MacTarnahan's Lip Stinger
Portland Brewing Company

MacTarnahan's Lip StingerMacTarnahan's Lip Stinger
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Belgian Saison
3.84 | pDev: 9.38%
Portland Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
MacTarnahan's Lip StingerMacTarnahan's Lip Stinger
Notes: The first of four in a new series of specialty beers (introduced 2009-10), available August through October.

Malts: 2 Row, Pilsen, and Wheat
Hops: Mt Hood and Saaz
IBU: 32
ABV: 4.8 %

Fermented with a Malaysian and Indian four-peppercorn blend.
Reviews: 14 | Ratings: 18 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by abecall98:
Photo of abecall98
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Pyramid

A - Very light, clear, and absolutely no head or lacing. I have seen better Farmhouse Ales.

S - Very light, but sweet and peppercorny.

T - An overall yeasty, peppery, spiced taste. It had some slight hoppiness, taste of crushed pepper, and light citrus.

M - Crisp, dry, refreshing. Nice.

D - This beer is light, dry and leaves you wanting more. This beer would be perfect for a nice hot day to cool you off.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #41 (Jun 2010):

Peppercorns added for a kick. Hazed, pale golden brew; white, wispy lace sticks well. Fresh-ground pepper- corns, wild herbs and a faint grassy grain in the nose. Crispness is dialed in high; fluffy light to medium body. Peppercorn character is all about flavor rather than being too spicy. Dry pale malt flavor and modest hopping show perfect balance. Dry finish with a pretty long linger of peppercorn and faint biscuity grain. A gem of a summer seasonal here.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber Fred Meyer , S.Salem Well it is really surprising ,and welcome, to see MacTarnahans branch out once more in to "special" beers. They used to be fore the Pyramid takeover. maybe this is a return of those days. Appearance? Clear golden, very active carbonations strings surge towards the head. The head itself is pure as the driven snow, medium sized and tight. Nice spicy/phenolic aromas,slightly peppery, some nectarine and peach in there too. Taste is very peppery , as promised, the pepper lasts the whole mouthful. Phenolic, slightly medicinal. Dry and bubbly mouth feel to it Does indeed "warm" in the mouth but its certainlly not the alcohol. There is quite a bit of peppercorn in this. Overall i found this a very unusual beer. I actually kinda liked the experiment.

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Photo of canucklehead
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice to see seasonals from the Mctarnahans label. This is a fully bodied saison with a dryish bite to the finish. Well balanced and low on the citrus notes found in some of the style. I found it food friendly and very drinkable. The peppercorns showed up a bit in the finish but never detracted from the beer

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Photo of ElGordo
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 22oz bottle into a Liefman's goblet. Body is very slightly opaque golden with a decent amount of bright white head that has some staying power. Aroma of light sweet malt, some honey, a mild generic herbal character, and the faintest whiff of Belgian yeast.
Palate is interestingly complex - light sweet malt, very mild hops, a touch of honey, and a hint of peppercorn. A light amount of heat on the finish builds towards the bottom of the glass, which I guess is the "stinger" part.
Body is a little bubbly and fairly light, but without the earthy, rusty richness of a traditional saison. A decent beer, but not exactly as billed on the bottle. Traditional farmhouse ales are never filtered, and the lack of earthy quality in this one indicates that it's a bad idea. An interesting effort from MacTarnahan's, but it falls flat as an authentic farmhouse ale.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip."

--Greek proverb

Golden Delicious yellow with pale corn silk trim and an alabaster colored crown of whipped frothiness. This is pretty much what was expected given a malt bill that includes pale, pils and wheat. The foam melts in attractive fashion, while patchy sheets of lace stick to the sides of the glass.

The nose is a pleasing combination of pale malt, lemon zest, Saaz hops and pepper. That last one isn't dominant, but it's easily identified and adds something of interest. If the flavor profile follows that blueprint, then we'll be in business.

Lip Stinger is pretty good beer that had a chance to be really good beer. The ABV should be your first clue that it's light and easily drinkable. Perhaps too much so. The amount of pepper flavor and heat is perfect, but the other contributors (malt, hops, yeast) don't hit hard enough and fade too quickly. Warming helps, just not quite enough.

The beer is pretty well-balanced, with bitterness slightly ahead at the start and slightly farther ahead at the finish. The hops add a few shavings of lemon zest and the pepper blend adds a mild warmth that is nowhere near lip stinging. Lip Warmer doesn't sound as good, so the brewery choose the better name.

The mouthfeel is appropriately light and is properly carbonated, so no problem there. This is definitely a refreshing ale and should pair well with most foods. On second thought, the already subtle flavor would probably cower in the face of anything spicy.

MacTarnahan's deserves praise for trying something different with Lip Stinger Farmhouse Ale by adding four different types of peppercorns. It's a fantastic idea that turned out pretty well. I just wish they had painted in thicker and bolder strokes.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Limited-release 22 oz. bottle that started showing up locally a few weeks back; not an enormous amount of this created (3,000 cases was reported), meant for late summer/early fall consumption. My bottle ('Enjoy By 112709') pours to a La Chouffe tulip and pairs (quite well) with red beans and rice.

A: I kept expecting a cloudier unfilteredness with each subsequent pour after the first...nope, it just came out clear and golden every time! Not a bad thing (think less rustic/hazy 'farmhouse', more filtered 'pale ale'). It's bright and full of effervescing carbonation, all rising to a 1-finger snow-white tuft of cream...yet it isn't what I'm looking from a 'saison'. A few lace flecks stick, but most glide back down the glass.

S: Flowery sweetness, honey and ripe melon with a definite cracked pepper punctuation. Every time I begin to think 'this smells too sweet', the jab of pepper and a pinch of rooty spice rounds things off.

T: 'Lip Stinger'? Not really, but it's full of both spiced wheat and that tantalizing peppercorn medley. What ever fruity sweetness there is (peach syrup, honeydew) and malt (pale and doughy) gets enveloped in a blanket of zesty spice. Works well, doesn't pull punches or weaken.

M: Crisp, sharp introduction with a mellower finish and a sneaky tingle in the end. Where? On the lips, yeah... Light-medium body with a healthy carbonation. Refreshing, absolutely.

D: Had heard good things about this new brew, anecdotally, but needed to try it myself. I'm impressed - it's an unexpected treat for a brewery that, while still 'local', I have largely ignored in recent years. Drinkable - dangerously quaffable, more like it - with a paltry 4.8% ABV. One I'd welcome back next year and will grab again before it disappears.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 picked up today at the COOP... I forget what I paid, but probably about $5... Poured into my small La Trappe goblet.

1" head is foamy and leaves little lace and a minor cap... The brew is only the slightest hazed straw gold.

Nose is okay for a domestically made Saison.. more phenolic than estery.. some white pepper and touches of underripe peach.. maybe some pear skin..

Flavor begins with the expected pale malts and then quickly into some phenolic spiciness... and then BAM!! Real spices... enough black pepper to let you know it's there for sure... but I would have a really hard time identifying it if I didn't already know it was in there.

Body is fairly light and plenty of carbonation.... I will have no problem buying finishing this bottle by myself, but I could see how it would wear on you after a while... I also wouldn't want to drink this with chapped lips. :-)

I will certainly buy it again.

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Photo of ccrida
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, Lip Stinger is a chill hazed light gold with a white head

Smell is pretty estery, really nice pithy lime and tropical fruits.

Taste pretty clean, some graininess, kind of a lemon grass taste more then peppercorns actually, although there's some spice on the finish. The fruit I'm getting is probably just esters and the pink and green peppercorns, kind of funky mix. Nice saison though, well made, and appreciably sessionable.

Mouthfeel pretty dry, crisp and light bodied.

Drinkability is pretty high, my style of saison, although the spicy flavor might tire after drinking them for a while. Still, this bottle washed down some spicy Mexican food very nicely.

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Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of djbreezy
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap at MacTarnahan's Taproom in Portland, OR.

appearance - poured an opaque straw wheat, head is very shallow, no lacing

smell - faint tones of banana, clove, citrus, not very pungent

taste - more dominant than the nose, some citrus and banana dominate, but rather bland, slight pepper in the finish

mouthfeel - good and consistent

drinkability - somewhat refreshing, easy to drink, tastes light

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Photo of Elimination
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a brandy snifter

A pale hazy yellow, light shines through but only through a slight cloudiness. Thin white laced head around the rim with a small amount of carbonation rising from the bottom

Smell is a phenomenal amount of spice, most notably is peppercorn and a bit of sage? Strangely this isnt a average smell coming from a saison but it is present. The sourness is light but is still making an appearance.

Taste is very ripe fruit, as if it was made into a punch, but that quickly disapears and that peppercorn comes in strong. A subtle sweetness of cane sugar and a bit of herbs at the end.

Mouthfeel is a sharp carbonation, strong bubbles that seem to sting the palate and the tongue, throat feel is a tangyness that makes me gulp a bit but only accents the flavors once again.

I feel that this is a very sessionable saison, the 4.8 makes it so I could have a few of these and not have to much of a intoxication. The flavors would blend very well with steak, blue cheese, and a waldorf salad...Shoot maybe I should make that tonight now?

Overall this is a good surprise, the last pyramid I had from this series was a bit of a let down. Despite the thought of pyramid being a micro-macro doesnt mean they cant approach different styles and do quite well with it.

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Photo of Takahiro
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Tulip

A: clear and golden. 2" thick coarse foam that dissipates only to hang at the rim after few minutes.

S: peppery phenol. flowery, but i am not good at names of flowers.

T: bitterness hit me first. don't know if this is hop or yeast, but reminds me of grape fruit. little metallic/twang on front and the sides of the tongue. little peppery. Some alcohol (though @ 4.8%) warmth felt on back of throat.

M: light and dry. presence of malt is felt via some husky nature (rustic?).

D: good. may be little bit too spicy for me, and i think it comes from peppercorn, and NOT the yeast.

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Photo of Kopfschuss
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of mobyviacheslov
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Light yellow, very lager colored. Rush of bubbles/carbonation. Really looks like a standard, craft lager. Thick, puffy, creamy white head lasts forever at about 2 fingers.
S - Skunk, very german import lager smelling. Really not much to describe here...think "Lowenbrau", and you've got it nailed. Some bread and mild sweet malt notes come through.
T - While it sells this a "farmhouse" style with peppercorns, it really has a strong german lager backbone, BUT is very pleasing. There's a sweet bready depth to the beer, and a slightly more pronounced hop flavor than you would expect, most likely brought out by the pepper. On that note, this is not boldly peppercorn flavored. If you didn't have the bottle in front of you and had never had/heard of this beer before, I think you would be hard pressed to even identify the peppercorn addition. The finish carries a bavarian wheat yeast profile as well, with some banana and coriander notes.
M - Definitely a strong carbonation, light/crisp body.
D - Excellent! Session beer all the way. Great summer refresher, and would most likely be an outstanding beer to pair with already bold flavored, spicy pasta and mexican dishes.

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Photo of poisoneddwarf
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle. Nice peppery aroma. The pepper isn’t overpowering, but just right. Tastes wheaty--almost like a really good German Weiss or a Belgian ale--with more than a hint of peppercorn. It reminds me a bit of those gourmet cracked peppercorn potato chips. Top marks from me for standing out from the crowd.

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Photo of Dunkelhund
3/5  rDev -21.9%

MacTarnahan's Lip Stinger from Portland Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 18 ratings