Saturday, January 3, 2015

Peak Organic Winter Session Ale

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1254) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 3, 2015
I can think of at least three obstacles Peak Organic Winter Session Ale has to overcome. Firstly, it dubs itself a “session ale,” but is 5% ABV, which is higher than what most people consider a true session beer. Secondly, it calls itself a winter beer, yet there are no spices to the beer like a winter warmer. Beer drinkers tend to hate it when breweries slap “winter” on a beer of a style other than a traditional winter warmer. And lastly, no one can seem to agree on what style category this belongs to; that tends to activate most beer geeks’ OCD responses (I'll consider it an amber ale). Disirregardless of all these things, I found it to be a surprisingly great wheaty amber-style beer that’s extremely efficient for its weight and has a palette that could be enjoyed year-round.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had an expiration date of 6/2015 and cost $2.50 ($0.21 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful reddish/copper color with near crystal clarity. Pours to a fairly large, off-white, foamy head which laces and retains pretty well.

Smell: Spicy/citrusy hop aroma coupled with sweet toasted malt. Quite enticing.

Taste: What I really like about this beer is that it defies most traditional style category guidelines and shows how arbitrary they are. Peak Organic Winter Session Ale has elements of amber ale maltiness, IPA hoppiness and wheat beer… wheatiness. There’s a toasted malt sweetness noticeable right away, it creates for candy-like tastes of caramel and iced coffee. This was hopped with just Citra and it was a good choice. There’s considerable bitterness from beginning to end (but especially through the middle) with different flavors coming from it. Spicy and herbal at first with notes of citrus and tropical fruit on the finish. The wheat gives it a consistent bready character and accentuates the dry bitterness from the hops, creating for an almost pretzel-like flavor. Overall, this one of the most creative recipes I’ve encountered in a while and I really appreciate that.

Drinkability: If you hadn’t told me this was only 5% ABV I’d probably estimate it as being a little bit higher. I find arguing over what is and is not “session beer” to be a futile debate, though I could see this being relatively sessionable if you consider two consecutive servings to be a session. There’s quite a bit of body to this brew, it’s not "light" at all. The mouthfeel is crisp with just enough carbonation. It finishes fairly clean with a minor dry sensation that eventually fades. I wouldn’t consider it refreshing, but it’s actually versatile enough to stand up to a meal. 
Grade: 10/10

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