in the year because I just found out that this Kölsch is only supposed to run through August. I can still find it at Whole Foods, and probably New Seasons, Belmont Station, etc. (in Portland). If you live outside Portland, you need to call your best beer store. The bottle says “German Style Ale” and I don’t know what makes it that. Some reviews I’ve read say that it is not a “real” Kölsch. Whatever it is, or isn’t, it IS a really great tasting beer. I enjoy the simplicity of it, and it’s earthy quality. It has a roasted nut and toasted bread taste to it while remaining a bit thin. The warmer, toastier, taste sort of swells a little after you swallow and then it rounds out. There are some hops added that give it just a tad more kick than I would expect from a German beer. Try to pick this one up before it disappears, it may come back every year too, but I don’t know that for sure…
Bridgeport Brewery (Portland, Oregon) – Hop Czar
Another beer that may be leaving stores soon. Pick it up ASAP at Belmont Station, Whole Foods, or New Seasons… maybe call them first. Brideport’s Hop Czar is an IPA that I consider to be the classic beer for the Pacific NW (the Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale is another classic). IPA’s have since become testing grounds for ultra hoppy and bitter qualities that you would find in say a Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA or Double Mountains Hop Lava. The Hop Czar from Bridgeport could be considered, by some, to have the same classic feeling as the normal IPA, but an instant classic for all these new Imperial and Double IPA’s. I don’t know if I would go that far; it’s good, but it’s new and one of the characteristics of the newer imperials/doubles is their wild quality. Bridgeport is usually more reserved. The Hop Czar is an Imperial IPA, with 8% alcohol. It has an extremely potent and noticeably sharp hop smell, like the hops were just put in the bottle or something. Consistent with Bridgeport, the drink is nicely balanced, not pulling you one way or another, and leaving you feeling great about what you just drank. Lots of citrus flavor that reminds me of lime, grapefruit, or others and has a nice lasting aftertaste. A 22oz was a bit much so I split it with friends. That’s always a good way to taste beer.