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Epic Ales: Featured Brewery 4/10

They say “good things come in small packages” and that certainly applies to Epic Ales. Epic Ales are crafted in single barrel batches in a tiny 180 square feet brewery by a man that will not be challenging Sultan Kosen for the tallest man in the world record.

The flavors are not small nor is the creative craftsmanship of founder/brewer Cody Morris. Starting out in home brewing, Cody worked in a home brew store before launching Epic Ales. He brings his foodie fascination with spices and herbs to his love of brewing that accentuate but not overwhelm the beer.

Cody likes to push boundaries with his flavorings, his hops, his malts and his beer “styles”.  Cody chafes at the narrowly defined official beer classifications. His goal is not to create the perfect Porter but to brew creative beers that taste good even if they don’t fit into a tidy classification and give the TTB fits over label approval. That doesn’t mean that he ignores beer basics. Cody is cognizant of the important of balance. Even some of his weirdest ideas never taste over the top or forget that they are beer.

Currently he has four beers in the bottle, which are available at the brewery and at Seattle’s best beer stores.

Simply Ale

Cody Morris showing the distinctive red of honey malt in his Simply Ale.

  • Simple Ale
  • Sol Trans-Amplifier
  • Otto-Optimizer
  • Terra Saurus

Simple Ale

Epic Ales Simple Ale is their most basic beer but it Epic Ales simple.  it is made with honey malt that gives this cool characteristic red stripe below the head and nutty orange notes to the the brew. The aromas of this beer are honey, herb and a bit of fresh pine. When I was drinking this I kept thinking orange rind but it wasn’t overpowering orange, it was characteristic orange peel. Bitter bite, a bit nutty and citrus essence on the finish. Centennial, Chinook and Williamette hops make up the hop profile.

The current Simple Ale is the spring and fall recipe. Watch for Simply Summer (6/21/10) and Simply Winter (12/21/10) to reflect those seasons.

Sol Trans-Amplifier

Epic Ales Sol Trans-Amplifier first caught my eye at Malt and Vine. I am a big sour beer fan and it was warmly recommended by the Malt and Vine staff but I didn’t get to try it before our interview at the brewery with Cody.

Ed will tell you he hates sour beers but he liked this one. Think of this as a sour Witt but not. It is brewed with rice instead of wheat and oats and uses ginger and chammomile instead of orange peel and coriander.

A gorgeous sunny citrus yellow, think of this as lemonade plus beer in a good way. The nose is lemon,grapefruit. and glimpses of ginger. There is the illusion of honey in the nose and palate but this beer is bone dry. This is no wimpy Witt, it has body and character. The finish is bright and tart and makes you look forward to your next sip.  The mouth feel is basically really smooth then on the end of the finish give you that tart acidity that makes you raise your pint for the next sip.

Cody says pair this with seafood or salad. I think that this a beer that could even work with goat cheese. It has the acid to pair with a number of difficult to pair foods. Personally I am tempted to bring it out as a palate cleanser  at our next wine pairing dinner.

This can be a session beer, if you aren’t driving!  It tastes light and refreshing but there is a bit of alcohol here.

Otto Optimizer

Epic Ales

Otto Optimizer and Terra Saurus

This is the beer that convinced Ed and I that Epic Ales needed to be our next featured brewery. I tasted it the Malt and Vine tasting and brought a bottle home to Ed. Read Ed’s review of the Otto Optimizer to see what convinced us.

Terra Saurus

This distinctive brew is brewed with Shitake mushrooms. One of my highlights of the Malt and Vine tasting was watching people dare each other to try this Washington beer. It is BIG and rich and savory. In the picture to the left you can see the intense head and deep darkness of this brew. If you are a foodie you can understand the power of unami in this beer. This was another beer that Ed was ready to sneer at, he despises shitake mushrooms. Although the meaty aspects of this ale are undeniable, it doesn’t scream that the origin of that savory meatiness is due to shitake mushrooms. Ed says he never would have guessed that shitakes were in the brew. It wasn’t his favorite in the Epic Ale line up but he was surprised at how much he did like it. In the car on the way home we talked about great it would pair with a beef barley soup or other beefy hearty fare.

If there is a lesson to be learned when trying Epic Ale brews, it is to throw your expectations out the window. Cody doesn’t brew his beers to be all about one flavor or characteristic. He brews beers where the whole is much more than its parts.  He is not looking to create your every day session beer. Cody is seeking to create food friendly beers that you enjoy once a week or so as a flavor treat.

The future

Currently Epic Ales has four barrel fermentators with one on order and hopes to kick the count to 6 fermentators this summer. He has four other brews waiting for label approval from TTB, which can be a lengthy process for his style of beer making.

Although he is usually the sole madman brewer, brewing late at night by himself, he did brew aspecial batch with Chef Travis Kukull

It’s funky. Barley, Wheat, Rye, Palm Sugar, Saffron and a combo of the most classic west coast hops blended the most traditional European.

This special brew will be tapped at 1st annual Solobration- party and beer dinner on April 30. Follow Epic Ales on Twitter or fan them on Facebook for details

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