Archive for the 'Other Beers' Category

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North American Organic Brewers Fest 2008

Joe, Linds and I headed down to this years North American Organic Brewers Festival on Friday night to sip some brews, enjoy the summer, and meet up with some of my coworkers. We tried several beers among the masses until Erin and Jade arrived, and helped locate Alan and his neighbors. Alan had been hanging out by the food at the Brewers festival, and I was a little incredulous until I realized that the reason was for shade.

I’ve probably said it before, but I think this festival is my favorite simply for the atmosphere. OBF is incredible, but size, mood, and venue for the organic festival is more to my taste.

Standout beers? There were a few. Maybe it was the weather, but here’s what I liked best:

  • Elliot Bay – Old Burien 600 Malt Liquor. I love a good malt liquor, and this was nearly as good as Walking Man’s Street Walker.
  • Crannog – Hell’s Kitchen Potato Ale. I’d be scared to brew with messy, messy potato startch, but this was a rather nice ale that seemed like a brown. Maybe not the best for 90F, but good.
  • Laurelwood’s Green Mammoth. Had it before, but really liked it again. The other IPAs I had (most were already gone) didn’t have the right body/bitter ratio. To be honest, the only other IPAs I had were Nelson’s and the Yerba Mate one.

I really didn’t have that many different beers this time around. I think I had 8 tickets, and ended up getting the malt liquor 3 times (It was really good). The only one I didn’t really like was the Yerba Mate IPA. Many of the beers I’d had before (at Sasquatch, etc) or the lines were just absurdly long (Hub, Hair of the Dog). Luckily, Joe and I found Hub’s IPA on cask at Pause afterward.

Linds and Joe at NAOBF 2008

Linoleic Acid alternatives

After sampling some good beers (and one bad beer) at the North American Organic Brew Festival last night, Joe, Linds and I stopped at Pause because we couldn’t resist the wonderful summer evening. We grabbed some food and a pint and chatted for a while longer, and Joe mentioned an article he’d read in BYO about New Belgium using olive oil instead of aerating the wort with oxygen. He explained that what the yeast really want is a fatty acid that olive oil has in abundance, so using a miniscule amount negates the need for pumping in oxygen. I was still perplexed, so he told me to go read some more on myfairly complete rundown on who, what, where, and why. The main things to take away are:

  • This is somewhat impractical at the homebrew level because the desired amount is much smaller than a single drop
  • The benefit is that the wort and yeast get the linoleic acid they crave without introducing oxygen, something you normally want to keep out of beer.
  • Given how quickly this information spread, it’s likely that we’ll see some option for homebrewers soon, like yeast nutrient with linoleic acid capsules. What’ll they think of next?

Fermentation Friday, CNYBrew style

As part of Fermentation Friday, I’ll be answering the following question: “”What is the craziest concoction you ever came up with, on the fly or prepped, to brew with?

I have to say I don’t have much that really qualifies as crazy. I once used a tea towel as a grain sack, a chip clip for a racking cane holder, and the usual assortment of Pyrex and other kitchen gear or garden hoses in a pinch. Nothing too elaborate though.

I think one of the worst mid-process “hacks” I made was during one of my first bottlings. I misread the instructions on adding priming sugar, so instead of adding sterilized water with sugar in solution to the bottling bucket, I added sugar in individual measurements to each bottle. As if this wasn’t inexact enough, I didn’t have a funnel at the time (college) so I used a sheet of paper from the middle of the ream (seemed the cleanest). The beer turned out awful and in some cases insanely carbonated. I didn’t have a single explosion though.

Not that wide an audience

I just got a call from a market research company looking for beer drinkers to participate in a survey. I passed the first few set of questions, and I had hoped to pass muster. Then the question came up about whether or not I’ve purchased any of the following brands/beers in the last month. It was a laundry list of macro-swill. Most of the beer was from what I still wrongly think of as the big three (AB, Coors, Miller) but I need to start thinking of them as the big two, or eventually, the big one.

The list included all sorts of one-offs, like Hamms, Heilman, Pabst, Killians, Blue Moon, and all the lights, ultras and such. It also had a few imports like Guinness, Heineken and lastly Sam Adams. In all honestly, I had to reply that I hadn’t had any of those in the last month, and that I hadn’t even bought any of them in the last several months, though If I had to buy one of them, I’d probably buy Sam Adams.

The woman asking the question was a little shocked after my initial excitement regarding the quiz and the number of beers I drink per week. Out of her own curiosity, she asked what I drank. I pointed out that I’m from Portland and try my best to drink Oregon beers, like the Full Sail IPA in front of me.

I guess they were interested in a narrower range of beer drinkers. I kind of wish I’d passed. I was hoping it was about the InterBev-Anheuser thing.

Sasquatch 2008

I too love beer fests, but I’ve never been south to Eugene for the Sasquatch Brew Fest. Thanks to an invite and ride from Joe & Lindsay, I was able to visit for the first time. They are moving to Eugene in the late summer/fall, so were there are business, but it was a short bit of business, so we were able to spend some time at the farmer’s market then at the festival.

The Sasquatch festival was small and comfortable until around 5pm when it started to get a little thick with people. It was reminiscent of the first Organic Brewer’s Festival in size and atmosphere. Very laid back, very friendly, and the only time people went all crazy was when someone dropped one of the souvenier glasses. Two were dropped before 5pm, but in such quick succession that it signaled some change. We moved with the change and got Indian food before heading back north.

There were a lot of IPAs on tap – my favorite style by far – but there were also a number of really nice other beers that I did my best to sample before killing my palate. The Palo Santo Maron from Dogfish Head was probably the nicest of the non-IPAs, though not a single beer I tasted was offensive.

If you’ve got the time and a place to crash in Eugene, I recommend this festival for next year. As a lucky coincidence, I will have such a place.

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Deschutes, Portland, The?

Dining at Deschutes in Portland

On Dave at BS’s advice, Michelle, my sister, parents and daughter met for dinner at the new Deschutes Brew Pub in the Pearl District. Parking was a little rough since it was both a) the Pearl and b) First Thursday. Still, we parked near Powell’s technical books and enjoyed the 3 block stroll – not bad at all.

Then new place is surprisingly big. I suppose it has to be for the location, and it was obvious they were in pre-flight mode. Everyone on the staff was incredibly nice and attentive, and they all seemed to know both what beers they were serving and enough information about them to make suggestions.
my six choices
The beers were terrific. I picked out the 6 piece sampler:

  1. St. Tanneth
  2. Rootin Tootin Low Gluten Ale
  3. Cask Bachelor Bitter
  4. Hop Henge
  5. Mirror Mirror Barleywine
  6. Nitro poured Obsidian Stout

The Rootin Tootin tasted like rye bread – it was really kind of a trip. The golden color and lack of any head made me think I was getting in to an adjunct beer, and the almost nonexistent but sweet aroma didn’t prepare me for the shock of a mouth full of sharp rye. The beer is made of sorghum, but the flavor was uncanny. Really worth trying, but again, I’m glad I don’t have celiac-sprew.

The menu looks fantastic, but our dinner ranged between ok to good, so they’ve got a few kinks to work out. Mine was interrupted by Ella, so she and I stepped out to let everyone else eat. I’m not sure how everyone else’s meal was, but I’m definitely withholding judgment for a few visits. The rest of the visit was certainly worth doing again.

Cinco de Mayo?

I realize this is blurry – it was taken with a camera phone. It’s a billboard for Bud Light with Lime, which is arriving “May 2008.” Apparently the marketing geniuses working for Anheuser thought it was too blatant (or racist?) to just say “Arriving in time for Cinco de Mayo.” Maybe they realized it would be mostly gringos drinking it anyway.

Coming in May, Bud Light with Lime

This billboard is in a prominent spot just east of Interstate 405 in the Pearl District in Portland. It always displays some silly or suggestive Budweiser poster, like how aluminum bottles make the beer taste colder, or welcoming people to Beer town. It’s always annoyed me because the billboard is situated ~4 blocks from Bridgeport’s brewery, and less than a mile from at least 3 other breweries, and countless brewpubs.

Rogue Mothership

Rogue Nation HeadquartersI was recently in Newport with the wife and kid. Michelle had a conference for work, so Ella and I decided to tag along to see the coastal town. Entering the town, you’ll notice signs identifying Newport as “The Friendliest,” no small claim to make.

One of my first tasks was to check in to brewery tours at Rogue. The last time I was in Newport was before Rogue existed, so this was my first chance to see the source of the beer I’ve been drinking for nearly a decade. Rogue beers are usually more of a treat – they cost more in the bottle, and their pub costs more to visit. A quick check of the website revealed that they do tours daily at 3pm, and a quick call to brewery revealed that minors are allowed on the tour. Score!

Michelle, Tim, Ella and I all hit up the brewery for the tour. The brewery is below the Yaquina Bay Bridge, and sits on a pretty cool piece of property on the water. From the outside, the brewery is easily identifiable with large signs on the side, and even some official looking, brown, “attraction” type signs on the road pointing to it. We got there a few minutes early and wandered around the guest shop and event room looking at schwag, medals (they have tons!) and to-go bottles.

The tour started promptly at 3, though the tour leader had only done the tour once before. She appologized repeatedly, and read descriptions from a sheet of paper while pointing (occasionally inaccurately) at the various tanks, kettles, tuns, and so on. The brewery was surprisingly rough too. For the quality of beer, and the coin they must make on $5 bottles, I guess I expected more of those funds to come back in to the brewery. It also seemed to be a maintenance day, so there was painting and other work going on, which seemed overdue.

We did get to meet a few of the brewery and cellar staff who were able to answer some of the questions I had, and they were all good people. It was really awe inspiring to see the cold storage room with its stacks of kegs and bottles ready to ship. There was a lot of Dead Guy, which I’m not the biggest fan of (weird, I know) but clearly the customer has a preference. In one corner, I noticed a stack of non-Rogue items and asked about it. Turns out it was “John’s Locker,” or his private cache of beers. There were several beers I’ve never seen before, and I’m sure will never see again. Maybe I’ll just get my own locker.

There was no tasting after the tour – a bit of a surprise, I thought. I’ve only been on 3 other official tours, and each one ended with at least a pint of the brewery’s wares. Not so here. No matter, we decided. We whipped out our Rogue Nation cards and grabbed a couple pints and enjoyed looking at the bay. The pub was in a similar unfinished state, but the service was great, and the beer was fantastic. I had a pint of Love & Hopiness and a glass of I2PA. Wonderful. We left with 2 growlers and two cases of beer to take back to the office.

Later that day Ella and I walked from our hotel to the brewpub on the bay. It was a nice walk, and we beat the rush, grabbing a table for 2 by the toys. The beer was good, the food was identical to Rogue Portland and the brewery (nothing to write home about), and the service was passable. The next night Michelle wanted to see the pub for dinner to, so we went back. This time, the service slumped. The wait staff was nice, but I had an empty beer before my meal arrived and didn’t get asked if I wanted a second until I had almost given up waiting for the bill. Yes, I ate dinner then waited nearly 15 minutes until someone came by again. I could have been a little more assertive, but I was curious to see if I had indeed fallen in to some parallel universe where you don’t have to pay for your meal and drink.

Overall, the only redeeming part of the visits was the beer. Everything I had was great. Brutal Bitter, Black Brutal, I2PA, Love & Hoppiness, 100 meter, and Shakespeare Stout.

Here are some pics from the visits.

Fat Tire in Cans

I scoped this post on canned Fat Tire over at the Belmont Station Blog. I’m excited. I’ve really enjoyed Caldera’s IPA in cans, and remember Mac’s in cans fondly, but this might force me to break from my Oregon/Washington beer restrictions.

It’s hard to deny – there’s just something satisfying about drinking good beer from a can. My brain is confused every time I splurge on the Caldera IPA.

A visit to HUB and Green Dragon

After what seems like years of waiting, Michelle and I finally visited Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) and the Green Dragon on Saturday night. I’ve been eagerly awaiting both, but neither is in the immediate neighborhood, so we’ve typically opted for the closer venues.

We had dinner at HUB, and although there was a line for a table, we only waited for about 10 minutes. Just enough time to grab a beer at the bar and start checking out the place. I’m probably going to sound like a toadie, but it’s clear that every detail at this place received some consideration. After watching photos on the blog, I was still surprised at how nice the place was. We only had brief interactions with the staff, but from observation, they were well trained, and moved with purpose. The interior is cleverly decorated, the art was interesting and appropriate, and pub just felt, well, like the culmination of someone’s dreams. According to the menu, that’s what it is.

Several of the beers have been available for some time now, and I’ve been pleased to sample them at the various festivals, then at various pubs while waiting for the HUB’s own brewpub to complete. Michelle had the IPA (which I’ve had many times before – its terrific) and I had a doppelbock and a pilsner. Both were excellent and true to style. I personally feel that the pilsner could use a bit more of a hoppy kick, but it was a delightful summer beer with a very clean flavor. I was also tickled to see that you can order a Radler – a beer and lemon/lime soda concoction designed in Germany to satisfy a cyclist without sapping their initiative. I look forward to having one when I ride to the destination.

Green Dragon is also a delight for beer lovers. The bar is lovely, and although we only passed through the cafe portion briefly, it looked nice and cozy. The beer selection was great, and I would have liked to hang around longer and try more. While it may not be fair to compare Green Dragon and Hub (they’re different creatures), it’s hard not to. Green Dragon seems to have many mixed themes. There’s Tiki, there’s brewerina, and there’s pinball. I may be alone, but I’ve never really though tiki while I’m reaching for a Belgian ale. Small issue though, because the service, the beer, and the atmosphere (live music too) was nice. Kind of out of the way, but nice. The bartender let us sample the gin they’re distilling which was good, but the packaging is very cool. I’ll have to find a bottle once gin an tonic season is upon us again.