On Tap and Table
By Jamie Flathers
Hello again, beer lovers. Jamie here, back from holiday travels and New Year’s shenanigans. Now that we’re all back in the swing of things, I’d like to introduce you to Moscow Brewing Company. If it’s already part of your beer life, then we should probably be friends, because I loved this place.
You’ll find Moscow Brewing Company on North Almon, behind Rosauers. It’s next to the Garlic Garden Bistro, whose pizza many of the bar patrons were eating the evening we visited. But back to MBC: The place is just as cozy as you please, with soft lighting provided largely by strings of white lights. A roll-up door suggests outdoor seating when it’s warm. The ceilings are high, the walls are painted an inviting apple green, and the furniture is all tall chairs and rough-hewn wood. Decks of playing cards and stacks of board games are available, and on the stereo, indie rock. I recognized the Barr Brothers’ “Love Ain’t Enough” and Liza Anne’s “Lost,” which are both, incidentally, songs I like to sing to myself when I make chili.
My flight of four came arranged on a wooden tray shaped like the state of Idaho. I sampled the Scotch ale, rye wheat, Northwest IPA and gingerbread porter, and here are my conclusions:
Scotch ale, 6.6 percent ABV: This was by far the best Scotch ale I’ve ever had. This kind of beer is traditionally brewed with a pale barley malt and just a bit of hops, but it usually tastes a little burnt to me, or too thick and sweet. This brew was mild and a little spicy, something I’ll look forward to drinking as spring comes upon us. It had a rich amber color and a malty mellowness that I would have happily drunk all evening.
Rye wheat, 5.4 percent ABV: Of the four, I got along with this one least. Its taste was so mild that I can think of few descriptors for it, and it had almost no nose. As pale beers go, it seemed to exist in a kind of middle ground I haven’t encountered before. It had the dry bitterness I’ve come to expect, but I wanted something else to happen — I wanted it to either be way more bitter, or way less. Citrus would have helped, or oatmeal. I suspect that the right entrée would have made a difference as well; perhaps if I had paired it with something spicy or maybe a strong cheese, I would have enjoyed it more.
Northwest IPA, 6.4 percent ABV: I was over the moon about this one. It was all citrus at the top — grapefruit, mostly. It could not have been lovelier, with just enough bitterness at the bottom for a little kick in the pants. Its fragrant, dry hop character made me long to lie in the sun. It seemed a shame to drink it in the cold. It’s the kind of beer that cries out for an open-air restaurant and a plate of fish tacos.
Gingerbread porter, 8.5 percent ABV: This was the clear standout. As the name would suggest, it’s a seasonal offering, so get it while the getting’s good. Besides the thick-and-spicy body — cinnamon, ginger, yeast — my favorite thing about this beer was the nose. My companions and I passed it around several times to try to figure out why it smelled so familiar. There was a suggestion of gingerbread, of course, but somehow, it also smelled like laundry, or like your aunt’s house at Christmas, or like a good candle or the first time you turn the heater on in late fall. I wanted to sit around for hours in a wood-paneled room drinking pint after pint of this porter while someone read to me from Dickens.
There you have it, friends. Moscow Brewing Company, though a little off the beaten path, is worth the trip. While you’re there, you can pick up what it calls a crowler, which is, get this, a growler that’s also a can. While I waited to pay my tab (a flight will run you $7, which is super reasonable), I had a brief conversation about porters with a customer at the bar who was wearing a pirate hat. Between that, the board games, and the Barr Brothers, I think I’ve found my new favorite watering hole.