Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rocky Coulee Brewing Company

Since 2002, Tom Shafer and his son Zack Shafer have been working on a project to produce and bottle beer out in the middle of nowhere Washington State. Odessa, Washington is located an hour and a half east of Wenatchee and an hour west of Spokane. Tom Shafer used to be a farmer until, at the age of 51, he decided to hand over that part of everyday life to his oldest son. In-turn, Tom took an early retirement. After a bit of time, Tom decided that his love of beer was over-whelming enough to get him to start brewing commercially, himself. With the help of his son Zach, Tom launched and started selling his beers in Eastern Washington with a max output production of 780 barrels per year.

Present day June 2015, Zach Shafer is in the works to buying dad's brewery. Zach pretty much does it all at the brewery, everything except for the graphics design of the labels and the printing of the labels. Zach's goal is to take the brewery to 1200 barrels in 2015 and grow accordingly over the years to come.

I met Zach in East Wenatchee on a 95 degree day to talk to him about his vision, ideas and beer. I was presented with a six-pack of his line of beers. Three of the bottles were labeled and three of them were quite possibly tank samples, but they definitely didn't have labels on them. The Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Fire Weed Honey Blonde, the White Out Winter Ale, the Copper Cream Ale, the Brown Ale, the Dunkel, and the Golden Lite Summer Ale. Hmmm, what should I start with?!?

*Written as we tasted. These are more like tasting notes.
  1. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Fire Weed Honey Blonde Lager: Out all his labels, this is the most exciting. I found myself drawn to it based on the bright yellow font and orange "Fire Weed" graphics. No UPC. This may be a problem in the future. I pop the beer to find a pretty dark honey lager looking product. I put the glass up to my nose and immediately smell wheat mash, the kind you smell when you set foot in a brewery as they're brewing. In my nose I smell an unfinished beer. The sparkle in the beer is very week and the froth is almost non-existent. This leads me to believe that this was manually bottled a bit early and there may have been too much air contact with the fluid. This beer tasted almost exactly what the nose showed, with the exception that it has a mild honey taste to it. I barely tasted any hops either. A shame quite frankly. I believe that if the hops showed up, the honey would balance it out and the wheat would possibly go away. Instead, it tastes just off a bit. If you like light ales with heavy wheat taste, this is for you. If you want hops of a complex beer, just move on. AP Rating: 78 Points 6/10/15                                                                                                                                                                                      
  2. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. White Out Winter Ale: Concerned that I would find myself pouring this bottle down the drain like it's more popular brother, the Fire Weed, I cautiously popped the cap and started pouring. This beer's color turns out to be quite normal. The nose smelled of a grilled smoky grain unlike most other red or amber ales out in the general market. Guess what?!?!'s taste is also plain!! It has this very mild hoppy finish that makes it very pleasure with it's dark taste of wheat. Hmmm... If only they could label this Amber Ale for the rest of the year!! I'd drink it. AP Rating: 83 Points 6/10/15                                                             
  3. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Brown Ale: Brown Ale, my ass!!!?! Smells like over-cooked wheat, if anything, tastes like nothing!! No body to this beer AT ALL!! I've had bad gluten-free beer that's been better than this! I'm not sure what these brewers are thinking, but brewing quality beer is not on their minds. Big disappointment. AP Rating: 77 Points 6/10/15                  
  4. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Golden Light Summer Ale: That's a pretty gold looking beer. Ok...Couldn't finish this beer!!! Oxidized and/or over-cooked. These people need to quit brewing beer. This beer tastes like dirty keg lines. Absolutely terrible! AP Rating: 65 Points 6/10/15                                                                                                                                              
  5. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Dunkel: same nose, smells more like a brown than the brown did. Way thin and tastes like a watered down nut brown ale. Certainly, no dunkel. It's really not bad beer like it's predecessors, but I'm still having issues finishing it. AP Rating: 75 Points 6/10/15   
  6. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Copper Cream Ale: Why would cream ale be copper colored? Answer: "Who cares, it's disgusting!!" What are these guys doing with these beers? Let the professionals make good beer, go out and grow wheat!! AP Rating: 70 Points 6/10/15

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