Welcome to Bellingham Brewed Reviews, where we review ONLY beers brewed in Bellingham. Opinions held here are not necessarily those of Tap Trail.
This new brew from Fairhaven’s Stones Throw Brewery features a Single Malt and Single Hop, (thus the name SMaSH) in this case a Skagit Valley grown and malted barley, and the Pacific Northwest classic hop, Cascade. Cascade hops were developed in the 1960’s, and started seeing their first commercial usage in the early 1970’s. Cascade is one of the major “C” hops used in American craft brewing, and you have likely had it in a lot of your favorite beers. Cascade generally features citrus aromas and flavors (mostly grapefruit-like notes), and some floral aromatics.
In a typical shaker pint glass this beer had a cloudy golden straw-yellow color, and less than a half-inch of coarse, rocky, white head that dissipated down to just a light ring very quickly. There was just the tiniest trace of lacing on the side of the glass, which is a bit of a disappointment for me, personally, as the visual aspect of beer is an important one for me. I just plain like a pretty beer. The golden tint the beer had was very attractive, and made me think of a rolling grain field on a sunny afternoon.
A personal weakness of mine, I have a poor sense of smell, and often do not get the full olfactory experience a lot of folks do. I did find a pleasant grain scent on this beer, one that nicely supported the light citrus aspects of the Cascade hop. Once I had a few sips though, those bright, bold tones this strain of Humulus lupulus is known for showed up solidly. Those nice grains from the rich Skagit farmland had the upper hand on the front of the palate, with those hops coming in across the middle, and a bright and lightly tart citrus finish was the lead player at the back. Combined though, the flavor profile seemed a bit on the bland side, and I found myself wishing that the beer “popped” a bit more.
The tactile experience of a brew rolling across the tongue is another part of the beer experience that I greatly enjoy, and the body of this brew was medium, very appropriate for a smooth summer drinker, smooth, well-rounded, and had a pleasant semi-dry finish. The flavor of the hops lingered a few moments at the back of the palate. The drinkability was very good, the beer was a pleasing companion on a beautiful Bellingham afternoon, and I could see easily splitting a growler with a friend or two out by Lake Whatcom, around a fire pit, or having a couple pints on Stone’s Throw awesome rooftop deck.
Overall, a pretty nice brew, that fits comfortably into the “easy drinking Pale Ale” niche. While it seemed to lack a bit of personality, there were no obvious flaws, and I enjoyed well enough that I think it will motivate me enough to take a walk along the South Bay Trail, through Boulevard Park, across the boardwalk, and find myself at the source. Not a Outstanding brew, but one that’s worthy of your attention.
Terry’s Rating in Bold:
2 Almost undrinkable
3 Flawed, needs work
4 OK, but can be improved
5 Solid, pleasant
5.5 Good; typical for its style
6 Above average
7 Well above average
8 Very good