Friday, March 27, 2009

Beer Tasting at WineStyles?

Written by Jeff Barber

On Thursday, March 26th, WineStyles in Rocklin held their first beer tasting event. While attendance can be improved, it was well-received, good beers were poured, and it hopefully was the start of something new for the WineStyles monthly calendar.

Originally planned as a spring/summer beer event, the final lineup of beers was changed slightly based on distributor availability. A good variety of beers were still offered however.

The first beer we poured was Boulder Brewing Buffalo Gold. A lightly carbonated, easy drinking, golden ale, this was a good beer for those making the transition from macros to microbrews or maybe while mowing the lawn on a hot summer day.

Next up was the world-renowned Double Trouble Hefeweizen. Actually, this was my homebrewed hefeweizen, brewed in the German style with noticeable notes of clove and banana. As a home brewer, it was good to see people enjoying my beer.

Third was Sierra Nevada’s ESB. This was another solid entry from Sierra Nevada, meant to simulate the British extra special bitter style, it is brewed with both US and British hops and is unfiltered resulting in an enhanced aroma of malt and mouthfeel.

Next in line was Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. This beer has always been a personal favorite and is brewed in the German Maibock style. Although an ale, instead of a lager, as true maibocks are, this beer has a prominent malty aroma and hearty flavor. A good mix of malt and hops with a slightly increased level of alcohol at 6.5% ABV.

Our fifth beer was our first entry from Mendocino Brewing, Red Tail Ale. This is an excellent example of an American amber. Full bodied with Cascade and Cluster hops, a slight citrus flavor is noticed. Personally, I prefer this amber over the more well-known, Fat Tire, as it has more flavor.

We then moved on to a unique version of an amber ale, Hazed and Infused by Boulder Brewing. This amber is both unfiltered and dry hopped. I really enjoyed this beer, especially the aroma, but heard some comments from some of the tasters that this beer was too bitter or hoppy. Hoppiness is an acquired taste.

Our next to last beer was Mirror Pond Pale Ale by Dechutes Brewing. One of the classic pale ales with lots of grapefruit and pine from the NW hops, this is a great beer for hop lovers. At 5% ABV, it’s also one that can be enjoyed almost as a session beer.

Our final beer was our only selection approaching a big beer. Eye of the Hawk from Mendocino Brewing is 8% ABV with a strong caramel malt flavor, a big mouthfeel, and enough hops to balance. It also is bottle conditioned resulting in natural carbonation and some richer flavors. This beer was the favorite of most of the people I asked.

This was a very enjoyable event that according to Francis, owner of Winestyles, will be repeated. It’s a good example of WineStyles efforts to expand their beer offerings. Their regular lineup is small but good with offerings such Sierra Nevada Celebration (almost gone), Bear Republic Racer 5, and Lost Coast Great White. When you get a chance, make sure and stop by and make sure you tell Francis you appreciate his efforts to make good beer available.