Wednesday, June 30, 2010

365. Rainier

Here’s to the conclusion that no one saw coming. We bought this Rainier at Polebridge Merchantile in Polebridge, MT (they have awesome huckleberry bearclaws), just outside Glacier National Park on a camping trip two years ago. Since then, this beer has traveled to Seattle and then back to Dayton, where it has resided in the back of our refrigerator, just waiting for a moment worthy of being cracked open. And here we are. I don’t think I need to say much about the merits of Vitamin R; for you naysayers who don’t know, Rainier is a Northwest classic. It is one of the two Northwest beers I cut my teeth on before the microbrew revolution took hold—the other being Olympia. I shotgunned pounders of Rainier before seeing Run DMC on New Year’s Eve in 1986. So you know it’s old school like that. Oh, and Rainier used to be brewed in good ol’ downtown Seattle, WA—you always knew when you were rolling up on the big old R outside the brewery next to I-5—but it has since been bought out and is now part of the Pabst stable. Rainier got bought out and shut down in 1999. Fuckers. This can says it was made in Irwindale, CA, but Rainier’s heart is still a part of the great Northwest. Oh, and just so all you haters know, Ranier won GABF gold in 1990, 1998, and 2000 in the American Light Lager category. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Described on the can as a “naturally brewed mountain fresh beer,” and “made with Yakima Valley hops,” Rainier pours a crystal clear straw color. The light white head quickly disappears, and the nose is a grainy and slightly sweet malt—let’s just say it smells like teen spirit, and leave it at that. Flavors start dry and biscuit-y, with some graininess in the background; the middle is slightly sweet and even, and the finish has a bit more graininess coupled with a light bitterness and a clean, crisp finish. Some of this could be from the age of the beer—after all, Rainier is not a candidate for aging—but a lot of it is just straight up Rainier. Rainier has a light, fresh body (even after two years!) with a dry, clean mouthfeel—as American lagers go, this falls on the dry, crisp side, not on the sweet, malty side. The carbonation is medium, with a light bite that helps the beer finish crisp and light. Rainier reminds me of those younger, carefree days, and tastes like my youth—it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Nonetheless, I’d happily crack a Rainier any chance I can get—nostalgia is getting harder to come by when it comes in 12 oz. cans.

From the Rainier website: “Rainier beer brings together nature’s bounty from the great Northwest. Pure spring waters combine with golden barley and verdant hops to produce a beer rich in taste and texture. Fermented slowly with a pedigree yeast culture under tightly controlled conditions, Rainier comes forth with a satisfying malty flavor over a slightly fruity background, spiced with Chinook, Mt. Hood, and Willamette hop notes.”

Here’s to a good year!


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