Madison River Brewing Co.
Irresistible Amber Ale
Off the pour, the head is slow to develop but a tan foam eventually forms, thanks to a heavy-handed pour, and settles down to a thin layer. The color is a true amber – tortoiseshell, with just a touch of copper. Decent clarity throughout, and a faint haze isn’t enough to obscure the slow, thin carbonation.
The nose is more malt than hops – some baked sweet potato skin and a bit of cinnamon. The mouthfeel is very good to start and a lemon crispness evens things out. Eventually, hops show through with a bit of clean orange pulp and some soft bread crust.
Eminently drinkable, this beer lacks punch, but was never intended to have much. Many ambers tend to have a bit too much malt, leaving them a bit cloying, or they are over-hopped and essentially American IPAs, so this is a nice session amber, if not irresistible.
Madison River Brewing Co.
Hopper Pale Ale
We don’t get a lot of Montana brews out here (aside from the occasional Big Sky offering) on the East Coast, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to try something new. I hope it leans toward Pac NW hoppiness (as indicated by MT’s location, and the beer’s name), but without the ‘India’ in front of the ‘Pale Ale’, this may come across as more of an English-style bitter pale than a true American hopheader. There’s only one way to find out… And I’m just the man for the job.
The pour is smooth though active, releasing a fine, creamy head that looks like crème fraiche, tinged with orange; really quite entertaining at about a sustained half-inch.
Beneath that elegant froth is golden treasure, shining like bullion. The faintest hint of ruddy orange accents the pale auric brew. The effervescence is very fine and lively, spinning its way off the etched bottom of the glass.
The aroma is, in a word, lovely. Wet hops rise up through the malt character like a post-rain mist in a pine forest. The malted attributes are subtle and smooth, but evident. Husky grains form a latticework foundation for the resinous – but not dank – hops to climb.
The mouthfeel is sublime; the creaminess of the head persists through the sip commingling with the citrusy hops to give a Creamsicle-like experience. The malt body is noticeable only in that you barely notice it – it serves as a vehicle to bring the tangy orangey hops to the forefront. The finish is grassy but not too sere, there is actually a faint sweetness that takes the balance of this beer to the very middle of the fulcrum.
No doubt, this beer has not forgotten the secret of steel.