Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ambers — Caldera Brewing vs. Oakshire Brewing

Caldera Brewing
Ashland Amber
ABV 5.6%

Hazy golden orange.
Sweet bready malts with faint citrus in the background.
Watered down sweet, roasty malts.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Dusty with very mild citrus bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):
Mediocre +

Oakshire Brewing

Oakshire Amber
ABV 5.4%

Dark brown with a hint of red.
Aroma: Very smoky with some damp earthiness.
Flavor: Smoky.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Malty
Finish: Mild watery coffee bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Mediocre +

Blow by Blow
Ellen and I are in the process of opening a bakery and cafe ( here in Medford that will offer a small selection of local beer and wine to go along with our biscuit sandwiches. What better way to decide which beers make the cut for our menu than to let them have it out in a battle? This week we decided to try some ambers since they can be quite versatile with food.

First off, let's give a shout out to ambers. Mostly forgotten by beer geeks, sweet and malty ambers are often the reason many of us started down the path of craft beer in the first place. We're not afraid to admit that Alaskan Amber played an important role in our early craft beer education.

For some reason we're on this can vs. bottle kick lately. This is completely unintentional and might just be the result of a larger selection of canned craft beer on the shelves these days. Color-wise these beers were very different. The Caldera had the orange hue of a pale ale and the Oakshire looked more like a porter. True to their colors, the Caldera had a bit more of a hop presence while the Oakshire was dominated by a smokiness that overwhelmed the sweet malts. Neither beer really fit into our definition of what an amber should be which goes to show that one brewer's interpretation of an amber style beer can be completely different from another's.

We ended up choosing the Caldera because the slight hoppiness fit our tastes a little better. The Oakshire was well-made, but the extreme smoky notes really seemed to take the beer in a totally different direction. I don't think either will be on the menu at Buttercloud so the search for a local amber will continue.
Winner by unanimous decision: Caldera Ashland Amber

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