This week I’m paying it forward by sharing a couple brews from out west with you.
First up, something from the Gem State’s biggest brewery.
Payette Brewing began in Boise, Idaho in 2010 but, despite being relatively young, it’s already largest brewery in the state, with the capacity to brew 100,000+ barrels annually. They were also the first independent brewery in Idaho to offer their selections in cans, back in 2012.
They offer ten (yes, TEN!) year-round brews along with three seasonal offerings and a few one-offs they call “Ales of No Return”. They can be found across the west in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Today I have one of their many year-round brews, Recoil.
Recoil is an IPA made with Calypso, Citra, Eureka, Mosaic hops and two malt varieties. It has a solid 6.5% ABV and 80 IBU. A six-pack of cans goes for the reasonable price of just $9 in most places (at least, that’s what I found).
It poured a bright, mostly translucent, golden straw color with hints of copper in it. About a finger and a half of big, sticky bubbles topped the brew and eventually faded down into a small clump in just one corner of the glass.
It had a very big and bold aroma. The hops lead the way with tropical fruit notes but there was certainly more to it than just the mango, melon, and grapefruit rind that assaulted my nostrils up front. Behind all that there was a zesty pepper scent and a decent helping of bready malt that brought a little balance to the beer’s aroma.
My first taste started with a mild flash of carbonation that quickly faded out, allowing a much thinner mouthfeel to the beer than I was expecting. However, almost immediately, I was hit with a nice combination of flavors.
A peppery sting hit my taste buds first before a rush of citrus quelled the spice. It was melon and grapefruit that pushed forward, taking over the black pepper flavor and slowly blooming across my tongue.
The hops were the main aggressors for most of Recoil’s tenure and they provided a bitter twinge early on with that spicy flavor. But in the second half of the sip, providing back up the tropical fruit, the malts appeared and added a sweet caramel and light biscuity characteristic which did its best to balance out this IPA.
And, to me, those malts did a really nice job of that. The hops remained the star of the beer throughout, with the malt adding just enough sweetness to really amplify the tropical fruit without taking over or compromising the hoppy flavors.
As everything began to fade away, a few things were left behind. First, it finished with a bit of dryness that made me even thirstier than when I started. And then, lingering along side the dry feeling, was a grapefruit rind bitterness and a hint of pepper sitting at the back of my throat. After a few consecutive sips of that, a swig of water was certainly needed.
Overall, there wasn’t anything too amazing about Recoil…but it was just a really tasty, super easy to drink IPA. It was well balanced, had a nice trio of flavors – the peppery spice, the tropical fruit, and the sweet malt – and was very sessionable.
Up next, a northern Cali brewery gives us a hazy, session IPA.
T.W. Pitchers’ Brewing began when Tommy and Wilson met on their college baseball team. The two soon found they were much better at brewing than they were at pitching (but their time playing baseball did lead to the brewery’s name). After college, the duo moved to San Francisco where they opened shop and specialized in making craft shandies and radlers.
They only offer up five brews, three available year-round and two “seasonal” brews (a stout available October-February and a wheat beer available March-September). If you’re in California, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North or South Carolina, or Tennessee you can easily find them.
Today I have one of their year-round beers, Tropic Plunder, a hazy/session IPA brewed with passion fruit and lychee as well as Citra and Mosaic hops. The beer clocks in with a decent 6.1% ABV and is available in six-packs of cans that run around $11.
Topic Plunder poured a murky straw color with minimal head, as no more than a finger of airy, eggshell white bubbles appeared.
On the nose tropical fruits led the way – mango, pineapple, and grapefruit from the hops with the passion fruit and lychee following closely behind. It had a light tartness to it as well from the fruit additives and a somewhat biscuity malt backing that adds more sweetness to it.
My first sip started with a small carbonated fizz that quickly vanishes. For a moment or two after there was nothing…but then, rising from the effervescence, came the flavors.
It begins with a slightly tart tropical fruit flavor. The pineapple, passion fruit, and mango led the way with hints of peach and the lychee peeking through as well.
The hops add a slight dash of bitterness that is combated by a sweetness from the bready malt. The malts attempt to cut into both the tart and bitter aspects of the beer but just can’t seem to do anything other than add a light yeast taste and some more saccharinity to the beer.
Those tropical fruit flavors buzzed on my taste buds for a while and were accompanied by a grapefruit rind bitter twinge and a slightly sticky feeling from all that citrus fruit juice.
After a long while the flavors finally started to dissipate. But that sticky feeling remained and gave way to a rather dry finish that lasted for another couple minutes before finally vanishing.
Overall, Tropic Plunder is a decent brew. It’s certainly more of a summer beer than a winter one (although, looking at their distribution, only a few places that get their beer have to worry about snow).
If I was sitting on a boat or relaxing on a beach all day, this would be a perfect beer to bring with. It’s tropical, easy to drink, and has a total summer vibe to it. Unfortunately, I tried it in Illinois in December…not what it was made for (but it was still good). Ends a little sticky and dry but worth a try.