I haven’t done many beer reviews of late, partially because of the book and partially because I’ve simply fallen behind and haven’t written as many straight-up reviews as I used to. So, I’m killing four birds with one stone here, offering up my notes on the beers that come in the Portland Brewing four-pack (and which they had sent to me awhile back). Two of these are year-round, and two are seasonals (I believe I’ve still seen the four-pack box on shelves too).
IPA: 6.5% abv, 70 IBUs. They write:
With a darker golden color and some of the most popular citrusy IPA hops as well as Sterling for a bit of spiciness in the finish, our IPA is hoppy like a Northwest IPA should be. Five different hops and a soft malt backing make for one great, easy-drinking ale.
Appearance: Amber-orange, with a creamy dense head.
Smell: Nice American hop aroma profile, bright, with biscuity malt notes. Earthy bittering hops come out at the back.
Taste: Malty caramel notes, earthy bitterness up front that lingers on the tongue. A touch of roast balances well with the hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a dry, bitter, lingering finish.
Overall: Nice IPA, malty and drinkable in the “old” Pacific Northwest style. (Is there such a thing as the “old” Pacific Northwest style? Discuss.)
MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale: 5.1% abv, 32 IBUs. Their flagship beer and best-known brand. They write:
MacTarnahan’s is a deep copper-hued Amber Ale dry-hopped with Cascade hops from the great Northwest. That’s what gives Mac’s its crisp, complex flavor. One taste of our Mac’s Amber Ale and you’ll experience the tradition of a true Portland original. It’s damn good beer.
Appearance: Two fingers of off-white or light tan head over a clear amber body, a bit lighter than brown bottle glass. It looks great.
Smell: Nice subtle hop spiciness punctuates a caramel brown malt base. Mellow and well-balanced. A touch of catty hops?
Taste: Bracing, spicy play of hops over a very clean malt backbone that speaks more to bready, roasty malts than crystal. Dry and clean. A hint of sweeter malts at the back.
Mouthfeel: A bit light of medium-bodied, very clean finish.
Overall: A nice beer with a pleasant hop kick, very drinkable, though perhaps I might say it’s a bit too polished? (Perhaps don’t filter it so much?)
BlackWatch Cream Porter: 5.3% abv, 27 IBUs. Seasonal. They write:
BlackWatch is an honorably smooth Cream Porter brewed with an infantry of malts to battle subpar porters.
“Honorably smooth”? Hmm.
Appearance: Pours dark brown to opaque in the glass, with a nice pile of whipped tan head.
Smell: Dusty dark grains with a bit of coffee—like a sweet iced coffee. Nice mellow roastiness, nothing too big; clean.
Taste: Sweetly malty with a light body that leads to the iced coffee impression I get in the nose. Touch of roast, hint of astringency off of that. Creamy body and mellow, with a sweetish aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: A bit light of medium-bodied, creamy-clean finish.
Overall: Nice drinker, well brewed if a little tame.
Royal Anne Cherry Stout: 7.8% abv, 50 IBUs. A limited release but one that I see pop up from time to time. They write:
An underlying sweetness from the addition of Oregon-grown cherries, including the Royal Anne variety, balances the roasty notes of chocolate and coffee in this deep, dark stout.
Appearance: Opaque near-black color with ruby cola highlights, and two fingers of mocha head.
Smell: Creamy fruit notes over a mellow dark roast body. Cherry pits. Some more roast/black patent as it warms.
Taste: Nice representation of a sweet stout, roasty with a slightly creamy sweetness happening (yes, I just turned “sweetness” into a verb); some stone fruit but not nearly as pronounced as you’d expect. A bit more tart cherry comes through at the back, a touch tannic and dry.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a lighter presence. Starts sweet and finishes dry and roasty.
Overall: Nice stout, though I’d like more cherry in it.