Since visiting (and writing about) Gigantic Brewing last month, and quite liking it, I realized I had stockpiled reviews of their first three bottled beers—IPA, The City Never Sleeps, and Axes of Evil. (In fact, so far I believe these are the only three that have made it to bottles. I don’t know what will be next, but their Dyn-O-Mite! Imperial IPA would be a good choice.)
Without further ado, I present you three Gigantic beers:
Gigantic IPA, 7.3% abv
This is their flagship beer, the first of their beers to be bottled (it’s “#1” in the series) and one that is bottled year-round, that Lisa Morrison calls one of the best beers she has ever had. My first encounter with it was at the Oregon Garden Brewfest, and it was good but my notes read, “Big and bold and full of resins, stems, and pungent. Sticky and big Northwest IPA, as expected, nice if a little raw/rough around the edges.” It was in fact so new that it had been kegged only the day before, which is what I attributed that roughness to.
Of course after drinking it again I’m happy to report it’s lost that rough edge.
Appearance: Honey-orange in color with a big dense pile (at least two fingers) of off-white head, lacey and frothy.
Smell: Very aromatic, juicy and it pops with tropical citrus notes and bright fresh scents of guava and a bit of resin. A hint of cattiness, and some biscuity malt.
Taste: Big bitterness up front, with resiny, lightly pitchy hops giving a clean if slightly oily character. Malt character is toasty and soft, a nice bready quality that’s rich but mellow. Hop bitterness is solid and a touch woody but with none of the fruity characters in the nose. Really well done.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a chewy, hoppy bite and a resiny but clean bitter aftertaste.
Overall: Really nice IPA, rock solid in its makeup and much better than the first taste I had at the Oregon Garden Brewfest. Great addition to Oregon’s IPAs.
The City Never Sleeps, Imperial Black Saison, 7.6%
This is the #2 beer in their bottled series—which, except for the year-round IPA, is an ever-changing lineup—and one I also first encountered during the Oregon Garden Brewfest, at the brewers dinner.
Appearance: Dark brown pour that looks fairly black in the glass. Tan head has a foamy-coffee look.
Smell: Chocolatey nose with a hint of roasted whole coffee beans. This leads into a light Belgian-y aroma of fruity phenols—very light—and maybe peppercorns.
Taste: Bitter chocolate character that strongly reminds me of porter. Somewhat dry with a dusting of spicy phenolics (something akin to cloves and ground pepper) and mustard greens. Coffee-ish bite to it as well, and the darker roast character hides “saison” from me.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a dry, dusty finish, a bit like bitter cocoa.
Overall: Really nice drinker, but there’s really not any “saison” and only hints of Belgian character.
Axes of Evil, English-style Pale Ale, 6%
The third and newest of their bottled offerings, Axes of Evil was brewed in collaboration with Indiana’s Three Floyds, and it was one I first tried at the Brewery during the Oregon Brewfest weekend. In going over my notes from both, I find that I liked the on-tap version better than the bottled version—although I’m not saying the bottled version isn’t good.
Appearance: Copper color, slightly burnished, with nice pile of off-white head.
Smell: Bright, zesty and sticky. Malt sweetness verging on cloying alternating with a nettle-like(?) bitterness.
Taste: A mustard-greens-bitterness, earthy, solidly bitter with a rich malt base—clean, sweet but with a dry(ish) finish. The hops are actually kind of one-note in that big earthy bitterness they offer up. “Earthy” in this context is to me like… horseradish without any heat.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a dry finish and crisp snap.
Overall: Decent, but the one-note hop isn’t very interesting.