I reviewed Wolaver's oatmeal stout in early July after picking one up at a Wegman's in Ithaca in the organic produce section for something like 7.99 a six. This brewery, one of the great craft brewers of Vermont, makes both the the Wolaver's organic line as well as Otter Creek giving it a range of about twenty brews. These three - the brown, the pale and the India pale ale - were available as single bottles at Ithaca's Finger Lakes Beverage Center last visited four weeks ago. Such restraint.
- Wolaver's Pale Ale: This beer pours a off white rim over very active orange-amber ale. Very soft water just the way I like is the first thing you notice. There is sub-chewy green hop over sweetish grainy elegant pale malt. I could coax maybe green apple in the malt if I thought about it but it is really bread crusty malt as opposed to fruity. This is a really attractive beer I think to myself on a second sip. The yeast has a milky aspect and at the end there is a slight white pepper ting. Fairly high test at 5.8% for a pale ale but not big enough in the body to even be a ESB. BAers all approve.
- Wolaver's India Pale Ale: Not as orange an amber but the same white rim. Lots of green and citrus skin hops over a somewhat subdued body for an IPA. Just not big is all I am saying - it still it has increbily good posture. Again, like the pale ale, sort of a refined version of the style though not as subtle as a Brooklyn East Indian Pale Ale. Even with the generous hopping the malt has a juicy side and more ripe pear than green apple. The finish is green garden bitters and nice clear water. Again, really nice. It would be interesting to do a side by side with a Sgt. Majors, though I suspect that would be lighter even still. Some BAers are unkind - who either want an IPA bomb or don't like green hop. Why bother trying new stuff if your criteria is that it is not like the old stuff?
- Wolaver's Brown Ale: A thin tan foam over the most interesting shade of brown - not deep enough for mahogany but a bit too much of the cheeky red in it for that hazelnut paper husk. Clear with low carbination. If brown ale is sub-porter, this is sub-old-school-porter with its hopped bite as opposed to a lighter version of a brown to like Southern Tier's roasty malty porter. Under the hop, green and steely, the malt has fruit, grapey with even some cherry. Lusher still with the same soft water. Still the malt is grainy rather than this sort of duller glom. Throughout it all chocolate barely there, like chocolate you had, not have. Maybe smoke, too. I like it. The hops and rich fully milky yeast have some sour but at the level of and complimentary to the fruit. If I think of these three US browns, it is certainly in the ballpark and maybe second to the Brooklyn.