As we continue through Fresh Hop season, we are starting to see some of the different results being obtained by our local breweries. Today we visit one of Wander Brewing’s Fresh hop beers, Cascade Coolship. We’ve discussed the classic Cascade hop before, as it’s one of the most common hops used in American craft brewing. Most of you are likely very familiar with the Grapefruit-like citrus flavors that Cascade brings to the bartop. Add in the floral and light spice notes it also packs, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a favorite with brewers and drinkers alike.
The other part of this brews name, Coolship (from the Dutch/Flemish word Koelschip) describes what is generally a wide, shallow, open-topped fermentation vessel. They are often used in the brewing of wild or sour beers. Traditional Belgian-style brewers would transfer their wort into the coolship to cool, and leave the windows open to the outside, thus allowing whatever wild yeasts were in the air to activate the fermentation process. As Wander’s tap room was busy the day I stopped in to try this brew, I didn’t get a chance to get a lot of details behind it, but I suspect the brewstaff used their coolship to get a more intense release of hop oils into the beer, by having more contact area between the wort, and those juicy, juicy hops.
As mentioned, the Wander taproom was its usual animated self, dogs and puppies, kids and parents, coworkers and friends all relaxing and enjoying a pleasant autumn evening. Served in a cooler glass by Wander’s vivacious staff (led by defending Best Beertender in Bellingham, Hope Collins), my serving of Cascade Coolship was handed over in a Cooler pint glass. The 5.0% ABV/30 IBU brew poured a light gold color, with about a half-inch of off-white head that had good retention and left light-moderate lacing.
In a bit of a surprise, the first aroma to my nose was the floral aspect of this hop, not the bold citrus notes I expected. There was just a bit of a piney component, with the grapefruit driving the back end. All this activity was built on top of a light grain foundation. As I took my initial sips, I noticed a bit of sweetness that wasn’t apparent in the olfactory portion of the experience. The sweet taste started in the middle of the tongue, and carried through to the finish, and ended with a light caramel note. Aside from that, the flavors were what is generally anticipated when getting a brew with the Cascade hop; grapefruit-citrus, some floral tones for balance, and a bit of pine at the back end of the palate.
The body was solidly medium, and was a bit stickier that I would have preferred. That stickiness helped the flavors linger a few moments on the finish, and the beer also featured a semi-sweet wrap-up. The drinkability factor was very nice, the beer was smooth across the tongue, and drank very easily. I think it would pair well with a variety of foods, which is a good thing given the many choices in food trucks that Wander offers us.
Overall, this is a very pleasant and enjoyable beer, one that you shouldn’t hesitate to grab during the soon-to-close Fresh Hop season. The only thing I was a bit put off by was the sticky-sweetness in the late stages of the body, I would have enjoyed a bit drier finish. But, this might not be noticeable for you. You’ll likely want more than a couple pints of it, so it might not be a bad idea to bring along your favorite growler. Wander Brewing’s Cascade Coolship earns a firmly enjoyable 5.7 on my 1-10 scale.