Monday, January 30th, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 1.30.17: A Flight of Desert Island

Ron Swarner


Peaks and Pints has a proclivity toward lists and the ranking of favorites. High Fidelity inspires desert island-record discussions. March Madness is a drug. And when we were just Hills and Schooners, we’d sit cross-legged in the living room, surrounded by sorted mounds of Halloween candy and conduct elaborate trades and negotiations based on our arbitrarily prized possessions. The point being: we’re no different today. Building a desert island list is a delicate task. With records, you need to take into account all the different styles, eras, and at least one sentimental favorite. You probably want some reggae in there, being on an island. So while ranking Halloween candy may be less nuanced, picking just five craft beers to drink for all of sand-locked eternity seems unfair, if not impossible.

Or in other words, fun.

Like records, our favorite beers change frequently —every time we walk into Peaks and Pints. But here’s what we’re thinking today — Craft Beer Crosscut 1.30.17: A Flight of Desert Island.

North-Coast-Scrimshaw-Pilsner-TacomaThe Go-To Quaff: North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner

4.7% ABV, 22 IBUs

We need one lighter beer, a refreshing lager we can drink by the case while watching the game (better believe our desert island gets NFL Sunday Ticket). This beer is also necessary for pairing with the fresh seafood our monkey butlers bring in off the trawler every morning. Our go-to here is Chuckanut Pilsner, or in Fantasy Island, we’d take Pilsner Urquell, unfiltered and fresh from Plzeň. But no, if we really have to pick just one, it’s North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner from Fort Bragg, California. It’s as light as Tahitian sand and brewed in the finest European tradition using Munich malt and Hallertauer and Tettnang hops. Scrimshaw has a subtle hop character, a crisp, clean palate and a dry finish.

Abbaye-Notre-Dame-de-Saint-Remy-Trappistes-Rochefort-8-TacomaSomething For The Palate: Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy Trappistes Rochefort 8

9.2% ABV, 22 IBUs

We’re going to want to invite guests over to the desert island, and we’ll need something classy to pair with a fine cheese plate. Something in the Belgian style seems in order; we’d go with a Trappist like Rochefort 8. The mouthfeel is amazing.  The dense foam gives way to a pleasant and natural feeling carbonation that is deliciously creamy, and reminiscent of a root beer float.  The malt delivers a strong sweetness, followed by yeasty earth tones of oak and vinous quality, then sweet raisin, plum and figs coming through as the focus. Rochefort’s dry finish cuts through the rich flavors, and leaves dark fruit notes on the tongue long after the swallow.

Sierra-Nevada-Chicocabra-Imperial-Stout-TacomaSentimental favorite #1: Sierra Nevada Chicocabra Imperial Stout

8.3% ABV

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp is the ultimate brewing experience. The Chico, California, brewery invites beer industry folks and fans into its brewery for three days where Beer Campers tour every nook and cranny of the brewery, then brew their own beer on Sierra Nevada’s pilot brewing system with its head brewer, Abe Kabakoff. Peaks and Pints co-owner Ron Swarner was part of the 10-member Beer Camp #175 in July 2016, where he did all that and much more. His Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #175 Chicocabra Imperial Stout is decadent with rich notes of toffee and chocolate balanced by bright, fruit-forward hop aromas.

Hop-Valley-Alphadelic-IPA-TacomaIPA, At Least One: Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA

6.7% ABV, 90 IBUs

What’s life without hops? Sad and alone on a desert island, that’s what. But if there’s a Hop Valley Alphadelic in our coconut shell, we’re doing it right. Graham cracker malts smooth out a piney hop bouquet. On the tongue, sweet, bready malts connect with dynamic resiny, piney hops that flourish and linger into the finish. It has the threat of intense bitterness, you can feel it coming on, but it stops just short and delivers smooth, even hop character without overpowering the palate.

Dicks-Brewing-Barley-Wine-TacomaMellow And Complex: Dick’s Brewing Barley Wine

9.9% ABV, 60 IBUs

We need a slow sipper for the island campfire, so we’re leaning toward a barleywine. If your cognac habit is outpacing your bank account, switch to barleywines and you’ll never look back, especially the Great American Beer Festival 2016 Barleywine silver medalist Dick’s Brewing Barley Wine. Yes, Dick’s pushes the malts and hops push to balance extremes, like extinguishing an overly spicy dish with a gob of mayo. But, it’s an easy drinking beer with an assertive sweetness but is not overly sweet. On our fantasy island, it’s delivered in fresh casks via helicopter.