Einstok Icelandic Pale Ale

This is it. I’ve officially turned the corner as an inconsistent blogger with a marginal following. I’ve been given beer to blog, beer that isn’t distributed in South Florida. Yet. As of now, they only distribute to California and the UK. Over the next few entries, I’ll be trying Einstok’s current four-beer lineup. What’s Einstok? No, it’s not Woodstock, it’s a new brewery out of Akureyri, Iceland. Yes, Iceland! I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer from Iceland – queuing up the Bjork and Sigur Ros to pair with it right now! Maybe Bjork’s first album, as that will fit in the 1990s trip-hop thing I’ve kinda been doing tonight. In any event, thanks Hannah – I really appreciate it.

The Einstok lineup consists of a pale ale, a Belgian-style witbier, a doppelbock, and a “toasted” porter. Tonight, the pale ale. I must admit, I’m a little skeptical of a pale ale from Iceland. The shelf life of 5.6% pale ales isn’t typically all that lengthy, with the desired hop character falling off in abrupt fashion. I don’t see any bottled-on date stamped on the bottle, so I really have no idea how fresh this is or isn’t.

OK, so it has a standard pale ale appearance – clear gold with a hint of red, good foam retention with some stickiness. I get some light citrus in the nose, mostly a mandarin orange. This is hopped with Cascade in the manner of Sierra Nevada’s famous pale ale, but rounded out with the Northern Brewer hop variety. As it warms, I get some white tea and mint. It’s not your standard West Coast American hop bomb of a pale ale, but it does have a clean, pleasant aroma.

Sipping on it, I think this might be one of the “cleaner” pale ales I’ve probably ever had. Up front I get much of the melon/white tea I smelled, but that’s about it in terms of fruity character – it’s not as ester-y as many American-made pales (lower fermentation temperature, maybe?), but that cantaloupe/melon is there, and I kinda like it. After that, it’s a firm piney bitterness, as would be expected of the style. A crisp, grainy dry caramel malt backbone is also apparent. No buttery diacetyl at all, which I appreciate – as I said, this is pretty clean.

It seems to be a well-structured beer, and I like the flavor profile. Nothing crazy or outlandish, but a solid pale ale with its own little personality. While I don’t think this bottle is THAT old, I’d like to try a fresh-from-the-brewery example. It’d be a fine easy drinker at a bar or tailgate, with a burger. Mexican food is another obvious pale ale partner, whether authentic or Tex-Mex.

Skaal!!

PS – if anyone else wants to send me beer to review in this space, please, feel free to do so….where are my Russian River, Three Floyds and Hill Farmstead boxes? 🙂

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