Hillsboro, Oregon, is not one of the first places that comes to mind when you think of craft beer, but the under-the-radar Ambacht Brewing might help to change that. I’ve been hearing their name occasionally, but I had yet to see or sample their beer, until our Labor Day trip to Belmont Station in Portland, where I picked up a bottle of their Golden Rose Ale: a Belgian-style golden brewed with rose hips and honey.
What’s interesting to me is that Ambacht as a whole is “unusual” considering the typical (even by Oregon standards) brewery:
Our handcrafted ales are Belgian inspired and influenced by the bounty of our region. Ambacht ales are made using local, organically grown ingredients. Our flavors are balanced, not too hoppy or sweet, brewed with Willamette Valley grown hops. Ambacht ales are mashed at a low temperature, giving them a refreshing dryness, and have a clean, toasty flavor from our organic malts. All of our ales are naturally carbonated by bottle conditioning with Pacific Northwest honey, which gives them a sweet finish. But perhaps the most important ingredient in our ales is time: it takes about three months from brew day until our ales are ready for you to enjoy!
The honey is really local: owner Tom Kramer is also a professional beekeeper.
As for the Golden Rose Ale: the rose hips are added during secondary fermentation and the beer finishes out at 6.5% alcohol by volume.
Appearance: Hazy golden orange, with an off-white head. Reminds a bit of a Witbier in appearance (particularly when I hold it up to the light).
Smell: Tart nose with a touch of funk—golden Belgian with Brettanomyces. (Horsey). Mild sweet honey notes, and floral.
Taste: Earthy, slightly funky, bitter notes up front, not as tart or fruity as the nose promised. Dry, and an afternote reminds me of sarsaparilla. There’s a floral character, but the earthy maltiness comes across as a golden strongish Belgian ale, with pleasant Brett funk.
Mouthfeel: Dry, medium-bodied with chalky presence. Not at attenuated as a true Belgian would be.
Overall: Unusual and interesting; I “get” the rose hips, though mild, and like what they’ve done here.
On BeerAdvocate, the beer isn’t listed so the closest we can get is to the Golden Ale (which the Golden Rose is based on), though there are only 2 reviews for an overall grade of B+. On RateBeer, it’s the exact same situation: 2 reviews for Golden Ale, which score 3.1 out of 5 (not enough for a percentile rating).