Today’s Peaks and Pints Craft Beer Crosscut flight is for the two bearded dudes wearing Sierra Nevada T-shirts arguing about the merits of Cascade hops in front of our cooler yesterday. If you had more than one American craft beer, chances are you’ve tasted Cascade hops. Named for the Cascade Mountain Range, Cascade hops — a crossbreed of English Fuggle and Russian Serebrianker — were developed by the U.S.D.A breeding program in Oregon and released to the public in 1972. Flavors of pine, citrus, and floral undertones give these beers their life and personality. And a moderate alpha level (think bitterness) lends them their versatility as both aroma and bittering hop.
Peaks and Pints Craft Beer Crosscut for Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, gathers craft beers flying their Cascade freak flags.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
5.6% ABV, 38 IBUs
A tip of the cap to the iconic pale ale that makes all the others in this flight possible. First brewed in 1980, Sierra Nevada was the craft that started appearing next to Bud and Miller handles, thus shifting the beer landscape of what people wanted to drink. It was a victory of flavor over, uh, liquid. It has a deep amber color and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.
Lagunitas Brewing IPA
6.2% ABV, 46 IBUs
IPA was Lagunitas Brewing Co.‘s first seasonal, released in 1995. The beer’s labels claim it’s “made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts,” which would be badass if true, if wildly impractical. Cascade and Centennial are in the greatest abundance, and they combine to deliver flavors and aromas of citrus zest, bitter pine, grass, earth and just a pinch of crystal malt to keep the hops in proportion.
Bear Rebublic Brewing Racer 5
7.5% ABV, 75 IBUs
Family run Bear Republic Brewing Co., based in northern California, has embraced the kind of high-octane styles that have become synonymous with West Coast craft brewers. The big beers they produce, with lots of hops and inventive names, have lent Bear Republic a dedicated following. None more than its Racer 5. Using the four Cs —Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial — this beer has it all. A big hop bomb is dropped in the front of the palate, followed by notes of grapefruit, pine, and citrus. This beer is incredibly full-bodied as well.
Two Beers Brewing Wonderland Trail IPA
7.1% ABV, 84 IBUs
Joel VandenBrink, the founder of Two Beers Brewing Co., hiked the 93-mile trail circumnavigating Mount Rainier solo. He dreamed of above 80 International Bitterness Units while hiking through Mystic Camp at 5,570 feet. He believed he could push an IPA close to the alcohol by volume mark of a double IPA as he trudged along the South Mowich River. He drew inspiration mixing strong citrus flavor hops with hops boasting earthy, pine characteristics while traversing along a ridge to Devil’s Dream Camp. Wonderland Trail IPA is the product of nearly two years of recipe development. Featuring a seamless blend of Washington-grown hops, this flavorful Northwest-style IPA is brewed with Cascade, Amarillo, Mosaic and Legacy hops, then dry hopped with Citra and Mosaic hops, complemented by 2-Row, Vienna and Munich malts. On the nose, a slightly sweet aroma of tangerine is followed by a wave of citrus and passion fruit on the palate, finishing clean and refreshing.
Silver City Brewing Whoop Pass Double IPA
8.5% ABV, 85 IBUs
More than 50 lbs. of Washington state Cascade and Columbus hops are infused, injected, or otherwise inflicted upon a single 15-barrel batch of Silver City Whoop Pass Double IPA. This lupulin licker hits the nose with dank floral aromas with hints of bready malt and alcohol. Sweet, candy malt flavor giving way to generous piney and floral hop flavor with a long, dry hop linger. Welcome to Hop Country.