Summer’s in full swing, so this month I ventured out in search of something fresh and new on the lighter side of the beer spectrum. Here are some samples from the B-sides, the stuff you won’t find on tap every day, at Chuckanut Brewery and The Local’s house brewer Menace.
Chuckanut Yellow Card. This golden English mild ale is sharp on the tongue and perhaps less, er, mild than the advertised style, and the advertised 20 IBUs. Dryness helps these flowery hops to cut through, and to linger on the palate, in a tightrope balance of hop-forward and sweet, sometimes seeming to lean more to one side than the other. A light, crisp flavorful finish in the body adds a unique, unmistakable and memorable flourish. B+
Chuckanut Devil’s Little Nut. This questionably named low-gravity lager pours a ghost-pale yellow so transparent you could read a newspaper through it. Yet for a hopped up beer, at 68 or so IBUs, its flavor from Tettnanger, a noble hop, retains a delicate, light, airy feel — as you’d expect in a beer Chuckanut had a hand in. This one-off was brewed in collaboration with Devil’s Backbone, a Virginia brewery that, like Chuckanut, is like an island of classic Euro beers in a sea of American ales. Good for both of them. Here’s a clear example of what it means for hops to taste “spicy,” while the sunny body lends a soft, almost sour edge. There’s a lot going on in this session lager. Too much? To me the hops grow a bit abrasive after a glass and a half, though the body’s so even-handed and clean it evens out. B
Menace Beer’s Light Beer. A sweet, easy-drinking lager best served ice cold on a hot day. Pours a see-through gold, with your standard one finger of pearly head, and looks more full than light. First couple of times I tried this, I shrugged. Whatever, I thought, it’s not a total dud, but it’s not much more complex than a cheap domestic can of Rainier or Coors. A second look suggested while the end result feels simple, it’s not boring, even if it’s hard to grasp why a small-batch would turn out a beer that feels … macro? That’s not to say a beer can’t be simple and amazing. This one, however, is still soul-searching, and word on the street is the recipe could get a rewrite soon. C
In other brews …
▪ Bellingham raked in the medals at the 2015 North American Beer Awards. Aslan Brewing Co. took home the Gold medal in the hybrid beer category for the French India Farmhouse Ale (FIFA); Boundary Bay Brewing Co. won Gold for its Trappist-Style Dubbel, Silver for the Ski to Sea ESB, and Bronze for its Imperial Oatmeal Stout; the ever-decorated Chuckanut Brewery took home Gold for its Bock, Dunkel and Märzen, and Silver for its Kölsch; and Wander Brewing nabbed Silver with its Together Belgian Dubbel.
▪ The Roosevelt neighborhood has its first brewery and taphouse as Kulshan’s K-2, at 1538 Kentucky St., held its grand opening this month. The brewery also canned its Full 90 Session Ale, which earned a B+ from this reviewer.
Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.