Friday, August 25th, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 8.25.17: A Flight of Pine

Ron Swarner


Peaks-and-Pints-Tacoma-Beer-FlightIf you are like most, identifying trees is a challenge and there are really only two categories of trees that exist to you: 1) pine, like a Christmas tree; 2) not pine. Pine trees are evergreen, coniferous resinous trees growing 10-260 feet tall, with the majority of species reaching 50-150 feet tall. Pines are long-lived, some shooting their first roots well before Jesus, before Rome, before most forms of civilization whatsoever. And the extra oxygen? Yes, pines filter countless pounds of CO2 though all those sun-dappled branches to make us healthier, And happier. Because of pine trees. We mean, clearly. Sadly, many millions live nowhere near a good, healthy clump of pine trees, much less a deep, funky forest that, within minutes of entering, works some feral voodoo on your id and makes you realize, with a profound karmic thump, “I just might have this rat-race thing all wrong.” The only pine in those sad people’s lives are pine IPAs. Ah, you knew that was coming. After all, this little ditty is all about today’s beer flight, which is, obviously, Craft Beer Crosscut 8.25.17: A Flight of Pine. Yes, we talking bold, hop-forward IPAs straight from the forests of the Pacific Northwest, with pine and citrus aromas. Pine/Piney flavors are most commonly found in IPAs brewed with high amounts of American hops. Many American hop varieties have some pine character to them, such as Cascade hops, which can produce a nice mix of pine, grapefruit and citrus flavors. For bolder flavors of pine, look for IPAs brewed with Simcoe, Chinook or a combination of both hops. Some examples of commercially brewed craft beers using these hops are in today’s craft beer flight.

Fish-Tale-Organic-India-Pale-Ale-TacomaFish Tale Organic India Pale Ale

6.75 ABV, 42 IBU

Fish Tale Ales expanded its portfolio of organic beers with new cans that reflects Fish Brewing‘s commitment to sustainability and adding two new styles. Organic Porter and Organic Red Ale join the Olympia brewery’s already established organic offering, India Pale Ale. “Cans are recyclable, lighter, chill faster and are often welcome where glass bottles are not, Fish Tale Ales is thrilled to provide its customers the best possible vessel to house our organic series of beers,” says Sal Leone, Fish Brewing’s president. Fish Tale Organic India Pale Ale is brewed with organic pale and crystal malts for a firm malt body to balance an assertive hop profile featuring organic Cascade and Centennial hops grown in the Yakima Valley. The old school IPA drinks bready with toasty malt flavor, some caramel and lots of pine.

Ecliptic-Orbiter-IPA-TacomaEcliptic Orbiter

7.4% ABV, 75 IBU

In 2015, famed Ecliptic Brewing brewer John Harris launched Orbiter IPA replacing previous flagship Arctus IPA. Orbiter united a constellation of “C” hops — Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Columbus — to create a formidable India Pale Ale with pine resin qualities and a healthy dose of grapefruit-like characteristics. It’s malty backbone stayed out of the way of the starring hops. It’s an old school, Northwest style IPA.

The-Hop-Concept-Hop-Freshener-Series-Citrus-and-Piney-TacomaThe Hop Concept Hop Freshener Series: Citrus & Piney

8.5% ABV, 75 IBU

Every quarter, The Hop Concept releases a limited run of a new IPA in a set of four called The Hop Freshener Series. These beers explore new hop combinations, using both traditional and experimental hops. The latter are all the rage these days, with growers providing samples to brewers in hopes of garnering enough interest to plant crops and make them full-time offerings, such as Azacca. To give consumers an idea of what to expect right off the bat, rather than come up with cheeky or alliterative names for beers in The Hop Freshener Series, the monikers consist of two descriptors of the beer’s bouquet and flavor profile, such as Citrus & Piney, The Hop Concept IPA in today’s beer flight. Citrus & Piney receives its flavors from a hop blend of Azacca, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and experimental hops 06277 and 05256. Dip you nose into aromas of bold orange peel and honey with a faint hint of bready malt. The citrus and piney are both on full display, with tangerine and grapefruit notes that lead to a crisp spicy finish.

Gigantic-IPA-TacomaGigantic IPA

7.3% ABV, 85 IBU

The simply named flagship of Portland’s Gigantic Brewing Co. isn’t quite as burly as the name would imply — in actuality, it’s pretty quaffable. Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe —it’s a classic West Coast IPA all the way, with a refreshing bevy of citrus and pine flavors. The malt backing is significant with some lightly sweet cracker/biscuit qualities coming through, but the hops do most of the work. It’s medium-full bodied and finishes with an assertive bitterness that lingers.

Rainy-Daze-Only-The-Tip-DIPA-TacomaRainy Daze Only The Tip DIPA

9.9% ABV, 95 IBU

“This is my prized beer to date,” Rainy Daze Brewing Co. founder and had brewer Mike Montoney​ stated in 2014 when he emerged from his then small Kitsap County brewery holding high his Only The Tip double IPA. His Goat Boater IPA and others might be more on his mind today, but Only The Tip is still freakin’ delicious. Montoney dumps spruce tips from Sitka, Alaska into each batch, giving the IPA fruity and piney characteristics of the spruce. It’s dank, for sure. Heavy and tick, too. That said, the 9.9 percent ABV is hidden well.