So, my Monday went better than expected. It started with a surprise assignment at work.
Bossman: Hey, you’ve been drinking 10 Barrel all winter. Do you like it?
Bossman: Like, really like it?
Currently, my favorite’s the JOE IPA. You probably could have guessed that. I wear flannels. I rotate through various stages of beard. I drink hoppy beers. Basically, I’m a caricature of the Northwest. Label me: Average Joe of Cascadia. So, yeah, of course I’m drinking JOE IPA. It should be standard issue in the NW-resident starter kit.
As far as IPAs go, JOE is tough to beat. Apparently the beer was first called SAM IPA, but 10 Barrel had a trademark issue with another American company making another Sam beer. This IPA uses a blend of Simcoe, Amarillo and Mosaic hops, hence S…A…M, but the lawyers got involved, so instead they called it JOE.
The average-Joe journalist in me wants to tell you it’s smooth, super drinkable and on my list of Top Five IPAs. Whereas the aspiring-beer-writer within would go on to say that this blend of hops offers just the right amount of citrus spice and piney earthiness. It’s floral on first sip and bright on the finish. How’s that for some beer-snobbery?
My only critique: they’re only available in bottles. Every stereotypical Northwesterner knows IPA pairs perfectly with outdoor activities. And, unfortunately bottled beer doesn’t ride well in the backcountry pack.
No doubt the crew at 10 Barrel knows and agrees. Founded in the beer/recreation mecca of Bend, OR, Ten Barrel’s brewers are every bit as in love with being outdoors as they are with making good beer. So, they’ve got your canned-beer needs covered too. For backpack beers, go for either the Pub Beer or Cucumber Crush Sour. Preferably both. That’s my move.
Full Disclosure: 10 Barrel sent us a pallet of beer earlier this year. Literally, a pallet. Myself, along with the rest of our staff have been rigorously testing these beers in the harshest (and mellowest) of environments for months on end. We did all this in the name of investigative journalism, of course.
And really, we are uniquely qualified for this field of research. We’re underpaid, so we will gladly accept any free drink we’re offered. We’re writers and thus characteristically thirsty. We apres regularly. Sophisticated we aren’t, but our pallets knows a good beer when they taste one.
Here’s a short summary of our findings: Free beer does in fact taste better. Canadians love the Pub Beer. The Cucumber Crush Sour beer is dangerously chuggable and while it may seem like you could substitute it for water during a big day of recreating, it isn’t advisable. And JOE IPA is best served on the tailgate of a pickup truck, at sunset, after an 8-hour tour in the mountains.
The bossman had it right, I drank a lot of 10 Barrel beer last winter. And also this spring and summer too. Sadly, that pallet is empty now. So, I had to buy the six-pack I’m currently sipping on. And I’ll buy more. It can be hard to choose in the beer aisle these days. There are more varieties of craft beer than there are patterns of flannel. But if you seek out the aforementioned Ten Barrel beers, you won’t be let down. And for all the five-o’clock-shadowed, flannel-wearing IPA-obsessed hop-snobs out there, just know: you can go with JOE.