Beer of the Weekend #68: Full Sail Amber

Two months from today I fly back to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding. I’m looking forward to it not just because I get to go home and see family, party down with the D-Ville Dubs, and buy a pilsner glass, but because I get to experience a hot, humid, Midwestern summer for the first time in three years.

I want to see how I handle the thick, sticky, steam cooker after years in California — cool, sunny, perfect California — mostly because I want to see how my hair reacts. Will my thick locks explode into a fro? With the waves curl into miniture Slinky’s? It used to, but I let my hair grow longer now than I did when I was in Iowa. What will it do?

I had to plan ahead, though, because my hair was already long enough. I needed it cut now, so before buying beer I stopped into SuperCuts across Beach Boulevard for a trim. I came out butchered.

Fuck. This is the shortest it’s been since I got a buzz three years ago. Oh well — it’ll grow back. In the meantime I get to use my plethora of baseball hats.

The beer this weekend is Full Sail Amber brewed by Full Sail Brewing of Hood River, Oregon.

The makers of Full Sail Pale Ale are back, but it was unintended. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the same situation as last week, only with a different brewer. I stroll into BevMo!, freshly shorn, and made my way straight to the German aisle for a sixer of Hofbrau Maibock. But — surprise surprise — there was none, again.

Dilemma. I needed beer but had no clue what to get. I browsed the aisles, daunted by the selection. I wasn’t craving anything too heavy, so stout and porter were out; I wasn’t thirsty for anything too light (not Light or Lite, of course), so a pilser and exotic lager were out. I wanted something malty with color and bite, so an amble ale seemed like the perfect substitution for Maibock. I knew just the amber to get. I’ve seen Full Sail Amber at Trader Joe’s and have read the reviews on BeerAdvocate. I’ve wanted to try it, so here’s my excuse.

Serving type: Six 12-ounce bottles.

Appearance: Poured a deep copper. Two fingers of off-white head developed and dissipated to a frothy lacing.

Smell: My first impression was of the metallic hop bitterness, but a mix of sweet caramel and milk chocolate malts becomes present after a couple sniffs. It has a subtle cappuccino quality to it, which surprises me for an amber ale.

Taste: Nicely balanced flavors. Caramel dominates, but there is also a citrus hint. The hops provide a slight bite but are very subdued. Good for malt lovers.

Drinkability: Full Sail Amber is very drinkable. It’s not too hoppy. I wouldn’t necessarily consider it an amber ale, but it is a quality brew.

Fun facts about FSA:

-Serving temperature: 45-50°F.

-Alcohol content: 5.5 percent ABV.

-Food pairings: BA recommends meats like beef, poultry, and fish (which pretty much covers all the bases for carnivores), and sharp cheese like Blue and Cheddar. Some day I’ll have to try these beer and cheese pairings.

-Full Sail is proudly independent, which is evident on the bottle and carrying case in so many ways. The Full Sail staff numbers 47, and each bottle label is printed with “Concocted by our massive brewforce of 47.” The carrier features a map to the brewery on the bottom, as well as a ’50-esque portrait of the Columbia River valley between the Pacific and Hood River. The handle has this message:

You gotta love making beer to live and work in the spot we do. Really. I mean, who puts a brewery in a place where you’re constantly tempted to start the day with a dawn patrol snowboard session, kiteboard the Gorge all afternoon and round out the day’s trifecta with a little sunset singletrack? Answer: Us. Forty-seven people who own an indie brewery in Hood River Oregon. We’re obsessed with two things: Making insanely good beer. And living an insanely good life. And if that means working four-day weeks instead of five, or breathing pine-scented air that didn’t get that way from a miniature cardboard tree, or lining our pockets with seashells instead of cash, well, we must be doing something right. Enjoy the beer. Peace. –The Full Sail Crew.

Peace. I like that. And also their beer.

-Plus, I took a picture of this:

The Quiet Man’s grade: A-.

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