Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hopworks Urban Brewery Releases Three Rotating Seasonal Beers

Image courtesy of
HUB
(PRESS RELEASE)

Portland, OR - Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) today announced the release of three rotating summer seasonals - Pig War White IPA, Ace of Spades Imperial IPA, and IPX Single Hop Ale: Simcoe. Pig War is available in four-packs of 16 oz. cans, and all three beers are available in 22 oz. bottles, and on draft, throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Pig War White IPA
For this White IPA, HUB uses Hard Red Spring Wheat grown on the brewery’s estate farm on San Juan Island. This specialty grain imparts tart flavors, medium body and a signature wheat beer haze. Organic Northwest hops add layers of fruity, citrus-like flavor and crisp bitterness. A truly refreshing twist on a summer favorite. The name Pig War commemorates the confrontation in 1859 between American and British authorities over San Juan Island. Plato: 14, IBU: 60, ABV: 6%

Organic Ace of Spades Imperial IPA
This hopped out beast has a blend of NW hops added at every point: mash tun, first wort, kettle, hop back and dry hop. All this green goodness results in a beer with a huge citrus hop aroma, flavor, and a deep, clean bitterness. Organic Ace of Spades won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival and Best In Show at the 2014 North American Organic Craft Beer Competition. Plato: 19, IBU: 100+, ABV 8.6%

IPX Single Hop Ale: Simcoe
“IPX Simcoe” is the latest release in HUB’s single hop series, which has continued to be an educational celebration of hops for nearly three years. This release contains Simcoe hops that are both Organic and Salmon-Safe Certified from Loftus Ranches, a sustainable producer of hops in Yakima, WA. The hop is a well-known and popular hop for bittering and has aromas of citrus and pine. The single hop ale series highlights signature aromas and flavors of specific hop varieties. Each beer in the series is light-bodied with a dry, malt character and contains the same base recipe with the same finishing hop schedule. 60 IBUs and 6% ABV.

About Hopworks Urban Brewery
Hopworks Urban Brewery, a certified B Corporation, strives to revolutionize and inspire the brewing industry with practices that drive quality, protect the environment and improve the community we live in. Utilizing organic malts and a combination of locally-sourced organic and Salmon Safe hops, the company’s 20-barrel brewery produces 16,000 barrels of beer a year for HUB’s two brewpubs and for distribution throughout the Northwest. In 2015 Hopworks expanded its range of sustainably-made offerings with HUB Hard Cider and will open its third pub at the Pine St. Market in Downtown Portland. HUB is 100% renewably powered and “cradle to gate” carbon neutral. Visit Hopworks online at hopworksbeer.com and follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Ethics and Beer Blogging

My very first beer-related avatar...
It should be obvious to anyone reading this post that drinking craft beer is my hobby. Some people collect stamps or coins or travel brochures from motel lobbies; I collect beer drinking experiences. The problem with my hobby is that there is very little physical evidence left behind--other than my ample and ever-expanding beer gut--to represent the actual "collection". Sure, I could collect bottles or bottle caps, but that doesn't provide much detail, and my memory isn't all that sharp--according to my wife, anyway.

I started Beer Guy PDX back in February 2013 as a way to keep track of all the delicious craft beer I drink. It was really nothing more than a personal diary, a glorified spreadsheet, and I really didn't think anybody would be interested in reading my very unprofessional reviews and rants. Sure, I always imagined somebody out there was interested. I believe most bloggers are an odd mix of introversion, hope and hubris, myself included.

Looking at the analytic data on my blog, I know that about two hundred people read my blog posts every day. It's not a massive readership, but I certainly do have a loyal group of followers. The fact that people actually read what I write has absolutely changed the WAY I write and the content of my blog. For example, I now include news of upcoming beer festivals and events. I post information that I believe may be useful for tourists and local beer enthusiasts. Media and branding professionals send me press releases and I post many of them because I want to help promote the centerpiece of my obsession: Oregon craft beer. And while I do not consider myself to be a real "journalist" by any stretch, I have come to the conclusion that my little bit of power requires a little bit of responsibility.

I've created my own ethical tenets for beer blogging. They are as follows:

1) Keep it positive. I've read some pretty scorching beer reviews in other blogs. Personally, I don't see how that's at all useful or helpful. One of my main goals is the promotion of craft beer, particularly Oregon craft beer. It is a selfish goal, I will admit. The more successful the Oregon craft beer industry is, the more delicious beer there will be for ME to drink! WIN, WIN! If I taste a craft beer that I don't really like, I usually won't review it. The way I see it, there are so many fantastic craft beers that deserve a good word, it would be a waste of time to focus on the occasional clunker. There are some exceptions, like my coveted "golden turd" award, but those reviews are always tongue in cheek and about a brew that really, really deserves the turd.

2) Reveal any perks and freebies. I don't sell any ads on my blog. The ones you see are from Google AdSense. I don't have any control over the specific ads displayed and I receive very little money. They help pay for my web service fees and that's about it. Sometimes, brewers will send my a beer or two in the mail to taste and review--I know, right? How awesome is that? Also, I get invited to media events--beer releases, special tasting dinners, comped festival tickets. I always make an effort to be right up front about these situations. My opinions and my taste buds aren't for sale and I don't ever want it to appear that someone is buying a good review.

3) If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. This one goes along with number one. Another blogger wrote a mean-spirited review of a local beer festival a while back, and I found it so offensive I couldn't finish reading it. Much of the "review" focused on making fun of other festival goers for their personal physiognomy. Somebody was fat, somebody was skinny, somebody else was wearing white after Labor Day. That's not cool. I try to treat everyone with the appropriate level of respect and dignity. You won't find any mean in my blog, and if you do, please call me on it. I'll make it right.

4) Give credit where credit is due. I always try to cite the source of my information. If I snag a photo or a quote from someone else, which is rare, I'll post the credit. If possible, I'll post a link to the source.

5) Promote responsible imbibing. I never drink and drive and I will promote the use of public transportation and designated drivers as often as possible. Don't drink and drive.

6) Make it right. If I ever make a mistake in a post, I promise to always fix it as soon as I know about the error. I'll always take full responsibility for any screw up I make.

That's it. I hope my little ol' beer blog is a place people feel safe and comfortable visiting. I use some salty language from time to time, but hopefully, it's never too offensive.

Cheers!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The PORTLAND CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL opens next Friday!

The First Annual PORTLAND CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL is only a week away!

(PRESS RELEASE)

It will be hot, but here are some tips to enjoy the weekend!
Advance tickets are still available through midnight, July 2nd. Remember you receive 15 beer tickets if you purchase your mug in advance, and only 10 tickets at the door! Your mug is good all weekend – whether you attend one day or all three days. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at $1.00 apiece.
The festival will be a cash only venue. There will be two ATMs on site – one inside the festival and the other outside the gate. Bring your ID – both Friday and Saturday are 21 and over only.
Daily Highlights
  • Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will open the festival at 4pm, Friday July 3rd. The festival will be open until 10pm both Friday and Saturday evenings with last call at 9:40pm each night.
  • The Portland BEER HALL of Fame will be unveiled on Saturday, July 4thAt 3pm, the inaugural inductees will be announced by the Beer Goddess herself - Lisa Morrison! Ballots will be available to vote on next year's inductees.
  • Later in the afternoon Saturday, July 4th, we will announce the raffle winner of the original poster drawn by local artist Wilder Schmaltz. All proceeds will benefit the CaskAide charities.
  • Sunday, July 5th is Family Day - We will start the day with a yoga class for both children and adults at 11am (before the beer starts pouring at noon!). PCBF will be open to all ages until 7pm. There is no charge for children's admission. There will be a children's market with a variety of crafts created by kids, free vision testing by The Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation, face painting (of course!), and Ruby Jewel ice cream.
  • Throughout the weekend we will be announcing events happening at the Brewers/Writers tent, where you can meet and chat with various local beer celebrities.
Vendors include Floyds Coffee cart, Bunk, Farm to Fire Pizza, Urban German, The Dump Truck, Zymogear, Spencer Butte, Hip Furniture, Growlerwerks, a representative from Green Energy, Illustrated Playing Cards, Lyft, Cardamom Hills Trading Co., and - on Sunday only - Ruby Jewel Ice Cream.
Transportation options? PCBF attendees are encouraged to take public transportation:
  • We hope you to ride your bike to PCBF. We have a bike valet, courtesy of Spinlister, The Global Bike Share. Present your valet parking stub inside the festival for good for a 4 oz. pour. Don't forget a lock!
  • We hope you to ride your bike to PCBF. We have a free bike valet, courtesy of Spinlister, The Global Bike Share. Present your valet parking stub inside the festival for 1 free ticket good for a 4 oz. pour. Don't forget a lock!
  • The Portland Streetcar runs from Downtown, Northwest, & the Inner Eastside and stops a block from The Fields Park on NW Northrup.
  • PCBF will be partnering with Lyft for safe rides to and from the festival. Download the app and use the code “PCBF”, redeemable by anybody new to Lyft for a free ride up to $20.
  • Pedi-cabs will also be on hand – a gorgeous trip along the waterfront park for anyone looking to go back and forth from the Waterfront Blues Festival.
  • For those of you with designated drivers, there is a parking lot, Station Place Garage Lot 120, located at 720 NW Lovejoy Court, at the west end of the Broadway Bridge.

Tickets available for advance purchase through www.PortlandCraftBeerFestival.com or via www.BrownPaperTickets.org.
Friday, July 3rd 4pm -10pm
Saturday, July 4th 12pm – 10pm
Sunday – Family Day, July 5th 12pm - 7pm
The Fields Park at NW 11th Avenue and Overton, Portland, OR 97209
www.portlandcraftbeerfestival.com

Portland International Beerfest 2015

It's a Beer, Beer, Beer. Beer World...
I attended day one of the Portland International Beerfest yesterday. That wasn't very difficult for me to accomplish, since my office is a block away from the venue. I just strolled on over after quittin' time at 3:30PM.

This festival was previously held in the Park Blocks downtown, but moved to Holladay Park in the Lloyd District last year. It's a great spot for the event, in my opinion. Holladay Park is right on the MAX line and there are stops for the popular 8 and 70 buses in close proximity, too. Tons of free parking provided by Lloyd Center makes this perhaps the most easily accessible beer festival in Stumptown.

The park itself is filled with many massive shade trees, which keeps this outside venue as cool as possible. That's probably the very best thing about the Portland International Beerfest being held at Holladay Park this weekend, with temperatures expected to climb up into the 100's. It was certainly warm enough yesterday afternoon, but I had no problem finding spots in the shade. The festival organizers thoughtfully set up a few sprinklers in strategic spots throughout the park, allowing appropriately dressed festival goers to soak themselves thoroughly.

Many unique beers can be found at this festival. Check out the tap list HERE. Admission to the grounds is FREE, which is great if you are a designated driver (please don't drink and drive) or someone in your group doesn't drink beer. A number of food carts are scattered throughout the park, selling pretzels, burgers, brats, gyros, etc.

The drinking package at the festival is $25 and includes a tasting glass and 10 taster tickets. Additional tickets can be had for a buck each. Beware, however, that at this fest most of the beers cost more than one ticket for a 4 oz. taster. In fact, I only spotted a handful of one ticket beers. Most were two or three tickets and some were as much as five, so this can be one pricey beer festival. On the upside, there are a lot of beers that you won't find at any other fest. Lots of European entries that are pretty expensive on store shelves, too. 

This is a cash only festival, but I saw at least three ATM machines in the park. You might want to save yourself some time in line and bring a pocket full of money. If you don't have air conditioning, the Portland International Beerfest could be your best bet to beat the heat this weekend--other than the Naked Bike Ride, of course. Dress for the heat, wear a hat, hydrate, and ENJOY!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Breakside Brewery - Breakside IPA

You deserve a Breakside today...
"So, Captain Ridiculous, why haven't you ever posted a review of Breakside Brewery's Breakside IPA?" That's what I said to myself this afternoon when I was eating a delicious gyro from Cedos and washing it down with an even more delicious pint of the aforementioned beer.

"I don't know, Uber-Critical Me," I responded. "I really don't know."

"Jackass!"

Ugh, Uber-Critical Me can be such a jerk, but he was right this time. Four hundred and thirty sumthin' beer reviews and I've never written a word about one of my all-time favorites. That's like forgetting to toast your best man at your bachelor party. That's like...forgetting to tip the waiter who just saved you from a heinous choking death with a perfectly executed Heimlich Maneuver.  That's like... ... ...errrr, I got nothin', but it's a totally chump move!

Breakside IPA is an award winner. It picked up a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival, so it seems some other folks like it, too. In my own defense, Breakside Brewery puts out an unbelievable number of unique, awesome and amazing seasonal brews every year. Every time I go into their pub, I'm going, "Ooooo! I wanna try that! Ooooo, WAIT! I wanna try THAT!" They make it easy to take their flagship IPA for granted.

Today, Breakside IPA was delivered to my table in a shaker pint. It had a slightly hazy, golden amber color with a creamy, white head. The head had some staying power and left thick, webby lacing behind all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus and resinous pine hops up front. Juicy tropical fruit following. Grapefruit, orange, pineapple, mango. Floral and stone fruit notes in the background. These lovely smells required no coaxing. As soon as my nose came close to the glass, there they were. Ahhhhh.

Taste followed the nose. Respectably bitter hops asserted themselves. Just a tiny hint of dankness lurking about. Solid malt flavor didn't get lost among all that fruity goodness. Perfect balance. No hint of alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Surprisingly easy to drink. Clean finish. Hops bitterness and subtle toasty malt flavor left behind on the palate.

Who am I to argue with professional beer judges and my own taste buds? I'm giving Breakside IPA a perfect BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. I'm also awarding a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle didn't get a sniff of the beer I was drinking today, but I've seen her drool up a puddle for this brew many a time.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tip or No Tip?

Here's a tip...tip.
I have been very anxiously awaiting the opening of the Loyal Legion beer hall here in Portland. 99 taps of all-Oregon beers on my side of the river? Heck, yeah! Loyal Legion is scheduled to open it's doors on July 8th and you can bet I'll have my size 40 pants parked on a stool at SE 6th and Alder as soon as they turn the lights and taps on. 

One interesting tidbit that I read about Loyal Legion was that the owner, Kurt Huffman, will not be allowing tipping in his establishment. Instead, he plans to offer his employees a "living wage". Dishwashers will get $15 an hour and servers will make $18 an hour. You can read the KGW story about it HERE

Zero tips? I'm sure Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs would be tickled...pink. The tipping debate has been going on for a long time. I know some jer...uh, hum...folks who are dead set against tipping. Me? I tip and I tip generously. I visit enough bars, restaurants, beer halls and taprooms to appreciate good service, and I can recognize when someone is working their butt off to get a cold one (or six) in front of me. Is replacing the current tipping system with a higher rate of pay a good idea?

Huffman was quoted as saying, "The current tipping system in Oregon and other states where the tip credit is illegal is just not fair," Huffman said. "The way it is now makes for a very absurd inequity between the tip-earning staff and the non-tip-earning staff."

His reasoning certainly appears sound. Both of my step-kids have worked as servers and support staff in restaurants. My stepson is currently a server and barback at a restaurant in Eugene. Just based on his ongoing complaints, I can see that there are a lot of problems with the way tips are reported and distributed in Oregon restaurants. From what I can ascertain, many of the problems stem from managers who have arbitrary or inconsistent policies about the division of the tips.

What? Did you think that your waiter or bartender simply pocketed that fiver you left behind and spent it at 7-11 on the way home? Oh, no, Charlie! Quite often, a number of people are in line for a cut of that tip money.

Some establishments pool the tips and divide them evenly among the entire shift crew. That seems fair, but could have a negative impact on incentive and morale, especially when some workers aren't pulling their weight. Some restaurants have odd rules about splitting tips at different percentages among various back-of-the-house workers. One of my step-daughter's employers incorrectly reported the tips on her W-2, which created quite a problem for her when she did her taxes this year. It all sounds very complicated and beyond my meager math skills.

My initial reaction was to applaud Loyal Legion's no tip/higher wage decision, but I decided that I really didn't have enough information. Thus, I went right to the source: the bartenders and servers at my favorite watering holes. I asked them if they would be interested in working in a tip-less environment for $18 and hour. Their response was overwhelming AGAINST the no tip policy. Here are some of their direct quotes:

"My boss could never pay me a much as my customers do."

"That sounds like a good deal for someone who works at Red Robin, but $18 an hour would be a big cut in pay for me."

"They will never attract top people with that kind of arrangement. The people they hire will eventually take their training to a place like this one for more money."

"I'm a professional and I know how to work my tips. I make WAY more than $18 an hour on a busy night. Look, I just picked up $20 from the bar right now."

My thought is that perhaps serving just beer and pub grub in a massive beer hall might be the appropriate environment for zero tipping. It might be a successful way to go for Loyal Legion but might not work so well for other bars and restaurants. Certainly, a talented bartender in a popular bar or a waiter in a fine dining establishment would require more than the $18 an hour proposed. What do you think? I would love to hear from more restaurant and bar professionals on the issue. Leave a comment below, or drop me an email at wolf@beerguypdx.com 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kelly's Olympian - The Original Portland Dive Bar

 A Portland Original
I'm kind of a weird history buff. I like old buildings, classic architecture, gritty downtown areas, and ancient dive bars. Old, odd, quirky, haunted; any combination really piques my interest, but give me all four and I feel like I've struck gold.

Kelly's Olympian is one of the best dive bars in the city of Portland--and one of the first. The bar opened 102 years ago and has been operating continuously as a liquor emporium ever since--even during the Prohibition Era as a speakeasy. The building is certainly teeming with history. There's apparently a sealed up entrance to the notorious Shanghai Tunnels in the basement that I would love to see for myself. What are the Shanghai Tunnels, you ask? Only about the creepiest part of Portland history EVER!

The Shanghai Tunnels were a legendary series of underground caverns that linked numerous restaurants, bars and hotels with various houses of debauchery and dens of iniquity during the lawless days of Portland’s early history. The tunnels are allegedly haunted by the ghosts of unfortunate young men who were slipped knockout drops and subsequently dropped through trapdoors into underground cells, where they waited to be shipped off as unwilling crew members on merchant ships to China. There is actually a company here in Portland that provides tours of the Shanghai Tunnels. You can find more information about that HERE.

When you walk inside this most recent incarnation of Kelly's Olympian, there's no remaining evidence of the tunnels, or any creepy vibe. The first thing likely to catch your eye will be a number of antique motorcycles hanging from the ceiling and quite a few vintage neon filling station signs decorating the walls. There's an Evel Knievel helmet mounted above a flatscreen behind the bar. The bar spans almost the entire length of the interior space. I like that. I've never had a problem finding a stool to park my butt on at Kelly's Olympian.

In many other parts of the country, you'll find nothing but mega-corp beer on tap at traditional bars. Bud, Miller and Coors, oh my. Gratefully, almost every bar in Portland serves up some highly palatable local beer. The tap list at Kelly's Olympian is actually quite stellar. Offerings like Boneyard RPM, Laurelwood Free Range Red, Alameda Yellow Wolf--heck, I counted 24 taps behind that bar! Truly, a nice, eclectic selection, and they do have Bud, Coors and Rainier for people who don't know any better.

They have a full menu of tasty pub grub and a very affordable happy hour. Friendly, professional service. The bartenders at Kelly's Olympian actually know how to pour a beer properly, too! It's always a gold star in my book when a pint is presented to me with an appropriately perfect head.

I love this bar. I started dropping in when I was commuting from NE to a job in Beaverton. I sometimes got tired mid-commute and had to get off that damn MAX for a cold brewski or two. I liked to imagine that some working stiff sat on a stool in exactly the same spot 100 years ago, with an identical appreciation for the soothing suds he was sipping.

Kelly's Olympian is located in downtown Portland, near Pioneer Courthouse Square, at 426 SW Washington Street, Portland, OR. Check out their website for menus, tap list and a calendar of entertainment.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Oregon Garden Brewfest 2015

 
The Garden of Eden Beer...
Guess who just got home from the Oregon Garden Brewfest... Me! Yes! Me! Don't worry, I left plenty of tasty craft beer behind for the rest of you. Plenty.

The Oregon Garden Brewfest is still happening all weekend, folks. The festivities are going on until 11PM tonight, on Saturday from noon to 11PM AND on Sunday (Father's Day!) from noon to 5PM. Minors are welcome on Sunday. 21+ today and tomorrow.

Admission is $15 for any single day and includes a nice tasting glass and  five taster tickets. Additional taster tickets are a buck each and sold at several booths throughout the venue. There are also two conveniently located ATM machines.

Loads of food is available onsite. I saw some mighty good looking tri-tip q'ing on the grill while I was there. The restaurant in the Visitor Center was also open and serving up grub.

The Oregon Garden Brewfest is held annually at the beautiful Oregon Garden in scenic Silverton. What a venue! The grounds are absolutely gorgeous! We are talking 80 acres of carefully tended botanical gardens. The weather is absolutely perfect for a brewfest this weekend. Not too hot, no rain. Seriously, get yourselves, your wives, your husbands, your friends, your tolerable acquaintances loaded into your Family Trucksters and get on the road to Silverton! 

Need to review the tap list? Here you GO

You can buy tickets online HERE.

The vibe at this event is low key and chill. Lots of friendly, smiling faces. This one is going on my permanent calendar, for sure! Why are you still reading this? Shouldn't you be looking for your Keens and car keys? Go! Now!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Beer Guy PDX Father's Day Gift Guide

It's Father's Day next Sunday, June 21. What are you getting your beer-loving pops on his "special" day? WA-WA-WAIT! DO NOT SAY TIE! DO NOT SAY TIE! IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S GOOD AND HOLY, DO! NOT! SAY! TIE! Phew, thank goodness you didn't say tie!

Hey, if you now suddenly find yourself completely clueless about what to get your dad for Father's Day, here are a few ideas from your good ol' buddy, Beer Guy PDX:

Check this out! It's the Ka-Bar Ka-Barley Bottle Opener!

I bet your dad doesn't have one of these! And if he does, your dad is a total badass! This bottle opener is made from extra-durable Grivory and resembles the leather washer handle of the classic Marine Ka-Bar.

What's even more awesome is the price! Only $6.98 on Amazon and FREE shipping if you have Amazon Prime!

Order one ASAP for delivery before Father's Day, by clicking HERE.


Did you ever wonder what kind of bottle opener Jules from Pulp Fiction would have mounted on the wall of his den? Me, too! All the time! Well, that question has finally been answered!

Behold the It's On, Motherf**kers Bottle Opener!

Imagine the little tear that will come into your dear father's eye when he opens this baby up during brunch at The Heathman. Grandma will love it, too!

This solid chunk of painted zinc alloy awesomeness is also available at Amazon for only $13.89 and with FREE Amazon Prime shipping! Did I mention that it comes with SCREWS? What a deal!

Click HERE for ordering info.

Is this not absolutely the most hideous beer stein in all of creation? Seriously, there isn't a beer drinking dad that I know who would not want the Attack on Titan Ceramic Beer Stein!

This incredible piece of kitschy pottery accurately depicts:

- That horrible moment when the Colossal Titan breaches Wall Maria 
- Forever immortalized in this ceramic beer stein
- Have a drink while you run for your life!
I have no idea what all that means, really, and I'm too lazy to google "Attack on Titan". I'm guessing it's some kind of video game or anime reference, since you'll find this thing ON SALE at ThinkGeek.com.

Only $6.24! That's a savings of over 75%! For an ugly-ass stein of some inside-out dude! Heck, I want one!

Order your proud pops an Attack on Titan Ceramic Beer Stein by clicking HERE!

Also available on ThinkGeek.com is something that I wish was a piece of standard office equipment at my job: The Beer Briefcase!

Oh my gawd! Why didn't anybody ever think of this before! I'm imagining myself strolling fashionably late into the next bottle share, tossing this baby onto the bar, watching everybody gasp when I click the twin combo-locks open ...a chorus of angels sings, a golden light illuminates my face from within, then the crowd oos and ahs as I pull out bottle after bottle of awesome craft beer...

Uh? What? Sorry, I kinda zoned out there for a minute. Where was I? Oh, yeah! The Beer Briefcase! It's only $39.99 at ThinkGeek. Click HERE for ordering information.

Does the beertender at your favorite bar have a problem putting a head on a beer? Do you hate saying something about it because, well, he's kind of big and scary and you're pretty sure he didn't get those prison tattoos out of a gumball machine in front of Fred Meyer? Yeah, me too.

Gratefully, there's a new invention that can instantly put a head back on any beer! Ain't science swell?

Check out the Sonic Foamer!

This little device can fit in a pocket and is powered by six AA batteries. Just imagine how impressed your dad's beer geek pals will be when he plops this Doc Brown-ish machine down on the bar and starts giving everybody...new foam atop their beers! Awesome!

You can order the Sonic Foamer for only $29.99 by clicking HERE.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fort George Brewery (Collab w/ pFreim and Georgetown) 3-Way IPA 2015

3-Way or the highway?
Fort George Brewery has put together yet another brew à trois! You go, Fort George! Keep those collabs coming! Honestly, there have been lots of other collaborations put into cold cases from some other brewers that have fallen far short of my expectations. (I'm looking at you, Stone...and New Belgium.)

Fort George has never let me down. The 2013 and 2014 3-Ways kicked some major butt, so I had big expectations for 2015. Well, the anxiously anticipated 2015 3-Way IPA is now readily available in 16 oz cans all over PDX! Yay! I picked one up at New Seasons this weekend. I bought a single, but I've seen 4 packs around town for about ten bucks.

This year, the other two collaborators are pFriem Family Brewers out of Hood River and Georgetown Brewing Company from Seattle. How did they do? Is the 2015 3-Way a dream...or a dud?

The beer poured into my nonic pint a clear, golden orange color with a bright, white head. The head dissipated quickly and demonstrated moderate retention. Thin, spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was mild pine and a bouquet of citrus hops. Orange and tangerine. Tropical fruit and floral notes in the background.

Taste was all tangerine and tropical fruit up front. Mango and a hint of pineapple. A bit of an herbal, spicy edge. Clean, pleasantly earthy malt flavor.

Medium mouthfeel and good carbonation. Semi-dry finish with mild hops bitterness left rolling around on the palate at the end. Nice!

Overall, this is a solid IPA. Loads of flavor that just keeps on giving sip after sip. Yeah, this collab has a 3-0 win record. Wish I had purchased that 4 pack! I'm giving 2105 3-Way IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.


Reverend Nat's Hard Cider - Sarah Eats the Peach and Whiskey Sour

The apple's deepest purpose?
I'm a seasonal drinker, and obviously my drink of choice is usually beer. In the winter months, I gravitate toward porters, stouts, barleywines, high ABV winter warmers, and big, bold, barrel-aged beers. You know, comfort brews. However, with the warmer summer weather, I typically shun those thick, viscous tonsil-coaters and direct my attention to lighter, livelier libations. (Do I have my alliteration jammin' today, or what?) 

Lately, I've been seeking out some of the top notch hard ciders that are brewed here in the state of Oregon. That's a fairly easy task. In fact, some of the very best are brewed here in my NE side of Portland. I'm talking about Reverend Nat's Hard Cider. The cidery and taproom are located at 1813 NE 2nd Avenue, which is actually dangerously close to my office. Heck, I could walk there!

Reverend Nat is a real person, by the way, and a real reverend, too. He is also a cider wunderkind, a master craftsman with a cider press, a genius working with all things that have a core. Let's just say that the man makes some amazing ciders!

The taproom was opened in June of 2013 and Nat and crew will be celebrating their second anniversary on June 27 with a special party. Check out the details HERE. In fact, you should check out ALL of the events Rev, Nat has planned this month, in connection to Oregon Cider Week from June 18 through June 28. There are A LOT of fun events! Just peruse his Facebook page.

I highly recommend a trip to the taproom, where you will find 12 delicious ciders on tap. I also highly recommend getting there soon to try my two new favorites that surely will be sold out faster than an apple falls. (Obscure, Newton reference that no one will think is funny but me. Sorry.)

The Whiskey Sour cider tastes exactly like the cocktail. Wow! Fantastic stuff! How did he do that? Sarah Eats the Peach has the most pure, clean peach flavor I've ever had in any peachy beverage. What I like the most is that these ciders don't come off as "flavored". Know what I mean? There's a complexity and marvelous subtlety to the stuff that elevates far beyond what most people think when they hear the word "cider".

Also, if you want something to eat while you're in the area, there's a Pine State Biscuits right next door to the taproom, and unlike the one in my neighborhood, there's never been a line around the block when I've been by. Just a tip.

I give both Whiskey Sour and Sarah Eats the Peach a perfect BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.


Hopworks Urban Brewery - Totally Radler

A marriage made in PDX...
What a beautiful weekend it is here in NE Portland! It's 65 degrees at 10AM. The sun is shining and it will probably get up to about 80 this afternoon. Whole families are pedaling past my front porch, on their way to the neighborhood greenway for a Sunday morning bike ride or heading for the Farmer's Market.

The bicycle is an integral part of the local culture in Portland, OR. People make cycling a lifestyle here. Bikes of every conceivable design and confabulation can be found on the streets. A neighborhood bike rack can often look like a bike museum: battered beaters, perfectly restored classics, innovative road bikes, custom cargo haulers, homemade headscratchers--people love their bikes in PDX.

I saw a guy dressed like a pirate riding down NE 33rd Avenue the other day. He was on an eight foot tall bike constructed from at least two frames welded together. Yes, he was wearing an eye patch. Arrrrr! Just another day in Stumptown.

It should be no surprise that the distinct bike and beer cultures often blend together in Portland. (Heck, I even bought myself a two-wheeled growler transport. I named it Mo'. Short for Mo' Beer. Of course, no one should ever ride impaired.) Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) is on the forefront of that bike/beer cultural melding. Their pubs are decorated extensively with frames and bike parts, but it's not just for show. HUB is a "bike-friendly" brewery, with tons of bike parking, tools for use and sponsorship of all kinds of cycling-related events. Their BikeBar on N Williams is even partially powered by pedals. Yes, stationary bikes, hooked up to generators, allow patrons to provide some electricity for the bar while they imbibe.

My low-tech, Cascadian growler tote.
HUB makes a lot of awesome beer. They brew organic and pride themselves on a high level of sustainability. They walk the walk when it comes to a green, healthy lifestyle, which is why they seem to clearly understand the beer drinking needs of active people. Most folks think lighter and less alcohol when they're working up a sweat and it appears HUB is tapping into that big time with the recent release of their Totally Radler in 16 oz. cans.

I really like radlers: a 50/50 mix of a lager with lemonade or lemon soda. It's a summertime drink that has long been popular in Germany. I usually make it with a cheap lager and a lemon or grapefruit San Pellegrino soda. The knowledge that I can now buy an ORGANIC version, pre-mixed, in an easily chilled and transportable pounder is AWESOME! Wait...IT IS TOTALLY RAD! (Almost missed that one.)

How is it, you ask? I won't do the full-on review. It's a radler! The taste is clean, crisp and refreshing. Tasty, malty, HUB lager with delicious lemonade. Not too sweet. Only 2.9% ABV, so this stuff won't slow you down, whether you're pedaling a bike, pushing a mower, or manning a grill.

Good work, Hopworks! Yes, some people think radlers are an abomination and not suitable for human consumption. To those people I say...MORE FOR ME! Actually, I should tell those people to give this radler a try. It might change your mind. I'm giving Totally Radler a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Breakside Brewery - Back to the Future IPA

Too McFly for a Beer Guy?
In the 1989 blockbuster Back to the Future II, Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled in Doc's DeLorean time machine from October 26, 1985 to October 21, 2015 to help Marty's future children deal with Biff or Griff or somebody. All I really remember about the movie is that the complicated "butterfly effect" shifts they created in past, present and future history gave me a headache--AND THEY HAD HOVERBOARDS IN 2015!

I really wanted a hoverboard, and ever since 1989, I've been waiting patiently for mine! Where's my hoverboard, McFly? Hey, I guess this is only JUNE, 2015. I suppose somebody could invent a hoverboard by October...it's not going to happen, is it? DANG IT, McFLY!!!

Well, at least Breakside Brewery collaborated with Seattle's Fremont Brewing to invent a darn delicious IPA named Back to the Future. I got  the opportunity to knock back a pint of Breakside's version tonight at their Dekum pub.

The beer was brewed with new, "futuristic" hop varieties: Azacca and Ella in the Breakside version. This is the second beer I've tasted that was brewed with Ella Hops and I am digging them! Oh, yeah, it's the good stuff!

Back to the Future was presented to me in a full-sized pint glass. (I like getting a full pint. Just one of the things I love, love, love about drinking beer at Breakside.) It was a slightly hazy, golden orange color, with a white, fluffy, clumpy head. Excellent head retention with thick, webby lacing coating the glass throughout the drink.

Aroma was loaded with tropical fruit. Pineapple, guava, passion. Citrus scents of orange and tangerine. A bit of Grapefruit. Light, sweet malt. Floral notes with hints of peppery spice.

Taste followed the nose. Juicy! Wow, what a tasty beer! All the tropical fruit and citrus flavors I just mentioned, with an appreciable, respectable hops bitterness to remind you that you're still drinking an IPA. No alcohol taste detected. I believe the ABV is at 7%.

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of body to it. Good carbonation. Clean finish with the tropical fruit and hops bitterness lingering on the palate at the end.

Yeah, this is a nice IPA. Breakside Brewery sure puts out some great beer, and this is one of them. I hope they put this seasonal into their regular line-up. I'd buy it all the time. I'm giving Back to the Future a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. It almost makes up for the hoverboard. Almost.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

10th Annual Oregon Craft Beer Month Begins July 1st

OCBM Makes Summer in Oregon Even Brighter with 450+ Events 
Courtesy Oregon Brewers Guild
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 11, 2015) — The Oregon Brewers Guild is thrilled to celebrate craft beer in Oregon with the month-long party that is Oregon Craft Beer Month. The 31 fun-filled days of OCBM are loaded with over 450 beer-related events statewide. So go, sip new releases, sample unique pairings, and visit your local brewery — this is what July is all about.  
“There’s never been a better time to celebrate craft beer in Oregon,” says Brian Butenschoen, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “We have 230 breweries for you to visit and nearly 500 events at local breweries, pubs, restaurants and grocery stores.” 
One new highlight for 2015 is the first annual Portland Craft Beer Festival, at The Fields Park July 3-5, 2015. This new festival will showcase more than 100 craft beers from at least 57 breweries — all of which are brewed within Portland’s city limits. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind celebration of the hoppiest place on earth.  
For beer lovers and adventurers alike, the optimal summer getaway awaits with a trek down one, or all seven, of Oregon’s Ale Trails. Visit Oregon’s largest beer trail located in Bend and check out the Ale Trails inEugeneEastern OregonBreweries in the GorgeSouthern Oregonand North Coast. 
The sudsy month wraps up in spectacular fashion with the nation’s largest craft beer festival, the 28th annualOregon Brewers Festival, July 22-26, 2015 at Waterfront Park. Celebrate 28 years of craft beer with 90 different beers from around the U.S., as well as a dozen from New Zealand and the Netherlands! It’s the perfect ending to a month-long celebration of Oregon’s craft beverage of choice.

About Oregon Brewers Guild
The Oregon Brewers Guild is Oregon’s non-profit trade association for the state’s independent breweries. The Guild, which receives no state funding, comprises 138 brewing companies, 100 associate or supplier members and more than 3,500 enthusiast members or S.N.O.B.s (Supporters of Native Oregon Beer). For more information, see http://www.oregoncraftbeer.org 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eco Vessel "The Boss" Triple Insulated Growler

Beer to go...
It's my opinion that any self-respecting Beer Guy (or Beer Gal) should have at least one empty growler within arms reach at all times. You know, for emergency purposes. It's like normal people make earthquake kits--I have a beer emergency kit in the trunk of my car. I wasn't always so well-prepared, but I finally got my shiz-nit together. I have growlers stashed everywhere! No...not there! Come on! Keep it clean!

What are the qualities of a great growler, you ask? Here you go:

1) It must keep air out. Oxygen kills beer; makes it flat. Nobody likes flat beer, except slugs and snails, and I'd prefer to NOT use fine, expensive craft beer for snail bait. Therefore, a good, solid, airtight seal is muy importante!
2) It must keep beer cold. This is important if you're taking your beer with you to the park or the beach...or my house. It's also nice to be able to drink the beer you purchased at the growler-fill shop immediately after you get it home. 
3) It must be durable. Those old-school glass jug growlers break, so you can't just leave them rattling around in the trunk of your car.
4) It must keep light out. Light is not a good friend of beer. Of course, you're not going to store beer in a growler for any significant amount of time, but still, beer prefers cool, dark, places.

Today, I'm trying out the Eco Vessel "The Boss" 64 oz. triple insulated growler. It's made of premium stainless steel (in China--sorry 'Murica) and contains no BPA and no liners. It's label boasts that it can keep stuff cold for 36 hours and hot for 6 hours. The Boss can be purchased at the Eco Vessel website for $54.95 and comes in three colors: stainless steel, black and blue.

Check out the infuser!
One unique and awesomely cool thing about The Boss, is that is comes with a removable infuser. How neat is that? You can use it to make tea, or perhaps infuse beer with some fresh hops...hmmmm, what would I rather try? Come on! I'll have some fresh Cascades pretty soon. I can't wait to try that infuser!

I really put this growler through it's paces--on one of the hottest days of the year so far in Portland. I had The Boss filled with 64 ounces of Culmination Brewing's IPA I. The growler has a nice, wide mouth and the beertender remarked that he appreciated how easy it was to fill--no need to insert a hose of unknown cleanliness into a tiny-mouthed growler. That always bugs me.

It seemed like a pretty tight seal when I locked the lid down. The Boss actually has TWO openings. There is a tiny cap on top of the big cap. My only caution here would be to make absolutely sure you have both caps tightened down. I can foresee an issue where the growler fill person could perhaps loosen the top cap while tightening the big cap. 

I let that growler sit out on my kitchen counter overnight. When I got up in the morning, I cracked it open. A nice hiss sounded from the cap. Hey! That beer was still cold! Impressive! Of course, I couldn't just leave it at that. They said 36 hours and I had only given them 12. I left that growler sit for another 10 hours, while I went to work.

Amazingly, the beer was still chill enough to drink when I got home today. More impressive! It got up to almost 80 degrees today and my wife is stingy with the air conditioning. I'll finish off that beer before I go to bed tonight. 

Everything about this growler seems solid. We'll see how it holds up to the abuse I'm going to heap on it. If there are any issues, I'll update, but so far, it's a nice jug! I recommend!