India Session Ales

All the IBUs. Half the ABV. Welcome to the India session ale (ISA). This is the story for CraftBeer.com that inspired one of my most revered beer writer colleagues, Martyn Cornell from the UK, to posit, “India Session Ales – tremendous new trend or oxymoronic category fail?” What’s your favorite sessionable IPA? What’s your take on the debate over this style?

India Session Ales

The beauty of an India Session Ale? The brew retains the hop-powered IBUs (international bitterness units) of an IPA while you retain more of your wits with lower ABV. In time for summer in the May, 2013 issue of Portland Monthly, I delved into five ISAs for the “Wallet Guide.”

 

Stickmen seasonal saisons

It’s a gospel fact that the best way to soak up the glory of these early summer-like days is in the sanctuary of a beer garden. Praise be that Stickmen Brewery & Skewery in Lake Oswego, though already opened softly, had its grand opening recently. Now, Oswegans can soak up the sun and lakefront views while sipping a dozen house beers. The “skewery” half of this Izakaya-style pub — it serves Japanese-style food-on-sticks and other small plates — brings lots of sake and shochu to the beverage program. Head in soon and you can try the limited Sake Beer, a strong, fruity ale fermented with sake yeast. Though that one is definitely a crowd favorite, so too is Spring 13 Saison. The seasonal is fermented with Belgian Ardennes yeast, which are the highlight of and perfect complement to this delicate beer’s lemony and spicy aromas and flavors. Pairing it with a variety of meat or vegetable bites is pretty much effortless. Why stop there? Hurry over to the lake pub and you might still find a sip of Meyer-Bay Saison, created for April’s Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers festival. Brewers Jon “JT” Turner and Tim Schoenheit dry-hopped Spring 13 with Meyer lemon peel and bay leaves, and it’s remarkable how the dominant notes toggle from heavy on the sweet citrus to more robust Italian seasoning as it warms in the glass. Saisons naturally take on herbal additions and the additions  showcase this epicurean style nicely.

Portland Brewing: Rose Hip Gold

One of the very first breweries in Portland was the eponymous Portland Brewing Co., founded in 1986. Based on the popularity of its MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale, released in 1992, the company name was changed to MacTarnahan’s Brewing Co. From there it gets even more confusing, with ownership tied to Pyramid Brewing, Vermont’s Magic Hat, and New York’s North American Breweries. But the brewery itself never left Portland, and its brand new name reflects that. In 2013, it’s back to Portland Brewing once more! While Mac’s Amber isn’t going anywhere, to commemorate all this old newness, Portland Brewing will be releasing new beers, starting with Rose Hip Gold.

Craft Brewers Gone Nuts

Thinking about the popular bar snack beer nuts, I pitched this exploration nutty beers to CraftBeer.com (Dec, 2012). Truth in advertising is vital in craft beer culture. There better be fresh hops in our fresh hop beers, real cherries in our krieks, and just as seasonally-relevant, real pumpkin in our field or pumpkin beers. Yet the distinguished British classic, nut brown ale, contains nary a nut.

The name derived from this medium-bodied beer’s use of toasted malted barley as opposed to roasted malt—gives the style its telltale nutty color and flavor.

Golden Valley Brewery Tannen Bomb

The only logical decision is to drink winter seasonal beers while the getting’s good. Most craft breweries release a “winter warmer” to ward off Jack Frost, a tradition dating back millennia to when agrarians celebrated the solstice by brewing beers made heavier with extra with grains (and perhaps fruits and spices), and religious practitioners believed intoxication aided communion with deities and spirits. Outside Portland in McMinnville, great beers are easily found inside the Golden Valley Brewpub; visit to New Seasons in hopes of picking up a six-pack of Tannen Bomb, so named since it arrives in stores along with Christmas trees and is a veritable malt bomb — 125 lbs. of malts per barrel.

Coalition Brewing Loving Cup Maple Porter

The leaves were losing their fiery colors, replaced by brown in only slightly varying shades. Nights arrived an hour earlier, giving up a minute of sunshine with each passing day. But before we grabbed our saws to chop down our Christmas trees, we paused to give thanks. Oddly, no one’s cornered the Thanksgiving beer market. Well pilgrim, Coalition Brewing has just the thing.

Brewery co-founder Kiley Hoyt is a Vermont native, so it makes sense Coalition offers a porter brewed with maple syrup. Loving Cup Maple Porter is available year-round at the brewpub, but was being bottled as a seasonal offering for the first time. The British-style porter is on the dry side, offering desirable chocolatiness without being thick or sweet.

Enter the maple syrup.