Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Just a random choice I pulled off the shelf. It’s named after the mountain that is famous for the catastrophic eruption in 79 A.D. that buried the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Brewery – Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River, OR
Style – Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV – 8.5%
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

Is this my first review of an Oregon beer? I do believe it is…weird. Anyway, I guess this brewery is as good as any to get the ball rolling.

It isn’t hard to figure out were the name of the brewery comes from when you consider the fact that Hood River is the self proclaimed “Wind surfing capital of the world.”
I have to admit that when driving through the Columbia River Gorge during the summer it’s always worth checking out the “boardheads”. This kiteboarding thing looks pretty cool too…but I digress.

The brewery started out as a Diamond fruit cannery that was left abandoned for 15 years before it was converted in 1987. Most of that year was spent installing state-of-the-art brewing equipment (as opposed to the converted dairy equipment popular at the time). They started brewing in September, and a year later churned out 287 barrels. The next year they decided to start bottling. To this end they got a manual, red, Italian bottling line that they affectionately referred to as “Mimi”. The hops and barley come from local farms, and the water is supplied by a Mt. Hood spring. In 1999 Full Sail became an independent, employee-owned company. This is what the “Brewforce of 47” that is written on the bottle is referring too.

This beer is from their "Brewmaster Reserve" line. This idea started back in 2000 as a way of allowing brewmaster John Harris to try out different or experimental ideas. Some of them have turn into regular seasonal beers (such as Old Boardhead), others were available for a couple of months then disappeared forever.

Glass – 8.4 oz (250 ml) Delirium Tremens Tuilp Triple Ale glass

Aroma – It does not smell as complex as some of the other Belgians I’ve had. There is a delicate malty, and slightly grainy aroma. The hops seem to contribute some moderate grapefruit citrus and spicy smells. There is also the traditional Belgian yeast smells of sweetness and earthiness.

Appearance – Small creamy off-whit head that mostly diminishes quickly leaving some fair lacing. The body is clear and sparking with a pale orange hue.

Flavor – This beer starts with a moderate sweetness and a light bitterness. There are fruity flavors that remind me of apples and plumbs. In the finish the balance seems to be reversed. It finishes wet with a moderate lingering bitterness and light sweet. There is also a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel – I really enjoy feel of the alcohol evaporating off my tongue as I breathe in. It has a light to medium body with an almost creamy texture and soft carbonation. It also has a light astringent finish.

Final Thoughts – All the aromas and flavors are there, but they seem more “muted” compared to other Belgian ales. On the bright side, because they it is not so complex and still tasty, it is a good beer to drink when there is other stuff going on. The flavors that are easy to pick out are very enjoyable, and the subtle flavors are just ok. This means that by not giving your total concentration on the beer, you're not really missing out on anything.


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