The canned offerings from this Ashland, Ore., brewery have been available in the valley since before Christmas, but somehow they slipped under my "new brew" radar. Better late than never, and with the hiking and river-rafting season in full swing, it seems like an appropriate time to check them out. Hop heads should love the IPA, while those who prefer sweet malt will lean toward the amber. For me, the pale ale strikes the perfect balance.
Caldera Ashland Amber
In the glass, it's a deep-amber color with a light head that fades quickly. The aroma is subdued but offers grainy touches of honeyed malt and spice. Toasty, just sweet malt dominates the palate but citrusy hops add balance along with a subtle bitterness that is felt more than tasted. The finish is very smooth with hints of creamy caramel and citrus zest.
This hazy, copper-colored brew weighs in at 94 International Bitterness Units, so it comes as no surprise that it is hops-driven. What is surprising is the overall balance--citrusy hop aromas laced with nuances of grapefruit, grass, herb and subtle malt. The palate is filled with fruity hops that are rich but not overly aggressive and smooth malt on the back end keeps things in line. Bet you can't drink just one.
Caldera Pale Ale
A light golden pour with a thin but persistent head, the beer's aromas have a nice floral component that's colored by soft citrus and grain. Beautifully balanced in the mouth, there's a much bigger hop presence than you would expect from a pale ale. It's all backed by lightly toasted malt, citrus and biscuit with a nice, edgy bitterness on the oh-so-refreshing finish. This ale is a great choice for summer.