Another Canned Brew, This Time from Alaska!

‘Two Beers’ canned brew will have you reaching for seconds

 

Two Beers Brewing, now in Alaska (and in a can)

Two Beers Brewing, now in Alaska (and in a can).

Cans are impervious to light and have less air-containing head space than bottles do. Both light and air are the arch enemies of beers once it leaves the production line. Cans also make more sense both in terms of portability and for the environment than bottles do, especially for those of us that like to pack fermented treats with us into the wilderness. A can of beer is lighter than a bottled beer and most people are more apt to crush a can and haul it back out than round-trip a bottle.

Two Beers Brewing Company’s founder/owner/head brewer Joel VandenBrink got his start homebrewing. In 2007, he made the bold move to a small commercial venture. Starting out small, VandenBrink launched his operation in a miniscule 170 square foot ActivSpace location in Seattle’s Freemont District. ActivSpace is a cluster of small commercial spaces that cater primarily to folks wanting to launch a new venture without the huge capital outlay that it takes to secure bigger facilities.

Odd name for a brewery? Perhaps, perhaps not. Apparently, the founder VandenBrink found himself out of sorts with a friend, and they met at a local pub. They tossed back a couple of pints and in the end, all was well and Joel proclaimed “I guess life is just a little more honest after two beers.”

With the immediate success with of his first number of beers, VandenBrink quickly outgrew his location and by 2009, with three times the sales and the equipment to support it, VandenBrink moved his operation to its current 2,400 square foot facility at 4700 W. Ohio Ave. S. in West Seattle. The brewery and accompanying tasting room immediately blossomed and allowed VandenBrink and his growing crew to not only bottle beer for distribution but become the first Washington craft brewery to distribute beer in cans in June of 2011.

Although the brewery produces five year-round beers, seven seasonal beers and a number of specialty beers, we’re only getting four of the canned products up here and one 22 ounce bomber, with the promise of more to come .

Here’s the run down. Panorama Wheat Ale, an American wheat beer, is a slightly hazy white gold color under a paper white head when decanted to a glass.

The aroma is soft with hints of light malt and a touch of wheat. Being an American style wheat beer, this one’s without the signature clove/banana ester aromatic profile found in a Bavarian style wheat, but it is no defect. Very background hop aromas tinge the edges of the sniff, but there’s not much more.

The beer is delicate on the palate in terms of flavor. Light grain follows through from the nose, along with just enough bitterness to balance the beer. The wheat’s tartness pumps up the slight hop bitterness. An interesting citrus element emerges toward the swallow. According to the brewery, the beer is infused with lime.

The beer is very clean across the palate and defect free, something I think the aluminum wrapper helps with, keeping the delicate beer free from light until it’s served and with less damaging air in the head space in the can. The 4.6 percent alcohol is easily buried under everything else in the beer so the booze isn’t at all evident. The carbonation is ample which adds some airiness to this quenching brew. This is an easy drinker indeed. But it is the season for lighter beers.

The Two Beers Brewing Company Persnickety Pale Ale is tamer coming out of the can.  Popping the top on this one yields a good hiss, and the pour rocks up a decent, quickly dissipating head on top of a slightly hazy, solid amber beer. The hops are much more forward in this beer, but not obtrusive, and defiantly in the medium for the style.  Purfum-y and slightly flowery hop aroma stands on top of a somewhat sweet malt substructure in the nose. Expect a very balanced flavor profile with this one. Nothing competes with nothing else as the malts hit the tongue first, then some balancing, very appropriate bitterness that’s more subtle than taming, followed by a nice, even-keel hop flavor, and a clean, carbonated finish. Nice background caramel essence adds dimension to the beer. A good contingent of fruitiness defines the center. Here’s another very drinkable pale ale that even the neophytes in the style might appreciate.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had an India style session ale before, so Trailhead ISA could be defining for both me and the rest of us craft beer lovers up here. Oddly, this one was the frothiest in the bunch so far. I opened the can and the foam threatened to cover the entire top, forcing me to pour quickly. The froth rocked up huge in the glass over another hazy orange amber beer.

The nose on this one was fruity and slightly hoppy, causing me to wonder how the IPA style became associated with it. This is not to say that all IPA should have a huge hop nose, but when I re-sniff, I find more of that Two Beers Brewing Company balance, so I reserve judgment. The hops on top are appropriate, slightly floral, and don’t overshadow the malt complexity underneath.

Here’s another light, imminently drinkable beer. The hops are there in the flavor, yes, but not obtrusively. The hop contribution is flavor, not bitterness, and I appreciate this. The can says this beer’s “generously hopped,” and that is true, but absent is the bitterness I’d expect to follow the flavor. This would be appreciated in the backcountry where canned beers are a good, light, viable addition to any trip. A medium fruitiness also greets the palate, but the malts still favorably shine through. Here’s another keeper.

Evolutionary IPA pours deep orange amber with a frothy tan head. This one delivers exactly what I’d expect from an American IPA: plenty of exciting Washington State hops in the nose, a good, biscuit/caramel malt undercarriage and an ample amount of ale-borne fruitiness. Across the palate the beer is pretty much the same with the addition of relative bitterness that’s within the style but might come across as slightly under-horsepowered to those accustomed to super hop bombs. This one is truly middle of the road in terms of bitterness, but still incredibly fresh and of great quality all the way around.

The final example is the brewery’s Heart of Darkness Cascadian Dark Ale. A Cascadian Dark Ale, or CDA, is a dark IPA featuring hops from the Cascades. Although this one delivers in terms of opaque black appearance in the glass, my sample may have had something negative going on because despite the rich panoply of dark malts and beautiful hops in both aroma and flavor, a sour twinge got in the way. It will improve.

 

 

 

 

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