Friday, June 17, 2011

The Beer Shoppe, Yakima, WA

This weekend I went to Yakima for a couple of graduations and while I was there I wound up going to what is now my favorite beer store since it opened a few years ago.  The store is “The Beer Shoppe” and it touts a large selection of beer from around the world.  The shop carries tons of bottled beer… sold by the bottle no matter what size 7oz, 12oz, 24oz, 32oz etc.  It also has 9 beers on tap at a time, all of which have been from the northwest each time I have stopped in to fill my growler.  They offer $0.25 samples of beers on tap, which can aid you in what to fill your glassware up with. 

On this trip I tried a few different beers.  The one I put in my growler was Mad River Brewing Companies Jamaica Red Ale.  This beer had a very pleasant malty caramel taste to it with a great floral hop aroma.  Weighing in at 6.5% ABV, this beer was just what I needed… a good smooth malty beer that wasn’t overpowering and could easily keep me coming back for more.

I probably would have put the Snipes Mountain Moxee Pale Ale in my growler if my brother didn’t already fill his two growlers with it.  This pale ale is definitely an American Pale Ale since its 70 IBU’s contribute to the well hopped aroma and flavor while still pushing the limits with a 7.5% ABV.  The light qualities of this beer really accentuated the hops and gave a little bit if a tangy or bitter finish.

I also thought about putting the Laughing Dog Dogfather Imperial Stout in my growler because it tasted so great.  I decided not to because I live in Coeur D’Alene and thought that the short drive to the brewery in Sandpoint would probably happen sometime in the near future this summer. Another reason I decided against it was that the growler fill for the Dogfather was $20 as opposed to the $11 growler fill for anything else The Beer Shoppe had on tap.  At The Beer Shoppe, they didn’t have any of the stats at the store, but I did pull up their website and it had this to offer for the stats:

“The Dogfather is one of the biggest brews we have made.
Weighing in at a hefty 11% percent, the Dogfather has 7 malts and 4 different hops giving it a complex flavor profile.  Over 11 months in the making some of the Dogfather is bourbon barrel aged.”

“Stats for the Dogfather
11% ABV 71 IBU’s
7 different Malts 4 hops”

One other beer that my brother and friend liked when they sampled it was Hopworks Organic IPA.  I didn’t try it until my friend brought it back to my brothers’ house in his own growler.  I didn’t like this beer when I tried it, despite my brothers and my friends thoughts of it.  Maybe my palate wasn’t working right or something, but I thought this one had a bit of a metallic taste to it that rendered it almost undrinkable to me (of course no beer I have drank thus far has been undrinkable).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An honest review of Bi-Plane Brewery

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to visit the grand opening of Bi-Plane Brewery that opened in Post Falls, Idaho. The brewery is a fairly low-key hometown place that has a small sitting area and a few snacks to enjoy while you sample the brews on tap. When I arrived at the brewery there were a few patrons already sitting at the bar indulging in their own sampling of the new breweries offerings. The barmaid seemed to be very friendly and engaging the customers as to the questions they had on brewing malts and styles.

When I asked what they had on tap, I thought that it was sort of surprising to hear that they only had two of their own brews available at their grand opening. I was told of their troubles getting their license from the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Department and she mentioned that they couldn’t brew anything until they had that license, which they just got that morning and is why they only had two of their own brews on tap. When asked if they planned on putting only their brews on tap in the future or featuring other breweries beers, the barmaid said that they were not sure but will likely continue to feature other breweries creations as well.

Once I got my sampler ordered, which included their Sopwith Camel IPA, their Bristol Bulldog Brown Ale, a Tangerine Wheat Ale from another brewery and a porter from another brewery; I began to analyze their creations. I started with the IPA and noticed that it did have a mild hop aroma and an even milder hop flavor, which was sort of surprising to see in a beer that is typically full of hop flavor and aroma. The IPA didn’t really have a mild malty character that would also classify it in the IPA category, but rather had a smooth crisp finish that you would expect in a Pale Ale. When I sampled their Brown Ale, I thought that this beer was a little mild on the malt flavor also, but overall it was a good beer. The other two beers I sampled seemed to have a little bit more flavor than the ones produced by this brewery, which I may go back for in the future.

When I was done sampling the brews, I was invited to have a tour of their brewing setup in the back. They were using a Sabco Brew Magic system that included three kegs, one for the hot liquor, one for the Mash and the third for boiling the sweet wort. I thought that the system wasn’t very far away from what I am slowly acquiring supplies to make, which is a Three Tiers to Beer system. One of the things I saw at the brewery was the large exhaust hood that they had over their system, which I thought would be a great idea to incorporate into my own home brewery if I wanted to move my setup to indoor brewing. The other thing that they had was a large temperature controlled walk in refrigerator, which I don’t think I will be able to incorporate into my home brewery any time soon, but would love to get later in life.

My overall thoughts of this brewery were that they need to work on honing their own recipes and eventually feature more than two of them on tap. I would recommend using a little more bold of an approach and go real hoppy, real strong or start incorporating spices that could boost their brews overall impressions.

I do have to pay my respect to this brewery though. They sure are doing a revolutionary thing for the area and for home brewers, which is starting a nano-brewery with a simple home brew setup.

Visit the brewery and tell me what you thought:

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