When I was in Seattle for work a few months ago, I stopped at the Malt and Vine to pick up some beers I couldn’t get here in Illinois. Along with several beers from Russian River, I got several local beers (of places I didn’t visit, which is amazing, because I stopped at 12 breweries during my visit). This one appealed to me because of the simple label and Epic name.
The bottle says, “Using only water, Washington grown malted barley, hops and yeast. This rich ale is boiled for two hours to create dense caramel notes and a long lasting creamy head. Bottle conditioned. Sediment will develop. Unfiltered, lively and complex.” It also has a handwritten, “Batch: 2” written on the side.
Location: Poured into a tall glass from the 22oz bottle at my home in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 6.5% ABV, 65 IBUs, ~ 210 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s very clear and rusty red in color. There’s a ton of carbonation in it, leaving a quarter-inch thick, fluffy, white head with good retention. There’s a very earthy-spicy hop aroma to it.
Taste & Feel: The body is light and the mouthfeel is smooth. There’s sort of a plasticy flavor with some dark breadiness, followed by even more plastic-like flavor in teh middle with a bit hit of bitterness. The finish had an earthy spicy mix of strong bitterness, and in the aftertaste, the earthy spicy bitterness stuck around for a while.
Food Pairing: This was a very earthy-spicy, bitter beer, and it would need to be paired with something really bold to knock down bitterness. I’d probably go with a thick, flavorful burger, or spicy hot wings.
Overall Impression: The label says it was boiled for 2 hours, and I believe that caused way too much bitterness. And with not enough malt to match, it came off with absolutely no caramel, as the label promised. The hop flavor was not good, and I really disliked the unpleasant plasticy flavor up front. In all honesty, this is something I’d expect to get at a homebrew club meeting from an inexperienced brewer, not commercially. I almost never, ever pour beers – especially ones I’ve paid for – down the drain, but I poured this one.