Archive for the 'Other Beers' Category

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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.

Happy Craft Beer Month

July in Oregon is awesome. Our governor will soon proclaim this to be Craft Beer Month, and we’ll celebrate the work of our brewing sons and daughters. How do you celebrate craft beer month? Find an event of course! There’s the obvious Oregon Brewers Festival later this month, but there are so many smallish events this month that there’s probably something pouring near you. The Oregonian (it’s one of those old fashioned newspapers) had a great pull-out in the June 30th edition that you can fold up and stick in your pocket like a smartphone, though it works better for swatting flies than does a phone.


I broke what must have been my forth or fifth hydrometer while brewing on Monday morning. It’d only been used like 3 times. The little research I’ve done suggests that plastic hydrometers are crap. Have you done away with hydrometers and rely completely on a refractometer?

The Younger

Tonight I headed out to Belmont Station
with Curtis for the primary reason of trying Pliny the Younger on tap. BS had a number of big IPAs on tap, but none quite scorched my palate with such deliciousness as Pliny.the place was surprisingly full when we met up with his friends, so we grabbed a glass of the bitter and stood in the adjacent bottle store and talked beer. We tried a few more; a black IPA from Bend Brewing that was dark, smooth and delicious and Fort George’s Chapel X-something that was just brilliant.

It’s been since May since I was at Belmont Station last, and their selection has improved beyond it’s already absurd state. I picked out a number of bottles I thought my bride might enjoy but ended up leaving lots on the shelves for another time.

update: While I was tempted to update in the middle of the night (I was up several times – I have a 7 week old), I found that each of my belches tasted so hoppy as to have a IBU that placed them outside any BJCP style guidelines. I’m not sure how Pliny the Younger can be so packed, but I can’t help but think maybe the beer has some actual lupalin dust off the kiln from some drying facility.

Visiting Oakshire Brewery

Ella and I were down in Eugene last Friday and were lucky enough to get a private tour of Oakshire Brewery from the head brewer, uncle Joe. The brewery is located in a light industrial area next to the train yard, which Ella pointed out over and over. The only clue that it was a brewery was the stack of kegs in front, otherwise, it looked like the other surrounding businesses. When we arrived, it was shortly before closing on Friday night. The garage door was open and a fellow my age was mopping the floor to clean up dirt that had been tracked in by a bobcat moving through the brewery to what would become the cellar. The man, Chris Althouse, happens to be one of the founders putting in his time at his brewery.

Oakshire Brewery

Joe poured me a sample of the wheat and Ella and I watched and explored as he finished up work for the day. The wheat (beer) is filtered, and has all the trappings of a summer beer; clean, bready and refreshing. Though filtered, it doesn’t lose the interest you might expect.

The brewery is about to change, but the current configuration is a single mash/lauter tun, single kettle, 4 fermenters, 1 bright tank and a cooler for cellaring. I’ve forgotten the volumes of each, though I’d guess the fermenters are ~20BBL and the kettle is under 10BBL. Hopefully Joe can correct me on these.

Joe monitoring fermentation

Joe poured me a sample of the Amber, which surprised me at first. I’ve grown accustomed to hoppy or sweet (and frankly boring) ambers and this is a departure from that. It’s delicious though – toasty and malty and just enough roast to remind you of a Scottish. I’d really like to try it again, so hopefully I can figure out where Point Blank distributes the beers here in Portland.


The brewery has remnants of the proprietors’ home brew days. Old Sankey keg conversions have been repurposed for cleaning and sanitizing. As we talk about the various equipment, Chris mentions which parts they hope to upgrade soon and it is clear that a lot of thought has gone in to the brewery and to the direction they’d like to take it.

Next I tried the IPA, a beer I’d sampled at a festival in the past. It has a malt body that’s a little more old world, but the hops clearly have a northwest pedigree. The hop bill might change given the market, but if my memory is correct, it’s Centennial and Cascade for the aromatics and some Amarillo and Simcoe for dry hop. I want to say that Chinook was the bittering for all the beers, but it may have been Columbus. The IPA is a solid beer which Joe is happy about, comparing it to the IPA from some of his past jobs. I agree with him – it’s very drinkable and is a mouthful of the things I like in an IPA.

The last sample is of the coffee stout which Joe draws off the bright tank. Ella helps him sanitize the outlet afterwards, keeping the beer safe. It hasn’t fully carbonated yet, but that isn’t a detriment to the beer. I remember this beer fondly from a past festival. Cold-pressed coffee and chocolaty roasted barley make for a smooth and delicious beer. Despite being winter, I’ve had a limited intake of stouts this season, but this one is great. There’s no harsh bitterness from the coffee. I really recommend finding this one on tap somewhere soon.

Ella helps keep clean

While finishing this last sample, Jeff, the other co-founder shows up and the two brothers catch up on the construction progress, the plans for the weekend, and sample some of the IPA. It’s clear from their mood and from the beers themselves that things are going well and that the future is promising. Joe is an excellent addition to the brewery and I expect he’ll only help make things better. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a calm demeanor and strong set of problem solving skills that are necessary in the brewhouse. Since I’m a friend of his, take from these comments what you will, but I think you’ll find the proof in the puddin’.

Oooh… tapioca beer. That’d be like petrified carbonation. I’m going to call dibs on that, even though it’s sounding less and less appetizing as I think about it.

Editorial on Oregon Beer Tax

Irene Firmat of Full Sail Brewing and Gary Fish of Deschutes Brewing have an editorial in today’s Oregonian regarding the proposed beer tax. They highlight the production side aspect of the tax, something that is often misunderstood. While I wouldn’t mind paying for many of the services this tax is trying to address, this isn’t how I’d choose to do it. It hurts my dear Oregon breweries.

MadelIPA tapped, rocks the house

I tapped the keg of MadelIPA last night and I’m pleased to report that it f*@%ing rocks. I made a few changes, including dry hopping the keg with 2 ounces of Santiam hops. It added a nice mellow but citrusy and very complimentary throat to the beer. Given it’s significant bittering, it’s a welcome addition. The 134 IBU aren’t apparent now, unlike the painful bitterness that existed when I sampled between primary and secondary fermentation, but it’s still a bitter beer.

Non-Alcoholic Decaf Coffee Beer

Your options for non-alcoholic beer are very limited. You either get a lager that tastes like nothing, a lager that has oxidized and is skunked, or you get one of two pseudo ales. First is Kaliber. It is wretched. Moving on, you have O’Douls Amber, my wife’s choice (and mine) among NA beers. But after a while, even the best NA beer really gets old. The “maltiness” is too sweet so you desperately try to make it a little more balanced by adding hop oil. However, this is easy to overdo, and sometime you need a non-hoppy malternative. Enter Coffee Brew.

Take roughly 1/2 to 1 oz of cooled decaf coffee and add to 6 oz of O’Douls Amber. You may need to adjust the ratio to your taste, but it’s a decent option for dark, cold winter nights when a skunked lager won’t cut it.

Full disclosure: Michelle doesn’t actually like this mixture, and since she’s the one stuck drinking it, her opinion is probably more important than mine. Still, I think it’s a passable alternative, and the “malt” flavor of O’Douls and the coffee aroma and taste almost make you believe you’re having a delightful coffee stout. Almost…

Dissident or dissonance

Over the weekend, Joe and I split a bottle of Deschutes The Dissident, a Flanders Brown ale that is a boutique craze lately. It was really a wonderful beer, and I thank Joe for sharing.

One of the things that struck me about the beer is the variety of competing flavors that play in your mouth with each sip. At first I though dissonance was the right word to describe the beer. It’s a trait I enjoy in music, but it’s really not the right word. While there is a lot going on in the beer, the balance of all the flavors – the sours and fruity sweets – really find a harmony that’s very pleasing.

Oatis tasting

Tonight I stopped by Saraveza for a pint of Pliny the Elder and a sample of Oatis from Ninkasi. I have an Oatis in the fridge, but figured a free sample and a chance to see the new neighborhood pub and thank Jamie for Total Domination IPA.

Oatis was lovely, by the way. Robust and tasty without being overly sweet. Pick some up, will you?