Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale
McMenamins, various locations in Oregon and Washington
McMenamins isn't your average Northwest brewer, and that doesn't do it many favors in the eyes of the region's beer die-hards.
The fact that it's a chain that serves its beer at its restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, golf courses and resorts tends to knock it down a few pegs in the eyes of more discerning beer drinkers. That's honestly too bad, as the beer they most commonly sample in plastic tumblers during a $3 showing of
World War Z
is well-made, consistent and a great baseline beer for the initiated or gateway beer for someone who doesn't drift too far from light lagers.
Thundercone is just that kind of beer. Made with 1,000 pounds of Cascade hops that are rushed from a farm in Salem, Ore., to 22 McMenamins breweries throughout the Northwest, Thundercone comes in much milder than all those hops would suggest. The 6.2% ABV beer smells citrusy, but has a mild flavor more akin to a Vienna Lager (like
Boston Lager) thanks to a combination of Pilsner and Belgian Caramel malts. Flowery on the nose and earthy on the tongue, Thundercone is a tasty baby step into the world of fresh hop beer.
It may not be the first fresh hop beer a craft beer lover reaches for, but chances are it's among the first they had.