Saturday, May 29, 2010

Islander Pale Ale from Maritime Pacific

The Islander Pale Ale from Maritime Pacific Brewing makes the list because it is the all purpose go to guy in my fridge. Assertively hopped but not too heavy in body, it’s bitter enough for most hopheads, but still drinkable for guests who might not want a 80+ IBU double IPA, a rauchbier, a Flemish Sour, or any of the other beer geeky beers I may have on hand.
Maritime’s Flagship Red was the first Seattle beer I had when I moved here 17 years ago, but it is the Islander Pale that would evoke more memories if I were to ever move away. This is a beer that has helped define the category of American Pale Ale. The Islander vaguely resembles its English predecessor, but it has grown up and branched off from the mild bodied pales from Burton-on-Trent. Bolstered with a little wheat to add body and carbonation, and generously hopped with Yakima and Czech Republic varieties, this is a beer that is truly old world meets new world brewing. At only 5%ABV it makes a good session beer for a summer barbeque, or a Christmas party. While I am grateful for the wide variety of beer choices available in America’s beer renaissance, sometimes I just want a nice balance of fresh grain, solid body, and a pronounced hoppy finish that doesn’t wear out its welcome. Actually, it’s not just sometimes, this is a beer that I want often enough to be a staple in my fridge. I also love the mini-burgers at their pub in Ballard that they have been serving long before lil’ burgers were as trendy as they are now. Keep brewing “in the Northwest with imagination” Maritime!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Trickster IPA from Black Raven

At the bottom of the Black Raven tap handle it says, “Ales of great distinction and character”. A statement of that sort is like bringing your own pool cue to a bar; you better have the game to back it up. After an opening year filled with awards at Seattle’s Winter Beer Fest, multiple medals at The World Beer Cup in Chicago, and winning Beverage Place Pub’s IPA battle with the Trickster IPA- unseating reigning four year champion Boundary Bay. I’d say that’s backing it up.
The Trickster India Pale Ale is everything a Northwest IPA should be. A strong pine and fir tree hop flavor-like a Washington forest-with just the right amount of grapefruit bitterness, the Trickster is definitely hoppy, but doesn’t try to stuff a Yakima hop farm into every keg. The Trickster has a deep amber hue, and a nice carbonation level. Enough fizz to leave a solid lace down the glass, not so bubbly as to obscure the texture. I love a big double IPA as much as the next hophead, but most of the time I want a beer with some body and bitterness that doesn’t lay me out if I want to have a few. At 6.8% ABV the Trickster delivers on this front as well. Congratulations Black Raven, you’ve had a helluva first year, and I doubt that this will be your only beer that makes my list.