On a recent business trip to Medford, I had a chance to check out Wild River Brewing. Wild River Brewing has three other locations in Southern Oregon: Grants Pass, Brookings, and Cave Junction. Wild River bottles their beer in 12oz bottles, that are only available at their locations. And after talking with a staff member, they are not on tap anywhere else either.
Wild Rivers pride and joy, besides the beer, is a wood fire oven offering up pizzas and calzones. They also have a decent selection of pastas and sandwiches. If like me, your from out of town and want something besides Marie Callendars, Shari’s, or Applebees, Wild River’s food is a welcome find.
I had the taster tray, which had seven of their current offerings: a Kolsch, Bohemian Pilsener, Honey Wheat, IPA, ESB, Nut Brown, and an Imperial Stout. The ABVs ranged from 3.4 for the Nut Brown, to 7.9 for the Double Eagle Imperial Stout.
Without going through them all, I will mention my two favs, and my two “not so favs.” The two that stood out were the Kolsch and the Pilsener. The Harbor Lights Kolsch was clear and golden. It was a little sweet, and balanced by the spalter and hersbrucker hops. The Pilsener was my favorite, and I ended up leaving with a six pack of it. It is dry hopped, which helps build the nose, and gives it a bit of a spicy mouth feel. It is matured on Czech lager yeast, and uses 100% Saaz hops.
The two that didn’t quite give me a smile were the Stout, and the Nut Brown.
The Stout showed promise. It poured dark, with a creamy head, and had a nice nose. But, the body was weak, and it tasted watery and a bit like a stout flavored soda. If this was sent to Catherine II, an 18th century Russian-British war would have been the outcome.
The Nut Brown tasted of burnt stale nuts, and chocolate. Yummy. It was the only taster that I couldn’t even finish. Imagine pouring almond extract into an ESB, and you could match the flavor. The other downer is the almost non-existent amount of alcohol. At 3.4%, you feel as though your having a history lesson, taking you back to the days of near beer.
It’s handy to know of Wild River. If you ever find yourself in a town where they are, they are worth a try. I wouldn’t plan any trip around them, but I would give them another go if they ever found tap space in Portland.