5.10.2006

Otter Creek Copper Ale

I tried another beer from the Otter Creek Brewery in Middlebury Vermont last night. They are also the makers of the exceptionally tasty Wolaver's Organic IPA. Apparently Wolaver’s is Otter Creek’s brand for the organic beers they make. The one Felecia and I have in the frig is called Copper Ale. The flavor is predictably malty and sweet at the beginning but the nose has an unusual but pleasant sourness. This is a relatively bitter beer that’s a little lighter and more hopped than most red ales I’ve tasted. I’m still perplexed about whether red, amber, and copper ales refer to any single beer style. They seem inconsistently applied. Obviously Scottish red ale is different than American amber ale but I think that some labels are interchangeable and are marketing methods rather than accurate designations that say something precise about the style.

Otter Creek Copper Ale is a fine beer, but it doesn’t compare in quality to Wolaver’s Orgainic IPA, which is what led me to buy it instead of a local micro at the Plaid Pantry last night. If I were shopping for a good red I would probably buy Widmer’s Drop Top or Deschutes’ Cinder Cone Red over Otter Creek in the future. Vermont is a long trip from Portland, and I wonder if freshness is a significant factor in my assessment. The beer I tried was bottled on March 27, about a month and a half ago. Is that a time span that might effect the flavor of a beer without preservatives or pasturization?

I don’t see many East Coast micros at the store and I’m happy to know people are enjoying craft beers in Vermont too. It seems like Vermont is an ideological brother to the progressive parts of Oregon, but separated by nearly 3,000 miles, a desert, three mountain ranges, grasslands, rednecks, rabid suburbanites, and a couple turnpikes. That’s my derogatory condensation of it all at least. Here we are on either side of a vast conservative continent, drinking craft beer, making hay-bale houses, and marrying gay people to their pet iguanas. I salute you, Otter Creek Brewing, and you Birkenstock-wearing neo-hippies sipping fine ales in far off Vermont. You are our eastern brethren.

4 Comments:

Blogger steveo babbert said...

I know what you mean about reds. I've always had this predudice against them, beacuse for some reason I decided it wasn't a real beer style. I don't know for sure though. the other funny thing is I really like them, but yet I think lowly of them ???? It's bizzare sometimes the conclusions we deduce from scraps of information.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think the most of the amber/copper/red ale thing is marketing based on color. I could be wrong, but I think "amber" started with Alaskan Amber many years ago. I'm guessing they called it that because they figured (correctly) that most people would have no idea what an "alt" is. Since then it's become an American way of describing a beer in terms that the average (meaning "knows nothing about beer") consumer understands. You could make an arguement that we've created an amber style now that the market is flooded with Fat Tire wannabes, but that's a topic for a whole new post...

8:43 AM  
Blogger Ghost Dog said...

Man! What Plaid Pantry are you getting Wolaver's/Otter Creek at, and do they have the Wolaver's Organic Brown Ale? That one's my favorite.

I'm a transplanted Vermonter myself, but I left before I could drink legally, and long before I'd discovered decent beer.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Bridger said...

It was the Plaid Pantry on NW 23rd and Everett (or Davis?). Also check out Rite Aid for sales on micro six packs. If nothing else I often find twelvers of St. Pauli Girl for 7 or 8 bucks. It's about like drinking Hieniken, good to clense the palate between rich local ales. I haven't tried Wolaver's Brown yet, but I've seen it at Freddy's on W Burnside, across the isle from the cooler, where they keep the unusual and exotic.

3:05 PM  

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