Archive for the 'Other Beers' Category

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Holiday Ale Fest 2010

Michelle, my dad and I made a quick visit to the Holiday Ale Festival last night to take in some big winter brews. We were a little later than expected, which was entirely my fault. I had to stop at Steinbarts for some grain and traffic was wretched. We got to the event just after 5pm, usually about when I’d be wrapping up. The crowds were out in full force, and it was a bit of a challenge (as usual) to get yourself up to some of the beers. Luckily, there were several that were well worth the wait.

My favorite pour of the evening was the 2007 Baltic Porter from Cascade Brewing. It was rich, thick, smokey, liquory, and just a smidge tart. Maybe it was the 2-ticket cost, but this was no line for this beer. Cascade Brewing’s Sang Noir was tops again this year as well, though I think my next favorite might have been 10 Barrel’s Pray for Snow. Their Sinister is probably one of my favorite beers of 2009, and this was also deliciously dark, rich and robust.

My least favorite was Widmer’s Black Dynamite. Initially I thought there was mint in it, but have learned otherwise. I feel bad mentioning it since I deeply appreciate that Widmer takes consistent risks on beers at festivals. Some have been bad, but some have been the most memorable beers. Tis’ better to try and fail than to Hell or High Watermelon.

Yeah, so, that’s about it. Loved Lost Glove, Ill Tempered Gnome and that pretty much wraps up my festival for the year.

Thank you Oregon Craft Beer Month

I love Oregon’s Craft Beer Month, but this year I was a little busy and missed both the North American Organic Brewers Festival and the OBF. I was able to get in on one night of Saraveza’s IPA festival (great), visited Terminal Gravity’s Pub,  and managed to score a few delicious pints around town, but I missed out on so many other events because July was just overbooked. I did my best to drink only Oregon brews during the month of July with a few exceptions.  The exceptions were a few Trumer Pils when in the Wallowas (it was with Carne Asada), Illinois beers when in Chicago, Maharaja IPA at Saraveza, and Walking Man when I stopped by the brewpub on Friday night. Otherwise, I revel in keeping my beer dollars in state.

However, that’s not saying much when the immense variety, high quality, and all around goodness of Oregon brewers. Thanks.

Beer in Chicago

Last week I had the good fortune to visit Chicago for work and was able to venture out and sample some local beers. I arrived late Sunday night and had a Two Brothers Domaine DuPage, a deliciously carmel amber ale with my dinner. But it was late so I settled for that introduction.

The next day after the conference events had worn down, I wandered north to the Goose Island Brewery on Clybourn for dinner. The restaurant/pub/brewery was quite nice, and being alone, I sidled up to the bar. I had to sidle because after 2.5 miles in sandles, blisters were forming. I was rather sweaty (it’s the midwest), so I ordered the 312, a refreshingly light wheat beer that helped bring me back down to a healthy temperature. I ordered the pulled pork and when it arrived 45 minutes later, I’d started a cask IPA. The bartender was sorry about the delay, so he bought my IPA. No complaints at all, with the mellow and satisfying pour or the sandwich. They didn’t have any of the lovely Belgian style beers on tap, and oddly enough, I’m able to get many of them back here.

From here, I walked over to the Map Room, a place I’d heard plenty about back in my BA Beerfly days. I figured a geography & beer geek shouldn’t miss it. The place was raucous, though very comfortable. The walls were papered with old topos, lined with National Geographics, and there was even an Oregon license plate right where I was sitting. Combine that with the stellar rotating fans and the Three Floyd’s, and I was set. I started with an Alpha King, certain that the moniker was hyperbolic. It was surprisingly bitter and I actually took quite a while to nurse it. Next I had the Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught, something I’d sampled 5 years prior at a BA event. It was delicious, though not a masterpiece of subtly that I remember it. I was joined by a couple who also enjoyed their hoppy beers, and the combination of an outgoing Swede and a fellow Jay Ryan fan meant for some pleasant company. They recommended a place directly south that he though, at least, was among the best breweries in town. I walked south to Piece, the pizzeria slash brewpub and tried the dark beer though it was closing, and I had to get back. He’d also recommended I try some Metropolitan if I could find some, even in bottle if necessary.

The next evening I had dinner with an old Yakima friend who picked a hipster vegetarian bike restaurant. As luck would have it, they had Metropolitan’s Copper on tap. It was absolutely delicious; Crisp, bright, and just a subtle sweet kiss from a crystal malt. Dinner was good too, and it was probably the best sandwich I had on the trip. I ventured back to Piece for the Cameltoe, which the couple  from the night before had also recommended. It was a full bodied double IPA that was nearly on par with the Dreadnaught from the night before, just as the guy had promised.

The last beer I had was  another Domaine DuPage back at the hotel with my coworker that evening. It had been a full walk back but we weren’t quite ready for bed. So I sipped this lovely and simple beer while we compared notes from the conference.

I’d taken a number of beers back to Chicago as thanks to several other admins and techs that had made my life a little easier this year, but didn’t bother to bring any Illinois beers back. It just didn’t seem worth the extra $20 for checked baggage, especially since I included the durable wrapping with the beers I brought. One bottle isn’t accounted for, and I’m not sure if it fell out of my bag in some conference room, or if house keeping found it. Suffice to say, I didn’t have to deal with it at the airport.

A lucky for NoPo

I was reading through the last print copy of The Sentinel, a North Portland paper, while waiting to see if I was goin to be placed on a jury this morning. I was trying to listen for my name when the words “Lucky Lab” caught my attention. Looks like the Lucky Lab bought the building that previosly housed Roux on Killingsworth. No details on plans or dates, but how exciting to get another walkable brewpub up here.

Btw: best wishes with the move to online Sentinel.

Windy Point wins Platinum

Just a brief viticultural aside: My aunt and uncle at Windy Point Vineyards won a platinum award from WinePress Northwest for their 2005 Cabernet-Franc. I’m a huge fan of this particular wine, so I just wanted to give congrats.

Holiday Ale Fest 2009

I like my space, so the Holiday Ale Fest each year means that I need to simply get used to bumping in to people and spilling some beer for a little while. Like most festivals, I’ve made a habit of taking some work time off to visit before the crowds get too massive. This year was a quick affair; Michelle and I were only able to attend for about an hour before taking MAX home to pick up kids. We were fortunate to meet up with Curtis, Liz, Kevin, Ryan, and Michelle’s coworker Tim for several samples. Nothing we had was bad, and thanks to the early-ish arrival, no beer was bumped and spilled.

My favorites were Cascade Brewing’s Sang Noir, HotD’s Jim 2009, and possibly Oakshire’s Very Ill Tempered Gnome or New Belgium’s La Folie. Each was very different, and surprisingly good out of a plastic cup. The last beer I sampled was Upright’s Holy Herb, and it was unlike anything I’ve had before and I’m still not exactly sure what happened in my mouth. I meant to get over to Saraveza and try it again, but I think I may have missed it. I’m not going to try and describe it until I get a second opinion that doesn’t come at the end of 6 big-beer samples.

We meant to get back and burn up our last tickets over the weekend, but alas, the furnace broke and thesis work needed doing.

NoPoToberfest tapped

I tapped NoPoToberfest on Monday, and I’m quite pleased with the results. The fresh hops give it a very fruity profile which is pleasing to the only anti-bitter beer drinker who’s tried it, but the fresh floral and franky, sweet flavors of the wet hops is very nice.

When I moved the beers from primary to secondary, the aroma was still tending on hoppy, but when moving from secondary to the kegs, the hop armoa had turned, well, almost bad. I’m not sure how to describe it, but I was initially concerned that maybe I’d over aerated it when racking to secondary, but the beer itself still tasted good. So, given the amount of beer, and my freezer full of hops, I dropped 1.5 ounces of Amarillo hops in to each keg (in a boiled nylon sack). The effect on the aroma is delightful. It was given a fresher citrus aroma yet doesn’t have the bitter backend of a traditional IPA.

Now I have to bottle some for the neighbor who donated the hops, and a few for some friends.

IBU and ABV calculators acting up

A Canadian fan of my avb calculator recently alerted me to the fact that the calculator had gone “on the fritz.” I asked for clarification, but upon trying them myself, I found that they were spitting out “divisible by 0” errors.

I’ve been struggling with my hosting company lately, and in an effort to meet their demands, have been shuffling items around and adding caching and other items to the blogging software. However, since the ABV and IBU calculators are about the only reason for anyone to visit this site, I ought to get them fixed. If it wasn’t the busiest week of the year at work, I’d be all over it. Hopefully I’ll get it worked out soon.

Also, if you know a good shared hosting company that isn’t trying to extort it’s customers in to using dedicated hosting for low use sites, please let me know. Dreamhost is back on my shitlist.

Oakshire's Imperial IPAs

My friend Joe dropped off a sample of Oakshire’s two Imperial IPAs because I had to miss the Sasquatch Brew Fest, and because he’s a nice guy. He’s also a stellar brewer, as is evident after having sampled both of the IIPAs. One, Hop Vice, was smooth and interesting without being overly sweet, and the Amarillos gave it a very lovely bitter and aromatic quality. The Perfect Storm is more of a Northwest style Imperial IPA, though not nearly as intoxicatingly sweet as most, and it kept a better balance of ingredients than most in the style. Both had what I consider an appropriate amount of bitter, and a perfect amount of hop aroma and sweet, citrusy flavor that makes me weak in the knees. I doubt there’s any way to pick these up anywhere soon, but next year, do yourself a favor and cop one.

*note* I know this comes off as total ass kissing, but Joe’s a great friend, a great brewer, and he hooked me up with these great beers.

Dark obSession

Thirstday Thursday night Michelle, Madeline and I walked over to Saraveza for their Black Session tailgate party. It was a warm evening, but the place was crowded. We tried to get on a list to try the beer, ended up sharing a table with a great couple who were also there to try the new darker sibling of session. After a bit of a wait, we had our first sample of the dark substance. Simply put, it’s a good beer. The darkness is actually a nice nutty and almost but not quite peaty version of the lighter session. The beer is simple but still interesting, and really could be the perfect domestic answer to something like Negra Modelo.

The brewer John Harris was on hand and mingling. I thanked him for last fall’s doppelboch and picked his brain about their use of super high alpha hops (CTZs) as the only hops in Grandson of Spot IPA. Then I had to eat dinner. It was one of the best (if not the) best Bratwurst I’ve ever had. The brat itself was perfectly cooked, juicy, spicy and sweet. Then, it was topped with mustard, ketchup, onions, sauerkraut, and sweet relish. I was rather nervous about the relish, but it was great.