Monday, December 29, 2014

Crux Fermentation Project - Crystal Zwickle Fresh Hop Pale Ale

Good? You bet your zwickle!
We dropped the youngest off at his home in Eugene, Oregon after this most recent, beautimus Christmas holiday. It was a long, rainy drive to Eugene--home of the Oregon Ducks and a WHOLE lot of hippies...uh, oh, here comes the tangent...

For those of you who are too young, ignorant or sheltered to know any better, there is a big difference between HIPPIES and HIPSTERS. Hippies are closely connected to the peace activist movement of the 1960's and the subculture that sprang up around it. When you think hippies, think long hair, psychedelic music, psychedelic DRUGS, hemp clothing, sandals, and the overuse of words like groovy, far out, and psychedelic.

HIPSTERS are annoying, tiny, elf-like, wee men and women who dress like mini-lumberjacks and hang around in espresso cafes all day with their Macbooks, furiously trolling Reddit for obscure band references and mocking anyone who works 9 to 5 and/or has never heard of Phosphorescent and/or Sun Kil Moon.

Personally, I prefer the company of HIPPIES over HIPSTERS any day of the week. Hippies are generally more interesting and generally much more cool. Oh, and hippies typically drink much better BEER. Yes, it is often homebrew, but at least it isn't PBR or Hamm's. What the heck was I writing about? Oh, yeah! Sorry, I warned you that a tangent was coming. Let's get back to the beer review.

As I was telling you, I was in Eugene, so that warranted a quick stop at The Bier Stein, which is a great taproom, deli and bottle shop. I scooped up a bag full of singles for $14. The Bier Stein gives a 20% discount for take-out beer! Deal!

One of the beers I purchased was a bottle of Crux Fermentation Project's Crystal Zwickle Fresh Hop Pale Ale. The bottle was a unique 500 ml (1 pint 0.9 oz.) size. The label proclaimed a 6.0% ABV and 30 IBU's. The beer is a fresh hop Belgian-style pale ale. There was also quite a lengthy description on the label, but I have to be honest and let you know that my eyesight sucks. I couldn't read that teeny, tiny print. Something about old world and Belgian-esque. Beats me. I should've asked for a giant magnifying glass for Christmas.

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color. The white head rose up to about a 1/2 inch and dissipated quickly. Spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was citrus and tropical fruit on top of yeasty, bready malt. Floral, herbal notes rounded out the nose. 

Taste was citrus and tropical fruit hops. Orange and pineapple. Sweet, biscuity malt. Evenly balanced, though. Enough of a bitter edge to back down the sweetness.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Clean finish with light, bitter hops and pleasant malt flavors left behind on the palate.

Overall, this is a tasty, easy drinking brew. This is one of the better pale ales I've tasted. Not too sweet and just enough of a bitter kick to let my taste buds know that there's some hops in there. Nice! I wish I'd picked up more than one. I'm giving Crystal Zwickle a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. It's pretty darn flawless for what it is.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Anti Beer Snob Rant of the Day...

You are what you eat...and drink
Beer certainly isn't your grandfather's six pack anymore--or it could be, if that's what you prefer--but with the Renaissance of Craft Beer in full swing, there are more choices and options than ever for the sophisticated palate to enjoy. Also, beer is now an acceptable beverage to be paired with the finest food. Beer pairing dinners are hot events in my burg, and tickets can sell out quickly whenever a master brewer and master chef are involved.

When I was a kid, beer was solely reserved for the backyard barbecue. Lord help my father if he DARED bring a can of beer to the dinner table! My grandma would have clocked him with a frying pan for such an uncouth faux pas!

We've entered the age of the "beer sommelier" or, more appropriately, the "Cicerone" (from the organization recognized as the authoritative certification program for beer expertise),  and it has been a very long time since some stuck up waiter looked down his nose at me for requesting the tap list instead of the wine list. 

Unfortunately, with the elevation of craft beer to the height of pairing with haute cuisine, a certain level of snobbery has come along for the ride. There are quite a number of beer aficionados willing to plunk down insane amounts of money to stock their "beer cellars" with rare, hard to find brews; purchased from remote, obscure, mysterious breweries. It's also unfortunate that many of these beer aficionados are comically and stereotypically snobby, just like their wine snob cousins. They compete to sample the latest and allegedly greatest new beers and, I believe, are largely to blame for some of the artificially inflated prices (and reputations) of many of those beers. It's a vicious cycle of sorts, stoked by lemmings of the craft beer variety.

The other day, I enjoyed a craft beer with one of my favorite junk food snacks, and I found myself jokingly apologizing for the "pairing". I was only half-joking, though. I could feel the eyes of harsh judgement upon me...well, upon my Instagram, anyway. Thank gawd no one could see me stretched out in front of my TV with all of those Cheetos crumbs in my beard, and on my chest, and on the couch. "Perhaps I should put on a shirt and whip up a nice pork belly panini to go with this beer," I thought.

Now, I've never been one to care too much about what other people think about me, and there I was considering putting on airs for beer snobs that I don't even know. What the hell is wrong with me? I was born in trailer park! I come from a long line of beer-swillin', junk food munchin' hillbillies! I don't need to impress anybody!

Seriously, though, I do fear that we are entering an age of exclusivity that will eventually lead to a significant level of price exclusion in the craft beer world--just like what we see in the wine world. That makes me sad. One of my favorite pioneer craft brewers now sells food items like "quail knots" and expensive "charcuterie plates" in their "beer bistro". They are opening a brewery in Germany, their beers are getting priced out of the market for any regular working man and, in my opinion, they are now too big for their lederhosen.

I know I've gone on this rant before, but dammit, beer is supposed to be the drink of the working man and woman. That's long been part of the charm and lovely character of beer throughout history. Beer has been something to share with the entire community since the dawn of civilization. While I do love to see the art of brewing elevated to the amazing level we are seeing today, I'm somewhat distressed by the price gap that also seems to be growing wider. Truthfully, the idea of squirreling away cases of fine craft beer in locked or hidden cellars, for private, conspicuous consumption is something I find to be more than a little bit offensive.

We all know the legends of high priced bottles of fine wine selling for (literally) a king's ransom. My hope is that such a command for the price of fine craft beer will remain the exception rather than the rule. I have nothing against brewers getting wealthy from their endeavors, but there should always remain a healthy respect for the beverage's humble beginnings and the working class people that brought craft beer to its current heights. /rant

Monday, December 15, 2014

Breakside Brewery - La Tormenta Dry Hopped Sour Ale

Perfect storm?
There are so many, many, MANY amazing breweries here in Stumptown. Breakside Brewery is another wonderful purveyor of delicious craft beer that I can reach by city bus in about 15 minutes. I could walk there in a pinch. Yes, you should be jealous. In addition to producing a top notch, solid NW IPA, Breakside Brewery puts out an incredible array of creative and daringly different brews. Oh, yeah, their pub grub is pretty darn awesome, too.

Tonight, I found a 22 oz. bomber of Breakside Brewery's La Tormenta Dry Hopped Sour Ale in the cold case at New Seasons. A very reasonable price tag of $5.99 made my purchase a no-brainer. I'm drinking this brew while watching the Blazers stomp San Antonio. Will the current 10 point lead make the beer taste better? Let's find out...

The beer poured into my lil' snifter a slightly hazy, peach-tinted, orange color. The bubbly white head rose up to about a 1/4 inch tall and dissipated quickly. No lacing was left behind, but pinpoint carbonation was seen rising up from the bottom of the glass throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was big on tropical fruit. Lots of pineapple and guava. Stone fruit in the mix, too. Grassy, herbal, citrus-y hops. A bit of brett.

Taste followed the nose with loads of tropical fruit flavors. Mildly bitter hops bite was perfectly balanced against bready, yeasty, malty funk. Delicious!

Medium to slightly thinner mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Quick fade on the finish but very pleasant hops and malt flavors left behind on the palate at the end. I like it! It's an easy drink that left me wanting more after I polished off the bomber.

Overall, this is a winner of a beer that you just can't beat for the price. I highly recommend. La Tormenta earns a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

McMenamins - Kris Kringle Traditional Yuletide Ale 2014

Tis the seasonal...
I love a good winter warmer. Yes, indeed, I do. IMAIO (In my all important opinion), holiday ales are the best part of the holiday season. Everything else is just so much...humbug. There, I said it and I'm not taking it back! I'm Scrooge and proud! You can take your Elf on the Shelf and stick if where the sun don't shine...which I think some of you have already done. (Have you googled these disturbing Elf on the Shelf pictures? Try "Elf on the Shelf inappropriate". You're welcome.)

Back to the holiday beer! Today, I'm reviewing the 2014 version of McMenamins Kris Kringle Traditional Yuletide Ale. This brew is available now at all McMenamins locations until...December 25th. In comes with an ABV of 6.84% and 77 IBU's. I received a 22 oz. bomber in the mail. It just showed up on my porch one rainy afternoon. I love it when that happens.

The beer poured into my pint glass a hazy, dark, ruddy brown color with creamy, tan head. The head came up to almost an inch high and dissipated at a moderate rate. Spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was a pleasant mix of earthy malt, herbal hops, and cocoa. Reminded me a little bit of fruitcake with a candied dark fruit smell in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Grassy, herbal, citrus-y hops. A hint of pine. Cocoa and caramel flavors. Earthy malt. Dark cherries. A hint of booze. Lots of good stuff rolling around on the ol' taste buds. Nice!

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Creamy finish. Respectable hops bitterness left on the palate at the end.

This is a wonderful brew. It might not be everyone's idea of a winter warmer--lacking a massive, boozy bang--but it's a smooth, flavorful beer that definitely delivers the flavors of the holiday season. I recommend getting yourself some before it's gone. I'm giving Kris Kringle a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Brannon's Pub and Brewery Now Open In Beaverton


Many of us snooty Portland metro urban dwellers consider the nearby city of Beaverton to be your stereotypical suburb. Lots of single family homes. Low crime. Decent schools. Strip malls. Olive Garden. Lots of moms in minivans. Yeah, we give 'em a hard time, but it's all in good, mean fun. Beaverton is also 100% Oregon, which means the city is chock full of craft beer lovers--craft beer lovers who now have one less reason to schlep through the tunnel into PDX for some tasty, tasty beer.

Brannon's Pub and Brewery just opened their doors for business last Friday. I was lucky enough to be invited to sample their food and beer line-up last night, and I was pretty darn impressed by both menus. Great pub grub and solid beer.

The pub is located in a building near The Round, in the space that was once occupied by the kinda creepy, never open Blue Iguana. What a renovation and quite an upgrade for the area! The pub is a large, open, family-friendly place with dozens of flat screen TV's for watching sports and/or keeping the kiddos entertained. 

The decor is what I would call "subdued steampunk". There's a beautiful central bar and a huge private room that can be reserved for special events. There's even a little game room. Of course, my favorite room was the brewery. Bright, shiny tanks fill a sparkling, new facility that is overseen by Head Brewer Devin Benware. The tanks are filled with an assortment of the usual suspects: an IPA, a NW pale ale, a stout, an Imperial red, a black IPA and a golden ale. Happily, I found the beer to be much more than the pedestrian offerings one might expect from a fledgling brew pub. At 26, Devin is probably the youngest head brewer in the greater Portland area, however, he clearly has a depth of talent beyond his years. He's brewing some damn good beer and I'm looking forward to the creative future brews he has planned. 

I really like the Benzonator Black IPA. That's a style that can sometimes be hit and miss, in my opinion. This one is a hit. Big, roasted malt, balanced with a perfect, bitter hops bite. Delicious!

Brannon's is named after owner Kevin Brannon, a craft beer pioneer who is getting a "do over" of sorts with this latest venture. After selling his first very successful brewery and taking an early retirement, Kevin obviously can't stay away from the craft beer biz. I was impressed with his story but even more impressed with the passion he has for brewing. Let's just say I saw his eyes twinkle when he was talking about beer. I swear to god, they actually TWINKLED!

Did I mention the food yet? Yeah, it's good. I highly recommend the wings and the ribs. The pizza is excellent, too. Oh, and the fried mac and cheese balls! Go get yourself some!

Excellent pub grub!
Brannon's Pub and Brewery is located at 3800 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Ste. 200-C, Beaverton, OR 97005. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fish Tale Brewing Company - The Hobbit: Bolg Belgian Style Tripel

That's what I'm Tolkien about...
A while back, somebody put out a series of Game of Throne beers. I tried them at a beer tasting. Not really something I'd be excited to buy, but I guess beer geekiness and fantasy fiction geekiness go hand in hand. I mean, you have to be drunk to strap a claymore to your belt, throw an Ermine cape over your shoulders and wander around a convention center in a pair of tights. Right? Am I right?

The other day, I was pushing a shopping cart down the beer aisle of my local Fred Meyer store and what should my craggy, old eyes spy? Hobbit beer! Yup, three different varieties of Tolkien-esque brews: a Smaug inspired stout, a Golem themed pils, and a Bolg Belgian-style tripel. Interesting. I considered the options for a few minutes and opted for the Bolg. It set me back $8.99. Not exactly cheap.

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a bubbly, white head. The head came up to about a 1/2 inch high and dissipated quickly. A light ring was left behind. Pinpoint bubbles of carbonation could be seen rising from the bottom of the glass throughout the drink.

Aroma was Belgian yeast and spices up front. Floral and fruity. Stone fruit. Bananas and clove. Bready, biscuity malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Not incredibly complex. Nothing offensive, either. Slightly astringent. A reasonable facsimile of a Belgian tripel.

Medium mouthfeel with medium carbonation. A bit of warmth on the finish. Belgian spices and biscuity malt flavors left behind at the end.

Overall, this is a decent beer. I'm thinking the kitschy Hobbit theme would put off as many people as it might attract. For slightly more than the price of admission, many superior, authentic Belgian tripels can be had. Nevertheless, if you're a huge Hobbit fanatic, you'll probably want to get this beer in your belly while it's still on the shelf. I'm giving Bolg a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


Gigantic Brewing Company - Pipewrench Gin Barrel Aged IPA

Roll out the barrel...
Sometimes, desperation results in perfection. What the hell am I talking about? Hmmmm, where do I start...

It's widely believed that beer was "invented" when really hungry ancient people ate stored grain that had gotten wet, sprouted and subsequently fermented. Those folks were pretty sure that their grain was spoiled, but they were so desperately hungry, they grubbed on it anyway. Much to their happy surprise, there was alcohol in that mush. Boom! Hard times turned into a Mesopotamian par-TAY!

A current state of desperation in the craft beer world has been caused by a shortage of bourbon barrels. Damn! Everybody is barrel aging EVERYTHING! This has lead brewers to experiment with other booze barrels for beer aging purposes. I had a conversation with a very well-respected Oregon brewer about this issue recently. He advised that previously he would have never considered using gin barrels, but due primarily to the unavailability and high cost of bourbon barrels, he was trying gin and obtaining some "interesting" results. He also lamented that even gin and tequila barrels are harder to come by and now command a higher price.

I really haven't come across very many widely available gin barrel aged beers. However, today, I was pleased to find a bomber of Gigantic Brewing Company's Pipewrench Gin Barrel Aged IPA in the cold case of my local New Seasons. Cool! $9.99 for the 22 ouncer. The label declared the ABV at 8%, and also advised that the beer was aged for three months in Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels. Yum! Ransom Old Tom is my FAVORITE locally made gin! Let's see how this brew turned out, shall we?

The beer poured into my glass a hazy, orange amber color. A minimal, white head rose up to about a 1/4 of an inch high and dissipated quickly. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was lightly boozy, mildly citrus-y. A hint of pine. Very herbal. Smelled like a gin and tonic with an interesting earthy undertone.

Taste followed the nose. Light booze. Citrus. Pine. Subtle punctuation mark of juniper berries and other herbaceous gin botanicals. Sweet caramel malt balanced nicely against the hops and gin flavors. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. Somewhat of a quick drop off the palate on the finish, but with a very clean, gin botanical taste left behind at the end.

Overall, this is a completely different, awesomely unique brew. A gin barrel aged IPA? Sounds so weird and with a high potential for suckiness, but this is a very tasty, tasty beer! I like it! I'm giving Pipewrench a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Try it!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Goose Island Bourbon County Release Dinner at Raven & Rose

The flight is right.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is clearly the hottest beer around these days. People were lined up on Black Friday to get bottles of the stuff, like they were waiting for Xbox 3000's or something, and it quickly sold out everywhere. The fellas at my local bottle shop told me one woman actually broke down in hysterical sobs when they told her they were out of Goose Island's liquid gold.

Is the beer really that good? Absolutely! Although there are certainly plenty of other fantastic, local, barrel-aged options out there that you don't have to wait in line to buy. Nevertheless, there is something strangely exciting about a beer that attains such lofty heights of desirability, and it doesn't really matter if the limited availability creates an odd, lemming-like hype. Getting your hands on the latest and greatest, to the chagrin of your envious friends, is sometimes worth any price.

If you missed out on the run to snatch up every bottle of Bourbon County, you still have an opportunity to try it, and several other highly prized Goose Island beers. I'm talking about the Goose Island Bourbon County Release Dinner at Raven & Rose.

I was lucky enough to participate in a sneak preview of this fantastic beer/food pairing event that is scheduled for Sunday, December 7th at 6:30 PM. Check out the menu and flights:

Welcome Snacks & Beer

1. IPA, a fruity aroma, set off by a dry malt middle, and long hop finish.

English-style Roast Supper & Beer Flight 

Salad, Field Greens, radishes, spiced pumpkin seeds, red wine vinaigrette.

2. Class of ’88, The Class of ‘88 Belgian Style Ale was brewed in collaboration with Deschutes Brewery. brewed with whole flower Mt Hood hops, which were first introduced in 1988, then transferred to Muscat casks and aged with Michigan Riesling Grape juice and Oregon Pinot Noir grape must.

3. Matilda, dried fruit and clove aromas, a spicy yeast flavor, and a satisfying dry finish.

4. Madame Rose, Brown Ale aged in French oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with the addition of Michigan cherries and heavily inoculated with Brettanomyces.

5. Bourbon County Stout, A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke.

Mains

Beef Tri-Tip & Oregon King Salmon

Portland Farmers’ Market Sides Like:
Oven-roasted Peppers & potatoes, olive oil, lemon, sea salt
Roasted Farm carrots & Beets, celery root puree
Fried Cauliflower, anchovy salt, sunflower seeds, manchego

Dessert Beer Pairing

6. Bourbon County Barley Wine, aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care.

Cost: $75.00 per person. Includes all courses and beer flight pairings.
For reservations, please email Natalia Toral at natalia@ravenandrosepdx.com

If you've never been to Raven & Rose, you are in for a treat. Located in the beautifully restored, 132 year old historic Ladd Carriage House, Raven & Rose is a gem in downtown Portland that you must experience to believe. The ambiance is definitely upscale, but the atmosphere is homey and relaxing. This is your opportunity to experience some top flight beers and some delicious food at an amazing venue. I was impressed and I'm sure you will be, too.

Although my dinner was a little different than the wonderful menu above, these photos should give you an idea of the treats in store for you:

First up: Goose Island IPA
Class of 88 - Superb
Tasty side dishes!
There's the beef!
And the salmon!
Dessert was something special!

Lompoc Brewing - Pamplemousse Citrus IPA

A grapefruit by any other name...
I always thought the name "grapefruit" was a weird name for that big, sour citrus. What the hell does it have to do with grape? The grapefruit is absolutely non-grape-y. What could possibly be a weirder name? How about what the French call it: PAMPLEMOUSSE. Whaaaaaaa? Sounds like Beetlejuice. Pamplemousse. Wow.

Pamplemousse is also the name that Lompoc Brewing has bestowed on their citrus IPA. Hey, I do like my IPA's loaded with lots of grapefruit-y pucker power. I guess in this case, it's Pamplemousse-y pucker.

The beer comes with a respectable 5.8% ABV. The label advises that it is "a shining example of a traditional Northwest IPA" with 70 IBU's. Let's see how it does on my taste buds.

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color. The fluffy, clumpy, white head rose up to more than a finger thick and stuck around for a long time. Chunks of thick, webby lacing coated the glass throughout the entire drink.

Aroma delivered what the label promised. A big nose full of citrus hops. Grapefruit and orange. A tinge of pine. Mild, sweet malt aroma in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Citrus. Grapefruit, lemon and orange. What I did not expect was a very pleasant, spicy, herbal, peppery note. Excellent hops, malt balance. No pronounced alcohol taste. Great flavor.

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. Very drinkable. The  flavor drops off a bit quickly at the end, which is not a problem. Another sip brings that clean citrus flavor right back.

Overall, this is a great everyday IPA. Hop bombs have their place, but sometimes you just want a solid, dependable IPA that doesn't overpower your pizza or chili dog. Know what I'm saying? Pamplemousse is a perfect lunch or dinner IPA. The Wonder Beagle went crazy over the aroma of this one. Only a few, select beers will make her bold enough to try to steal a taste. She is now completely blind, but her beagle nose had no problem hunting down the Pamplemousse IPA. Whew! I almost lost it!

Pamplemousse IPA gets a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. Good stuff!

Friday, November 21, 2014

PDX Beer News - Upcoming Holiday Events


PDX Bottle Share at Imperial!
November 29th - 10:00AM and 2:00PM

Wreath Making Seminar at McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse

Cost: $25 per person; tickets required. Stop by after picking out the perfect tree to learn how to make a beautiful wreath while sipping on a glass of Kris Kringle! All ages welcome.


CLICK HERE for map and directions.

December 3rd through December 7th

2014 Holiday Ale Festival
The winter beer festival everyone gets excited about! Held in the official center of Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square, under spacious, toasty warm tents; the Holiday Ale Festival will feature dozens of unique winter warmers, many of which were specially crafted by local brewers for the event. This one is simply not to be missed.

Download the official program here: https://holidayale.com/gui/assets/2014EventProgram.pdf

Advance general admission tickets are $35 and include a taster mug, 14 taster tokens and expedited entry for all five days of the festival. Order tix here: http://holidayale.com/advance-tickets.php

CLICK HERE for map and directions.

December 6th - 3:00PM

PDX Bottle Share Holiday Party
For the second year in a row, Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom will host the PDX Bottle Share Holiday Party. This year should be bigger, better and badder than ever! Join dozens of Portland's most friendly craft beer enthusiasts for an afternoon of fun and surprises. Admission is free, but bring a bottle of craft beer or cider to share. 21 + only.

CLICK HERE for map and directions to Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom

December 8th - 12 noon until 5:00PM 

McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse 5th Annual Holiday Market 
Cost: Free admission; all ages welcome. Nothing will get you in a festive mood quite like McMenamins’ annual Holiday Market. More than 60 local vendors will be showcasing Northwest artisan homemade wares from jewelry to fudge. Bring the whole family!

CLICK HERE for map and directions.


Beer Money

Show me the money!
Craft beer is my hobby...my very expensive hobby. How expensive, you ask? I'm not really sure. I've never put pencil to paper to try to figure it out. I do keep track of the beers I've "collected" with the Untappd app. In the past year, I've logged in about 1300 beers. A bomber of craft beer averages about $5...WOW! That's more that $6,500! That doesn't even take into consideration beer I've purchased for others and the considerable number of beers I never bothered to check in. Holy guacamole, Batman! I spend a lot of money on beer!

It's clearly understandable why a lot folks with tight budgets drink cheap (terrible tasting) macro-brews. You can buy an entire 12 pack of PBR for less than the price of a premium craft beer sixer. But, hey, I'm not rich--not by any stretch of the imagination--yet I'm able to work craft beer into my meager discretionary spending. I do it by scrimping on other things that don't result in offending my palate, and you may be surprised how much money you can save with just a few lifestyle tweaks. My simple rule: Go cheap on everything except food, drink and toilet paper. Want some unsolicited budget saving tips? I know, nobody does, but here they are anyway:

1) Don't buy paper towels. I know I previously said not to go cheap on toilet paper. That's because raking splinter-filled bargain TP across your bum is an ABOMINATION. Just...no. Paper towels, on the other hand, only get raked across your kitchen counter. Instead of wasting your money and killing trees, invest in these things called...rags! They are almost infinitely washable and reusable. Think of the money you'll save! If you're currently using a roll of paper towels a week, and a roll costs a buck, you'll save $52 a year! That's about 10 bombers of beer!

2) Don't buy disposable razors. What a freaking rip-off these things are! A 10 pack of Gillette Sensor blades runs about $20! I use a Merkur safety razor that set me back about $25--five years ago. The platinum blades cost--get this--less than a nickel each! The box of 100 that I have in my medicine cabinet will likely last through the rest of my LIFE! You can save anywhere from $50 to $100 a year with my shave set-up.

3) Get rid of your car. This one isn't for everybody, but if you live and work in an urban environment, like Portland, you can get along perfectly fine without a car. I haven't owned a car for 3 years. Instead, I take the MAX or TriMet bus almost everywhere I go. Yes, my wife has a car and I use it occasionally, but truthfully, I prefer public transportation most of the time. My monthly pass costs me $100. A car payment is going to cost you at least $200 a month. Then there's gas and insurance costs. I estimate that I save about $4,000 a year! That's a considerable chunk of my beer budget!

4) Happy hour! This one is a no brainer. If I'm going out drinking, I go early and treat myself and the missus to the practically endless pub grub bargains available at Stumptown's innumerable happy hours! Ever have the $5 HH burger at Slow Bar? No? It's cheap on the price but high on the quality. That's just one example of the great HH eats in this burg.

5) Homebrew! Another no brainer. Even a mediocre homebrew will taste better than a crappy macro. Born On Date? Ha! How about a You Just Brewed It and Bottled It Yourself Date? After an initial set up cost for necessary brewing equipment (about $200), you can brew 5 gallons of your own beer for about $30. That's about $1.25 for a bomber. You can't beat the price OR the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself!

6) Repair, Re-purpose, Re-use. This one is easier than it sounds. The next time some gadget, gizmo or thing-a-ma-jig breaks down, don't throw it away and get another one. Try to fix it first! But I don't know how to fix stuff, says you? Guess what! I bet somebody does and it's quite likely they posted a video on YouTube showing YOU exactly how it's done! I've been successful doing electrical work, plumbing, patching, finishing furniture, bike repairs, you name it!

Okay, that's enough cheapy preachy from me for the night. I hope that you are able to fit tasty, tasty craft beer into your budget. I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have for doing brew on the cheap!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Widmer Brothers Brewing - Steel Bridge Porter

It's a steel!
I sure do love tasty, tasty beer. Do you know what I love even more? Tasty, tasty beer ON SALE! Yes! Give me a deal that stretches my beer budget and I'm a happy man. Today, I found Widmer Brothers Brewing's Steel Bridge Porter on sale at New Seasons for $2.99 for the 22 oz. bomber. Deal!

That's a handsome label on the bottle and an appropriate name for a beer brewed here in Portland, Oregon. Portland is bisected by the majestic Willamette River (pronounced Will-AM-ette, damn it!) and the bridges that span the waterway are some of the most easily recognized landmarks in the City of Roses.

My most favorite bridge is the Steel Bridge. It's a squat, ugly piece of steam-punk metal that has faithfully served the citizens of Stumptown for over a hundred years. What the Steel Bridge loses in aesthetics, it more than makes up in utility. Thousands of commuters cross over the Steel Bridge every day, by bike, car and MAX train. Does the beer live up to the rep of the bridge? Let's find out!

The beer poured into my glass a pitch black color with a massive, creamy, mocha head. The head was more than two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. A full cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was roasted malt up front. Notes of cocoa and coffee. Just what you would expect from a porter.

Taste followed the nose. Rich, roasted malt flavor with just a hint of smokiness. Milk chocolate and espresso. Mildly bitter at the end.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Smooth, creamy finish. No hint of any alcohol taste to this 5.6% brew.

Overall, this is a nice, easy drinking beer. Very pleasant. Not a flavor bomb by any stretch, but it's perfect for what it is: a well-crafted, affordable porter. I like it and I'm giving Steel Bridge Porter a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Hop Haus Brewery - Cocos Nucifera Coconut Porter

Cuckoo for coconut!
The first and foremost reason why I drink craft beer is taste. That's the bottom line, actually. If craft beer didn't taste better, I'd still be drinking macros. Of course, once I had my first, delicious, hoppy, flavorful craft beer (Stone's Arrogant Bastard), there was no turning back!

There are other reasons why I enjoy drinking craft beer. Here in Beervana, there's the thriving beer culture and the social aspect. Drinking tasty brews and hanging out with other craft beer aficionados is fun. It's also awesome to be able to support local brewers with my beer money.

There are lots of amazing Cinderella stories associated with craft beer. The tale typically goes like this: craft beer geek starts homebrewing and the hobby takes over his life. Next thing you know, he's got a fully operational micro brewery set up in his garage. He wins some local brewing competitions. Soon, he's distributing his beer out of the back of his station wagon. Fast forward a decade, and that beer geek is brewing zillions of barrels of fantastic suds, and he's a BILLIONAIRE! Hey! It's happened!

Tonight, I'm drinking a true microbrew. The Hop Haus Brewery is the working class dream of owner/brewer Steve Wesley. He's a heck of a nice guy, too. I had the opportunity to ask Steve a few probing questions about his fledgling brewery. Here's what Steve had to say:

1) How long have you been brewing beer? Where did you start and where have you been?

I did my first batch of homebrew with my roommate in our apartment in Clackamas in 1993. We got a extract kit and the basics to do what we figured would be a great clone of Black Butte Porter. Well after destroying the place with sticky steam and mess we did get an end product, and we thought is was pretty good after opening the first bottle. I believe after a few months, the remaining bottles were dumped down the drain! I would love to have a taste of that brew today just to know. So that is where it started, and I have been brewing off and on ever since. Did some competitions here and there over the years, but really got the bug to take this to the next level about 6 years ago.

2) What is your personal brewing philosophy?

I suppose it has been control what you can control and be anal about it! At the home brewing level many of the variables such as stable temperature, water chemistry, closed loop transfers etc...are a challenge; but you can control sanitation, quality ingredients, TLC, and as much as you can for good water and temperature. So that is what I have done; Number 1 - start with good brewing water.

3) What do you consider your biggest brewing influences?

Having never studied under a "brewmaster" or never been part of an organized brew crew or brewing club everything has been self taught over the 20 years. I have read plenty of books and read Zymurgy cover to cover every month. I think creating different unique specialty beers that you don't see everyday, and doing them well through a bit of trial and error. I know there are many breweries, but I suppose Rogue, Dogfish Head, Fort George, and ALL of the crazy beers I see at the brewfests I attend give me ideas. I like creating out of the box beers, but not so out there that nobody will want to drink them!

4) What are your current goals? Where do you see your brewing adventures taking you in the near future and beyond?

Start small, get established, secure the brand and the Brewtiful beers. Try to stand out a bit for interesting and quality small scale true nano craft specialty beers. Hopefully The Hop Haus builds its brand and people love the beers. A tap room of course would be awesome, but baby steps and dont get over my head to quickly....but hope to eventually make this the full time gig :) 

 5) You mentioned one of the beers you gave me won a medal. Details, please?

The Coconut Porter won the gold medal in the Oregon State Fair competition in 2013. I entered 4 in the NHC, and although I did not get through to the final round, I did get Silver Certificates on all four of them. It is subjective of course, but the judges notes over the years have really been the biggest help to transition from "homebrew" to quality beer that consumers of fine beer would buy.

6) What info would you like me to pass along to my readers?

Good question. I would love to say we are opening a tap room next week! Come by and enjoy a pint or two. Hopefully that will happen in the next year. For now, we are getting The Hop Haus name out there through some local distribution. Once I have the system up and running in the next couple weeks I have these folks one board to carry the beers...subject to change if they have not given up on me!! Green Dragon ( I brewed the coconut porter with the GDBC in June and we released in August....it sold out in 4 days !); Hot Lips Pizza at the Stadium location (brown ale); Mojave Mexican restaurant in Gresham (chili mango of course); Bar Maven (SE PDX- both the porter and the chili mango); I have also talked with a lot of the local growler fill places too with great reception.

I'd like the thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions and I certainly wish him success with The Hop Haus.

I'm going to skip my usual step-by-step review of Cocos Nucifera Coconut Porter. Let's just say I'd give it a medal, too! Beautiful pour with a creamy, mocha head. The coconut flavor is present but doesn't overpower. Hints of cocoa and coffee. Creamy finish. I'm thinking this would be FANTASTIC on nitro! Excellent brew and I'm giving it a solid BeerGuyPDX score of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff!


Friday, November 14, 2014

No-Li Brewhouse - Jet Star Imperial IPA

Good? You bet you sweet Schwarzkopf!
Man, I guess I won't be needing that flu shot I was set to get next week. This rotten bug has me laid out. I'm calling it "The Devil's Most Heinous Influenza from Hell". Chills, body aches, sinus congestion, hacking cough, intestinal distress...yay, I'm looking forward to an awesome weekend. This is gonna suck! Hey, at least I have a fridge full of tasty, tasty beer.

Wait, I can't smell the beer! I can't taste the beer! Everything smells like Vicks Vap-O-Rub and tastes like boogers! Oh, the humanity! This is REALLY gonna suck!

Nevertheless, my work must go on. Thus, I'm drinking a Jet Star Imperial IPA from Spokane's No-Li Brewhouse. It's probably not fair to review a beer in my current condition, but I'm giving it my best shot.

The beer poured into my IPA glass slightly hazy, golden orange color with a foamy, white head. The head rose up to more than an inch and dissipated slowly, Copious sheets of lacing were left behind all over the glass. What a good looking beer!

Aroma was citrus and mild pine with a HUGE dose of tropical fruit. Mango, pineapple, guava. Wow, even with my partially disabled sniffer, this brew delivers some wonderful smells.

Taste followed the nose. Orange, tangerine and tropical fruit. Sweet malt in the background. Nice bitter bite at the end balanced the initial sweetness. No hint of alcohol taste in this 8.1% beer.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Earthy malt lingers on the finish. Nice!

Overall, this is a dang decent IPA. It had enough pizzazz to make an impact on my debilitated senses. I'm giving Jet Star a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4, AND a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle loved the smell of this one.


PDX Beer News - November Pressers

Only in Rip City, baby!
Kells Brewery announces partnership with Portland Trail Blazers
New taproom introduces Kells handcrafted ales to thousands of basketball fans and craft beer lovers alike

PORTLAND, Ore. – Nov. 12, 2014 – Kells Brewery at 210 NW 21st Ave. has announced a partnership with the Portland Trail Blazers that introduces the Irish brewery’s handcrafted beer to thousands of Blazer fans and craft beer lovers alike.

The local family-run restaurant and brewery has recently installed a taproom on the 300 level of the Moda Center; craft beer lovers can also find Kells beers throughout the stadium at select locations, and pre- and post-game at Dr. Jack’s, located just across the concourse from the southwest entrance.

“We chose to install a taproom in the Moda Center because, as locals, we are longtime devoted fans of the Trail Blazers,” explained Kells Brew Pub manager and lead brewer Garrett McAleese. “We are looking forward to the exposure that the partnership will bring to our beer.”

There are currently six beers on tap at the Kells Tap Room at the Moda Center, including Kells Irish Red, IPA, Lager, Pale, Fresh Hop (seasonal) and Stout. Kells has also announced plans to bottle its popular Kells Irish Red in 12-oz bottles, which will be available in early 2015.

Kells has already supported the Blazers for a number of years with its double-decker bus, transporting legions of fans to and from the games.

Kells Brewery recently won the Willamette Week Beer Pro/Am People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice award for its Boom Roasters Coffee Milk Stout, a collaboration between homebrewer Natalie Baldwin and Kells head brewer Dave Fleming that will also be served at the upcoming Holiday Ale Festival in Pioneer Courthouse Square Dec. 3 through 7.

In addition to the Moda Center taproom, Kells beers can be tasted at Kells Brew Pub in NW Portland, and at Kells Irish Pub at 210 NW 21st Ave. in downtown. For hours and additional information, visit www.kellsbrewpub.com or call 503-719-7175.

ABOUT KELLS Serving the Northwest since 1983, Kells is a local family-run establishment that is consistently voted and ranked among the top Irish pubs in the United States. With locations in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, it is a touchstone of each community that stays true to its roots, annually hosting the largest St. Patrick’s Day festival in the Northwest. Owners Gerard and Lucille McAleese are also recognized for their generosity to a number of nonprofits and community organizations.


Cascade Brewing Announces Figaro Release

Cascade Brewing released 2013 Figaro in 750 ml bottles and on draft this pastWednesday at both the Barrel House and Raccoon Lodge.

This NW style sour ale is a strong blond ale aged in chardonnay barrels for up to 12 months, then aged with dried white figs and lemon peel for up to 12 more months. Aromas of sweet figs, golden raisins and citrus zest are the first to be noticed. Hints of white wine grapes, lemon peel and sweet figs roll across the palate, leading to a crisp lemon tartness in the finish that leaves a lingering sweetness on the tongue. 10.7% ABV / $7.5 Glass / $2.50 Taster / $25 750ML bottle (no limit)


Lompoc Brewing to reopen its renovated Sidebar Barrel Tasting Room

 PORTLAND, Ore. – Lompoc Brewing is reopening its Sidebar Barrel Tasting room at 4pm on Thursday, Nov. 20 following a month-long remodel. The new and improved Sidebar, located at 3901 N Williams Ave, now features a glass roll up door that lets in natural light and allows passers by to see inside the cozy bar. It will also allow for extended seating and fresh air in the warmer seasons.

“We really wanted to open up the space to let people see what we do in here,” said Lompoc owner Jerry Fechter. “Sidebar has always been a showcase for our beers, but not everyone knew what happened behind the mural. The new space has a friendly, approachable feel that perfectly complements our North Portland neighborhood.”

Sidebar's lineup of six taps has expanded to an even dozen: 11 Lompoc beers and one rotating cider. The tap list, which will change up to twice weekly, will include both Lompoc’s mainstay ales and lagers and its seasonal and barrel aged specialty beers. There will also be a rotating cheap beer in a can for $2. The tasting room continues to offer cocktails as well. Sidebar is for ages 21 and over.

“At Lompoc, we sidestep stylistic constraints and instead use an artisanal approach best highlighted at our Sidebar location,” explained head brewer Bryan Keilty. “Thinking outside the barrel, we use Kentucky Bourbon, Oregon Whiskey, and Northwest wine barrels to age and ferment our beer, in addition to locally-sourced fruit projects.”

Sidebar regulars will appreciate the addition of a couple of booths, more TVs for soccer and basketball viewing, expanded days and hours, and the implementation of a menu featuring small plates and shareables. The menu, designed by Lompoc corporate chef Mike Parmenter, ranges from Argentinean sliders, mole pork soft tacos and wild mushroom flatbread to the pub’s popular Buffalo wings, nachos and truffle fries.
Sidebar opens at 4pm every Tuesday through Sunday, closing at Midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 1am Friday and Saturday, and 11pm Sunday. The popular space remains available to rent for meetings and private parties. For more information, visit www.lompocbrewing.com or call 503-288-3936.





Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Beer Guy PDX's Holiday Gift Guide - Part 2

I have so many beer-related holiday gift ideas this year, I had to make my annual gift guide a two parter! Just check out all this awesome stuff! (All of which also happens to be on Beer Guy PDX's own Christmas wish list--you know, the one that's scribbled on the back of a beer mat and pinned up on the fridge. Yes, THAT wish list!)


Classy growler transport.
The Leather Bike Growler Carrier

Let's start out with a little piece of equipment that every bicycle ridin', craft beer swillin' Portlander MUST have: a leather bike growler carrier! Come on! You know you want one!

Everybody knows that next to craft beer, the denizens of Portland, OR love their bicycles more than anything in the world. A product that melds those two things together? Yes! You'll be the object of green-eyed envy among all your hip, bikie buds!

The Leather Bike Growler Carrier isn't exactly cheap at $80.00, but it's handcrafted in Missoula, MT without the use of machines. What a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Something you can use for years and pass down to your craft beer swillin' grandchildren!


Forged Beer Bottle Opener with Copper Rivet

Heavy metal.
Imagine you're at a bottle share, surrounded by dozens of beautiful craft beers--and lovely craft beer babes--when suddenly there's a blood curdling scream...

"Oh, my gawd, there's no bottle opener! NO - BOTTLE - OPENER!"

As the entire party breaks down into a pathetic, sobbing, quivering mass of thirsty schlubs, you reach into the rear pocket of your flannel-lined jeans and produce a Forged Beer Bottle Opener with Copper Rivet. Ta-da! Day saved! And you go home with the craft beer babe(s) of your choice!

Okay, that's never gonna happen, but it would still be freakin' awesome to own this anvil hammered piece of steel and copper. At $36.00, it's a tad more pricey than the freebies that jangle around in most folk's pockets, but just think of the oohs and aahs it'll produce when you whip it out and get those tops off!

This handsome and indispensable beer tool is also available at Beerloved.com: http://www.beerloved.com/collections/utility/products/forged-beer-bottle-opener-with-copper-rivet 

Brewvana Portland Brewery Tours Gift Certificate

Brewvana Portland Brewery Tours is without a doubt the best craft brewery tour experience in the best beer city on Planet Earth! Yes, I'm incredibly biased, but I know what I'm talking about. Brewvana has a fleet of buses, driven by friendly, informative and--dare I say--extremely dedicated tour guides who know A LOT about the Portland craft beer scene. If you have a friend or family member who would enjoy a fun time out, experiencing the best beer that Stumptown has to offer, you should seriously consider the gift that keeps on giving: a Brewvana gift certificate.

Tours are offered seven days a week - bus tours, walking tours AND private tours. Gift certificates can be purchased in just about anyone's price range. Heck, if you're lucky, your gift recipient might just bring YOU along!

Certificates are available online at the Brewvana website: http://www.experiencebrewvana.com/merchandise/

Oregon Breweries by Brian Yaeger


"I don't always drink beer, but when I'm not drinking it, I'm reading about it."

Hey, in my book, that's what a truly "interesting man" would say. Do you know that hip, young Millennials are more likely to read a book that crabby, moldy, old people over 40? It's true! No, it's not, I made that up, but it could be true! Jeesh, I'm a Baby Boomer--the "I'll wait until it comes out on video" generation. Whatever happened to reading is FUNdamental?

Well, if you like Oregon beer, or you would like to KNOW all about Oregon beer, and you're not afraid to crack the spine of a real, honest to gosh book, do I have a holiday gift idea for you!

Oregon Breweries by Brian Yaeger has 416 pages chock-full of all kinds of useful information about 190 breweries and taprooms. It's like an Audubon Society Field Guide for BEER! Imagine being able to spot the elusive Hair of the Dog, or get up close and personal with the breathtaking Deschutes! All you need is this amazing book...and maybe a pith helmet.

Oregon Breweries can be purchased on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0811712117

Magnetic Bear Bottle Opener

Grrrrrr!
Do you have a man cave? Or a lady den? You know, someplace you go to quietly reflect on life's foibles while you imbibe a few cold craft brewskis at the end of a long, crappy day? If you answered yes, then how could you not want to decorate your special space with the AWESOME Magnetic Bear Bottle Opener?

Now, before you spout off about how you would "never buy that gawd-awful, stupid thing", I have to tell you up front...I own one.

Yes, it's butt-fugly, but there's something so satisfying about cramming a bottle into that bear's mouth and cranking off that bottle cap! Take that, Smokey!

The Magnetic Bear Bottle Opener is available at Perpetual Kid for $24.99: http://www.perpetualkid.com/magnetic-bear-bottle-opener.aspx 

Well, that's if for part 2! Will there be a Holiday Gift Guide Part 3? Maybe! As I stated in the previous post, the images here were all swiped off the websites of the noted sellers of this cool swag. If anyone wants me to unlink their pics, just say the word! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beer Guy PDX's Holiday Gift Guide - 2014

It's that time of year already? Yup, Thanksgiving is just days away and then it's BLACK FRIDAY! National Excessive Shopping Day! I don't know about you, but there's nothing I hate more than hitting the mall and fighting my way through a throng of holiday shoppers. They're vicious! Snarling, drooling, biting. It's like being in an episode of The Walking Dead.

Nope, that scene is NOT for me, and if you're cut from the same cloth as good ol' Wolf Linderman, you will appreciate this latest installment of my annual Holiday Gift Guide. You may remember last year's beer-themed Holiday Gift Guide. It's baaaaack, but this year, I've decided to branch out into some other, closely related gift ideas.

First on my list this year:

McMenamins Holiday Liquor Gift Packs

If you're a Portlander, you know that McMenamins brews beer, but did you know they also distill craft spirits? Well, they do, and it's mighty tasty liquor, too! I'm a big fan of their Monkey Puzzle Whiskey. I sure wouldn't mind finding some under my tree this Christmas morning...and wouldn't you know it, McMenamins has holiday liquor gift packs!

McMenamins Whiskey Trio Pack with bottles of Billy Whiskey (new!), Monkey Puzzle and Hogshead Whiskey. 
•  McMenamins Hot Buttered Rum Pack with Three Rocks Spiced Rum and hot buttered rum mix. 
McMenamins Phil & Satin’s Cosmic Coffee Kit with coffee liqueur, Phil Hazelnut Liqueur (new!) and house-roasted coffee.

Starting Nov. 21, 2014, each of the McMenamins Holiday Liquor Gift Packs are available for $50, while supplies last, at McMenamins 12 area gift shops located at: Edgefield (Troutdale), Cornelius Pass Roadhouse (Hillsboro), Kennedy School (Portland), Old St. Francis School (Bend), Crystal Hotel (Portland), Grand Lodge (Forest Grove), Hotel Oregon (McMinnville), Lighthouse Brewpub (Lincoln City), North Bank (Eugene), Old Church Brewery & Pub (Wilsonville), Gearhart Hotel & Sand Trap Pub and Roseburg Station Pub & Brewery.

Link for gift pack information: http://www.mcmenamins.com/HolidayGiftPacks

Link for retail locations where gift packs can be purchased: http://www.mcmenamins.com/1993-where-to-buy-mcmenamins-spirits

Lesher's Beerd Balm

Got a beard? Do you groom it, or do you just let it grow all crazy wild like a Neanderthal? Me? I'm not very fond of having fly away frizzies on my face--Mrs. BeerGuyPDX doesn't care for that look either. Of course, I don't like lady-scented cosmetics. I prefer to smell like a manly man among men. What to do?

Enter hops scented beard balm! Awesome!

Lesher's Beerd Balm is handmade to order from grapeseed oil, hops, shea butter, coconut oil, pumpkin seed oil, argan oil, beeswax, and vitamin E in Cleveland, Ohio. A 1.6 oz. tin will set you back $15.99.

I love this stuff! It tames my beard and leaves behind a pleasant, grassy hops aroma. Lesher will ship worldwide and you can order online at their Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BeerdedBeardCo

GrowlerWerks uKeg

Portland enjoys some of the most liberal growler fill rules in the nation. Basically, you can walk into any willing taproom, growler fill station, or even a few, select Fred Meyer stores and fill your clean, lidded container with beer. The problem I always have is that once I pop the top off a 64 oz. growler, I have trouble drinking the whole thing before the beer goes flat. That's usually within just a few hours. Man, I hate wasting good beer! What to do? What to do?

Enter the uKeg by GrowlerWerks. This steampunk looking piece of functional artwork can be loaded with a food grade CO2 cartridge--like the ones they use in whipped cream dispensers. The CO2 keeps out the air and the beer remains fresh for days and days! The uKeg comes in 64 oz and 128 oz sizes.

The uKeg also comes complete with a mini tap handle and a pressure gauge. A visual sight glass shows you how much beer is left inside the growler. Hey, isn't it the most badass beer accessory you've ever seen? You can reserve one for yourself through GrowlerWerks incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. They started out on Oct 15th with a goal of $75,000, which was reached the first day! They currently have pledges in excess of $500,000.


Beer Charm Bead

Hey, if the lady in your life loves craft beer AND she has a charm bracelet, how about getting her one of these cools beer charms from ThinkGeek.

The price is a mere $19.99 and it fits all major brands of bracelet (inc. PANDORA, Chamilia, Biagi, Troll)



Battle Mug

Do you have $223.99 burning a hole in your pocket? Would you like to drink your beer from one of the most outrageously expensive mugs EVER?

This bad boy is perhaps the most advanced piece of drinking hardware ever created. Here's the specs:

  • The most badass mug ever created
  • Made in the USA of solid 6061 T6 billet aluminum
  • M1913 rail interface system to mount your beer goggles
  • Includes a standard issue M4 carry handle
  • Individually serialized and limited edition
The Battle Mug is engrave-able and probably completely indestructable--unless you put it in the dishwasher. Ha!

Order your testosterone laden beer lover his or her very own Battle Mug from among the wide array of amazing, geeked out gifts at ThinkGeek: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/edfc/?srp=39

Well, that's it for now. Keep an eye out for Beer Guy PDX's Holiday Gift Guide - 2014, Part Two. Finally, I must again say that most 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! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Deschutes Brewery - Jubelale Winter Ale

Getting warm with a winter warmer.
Yup, it's yet another winter warmer that I'm reviewing tonight. It's dark and wet and rainy and cold--I'm just going to give it up and admit that the holiday season is here. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and then it will be Christmas before you can shout Kris Kringle!

Hey, here's something going completely off the rails. Ever hear of the Stumptown SantaCon? It's a free event that will take place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on December 20th. Basically, hundreds of people show up dressed in Santa suits and other holiday garb and...I don't know what they do next, but I'm going to find out! Looks like fun! I'm planning a very "special" Santa outfit. Stay tuned!

Sorry about that little transgression. Back to the beer! Tonight's brew is Deschutes Brewery's Jubelale. It's categorized as a "strong ale". This winter warmer comes in at a relatively modest 6.7% ABV. It was brewed with a bunch of malt: Pale, Crystal, Extra Special, Carapils, and Roasted Barley. A load of hops, too: Nugget, Cascade, Willamette, Styrian, Tettnang and East Kent Goldings. This seasonal beer has made an appearance for several years and has quite a loyal following. How was it? Thought you'd never ask.

The beer poured into my glass a dark, reddish amber color with an off-white head. The head made its way up to almost an inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. A good amount of sudsy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was sweet malt, overripe fruit, toffee and caramel. A bit of an herbal, grassy, floral smell in the background. Some light citrus hops in the mix, as well.

Taste was toffee, cocoa, ripe cherries and abundant, earthy malt. Bready, almost fruitcake-like flavor lingering after every sip. A light citrus zing at the end. 

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Smooth finish. Not particularly boozy, but I did get a just a hint of alcohol.

Overall, this is a nice, unoffensive, flavorful holiday beer. It would be an appropriate beer to drink with Thanksgiving dinner and while sitting around the fireplace afterward. I'm giving Jubelale a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.