Just about two years ago, Larry and Cam and the other Merry Cruxters at Bend’s titanic Crux Fermentation Project set out to make a blonde ale – that happiest, friendliest, and most approachable beer of summer – but with a very edgy, Northwesty, slightly confrontational gilding of our region’s signature beer virtue and primary aesthetic: More Hops.
They wanted to inject this lovely, bright, slightly lemony, mellow, Cocker Spaniel of a beer style with some teeth: it should, as most Northwesty ales do, bite back a bit. But, for this style, love bites, nibbles, a friendly nip, with no real pain. It would be quite a balancing act; taking the most crowd pleasin’ of ales and taking it Seriously. Not easy.
I didn’t think either of the first two versions of what came to be called Crux “Lawn Party” A Hoppy Blonde Ale quite hit the mark but this new ’21 edition not only hits it, it knocks the cover off it and establishes a whole new template for other PNW brewers to aim for.
This Lawn Party is a Total Blow-Out.
Strata hops – that voracious little miracle that escaped the lab at the Indie Hops Breeding Program at Oregon State in 2009 – injects some melon and a hint of strawberries and has also been called described as “Passion fruit meets pot.” It brings layered notes of tropical fruit including; mango, passion fruit, melon, fresh berry/strawberry, and some citrus and strafes the finish with unmistakable notes of fresh cannabis…and for a Lawn Party, what better flavor would you want? The workhorse Centennials show up as pine, mixed citrus, and wildflowers. And these flavors are not dumbed down for Blonde consumption. The bitterness is dry and aromatic and mouth-watering. It is so damnably easy to drink that I did three cans – which I never do – before I even started counting.
For all that Northwestness, though, you can safely pour this puppy for your craft-newbie, bitter-beer-face, crap lager converts and those guests from the East and Midwest who blanch at even our tamest IPAs. This is a small mountain of pure Oregon Hoptitude crammed into 5% ABV, 30 IBUs and a 12 oz. can. Git Sum!