As the great American philosopher Fred Eckhardt declared, “Listen to your beer.” And since beer speaks to people, at least those smart enough to listen and thoughtful enough to hear it, it speaks of hops growing on the bines, amber waves of barley blowing in the field, or yeast hitchhiking on the breeze.
Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk’s beer obviously sings to him. He, along with brothers Brian and Doug Coombs, are the composers behind Alesong Brewing and Blending in Eugene, Oregon. And while they create a wide range of barrel-matured beers from earthy saisons to viscous imperial stouts, no doubt it’s the emphasis on vinous, wild ales that is music to sour beer lovers’ ears. But if their newest GABF medals are any indication, they could almost rename the brewery WineAlesong. And there are others singing similar tunes. For this reason, I got to write about those brewing at the intersection of wine and beer for CraftBeer.com.
Pumpkin beers, it turns out, squash all other seasonal styles of beer in popularity, according to the Brewers Association. So it’s no wonder that come October (or earlier) more and more craft breweries offer them, and also no surprise brewers continue to up the creativity level of their creations. While a standard beer works perfectly fine with addition of pumpkin and/or pumpkin pie spices (usually a brown ale or something with a malt bill that can support autumnal flavoring without hops stealing the show), Eugene’s Oakshire Bewing went a step further. Big Black Jack Imperial Pumpkin Chocolate Porter is as complex as its name implies.
Wherein I review Lisa “The Beer Goddess” Morrison’s (full disclosure: we’re friends) guidebook to the luscious craft beers of the Pacific Northwest. The narrative is friendly and reads more like behind-the-wheel banter rather than an outdated, second-hand field guide.