Friday, June 24, 2011

Fat Woody from Silver City Brewing

I generally find Scotch Ales to have a sticky malt character that I just don’t care for. However, take a Scotch Ale and age it on American white oak, and count me in. This isn’t a beer that you will crave right after work, or at a backyard barbeque. The Fat Woody’s blend of vanilla, molasses, brandy, a little smokiness from the peated malt, just begs to be poured into a snifter and sipped on after a hearty meal. Silver city ages their Fat Scotch Ale for six months in oak, and if you ever get the chance to taste the two beers side by side, the difference is extraordinary. Don’t get me wrong, the Fat Scotch is an extremely well made Scotch Ale; I just don’t care for the style. The oak aged version on the other hand, is one of those beers that you sip on slowly, and every swallow is just pure liquid relaxation. I don’t smoke cigars, but whenever I have the Fat Woody, I kind of want one. If you do smoke cigars, this is your beer to pair it with. Available in 220z. bottles at most quality bottle shops, grab two: one to drink now, and cellar the other one for the first cold day when fall is easing into winter. Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Herbert's Legendary from Anacortes Brewery

Herbert’s Legendary is brewed every year to honor one of the Godfathers of Washington brewing, Bert Grant. Grant was born in Scotland, but made his way to the Yakima Valley in 1967, and worked as a hop scientist, where he was known to carry a bottle of hop oil, to give a little life to the weak American beers of the time. He opened one of Washington’s first microbreweries and brewpubs in 1982, where his beers were among the few in America to catch the eye of famed beer writer Michael Jackson (not that one), in the early editions of Beer Companion. Chief among Grant’s early brewing accomplishments was his India Pale Ale. It was a bold, overly hopped (for the time) IPA that paved the way for the hop bombs that are now commonplace. Every year a different brewery makes a big, aggressively hopped IPA to honor his legacy, and brewers come from all over the state to help out, bring their own hops, and expertise to a recipe that is essentially the same, but produces different results each year.
Anacortes Brewery and Rockfish Grill had the honor/daunting task of paying homage this brewing pioneer, and they continued to make Grant proud with this year’s addition. When making an IPA to honor a hop expert, it can be easy to go overboard with the hops, and create a disjointed mish-mash of bitterness. However, every Washington brewer I have ever met has a great deal of respect for Bert Grant, and every year that respect is shown in Herbert’s Legendary with a wide spectrum of hop bitterness and aroma, but most importantly it is tempered with balance and restraint. Grant once told Michael Jackson that, “all beers should be hoppier”. I doubt he would say that about the beer that continues his legacy every year when it rolls out for The Cask Beer Festival in April. Anacortes’ version is slightly citrusy, a little bit of pine/spruce bitterness. It is hop forward, like it is supposed to be, but also balanced and drinkable. This is a beer that needs to be sought out every year, and it definitely helps to make The Cask Beer Festival one of the best beer events in the packed calendar that is the Washington beer scene. Cheers Bert, every beer lover in Washington owes you a debt of gratitude that hopefully will never be forgotten.