For today’s Tuesday Tastings reviews I’m drawing from the Boneyard well—Bend, Oregon’s Boneyard Beer that is. Back in November I’d written a print article on their then-new year-round beer, Incredible Pulp Blood Orange Pale Ale, and while I included some tasting notes in the article, I thought it would be interesting to post my full notes. They also then released a Doppelbock which I picked up and drank as well.
Incidentally, Boneyard is still incredibly popular in Oregon and the Northwest, and if you ever come to Bend the absolute best way to experience their beers is at their tasting room just off of downtown. The second-best way is to visit the tasting room and pick up some crowlers (32 ounce canned “growlers”) to go. They only charge $6 for a crowler fill on their regular beers ($5 on Wednesdays!), up to $9 or so for more specialized beers—this is a really great deal considering you’d be paying at least $5 for a pint elsewhere!
And, full disclosure: when I was working on the Incredible Pulp article, Boneyard provided me with a complimentary crowler fill of another beer I was interested in—Hutong Clan CDA. I bought the crowler of Incredible Pulp. And, for my article on the Central Oregon Winter Beer Fest, Boneyard also provided me with a crowler of Dominator Doppelbock (which they were pouring at the fest); I also bought a crowler of their Pabo Pils.
Boneyard Incredible Pulp Blood Orange Pale Ale
This ale is brewed with blood orange puree from Oregon Fruit Products, and is 6% alcohol by volume.
Appearance: Slightly hazy pale orange color with fizzy, tall white head. Brightly gold when held up to the light.
Smell: Bright orange notes, juicy with ample notes of bitter citrus peel and orange marmalade. Citrus-y hops backing up the fruit. Orange oil, what you get from the zest/peel of the fruit when you break into it.
Taste: Juicy pulp and prominent bitter citrus peel—very flavorful with the orange—pith, zest, spiciness. Herbal spicy hops back up the orange flavors. The malt is very light and completely gets out of the way of the fruit and hops. Very juicy and reminiscent of oranges without being cloying or sweet; the pureed fruit really comes through well.
Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, dry mid-palate then juicy and slightly acidic at the back for an orange finish.
Overall: As advertised. It’s still a Boneyard brew with prominent hops, but they’ve drawn out great flavor and juicy characteristics from the blood orange. I’m particularly impressed with how much orange character they are drawing out here.
Boneyard Dominator Doppelbock
Ever since their production brewery came online, taking much of the pressure off the original brewing location (also the location of the tasting room), Boneyard has been brewing and releasing beers beyond just the “RPM IPA range” of hoppy styles. Dominator is one such lager. It weighs in at 7.9% abv.
Appearance: Clear, deep reddish-brown in color, bright and pretty when held to the light. Head is pale tan.
Smell: Rich and deeply malty with a bit of a sweet sugary note. There’s a well-developed depth of malt complexity here, with some smoke, toasted bread, and dark fruit prominent.
Taste: That depth of malt extends into the flavor with an intense toastiness and caramelization and sweet bready grain flavor without coming off as cloying. Dates, raisins, molasses, and burnt sugar are all present and playing off each other. I can’t help but think “fruitcake.” Mellow alcohol note though you may not even notice it.
Mouthfeel: Clean, medium-full body, with a sweet and roasty finish.
Overall: A very well-balanced and complex example of the style without straying into cloyingly sweet territory. More of this, please.