Pyramid Brewing – Outburst Citrus

Poor Pyramid. They used to be a staple of the PNW beer scene but they seem to be losing shelf space almost as quickly as they’re closing their Alehouses. Pyramid, along with the Widmer brothers, was best known for bringing the hefeweizen to the Pacific Northwest, as well as fruit beers with their ‘Apricot Ale’. You used to be able to find these beers in every store and gas station across the state, but these days they seem relegated, oddly enough, to specialty beer stores.

Compare and contrast.

If I had to mark turning point for Pyramid it would be back in 2008 when they rebranded their classic, familiar Pyramid logo for a pile of hot garbage. This was especially egregious with their flagship Hefe which they renamed ‘Haywire Hefeweizen’ along with a redesign that’s reminiscent of the worst of 90s fashion. That same year they shut down brewing operations in their home turf of Seattle, Washington, and they shortly started to disappear from store shelves.

 

 

So imagine my surprise when I saw a Pyramid beer at my local grocer’s for the first time in years. Surprise surprise, it’s another citrus forward IPA, this years most popular beer trend. What they’ve done is take their established ‘Outburst’ Imperial IPA brand and throw in some orange and tangerine peels for the citrus taste. Unfortunately it doesn’t work well, we’re dealing with an Imperial IPA here, you’re going to have to do more than that. What we end up with is a funky tasting, hop heavy IPA that is hardly reminiscent of citrus at all. Nothing about this beer stands out to me as unique, special, or even solid. A disappointing return from Pyramid, and I doubt I’ll even notice when it inevitably disappears as well.

Mouthfeel: Thin and hoppy

Aroma: At least a note of citrus here.

Hops: Standard, heavy hopped Imperial IPA

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Not deliberately offensive

Overall: C-

Sierra Nevada – Sidecar

The Sidecar I know is a classic cocktail. cognac, Cointreau (or, if you’re cheap like me, triple sec), and lemon juice. Although I personally preferred the White Lady variant, which replaces the cognac with gin. For a time after I turned 21 I became obsessed with cocktails and mixing drinks. I charitably blame my mother, she knows why! I quickly became bored with modern staples like the Long Island Ice Tea and the AMF and (because I was/am insufferable) began to focus on the classics and their variants. The sour, the daquiri, the negroni, martini and yes, the sidecar.

Like I noted in my review of the IPApaya, fruit forward IPAs are the new ‘it’ thing. This I suppose is a variation of that because Sierra Nevada took their famous pale ale and added a citrus twinge to it. The result is nothing like the sidecar cocktail (which uses lemon juice, not orange juice anyway, maybe they should have called it a screwdriver?) but is a solid, fruit forward beer with a refreshing bright profile.

I have to wonder how long this fad will last. It’s definitely more interesting than “moar hops iz moar better” but it must be harder to market. With fruit forward beers the advertising and labels have to focus around fruit, and fruity drink are what GIRLS drink. Not manly men in plaid flannel and beards with axes who drink craft beer. Hop heavy beers had incredibly violent names with a focus on nuclear explosions and other weaponry. New Belgium’s newest mascot for their line of IPAs is a skeleton. A SKELETON.

Still, definitely a better alternative to the tepid torrent of shandy variants Leinenkugel puts out in an attempt to capture the Mikes Hard/Smirnoff Ice market.

Mouthfeel: Bright and happy

Aroma: Like a Florida summer. You be the judge of that

Hops: Citrusy hops. What else would it be?

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Doesn’t live up to its own hype. Could work as an obnoxious drink alternative on St. Patrick’s Day though.

Overall: B-

 

Full Sail Brewing – IPApaya

Citrus, tropical and fruity IPAs seem to have become a trend. The previous fads of the hopbomb IPA and the session IPA are slowly receding in the face of this new craze. While it has always been almost a matter of course to note the “grapefruit under/overtones” of an IPA, it is now something that is being consciously pursued by the brewers.

Full Sail Brewing’s IPApaya is being billed as a “vacation in a bottle” and at first this drink confused me. I associate the word “papaya” with a either a local sub-par thai restaurant or a hot dog joint that my New York friends wouldn’t stop talking about for awhile. The papaya itself is a fruit I have never tasted or have any preconceived notions of. Lets check it out.

This is perfect. The papaya perfectly illustrates my revulsion to fruit in general. Mishappen coloration of the shell, fleshy pulp underneath, some sort of curry/peanut butter cross breed in the core embedded with a multitude of pill bugs. Fruit is an edible horror I will never understand.

But not having any idea what an actual papaya tastes like leaves me pretty clueless as to whether this beer fulfills its mission or not. I suppose the damning note is I can’t detect a shred of anything unusual or unique about this beer that centers its identity around a unique ingredient. It’s a bit more citrusy than standard IPAs but that’s it.

All in all it’s a solid if unremarkable IPA which is rather damning given this touts itself as a rather unique beverage. I think this beer would have come across much better if it simply advertised as just another citrus or tropical IPA instead of trying to shoe-horn in some kind of unique identity

Or maybe I’m a complete idiot because I have no idea how a papaya should taste and pap-heads will go crazy over this beer. If you’re a pap-head and that’s your reaction… cool. I wish I could get that excited over this.

Mouthfeel: Appropriate

Aroma: Clean like a breeze.

Hops: There are definitely hops.

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Sadly misleading

Overall: B-