Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Brewery Review: Goodlife Brewing Company

On a recent trip to Bend, Oregon I had the privilege of stopping in at one of the up and coming beer spots in the beer Mecca: Goodlife Brewing Company. After spending just a short time there, it wasn't difficult to see why the line was nearly out the door and there wasn't an empty table to be had. The beer is brewed with skill and ingenuity; it's evident in the unique assortment of aromas and flavours. I had the privilege of watching Jeff Schauland, one of the brewers, in action. We spoke intermittently between his brewing duties and he explained that the demand for the beer is high and they often have difficulty keeping up with supply for the brewpub.

Left: Dry Hop Pale Right: 29'er India Brown Ale Back: Descender IPA
The range of brews available to me during my visit included the Mountain Rescue Dry Hop Pale, the Sweet As Pacific Ale, the 29'er India Brown Ale, Descender IPA, and the Comatose Imperial IPA. My favourite from the lot was the 29'er IBA, which to me presented the most unique assortment of flavours and aromas.
To say the aroma and flavours found within this beer is complex is an understatement. Your palate will be treated to three distinctly different flavours. On the nose one might assume you've a roasty brown ale sitting before you. But on the initial taste you soon discover that in fact it's not a brown ale at all but something else entirely; the roasty coffee, bitter chocolate notes rear their heads at this time and you're left grasping for an explanation. But just when you think it could not get any better the subtle hop bitterness shows up and it ends with an exceptionally hop-centric finish. At 40 IBU the hops won't blow your palate away, which is nice as it definitely leaves room for other flavours and aromas. This beer is so well balanced and complex it's ridiculous. It's a highly delicious, drinkable and a stand-out example of the India Brown Ale style.

Another example of Goodlife's ingenuity is their Sweet As Pacific Ale which is their single hop summer release. As the name suggests, the hop type is Pacifica and it's the low alpha acid content of this variety that makes it ideal for use as an aroma hop. The Pacifica is a cross breed of Hallertauer MittlefrĂĽh (the German Noble hop variety). It would also seem that the popularity and usage of New Zealand hop varieties in many american craft beers has led to a bit of a NZ hop craze. Many of these new hop types lend flavours not previously found and has really opened the door for more unique brews. In this case, the Pacifica hop lends tropical flavours (like passion fruit) and notes of citrus to beer. And in this case, the super low IBU suggests that the majority of this flavour will be subtle. Indeed, initially looking at the brew one might assume you've been poured a standard unfiltered wheat beer. But breathe deep and you will soon discover something else entirely. The aroma is not one commonly found. And the flavour is light, crisp, and refreshing; three very good qualities for a summer seasonal.

The 30 barrel, 4-vessel brew system
Having a tour through the facility I noticed there was a lot of empty space. Goodlife brewing has only just begun getting their feet wet within the brewing world, just having opened in 2011 they've grown quickly and their space allows for a bright future. It seems that growth is definitely on the horizon for this brewery, and for good reason too. In addition to beer, they offer food from a menu inspired by the Bavarian Brauhaus and beyond. Fresh grub and fresh beer; you really can't go wrong there. Next time you're in Bend, make sure you stop in at Goodlife Brewing, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Thanks for reading!