Wednesday, December 21, 2011

502. Prodigal Son Christmas Carol(e)

When you’re on a long road trip, an interesting destination along the way makes the time pass faster. Our destination: Prodigal Son in Pendleton, OR. And since we’ve never been one to let a little thing like 2,147 miles get in our way of fun, off we went! Only one problem: when we got to Prodigal Son, they were featuring a whole slew of guest taps by Terminal Gravity, which is in Enterprise, OR. Foiled again. Or, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, d’oh! Prodigal Son did, however, have their winter warmer, Christmas Carol(e), on tap, so we started with that, followed by Terminal Gravity IPA.

Christmas Carol(e) was served in an 8 oz. glass (ahem—we did have to drive another 300 hundred miles, thank you very much); the beer was copper brown with a long-lasting tan head. The nose was super-delicious—it was a mix of fruit and esters with a touch of alcohol—and it pretty much embodied the “old ale-like” character Elli pointed to last week in the Ill-Tempered Gnome. Christmas Carol(e) starts with a mix of fruit and bread, specifically fig, pear, and apple, mixed with bread and caramel malt; in the middle, there is a lighter fruit character and a touch of alcohol. There are also hints of malt chewiness, but it tastes a bit too young to come fully through, while the finish is clean with a touch of heat and alcohol lingering on the palate. The mouthfeel has a corresponding light alcohol warmth that fits with the lighter, gentler carbonation. Christmas Carol(e) is good but young; I’d love to see what this turns into next year at this time. A good first impression. I would have loved to try Bruce/Lee Porter (one of the reasons we stopped here), but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe on the way home.

From the Prodigal Son website: “The Christmas Carol has arrived–A seasonal winter warmer featuring Golden Promise and French Aromatic malts. Dark Crystal and Belgian Candi sugar mingle with herbal Noble Hop bitterness, creating a beer which is ideal for any celebration.”

ABV: 9.0%
IBU: 62

Terminal Gravity IPA came in an imperial pint glass (nice touch, Prodigal Son), and was a hazy caramel—it looked like liquid Werther’s. The head was thin and white, but hung on like the dickens, while the nose was a delicious mix of spicy and resin hop aromas with a touch of floral in the background and clean hop bitterness. This beer was also super fresh and tasty—the hop aroma jumped out of the glass, and flavors really danced on the palate. Flavors started with restrained bread and biscuit malt, along with floral and citrus hop flavors mixed with a slight fruitiness that tasted yeast derived, although we could be wrong. A pleasant clean bitterness also began in the front and continued into the middle, which also contained a faint hint of caramel malt followed by spicy hop flavors. The finish saw a return of the bread flavors before concluding with a lingering clean bitterness. The body was medium as was the carbonation, although it was bright on the palate. The breadiness builds on the palate as the beer warms, as does the hop spiciness, revealing a touch of alcohol warmth. There is also a slight astringent/vegetal note that emerges as the beer warms. Nonetheless, a delicious, approachable, and super-drinkable beer. Too bad we couldn’t stick around for more. But the sweet siren song of the road was calling....

From the Terminal Gravity website: “Terminal Gravity’s ‘India Pale Ale’ is pale copper in color but big in flavor with a heady hop character. It is a true beer drinkers beer and brings a smile to many a face. We use spring water and snow melt from high in the Eagle Cap Wilderness! This is the beer that was named Beer of the Year by the Oregonian.”

ABV: 6.9%
OG: 15.2° P
FG: 3.2° P

Funny side note: all of this photos were shot blind. I broke the viewing screen to our digital camera some time during the first two days of the trip. Color me smooth. Turned out alright, though.


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