Cask Festival Roundup

While I had a much smaller sampling that I’d hoped (I ended up helping 3 friends move this weekend and the cat got sick) I did manage to try 4 different cask ales. All were great and the perfect compliment to laborious work.

New Old Lompoc’s Monster Mash was smooth and excellent while Pelican’s Imperial Pelican Ale was surprisingly bright and hoppy for an imperial and since it was on firkin, I’m going to guess that it was dry hopped in the cask. I also had Mt. Hood’s Old Battleaxe 2004 barley wine which was very nice, but it wasn’t nearly as good as their oatmeal stout on cask.

Oddly enough, both tastings were held at smoking bars so the slightly more subtle aromas and flavors of the ales were even more difficult to pick out over the ambient air.

Hops for your heath

Another study, this time from OSU, has been released suggesting that some compounds from (xanthohumol) in ho9ps are excellent anti-oxidants and are excellent in fighting cancer. When the local news covered the story and went looking for public opinion, who did they find? No, not me but a co-worker enjoying himself at Widmer Gasthaus. Nice cameo Curtis.

The important part of the report – you’re not going to get this compound from Macro or European Lagers/Pilsners – so make sure you’re enjoying that *healthy* Oregon ale.

Yakima IPA #7

Last Friday I brewed a new Yakima IPA recipe (dubbed #7) that uses only Centennial hops. I have a certain affinity for Centennials (among others) and decided to do a single hop batch using just one varietal.

Alan joined me for this batch and we brewed outside on what turned out to be a nice fall evening. The brew went well and the starter really got the batch fermenting quickly and violently (woohoo!). I’ll be racking it to secondary shortly.

Recipe? I’ll add it to the collection.

Update: Oregon Cask Beer Fest

I just received an updated cask list for the festival. Tasty:

Alameda Brewhouse: Holiday Ale
Bear Republic:Racer X Double IPA
Bend Brewing:Scotch Ale
BJ’s: Big Fish
Bridgeport Brewing: IPA or ESB
Deschutes: TBA
Dicks: Dick’s Bottleworks IPA
Dogfish Head: 90 Minute IPA
Full Sail: Lupulin Ale (wet hops)
Golden Valley Brewing: Tannen Bomb
Hair of the Dog: Blue Dot
Hales: O Briens Harvest Ale
Lagunitas: Brown Shugga Ale
Laurelwood: Scotch Ale
Lucky Lab: TBA
Main Street Ale House: TBA
Mt Hood: TomFoolery ~ 2004
New Old Lompoc: TBA
Oregon Trail: Hop Doctor ~ Wet Hop
Pelican: Imperial India Pelican Ale
Portland: Snow Cap
Rockbottom Brewing: Olde Skool
Rogue: Shakespeare Stout
Skagit River Brewing: Scullers IPA
Steelhead Brewing: Heatmiser
The Ram: TBA
Walking Man: Walking Man IPA


Oregon Cask Ale Festival – Oct 28,29,30

The Rose & Raindrop and Horse Brass Pubs will be hosting a cask ale festival this October 28th, 29th, and 30th as a fundraiser for brewers displaced by Katrina. There will be at least 20 regional beers on cask at the two venues and the selection will rotate nightly so you’ll have to move around to try it all. I think I speak for everyone myself when I say that Cask Ale is how God Himself drinks his beer. If you’ve not tried beer on cask (with the big hand pulls), you’re missing out. The flavors and body can be more subtle, but the conditioning in the cask and the hand pull really make for the best kind of living beer experience.

There are only a few places in town that have cask offerings (relative to the huge variety of overall offerings in town) including both Bridgeports, Rose & Raindrop, Horse Brass, Full Sail Riverside and maybe moon & sixpence. Other places have a beer engine, but they don’t consistently have something on.

Squash; My Wife. Spiced Ale

squash brew
Today I brewed my first batch at the new “brewery” on 26th. It was also the first time I’ve brewed on propane. Using part of my birthday gift, I purchased a Camp Chef single burner stove. I was pleased with how quickly it warmed the water and what a nice rolling boil it produced. The only problems I encountered were what you’d expect from a first batch brewed outside. While my wort chiller connected to the garden hose, my outlet was too short and I had to hold it and spray it around to keep water from pooling around the brewing area. Also, I didn’t have sufficient working surfaces, and it was kind of warm in long pants, but I didn’t want to brew in shorts just yet.

The batch is also my first vegetable beer. Michelle’s a fan of spiced/pumpkin ales, so I put together a squash ale recipe for her that I also named in her honor. “Squash; My Wife. Spiced Ale” is better without the punctuation, but she hasn’t seen the name yet. Baking the squash was a bit of a challenge given the size of our oven. Plus, the ambercup squash, while delicious, was hard as hell to cut open. The sweet meat squash was also quite good and much easier to work with. Because the squash preparation took so long, I had to push the brew date back. and refrigerated the squash overnight.

So as brewing time approached, we cubed the squash and put it into my grain sack with the 2 pounds of crushed barley. The contents were steeped at 170F for 45 minutes and the smell and color from the squash was excellent. The stove was also quick to heat things up.

I asked Michelle to prepare the spices, so she measured out 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, allspice and fresh nutmeg and shredded 1 ounce of fresh ginger. The hops were added at 60, 15, and 5 minutes, and the spices were added at 10 minutes, then the contents were chilled and a London style yeast was pitched. The gravity was read at 1.049, and the preliminary taste was excellent. Maybe a little hoppy up front, but an excellent mixture of spices and a nice sweet pale body with a lovely fall desert finish. Now we wait.

Portland Beer Tour

Part two of my presentation was a led tour of Portland Beers. The logistics of the tour were quite frightening, so we had to limit the group size to 10. The queue filled up quickly, and I forgot to pick up the list to make sure there weren’t any impostors in the group. We met in the Lobby, and there were 10 people, none of which admitted to not being on the list. So we left.

First stop was Full Sail Riverside in the McCormick & Schmick Harborside. Yes, technically Full Sail is from Hood River, but they also have a brewery on site that brews the brewmaster releases – which are excellent. Amazingly, all twelve (Michelle joined me) were seated easily and grabbed a pint. I had the Sunspot IPA on Cask, and damn if that wasn’t a great beer. It was actually my first visit to the pilsner room and I am definitely going back. The selection was great, and I think a menu or two might have been liberated for the purpose of showing off to friends when the conference goers returned home. From the Riverside we walked to the terminus of the Streetcar line and hopped a ride north to Rogue.

The Pilsner Room was happy to accommodate 10 or more, but I was a little concerned finding another pace that could do that on a Saturday night. Henry’s and Rogue were my next picks because they were both within the fare-less square and were large enough for a group. So I called Rogue to see what we could do. As luck would have it, the Tiki room was open and they saved it for us, so when we rolled in, wet and thirsty, we had a place to sit around a gorgeous hardwood surfboard table. The beer was great, which surprised no one, and a few people got samplers, others picked up pints, and others still were surprised when the beer they ordered showed up in a 10oz glass …. until they took the first sip. I think everyone was pleased with their beer. Somehow, we missed the official 7pm end of the tour and pushed on through to 8pm before we decided to get some dinner. The lure of 100 taps and good food brought us to Henry’s, but the 2-3 hour wait and absolute lack of standing room pushed us out. So, we walked to the streetcar, rode for only one stop, then walked down to Rock Bottom, which seemed like the most logical place to get dinner for 9 people (we had burgeoned to 16 at one point as phone calls were made revealing our location).

I’ve not been to Rock Bottom for 3 years, but they were a little crowded because of a Ducks game, but there was room to have beer in the bar while we waited for seating. The group was quite willing to have a beer and wait, and the wait was surprisingly short. They had a dry-hopped IPA on cask ( “Hoppy Daze”) that was excellent, and the food was good. The group had become old friends by this point, and dinner was a lot of fun. We finished around 11:30, only 4 and a half hours after the tour officially ended, and the group all seemed to think this was the best session of the conference. So at least 2% of the conference got a chance to taste Beervana.