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Pacific NW Heretic


Wilson
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rick, there are American micro pilsners but very few from the Pacific NW. I think Capital Brewing (Madison, WI) Gartenbrau is outstanding. Gordon Biersch's Marzen is excellent. Anchor Steam is very good. Sam Adams Lager is acceptable, as is Pyramid Coastline and lagers from some Vermont micros whose names I now forget. New Amsterdam in Brooklyn makes an outstanding balanced beer, although I'm not certain if it's a lager or an ale. I recall drinking it several times on one of the airline shuttles between Boston and Manhattan.

Edited by Wilson (log)
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It looks like Wilson has a lot of opinions about the Pac NW, some positive, some negative, but, at the end just opinions, not a fact in sight. Are there too many beers that are too hoppy? Are the governments more incompetent than Boston or New York? Are the locals too uptight to hear criticism? These queries can, of course, be debated endlessly and gotcha's scored all around. How do we move the conversation towards fact based discussion? As a start, are there data that show that Pac NW made beers are, in general, more hoppy by International Bitterness Units, that other craft-made beers in other parts of the country? Are the hoppier beers in the NW outselling less hoppy beers? I'd prefer to deal with facts first and then debate the implications as opposed to starting with in your face assertions about group think and the like. If it's simply a matter of opinion, I'll take mine! :biggrin:

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Why is a "fact based discussion" preferable when the underlying subject is purely a matter of opinion? Leave out the non-beer comments of mine. My basic point has concerned my -- dare I say it, oh the horror!! -- opinion that PacNW beers are monotonous and highly bitter. The IBU number, if we could get it, is totally beside the point. Anyone who lives here and drinks beer knows that the PacNW is chock full of similar, highly bitter ales.

Even those who disagree with my taste opinion acknowledge the prevalence of heavily hopped ales in the PacNW. Their answer is that this is the regional taste, or that a true pilsner is hoppier than I think it is, or that I'm just one of those outlanders.

I am genrally a fact-based kind of guy, but not when facts aren't really germance to the discussion. Your line of inquiry here is absurd on its face; it's like asking Joe Friday for the best restaaurant in Los Angeles. In any case, no pun intended, I continue to look for PacNW beer that isn't bitter ale. I continue to be bitterly disappointed. Which is frankly no big deal, because the stores also sell brew from outside the region. They're my dollars, and if I have to send them somewhere else that's what I'll do.

Edited by Wilson (log)
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It looks like Wilson has a lot of opinions about the Pac NW, some positive, some negative, but, at the end just opinions, not a fact in sight.  Are there too many beers that are too hoppy? Are the governments more incompetent than Boston or New York?  Are the locals too uptight to hear criticism?  These queries can, of course, be debated endlessly and gotcha's scored all around.  How do we move the conversation towards fact based discussion?  As a start, are there data that show that Pac NW made beers are, in general, more hoppy by International Bitterness Units, that other craft-made beers in other parts of the country?  Are the hoppier beers in the NW outselling less hoppy beers?  I'd prefer to deal with facts first and then debate the implications as opposed to starting with in your face assertions about group think and the like.  If it's simply a matter of opinion, I'll take mine! :biggrin:

This is a constant topic of discussion among west/east coast brewers, writers, and aficianados, and the general concensus is clearly that west coast brewers in general tend to lean heavier on hops, and west coast drinkers in general seem to like it that way.

There's not a lot of argument about that, except in the vein of eastern brewers and drinkers saying 'we do too make/drink hoppy beers!' and their western counterpartst saying (with an amused chuckle) 'No, you don't. You just think you do. Here, try THIS.' The east tends to hew more to the traditional styles...though this is changing as the eastern brewers are playing catch up (catch up and pass, in some cases).

I was just at an "East meets West" event where five western brewers (CA and CO, not PNW) came east to duke it out, hopwise. Damn near every beer there was 60 IBU or better, some over 110. It was a pretty even fight.

Thing is, it's like asking for evidence that Wisconsiners like cheese. It's a fact of life, and everyone knows it. Wilson really only seems to think it's a bad thing because he has moved there and would like some more options.

Lew Bryson

I Drink for a Living

Somewhere in the world...it's Beer O'Clock. Let's have one.

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My comments about the PacNW's inferiority complex, etc etc., came fairly far into the discussion and were meant as cheeky asides. If people want to get all weirded out about it, well, fine. As for the bitter brew here vs. a more balanced Eastern style, I think there's merit to that but my recollection is that the Eastern craft brewers made the really bitter stuff too. A wider variety of craft brew styles there than here -- that's my point.

I guess I should also say that I don't see myself as a "traditionalist" in beer or much of anything else. For example, I prefer the California brandies to cognacs because cognac is too constrained in the varieties they can distill. I generally think California chardonnay is preferable to white burgundy, and I welcome New Zealand's screw-top wine bottles. And where I grew up -- Milwaukee -- craft beer was an oddity until only a few years ago but I've been drinking it for more than a decade. But I don't go for the non-traditional for its own sake. For example, I think Asian fusion cuisine is a conspiracy to jack up the price of a won-ton. So sue me.

I do know a few brewers, and to a man they will agree that the unbalanced, hop-heavy style characteristic of the PacNW hides a lot of brewing sins. I don't know enough about the mechanics or techniques to agree or disagree, and I'll be the first to note that my brewer friends prefer a different and more balanced style so their bias could easily be steering their judgment. Hey, all I do is drink the stuff. But I find it interesting that many experts in the field have their own reasons to agree with my viewpoint.

That's not to say that my taste is the "right" taste. Part of me celebrates the idiosyncratic signature PacNW beer flavor, even if it does tend to make me wonder if I'm drinking a mixture of battery acid and grain alcohol. But even at least it's different and not homogenized. Gotta hand it to the region for sticking with a style that people here enjoy. I guess I'd be a little more convinced of that if the craft brewers here weren't struggling as much, or if they had more of the market.

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That's not to say that my taste is the "right" taste. Part of me celebrates the idiosyncratic signature PacNW beer flavor, even if it does tend to make me wonder if I'm drinking a mixture of battery acid and grain alcohol. But even at least it's different and not homogenized. Gotta hand it to the region for sticking with a style that people here enjoy. I guess I'd be a little more convinced of that if the craft brewers here weren't struggling as much, or if they had more of the market.

I don't know that I'd lean TOO heavily on that: 5% of the market is better than any other similarly sized region of the country is doing!

Lew Bryson

I Drink for a Living

Somewhere in the world...it's Beer O'Clock. Let's have one.

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You're right about that, Lew, and this has occurred to me. But the PacNW is where gourmet coffee started. You'd expect the region to have a higher market share for specialty beverages. I don't think 5% is anything to be proud of. They should being doing a whole lot better. Corrrect me if I'm wrong, but am I correct in thinking that the craft brew market share has been stagnant for quite a few years in the PacNW as well as elsewhere?

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In my more open-minde moments I consider Alaska to be part of the PNW, so...

Wilson, do you like Alaska Amber? To me it is one of the best non-hoppy (18 IBU) beers available in a bottle.

Edited by tighe (log)

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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If we consider AK to be part of the Pacific Northwest then so is Northern California, right? Same overall climatological profile from Juneau to San Francisco. Anyway, I have to re-load on beer today so I'll get some and let you know what I think. I've looked for the "Big Time" brand that someone suggested and found it unavailable at two grocery stores (Larry's on Queen Anne and Thriftway in Magnolia) that tend to have a really wide selection. Can anyone suggest a place with better selections of bottled beer?

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I've looked for the "Big Time" brand that someone suggested and found it unavailable at two grocery stores (Larry's on Queen Anne and Thriftway in Magnolia) that tend to have a really wide selection. Can anyone suggest a place with better selections of bottled beer?

You can stop looking for Big Time. Its a brewpub and they don't bottle. You'll have to go to the source for that one.

Go to Bottleworks in Wallingford, and also Whole Foods has a really fine beer selection. One of the best as far as grocery stores go, IMO.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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Got a six-pack of Alaskan Amber today, and am not too high on it. Better than a macrobrew, but then what isn't? I would agree that it's not bitter, but there's a sourness to it that I don't really enjoy. I still have five bottles to go, so I'll have some more opportunities to put my finger on it.

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Got a six-pack of Alaskan Amber today, and am not too high on it. Better than a macrobrew, but then what isn't? I would agree that it's not bitter, but there's a sourness to it that I don't really enjoy. I still have five bottles to go, so I'll have some more opportunities to put my finger on it.

Well, since my post I've been informed by others that Alaska Amber sucks, so it must be me..... :hmmm:

Have you tried Mirror Pond by Deschutes? I imagine you'll find it to be a 'hop bomb', but to me its pretty mild.

Edited by tighe (log)

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Have you tried Mirror Pond by Deschutes? I imagine you'll find it to be a 'hop bomb', but to me its pretty mild

Is it bottled or is it another one that's only on tap and therefore I have to feel like a lowly idiot because I don't hang out in taverns?

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Is it bottled or is it another one that's only on tap and therefore I have to feel like a lowly idiot because I don't hang out in taverns?

Bottled and widely available, like most of the Deschutes beers.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Went over to Bottleworks today. Great store, by the way. Among other things, the bottle of Czechvar had a February 2004 expiration date as opposed to the one I got at Magnolia Thriftway with an expiration date of June 2003. Someone there gives a rat's ass. Now I know where to buy my beer.

I talked with a knowledgeable young guy who told me that I'm right about PacNW being pretty barren country for bottled pilsners or other beers that aren't uber-bitter. I bought a six-pack of LaConner pilsner, one of which is sitting next to me as I type this. It's o.k., but all they really did was tone down the hops a little bit without toning up the malt. It's quite a far cry from Blue Paddle, Gartenbrau, Anchor Steam or Gordon Biersch Marzen, not to mention Budvar/Czechvar or Pilsner Urquell.

At least I feel as if I have given it a fair shot. On those occasions when I'm in taverns (far and few between, quite honestly) or in the mood for a beer in a higher-level restaurant (even farther and fewer between) I'll continue looking for balanced beers from the PacNW but I basically don't think they really exist here. I really think that's too bad, not so much for me because there are plenty of more than acceptable out-of-region brews, but for the PacNW brewers who are almost completely ignoring what is by far the biggest beer market.

But, hey, I'm sure they can be comfortable running stagnant small businesses without my money!

Edited by Wilson (log)
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