Calapooia Norman Ale

Calapooia Brewing Norman AleTonight I cracked open a bottle of Calapooia Brewing‘s Norman Ale, the collaboration Northwest Pale Ale they brewed in conjunction with the band Norman whose new album Into the Eventyr was just released this week (yesterday, in fact). You’ll remember this was the bottle I received a few weeks ago, along with the album itself.

I’ve been listening to the album these past couple of weeks to get a feel for it, and while I’m not a hardcore music aficionado I rather quite like it. Maybe it’s the power of suggestion but to me the music does have a pretty strong Portland/western Oregon feel to it, the occasional song simultaneously layered with hints of grunge and 70s folk rock. I do particularly like the first song on the track, “Hawk” which heads up the album as the first single.

So, the beer. Norman approached Calapooia to brew up what could be considered a fairly representative “northwest” beer to accompany the album, a hoppy, drinkable pale ale, and according to the press release it wasn’t just hiring a brewery to contract up a beer:

Norman worked personally with the brewers who hand-crafted this ale and not only inspired its production, but actually took party in the brewing process.

The beer itself is 5% abv, eschewing the usual practice of brewing up a special-release beer like this to extremes (11% barrel-aged rustic quadruple IPA brewed at sea with truffle and porcinis, anyone?), making this a welcome easy-drinking beer to accompany the music.

You can see in the picture it’s a really nice dark honey gold color, clear, with a white head. On the nose it’s sweet and grainy, full of honey malts and caramel, with a kiss of spicy hops. To me it has kind of a classic malty amber ale profile which I quite like.

In flavor the hops comes through: it has a woody, earthy bitterness that’s clean and dry and plays well off the grainy body built from a clean and steely-roast malt that enhances the bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, clean, crisp, and dry. Though not at IPA levels it’s definitely a Northwest Pale Ale with enough hops to keep the northwest palate interested, with a lingering hoppiness. Very pleasantly drinkable, and yes I think it pairs well with the album: both are very nicely “Oregon.”

And as a bonus for reading all the way to the end of this review, a surprise: if you scan the QR code on the label of the bottle with your smartphone, you will receive a free download of the entire “Into the Eventyr” album! So even if you haven’t heard Norman’s music before, seek out a bottle of Norman Ale and you will—and you’ll be glad you did.

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