Beers in Review: Beers from the Western USA

So, earlier this week, I brought you three beers from a northern Nevada brewery, Great Basin. We will continue today with several more beers from the western half of the United States.

Up first is Red-Headed Stranger from Brasserie St. James. Formally a farmhouse ale, it played like a combination of a more traditional malty red ale and something even more Belgian than a farmhouse tends to be. The flavors tends to lean towards fruity sweetness and heavy malt notes. There was also a slight crackery or bready note going on, but it very much paled in comparision to the first two notes. There was also a little bit of funkiness that isn't a bad thing--it tends to be a result of Belgian yeast strains and other ingredients that lean towards these more Belgian styles. It was a pretty beer (a reddish bronze color) with some very different flavors that I really enjoyed. This Red Headed Stranger was one of my favorite beers in recent memory.

Next up is Ranch Hand American Ale from The Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery. This strikes me as their equivalent of the "pale lager" that so many American beer drinkers are used to, but there is so much more going on with this Ranch Hand. As expected, it pours a light/pale straw color and has a generally light body. There are no exceptionally strong notes with this ale, but plenty of flavor notes to go around, especially for the style. Early on, malt notes can be detected, which then leads to maybe a hint of hops as well as mild berry notes. Crisp throughout, with a clean finish, this beer does a very good job of doing what it wants to do.

Big Daddy IPA is from Speakeasy Brewing Company (who picked up the excellent web address of, and has a fascinating complexity of flavor. Pouring a golden-orange color, the hop profile is prominent, with piney and dank flavors. The initial hop bitterness is fairly mild but ramps up as it warms. There is also a strong impression of dark fruity sweetness that almost makes this ale play like a Double IPA, but the ABV (6.5%) doesn't really support that. I also got a hint of perhaps some kind of mild spice, but I couldn't place it exactly.

Finally, an English-style ale from Firestone Walker. Their flagship beer is called DBA, or Double Barrel Ale. A straight forward ale that pours a pretty copper color, DBA has a medium body with initial malty and grainy notes. These notes eventually lead into sweet notes of caramel and toffee. DBA is well-executed and very enjoyable.