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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oregon Beers Lauded

John Foyston points us to an article in Draft Magazine citing 2008's twenty-five best beers. It's an international collection, and four of the beers hail from Beervana. Only California had more slots. Given the number of breweries in California, this isn't a shock or unwarranted. Surprisingly, Michigan tied Oregon with four nods. Overall, an apt appreciation of the quality of beer from the West Coast. (Okay, one quibble: nothing from Washington? An oversight.)

Oregon's showing, with the mag's comments.
  • Deschutes Abyss. "It was difficult to choose one beer from Deschutes this year, but ultimately we sided with the brewery’s second installment of its wildly popular oak-aged imperial stout. The Abyss is rich with roasted malts, chocolate notes and fruity fermentation qualities, all made more complex by its time on wood. Oak kisses the profile for an all-around rich experience."
  • Pelican Kiwanda Cream. "Any idea how good a cream ale has to be to make a top 25 list? As excellent as this one. Kiwanda begins with a slightly sweet, delicately bready malt character. It moves into a firm floral hop presence with mild bitterness and delicate malt character. This is easily one of the best light-bodied beers in the country and is bright, flavorful, and wonderfully easy to drink. "
  • Cascade Apricot Ale. "Cascade’s Apricot Ale takes fruit beer to a whole new level: It's like opening a bottle of freshly packaged apricots. This is an exquisite beer that allows the fruit’s juicy quality to shine with each thirst-quenching sip. Pouring this brew is an unforgettable experience: An intense apricot aroma races out of the glass. The flavor is sweet but not syrupy, with apricot flavors from beginning to end. This is everything a masterfully crafted fruit beer should be."
  • Hair of the Dog Adam. Hair of the Dog is one of the Northwest’s most celebrated brewers for a reason: Every beer it releases is high-quality, and selecting one beer above the rest is no simple task. We landed on Adam because its sweetness, alcohol, and hops are incredibly well balanced, and create a drinking experience that makes you wonder about the way beer used to be. From first taste to swallow, the flavors magically work in unison, with chocolate and toffee beginning the show before giving way to subtle notes of pepper and citrus. It has an assertive hop bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste, along with toffee notes."
I give Draft special kudos for selecting a light beer in Kiwanda Cream. Lighter beers are so rarely celebrated (and indeed, most of the list is given to exotic and/or huge beers), and yet they demonstrate no less of the brewer's art. I also admire the mag's HotD selection over the far more-celebrated Fred. That's to take nothing away from Fred, but Adam deserves some of the spotlight, too.

There is another Oregon connection here. In the mention of New Holland's Dragon Milk, they point out the stir it caused at the OBF--further evidence of the high-profile nature of that fest.

(I praised that beer in my coverage of the OBF and of course have been promoting Apricot Ale. I even reminisced about how under-appreciated Adam is. A more egomaniacal person could jump to the conclusion that the Draft Mag editors read this here blog. Fortunately, I'm famous for my modesty and chalk it up to great minds thinking alike.)

Congrats to these very well-deserved beers and their breweries. You could substitute another ten Oregon beers (at a minimum) for these and find no argument, but I'm pleased that these are all exceptional beers. Kudos!

5 comments:

Patrick Emerson said...

I have no doubt that your praise (especially of Cascade) played a big role.

I am getting a little tired, I have decided, of all of the attention that 'big' beers are getting, so I ditto your praise of the attention payed to Pelican's beer. My beef it not that they are undeserving, but that exceptional 'regular' beers are being underappreciated. It seems that big beers are the only way to grab the attention of the beer cognoscenti.

Jeremy in SE PDX said...

I agree. I love monster beers as much as the next guy, especially this time of year, but something to have with a ham sandwich at lunch or right when you get home from work that won't knock you on your ass and doesn't demand to be sipped is good too.

I've been appreciating Lagunitas's "Censored Copper Ale" a lot in this category; wish there was something similar local. Bridgeport had a similar Copper, Pintail, but it hasn't been seen in ages. Deschutes Green Lakes is a good easy-drinking beer.

Other thoughts / recommendations?

--JT

joe said...

I just got a sixer of Deschutes ESB and really enjoyed that. Got a Bavarian wheat fermenting right now, which I'll keg and use as a session beer for the next month or so when it's done. I wish a local brewery produced and bottled a proper Baviarian hefe. The American style does nothing for me.

aleconner said...

joe: I'll second that. A local hefe in the traditional style would be welcome indeed.

Harth Huffman said...

No surprise about Michigan beers to this Great Lakes State transplant. Bells led the way to a great state beer tradition. I have not heard of Dark Horse but I will be sure to get my hands on some next trip back. I have some 3 year old Dragon's Milk aging in the cellar. May be time for a taste...
What an impressive list that is!

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