Greenroom Pale Ale
What does the phrase “green room” mean to you? Maybe you think it’s a reference to the waiting area for guests on a talk show, and thus it calls up mental images of celebrities in repose. Maybe it’s about Jeremy Saulnier's 2016 film depicting a punk band attempting to escape from a group of murderous neo-Nazis. Maybe you’re thinking particularly literally, and it’s a room either painted green or full of something green.
In the case of Barrier’s Greenroom Pale Ale, the name might call to mind a room full of hops: they’re fresh, and as green as you’d want them to be. In this particular ale, hops are at the center of everything: it’s dry-hopped, with a blend of Centennial, Cascade, and Comet hops. And on the label, a massive wave breaks, even as birds fly overhead. In keeping with the name of the beer, however, this ocean is green rather than a more familiar blue.
Once you’ve opened up a can and poured it into a pint glass, another liquid dimension reveals itself. The color of this beer is crisp, with a couple of shades that call to mind ginger. Once it’s settled in a glass, it’s still pretty cloudy – a kind of mesmerizing aquatic landscape that could, in large enough quantities, stand in for some strange alien sea. (Low-budget filmmakers and science fiction writers seeking inspiration, take note.)
The result is something that’s relatively modest as you drink it, which isn’t a bad trick.”
As for how it tastes, the word “focused” comes to mind – while there’s a lot that’s gone into this beer, there’s a sense of multiple elements working towards a common goal.
There isn’t a lot of aftertaste to Greenroom – its taste is very forward, and once it’s hit the palate, it rapidly recedes. (That wave breaking on the label isn’t just a memorable image, it turns out.) Aromatically, it’s fairly neutral, with a slight tinge of pith as you inhale.
And the drinking experience as a whole is solid as well: it goes down easy, with flavors including a touch of dry citrus and a bit of white pepper alongside of it. The result is something that’s relatively modest as you drink it, which isn’t a bad trick: you can definitely taste the hops, but at no point in the process do they become overwhelming. They won’t deaden your tongue or leave your mouth feeling as though it’s been ruined for all other beverages for the day.
This is, in other words, a beer that lends itself well to festive occasions. It’s complex enough that sitting down with a cab is a wholly satisfying experience, but there are also plenty of qualities here that lend themselves to a good food pairing.
That said, if you are drinking it on your own, it’s not so strong (5.4% alcohol by volume) that it’ll leave you stumbling home (if you happen to be drinking at a bar) or stumbling around your home (if you happen to be drinking at home).
The beer’s name might summon up excess or danger, but the beer itself is a modest and direct affair, a solid and solidly-made ale.