Sasquatch’s Saison homerun, and the mysterious Seven Brides Monki Love

Today’s post is a tale of two beers. While almost nothing alike, they both came in to the weekend as stars of the weekly Growler Friday. And for some deep reason only my liver can say, are needy of a Frosty post. Sit back, and hear a tale told.

Sasquatch Szechaun Peppercorn Saison

Szechaun Peppercorns make a rainy day better.

Szechaun Peppercorns make a rainy day better.

As we looked at the Bailey’s Taproom list on a Friday afternoon, there was one beer who’s name alone seemed to peak interest from the many gathered on the floor. A mouthful in name, I can’t explain exactly what about “Szechuan peppercorn” made so many folk interested. Normally not a Saison crowd, I was more than a little surprised to see SSPS show up more than a few times on the “please buy” signup list.

But the crowds desires are not to be denied, so Friar Neil and I ambled down and took the obligatory “before fill taste”. Wow. This stuff was fantastic. The smell had a hint of pepper, sweetness, and the beloved saison farmhouse funk. And the flavor diligently followed suit. Hearty, yet light, and with a tang of flavor that I can only attribute to whatever a Szechuan peppercorn is supposed to taste like. For those not familiar, it turns out  they do not taste like black peppercorns at all, but more like a spicy berry. And given the success in this edition, I wouldn’t be half surprised to see it pop up in more experimental beers around town.

It was so tasty even, I dragged the Frosty family down to Sasquatch Brewing for lunch the next day, just so we could have some more.

Seven Brides Monki Love

It's a meal!

It’s a meal!

On the opposite end of the flavor spectrum came the other big hit of the growler crew. In some respects, I hesitate to call this a beer. With its dark chocolately flavor and thick body, it was more of a meal in a glass. Labeled as a “Polish” Imperial Stout (is that a thing?), this 11%ABV went down smooth, and full of flavor. And oh that head. There is something about seeing a head the mocha color that just inspires drooling.

Interestingly though, there doesn’t seem to be much record of this beer anywhere. Apart from the previously mentioned keg at Baileys, there doesn’t seem to be any record of it online or even at the Seven Brides website. I even had to make the entry on Untappd. Perhaps this is a one off that I and my fellow Growler Friday revelers had the once in a lifetime privilege to experience. Or if you are lucky, someday it may come to you. In the meantime, I will leave this post with a glass raised to the equally mysterious Meara & Brandon, whose unexplained association earned a subtext line on the draft board at Baileys.

Seven Brides Monki Love
Polish Imperial Stout w/ congratulations to Meara & Brandon

Congratulations to us all.

Flat Tail El Guapo. Like a plethora of piñatas.

Are Gringos falling from the sky?

Are Gringos falling from the sky?

It’s no secret that I love Three Amigos. Heck, I was even part of a staged ‘My Little Buttercup’ rendition at my cousin’s wedding. Naturally then, it was with great pleasure (for myself mainly) that I picked up this bottle and walked slowly towards the checkout, quoting as much of the classic movie as I could before I made everyone else uncomfortable.

Even more than that though, is my love for experimental beer. And nothing sounds quite as experimental as cucumber, lime and habañero beer. Having enjoyed a cucumber saison from Trinity Brewing, and been an early taster of the award winning Mango Habañero from my neighbor Brian, I figured this beer was a must try.

How was it?

The first thing I noticed was how little of a head it had. Even my attempts to ‘pour badly’ didn’t produce any head of note. I suppose one could chalk it up the acids in the beer, but then, I’m a drunk, not a molecular scientist.

The nose (smell, for you non fancy types) was very clean and had a sort of fruity aroma that was hard to identify, but still inviting. On first sip, the cucumber flavor is really powerful in a crisp, refreshing way. You think…’hey, that was good’. Then slowly but surely, the prickly heat kicks in. I’ll call it ‘the afterburn’. And that afterburn hung around until the next refreshing sip…crisp, cool….and burny.

The mix of cool and hot made each sip a bit of an adventure, and actually made drinking the beer quite fun. The flavors were good and the experience well executed. If you are looking for something new, interesting, and don’t mind the first nerd you see drinking it spouting off a movie quote, I recommend picking it up.

I leave you with this.

We’re not in Philly anymore – 13 Virtues Brewery

Blink and you miss it.

Waking up on a fine Zwickelmania morning, I decided to peruse the local brewery map to see where to partake of the sweet Portland bounty. Many of the “must-visits” were there, but among them there was also a name I had never heard of. 13 Virtues Brewing. It wasn’t too far away, so I drove down Sellwood’s Milwaukie Ave. looking for a new place to hit.

And then Google Maps told me I had missed it. In turning around, I soon discovered that 13 Virtues was in fact hiding discreetly behind Philadelphia Cheesesteaks and Hoagies. As it turns out, the brewery is owned by Steve Moore, proprietor of the aforementioned popular hoagie shop. Opened a few decades ago, the sandwich shop has had a very modest beer offering until last year, when Moore and Head Brewer David Vohden expanded the space behind to shop to hold a proper (although compact) brewery space.

The Brewhouse

The Brewhouse

More than just an “we also make beer” setup, 13 Virtues has a sizable number of taps, and the Barrel Aged Stout and Weizenbock were fantastic. Due to the busy nature of the Zwickelmania day, brewer David and I didn’t have too much time to talk. However, by all accounts he has some great plans, and without a doubt the skills to back it up. For any that happen down Sellwood way, I recommend stopping in for a pint of this great newcomer. It’ll give you a chance to grab a taste, and provide you the ability say: “I went there before it was cool”.

Brewmaster David Vohden

Brewmaster David Vohden

Ready to pour.

Ready to pour.

 

 

Iron Horse Double Rainbow. All the way across my glass.

It’s only March, but I am officially declaring the victory in the Best Beer Tagline category to Iron Horse’s Double Rainbow: “Like two pots of gold in your mouth”. I’ve never had two pots of gold in my mouth before, but if I had, it certainly wouldn’t taste this good. This is also the first beer I think I’ve bought just because it made me laugh.

Prior to this Washington trip, I had never even heard of Iron Horse Brewery, but now having had three of their beers, I feel like I’ve been missing out.As for the flavor? Well, I’m not sure what two pots of gold should taste like, but this beer is sort of malty, and nutty, and front end flavorful. The official description mentions something about being sort of red, and sort of IPA, but I didn’t detect too much in the way of overt hoppiness. In fact, I don’t know if I could even accurately describe it other than to to say “damn good”. And that kind of review is beautiful, all the way way across the sky.

New Belgium Dunkel Weiss: Holy Drunken Bananas

I love bananas. I love high alcohol drinks. I love beer. So how in the world could I not love something that combined all three? The latest in New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, this stuff is crazy yum. On first pour, the aroma of clove and banana is almost overpowering. But ever since the first “blueberry wheat” I had at the old Stuft pizza in San Diego, that smell has been like catnip for me.

The first sip keeps the aroma alive, but then reminds you of a fact that the front of the bottle clearly indicates: “9% ABV”. Yay, buzzed of a 22oz! To be honest though, the alcohol is a touch much, and threatened to kill the otherwise super awesome flavor. I imagine getting the flavor I love sort of creates the high alcohol necessity, but I can imagine this ber being just as awesome with slightly less of the boozy hobo punch brews over 8% tend to have.Still, this stuff is damn good. And fulfills those yearnings for dark, wheaty, drunken bananas. We all have those right? … Right?… Anyone?

Kona Koko Brown

I don’t even like coconut, which makes the fact that I decided to review this a little crazy. But after our pal Brady raved so highly about it, I figured I had to give it a shot. So imagine my surprise when after a few sips, I realized I actually liked it. In fact, I would go so far as to call it Kona’s best beer.So the coconut? Well that part I didn’t really materialize, which is a good thing. In fact, I would call the smell of the beer vaguely whiskey-esque. And it even has a whiskey style flavor. I’m guessing its the “toasted” part of the coconut. I’m hoping that it’s not a mistake, because despite being a bottled Kona beer (tap awesome…bottles, not so much), and despite the claim to be coconut flavored, I could see myself drinking more of these in the future.

Fearless Scottish Ale. The only thing to fear are the cans.

Anyone who has ever followed this blog knows how much I disdain the BPA lined idea of beer in cans. So you can imagine how awesome a beer must be in order for me to brave the aluminum devil to drink it. Fearless Scottish is just one of those sorts of beers. A beer in the oft ignored “Scottish Ale” style, this has just the right amount of maltiness without being overpowering. Yet, it still delivers a crisp finish that just makes you go “ahhh”. Or rather “arrgh” (said pretending to wear a kilt). As far as taste and cans go, I still prefer it on tap. But if you have to assault your body with free radical death, there are worse ways to go. Super thumbs up.

Full Sail Black Gold Imperial Stout. OMG 11% ABV! Drunk & Happy.

I spent the whole day sanding and painting. So when dinner time came around, and it was time time to throw some fish in the smoker, I figured I deserved to break into the Full Sail Black Gold that awaited me from the back of the fridge shelf. I poured the whole thing into one of my large glasses, and sipped away. Smoked Tilapia in one bite, Black Gold in the other. Word to the wise. Black Gold is ~11%ABV. And it comes in 22oz bottles. Can you say “wooooooo”. Cause thats how you feel after drinking this Imperial Stout. Its tasty, but really, the thing you will remember is how drunk you feel. So how is it? Well, if my alcohol fueled memory serves, it tastes a lot like chocolate bourbon. Its an Imperial Stout, so the flavor is very powerful, but in the end, it has a very chocolate flavor. And because it was aged in Bourbon barrels, it obviously has that Bourbon kick.I suppose it was one of those beers that would have been decent to age in the fridge. But if my drunken stupor and beer-satisfied smile is any indication, I’m glad I didn’t.

Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale. The only reason to keep summer away.

In general, winters in Oregon can be pretty dismal, which is why I always a appreciate a beer that lifts my mood on a dark rainy night.Hoping my liver abuse would ease my pain, I went to the local swillery and picked about 4 or 5 “winter” beers. They were all decent, and all had that more full flavor that you like this time of year. But the only one that I have actually gone back to buy more of was Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale. It’s got just the right balance of malty yum with touch ‘o hops (I should patent that description). The nice thing about it, and perhaps the reason I went back, is that it doesn’t assault you with any one flavor. Its just kind of all around…good. And a beer with that degree is worth adding to your alcoholic winter blanket of comfort.

Is it that time again? Mendocino Black Hawk Stout.

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this brew before, given the number of years I’ve liked it. Its a classic stout, that errs on the side of roasty rather than creamy. Still it does it subtly enough to not taste like burnt wood, which earns it high marks in the “sucks or awesome” dichotomy of Frosty stout rankings.Plus the wrapper looks like it would get very angry if you didn’t drink it. –”If you were a small rodent, I’d be tasting you”