Ale Styles

World Famous Fruit Ales
The brewers of McMenamins have been adding fruit to beer since the Hillsdale Brewery first fired up its copper kettle in 1985. Although we were the first in the state to add fruit to beer, brewers around the world have experimented with fruit beers for centuries. Fruits and berries such as pears, apples, mangos, passion fruit, peaches, blackberries, cherries, marion and boysenberries have made these beers famous throughout the cosmos. Beers in this category would include Purple Haze, Maid Marion, Strawberry Fields, Sunsplash (with lemon and lime zest) and an assortment of others.

Golden Ales
Golden ale is a general category which leaves the recipe and flavor characteristics up to the brewer. Beers shipped under this designation are generally low to medium in alcohol and have a crisp, dry finish. Hop character is noticeable, especially the aromatic components, but golden ales are not nearly as bitter as pale ales. The color of golden ales falls somewhere between light blonde and straw, and can be attributed to the judicious use of small percentages of crystal malt. Many English style "bitters and milds" would fall into this category as they are golden in color and lightly hopped. After a long work day few can deny the charms and thirst quenching prowess of a crisp, refreshing golden ale. 

Wheat Beers
This style of beer is enjoying a successful comeback from near extinction in the 19th century. As it is with any general beer category, wheat beer has many variations and sub-categories such as Berlinerweiss, Bavarian Weizen and American Wheat beer.

One style of wheat beer that is particularly popular in the Pacific Northwest is Hefeweizen. "Heffen" in German means yeast, and the word Hefeweizen describes a wheat that has the yeast left in the beer. Since the yeast is not filtered out, this beer commonly has a very murky haze and an intense bread flavor. Some other qualities that are associated with these ales are acidity, sourness, banana esters, and clove or spicy flavors.

Wheat beers typically range from 30 to 75 wheat malt with the balance of the grain bill being made up in some type of pale malt. In special cases like Dunkelweizen (dark wheat) a portion of dark malt will be used such as crystal, dark Munich, or chocolate malt.

Our Wheat beers are usually not heavily hopped to allow the delicate flavor of the wheat malt to shine through. Crystal and Tettnanger hops are very commonly used as are Sterling. A well made wheat beer is balanced with just the right amount of malt sugars and hops to allow the nuances of the yeast interaction with the wheat to be subtle yet noticeable. Also the carbonation levels of wheat beers are higher than standard ales making them somewhat spritzy. Napoleon commented after tasting Berlinerweiss that it was "the Champagne of the North." And as a final note, since brewers yeast has tremendous nutritional value, an un-filtered wheat beer is healthy, tastes great, and is a beer to be enjoyed, with or without the lemon!

Pale Ales
Pale ales are smaller and less aggressive than their brawnier counterparts - the I.P.A. While these flavorful ales are heavily hopped, they rely more on the judicious use of crystal malts, and other specialty grains for more malt complexity. They have more body and more color than India Pale Ales, with a color range from golden orange to a striking red hued copper. Both I.P.A.s and pale ales have become an integral part in the legacy of how the Northwest brewing region is perceived worldwide.

India Pale Ales
India Pale Ale, or I.P.A., has rapidly become one of the most popular styles offered at our various establishments. I.P.A. is a general category. These powerful ales range in color from a rich golden color to slightly orange-hued. Most have simple malt schedules, relying primarily on pale malt with crystal malt making up no more than 6 percent of the total grist. Other specialty malts are sometimes used in small percentages, including Munich, Vienna, wheat, Melanoidin, and light roast malts. Our I.P.A.'s are medium-to-dry bodied, and are characterized by an aggressive hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Favorite varieties of McMenamins' brewers would include: Cascades, Chinook, Amarillo, Citra, Centennial, Brewer's Gold, Simcoe, Goldings and Tettnanger.

Amber Ales
Amber ale is a general category which leaves the recipe and flavor characteristics up to the brewer. Generally, amber ales are light copper to garnet in color and are medium in alcohol and body. The emphasis in amber ales is on the malt flavors produced, with hop characteristics being of secondary importance.

Brown Ales
Brown ales were one of the earliest of the British ales. A typical English Brown ale is malty and tastes of hops. Brown ales use a mixture of caramel and dark roasted malts that give the beer a nutty sweet flavor. As with most of the traditionally produced beers of Europe, American brewers have embellished on the style and we now have two main classes of Brown Ale: English-Style Brown Ale and American-Style Brown Ale:

English-Style Brown Ale
Having a very limited color range from copper to brown, these beers are brewed with blends of pale, caramel and dark roasted barleys that are carefully proportioned to complement the flavors they offer without any of the components being too assertive. Brown Ales do not usually have a great deal of malt bouquet but they definitely are malty on the palate. As mentioned before, this mixture of grains gives the beer a nutty flavor that can suggest flavors like walnut, filbert or almond. Brown ales that are produced with higher amounts of residual sugar can have a fruity character, especially if a yeast is used that is fruity in nature and the beer is not filtered. Brown Ales range in alcohol from 4.0 to 5.5 by volume.

American-Style Brown Ale
American Brown ales run a little darker than their European cousins ranging in color from brown to dark brown. Due to the increase in the dark roasted malts that make American Brown Ales darker, these beers have more toasted coffee and toffee flavors than nut flavors. The American versions also have more hop character and hop aroma, as well as a slightly higher alcohol content making these ales a bit sharper. The strength of these ales ranges from 4.0 to 6.0 by volume.

McMenamins Brown Ales
McMenamins produces various styles of hybrid brown ales. Sleepy Hollow Nut Brown is our Winter Seasonal. This ale is the best of both worlds with a nutty flavor and a strong deep brown hue. There are also many other variants of the Brown Ale style produced by different brewers for different occasions, so keep your eyes open when visiting your favorite McMenamins establishment.

Another general category, (where brewers are given license to create their own unique recipes), Porters are second cousins to their meatier counterparts - the stout. They range from deep burgundy to rich ebony in color, a by-product of the chocolate, brown and black malts used to make them distinct. Most McMenamins porters have a very low hop profile, to accentuate the flavorful dark malt nuances. Porters are dark and mysterious, beers to be savored and contemplated.

Porter, Stout and brown ale all share a common thread in the history of brewing. In the early days of beer making, it was a common practice to produce three beers from one mash: the first, or heavy, runoff would become ale, the second-runnings became beer and the third, or weakest, runoff was common beer or two penny ale. Porter came into use as a term to identify any or all of the above because it was the common man's drink, and the common man of the time was a laborer or, in many cases, a porter working the waterfront in industrial England. Porter was the cry of the day! Over time the strong ale became known as Stout Porter and eventually, the Porter being dropped, Stout. So, in a nutshell, there you have it. As peculiar as it seems, Stout became its own entity.

Today Stout can be categorized using four sub-styles: Classic dry, Foreign, Sweet, and Imperial Stout:

Classic Dry Stout (Irish)
Having a roast barley character with a slight sweetness and caramel overtones, there is usually a slight acidity in this style. Although bitterness is medium to high, there is minimal hop flavor or aroma due to the strong malt character. Alcohol content is about 3.5 to 5 by weight. McMenamins seasonal Dry Irish Stout is an example of this style.

This style is very similar to the Classic Dry with the exception of a higher alcohol content of about 6 to 7.5 by weight.

Sweet Stout (Milk Stout)
As the name implies, this style is sweet due to large a quantity of residual sugar in the finished beer (terminal gravity of 1.014 to 1.020). Sweet Stouts usually have a mild roast barley character with caramel overtones. The bitterness profile is low with minimal hop flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is about 3 to 6 by weight.

Imperial Stout
These are the richest and the most robust of the Stouts, and they are also the most complex in terms of malt intensity. This style has a fruity-estery and alcoholic quality. Bitterness is medium to high with a pronounced hop flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is 8.5 to 14.5 by weight, and the terminal gravity is high as well at 1.024 to 1.032.

Imperial Stouts are black in color, with a nice creamy head that has staying power. Although Stout is enjoyed world-wide, it is primarily a creation of the United Kingdom having gained its early popularity in London and Dublin. Today, Stouts are brewed all over and the great Pacific Northwest is no exception.

Many bock styles are represented within this category: Mai-bock, helles bock, Einbeckischer and dopplebock included. Traditionally bocks are fermented with lager yeast. Occasionally McMenamins Breweries will produce bocks following time-honored methods using various special lager strains developed for use in this style of beer. Rich malty overtones created by large percentages of Munich and Vienna malts characterize all bocks. These beers are very sweet, with hops used only to balance the beers profile, the exception being the mai-bocks which often have a more aggressive hopping schedule.

Scotch Ales
Scotch ales made by McMenamins brewers are modeled after the classic, old world-style practiced in Scotland. These beers are quite strong, and are robust in their sweet, malty composition. Scotch ales, by definition, are beers with a tremendous amount of body and mouth feel. The level of attenuation is low, due in part to the very high strike temperatures used when mashing in the malted grains. A lower fermentation temperature is also desirable in the production of Scotch ale.  Most of our Scotch ales range from a light copper to a deep reddish brown in color. Of all the beers styles we attempt to imitate, these beers have the lowest level of hopping, as hops are truly of secondary importance in the properly designed Scotch recipe.

Heavy Ales
Our "Heavy" category refers to any ale with an original gravity over 1.065. This category can include barley wines, olde ales, doppelbocks, strong ales, imperial pale ales and the monster scotch ales. Generally speaking, these ales have thick, rich bodies and a sweet, heavy flavor. Most heavy ales actually improve in flavor and complexity after prolonged aging in a cellar environment, so these beers are usually cold-conditioned and often released to mark particular milestones or to be part of beer festivals, pub Anniversaries or other special events.

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