Reuben's was not on our radar in any way until we ran across the sandwich board sign along our path. Even then we couldn't be sure that it was a brewery as opposed to a beer bar but we figured we'd take our chances. As soon as we saw the exterior we knew we'd stumbled upon a brewery and were excited about what might be waiting inside.
The compact brewery and taproom boasted a list of 12 beers available and we wasted no time ordering up a sampler to ensure we were able to try all of them. In the process of making our way through the beers we were able to chat with owner/brewer Adam Robbings and found out the likely reason why we hadn't heard of them - they'd only been open since August.
Of the 12 beers on tap not one was a stinker and although my favorite was, predictably, the Imperial IPA, there were a number I quite enjoyed. Mag's favorite was one of the two beers on nitro, the Dry Stout. The other nitro offering was the Imperial IPA and while I preferred the non-nitro version it was interesting to compare the two side-by-side. My take was that the nitro version not only provided smoothness in texture but also tempered the hop bite and therefore became less appealing to this hop head.
In talking to Adam we learned that the breadth of the brews offered was intentional. He is more interested in offering a lot of different styles rather than offering a greater quantity of a fewer number of beers. For an operation of this size that's always a factor that must be considered and in most cases I think a brewery would do better to start off with a small number of offerings and increase as they grew their market. After tasting Reuben's beers, however, I think he's made the right decision. He's making good beer across the board and as beer geeks know, we're always looking for "the next thing." We're a fickle bunch that will have core favorites we return to but trying something new is always of interest.
As we drank and talked we noticed two barrels and inquired about them. We found out that they came from Hair of the Dog and contained part of a batch of Russian Imperial Stout. The non-barrel-aged RIS will be released toward the end of 2012 with the barrel-aged version hanging out for a few more months, possibly being released in the first quarter of 2013.
Toward the end of our visit a group of 30+ home brewers filed in, filling the small space. They were on a quarterly club outing and we decided to hang out for a bit, getting in on additional information about the brewery as Adam gave a short talk. Here's a bit of that.
I suspect it will be quite some time before Reuben's Brews make their way south to Portland. In the meantime, if you're in Seattle check them out and if you're so inclined you could even bring back a growler for me. If you're interested in my thoughts on their beers, keep reading.
Balsch - A Kolsch-style beer, this is a light, easy drinker.
California Lager - With a surprising caramel color and light woody flavor, this is one of the few lagers I can say I have enjoyed, primarily because the typical lager characteristics that turn me off were too subtle to be off putting.
Roggenbier - The aroma is that of a rauchbier with pronounced clove and banana flavor that is somewhat tempered by the rye spice. This was my least favorite due to the clove and banana.
Belgian Pale Ale - Although there were banana flavors in this offering as well, I found this to be more enjoyable. There was none of the smokiness of the Roggenbier and it was lighter and fruitier.
Red - With a nutty aroma and flavor the maltiness was kept in check so as not to weigh it down past my tolerance for a malty brew.
American Brown - A brown to be sure, but dryer that most and with more hop aroma than one would typically expect from a brown.
Robust Porter - Porters vary widely and this is one that is roasty and full-bodied, just the way I like a porter to be.
Pumpkin Rye - Pumpkin beers vary widely as well and again this is a nicely made beer. The aroma is wonderfully pumpkin spice while the flavor is less intense, not the over-the-top spice sometimes found in pumpkin beers, making it enjoyable.
Roasted Rye PA - The 100+ IBUs touted aren't present in the flavor or aroma and instead I found a roasty and smooth rye brew.
Dry Stout on Nitro - While this was Mag's favorite, I found it to be thinner in body than I prefer my stouts to be. It would have been interesting to try a non-nitro version of it.
Imperial IPA - As mentioned above, this was my favorite hands down. The grapefruit on the nose and in the flavor is bold and delicious.
Imperial IPA on Nitro - The nitro predictably gave the beer smoothness, tempering the hop bite. Additionally, the aroma had more stank than the non-nitro version.