There are a couple new, exciting beers that went on tap yesterday that I’d just love to talk about, but before I do, I have to give some love to last week’s greatest hits. There’s no telling how much longer some of these masterpieces will be on display at Bailey’s, so I want to get the word out before you miss out.
- Leavenworth Oktoberfest—This is a brewery that just snuck up on me. We’ve had a number of their beers on cask recently, and I’ve been thrilled with all of them. So when I found out they were going to tackle an Oktoberfest style, I was intrigued. Oktoberfest beers are a sort of amber lager, usually very light with just a hint of caramel and sweeter malts and not too many hops. As far back as I can remember, I’ve never had an Oktoberfest that got me very excited; most of them are just kind of “meh.” But the Leavenworth fills a really nice niche—it’s light and refreshing but with enough malt complexity to keep you interested. It’s a step up from the Lagunitas Pilsner (another solid beer) in the flavor department but still great for anyone who’s really thirsty and needs something that won’t crush their delicate taste buds. This is the perfect beer to start on, like a warm-up exercise for your night of drinking.
- Russian River Damnation—I swear to Beer God, I’m so sick of hearing everyone praise Russian River as the best thing to happen to beer since malt met hops. Alright, so yes, I’ll admit Pliny the Elder is one of the most incredible beers I’ve ever had, but there’s just so much hype around this brewery and their sudden presence in Portland that I just don’t see how they can live up to it all. For those not in the know, this California brewery has been long sought after up here for their artisan style beers that lean more heavily on Belgian traditions than English ones. And this beer, the Damnation, is Bailey’s first snag. And, well, it’s a damn fine beer, I have to admit. It’s a true Belgian Strong Golden Ale, in line with something like Duvel or North Coast’s Pranqster for those who aren’t familiar with the style. I’m thrilled whenever a good brewery takes on this style and this case is no different. It’s a little stronger tasting than I’m used to, and leans more sour and dry than sweet, but all those Belgian spices and tiny bubbles are intact. This stuff is the real champagne of beers.
- Hale’s Rudyard’s Rare Barleywine—I held off on trying this one for awhile, mostly because I’m not a huge barelywine fan and secondly because it’s still the summer and I can’t really get my head around 10% ABV beer drinking when it’s 80 or 90 degrees outside. Despite my initial hesitation and skepticism, I have to admit: this one goes down pretty easy. Much darker in color than any barleywine I’ve ever seen, the Hale’s has a really nice roasted flavor that complements its sweet booziness so well, it led me to wonder why more barleywines don’t play with the roasted malts a little more. It’s remarkably tasty and well-balanced and so much more than the sugar bomb in your mouth that some barleywines turn into. Everyone who has ordered it seems to be pretty happy, too, especially after they get over the fact that it’s so dark in color. We’ve got very little of it left, though, so grab it while you can!
We’ll talk new beers tomorrow!