9. Vanilla Bourbon Cream Ale (Sasquatch)
A lot of bourbon beers taste like a drop shot. The whiskey heat comes rifling out of the pint glass and hits you straight in the sinuses, before the fermented alcohol sugars coat the back of your throat like the powder off a muzzle flare, lingering for forensics. The intensity is bracing, but you don’t always order a second.
Sasquatch’s Vanilla Bourbon Cream Ale is a blazing exception. Its mouthful of a name describes a mouthful of flavors, each one very present but none dominating the palate. The vanilla and bourbon are light accents to the cream ale used as a base, adding complexity and finely honed specificity to an often-mushmouthed beer variety.
The beer started out as a collaboration between Sasquatch brewer Charlie Van Meter and Maletis Beverage rep George Dimeo, who added special roast and honey malt to cream ale before aging it with Evan Williams-soaked oak chips for a week and a half. The two had been brewing together regularly as a side project, but had never intended to produce their Vanilla Bourbon Cream Ale commercially until Willamette Week’s Pro/Am Beer Festival last November.
The beer mopped up in festival voting, winning not only the people’s prize but the judge’s award as well, which led Sasquatch to pick up the beer as one of its regular taps and sell it across the city. And in one regard, the beer is indeed like a rifle blast. “We’re already having a hard time keeping it in stock,” Van Meter told WW in December. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.