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Hey, Oregon, why the cloudy beers?

Vaporizer at Double MountainWhat style beer do you think the one pictured at the right might be?

Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River (right around the corner from Full Sail Brewing) calls the beer Vaporizer and describes it as a Golden IPA.

I really liked the beer, which is generously dry-hopped with Challenger hops. Otherwise I wouldn’t have ordered a full glass after sampling it along with others. All the beers I tried were tasty as a matter of fact, all with plenty of hops (they say the Kolsch packs in 40 bittering units, and it tasted of every one). But I was a bit surprised by how hazy the beers were overall, even taking into consideration the dry hopping.

In fact, we’ve seen plenty of hazy beers in Oregon (not just the ones made with wheat). I guess there is a pun in there about “partly cloudy,” but I’ll pass. I’ve heard brewers in other states say if their beers aren’t a little cloudy their customers don’t understand they are “natural” but on a per capita basis — and granted I’ve only managed a small sample in a state with just a ridiculous number of brewers — a lot more haze in Oregon.

For the record, this isn’t something you taste or that changes my opinion of a beer.


9 Responses to Hey, Oregon, why the cloudy beers?

  1. Pivní Filosof June 15, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Funny. Last year when talking to an English brewer while having a pint of unpasteurised Budvar he said people would return that in England because as a lager it wasn’t fizzy. They would do the same with a cloudy one, too…

  2. Amy June 15, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    Yeah, we noticed that trend starting up around 2005-6. Amnesia appears to have the cloudy beer art down to a science, but I recall Roots and Lucky Lab also having some cloudy stuff. It was the weirdest thing, and it’s almost as if you have to put forth some effort to keep your beer that cloudy (keep particles in suspension). I’m not sure what they’re doing, but I’m not sure I care for it. Call me traditional; I like my clear beers. 🙂

  3. Swordboarder June 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Pretty common here in Washington as well. Pacific Northwest are on the cloudy side for the most part.

  4. Jeff Alworth June 15, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    Double Mountain uses the Rochefort yeast from very nearby Wyeast (1762), so possibily that’s a factor. (Charlie Devereux, one of the principals, told me he recalled when the good folks from Wyeast would come to Full Sail–literally a stone’s throw from Double Mountain–to get wort for their yeasts. Eventually they built a little brewery, but for years Wyeast was cultivated with Full Sail wort.)

    As to other causes, I would guess it’s a combo of some or all of these factors: a lot of Oregon breweries don’t filter their beer; hops contribute haze, and Oregon beers are HOPPY, many breweries now dry-hop their beers (dunno if that ‘s a haze-contributor in commercial breweries, but it affects my homebrew), and finally, drinkers don’t prize clarity here, so there’s little incentive for breweries to try to remove it.

  5. EddieGlick June 16, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    I gotta say I don’t mind hazy beers one bit. In fact, given the choice, I’d probably choose a hazy brew over a clear one, all other things being equal. Ugly beers deserve love, too. Especially if they taste as good as the stuff Roots and the Lucky Lab put out…

  6. JimParker June 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    Stan, looks like you are in the Northwest. If you’re looking for a brilliantly clear beer, keep heading north and I’ll buy you a beer at my new home, Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham. Our head brewer has a great analogy about unfiltered beers. If you are growing an organic carrot and you carefully tend the soil, plant with care, tend your plant and pluck it at just the right time, you can eat it right then, with all the dirt still on it and it will have the “most” flavor. But, if you carefully wash it, you get to taste the flavors you intended. With few exceptions, once your yeast has fermented the wort, its work is done and it does not contribute any positive flavor to the beer.

  7. Stan Hieronymus June 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

    Nice story, Jim. I may use that in “Brewing With Wheat.”

    Alas, we passed through Bellingham in the first month of our trip (in other words, last June).

  8. JimParker June 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    Well, neither I… nor Chuckanut, was here then. Feel free to use the story, but it’s not mine. You can credit Josh Pfriem.

  9. Dr Wort June 24, 2009 at 2:02 am #

    While I can’t really answer your question Stan, I can say it could be do to lack of filtering.

    Oregonians are poetically raw and earthy. Many breweries don’t filter their beer for that pristine commercial polished look and I respect that. What really is the point? The filtering systems removes flavor of the hops and malt. Why would we want to do that? I’ve had some beers that are so filtered to brilliance, I could taste the cotton fibers from the filter plates. I don’t think that’s a real beer! That’s polished crap and you know what they say, “You can’t polish a turd!”

    I see your question as more of a ploy for an obtuse answer. ;-} Are ya testing for Oregon Brewing prowess?

    In that case, Jeff of Beervana is quick on the heels for a poetic (According to Sunset Magazine….Like they know anything about beer!) answer. Sorry Jeff, but I couldn’t resist!

    Others who don’t know any better might prefer a polished brilliant clear beer. Want one of those Stan? Try some of the more commercial breweries in Oregon, they’ll serve ya up one that you can read the Northwest brewing News through. ;-} But…. why would ya want to do that? :-O

    Why is the Oregon beer hazy? Because we like it that way! ;-}

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