Beer review: 10 Barrel’s Riding Solo

10BarrelRidingSoloAmong my myriad New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 is to do more beer reviews. Between the samples I happily receive on my doorstep, beer travels that find me at different breweries across strange, new lands and just happening upon a new offering at some local watering hole, I want to ensure I’m paying good attention to what I’m drinking.

Seeing as a delivery guy just dropped off a bottle at 6:30 on a Saturday night, clearly it’s time to begin drinking. The beer is from 10 Barrel in Bend (not the 10 Barrel pub in Boise or Portland or the recently-announced forthcoming one in Denver). It’s called Riding Solo and it is, as the name suggests, a single-hop pale ale. Comet hops to be precise. Not that you’d possibly know that from the label copy. It reads: “We could talk about this single hop, but we’d rather talk about Benny, the brewer behind this pale ale. 4 years ago Benny was on the fast track working for a large brewery, and then it all came crashing down. He made a bad choice, climbed the wrong building in Bend and found himself in the clink without a job. We hired him the next day and he has been crushing it ever since. One brewery’s loss is another brewery’s gain. Cheers to the man behind the beer.”

Man is that a strange way to market a beer that theoretically has some educational aspect to it. It shows drinkers the aromatic and flavor profile of the nearly extinct Comet hop, a USDA varietal that I’ve personally never encountered. And anyone who buys this beer won’t know that they’ve had it. (Unless they are compulsive about every beer they try or read my oft-neglected blog religiously.)

Upon cracking the crown I was met with an herbal whiff and I’m only half referring to reefer. At first sip, I was struck by the spicy, dank bitter beer—like a skunk smoked a spliff cut with black pepper and dried grapefruit peel. It falls into the garlic’n’onion descriptor, too. Although they call it a pale ale, it’s orange in color and at 6.8% ABV and 67 IBUs it presents itself like an India Red Ale in malt and hop character. In fact, the spiciness makes it taste like there’s some rye malt in the grain bill, but doubt there actually is because then they’d probably have called it Ryeding Solo.

Merc it

Another round up of Merc beer blogs, capped by a cider blog.

That’s enough for now.

 

Citrus IPAs on CraftBeer.com

Citrus IPAs in CraftBeer.com by Brian Yaeger

India pale ales are many things, but we don’t typically think of them as “seasonal” beers. Unless, that is, you count their myriad sub-categories. While most of these hop bombs are perhaps best enjoyed in September when the nibble-sized green cones with the sticky, yellow lupulin inside are harvested and at their freshest, there’s a place for certain IPAs in every season. On a cold winter day, the allure of a bone-warming double IPA is irresistible. And come springtime, when some palates might seek out a refreshing fruit-infused shandy or radler, there’s no need to turn one’s back on the beloved India pale ale with its bright, citrus flavors..

India Silly Ales

IPA or India Silly Ale beer label from All About Beer

ISA label by Brian Devine for All About Beer.

Larger breweries get to experiment with new flavors in IPAs all the time in the form of testing new hop varietals, such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Harvest series, which recently featured wild hops from New Mexico and ones with good potential from Idaho. An experimental recipe designed to get consumers to try the beer once has done its job after one festival-sized sample. I think the mark of a successful recipe is one that gets consumers to crave the beer and quaff it by the glassful, repeatedly. Neither the brewers nor the consumers want to stop having fun.

But at some point, it gets a bit…silly.

Of Oregon IPAs

unnamed-1I’m currently at the Hawthorne Hophouse, having just completed my sampler flight of 15 of the “best” Oregon-brewed IPAs (half priced at $6 on Mondays).

“Fifteen? Surely you mean 12, you drunken reprobate!” you might have caught yourself exclaiming.

No, I mean 15 because after I ran through the dozen IPAs (no Imperials, no Sessions, no Grapefruit-infused, no sage-pomegranate aged in tequila barrels for a year while having daily positive affirmations recited to it by the lead brewer), I asked if they’d deliver a run-off of my 3 faves to really seal the deal.

All January long, both Hophouse houses are running this event: a blind flight of 12 IPAs for 12 bucks ($6 on Mondays) and the winner, after voting solely based on taste and not presumptions, goes on the 1-tap for the whole year. Spoiler alert: There are no spoilers in this blog post.

It can easily be argued that if there are 185 brewing companies in Oregon (by MY count and I promise that’s up-to-date as of 1-5-15), then there are in the vicinity of 235 IPAs so how can they have narrowed it down to only a dozen? I hear you and agree, but take it up with their mgmt. For my part, I thought the 12 they selected were good calls based on reputation and taste. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Hophouse…

unnamedOrder the flight and they bring you a tray of twelve 2.5-oz samples. Just enough to give you a good enough idea of which ones you liked, which ones you didn’t, and which ONE you loved. As alluded to, I loved three. What blew me away was that I told my wait person I suspected they were all new to my personal pantheon but, in fact, were actually the two of the three I would’ve picked based purely on assumption and bias. FWIW, my 4th place vote was one I always put in my Top 3. BTW, I have 5 top threes.

The blind tasting runs all month long. I’ll post a follow-up around February 1st with my tasting notes, scores, and the eventual winner. But for now, here are the IPAs as they appear on taps 1-12 on Hawthorne:

1. Boneyard RPM

2. Hop Valley Alphadelic

3. Crux Outcast

4. Breakside IPA

5. Ninkasi Total Domination

6. Ft. George Vortex

7. Laurelwood Workhorse

8. GoodLife Descender

9. Gigantic IPA

10. Migration Luscious Lupulin

11. Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack

12. Double Mtn. Hop Lava.

What do you currently claim as your favorite Oregon IPA? Are there any you feel they blatantly left off the list? Will you come in and “vote”? Hoppy New Year.

An Oral History of BridgePort India Pale Ale

This is the second installment of this type of oral history of a Portland beer that would go onto help shape not only the Portland beer scene, but impact the national beer climate as well. Crazy to think that before this beer debuted in 1996, most beer drinkers in America had no clue what an India Pale Ale was.

Image courtesy BridgePort

Image courtesy BridgePort