There are a lot of great can and bottle labels throughout the craft beer world. And today I wanted to share with you guys two of the coolest labels I’ve seen on my trip. To be honest, the labels on these cans are the reason I wanted to try them.
So with out further ado...10 Barrel’s Pub Beer.
10 Barrel has become a pretty big deal up in the Pacific Northwest. And, in fact, you can only find 10 Barrel in six states - Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Vermont and California. I can't say they're available throughout California but I did see them in San Diego when I was there...so it's at least available in part of Cali.
Well after trying their Apocalypse IPA in May of 2015 I fell in love. In fact I told myself I was going to go to the source and get more one day. And, just over a year later, I made good on that vow and finally drove all the way to Portland, Oregon (some 2000 miles away from my house).
I had Apocalypse again...and it was still delicious. But, as I had already reviewed that beer for you, I wanted to get another one of their offerings. And one can caught my eye; their Pub Beer. Now I know this is a controversial decision to call this one of the best cans I've seen...and I don't know what it is but I love it. It's so simple...so plain...and yet...it spoke to me. It was really, for reasons unknown, one of my favorite label designs.
Pub Beer is a pale lager that cost me just $1.69 for the 12-ounce can. When I emptied that can it poured a hazy straw color with roughly an inch of foam that quickly disappeared into a thin dusting across the liquid.
The aroma was not quite what I was expecting. There was a certain spice to it, almost like a saison or wit, with some coriander and other seasonings. But Pub Beer also had a backing of sweet lemon, grassy earth undertones, and some pale malt as well. It was quite the complex aroma for a lager.
My first sip had me scratching my head though. The beer had a light body and thin mouthfeel to it, as it was slightly watery. The aroma also didn't fully transfer to the flavor. Up front there was a hint of the spices I got in the smell. Again, it was the coriander that showed up the most. On the back end of the sip I got a smidge of tart lemon but mostly just hay/grassy pale malt.
The beer was easy to drink, as it had a crisp, clean flavor to it. The 5% ABV is not higher than any other "normal" brew and that means this is a beer you can have multiple of in one night.
As the beer was drained from my glass, the tiny head did nothing to the sides of pint; save for one tiny string of bubbles that slowly slipped down to the dusting that remained.
Overall, this seemed just like a slightly flavored Budweiser...somewhat watery, missing something, and pretty easy to drink. I love 10 Barrel, and this can, but I was kind of let down with this one. And that really surprised me because their Apocalypse IPA, Joe, and Maine Squeeze were all so damn delicious Apocalypse is still one of my all-time favorites and one of the main reasons I drove from Chicago to Portland.
As for Pub Beer...it's easy to drink, it's fine, but 10 Barrel has done much better with their other brews and, sadly, the beer inside didn't live up to the can on the outside. 7/10
Secondly, from SoCal, Refuge's Grapefruit IPA.
Refuge Brewery calls the SoCal city of Temecula (right in between LA and San Diego) home. And while they offer many of their own beers at their brewpub (20+ at any given time), they only can and distribute two beers (or at least that's what I've seen/read): their Blood Orange Wit and their newly canned Grapefruit IPA.
I've had their Blood Orange Wit before and it was pretty good but, as a huge fan of grapefruit IPAs, I made it my mission to find their version of it on my trip to San Diego. Plus I think it's a pretty sweet can. I found a four pack of 16-ounce cans for $9.99, so the price is right at that average mark.
The can hasn't even been opened yet and I give this beer an A+...hopefully it can live up to the packaging it's in.
Alright, here we go!
The beer pours a hazy dark gold, almost orange color with minimal head; under a finger of airy white bubbles that basically just created a dusting across the top of the beer.
Grapefruit IPA's aroma was pretty straight forward - loads of juicy grapefruit with some other light lemon notes and an easy hop and very light malt backing. It smelled pretty damn good and I was excited to dig in!
My first taste was pretty good as well. There was a smooth, light carbonation fizz that led off the sip before the fruit flavor took over. After the bubbles had faded (which was almost instantly) the grapefruit and citrus flavors emerged...but it was only a light and slightly sweet taste. There were some hops on the backend of the sip, as it left a tiny sugary-sweet sticky bitterness that lingered between sips. This version of the grapefruit IPA also had a really light, almost watery mouthfeel to it. But that just means that the 7.7% ABV was hidden really well...making this beer slightly dangerous.
Like I said though, there was a hint of hops...it was mostly mild grapefruit and pale malts. The beer, despite the 77 IBU that are listed, was very, very smooth and totally bitter-less to me. But, as I have a bias towards hops, I let my sister (who hates beer) and my brother in law (who hates hoppy beers) try it as well...and they both really liked it as well. So it's been confirmed that the hops are at a minimum here!
For me, this is a very good grapefruit IPA. Is it my favorite? No...its slightly too watery and the grapefruit is a tad too light for me. But would I get it again? Absolutely! The juicy grapefruit flavor and smooth/easy drinkability of this IPA makes for a great summer beer. I only wish it was available throughout the country instead of just four counties in Cali. Oh well.
And, while it might not to have lived up to the A+ I gave it at the beginning of the review, I am glad I found it and got to try it! B+...I mean...8.5/10