Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumphouse Brewery tasting notes

Pumphouse Brewery - LongmontIn my haste to get some posts out about the brewery tours in Longmont last week, I forgot to write about the beers themselves over at the Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant in Longmont Colorado. As legendary commentator Paul Harvey once said: "You know the news, but now you're going to hear the rrrrrest of the story". I mentioned the names of Pumphouse's brews in my previous post without giving any details on how they were brewed and tasted.

I had arrived to the Pumphouse on a Friday just shortly after they opened at 11am. The place already had a few customers there and I was seated at a nice window table. I asked my server for a sandwich and a set of sampler tasters of their year-round beers. The Pumphouse has 5 regular beers and between 3 to 5 season beers available at any given time. Today, they had 5 regular brews and 3 seasonals. Here is a rundown on what they were currently offering that week.

Wild Fire Wheat - The first thing you notice is that the Pumphouse serves their wheat beer with a lemon slice. Normally, I don't drink beer with a fruit slice with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions. The lemon certainly dominated the initial aroma and masked the wheat and yeastiness that usually goes with it. This beer looked mostly clear, unusual for a wheat as most tend to be cloudy. This brew was made with 2-row, red wheat and caramel malts. It's a nice light yellow color with a good white lacing. This brew is bittered with Northern Brewer and Mt. Hood hops and is fermented with American ale yeast. This brew was very refreshing and light tasting, mildly bitter and citrusy. A nice example of a wheat beer. I wonder, though, how it would taste without the lemon. It's 4.8% ABV and a low 17 IBU. Would make a fine session beer for the warmer days. Thumbs up.

4-Alarm Copper Ale - The 4-Alarm has, as it's named, a very nice copper color with a nice white head. It's what I'd call a European style Altbier. It's made with 3 different European malts including Pilsen, Munich and Veinna malts. It's bittered with Mt. Hood hops exclusively and fermented with a German ale yeast. It has a nice malty taste and bit more hoppiness to it. At 5.1 ABV and 40 IBU it packs a bit more potentcy than their wheat beer. This beer won a Silver medal at the 2004 GABF. It's still a very light bodied beer but decent. Thumbs sideways.

Red Alert - This beer is classified as an American Amber and is truly dark red in color. Just sitting in the smaller taster glass, it's looks reminded me a lot like whiskey in a shotglass color wise, only with a small off-white head. It's a clear brew and is made with a mix of 2-row, caramel and chocolate malts. It has a nice smooth malty flavor. The caramel malts really come through on this. It's a respectable 6.2% ABV and a moderately hoppy 50 IBU. This brew had an excellent lacing left on the glass. I liked this nearly as much as the altbier. Thumbs up.

Igniter Pale Ale - This brew is definitely their hoppyest brew they served today. An American Pale Ale that's a light copper color with a white head and good lacing. It weighs in at 6% ABV with a strong 60 IBU rating. This beer took Gold at the 1999 GABF. It's a clear see-thru brew that reminds me of an IPA but not quite. It's made with 2-row, pale and caramel malts. It's amply hopped with Galena, Chinook and Cascade hops and fermented with an English ale yeast. Pumphouse hops this beer 5 separate times during the brewing of this beer. This is a nicely balanced pale ale with just the right mix of malt and hops. I felt that this one was the best of the samplers so far. Big thumbs up.

Pumphouse Brewery taster setPyro Porter - This dark brew is marked as a brown porter but reminds me of a stout. It has a nice tan head to it and is brewed with pale, caramel and chocolate malts. Northern Brewer and US Golding hops bitter this brew and an English ale yeast was used to ferment it. This brew is 5.9% ABV and a modest 20 IBU. The taste? Smooth! It's mildly bitter with rich dark malt taste. This one finishes clean with no aftertaste. I can taste and smell the chocolate malts in this brew. It's semi-sweet but not overly so. This one takes a close 2nd place in my book today. Thumbs up.

My server then brought over three of their seasonal brews for me to sample.

Hindenburg Light - This is a Cologne-style (German Kolsch) brew. It's a very light yellow color with a small white head. It was very well carbonated and was measured at 4.3% ABV and a 25 IBU. This is a very light and refreshing brew and is nicely bittered. It has a nice creamy head and lacing on it. It's made with 2 types of Weyerman Pilsener malts and Carapilsen with Hallertau hops exclusively and a Kolsch ale yeast. This is a highly drinkable session brew and was excellent. Good for a nice hot lazy day. Recommended for you Kolsch fans. Thumbs up.

Blackberry Wheat - This is the same Wild Fire Wheat only brewed with blackberries. It's a very cloudy orange color with a white head. It tasted a bit sweeter and less citrusy than the regular wheat, probably due to the fact they didn't serve it with a lemon this time. The blackberries don't come out until later in the sampling. A nice change of pace fruit beer. It's an average brew but decent. It's probably close to 5% ABV and with a low IBU rating. Thumbs sideways.

Pyro Espresso Porter - At first when I heard Espresso (coffee) I thought this was going to be a really bitter coffee beer but I was pleasantly surprised at it's taste. Yes, you can tell there is espresso coffee in this porter but it makes this porter that much more richer and darker in texture and taste. This was very good. And for me, a non-coffee drinker, I really liked this. It is made from their regular Pyro Porter but blended well with their house espresso coffee. Surprisingly good but I still liked their regular porter better. Still, it came in a close 3rd in my book. Thumbs up.

All of the beers I had today were very well made. There wasn't a bad one in the bunch. Normally at a small brewpub with that many selections you usually find one or two that just don't cut it, but all of these I would drink again.

I had not previously had any of the fine Pumphouse brews before that day but will definitely make a point of it to stop there again soon for more. I'll have to get a growler of their brew next time for home because they don't sell it outside of their restaurant.

Related articles:
- The beers of the Pumphouse (video).
- Breweries of Longmont part I - Pumphouse Brewery.
- Breweries of Longmont part II - Left Hand Brewing Co.
- Breweries of Longmont part III - Oskar Blues.

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