I had the pleasure of visiting Pfriem Family Brewers in Hood River a while back. I think it’s one of the Northwest’s best breweries to visit, both for the beer, which is excellent, and also the atmosphere. The tasting room is filled with reclaimed wood warmly embracing a collection of large gleaming stainless fermenters. It’s a comfortably elegant mash up of modern and rustic with a front row seat to the brewery.
It’s evident the beer is part of the inspiration for the décor. They brew fantastic traditional Belgian beers solidly rooted in the Northwest. It’s a delicious blend of old world style and contemporary flavors. My favorite of their beers is the Belgian Strong Blonde. I first found it served on draft at Tasty and Alder in Portland and loved it. It’s malty but crisp, with pear and spice flavors that beg for another pint despite the 7.5% ABV.
I was happy to try their IPA on tap at my local Fred Meyer where it’s available by the growler. I spoke with the guy working the bar and asked if he knew whether or not Pfriem had any bottled selections. He wasn’t sure. Then a couple days later, to my delight, I went to Zupans on Burnside and saw 4 different Pfriem beers! They currently have a pilsner and IPA in sleek 500 ml bottles, and a Belgian dark strong and a saison both corked in 375 ml bottles.
Although I love making the trip and spending time in Hood River, I’m glad to see Pfriem Family Brewers reaching out to their fans outside their local market. If you have never tried their beers, you should. They are among some of the most artfully made beers in the Northwest. Keep your eyes open for them and check out their website to read their story and to find out where their beers are available.
It seems breweries everywhere are releasing their version of an India Red Ale (IRA). Why limit big hop flavor and aroma to pale malt combinations? We all love amber/red ales, so increase the hops a bit; it really just makes sense. So when I came across this IRA recipe from TimBrewz on Homebrewtalk.com I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did because its delicious!
I believe it’s a variation of a Randy Mosher recipe found in “Radical Brewing.” This beer gives a nice hop punch but the blow is softened by the richness of the malt character. The flavors meld beautifully. Its similar to dipping a chunk of fluffy French bread into a bit of balsamic vinegar. By themselves, the bread might be bland and the vinegar too acidic but together they are an appetizing duo.
I’ve made this recipe a few times now with a few variations. Its a recipe that is wide open for hop experimentation. I’ve changed the hops a little each time with equally satisfying results. I’ve also used different yeast strains for this recipe as well. The clean American strains (i.e. WLP001, Whyeast 1056, SafealeUS 05) work well. I have also had success with English strains like WLP 007. My last attempt was made with Wyeast’s 1332 NW Ale Yeast and I enjoyed the results. You’ll want to be certain to treat your yeast well for this one to insure proper attenuation. It could end up a bit “sticky” if your beer doesn’t finish low enough. My last attempt ended up at 1.014 and was just right.
This beer is a deep dark orange-red with a near white head that endures for almost the whole pint. The aromas are of mixed berries and bready malt. The bitterness on the palette is firm. It has dank, herbal and resinous character with a sweet graham cracker flavor. There is a slight prickly carbonation but a creamy mouth feel and it fades to a clean dry finish. All in all a very enjoyable pint. You can see a lot of feedback in the recipe link above. Its become pretty popular with good reason. You’ll see my version is a little different based upon what was available at the time. If you brew it, (and you should), let me know what you think.
Yeast: Wyeast 1332 (WLP 001, US05 or 1056) Batch Size: 6 gal Original Gravity: 1.060 Final Gravity: 1.014 IBU: 70-75 Boil: 90 min Color: 17 srm Fermentation: 10 days @ 66f The Grains:
Thomas Fawcett Marris Otter 7.5 lbs
Great Western Munich 5.75 lbs.
Great Western Crystal 40L: 14 oz
Great Western Crystal 80L: 7 oz
Great Wester Crystal 120L: 2 oz
Simcoe(13.2% aa) 1 oz 60 min
Amarillo(8.8% aa)1 oz 30 min
Cascade (6% aa)1 oz 5 min
Simcoe .5 oz dry hops
Amarillo 1 oz dry hops
Centennial .5 oz dry hops