Kicking off March with a new edition of Tuesday Tastings, featuring a random motley of brews.
10 Barrel Riding Solo
This was the bottle I’d received from the brewery about a month ago, an American Pale Ale showcase of the Comet hop—this is in fact a single-hop beer. It was released as the new spring seasonal, a 6.5% abv, 67 IBU ale that actually reminds me more of an IPA than a Pale. The real interest for me is the use of Comet hops, which are an older, near-heirloom variety, and a few years back Jeff had a good read about it you might want to check out. I imagine it’s more prevalent in beers nowadays but offhand I couldn’t tell you what other primarily-hopped Comet beers I’ve had.
Appearance: Very clear, honey orange color, with an ample off-white head. Very lacey with nice legs.
Smell: Tropical, citrus aromas with prickly pear. A little bit catty, and a bit of peppery spiciness. All hop-forward in the aroma, becoming a bit more “raw” as it warms up.
Taste: There’s a weirdly “rough” bitterness to the hops, spicy and resiny and a touch woody (stems?). (All of which I attribute back to the “throwback” Comet hop.) Woody bitterness carries throughout, overlaying a cleanly malty pale ale base. The hops go up the nose a bit.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a woody-ish aftertaste, a lingering bitterness.
Overall: Interesting showcase of Comet hops, perhaps more of an IPA than a Pale but that’s where the trends seem to be going.
Iron Goat is located in Spokane, Washington, opened in 2012, which I hadn’t heard of until a visit to Ellensburg, Washington this past September for an overnight concert trip. (We saw the Foo Fighters at the Gorge—great show.) I found several of their beers at Happy’s Market in Ellensburg, and picked this one up. (Happy’s, incidentally, was an amazing find—from the outside it simply looks like an aging, slightly grimy independent convenience store promoting “Beer, Growlers, Wine, Kegs, Cigars, Vapes” but on the inside has an incredible beer selection as well as a growler fill station. Worth the stop.)
This Imperial IPA is 8.5% abv and 72 IBUs, and Iron Goat says:
Ah ‘The Impaler’. This, not-too-over-the-top, imperial holds a special place in our hearts. It was our first big-boy brew. The Impaler comes from down under and hits you in the nose first with a fistful of Galaxy hop aroma and then follows up with a strong malt profile. Despite its name the Impaler’s malt perfectly balances the alcohol and the hops giving only the slightest suggestion of its double nature.
Appearance: Brown-glass amber color, cloudy, with ample effervescence building a light tan colored head.
Smell: Weirdly fruity hops (Galaxy), that are sweet-ish and a touch woody. Malts are nice and clean, but the fruit in the hops is one I simply cannot place.
Taste: Pleasant malt and alcohol kick, and full of Galaxy hop character—fruity, woody, makes me think “hop juice.” The beer is not terribly redolent when drinking but it makes its presence known. Smooth and clean drinking.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body, with a smooth, creamy finish.
Overall: Not bad at all (not being able to place the fruit aroma bugs me), this is pleasantly drinkable for its strength.
Saranac Our Pumpkin Ale
The oddball of this particular group, well out of season! The Saranac line of beers are brewed by Matt Brewing of New York, and I’ve reviewed their Pumpkin Ale before (or at least, a previous version of it). This was a 32-ounce “growler” jug (same style as their Mississippi Mud) that I picked up at BevMo in California and drank a while back. Because why not a pumpkin ale in March?
We add a perfect blend of real spices right into our copper kettles: cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger. Just ask our Brewmaster’s wife, Mrs. Kuhr! Our brewing recipe uses the same spice ratio as her homemade pumpkin pie. Jim couldn’t get enough, so he had to brew a beer just as tasty!
We use LOTS of real pumpkin to brew this beer (nearly 3,000 pounds). We add it right into our mash cooker with our specialty malts. The amount of pumpkin takes up over 10% of the total weight of the mash. That makes for a delicious real pumpkin flavor!
Appearance: Came in a 32-ounce jug (they are calling their growler). Clear, deep amber orange in color, with a crisp off-white head.
Smell: Classic pumpkin-spiced amber ale on the nose, all the way. Squash and brown sugar, mild cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Taste: Similar to the aroma—a classic pumpkin amber ale profile. A little on the “sharp” side, over filtered perhaps? Nice flavors coming through, with good maltiness, and the spices are subtle and not overpowering. A bit of caramel and minimal earth hopping.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied but thin, a bit too filtered and it’s on the fizzy side.
Overall: A classic example of the style with some nice flavors.