Sunday, December 29, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - Nightbeer Before Christmas

Gnomie likes it.
Well, the holiday season is winding down, but there are still a TON of local holiday brews to be had. I was in Grocery Outlet this afternoon and spied a bomber of Alameda Brewing Company's Nightbeer Before Christmas. Less than $8 for the bottle. Deal!

The beer is a barrel-aged imperial brown ale. The label says it was aged in whiskey, bourbon and rum barrels. ABV comes in at a healthy 9.5%.

The beer poured from bomber into my tulip snifter an opaque, dark, dark brown--virtually black--color with a minimal, tan head. The head rose up to about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated quickly. Sparse lacing was left behind.

Aroma was molasses, brown sugar, rum and over-ripe, dark fruit.

Taste was big on whiskey and rum right up front, but very smooth. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Ripe cherries and raisins. Nice bitter hops in the finish.

Full mouthfeel with medium to low carbonation. A bit of chewiness to it. Lots of smooth, pleasant booziness, but no alcohol harsh.

What a great holiday brew! Delicious and with all kinds of complex flavors that just kept on giving as the beer warmed up. I love this stuff! Nightbeer Before Christmas gets a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

2 Towns Ciderhouse - The BrightCider

Another bright idea?
I always buy some cider for holiday guests who might not like beer. Sorry winos. I know absolutely nada about wine and I don't really care to learn about pinots and cabernets because, well, I don't like the stuff. People are always bringing wine over to my house. Ha! As a result, I actually have a better stocked "wine cellar" than a "beer cellar".

Cider doesn't stick around in my fridge very long. I like cider. It is a nice change-up from beer. It tastes good and the party leftovers will never go to waste in my house. Our holiday party left me with a bottle of 2 Towns Ciderhouse's The BrightCider. It comes in a 500ml bottle with an ABV of 6%.

The cider poured into my glass a pale, straw yellow color with moderate carbonation.

Aroma was tart apple and pear with bit of a yeasty hint in the background.

Taste was crisp, tart apple. A little sweet, but not too much. Fresh fruit flavor.

Finish was a little dry but not too much.

A little tart. A little sweet. A little dry. This is a nice cider! I like! I'm giving The BrightCider a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Crazy Mountain Brewing Company - Horseshoes & Hand Grenades ESB

Close enough...
When it comes to Christmas presents, I am perhaps the easiest person on the planet to please. Just bring me some beer! Nevertheless, I have one kid who always takes on the challenge of finding beers that I've never tried before. That is no easy feat. I've consumed a lot of different beers over the years. Still, the girl has a remarkable success rate. This year, three of the five bombers she bought were completely unknown to me.

One of the mystery beers I found under the tree was from Colorado's Crazy Mountain Brewing Company. Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) with an ABV of 6%. I'd never heard of the brewery before. My daughter advised that she found it at Bi-Mart for "a really good price". Ah, there's quite a sense of accomplishment knowing that my kids are good bargain beer shoppers, I'll tell you what.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a clear, dark amber color with an off-white head. The head rose up to about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated quickly. A thin cap of spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was sweet caramel malt. Malt and more malt. Light brown sugar and toffee. Just a hint of citrus in the mix.

Taste followed the nose. This brew is a malt bomb. Bready, biscuity malt. Pleasant, roasted hazelnut flavor with a solid hops bitterness at end.

Medium mouthfeel with medium to low carbonation. A bit of a creamy, slick finish. Tasty.

This isn't a beer I would typically buy for myself and I was pleasantly surprised. The kid did good! I'm giving Horseshoes & Hand Grenades a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Bruery - Trade Winds Tripel

East meets West?
I've had a few craft brews from The Bruery before. I must say, I haven't been disappointed yet. Their Mischief golden ale earned a perfect BeerGuyPDX rating when I reviewed it earlier this year. These folks in Placentia, CA brew some mighty fine beer!

Today, I'm enjoying a bottle of The Bruery's Trade Winds. It's a Belgian-style tripel brewed with rice and Thai Basil. It comes with an ABV of 8.1%. The label advises that the beer is unfiltered and bottle-conditioned.

Trade Winds poured into my tulip snifter a hazy, golden, orange color with a huge, fluffy, off-white head. That head rose up to more than two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of clumpy, frothy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was tropical and stone fruit with Belgian yeast and spices. Lemon peel. I didn't pick up the scent of basil, but there was a distinct herbaceous aroma in the background.

Taste was sweet, bready malt. Belgian yeast. Coriander.  Again, my taste buds didn't get the specific flavor of basil, but there were lots of interesting herbal notes. Not too sweet. An interesting creamy coconut flavor mixed in with pleasant, indistinct citrus. Very Tasty.

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. slightly creamy finish. I was wanting a little heat at the end, which tells me this brew really would go well with Thai food. Pad Kee Mao. I need some NOW.

This is a tasty, tasty beer. I'd definitely spring $10 for another 750ml bottle. I'm giving Trade Winds a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans our of 4.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lagunitas Brewing Company - The Hairy Eyeball Ale

Ya got somethin' in yur eye...
I've mentioned this before, but Merry the Wonder Beagle loves the beers brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Company above all others. Why? I have no explanation, except that Lagunitas makes some significantly potent and hops forward brews, and that's what the pooch likes to smell. Of course, it could be the handsome dog on the label. Beats me. All I do know is that if I wave an UNOPENED bomber of any Lagunitas beer in front of Merry's face, she can smell it through the bottle and the drool starts running down her muzzle like Multnomah Falls.

Today's brew review subject is Lagunitas' The Hairy Eyeball Ale. The stuff comes with an ABV of 9.4%. The price is right. I bought my bomber at Fred Meyer for $3.99. Pretty good deal for a premium seasonal.

The beer poured into my tulip snifter a reddish brown color with a creamy tan head. Lots of beautiful red hues appear when the beer is held up to the light. The head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. This is a pretty beer.

Aroma was bready malt and brown sugar on the initial waft by the nostrils. Toffee, cocoa and ripe, dark fruit aromas. Mild scent of pie spices: nutmeg and cinnamon. Booze is present in the background.

Taste follows the nose. Caramel malt, brown sugar, toffee. Pumpernickel bread. Some citrus hops in the mix with a pleasant bitter edge. Dates, raisins and over-ripe cherries. There's a lot going on in the taste buds department. Big sock of booze at the end.

Slightly full mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation. Creamy finish. Big malt flavor is left behind.

This is a delicious brew. Merry the Wonder Beagle had her gaze riveted upon my glass the entire time, and when I took the last sip, she actually growled at me. Growled. I'm giving The Hairy Eyeball a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.


Monday, December 16, 2013

MORE Beer-Related Christmas Gift Ideas

Yes! I found more awesome beer-related stuff that I want for Christmas! Of course, your own favorite beer geek might want some of these things, too! It's a win-win for all of us! Hurry up and order! December 21st is the last two-day shipping day guaranteed by the USPS.

Yog-Sothoth!
If you're a fan of HP Lovecraft, like I am, how could you NOT want this awesome Black Goat of the Woods Tavern bottle opener? The maple handle has an etched logo of everybody's favorite creepy dive bar, and there's a magnet buried inside so you can stick it to your fridge. Only $12.00 from Arkham Bazaar.


Where everybody dare not
speak his name...
Also from Arkham Bazaar, comes this beautiful Cthulhu Celtic Knot Beer Glass. Why drink your beer out of a regular beer glass, when you can sip and stare at the visage of a malevolent entity from another dimension? That's what I always say, anyway. Yes, this shaker pint is a tad pricey at $30.00, but I can practically guarantee that your Lovecraft loving loved one will be the only affirmed worshiper of the Old Ones at his next bottle share!


Hold on tight and pretend it's a plan!
How's this for uber-nerdiness? ThinkGeek has Doctor Who Disappearing Tardis Pint Glasses! They come two to a set and they're only $19.99. Okay, that's almost ten bucks each, but just imagine how excited your Dalek dorky pal will get when he/she witnesses the Tardis appear from nowhere on his/her icy-cold beverage! Hmm, I guess they really should have called them "appearing" Tardis pint glasses. In any case, if you know a beer drinking Doctor Who fan, I'm certain these glasses will bring joy to both of his/her hearts this Christmas.

Perfect for Bloody Marys, too!
There seems to be quite a number of craft beers on the market right now with creepy horror or zombie themes. Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Robinsons Family Brewers Iron Maiden Trooper come immediately to mind. You can't drink those brews out of just any old sissy glassware. No, spooky beer calls for an equally spooky drinking vessel. Luckily, Amazon has you covered with the Kikkerland Skull Stein! It's less than $10.00 and you get free shipping with Amazon Prime. Deal!

Your chalice awaits!
Now, I'm not completely convinced that India Pale Ales need their own special glassware design. I almost suspect some smart aleck invented the IPA glass just to see how many of us yutzes would buy one. Well, you can't buy just one. They come in sets of two and can be had at Amazon for about $20.00. Free shipping with Amazon Prime. I'm going to get a couple of these because, well, I'm a sucker for just about any fad that comes around. The shape kind of resembles those hospital bed urinals...okay, I'm not making this any better. I just want a couple for my bar. They'll look great next to the skull stein.

ubme, ibu
Okay, last one. How about some hops scented aftershave? ibu Hop Aftershave is dry-hopped for two weeks with whole cone Cascade hops. It's $24.95 for 8.5 ounces. Truthfully, I've never tried the stuff. I know that whenever I harvest my own hops, they make me itchy. Hopefully, that's not the case with ibu! I'm also thinking Merry the hops-loving Wonder Beagle would probably kill me in my sleep and eat my face off. Nevertheless, I'd love to smell like hops all day.

Happy holidays, folks! I hope Santa is good to you this year. As I mentioned in my previous holiday gift post, all of the images contained in this post were reproduced by direct link without any permission from anyone. If the owners of these images want me to unlink them, just say the word and they're gone. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

McMenamins Breweries - Kris Kringle Traditional Yuletide Ale

Somebody was nice this year...
I arrived home from work on Friday and was happy to see that the mailperson had left me a package. Beer mail! I love beer mail! I was more excited that a lisping Little Ronnie Howard waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon! (Please excuse the obscure Music Man reference. Great family film, BTW. Watch it with your kids.)

The wonderful folks at McMenamins sent me a bomber of their Kris Kringle Traditional Yuletide Ale. Thank you! That's the kind of Christmas present I can truly appreciate. If anybody else is wondering what to get me, well, there you go.

The brew comes with an ABV of 6.84% and the McMenamins website tells me this seasonal brown ale was brewed with four different hops varieties: Centennial, Santiam, Cascade and Sterling. Let's get right to the drinking and the reviewing...

The beer poured into my glass a hazy, amber/brown color with an off-white head. The head rose up to about a half inch tall and dissipated quickly. A spotty cap of thin lacing was left behind.

Aroma was light citrus and caramel malt on the initial uptake. Subtle Christmas spices in the background.

Taste gave a bold, bitter hops punch right up front. Unexpected, but very appreciated. Many winter warmers are just too cloying for my taste. Kris Kringle is definitely different. Lots of indistinct citrus flavors were nicely balanced by an earthy, toasted malt backbone. Hints of cocoa and light spice. Light clove and cinnamon. Delicious.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate to low carbonation. A bit thinner than most winter warmers, but the big hops flavor just keeps on keepin' on. A pleasant, complex bitterness was left rolling around on my palate. No alcohol taste that I could detect.

Now, this is an easy drinking holiday ale. Actually, I could drink this brew year round. Reminds me of a Maibock style. It's a nice, nice beer. I'm giving Kris Kringle a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. My hops-loving beagle was drooling up some colossal dribbles from sniffing this brew. 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Laurelwood Brewing Company

Great beer inside this family-friendly pub.
Laurelwood Brewing Company has several brew pubs in and around Portland, Oregon. Two of those pubs are actually located inside terminals at Portland International Airport. That's one of the main reasons I LOVE to fly out of PDX! How awesome is that? PDX awesome, that's how awesome! 

Of course, my favorite Laurelwood location is in NE Portland, on Sandy Blvd. Hey, it's in my part of town and the closest Laurelwood to Casa de Wolfgang.

The Sandy pub is Laurelwood's flagship operation. In addition to pouring world-class craft beer, they also serve up your standard pub grub: nachos, sliders, tots, etc. Happy Hour is from 3PM to 6PM and from 9PM to close. HH prices are pretty decent, too, with the regular tap list beers on sale for $3.50 a pint.

The pub is family friendly, which I know is a turn off for some folks, but I don't mind the kiddies. Come on, craft beer lovers with wee ones need someplace to go. I won't begrudge them their right to get their drank on. Laurelwood is clean, well-appointed and there's even a rugrat play area off in one corner. It's definitely not a dive bar, and I wouldn't have a problem taking my entire family there.
Workhorse IPA is a
Pacific NW standard.

Of course, the best thing about Laurelwood is the beer. I've reviewed a number of their fine brews, and you can read all about them here, and here, and here, and here. It's good stuff! 

My all-time favorite is the Workhorse IPA. I won't do a complete redux of my Workhorse review here. Let's just say that I gave it a perfect rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. It's one of my go-to IPA's and you'll find a bomber or two at just about every party and BBQ at my place. It's delicious and priced for a working person's wallet. Seriously, I would put Workhorse up against almost any other IPA when it comes to flavor for the buck. (Hey, we should do a blind taste test!)

Laurelwood also puts out some tasty special and seasonal beers. I had a glass of their Moose & Squirrel Russian Imperial Stout last night. It was excellent and I plan on doing a full review shortly. Roasted malt and a Northwest hops zing that's unique for the style. It's no ordinary RIS!

All-in-all, Laurelwood Brewing Company is a Portland gem and a must visit brew pub for locals and visitors alike. The NE Portland pub is located at 5115 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97213.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deschutes Brewery - The Abyss 2013 Reserve

Worth taking the fall?
In the crazy, wacky world of craft beer fanaticism, the ugly specter of "hype" often rears it's ugly head. Certain beers get a lot of buzz, whether they deserve it or not. Example, you ask? Okay, how about Pliny the Elder? Russian River's double IPA is the stuff of hype legend. For a while, you couldn't find a bottle of the stuff anywhere, and when you did, the price was crazy high. Even at a ridiculously inflated sticker price, as soon as a few bottles hit the storeroom of your local bottle shop, they were snatched up immediately.

Some seasonal/annual craft beer releases get a lot of hype, too. One such brew is Deschutes Brewery's The Abyss. No doubt, it's a special beer. It's an Imperial Stout that is barrel-aged and brewed with special ingredients. Craft beer aficionados snatch up the wax-sealed bombers the minute they are released and subsequently squirrel them away in cellars to mellow and blossom with age. Of course, the stuff doesn't come cheap. I paid $16 of the 22 oz. bottle I'm drinking tonight. Is it worth it?

The beer poured into my tulip snifter a solid, pitch black color with a reddish mocha head. The head rose up to about a 1/2 inch high and quickly dissipated. A complete ring and some light webs of lace were left behind on the glass.

Aroma was sweet, dark molasses, chocolate, licorice and some underlying booze. Hints of dark fruit in the background. Over-ripe cherries, raisins and dates.

Taste gave a nice sock of bitter, dark chocolate and espresso right off the bat. Hints of licorice, vanilla and oak. Subtle booze, but not overpowering--and not at all hinting at the 11% ABV. No alcohol burn to the brew. Delicious.

Full mouthfeel with moderate to low carbonation. Creamy finish. The bitter cocoa and a solid, roasted malt flavor were left behind at the end.

I must say, this beer lived up to the hype. There is just a little bit of a harsh to the brew. I wish the bitterness had just a little bit less of a edge. Definitely a good pick to cellar for the holidays next year because I'm betting it will get better with some age on it. I'm giving The Abyss 2013 Reserve a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle gave it a huge puddle of approval.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Under the Tent - Holiday Ale Festival 2013

The Holiday Ale Festival, currently going on RIGHT NOW at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Downtown Portland, is one of the best beer festivals EVER. Even though it is colder than a frozen fishstick in Stumptown today, the Holiday Ale Festival is unscathed. The festivities are held underneath a cozy, heated tent. The roof of the tent is see-through, so you can sip some delicious winter warmers while taking in a beautiful view of downtown. Check out my photos, and then go see for yourself.

Pioneer Courthouse Square is considered the
official center of downtown Portland.

The square is the most visited landmark
in Portland...no doubt partially due to the
Holiday Ale Festival!

There's always plenty to see and do in
Downtown Portland.

The Holiday Ale Festival fits in
nicely with the massive Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Beer Guy PDX's Holiday Gift Guide

Okay, National Present Giving Day is rapidly approaching, so I'm not even going try to start this post with a feeble attempt at pretense. There's no time for that, and truthfully, I don't really care what you get the craft beer lover in your life for Christmas. This is all stuff that I want! Me! This is my personal wishlist. Hey, if I can give you some ideas about what to get your own beloved beer geek this year, awesome sauce, but I'm telling you right now, it's all about the Wolfmeister. If I don't see a few of these items in my stocking come Christmas morn, somebody is going to be sorry. Just sayin'.

First on the list is this nifty little item from ThinkGeek. Come on, folks! Who WOULDN'T want to pop the cap off a tasty craft beer in a zombie's eye socket? Cool! This is the officially-licensed Walking Dead Zombie Bottle Opener. It's constructed of solid metal and has a magnet on the back, so you can stow it on the fridge. Only $17.99!

How could anybody live without a Reclaimed Wood 6-Pack? I don't know, and if you don't either, I can tell you where to get one. CB2 will hook you up with this baby for only $39.95. Just imagine strolling up to the next bottle share with this redwood sixer filled with your own homebrew! (Overalls and old-timey beard not included.)

I like hops. Wait, who am I kidding, I LOVE hops. I also love a fine cigar now and again. (I know, I know, smoking is bad for you, blah, blah, blabbity blah.) Wouldn't it be awesome if somebody infused a cigar with the delicious flavor of hops? Hey, somebody has! And those smokes can be purchased at Ted's Cigars for $8.00 a piece.

Here's another awesome item from ThinkGeek. Das Horn Drinking Vessel has the look and feel of a real animal horn, just like the ones my ancient, pillaging ancestors used to quaff grog from, but it's actually plastic. That's right, no animals were wastefully destroyed to make Das Horn. Of course, we could get into the horrible environmental impact the manufacture of plastic has on the planet, but that's for another day. All you need to know is that I really want to be wearing this around my neck at the next Oregon Brewers Festival.

I use a Merkur 1904 Gillette Safety Razor for the closest, cheapest shaves ever. Those disposable razors are a gigantic rip-off! I also use a shaving mug and brush to whip up hot, foamy lather. It's the only way to go.  The best soap to use for that is beer soap made by...who else? The Beer Soap Co. They have a ton of different kinds of beer soap, all made with awesome craft beer. Most single bars cost about $7.

This is the last one and it is probably the geekiest, but I want one soooooo much! It's the Star Wars Ralph McQuarrie Darth Vader Castle Stein. Did you know Darth Vader has castle? Did you know he's a beer lover? I guess he has to drink it through a straw to get through his breath mask... Anyway, this lovely ceramic stein is available at ThinkGeek for the low, low price of only $74.99. What a steal!

Well, that's it. What an amazing array of beer-related gift ideas, huh? No beer can hats or cheesy bar signs on this blog, I'll let you know. This is a classy website. Finally, I must say that all of the images contained in this post were reproduced by direct link without any permission from anyone. If the owners of these images want me to unlink them, just say the word and I'll yank 'em. Merry Christmas!

Beer Geek vs. Beer Snob

Is this the face of a snob?
I was at a local (not to be named) brew pub the other day with a friend. We got into a chat with the proprietor and my buddy mentioned that we belong to a loosely organized group of beer enthusiasts who arrange bottle share events at various Portland pubs and taprooms. The owner very bluntly said, "So, what would be in it for me?" A logical question, I guess, if you're unable to see the benefit of having 50 to 60 craft beer lovers visit your craft beer serving establishment...

The owner's next statement really threw me for a loop. "We don't like beer snobs."

Wha...? Now, I've certainly never considered myself to be a snob. I grew up in a working class family. Snobbery was something we considered especially distasteful, mainly because we had far more people looking down their noses at us than holding us up in approving admiration. Let's just say I've been called "trailer trash" more times than I'd ever care to admit. As for beer, my pops drank Schlitz, Hamms, Pabst and just about anything he could afford on his tight budget. I'm grateful that I can drink the finer beers in life, but I absolutely appreciate that some folks can't fill their fridge with anything other than those low-priced adjunct lagers. (Ack. I just threw up a little in my mouth.)

I got to wondering if I somehow project an air of a beer snobbery, without even realizing it. Yes, I insist on drinking fine craft beer. I also insist on drinking it in appropriate glassware. Sure, I gently waft the beer and smell it before I take a taster sip. Okay, I often jot down notes or check it in on my smartphone. Oh...my...god, I may look like a beer snob!

I'm certain my nose turns 90 degrees toward the sky whenever someone offers me one of the "Big Three" crap beers. Does this make me look like a snob to the casual beer drinker? (Just saying "crap beers" probably makes me look like a snob.) Yes, I probably scrutinize a tap list and ask way too many questions before I order. I guess that could be irritatingly snob-like.

However, I like to think of myself as a "beer geek" rather than a "beer snob". To me, there's a big difference. Geeks sometimes unwittingly demonstrate odd, antisocial, snob-like behaviors, but it is rarely their intention to ridicule or belittle. I think that's the important distinction: snobs are mean, geeks are just...weird.

While a beer snob likes to lord his/her expertise and knowledge over others, in order to obtain some sense of snotty superiority, a beer geek enjoys magnanimously spreading his/her knowledge and proselytizing about the wonderfulness of craft beer wherever he/she goes. A beer snob is a master of one-upmanship. A beer geek wants everybody to share his/her exuberance.

My advice to you beer snobs: get a life and quit making us beer geeks look bad. Delicious beer is for everybody! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday Ale Festival - 2013

Good Santa and Bad Santa...
This is the third Holiday Ale Festival I've attended and it is by far my favorite Portland brew fest. First great thing: WAY easy to get there. The MAX light rail and many popular bus routes lead right to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is the permanent venue for this annual event. The entrance to the tent is about 20 steps from the MAX platform. Second great thing: WARM tent. Third great thing: DELICIOUS beer.

The tent can get crowded but the attendees are clearly there for a singular purpose: taste and savor a huge offering of rare fermented treasures that cannot be found in just any old cold case. The brewers typically bring beers they brewed specifically for serving at the festival and many have appropriate, holiday-theme monikers. My favorite names this year: The Scut Farkus Affair, The Twerking Elf, Santa's Lost Wallet and It Makes Reindeer Fly. Ha!

I've learned an important lesson from attending this fest for multiple years. I get there early before the crowd shows up and the lines get long. The gates open at 11 AM and you'll find me waiting right near the front of the line to get inside. Gratefully, the attendance was very light on the first day and I had my fill of every beer I had the desire and capacity to try.

I love the way they set up this venue. It's a tight space, but there are plenty of tables and comfortable corners where you can settle down with your favorite brew. As previously mentioned, the tent is well-heated and quite cozy. They even place the honey pots behind discreet, tasteful curtains. My only complaint is that I could have used another strategically placed mug rinsing station. The aggressively-flavored brews served at the Holiday Ale Festival make between-taste rinses a must.

I'm a serious beer lover and this festival delivers some serious beer. If you like your brew bold, flavorful and magnificently crafted, you must attend. MUST. If you're a lightweight, BEWARE. Most of the offerings have massive alcohol contents (9-10% ABV on average). Thus, just a few of those 4 oz. tasters could land you in the gutter, if you're not careful. The ten tickets you get with admission is the upscale equivalent of a 40 of malt liquor.

I still have my wristband on and as soon as I find my souvenir mug, I'll be going back for more--one price of admission gets you in for all five days. Deal!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Barrel Brewing Company - Rye'M or Treason Imperial Rye Ale

Wolf tested, Gnomey approved.
I've ranted about bottles sealed with wax in previous posts. I'll summarize by saying I'm not a fan of the practice. I find it difficult enough to locate a churchkey whenever I need to pop off a bottlecap. Good lord, please don't make me hunt down a knife to scrape wax off a bottle!

Today's brew of the evening is 10 Barrel Brewing Company's Rye'M or Treason Imperial Rye Ale. It comes with an ABV of 10.3% and according to the label was brewed with three different kinds of rye. The beer was also aged for six months in rye whiskey barrels. Was is worth the trouble getting through the wax? Let's find out...

The beer poured into my tulip snifter a slighty hazy, reddish, brown/amber color with a tan head. The head came up to about a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was sweet caramel malt, brown sugar and booze, right up front. Slightly sour, fruity aroma that reminded me of tamarind. I wish my old smeller was as good as it used to be. Lots of olfactory complexity to this one that I just can't put an adequate description on...sigh.

Taste gave a huge, boozy, rye whiskey bang ASAP. Very spicy. Pleasant heat from the booze and the rye. Raisin, tamarind and date flavors. Vanilla. I wish I still had some rye whiskey to finish this one off. So tasty. My tastebuds were doing a happy dance in my mouth.

Medium to full mouthfeel. Some slickness to this brew. Definitely an alcohol zing, but it's a good thing. Not at all harsh. Creamy finish with that big rye spiciness left on the palate at the end.

Love, love, love this beer. Lots of complexity. More delicious flavors emerged as it warmed. I'm giving Rye'M or Treason a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. The Wonder Beagle wasn't interested in this one. That's her loss...oh, wait. Here she comes! Drool alert! Rye'M also earns a Droolie from the the most sophisticated beer nose around.


Friday, November 29, 2013

McKenzie Brewing Company - Unforgivable Darkness CDA

Come to the dark side...
I had quite an Oregon beer line-up for Thanksgiving, largely due to my thoughtful daughter from Eugene. She brought home a bag full of bombers that she picked up along the way. She sure selected some good ones--hey, she doesn't drink beer but she's obviously gained some beer picking skills from pops, just from osmosis.

One of those beers was McKenzie Brewing Company's Unforgivable Darkness. It's a Cascadian Dark Ale with an ABV of 7%. This is the first beer I've ever tried from this Eugene Brewer. It's a collaboration with Steelhead Brewing.

The beer poured into my pint glass a dark, dark, brown to almost black color. The mocha head was a sight to behold. It rose up to more that two fingers thick. It was quite creamy and clumpy and popped up over the rim. Beautiful.

Aroma was roasted malt, chocolate and espresso, with citrus notes in the background. Some hints of ripe, dark fruit.

Taste followed the nose. Coffee, cocoa up front with a good, solid sock of hops bitterness. Indistinct citrus. Great balance between the roasted malt and hops.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Creamy finish. No noticeable alcohol taste.

There's a lot going on in this beer. Sometimes, that's not such a good thing, but in this brew, it works. I really enjoyed it and it was my favorite out of all the Thanksgiving beers in my holiday list. I'm giving this beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle thoroughly disgusted all of the Thanksgiving guests by drooling up a huge puddle in the middle of the living room. Good job, Unforgivable Darkness!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Worthy Brewing Company - Farm Out Saison

Starting Thanksgiving early.
Yeah, yeah, I know, I ain't got no self-control. I bought three special bombers of beer to go with the Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, and now, I'm down to two. I just can't help myself. My Turkey Day dinner guests are just going to have to make two bottles go a long, long way. Sorry. Hell, we have a ton of wine...

The bomber I cracked open early was Worthy Brewing Company's Farm Out Saison. It's a Belgian Style Ale, according to the label. It comes with an ABV of 7.3% and 25 IBU's.

The beer poured into my tulip snifter a hazy, golden yellow color with a peach/apricot hue. The bubbly white head came up to just about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated quickly. A minimal ring of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was lemony citrus and ripe stone fruit. Some tropical fruit notes, too. Bready, yeasty malt smell in the background.

Taste was predominantly stone and tropical fruit with a lemony overlay. Mild bitter hops. Belgian spiciness. Biscuity malt.

Medium mouthfeel with lively carbonation. Dry finish with a pleasant bitter aftertaste. Malt and spicy Belgian yeast flavor left on the palate at the end. No detectable alcohol.

This a is darn good Saison! I really like it a lot! I'm giving Farm Out a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA

AH-OOOOOOO!
It'll make you howl.
Alameda Brewing Company is the Portland brewery that is closest to my house. YEAH-AH! Representing NE Portland! It's pretty much my neighborhood brew house. They cinch the deal by offering $5 growler fills on Saturdays. And the nachos are pretty good. Oh, and the BEER is pretty dang good, too.

Tonight, I pulled a bomber of Alameda's Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA out of my fridge. How have I not reviewed this beer before? I've consumed growlers of the stuff all by my lonesome. Guess I've already dropped a spoiler there. Yes, I like it a lot.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a hazy, golden orange color with a creamy white head. The head rose up to about a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing and a good amount of sudsy web was left behind.

Aroma was lemon, orange and sweet malt. Subtle floral notes and hints of honey in the background.

Taste was an initial sweet, indistinct citrus flavor at first sip, then a big, bitter hops sock to the jaw. Pow! A lot of pine. Subtle dankness. After the hops sting wore off, an earthy malt taste lingered behind. The drinkability factor is very high with this one.

Medium mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation. Creamy finish. No real booze taste detected, despite the 8.2% ABV.

This is a great brew that can be had in my neighborhood, often at a bargain price. Local, fresh and delicious. That's what craft beer is all about. I'm giving Yellow Wolf IIPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle woke up from a sound sleep when I uncapped this one.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rogue Ales - Dead Guy Ale

Dead bang, right on.
I've had Rogue Ales' Dead Guy Ale so many times, I keep forgetting how much I like it. It's a dang tasty beer! It's a Maibock or Helles Bock style. I just reviewed another Maibock beer a couple of days ago. Dead Guy Ale is kind of at a different level and a superior brew, in my opinion.

I picked up a bomber of Dead Guy Ale at the little tienda down the street. I was walking the dog and got to thinking about how thirsty I was--then I remembered I had no cold beer in fridge. Something had to done about that. The Dead Guy was the only beer in the store's cold case worth drinking. The bomber set me back five bucks and some change. ABV is at 6.5%.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a hazy, honey-amber color. The off-white head came up to about a 1/2 inch and dissipated at a moderate rate. A decent amount of webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was brown sugar, caramel and biscuity malt right up front. Notes of over-ripe stone fruit in the background. Subtle aroma of apple pie spice. Smelled nice, even from across the table.

Taste followed the nose. Lots of sweet malt. Caramel notes. Hints of hazelnut. Pleasant hops bitterness perfectly off-set the initial sweetness. Just the slightest hint of booze was present.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Creamy finish. Earthy malt flavor and hops bitterness left on the palate.

I really like this beer. It's pretty damn perfect for what it is and a good ambassador for fine Oregon beer. This one should be getting the attention those "donut" brews are getting, I'm just sayin'. Dead Guy Ale gets a very respectable 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.