Monday, March 2, 2015

Oregon, Spring 2015, Part 3: Buoy Beer Company

My second stop in Astoria was at Buoy Beer Company, set in a former cannery building along the Columbia River waterfront. A loud, boisterous colony of seals were swimming and barking in the pier area next door.

Open nearly one year, the restaurant/taproom is a large airy space with huge windows for river viewing. Old exposed wooden beams on the ceiling and ancient weathered brewing or cannery equipment as decorations. There is also a TV showing a live satellite map of shipping traffic along the mouth of the river. Near the entrance, a plexiglass floor window allows a view of seals sleeping on the pier planks below. Seats for maybe 50 people in the main area; also a separate bar area, which was closed at the time I was there. Food includes burgers, salads, seafood, and steaks – and the prices were a bit high.

14 beers were on tap, all house brews, and mostly a range of lighter styles. A sampler set of six 5oz. glasses cost $8; 12oz. glasses for $3.50; 20oz. for $5. Beers are okay. Several of them seemed underattentuated – although they were fairly clean, the flavors were not developed well.

Buoy Beer Company was selected as the RateBeer New Brewery of the Year in Oregon for 2014. Last year’s was De Garde Brewing, which makes world-class sour /wild ales .... Anyway, I expect that Buoy will improve over time.

Here are the six beers I sampled:

Buoy Kettle Demon IIPA (9.5%)     2.6 out of 5.0
Caramel and overripe dates in the aroma. Cloudy copper/brown color -- really looks like liquid caramel candies. Large caramel initial flavor, the hopping barely makes a dent. Ripe dates. Overly sweet. Medium-heavy body. Slick, sweet, even cloying. A caramel bomb, but even the caramel seems wrong.

Buoy IPL (6.3%)     2.8
A small grassy nose, with some sea water. Hazy straw color, no head. Thin stream of hops in initial, light grainy malt in mid palate, and a mild sweet finish. Thin-medium body, rather slick. Seems underattenuated for sure.

Buoy Helles (5.3%)     3.1
Mild grassy nose, bread dough, light citrus. Very light yellow straw color, almost greenish in the slanting afternoon sunlight. Sweet pale malts, light bittering, a touch of sourness, and a rusty metal note. Very thin body. Light and bready. Clean and fresh, but....

Buoy Pale Ale (5.2%)     3.2
Citrus and pale malt nose. Medium copper/amber color. Medium fruity initial, smooth and gentle hopping comes with the rising carbonation, a bit of artificial-seeming sweetness in mid palate, and thin hop tracks in final. Thin-medium body. Nice enough, a bit chewy. Maybe a bit too sweet.

Buoy IPA (7.5%)     3.3
A citrus aroma, with a bit of smacking caramel. Cloudy medium dark straw color, thin head, with some lace. Tangy fruit initially, some juicy hopping. A bit warming. Thin-medium body. Tasty, but the flavors don’t really blend or develop. A good bit of aroma hopping. Somewhat thin for the alcohol level.

Buoy Czech Pils (6.2%)    3.3
Grassy, weedy nose. Medium light straw color, thin head, some lace. Light grassy initial, some tang in mid palate, Mild Saaz hop notes. Finishes lightly sweet. Thin body Pleasant enough. Seems a touch overhopped for the style, or maybe the bittering additions or dry hopping didn’t work out right?

1  8th Street
Astoria, Oregon United States 97103
503 325 4540

Monday – Thursday: 11am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 11pm
Sunday: 11am – 9pm

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