For this week’s Tuesday Tastings I’m going very seasonal, with a selection of harvest beers appropriate for the autumn.
Gilgamesh Brewing Fresh Prince of Ales
Gilgamesh Brewing out of Salem, Oregon, brews a number of unusual ales (including Mamba—not hopped but steeped instead with black tea, which is not my favorite) and has several with punny names. Case in point: they have a wheat beer they named DJ Jazzy Hef, so it’s only natural they have a Fresh Prince, right? Hence, Fresh Prince of Ales—a fresh hop IPA. They say:
A double IPA brewed with copious amounts of Centennial hops fresh off the vines. This triple wet-hopped ale has a golden color, short-lived bitterness, and an astounding aroma.
It’s 7.8% abv with 87 IBUs, which doesn’t really push it into “Double IPA” territory by my reckoning—just an upper-tier IPA.
Appearance: Orange, relatively clear, a bit golden amber when held to the light. Off white eggshell head.
Smell: Pungent with fruity hop sweetness, juicy, with mango and dried pineapple, and makes me think “hop candy.” A bit of fresh-cut grass as well.
Taste: It’s on the maltier side of an American IPA, with a nice green, lightly vegetal hop presence. Peppery arugula notes. Malt goes old-school with caramel flavors but it works. Mellow and subtle.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and a touch cake-y.
Overall: Nice done; one of the better Gilgamesh beers I’ve had (in general) and a good fresh hop beer for the season.
Fish Brewing out of Olympia, Washington has a series of German-styled beers dubbed their Leavenworth Biers—which for a while I thought was a separate brewery out of Leavenworth, Washington. Or, they originated in Leavenworth but are now contract brewed by Fish; I’m not entirely clear on what’s going on there. Regardless, they make nice-tasting lagers and I couldn’t resist picking up the Oktoberfest when in Washington last month.
Released in celebration of autumn’s arrival, Oktoberfest is a medium-bodied bier crafted in the Leavenworth tradition. This richly amber seasonal owes its smooth, malty flavor to a large percentage of Munich malt. In the classic German tradition, we add both noble Tettnanger and imported Tradition hops for an authentic Oktoberfest hop aroma.
It’s an easy-drinking 5.5% abv.
Appearance: Rich red-amber color, very clear, with lots of bubbles continuously rising to feed the lacy off-white head.
Smell: Nicely caramel in the nose, some toffee, and a hint of old leather. Clean, though maybe there’s just a touch of DMS… sulfur.
Taste: There’s some roasty malt bitterness that kicks through at the back, some nice Vienna malt flavors, a bit honey-sweet. Grassy hops, where they’re detectable. Almost clean.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a not-quite-so-clean finish in that roasted malt character.
Overall: Decent, a sweet and drinkable version of the style.
Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Black Pumpkin Oatmeal Stout
Of course a pumpkin beer! Buffalo Bill’s is widely credited with brewing the first modern American pumpkin ale back in the 1980s, in doing so setting the precedent for the pumpkin-spiced pale/amber formula used by many breweries today. When I first discovered their Pumpkin Ale way back in the 90s I thought it was a great example of the “style”; these days, not so much—I find it to be a much thinner, too-sharply spiced beer.
However when I found this beer in Washington I was intrigued, and had to pick it up. It’s definitely a departure from their traditional offering.
A creamy oatmeal stout layered with pumpkin, spice, and chocolate accents. Black Pumpkin Oatmeal Stout boasts a rich roasted malt flavor, subtle sweetness and 7.5% ABV.
Appearance: Deep cola brown pour with amply fizzy brown head. Opaque.
Smell: Chocolate with warming spices; cinnamon and allspice along with a touch of chili? A dusting of cocoa powder and some burnt marshmallow round it out.
Taste: Toasty, dry spices, bittersweet chocolate with a maple sweetness. Some nice roastiness in the malts here. Looking for the pumpkin, though, it’s not immediately apparent; a bit of squashy vegetal character comes out a bit as it warms. Nicely spiced without overdoing it.
Mouthfeel: Mostly full-bodied with a nice bit of creaminess, it finished dry(ish).
Overall: This is a nice one from Buffalo Bill’s, compared to the current state of their regular Pumpkin Ale.