6: Vicious Mosquito by Sunriver

If you're not familiar with Sunriver, try asking your boss.

The mountainside community is essentially a massive condoplex between Bend and Mount Bachelor, catering to golfers, skiers and shoppers.

In 2012, Brian Cameron's Sunriver Brewing joined Hola! Sunriver, the Pines at Sunriver and BaseCamp Grill in the center of a cul-de-sac maze. His pleasant brewpub looks like a small ski lodge.

But it's the current formulation of Sunriver's flagship IPA that got us excited.

Today, Vicious Mosquito is an easy-drinking hop bomb. It's quite possible 1,000 IPAs were made in Oregon this year, and yet if our writers and editors were to point out one to try with your next burger, this would be it.

If you've had it before, have it again. The recipe has experienced a gradual and deliberate evolution. Today, it's loaded with citrus, mildly piney flavors and soft floral aromas. Contrary to its name, the beer packs a minimal bitterness bite.

"Mosquito was originally more of an English-style IPA," head brewer Brett Thomas recalls. "It was much darker than it is now. When we did tastings and collected thoughts, the input we received was that it was too malty. People were looking for something lighter and more hop-focused.

When Sunriver Brewing first opened, its beer was made by Phat Matt's in nearby Redmond, using recipes Cameron had developed as a homebrewer. Those beers were adequate, nothing more.

Things began to change for the better when Cameron, determined to build a stronger identity for his beers, decided to launch his own brewery. He leased space in a business park near the pub and hired Thomas, formerly of Silver Moon Brewing in Bend, to supervise the brewery project in mid-2013. Thomas had experience in brewery design and recipe formulation from his time at Silver Moon.

Choosing the right hop blend was, obviously, hugely important to getting Vicious Mosquito where it is. It leans on Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe hops hand-selected by Thomas and his staff.

"We get the Centennial and Cascade from Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn," Thomas says. "The Simcoe, Warrior and Columbus come from Yakima, but the selection process is the same. I guess we're a little picky, but I feel like it helps us attain the profiles and consistency we want."

Vicious Mosquito is also designed to pair well with the pub's food.

The beer is available throughout Oregon on draft and in 22-ounce bottles. There were some issues with initial bottlings in early 2015, causing flavors and aromas to be muted, such that the draft and bottled versions tasted like different beers. Those issues have been resolved.

"Our problems early on were caused by the mobile bottling system we were using," Cameron says. "There were some issues with the way it was set up, apparently. We've since moved on and are focused on making sure bottled product leaves the brewery in good shape and holds up well on shelves."

Finally, there's the name. Cameron describes Vicious Mosquito as an IPA with some bite. He isn't talking about bitterness. He means a beer that has made an impact because of its flavor, aroma and drinkability. His father, Marc, who's loosely involved in the business, suggested the name.

"Dad said we should name it Vicious Mosquito in honor of central Oregon mosquitos that are big enough to bite though denim," Cameron says. "We liked it and it stuck."

Read the rest of the 10 ten beers here.

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