Friday, January 4, 2013

Snake River Brewing Co

I recently had the amazing opportunity to spend a long weekend in Jackson Hole Wyoming over the new years. While skiing the amazingly steep slopes that put you literally above the clouds:  

Top of the Tram at Sunrise
I worked up quite the thirst, and thought what better way to quench it than with some locally brewed suds. The place to go in the relatively small town of Jackson Wy has to be Snake River Brewing which features an amazing brewpub with some delicious food, as well as of course their award winning beers. To learn more about Snake River Brewing check out their website here:
                They had 8 beers on tap at the time of my visit and offered a convenient flight of 5oz tasters. So for $12 I got 8 -5oz tasters = 4O oz of mostly tasty beer. My overall impression was that this breweries beers are hit or miss. Some are such as the seasonal Pandamonium, and the Snake River Lager are very very good, while others such as the Powder 8 Porter and the OB-1 are in my opinion actually quite bad. Many of the beers are not overly flavorful, and just seem to lack a little something. Read on below to see Snake River Brewings description of each of the 8 beers they had on tap, as well as some of my own thoughts: 

The Brews 1-8
      1.  Hoback Hefeweizen: Hefe is the German word for yeast and weizen is wheat, making this beer style fairly self-explanatory. The classic banana and clove-like flavors are derived from a specific Bavarian yeast. Because the beer is unfiltered, these dynamic yeasty flavors come through strongly. There is merely a hint of hop flavor added so as not to compete with the yeast notes.
A good example of a Hefeweizen, named after the Hoback mountains in the region. Overwhelming notes of banana.
      2.  Snake River Pale Ale: Snake River Pale is an American pale brewed with domestic malt and plenty of Cascade hops. Golden in color, it has a citrusy hop flavor which is followed by a crisp, firmly bitter finish. Pale ale is a great foil to spicy ethnic foods and can also complement a salad well.  5.2% abv.
Not overly hoppy or flavorful, but very crisp, clean and easy to drink. Comparable to a nice crisp white wine. Does not taste like a 5+ percent beer.
  3.     Snake River Lager: Snake River Lager is our most popular beer. This is an amber colored Vienna style lager. The rich, caramel flavor is balanced with the use of several hop varieties for a subtle hop note. An authentic German lager yeast strain adds to the true flavor of this beer. The  malt forward profile of Snake River Lager makes it a fine complement to pizzas and red meat. The alcohol content is 4.8% abv.
They say this is their most popular beer, and it’s easy to see why; I could pound this one! Again not overly flavorful, but a nice mix of hops is apparent and it is a beer leaving you wanting to follow each mouthful with another.
     4.  Pako’s Eye PA:  Named for Pako (say “PACO”) the dog (No wait, Pako’s not a dog!) This full flavored, fully hop-evident IPA will have the hopheads rejoicing. 6.8% ABV and 60+ IBUs with explosive hop aroma from a pungent Simcoe/columbus blend.
I was a little disappointed with this one. They claim it is, “full flavored” and “hop-evident.” I have enjoyed my fare share of IPAs and this one does not make the top of my list. The hopiness was minimal, and the flavor wasn’t really there.
   5.    Pandomanium: PANDAMONIUM, our first ever Belgian Quad 8.2% Abv.
The Growler
This is Snake River Brewings winter seasonal beer, and damn is it good. I was fortunate enough to get a taste of it, as apparently early January is the last time it will be served on tap, ever… It was so good in fact, that after convincing the bar tender to sell it, I had to purchase a half gallon growler of it! At 8.2percent you have to be careful, it will sneak up on you, the alcohol content is hardly noticeable in the flavor. I can’t say I’ve had a Belgian style Quad before, but if others are as good as this, I will be looking for more in the future. 
 6.  OB-1 (Organic Beer Number 1) : is a USDA certified organic English style brown ale.  Snake River Brewing is proud to be the first and only brewery to be making certified organic beer in the state of Wyoming. Made from 100% organic malt and 100% organic hops. The only other ingredients are Teton mountain spring water and an imported strain of English ale yeast. The alcohol content is 4.9%

I thinks it’s cool that Snake River Brewing, along with other brewing companies are making organic beers, and this is SRBs first attempt at an organic beer. They definitely have a ways to go however. Organic shouldn’t mean a sacrifice on taste which this brew suffers from. Finishes with a very unpleasant after taste.
 7.      Powder 8 Porter: Porter was first brewed in London, England in the early 1700’s. At the time two basic beers existed: a light and a dark. The dark was more expensive and drinkers got into the habit of mixing the two to stretch out the premium brew. A wise brewer began making a medium dark beer to save the barkeeps from having to mix at the taps. The beer was named after its biggest fans: the porters handling baggage at the local train stations. This brown porter is deep ruby in color and transluscent. The alcohol content is 5%.
By far the worst beer of the batch, and perhaps the worst example of a porter I’ve ever had. Of the 4 people at the table, no one even wanted to finish the 5oz sampler. Unpleasant from start to finish.
   8.    Zonker Stout: A rich, well-balanced foreign style stout with a huge amount of roasted barley as well as chocolate, black, and caramel malts. The intense roast character is the main attribute of this black colored beer.  The alcohol content is 6.0%
A very dark beer, even for a Stout. The chocolate flavor comes through in spades. This beer would be great on a cold winter day in the Tetons, a good sipper, and full of flavor. 
Cheers, Matt