Below Grade Brewing, first look

Two Saturdays ago it was announced that Below Grade Brewing announced that they would be pouring their beer for the first time in Bend at the Saturday farmers market in NorthWest Crossing (the Bend neighborhood in which they’re based); so, we made plans to hit up the farmers market and check out their beers.

First impression—even though they’re only pouring at special events right now, they’ve hit the ground running with their collateral and merchandise: hats, growlers, cozies, and such with their logo screened onto them, and it’s a nice-looking bit of collateral.

Below Grade Brewing

As for the beers, I was able to get a sample of all three for $5: they have launched with a German Hefeweizen, and Old Ale, and a Double (Imperial) IPA for their flagship beers.

Below Grade Brewing beers

Clockwise, from upper left: Double IPA, Old Ale, German Hefeweizen

The stats for each beer are:

  • Hefeweizen: 7.7% ABV, “Pale and cloudy, fruity notes and aroma”
  • Old Ale: 8% ABV, “Dark red-brown, low bitterness, caramel and mild chocolate”
  • Double IPA: 8.4% ABV, 100+ IBUs, “Intense hop character, citrusy, complex bold flavors”

Below Grade Brewing beer details

The Old Ale was the standout; I think it hit the nail pretty much on the head for the style, and even at 8% is a nicely drinkable beer.

The Hefeweizen, unfortunately, was entirely off-balance: a German Hefe should really be no more than 4.5% ABV, this one was a good 3% too strong. Not a bad beer, but any German Hefe character that should have been present was overwhelmed by the alcohol. It was thick, and sweet.

The Double IPA was a good, solid example of a DIPA: nice bitter punch, sticky and resiny, but it did lack a big aromatic “pop” in the nose. I’m thinking it wasn’t dry-hopped much, and could use a big healthy dose more for future batches. But it will please the hopheads.

Overall, they’re off to a promising start, and right now you can find them at the NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market in Bend on Saturdays; they’re filling growlers now, as well as selling beers to drink there.

3 Responses to Below Grade Brewing, first look

  1. Jim says:

    It is always scary to launch new beers to the public, but it sounds like they are ahead of the curve. Not sure about “Below Grade,” especially on taste grading sites!

    • Dean says:

      Jon,

      Thanks for coming by and sampling our beers and sharing your impressions of them. As a self-trained brewer, it is a bit scary selling my beer for the first time…not knowing how well, or how poorly, my beer would be received.

      I wanted to thank you for your fair criticism and for your insight. You were spot-on with the German Hefeweizen—I struggled (in hindsight, I don’t know why) with what to call it. The beer is actually a South German Weissbock—essentially a Double/Imperial Hefeweizen. I thought calling it a German Hefeweizen would be more recognizable/understandable…I won’t make that mistake again. As for dry-hopping the Double/Imperial IPA—it was dry hopped with copious quantities of hops; however, this time I put the hops in a hop bag to facilitate removing the hops from the fermenter; this method is not as effective at providing the “nose” as simply putting the dry hops directly into the fermenter. I don’t plan to use hop bags for dry-hopping any more.

      We’ll have a Pale Ale and very light colored IPA with fantastic hop character coming soon. Our “big” beers have proved to be very popular; but we want to offer beers that provide great flavors, just turned down a couple of notches!

      Dean Wise

  2. Jon says:

    Hi Dean, thanks for the great comments, and notes on the beers. The German Hefe makes complete sense now; I think you’d be just fine calling the Weissbock by that name itself—and if anybody asks, then “Double/Imperial Hefeweizen” is a pretty good descriptor.

    Can’t wait for the upcoming beers as well, it’s always fun to have something new to try. Good luck!