Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Locals Only!

My beer, baby!
Locals only! When I was a surfer, way back in the '80's, "localism" was a big problem. Hardcore surfers would fanatically--and sometimes violently--protect their local surf spots. Surfers from out of the area were considered nothing more than invading barbarians, and treated as such. Every once in a while, fists would fly on the beach, but more often than not, a nomadic surfer out hunting for waves beyond his normal purview would simply find his car vandalized in the parking lot. Locals were also quick to tell anyone who would listen exactly how their precious surf breaks were better than any other beach anywhere.

So, what's this got to do with BEER, you ask? Well, I've met a few folks who are almost as fanatical about their local beer as those surfers were about their local waves. I'm personally acquainted with a couple of folks who won't drink anything but that one beer they love from that one brewer they always visit. Every t-shirt, hat and growler they own has that brewery's logo on it.  Of course, I've never seen anybody lay a North Shore style beatdown on somebody over their beer preference, but I imagine it could happen someday. 

This "Beer Localism" is a relatively new phenomenon. Until the craft beer revolution, almost all Americans drank mass-produced, macro-beers manufactured in mega-breweries far, far, away from their neighborhood pubs--hell, most still do! 80% of all beer consumed in this country is produced by brewing giants AB InBev or MillerCoors. Craft beer is gaining on them, though! In 2013, craft beer reached 7.8% of the US beer market, up from 6.5% the previous year. The number of craft brewers across the nation also rose to more than 3000! That means more and more people have access to craft beer produced very close to home. (This info was pulled off the Internet, primarily from press releases from The Brewers Association.)

There are now a lot of folks like me who have developed a very sincere loyalty toward their favorite local breweries. That's very easy to do here in Portland, Oregon, the city with more breweries within its borders than any other in the world. Yes, some of my favorite beers are produced within a few miles from my front porch--and it's world-class brew, I'm telling you. Laurelwood Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Ecliptic Brewing, Burnside Brewing, Breakside Brewing, Base Camp Brewing, Cascade Brewing and several others are actually within a reasonable walking distance. Don't hate me.

Most of my Portland drinking chums have their clear favorites, and they won't be shy telling you their preferences when asked. Personally, I have to admit my own preference for local beer, which waxes a bit political, but still has a solid foundation built on taste. My local beer is... FREAKING AWESOME! The fact that I can do my part to support a major cornerstone of our local economy with my beer money is another awesome thing. 

Are you a loyal supporter of a favorite, local, craft beer? When someone brings a sixer from some out-of-state brewery to your backyard BBQ, do you jump up and shout LOCALS ONLY? If so, I'd like to know! Drop me a line and let me know why your local beer is the best. Of course, it's not better than my local beer, but then, nothing is...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Burnside Brewing Company - Lime Kölsch

You should be (lime) green with envy...
The summer heat continues grinding down the unairconditioned masses of Portland and everyone just wants some relief. Gratefully, the local craft brewers are totally and harmoniously in tune with the desires of the denizens of Stumptown. We're talking refreshing summer seasonals, folks, and I think I've found my new favorite.

Burnside Brewing Company's Lime Kölsch is brewed with lime zest, kaffir lime leaves (Did you know the word "kaffir" is considered offensive to people of color is some parts of the world? Well, it is.) and lemongrass. The beer comes with an ABV of 5.4%.

The beer poured from bomber into pint glass a hazy, golden yellow color with a bright, white head. The head rose up more than a finger high and dissipated at a moderate rate. Spots of thin, webby lacing were left behind. A good amount of pinpoint carbonation was seen rising from the bottom of the glass throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was lime and mild, grassy hops. Smell of lemongrass and other herbal notes in the background.

Taste was followed the nose and was certainly true to the name and description of this brew. Lime and more lime, but without tasting fake--no Starburst taste to this one. Fresh, clean citrus. Light, sweet, biscuity malt was not lost in the mix, in spite of the very prominent lime flavor. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel with lots of carbonation. Crisp, clean and refreshing with a semi-dry finish.

Overall, this beer is a great summer heat buster. Cuts right through the dusty crud at the back of your throat. Perfect brew for manning the BBQ grill. I like it! I'm giving Lime Kölsch a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Deschutes Brewery - Armory XPA

Add caption
I'll be the first to admit that when I'm shopping for a new craft beer to try, one of the deciding factors for me is price. Look me up on Untappd and you'll see that I've logged in more than 1000 unique beers--and trust me, I forget to check in about half the time. I spend A LOT of money on beer, and I ain't no millionaire. I'm on a budget and a prohibitive price tag will definitely keep a beer out of my fridge.

Today, I found Deschutes brews on sale at Safeway. I also found a beer that I've never tried before: Armory XPA. The "X" stands for "Experimental". Experimental Pale Ale. Intriguing. The beer reportedly comes with an ABV of 6.0%. The label also boasts of a bounty of hops, including Cascade, Centennial and Citra. Hey, it's hard to lose with that trifecta of "C" hops. How was it, you ask?

The beer poured from bomber into pint glass a bright amber color with an off-white head. The head was creamy, clumpy and rose up to almost two fingers thick. The suds dissipated slowly and a persistent amount of webby lace was left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops and biscuity malt. Juicy fruit and floral notes in the mix, too.

Taste followed the nose. Lots for citrus flavor: orange and grapefruit rind. Tropical fruit: pineapple. Not much malt flavor coming through, as you would expect in a pale ale. A lot of IPA characteristics to this one.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Somewhat of a creamy finish. No noticeable alcohol taste.

Overall, this is a pleasant, easy drinker. I'm giving Armory XPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bayern Brewing, Inc. - Pilsener Lager

A perfect BBQ brew?
And the heat goes on! My gosh, it's too hot to cook inside... because it's already cookin' inside! It's about 90 degrees in my living room right now. I think the dog is melting into the floor. No way am I firing up the stove, and no way am I drinking a heavy, tonsil-coater of a beer. This weather calls for outdoor grilling and a nice, light bodied beer...or four.

Bayern Brewing out of Missoula, Montana makes some mighty fine, German-style beers. One such brew is their Pilsener Lager. I bought a six pack of 12 oz. bottles at New Seasons for about $10. It comes with an ABV of 5% and, according to Bayern Brewing's website, it is "one of the very few authenic pilseners brewed in America." How does it stack up?

The beer poured into my glass a clear, light, golden yellow color with a foamy white head. The head made it up to about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind. Lots of pinpoint carbonation could be seen rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma was mild, grassy hops, light, biscuity yeast and malt.

Taste was pale malt up front. Mildly bitter hops. Herbal, grassy, floral notes. Light lemon zest.

Medium to thin mouthfeel with good carbonation. Crisp, clean finish. Just a little touch of creaminess at the end. Very drinkable. Herbal notes left behind on the palate.

Overall, this is a highly drinkable beer. Perfect for a hot summer day. Great flavor that just shouts "quality" at your taste buds. Excellent and I'm inclined to give Bayern Pilsener a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Full Sail Brewing Company - Session Premium Lager

A Pacific NW original.
If you've ever been to party in Portland, Oregon, chances are you've encountered Full Sail Brewing Company's Session Premium Lager. It's not craft beer. It's not a macro brew. It comes in a stubby 11 oz. bottle that fits neatly in your hand. The stuff is typically sold in 12 packs, which can be had for under 12 bucks--sometimes even less if you find it on sale.

Let's face it. Times are tough everywhere. While I'd love to treat my weekend BBQ guests to oodles of fine, premium, craft beer, I just can't afford it. I usually save the expensive brews for my own selfish self-indulgence. Of course, there's no way I'm going to serve crap beer at Casa de Linderman, either. I have a reputation to uphold. Thank gawd they make this nice little beer! And right nearby in Hood River, Oregon, too!

Full Sail's website says that Session is "a classic all-malt pre-Prohibition style lager that reminds us of what American lagers used to taste like. It's flavorful, refreshing, and has a touch of that import-style taste. (Which, once upon a time, you didn't have to buy an 'import' to get.)" It comes with an ABV of 5.1%, which makes it a true "session" beer. Low alcohol content, easy to drink AND easy on the wallet. You can fill your party cooler without having to take out a second mortgage. But, how does it taste? Really?

Truthfully, I just drink this beer straight from the bottle. (I also like to avoid washing a mountain of glassware after a Sunday BBQ. So, sue me.) Nevertheless, if you do pour Session into a glass, it's the typical straw yellow color of most every other American lager. The white, bubbly head makes it up to a finger thick and dissipates quickly to a thin ring of lacing.

Aroma is sweet malt and mild, grassy hops. Nothing offensive. No cat piss or corn smell, like you get from so many macros.

Taste is sweet, biscuity malt. A hint of lemony hops. Once again, no corn, rice or foul urine-like flavor.

Thin, light mouthfeel. It goes down easy. Crisp, clean finish. No nasty aftertaste. No alcohol taste at all. 

Overall, the only complaint I have about Session is that it is just a tad too sweet for my taste. Otherwise, it is a solid, affordable cooler brew. The brown, stubby bottle and clean, simple label graphics add to the classic appeal. I'm giving Session Premium Lager a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. No droolie. Ha. Merry the Wonder doesn't care for Session one little bit.