Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 1.22.17: A flight of lagers and ales

Ron Swarner

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It’s a wickedly simple concept. Gather ye together five craft beers, pour 5-ounce samples of each and drink and self-deprecate and laugh easily and look at the chap next to you and chat up the crazy mixture of styles. But, you know, in a good way. Today’s Peaks and Pints Craft Beer Crosscut sample flight is a hodgepodge of goodness.

Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider Und Sohn Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock

12% ABV, 15 IBUs

Eisbock is a traditional German beer that is made by freezing off and removing water to further concentrate flavor, body and alcohol content. In other words, eisbocks tend to be complex and extraordinarily rich beers that aren’t for the faint of heart (or weary of liver). This particular eisbock is dark and cloudy, with a smooth malty taste and creamy, syrupy feel. Rum, coffee, fruity flavors abound.

Wander Global Mutt Baltic Porter

7% ABV, 42 IBUs

Unlike English porters, Baltic porters are lagers, not ales. When England introduced porters to the Balkans region of Europe, the people balked at the ale. They were lager yeast folks. These creative brewers used lager yeast and began brewing stronger and stronger versions of the English porter, creating what today is known as Baltic porter — almost a lager version of an imperial stout with a lot of roasted character, chocolaty notes, and hints of coffee and creaminess. Wander Brewing Co. in Bellingham is all about global Baltic porters. Its Global Mutt Baltic porter sources its coffee direct from a farmer in Brazil, fair trade cocoa nibs from the Democratic Republic of Congo, chocolate from Theo’s in Seattle, water from Bellingham (duh), hops from Yakima and specialty malt from Europe. It’s big and delicious.

Holy Mountain Black Beer

4.5% ABV

Holy Mountain makes distinctive yeast-forward beers, easy-drinking saisons, Belgian pale ales and arguably the best session black ale in all the land, Black Beer. Black Beer is brewed traditionally with respect to some of the great British brewers. Think of it as hybrid of a dark mild and a porter — a drinkable, malty ale is brewed with roasted and flaked barley, London Ale yeast and hopped with East Kent Golding. Flaked barley helps to increase the mouthfeel while keeping it low ABV. It’s tasty enough to sip; light enough to quench a thirst.

Maui POG IPA

7.1% ABV 58 IBUs

Maui Brewing Co., a popular Hawaii-based brewery located two blocks from the ocean at what is nearly the westernmost spot on Maui, was founded in 2005 and distributes its canned beers to 11 states, primarily west of the Rockies. Maui’s POG IPA is brewed with Horizon hops to provide a clean bitterness. A late whirlpool addition with a blend of Hawaiian-grown passionfuit, orange and guava — and a dry hop including El Dorado and Enigma hops — provide tropical juicy aromatics and a slight citrus bite on the finish.

Mac & Jack’s Cascadian Dark Ale

7% ABV, 70 IBUs

The mention of “Black IPA” is usually followed up by, “Shall we take this outside?” Brewers debate, sometimes fiercely, over what this emerging style should be called. There seems to be some confusion over how something “black” can also be called “pale.” Therefore, it’s also referred to as an American-style India Black Ale (IBA) or, when the dominant hop is American-grown Cascade, a Cascadian Dark Ale. Regardless of the name, the style is found among some of the fastest-growing brands and is craved by hopheads who like distinctively bitter beers. The mention of “Mac & Jack’s” is usually not followed by, “Shall we take this outside?” — because usually you can’t take it outside. For more than 20 years the iconic Washington state brewery only produced keg craft beers, although recently began bottling its beers. Anyhoo, Mac & Jack’s Cascadian Dark Ale has all the rich malty goodness you would expect from dark ale but accented by the hop kick of an IPA. Velvety smooth, fresh figs, molasses cookies, roasted malt flavor compliment citrus and floral aroma.