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From Seattle to Minnesota, with stops between

Tasting notes from the week of Oct. 5-9

One of the great beer-and-food combinations is oysters and porter or stout. At Cutter's restaurant, in Seattle, I did not even have to order the oysters. I was scarcely through the door when the chef brought them to my table. There were three or four varieties on the half shell, then each one also cooked in a different way. The beer? A soft, lightly rooty, licorice-ish porter from the newish Scuttlebutt Brewpub in Everett, Wash.

A restaurant with a national reputation for its fine kitchen that also offers 10 serious draft beers and more than 100, mainly Belgian, in the bottle? This is Higgins in downtown Portland, Ore. I had a Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, cask-conditioned and perfumey, with my mushroom ragout and a powerful strong ale called from Fred, from Hair of the Dog, a digestive. Later, there was a rich, oaky but rounded Bourbon Bock from Widmer, while I signed I signed copies of my new book, Ultimate Beer, at the famous Powell's bookstore.

The classicists at Anchor of San Francisco, provided me with their newest brew, called Small Beer. This bronze ale is made from the second runnings of the Old Foghorn mash. The result has a cedary hop character and an irresistibly appetizing drinkablility, against a lightly smooth malt background. As the brewery suggests, this is along the lines of a British bitter -- though a particularly fine example, in my view.

In Minnetonka, a suburb of Minneapolis, I visited Sherlock's Home, which has, for my money, the best cask-conditioned ale in the United States. It is easier -- or. I should say, less difficult -- to do this in a brewpub than in a freestanding bar. Here, the man who makes the beer can also monitor its conditioning in the cellar. The bitter really lives up to its name. It has a true, cleansing, hop bitterness. I love the malty scotch ale, too, though today's seems just too sweet -- probably the end of the barrel.

In St. Paul, Minn., I sampled the first beer to be run through the filters at the new Summit Brewery. "Will this be a glass for sale?" I asked. "That's what we're here to determine," replies founder Mark. Stutrud. The new brewery, with traditional copper kettles from Germany, will be fully on stream by the end of November.

I tasted IPA from the old place. And I'm dazzled by its balance of oily maltiness and earthy hoppiness.

Hops are East Kent Goldings. This is what an English IPA should be like, though only Fuller's version comes close. Both are quite different that the much more floral style of the Pacific Northwest.

Me, I enjoy both interpretations ...

Published Online: OCT 9, 1998
Published in Print: OCT 9, 1998
In: Beer Hunter Online

Beer Review - Brewery Review - Food/Pairings

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