Baby, it’s cold outside. But in the warm depths of the Platypus Pub, a popular brewpub and restaurant in the basement of Bend’s Church of the Almighty Beer, it’s toasty. Literally. Joining us for the monthly consumer tasting contest are a few dozen of the pub’s customers and homebrewers from upstairs in the Brew Shop. The group gathered to taste and comment on Central Oregon’s winter warmers – the fireside beers aimed at warding off the chill that gathers in the bones after a few too many face plants and wipeouts on the slopes.
Although the Perfect Pints tasting is not any sort of official contest, we at the Oregon Beer Growler conduct the tastings without revealing the brand or the bottle, letting the participants comment on their favorites.
This particular tasting also left it to the brewer to choose his or her favorite “winter warmer,” which is a fairly general designation rather that a style. Brewers chose to send a variety of flavors – from hoppy to sweet. The panelists voiced their opinion with their votes and comments.
Listed below are consumer’s top 7 choices, beginning with the Central Oregon beers that won the most votes:
Deschutes Abyss – Imperial Stout – ABV 11%
Our consumer panel recognized this international medal-winning beer at first taste. “Tastes like extra crispy bacon,” said one. “Are there spruce tips and coffee in this?” queried another. “Now we’re talkin’! Me likes!” wrote a fan.
Boneyard Hop Venom – West Coast Double IPA – ABV 10 %
Apparently, our tasting panelists were bit by the snake, and loved it, specifically raving about the smell. “Nice aroma, smooth and tasty,” wrote one taster. “Smells wonderful,” said another. “Super hop bomb,” described a panelist. “Packs a punch,” wrote another. Out of words, one taster just described it with drawings of hearts.
Crux Snow Cave – Winter Warmer -- ABV 10 %
In the description of this beer with heavy dose of wheat malt, Crux brewer said: “Style guideline … what guidelines?” Apparently our tasters didn’t mind the ambiguity. “Complex spiced Belgian flavors,” wrote one. “Yeah baby! Smooth, lush, delish!” exclaimed another. Some noted fruit flavors of plums and raisins. “I could drink a lot of this by a fireplace, “ said one.
10 Barrel Pray for Snow – Strong Ale – ABV 7 %
The brewers list on the label of this winter ale these drinking guidelines. “Stash the bottles in snow. Disguise your hiding spot. Remember hiding spot. Return to drink chilled ale.” Oregon Beer Growler’s panelists gave it a thumbs-up with several “yums” and many notes on the balance and caramel spice “Sweetly boozy,” said one. “A smoky character with a cellar style,” wrote another.
Cascade Lakes Slippery Slope – Winter Ale – 6.4 %
The label describes this as one smooth wintery ride, with crystal malts and Cascade hops. Its fans among our consumer tasters called it “well balanced, roasty, sooth, nutty, lightly spiced and easy to drink.”
Silver Moon’s Hoptagon – Imperial IPA -- 8.6 % ABV
The brewery’s fans call it the “Time Warp,” because it harkens back to the days of the fruity, floral beers made with Northwest hops and American crystal malts. Our tasters loved the festive flavor. “It’s a holiday beer,” said one. “Happy beer, “ described another. “Light, roasty and malty.”
Three Creeks Hodag – Cascadian Dark Ale – 6.4 % ABV
This dark but hoppy beer with a touch of dark wheat malts was release in honor of Hoodoo’s 75th anniversary this year. Hoodoo’s mascot, for the uninitiated, is Hodag the Dragon. “Tasty strong ale,” said a fan. “Is it a porter?” queried another. “Tastes like sweet leather in a winter moon,” waxed one, poetic..
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.