Monday, October 5, 2015

Pelican Brewing Company - Flock Wave Unfiltered Pale Ale

What the flock?
Somebody asked me the other day why I'm so into beer. Hmmm, that's an interesting question. I really don't know. I just love the stuff. Wine? Not my thing. Hard liquor? Once in a blue moon. I wouldn't even consider myself a big-time boozer, but I drink at least one beer every, single day. Rarely more than two. Beer is freaking delicious, that's why! It's the greatest invention in all of civilization!

There are just so many different styles and tastes of beer. I truly feel sorry for those not initiated into the wonderful world of craft beer. Sad, sorry folk who don't know that there's anything else out there except weak, watery, corny macro beer. Gratefully, their ranks are shrinking more and more every day; with each craft brewery that opens around the world and every fresh pint that is poured.

Today, I'm reviewing Flock Wave Unfiltered Pale Ale from Pelican Brewing Company in beautiful Pacific City, Oregon. If you are ever down that way--or up, depending on your GPS coords--you really should stop by Pelican Pub and Brewery. It's right on the beach. Surfers are usually in the water, and yes, pelicans fly by from time to time. Nothin' fake about this place! They brew some solid beers. So, how's Flock Wave? Let's find out!

The beer poured from bomber into my pint glass a hazy, golden yellow color with a massive, creamy, white head. The head had staying power, too, leaving chunks and clumps of thick, webby lacing behind throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was light pine and orange/lemony citrus. Floral, herbal, a little grassy. Sweet malt. Reminded me of a hoppy hefe on the initial inspection and uptake.

Taste delivered citrus and mild pine. Pleasant hops bitterness. Does not at all taste like a hefeweizen. Light, earthy malt. 

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Smooth, semi-dry finish. Good hops/malt balance as both flavors were left behind in harmony on the palate at the end. Nice!

Overall, this is a tasty American pale ale. Definitely different in appearance than most of it's pale ale brethren. A nice twist on the style. I like! I'm giving Flock Wave a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Beers Made By Walking Event - October 10, 2015


This weekend, Beers Made By Walking and the Forest Park Conservancy are serving up a series of place-based beers and cider that are inspired by the trails of Portland’s Forest Park. The tapping takes place at four different bars in SE Portland on October 10, from 12-5pm. Proceeds from the beer are donated to Forest Conservancy.

The featured beers come directly from a collaboration with the Forest Park Conservancy, which sent experts to lead monthly public hikes with brewers in Forest Park. Each brewer was challenged to make beer inspired by the plants from the trail. The beers/cider you will taste on October 10 include ingredients such as licorice fern, dandelion, cedar, wild berries, Oregon grape (the stout flower), grand fir, and much more.

Here is a list of beers and their respective bars for the event this Saturday. Additional information about the event, including information about an optional walking tour between pubs is available here.

Bazi Bierbrasserie - 1522 SE 32nd Ave. Portland

Base Camp Brewing

Forest Park Wild Yeast Barrel Aged 'Shroomed Pilgrimage Saison - Saison aged in a rum barrel that previously held our lager and candy cap mushrooms, fermented with a wild yeast from the Ancient Forest Preserve, an old growth forest owned by Forest Park Conservancy. 7.6%, 12 IBUs

The Commons Brewery

Tinderbox - Saison with redwood bows, cedar bows & pine smoked tea. 4.6%, 11 IBU

High Street Homebrew Club

HSHC Spruce Lee - Simcoe hops heighten the citrus taste that both contrasts and compliments the aromatic spruce tip addition. This beer was brewed commercially at Portland U-Brew. 6.8%, 74 IBU

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Samsara - Belgian Pale with licorice fern, wild ginger, and extra light maple syrup. Inspired by the falling path of a Maple whirlybird. 5.3%, 15 IBU

10 Barrel Brewing

Sweet Chariot - Belgian style fruit beer that was soured in the kettle with lactobacillus culture, fermented with sweet cherries and Belgian yeast. 6.0%, 8 IBU

Belmont Station - 4500 SE Stark St. Portland

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Cedarcalifragilisticexpialidocious - Western Red Cedar tips, love, and a little bit of magic. Hoppy red ale brewed with cedar. 6.3% / 76 IBU

Laurelwood Brewing

There Gose the Neighborhood - Gose is an old wheat beer style that uses Lactobacillus bacteria, coriander and salt. We were inspired by berries on our walk this year for Beers Made by Walking and decided to add one of our favorite berries, strawberries. 5.1%, 8 IBU

Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider

Newtown Hawthorne - Newtown Pippin cider with Hawthorne berries, Dandelion root, Burdock root and Cedar chip bag garnish. 7.9%

Upright Brewing

Barrel Aged Six - A blend of two casks, one that formerly held our barleywine, and before that rum, and before that bourbon. The second cask was used for nocino (walnut liquor). We added a poplar bud tincture gives the blend a distinct character that goes well with the cask associated flavors. 7.2%, 20 IBU

Horse Brass Pub - 4534 SE Belmont St. Portland

Burnside Brewing / Coalition Brewing Collaboration

Bustin’ Grapes - Tart Gruit bittered with Oregon Grape root and back sweetened with local pinot noir grapes. No hops added, bittered with Oregon Grape root. 6.2%, 0 IBU

Humble Brewing

Trail Time - Saison brewed with Hawthorn berries and lemon balm tea. 4.7%, 43 IBU

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Wandering Brewers Bitter - An Extra Special Bitter inspired by Portland’s Forest Park. 4.6%, 51 IBU

Likewise Bar - 3564 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland

Ecliptic Brewing

Cedar Canopus - Our Canopus IPA aged on Western Red Cedar. 6.8%, 70 IBU

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Morning Brew - A light bodied, malty beverage to accompany you on any morning stroll through the woods. A hint of black malt along with vanilla leaf adds to the complexity of every sip. 5%, 10 IBU

Hopworks Urban Brewery

The Situationist Regional - Get lost with this Strong Ale, brewed with tips from Western Hemlock, Doug Fir, Grand Fir, and Cedar. 6.2%, 50 IBU

Widmer Brothers Brewing - TBA

Holiday Ale Festival 2015 - 12/2 through 12/6

Most wonderful beers of the year...
Devoted beer fans anticipate 20th annual Holiday Ale Festival


Event presents one of the nation’s premium lineups of winter beers

PORTLAND, Ore. – Known for assembling a prestigious lineup of winter beers, the 20th annual Holiday Ale Festival will take place Dec. 2 through Dec. 6 at Pioneer Courthouse Square, located at 701 SW Sixth Avenue in the heart of downtown Portland. Event hours are 11am to 10pm Wednesday through Saturday, and 11am to 5pm Sunday. The Holiday Ale Festival is for ages 21 and over

What makes this festival standout from other events is the beer selection: the festival works with every brewery involved to make sure they send a beer that has either been made or blended specifically for the event, or is a rare or vintage beer that isn’t commonly tapped in the state. More than 50 beers and ciders will be in main lineup; a list of participating breweries and styles is available at

Despite being held outdoors during one of the coldest months of the year, nearly 14,000 festival attendees stay warm and dry over the five-day festival under clear-topped tents that cover the venue. Gas heaters create a cozy ambiance beneath the boughs of the region's largest decorated Christmas tree. In addition to beer tasting, the festival also features meet the brewer events, a root beer garden, food vendors, self-guided beer pairings with cheese, event merchandise and a coat/bag check and raffle that raises funds for the Children's Cancer Association.

To enter and consume beer, the purchase of an entry package is required. Advance general admission packages cost $35 and include the 2015 tasting cup and 14 taster tickets, plus expedited entry all five days. General admission at the door is the same price, but includes only 12 tickets and no expedited entry. Advance VIP packages cost $100 and include the tasting cup, 30 taster tickets, special VIP beer lines with little to no waiting, exclusive VIP only vintage beers, bottled water, and express entry all five days. VIP tickets are limited to 250 and are not available at the door. All advance packages will go on sale by the first week of October via the website.

Once inside the festival, a full beer costs four taster tickets, and a taster costs one ticket. Certain limited release and special tappings may not be available in full pours, or may cost double tickets. Additional beer tickets can be purchased for $1 apiece. Previous years’ mugs will not be filled. Express re-entry requires a wristband and the 2015 tasting cup, and is subject to the festival's capacity. 

Designated drivers in a party of two or more may purchase a designated driver wristband for $15, which includes Crater Lake Root Beer or bottled water for the duration of the stay; the festival will match all Designated Driver tickets sold as well as root beer sales and donate all the proceeds to the Children's Cancer Association.

Returning to the event is the 12th annual Sunday Beer Brunch, taking place Dec. 6 from 11AM to 1PM on the upper level of Pioneer Courthouse Square. Ticket holders are greeted at the door with a warm pastry paired with vintage Brasserie Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux. The auxiliary event features European pastries, cured meats and artisanal cheeses to accompany an assortment of exclusive vintage draft and bottled winter beers not available at the festival itself, plus several special large format bottles to be shared during the event. Tickets cost $80 and will be available at in late September. 

For more information, visit; follow the event @HolidayAleFest on Facebook and Instagram and @HolidayAle on Twitter, hashtag #HAF15.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adventures in Homebrewing: Cascade Hopped Blackberry Cider

The juice is loose.
Okay, let's get one thing straight right now: I am NOT a good homebrewer. I don't like to follow instructions, I'm not at all patient and, let's be honest here, I'm not very bright. These attributes do not a good brewer make. Still, I keep trying, even though my list of misses is far longer than my tiny tally of hits.

Earlier this month, we had visitors from out of town and my wife took them on the obligatory tour of the Columbia River Gorge, ending up in Hood River. After a trip through the Fruit Loop, we found ourselves with a box full of pick-your-own apples that was impossible for us to finish--even after a pie, some turnovers and my vow to take one to work every day for lunch. We had to do something with them, so we broke out the juicer.

I also had a massive bag of blackberries in the freezer that I harvested from the twisted devil vines behind our house. I needed to get rid of those, too. They've been taking up valuable ice cream space for months.

I decided to make some hard cider. I've made hard cider before from store bought apple juice, right in the glass jug it came in. I just poured in some dry Cooper's brewing yeast and stopped up the jug with a rubber stopper and airlock. Easy, breezy and it fermented into hard cider in about five days. This time, I decided to use apple juice from our fresh picked apples and our homegrown blackberries.

I'm flying totally by the seat of my pants here--remember, I don't like to follow directions. Yeah, so I wasn't quite sure how to use the blackberries. A few thrown into the juicer just turned to goo. That wasn't going to work, so I tossed them into a pot with a 1/2 gallon of water and a 1/4 cup of sugar and set it to boiling. In a few minutes, I had a bright purple juice.

I still have a bushel of homegrown Cascade hops from my harvest. A bunch of them were pretty dry already. Inspired by the guilt of wasting them, I decided to toss a few into the blackberry juice just for the heck of it. Wow, the aroma of the hops and blackberries simmering together was positively sublime. I added more!

I let the blackberry juice cool down, strained out the hops and berry chunks and added it to the apple juice in a 4 liter wine jug. I poured in some of that dry brewing yeast and stopped it up with the rubber stopper and airlock. Ta-da!

The concoction has been bubbling away in the back hallway since Saturday. I'm going to bottle it this coming Saturday. Hopefully, a week is an appropriate length of time for the stuff to be fermenting in the jug. I want it to be sweet. Once again, I'm just winging it. I'm not sure what to expect as far as alcohol content, either, but I'm thinking it will be potent. We'll see!

If it turns out good, I'll let you know. If it turns out bad, we shall never speak of it again. Fingers crossed!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gilgamesh Brewing - Fresh Prince Fresh Hop IPA 2015

Fresh Prince...or Carlton?
Let me tell you what, Homer, it's stacking up to be one awesome fresh hop beer season here in Oregon. I'm in hop heaven and I haven't even gotten started yet! So many, many tasty beers. What an exhausting hobby I've chosen, huh? Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Today, I'm drinking a Fresh Prince Fresh Hop IPA from Gilgamesh Brewing, located in Salem, the Capital of the fine State of Oregon. I've never paid their brewery a visit. I'm thinking I need to plan a little road trip soon.

The label advises that Fresh Prince was brewed with fresh Centennial hops and comes with an ABV of 6.3%. It says something about the beer being hop-bonged. I had to google that. What I found is that hop-bonging is the same thing as randalizing, which is a hop infusing technique pioneered by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The piece of equipment used is also known as an organoleptic hop transducer module... say that three times real fast. I would love to learn more about the specific process used by Gilgamesh. It sounds fascinating! But how is the beer? Let's find out.

Fresh Prince poured into my pint glass a hazy, golden orange color with a spectacular, bright white head. That head rose up to a full finger thick with no coaxing. It was creamy, clumpy and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of thick, webby lacing were left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was a massive blast of citrus hops and pine. Sweet caramel malt. Floral. Herbal. Hints tropical fruit. Pineapple and guava. The smell wafting from this brew perked up the nose of the Wonder Beagle ASAP. Dang, that dog has a nose for hops--and she's particular, too.

Taste followed the nose. Big, bitter, citrus hops right up front. Grapefruit and orange peel. Slightly dank. Appreciable pine. Spicy, herbal, mild grassy notes of fresh hops. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. No appreciable alcohol taste, but there's a mild hotness on the finish from the spicy, herbal hops. That bitter hops flavor was left behind on the palate for a while. This is one of those beers that has a wonderful aftertaste that keeps on giving after each sip. Fantastic!

Overall, this is one of the 2015 fresh hop beers that you must taste. Get over to your local bottle shop and pick up a bomber right now! I bought mine at Hollywood Beverage on NE Sandy. I'm giving Fresh Prince Fresh Hop IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.