This week’s Tuesday Tastings have taken on a summery theme, even though summer itself is still at least a month away. At least that what’s these beers remind me of.
I received this bottle direct from Karl Strauss Brewing recently, their new year-round offering brewed entirely with Mosaic hops (which are red-hot right now). Yes, it’s named “Session Ale” but its strength is 5.5% abv, a full percent higher than is proper for a session beer (and some would argue that line should even be drawn at 4%). I’m not going to be overly pedantic, but it’s something to note.
Back when the Mosaic hop first came on the scene, our brewers couldn’t wait to get their hands on some. Now, with three medals (and counting!) for this session beer, our crew is still just as smitten. Mosaic Session Ale is bursting with vibrant grapefruit aroma and flavors of citrus and tropical fruit. Our signature dry-hopping technique delivers an incredibly drinkable, lower ABV beer; without sacrificing hop appeal.
Appearance: Straw-yellow in color, clear, with delicate lacy white head. The description “burnished straw” occurred to me for color, whatever that might mean.
Smell: Really pungent nose—grapefruit peel, nettles or milk thistle, sweaty, dank in a very green ganja way. Melange of overripe tropical fruits, with a savory note.
Taste: Spicy-peppery is immediate impression. There’s a definite savory (greens) flavor profile. (And I can’t help but think of Jeff Alworth’s suggestion that to him, Mosaic hops taste of onion.) Kind of a green tea bitterness, with a very neutral malt body, appropriate to let the malt shine. However the strong savory character of the Mosaics suggests a bit of a one-note impression.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light-bodied, with a spicy finish, leaving a savory (herbal) aftertaste.
Overall: This is a well-brewed beer but with the strong emphasis on the Mosaic hops here I’m a bit on the fence about it (the hop, not the beer).
Another recent arrival from the brewery, I look forward to drinking Twilight every year. It’s billed as an American Pale Ale but I tend to think of it more as an English Summer Ale with a fruity splash of American hops, and it drinks really, really easy. Deschutes’ description:
Summer has its own rules. As luck would have it, it also has its own beer. This clever golden-hued ale pours remarkably crisp and clean. A distinctive malt body complements a refreshing hop profile led by a heady dose of bold Amarillo hops. Enjoy.
I’ve reviewed this beer quite a few times over the years, going back to 2007, and then 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and then last year I tried three Twilights several weeks apart in a sort of mini-vertical. So, yeah, I’ve spent a few words writing about this beer over the years, and really there’s not too much more to say; at this point it’s mostly trying to pick out year-to-year differences.
In that vein, I think this year’s is better than last; the aroma goes brightly tropical, fruity and juicy, and that permeates the beer, blending with that luscious malt body that’s light and bready. Like I said, it’s really easy to drink, and it’s fresh now, so don’t wait.
Tank 7 is the year-round offering in Boulevard’s Smokestack series, a beer with 8.5% abv that should seem burly but drinks way too easy for that strength. This style of beer is right in with Boulevard’s wheelhouse, and I was not disappointed; if you’ve never tried this beer, seek it out. Their description:
Most breweries have at least one piece of equipment that’s just a bit persnickety. Here at Boulevard we have fermenter number seven, the black sheep of our cellar family. Ironically, when our brewers were experimenting with variations on a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale, the perfect combination of elements came together in that very vessel. You could call it fate, but they called it Tank 7, and so it is. Beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish.
Appearance: Lovely fluffy white head, three fingers’ worth over a golden honey-colored body with just a touch of haze. Great lacing.
Smell: Classic farmhouse character overlaying a bready/candy malt—herbal, spicy, funky. Phenolic notes that go clove and coriander on my nose.
Taste: Bready malt, solid earthy bitterness, a touch sweet, coriander spice, and dry. Very, very nice, there’s not much more that needs to be said. Very lightly peppery.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a quenching dry finish.
Overall: Excellent beer—great example of the style and you cannot taste the strength at all.