July 30, 2011

Early OBF Thoughts

The masses on their way to 80+ taps of awesome.

The OBF is currently underway down at the waterfront and has another two days to go. I'm planning another run down at some point over the weekend, but wanted to give several "check this / avoid this" thoughts thus far. Ones to try?

Double Dry Hopped Glacier Pale Ale (Boundary Bay) - this was crisp, tasty, and perfect for the weather involved on Thursday. Nicely hoppy with a good bite on the end.

Daily Dose Summer Ale (Oakshire) - I ran into Matt Van Wyk in the middle of the parade and his description of the beer guaranteed that I would be sampling it. He wasn't sure if the lemon and grapefruit peel would pop in the beer the way he wanted, but I thought it was definitely in there. It's a great little Kölsch.

One to avoid?

Black & Red (Dogfish Head) - This had the longest line right from the start of the festival and nearly everyone I asked about it was disappointed. It's a wild collab of flavors, none of which really work together. I couldn't taste the raspberry, got a blast of mint, and then finished with a raisin/dates which . . . yeah, not what I was looking for or expecting by the description. Your money is better served elsewhere.

Looks like another two days of spectacular weather are in the cards, so if you have the means, get down there!

July 28, 2011

OBF '11

After defeating a nasty head-cold, the nexus of work duties, and various household tasks, I am set for this morning's trip to the Brewers' Brunch, followed by marching in the parade down to the waterfront for the 2011 Oregon Brewers Festival. The beer list is, as usual, a good mix of things I've seen before and things I have not.

A full blown report will be on the way. Weather is looking spectacular, so I advise a trip down if you have any aspect of free time.

July 1, 2011

It Begins

July is Craft Beer Month in Oregon. This would be the same Oregon that produces just shy of 10% of all the craft beer brewed in the US. That's quite a lot of celebration.

Yes, it's a party - everyone's invited. Here's a list of events from the Oregonian. A ton of good things to choose from.

I plan to kick things off on my post-work Friday with the Black Butte XXIII and see where things take me from there. Enjoy your 4th of July weekend and various beer-related activities you may get up to.

June 29, 2011

What I've Been Drinking

Recent selections to astound and amaze:

  • Dark Truth Stout (Boulevard Brewing) - What's this? All of this great beer in Oregon and he's drinking beer from Missouri? Well, yes - your author loves him some PNW, but he's still about quality concoctions, regardless of where the brewing location is camped. One of the better parts about being out here in Portland is that, provided that distribution carries it this way, good beer will show up. Even if it's rolling in from Kansas City. I have heard quality things about Boulevard from people I view as credible about beer knowledge and it turns out that John's carries a pretty good selection of their Smokestack series (creative, high-octane beers). I picked up a bottle of this and a bottle of their Chocolate Ale (not yet tried as of this writing) and found time to work through the Stout last week. So what was the verdict?

    It kicked open the door to my Top Five Stout list, strolled in like it owned the joint, and stretched out on the couch.

    This was well executed, well blended, and had all the flavors and subtleties you want out of a good, thick stout. 9+ on the abv, so it's paced for a sipper. The nose, the mouthfeel - all of it was working in unison in the best possible ways. Think Abyss without the barrel aging; that's the level of gravity/thickness/complexity that I'm talking about. This is a must try if it wanders across your path.

  • Grand Cru de Pelican (Pelican Pub & Brewery) - the 2011 version, picked up for my birthday selection. I was in the mood for a dark Belgian ale and putting your money and hopes on Pelican for a quality release is a bit like betting that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. I went in with high expectations and the Grand Cru lived up to them. The malt, the spice, the fruit, the 10% abv - it's all here and it's all top end. I plan to pick up another bottle or two for addition to the Beer Cabinet of Perpetual Darkness because it should age like a champ.
In other news, I managed to run down to Deschutes (Portland version) on Sunday and obtained several bottles of the Butte XXIII. I didn't have time to sample any while at the location, but will absolutely dig in at some point this week. Oranges and chocolate and chilies and porter. Yes. Yes, that might work out okay.

June 16, 2011

Returning To Duty

It's been a couple of months (What, six? Really?), but I'm returning to putting thoughts to keyboard. This time away has not been due to a lack of beer or events, but primarily adjustments in 'work situations' and so forth (welcome to the wonderful world of telecommuting). Thankfully, still employed.

There have been quite a few visits and events that I've hit since January. These included:
  • Apex's 1st Anniversary. A lot of good options were on deck that day. I had one of those moments that summed up my love for this area: sitting outside, in the sun, lightly pelted with rain, and drinking hard-to-find beer.
  • Breakside's 1st Anniversary. Had a co-attendee drive us up to their location so we could give them their due. Had their Randall-aided, serrano-and-mango IPA (.5 seconds of hops and then the flames), had their anniversary ale, had a wit-with-strawberry-and-mango, and had a great time.
  • Zwickelmania. Breweries in Oregon throwing their doors open. We started small (Amnesia) and worked our way toward big (Widmer). Will do this again with different breweries next year.
  • Cheers To Belgian Beers. There was everything from a stout to a near-cocktail to straight IPAs represented. Breakside's Brewers' Bramble was my vote for best in show - truly unique among a sea of really good offerings. If you are in the area next year, this is a MUST ATTEND event.
  • Portland Fruit Beer Festival. This was a first time festival run last weekend and due to weather and word of mouth, the attendance level dwarfed expectations. My mantra of "get there early" paid off, but others that arrived late found smaller selections as kegs ran dry. I expect the PFBF to have a break-out second season and will be there with bells on. And if you, dear reader, have the power to convince Hopworks to remake the Chili Chupacabra Stout, do so and earn the thanks of many grateful drinkers.
July is on the horizon. Fests everywhere. Should be interesting.

January 26, 2011

Return to the House of Sour

Sunny spot at the bar, a glass of Nightfall, and no other immediate plans.

With the sun peeking out on Portland during a fairly mild Saturday, I made a return trip to the Cascade Barrel House. I'm pleased to see that business is still hopping over there. While there were maybe 6-8 people having drinks when I first arrived, the freaking world rolled in over the next hour and it was suddenly packed to the gills. Maybe I caught a lull, but the word is out and the people are coming. And that's great to see - this is a place that deserves to stick around.

The main reason for the trip was after I heard about their 'Tuesday Tapping' of Früit Loops. I nearly fell out of my chair reading the description: a blend of the Apricot and Noyeaux. Oh, and Razberry Wheat. And Frite Galois. AND Sang Noir. Who in the hell could come up with that and where do I get in line to give them a hug? That's mad scientist stuff, gang. And the result is an incredible sour mix - the nose is unlike any beer I've ever tried. Sweet aromatics and waves of fruit all over the place. I could definitely pick up on the Sang Noir bite, but the rest was sour fruit cocktail and I mean that in the best possible light. Complex, delicious - just another day at the office for Cascade. It's still on-tap as of this post. You should seriously consider getting some.

The author with Früit Loops. No, he's not sharing.

Even while getting some mixed reviews at the bar from other patrons, I had to try the other Straight-From-The-Cask offering: Chocolate Raspberry. Cascade describes this as the last keg of their Fresh Hop Porter (which was pretty tasty) and a new batch of Busta Nut Brown. Then they added in Raspberry Infused Triple (dug that a few weeks back) and Bourbonic Plague. While one guy said he thought the raspberry dominated everything, I didn't find that to be the case. It's there, yes, but I got more than enough cocoa and sour from the Plague to make this a pretty nifty little blend. It would be really good as a post-dinner beer - just a shame it's a one-shot deal that will likely never be seen again.

Also had a free sample (this is why you sit at the bar if you can) of the Sang Rouge (great, as always) since they overpoured a few tasters during the mad rush of people. And I couldn't leave without a touch of the Nightfall '10. For my money, it's the best of the lot that Cascade offers. That is admittedly splitting hairs between "really really good" and "really really really good", but the blackberry backbone simply adds to the sour in a way that my tastebuds are configured to enjoy.

You, sir or madam, definitely need to get to Cascade if you've yet to make the trip. Personally, I need to get back there for the 'standard' roster at some point, but the sour creations are always too good to pass up.

January 24, 2011

Hoptimum / Renewale

Quickly then - since my plans of long, thoughtful posts in January are clearly a pipe dream:

ReNEWale (Ninkasi) - a rare misstep by Ninkasi in their seasonal lineup, but a misstep nonetheless. Irish-style red ale, says the bottle, and it definitely starts that way with a hazy-looking amber beer and a faint mix of hop smells mixed with a few whiffs of hay. The taste is an early wash of bitter hop that rolls to more of the hay/straw flavor that I was picking up in the nose. Sort of an odd curveball to the taste pattern and one that I personally wasn't a huge fan of. It's drinkable and isn't a drainpour by any stretch, but I can't see myself making a second attempt with this beer unless I see glowing reviews elsewhere.

I seriously love that picture on the bottle.

Hoptimum (Sierra Nevada) - if you like hops, this one will float your boat. Just a large whiff of pine and citrus and everything good about double-IPAs right out of the gate. It's a good looking beer (orange/bronze with head retention) and up until halfway through the first sip, I was thinking this might be a new favorite. But the incredible sweetness and bite of the hops had a blindside punch of alcohol burn at the back end. While not entirely unpleasant, it can be jarring until you get used to it. I found that things mellowed and merged as the beer was allowed to warm up, so it might just be a different beer at cold temperatures. Regardless, while it's not quite the atom-bomb hop flavor of certain representatives of the style, Hoptimum is still easily packing more than enough to get the job done and is a recommended pickup if you see it.

Also, I hit the Cascade Barrel House on Saturday:

It's not that I was actually drinking liquid gold . . . but some of it was pretty damn close. More on that later.