Organic can be a brewery niche. Not nearly as lucrative as canning cloudy IPA’s in limited release, but it can set one apart.
Recently, Eel River Brewing sent me a sample trio of their beers. Two were canned and one used experimental hops. So they are catching up in the cool quotient. So, I spent a weekend trying all three beers. The following are my capsule reviews.
Coming in at 5.8 this is particularly hefty. Loads of grain taste here. Could use a touch more carbonation. Getting oats and corn. Pours a pretty bright yellow color.
Emerald Triangle Pale Ale
Really great leafy hop aroma upon opening the can. Slight but continually bitter. Pours almost the same color as the blonde. Getting some Citrus plus dankness. As it warms, the dank and sticky takes over.
Doesn’t taste heavy. Pours a light orange near yellow. Dank for sure. Has experimental hop x17 from the Oregon Hophouse. Initial pungent hit of Hops. Earthy and woody. Not subtle.
Well, that was fast. It didn’t take long for Rev Brewing to rev up. (OK, no more use of the word Rev).
It will be fun to see what new twist this new brewery brings to the L.A. table. The organic niche is one that could be really exploited (in a good way) here in Los Angeles.
Every little bit counts. Even if you don’t brew on an industrial scale, you can be as cognizant about sustainability. Creativity with spent grains is one step. And that is where the book Sustainable Homebrewing by Amelia Slayton Loftus comes in.
Loftus “covers the whys and hows of organic brewing, things to consider when buying equipment, and everything you need to know about organic ingredients (what makes them different, how to get them, and how to make substitutions). ”
And more importantly new to me considering the sun and lack of water in California, “You’ll learn how to brew sustainably by growing ingredients yourself, recycling water, using solar energy, and achieving zero waste.”
Black Isle Brewery in Scotland got a lot of press for their Cold Turkey Breakfast beer. A whopping 2.8% ABV monster. Apparently some folks are not used to brash marketing. Wait, BrewDog has been doing it as well!
All sarcasm aside, certain beers by dint of name or marketing catch on with the Social Media hordes. But hopefully, this will bring more attention to the other ORGANIC beers that Black Isle brews. If it gets more people to buy the Pollinator Honey/heather beer or their pale ale then it is a job well done.
And for the record, I would sample the Cold Turkey. Sounds refreshing for a hot day in L.A.
I have passed by this beer many times and picked up others from the shelves but recently, I picked this and the Old Brewery Pale Ale up to make my ‘fridge more British.
Here is what Samuel Smith of Tadcaster says about this beer, “Brewed with well water (the original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use with the hard water is drawn from 85 feet underground), the gently roasted organic chocolate malt and organic cocoa impart a delicious, smooth and creamy character, with inviting deep flavours and a delightful finish – this is the perfect marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate.”
It pours a garnet brown with a tan head that fades really quickly. For a relatively low alcohol content of 5.0% abv it leaves some legs on the glass. A cocoa powder / milk chocolate aroma is pervasive. Every time I sniff, it comes across strong without overpowering the senses.
And that chocolate note is the first off the block when you take a sip. It lingers for a bit but then is followed by some coconut (almost Mounds candy bar). That initial two flavors are then quickly subsumed into a cloying sweetness that is then followed by a bitter metallic note. I am glad that it is complex with such a disparate set of flavors but I really like the first half and not so much the second.
For that reason, I have to give it a maybe buy. It may well work better with chocolate or vanilla cake where that sweetness can match up and hopefully dissipate a little.
Some interesting developments from Portland’s organic HUB, “Hopworks is introducing a new series of bottle conditioned beers featuring classic European styles through our own Northwest perspective. The first in this series is an Abbey Ale. The second in the series is a Belgian Pale Ale, launching in July.
Hopworks Organic Belgian-Style Abbey Ale is made with this year’s Portland’s Cheers to Belgian Beers yeast, Abbey is made with five different organic malts and organic dark brown sugar, resulting in a complex multi-layered aroma. The flavor is equally rich with a caramel malty sweet, fruity flavor finished with effervescent carbonation and a smooth, warming alcohol finish.”
Out last Canadian stop is Crannog Ales in British Columbia.
All of their brews are certified organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized. And here are a couple to look for:
Gael’s Blood Potato Ale
“This rich Irish red ale is made with organic potatoes for an exceptionally smooth, rich body. It is extraordinarily rich in malt flavour, with just the right amount of hop finish. It’s an immigrant ale, uniting the staple food of Ireland with plenty of new world hops.”
Back Hand of God Stout
“Lean in body and powerful in flavour, Back Hand of God Stout has won many consumers’ choice awards. This dry stout is easy to drink, rich and inviting. It is extraordinarily smooth and mildly hopped with a distinct coffee/chocolate presence.”
We finish our month of Colorado brewery tours with Asher Brewing.
Asher is all organic but you could probably tell that from the names of their beers.
Hippie Nectar Organic Wheat
Tree Hugger Organic Amber
Green Monstah Organic Strong Ale
I would love to take a year and just visit brewery grand openings. Maybe somebody out there will pay me to do that.
In the meantime, how about organic and Ohio in the form of the recently opened Rockmill Brewery.
Along with a cool logo the brewers at Rockmill will be creating a witbier, saison, dubbel and tripel. Enjoy Ohio!
It was a dark and stormy night… actually it has been cool by LA standards but this is still a sun city and when I find flavorful session beers of any style, I am happy. And I found one in the organic OB-1 from Snake River Brewery. Now I am 74% of the way to my goal with 3 1/2 months left!