Tuesday Tastings: High Desert Museum Pale Ale, Bakke Hill Black Lager

Two tasting reviews for you for this week’s Tuesday Tastings, one very local and one from Washington.

Silver Moon Brewing High Desert Museum Pale Ale

Silver Moon High Desert Museum Pale AleThis beer was brewed for Bend’s High Desert Museum‘s Brewing Culture exhibit than ran the first half of the year, and to be honest, I thought it was a re-packaging of an existing beer (which Silver Moon has done lately for a number of private label clients)—but, I cannot find a corresponding beer so I have to assume that this was brewed, specifically, for the Museum. Nice.

It’s labeled a “Pale Ale” but is 7.8% alcohol by volume, nothing to sneeze at and to my mind puts it solidly into the IPA camp. And needless to say, because it was brewed for a specific purpose, it is extremely limited; you might yet find some for sale in the Museum gift shop, but you’ll have to come to Bend for it! Fortunately I do have one more bottle.

Appearance:  Strikingly clear, golden orange color with a crisp white head. Amazingly bright.

Smell: Tropical fruits, some of that Citra character (mango, citrus), nettles, and a hint of cattiness.

Taste: Hoppy-bitter and a bit woody, steely malt with a touch of tannic astringency. Not overpoweringly hoppy but definitely in IPA territory. Crisp, with a well-attenuated dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and finishes on the dry side.

Overall: Hard to call a nearly 8% beer “Pale” but it does have more of a Pale Ale hopping flavor than IPA, otherwise solid IPA characteristics. Nicely drinkable.

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Fish Brewing Bakke Hill Black Lager (Leavenworth Biers Series)

Fish Brewing Bakke Hill Black LagerI just drank this tonight in fact (the same night I’m writing up this review), and this was a bottle we picked up a week and a half ago in Welches (Oregon), coming back from an anniversary trip to the Astoria region. I initially thought it was from a Leavenworth (Washington) brewery, but actually it comes from Fish Brewing in Olympia.

Apparently it’s a bit out of season: it’s one of Fish’s winter seasonals, an “Alpine-style Seasonal Schwarzbier” normally available October through December, and is 5% abv. Here’s their description:

Bakke Hill Black Lager has an opaque, black color and a full, chocolaty or coffee flavor with a hint of vanilla. Although it shares some similar flavors, this German style is milder tasting and less bitter than British stouts or porters.

It is a light to medium-bodied, malt-accented dark brew, very opaque and deep-sepia in color, with a chewy texture and a firm, creamy, long-lasting head. In spite of its dark color, it comes across as a soft and elegant brew that is rich, mild, and surprisingly balanced.

Despite being six months out of season, I enjoyed it.

Appearance: Black as advertised, opaque, with a tan irregular head. Deep garnet color when held to direct light.

Smell: Roasted malts with that light char/coffee character that’s grainy with a touch of astringency. Clean with a depth of maltiness.

Taste: Clean coffee profile with roasty woodiness from the dark malts, low hoppiness but a good smooth balance. Mellow, has an almost creamy coffee profile as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body, clean and balanced finished, very smooth.

Overall: A nicely done, well-brewed lager, restrained.

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