Oregon summer series: beer #1

15 Aug

Appropriately named for the series, no?

I realized today, staring out the window at work, that the midpoint for summer in Portland is either coming right up…or has unfortunately passed.  I’m not going to get all doom-and-gloom here, but I sighed a bit louder than normal while thinking about it.  In that instant, I decided to think of something positive about summer still being around.  The first thing I thought was that it’s been a much better summer this year than the previous two.  What glorious weather we have had for the last 4 weeks, right?  My second thought went to all the summer beer I had yet to drink.  The bombers and six-packs yet to be purchased, the canned beer on the golf course, and the exploration of beers I haven’t had the chance to sample.

With that last thought fresh in my mind, I decided to make a real, concerted effort to drink more beer in the coming weeks.  Bad for the waistline?  Yes.  Do I care?  A little.  Enough to back off?  No.  I gotta get in as much summer beer as possible, people!  What I’ve come to realize this summer is that as much as I like the big, winter beers…summertime beers are where it’s at.  Kolsch, Pale Ale, IPAs, Hoppy Reds, Pilsners, Mexican Lagers, Saisons, Wit beers…the list goes on and on.  These beers are meant for warm days, and warm days are just spectacular here in Portland.  Henceforth, the next month’s worth of posts will be part of a Summer Series of beer reviews.

Up first, Andreson Valley’s Summer Solstice.  A co-worker buddy of mine has been talking this beer up for the last 3 weeks, so it was at the forefront of my memory when I ran across a single at World Market.  I don’t normally peruse the beer section at World Market, but I had 5 minutes to kill while the wife wrapped up some purchases and there it was.  A single can seemed worth the purchase, if it meant I could see what all the fuss was about.  This beer used to be known as Cerveza Crema, but for whatever reason…marketing, slow sales…Anderson Valley decided on a name change.

It poured an orange-copper color, that bordered on amber.  The head was fluffy white but dissipated within 20 to 30 seconds, leaving a thin white film on top.  There was a lovely lacing on the sides of the glass that stayed the whole time I was drinking.  The smell was all caramel malt with a starchy aroma (think cooking potatoes) and a hint of vanilla.  There were no hops to speak of in the nose, which was a bit of a surprise to me.  Not sure why I was expecting some hop nose…probably because I was thinking of a summer beer, but then I remembered that this was basically a cream ale.  The taste was very malty with a hint of citrus that moved into winter squash (think acorn or butternut), finishing with a hint of vanilla bean.  The beer had a nice body from the ample malt profile and finished with a mild sweetness that sat on the tongue.  Overall this was a decent brew, but not one I am apt to go back to anytime soon.  It was a little too malty and creamy for my tastes, especially as a summer drinker.  Would I start with one at a BBQ?  Sure, but I would move on to drier, crisper fare as the heat of the day wore on.  I feel like this is more of a Fall beer…something to have with a big holiday dinner.  It’s not too heavy and it has all the spice hints to support those big fall dinner flavors.

Food suggestion: Butternut squash ravioli with browned butter and crispy sage.  There is no need to find a counterpoint beer for this dish.  What you need is a wicked complimenting beverage, and this would do the trick.  Maybe this beer should be re-named Fall Equinox?

As an aside, I was interested in what “Bahl Horning since 1987” was in reference to on their can.  Turns out there was an interesting bit of trivia on the Anderson Valley website related to a language known as Boontling.  This dwindling language’s home is the Anderson Valley and is still used by some locals to this day.  The brewery has adopted some of the language in their names and marketing.  It’s worth checking out the origins and current use of the language.  I guess it’s just the geographer in me that makes this interesting.  They had a video on their site of a local gentleman using the language.  It’s worth the 3 minutes.

Next up: Ninkasi Radiant Ale

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2 Responses to “Oregon summer series: beer #1”

  1. Chad August 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM #

    I’m not sure about Portland area micro climates but here in the Bay Area, depending on your travels and the time of day you are drinking, you could justify, easily, skipping the summer brews altogether because you may very well not see temps much higher than 60. So this post, my friend, has inspired me. although my little bubble on the Peninsula does not get too warm, I owe it to myself to go and seek some nice and refreshing summer offerings, even if it means I have to travel 25 miles in land to sweat my ass off and get in the mood. Drink local, be local in all your locales.

    • Brian August 20, 2012 at 6:37 PM #

      Good on you, bro! Temps aside, there are some fantastic summer beers out there that are just begging for you to drink them. If you can get yourself up this way, during August, next year…well, I’ll just have to fill you full of as many of them as I can.

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