Saturday, October 31, 2015

Jameson Caskmates Irish Whiskey

Full circle?
I'm not sure exactly who first came up with the idea of aging beer in whiskey barrels, but it has certainly become an integral, inseparable part of the craft beer industry--so much so that used whiskey barrels have become a hot commodity. I do love a fine, oak barrel-aged beer, and apparently so does just about everyone else.

Brewing beer and distilling spirits have gone hand in hand for centuries, of course. The process is fairly similar until the fermented mash gets distilled and becomes hard liquor, and if you've ever had a "boilermaker", you know that whiskey and beer pair together quite deliciously.

I suppose it was just a matter of time until an innovative distiller decided to age whiskey in used whiskey barrels that had been used to age beer. Wait...what? I'm trying to get my head wrapped around this Back to the Future-ish, complex series of events: The barrels were first used to age whiskey--then were shipped off to a brewery where they were used to age beer--THEN they were shipped BACK to the distillery and used to age whiskey AGAIN.

Jameson Irish Whiskey is the maker of Caskmates, a whiskey aged in whiskey barrels that were used by an Irish craft brewer to age stout. Check out the video on Jameson's website that explains the whole thing HERE.

What has been created is a whiskey that is very smooth, mellow and contains subtle hints of stout beer-like flavors: coffee, chocolate, and just a hint of hops. If you like Irish Whiskey, I'm pretty sure you will enjoy sipping on Caskmates. I do believe it would make an excellent partner for a fine, craft stout, which is what I'm going to try this evening. Hey, I'm certainly not a whiskey expert, but I like this stuff!

FYI for PDX locals: I picked up the 750 ml bottle of Caskmates at Hollywood Beverage on NE Sandy for $32.95. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

McMenamins Breweries - Black Widow Porter 2015

Hi-dee, Spidee!
It's baaaaack! There are some seasonal beers that I can solidly get behind--mostly those do not contain mass quantities of the big, orange gourd. I know, I know, don't get all up in my grill about pumpkin beers. Some people love them. I don't. Yes, there are some pumpkin brews that I like, but not many. Gratefully, McMenamins has me covered with their NOT pumpkin Halloween beer: Black Widow Porter.

I look forward to the limited release of Black Widow Porter every year. It's only around for a short period of time--October 15th through Halloween. You'll need to get yourself to a McMenamins location ASAP to try it. Go now! Right now!

Here's a description of the brew at McMenamins website. They've been brewing this tasty, robust porter for 24 years! That's quite a legacy, right there. 

If you don't have any plans for Halloween, I recommend you get your spooky crew over to McMenamins Kennedy School at 5736 NE 33rd Avenue, Portland. That's right here in my neighborhood and it's a great place to show off your costume creativity--and drink a refreshing, cold beverage or two. I'll be there! This year, I'm dressing up a heavy-set, bearded guy drinking a beer. Genius, right? See you there!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pyramid Brewing Company - Reigning 3s White Pale Ale

Rip City, baby!
I picked up a bomber of Pyramid Brewing Company's Reigning 3s White Pale Ale at New Seasons today on my way home from work. Three things swayed my buying decision: 1) The label is emblazoned with the tri-colors of the Portland Trail Blazers; 2) The beer is new to me, and; 3) The price was only $2.99. Man, that's hard to beat.

Interestingly, when I got home, I found this press release about Reigning 3s in my email. Score! How's that for making my review easy for me? Hey, it's not plagiarism if I tell you up front that I didn't write the following:

(PRESS RELEASE) 
Pyramid Launches New Limited-Edition Beer With Portland Trail Blazers 
Reigning 3s features in-demand Lemon Drop Hop 
Portland, OR (October 26, 2015) – There are few plays in basketball more exciting or momentum-shifting than the three-point shot. Taking inspiration from the game, Pyramid Breweries recently teamed up with the Portland Trail Blazers to create its newest, limited-edition beer – Reigning 3s. This unfiltered White Pale Ale is Pyramid’s take on its own 3-pointer – using a combination of Cascade, Apollo and Lemon Drop hops. With 5.5% ABV, this beer rates 30 on the IBU scale. Due to limited availability fans will have to travel to “Rip City” to get a shot of this brew. 
“Lemon Drop hops are in high demand right now,” said Ryan Pappe, head brewer, Pyramid Breweries. “We used it along with Cascade and Apollo, then added real lemon peel to create a bold and citrusy flavor that we think matches the team and the city of Portland.” 
“Guests at Moda Center and Rose Quarter have come to enjoy the best craft beers in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re proud to again offer a very special brew in Reigning 3s,” said Adam Cook, Vice President and General Manager of the Rose Quarter and Moda Center, home court of the Trail Blazers.  “Pyramid Breweries has been an excellent partner of the Rose Quarter, and we’re thrilled to continue that support for our fans and our team by showcasing one of their best craft beers at all of our world-class events.” 
Pyramid also will capture the excitement of the 3-ball on the court by making a $10 donation to the Oregon Food Bank for every 3-point shot the Trail Blazers make during the 2015- 2016 season.“Being able to make a great beer, while giving back is an amazing feeling - we’re excited for fans to enjoy it all season long,” Pappe added. 
Reigning 3s is the second beer Pyramid created for launch with the Trail Blazers. During the 2014-2015 season, the limited-edition Schonz’ Red Session Ale saluted the “Mayor of Rip City”, Bill Schonely. 
Reigning 3s will be available on draft and in 22oz. bottles at the Moda Center and Rose Quarter, and at bars and restaurants around Oregon and Southwest Washington.

How is this special Rip City brew, you ask? Let's find out!

The beer poured into my shaker pint a slightly hazy, golden yellow color with a bright, white head. The head rose up to about a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin, full cap of lacing was left behind, along with thin, spotty webs of suds on the glass.

Aroma was lemony citrus with light floral and herbal notes. Clean, bready malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Lemon and orange citrus. Mellow, herbal notes. Hints of coriander and banana. Much more flavorful than I expected.

Medium mouthfeel with lively carbonation. Dry finish with light, spicy, peppery notes left behind on the palate with that clean, lemony citrus. 

Overall, this brew is an easy drinker and perfect for it's intended purpose as a stadium craft beer. No hint of alcohol and something that should please the palate of most Trail Blazers fans. I like it! I would certainly buy this beer at Moda Center and pick up another bomber at the store. Seriously, you can't beat the price. I bet a bomber can be found at other stores for two bucks. I'm giving Reigning 3s a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. A full can score is for the low, low price and for donating to the Oregon Food Bank. I sure hope the Trail Blazers make them pay up a LOT this season.


Redd's Brewing Company - Redd's Wicked Mango

Something Wicked the Way Comes...
My thing is craft beer, but every once in a while, I wander down to the other end of the supermarket cold case, you know, just to see what the un-hopped masses are drinking. Sometimes, when I'm down there, I see a beverage that makes me do a double-take and shout out loud, "What the F asterisk asterisk K is that S asterisk asterisk T?" (Yes, I fully pronounce the words asterisk asterisk just like that, too.)

Yesterday, I ran across a can of Redd's Wicked Mango in the Fred Meyer cold case. It was standing there all by its lonesome, beckoning me to pick it up. "Refreshingly Hard Ale" the label proclaimed. "Refreshingly Hard" is certainly an interesting choice of descriptors. Let's just say that I was intrigued. $2.89 for the 24-ounce can. I plopped it into my cart and wheeled quickly past the craft beers with great shame.

Redd's Wicked Mango poured into my Mason jar a dark urine color with no head whatsoever. It was soda pop fizzy and smelled like soda pop. The label proclaims the stuff to be "ale" but that has to be on the very loosest of terms. It does smell like mango, I'll give them that.

Just terrible tasting stuff. Heinous. Horrible. Super sweet. Candy sweetness hiding a rasp of 8% alcohol.

I don't believe this brew was actually brewed. A better term would probably be concocted. Concocted in a lab. A lab inside a broken down RV. By Walter White and his little toady Jesse Pinkman. Seriously, this stuff isn't a beverage, it's an alcohol delivery system. The label proudly proclaims the 8% ALC/VOL in big, bold letters.

I do understand that there are people out there who are only interested in getting drunk. The taste and quality of their alcoholic beverages mean very little to them. Heck, folks in prison will brew booze in toilets just to get a buzz on. Me? I prefer to have my taste buds fully engaged in my imbibing activities.

I do wonder who buys this swill on a regular basis. The sugary, soda pop taste quite successfully conceals the wallop of high alcohol. A couple of cans would knock a novice drinker on his or her buttocks in no time. I can only imagine the hangover. Yikes. I'm also imagining a number of these strewn across the lawn of a successful hipster party. The sun glinting off the empties as it rises in the AM. Shudder. Watch your step!

This is a first. No crushed cans for you, Redd's Wicked Mango! A perfect zero score! Not even worthy of the Golden Turd. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Montavilla Brew Works

New Brew Works in Montavilla
Hey, another day, another new-to-me brewery. That's how it is in Portland, Oregon, the best damn beer town in the whole wide world. No, no, no, don't even think about challenging me on that one. No contest, but if we DID have a contest, I bet I can walk outside my front door, even in this wet, soggy downpour, and visit more world class breweries in MY beer town than you can in YOUR beer town. Yeah, I'm not expecting any takers. Throws it up for PDX! BOO-YAH!

Recently, my hometown beer travels brought me to Montavilla Brew Works, one of the newest breweries to open here in Stumptown. Montavilla Brew Works is located at 7805 SE Stark Street, Portland, OR 97215, in the quaint Montavilla Neighborhood.

It's my opinion that every Portland neighborhood should have a topnotch brewpub that the locals can visit, enjoy with pride, and call their own. Montavilla Brew Works brings that home to its Southeast Portland namesake and then some. I wish I had a place like it in my neighborhood.

There's a clean and bright interior space with a wide open view of the brewing operation. I always enjoy seeing those bright, shiny tanks. The taproom also has a large outdoor patio area with a number of clean picnic tables. No food is served at Montavilla Brew Works, other than some light snacks, but they encourage folks to bring in their own grub from elsewhere. FYI: there's a pizza joint across the street.

The tap list included the usual suspects for this neck of the woods, a pilsner, a pale ale, a red and an IPA. I got the Major Dude IPA when I stopped in. I must go back to try some of the other brews. Honestly, I was on my way home from Roscoe's where I had more beer than even I would recommend for one sitting.

Nice, mellow atmosphere out on the patio when I was there. I could definitely hang out and have a leisurely beer or three. I'll be keeping an eye on these folks, for sure.

Zoiglhaus Brewing Company

I zee zomething new!
If you are visiting Portland and want to get around the city easily, the first thing you need to understand is that it's a city of unique, self-contained neighborhoods. The town is basically sectioned off into five quadrants (quintrants?) by the Willamette River and a couple of freeways. These quadrants, N, NE, NW, SE and SW, are even more broken down into about 95 officially recognized neighborhoods. Most Portlanders are generally content staying within the confines of their own neighborhoods and will usually avoid a trip over a bridge or a drive on the freeway, if at all possible. It's mostly a geography thing, but Portlanders do maintain and express a certain level of pride and preference for their own neighborhoods. I know I do. My NE Alberta Street neighborhood--the Concordia Neighborhood--is awesome and I rarely venture far from it, especially to do my drinking.

Like all urban areas, the city is changing, evolving, growing. Blight, gentrification, short-sighted development, homelessness, crime, gang violence and all the other maladies that affect every major metropolitan area also plague Portland. Unlike what you may see on TV or read in the media, Portland is far from Shangri-La. Nevertheless, it's still far and away the best place I've ever called home. Everything I could possible desire is found right here in Portland, and most of it is within walking distance from my front porch.

I do get out and about from time to time. With over 50 breweries right here in town, I don't have to travel far for great craft beer, but I do have to get out of my own 'hood. Yesterday, I traveled a few short miles to the Lents Neighborhood to visit one of the newest breweries in town, Zoiglhaus Brewing Co. I'm sure glad I did!

Like many other Portland neighborhoods, Lents has had it's struggles over the years. A recent influx of development funds from the city has had mixed reviews and some criticism, but I have no doubt Zoiglhaus will add a big boost to the area and help make it a destination neighborhood, especially for beer tourists. Hey, it got me over there!

I noticed just a hint of "new pub" smell when we walked inside the place. That's always exciting. The interior is massively spacious--very much a beer hall vibe. There was a mix of low and high tables, with booths around the perimeter. Clean, austere, modern industrial decor. They had 80's music on the sound system. It's been awhile since I was seated in a dining room with Joy Division playing in the background. Nice.

Corned beef Reuben, warm potato salad and a whole lot of beer!
I ordered 10 $2 tasters of every beer they had on tap. You can check out the current tap list HERE. Good stuff! I very much enjoyed the Zoigl Hefe-Weissbier (smooth) and the PDC Pale Single Hop Series. The Haus IPA is also a respectable Northwest IPA with the kind of hops profile that suits my tastebuds just fine.

The menu is eclectic with a German slant. That will ALWAYS get my Bavarian stomach growling, for sure. You had me at pretzels and spätzle, Zoiglhaus. I ordered the corned beef Reuben with warm potato salad. My wife got the Jägerschnitzel. We also had the Über-Sized Pretzel appetizer, some Weissbier Cheese Soup, and some fries. All the food was tasty and delicious.

A friend joined us for lunch with his two-year-old daughter. Zoiglhaus is definitely kid friendly. They have a children's menu and the large, open areas provide plenty of space between folks with kids and those who may not want to be within close proximity of the rugrats. There is also a play area for the active kinders.

The service was attentive and friendly. There was a sincere, welcoming vibe that will absolutely help bring me back again.

I'll be interested to see what kind of niche Zoiglhaus Brewing Co. can carve out for itself in the Portland beer scene. It's often hard to tell where that will go when a brewery first opens. I do believe they are off to a good start. You usually can't go wrong with good food and tasty beer.

The next item on my to-do list will be to figure out the TriMet bus route from my house to Zoiglhaus. I'll definitely be seeing them again soon! Zoiglhaus Brewing Company is located at 5716 SE 92nd Ave., Portland, OR 97266.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

McMenamins Special Beer Release - 30th Anniversary Hillsdale Ale

McMenamins Vintage Kettle
(photo courtesy of McMenamins)
(PRESS RELEASE)

30th Anniversary of 1st Brew at Hillsdale - On October 25, 1985 the very first beer was brewed up in a small copper kettle at McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery. It was a liquid malt extract brew, highly hopped for the era, dubbed Hillsdale Ale and was brewed by the Hillsdale’s very first brewer Ron Wolf. Falling loosely under the ‘Special Bitter’ classification of beer styles, Hillsdale Ale became McMenamins first bona-fide company standard beer, pre-dating Terminator, Hammerhead and Ruby.

The significance of that first attempt can’t be overstated. Today McMenamins has created, brewed and kegged over 1 million kegs.

In celebration of three decades of small batch brewing for one day only across the land a 30th Anniversary commemorative batch of Hillsdale Ale will be poured at every McMenamins location. This re-boot is based on careful studies of the original brewing records from Hillsdale and Cornelius Pass Roadhouse as it evolved during its short 13 month run. It has been parsed and adjusted with enough poetic license to translate what was historically a malt extract brew to a modern all-grain interpretation. We believe that what the original concept of that first company standard was hoped to be can now be poured into your pint on this special release date.

On October 25th stop by, raise a pint to our pioneer beer! $4 all day, $8 growler fills and a special stamp for your passport. And keeping the cosmos in proper alignment and bringing the narrative full circle, the Hillsdale Brewery will even be brewing Hillsdale Ale in its magnificent new copper kettle that day.

Some Fun Factoids: 
- Hillsdale Ale was brewed 29 times at the Hillsdale and 14 times at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse between 10/25/1985 and 11/28/1986. 
- Both locations brewed their final batches of Hillsdale Ale on November 28th, 1986. The last batch at CPR was brewed by John Harris and the last batch at Hillsdale was brewed by McMenamins 1st female brewer, Alex Farnham. 
- The brewers of the Hillsdale Ale were: Ron Wolf, Conrad Santos, Mike McMenamin, Brian McMenamin, John Harris, Scott Barrow and Alex Farnham. 

30th Anniversary Version Specifications: Malts: Great Western Malting NW Pale Ale Malt, Great Western Malting Munich Malt, Great Western Malting Dextrapils Hops: Centennial (Bittering), Brewer’s Gold (Flavor & Aroma), Tettnange (Flavor & Aroma)
OG: 1.045 TG: 1.010 ABV: 4.51 IBU: 38 SRM: 4

Monday, October 19, 2015

Stone Brewing Company - Thunderstuck IPA 2015

I was shaking at the knees...
I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Stone Brewing Company. The first real craft beer I ever tasted was Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale. One sip and I was hooked. I remember harassing and haranguing the liquor manager at my local grocery store to stock Stone beers in his cold case. Heck, I actually took a road trip down San Diego way to pay a visit to Stone's original brewery--long before they opened their fancy beer garden brewery.

I recall the old Stone location was near the Dr. Bronner's soap factory. Ha, maybe that's why Stone always has so much text all over their bottles, just like Dr. Bronner's. In any case, there's often a thorough description and lots of background info on Stone's bombers. Thunderstuck IPA is no exception. Here's an abbreviated version from the bottle:

Ella, Galaxy, Topaz, Vic Secret—no, these aren’t the names of the performers at your local “gentlemen’s club” (at least as far as we know). Rather, these are exotic, and admittedly rather sexy, Australian hop varietals that have been dancing on the minds and palates of the craft brewing intelligentsia around the world of late. We’ve been openly flirting with them via test batches, and they’ve become popular around our brewhouse thanks to their sensual flavors and aromas. So in developing our celebratory anniversary beer, we decided it was time to seal the deal and take these down-under-wonder beauties to the main stage at Stone. And what better way than allowing them to strut their stuff in the spotlight as the sole focus for the luscious tropical, peachy, citrus-like flavors and slightly resinous, aromatically dank earthiness of this special, all-Aussie consummation!

Interesting stuff, eh? So, is this anniversary brew everything Stone proclaims it to be? Let's find out!

The beer poured from bomber into my IPA glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a foamy, white head. The head got up to a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Sticky webs of lacing and a thin cap of foam were left behind on the glass.

Aroma was freaking amazing! Wowsers! Dank, resinous pine with a citrus medley of grapefruit, orange, and tangerine. Massive whiffs of over-ripe, tropical fruit, Mango, passion fruit, pineapple. Very different. I picked up a very light hint of durian. Foral and herbal notes. I could have kept my nose crammed down into that glass for an hour.

Taste followed the nose. Dank pine and citrus hops delivered a big, bitter bite right up front. Juicy tropical and stone fruit flavors announced themselves ASAP. Sweet, bready malt. Peppery, grassy, herbal notes. Fantastic!

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of sticky chewiness on the finish. Good carbonation. No hint of alcohol in this massively juicy brew.

Overall, this is a hops masterpiece. Incredible complexity. I love it and I absolutely could not find a flaw. Merry the Wonder Beagle drooled up a storm as soon as I popped the cap on the bomber. I'm giving Thunderstruck IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Block 15 Introduces Bottle Conditioned Series with Autumn Farmhouse Ale

Photo courtesy of Block-15

(PRESS RELEASE)

New series features seasonal rotation of bottle conditioned beers, available bottled and draft around Oregon.

Corvallis, OR — This Friday, Block 15 Brewing Company will release Autumn Farmhouse Ale, the first installment in its new Seasonal Bottle Conditioned Series. Keying off of seasonal styles, each new beer in the series will be available bottled and on tap at bottle shops and tap houses around Oregon. Artfully bottle conditioned with honey from Queen Bee Apiaries, using Block 15’s new custom-fabricated mixing tank, Autumn Farmhouse Ale is designed to be enjoyed both freshly bottled and cellared.

About Autumn Farmhouse Ale
Autumn Farmhouse Ale is a harvest celebration of Pacific Northwest regional farms, brewed with organic Northwest base malts, organic oats from Green Willow Grains, Willamette Valley hops, and honey from Queen Bee Apiaries. This locally inspired ale features aromas of fruit and spice and a refining smoothness that balances a rustic hop finish.

Grains: Organic Pilsen, Organic Pale, Rolled Oats, Monastique, Vienna
Hops: Willamette Valley Sterling & Cascade
Adjunct: Bottle-conditioned with local honey
Yeast: Belgian Saison

ABV: 6.85%
IBU: 28
OG: 1056
FG: 1004

Autumn Farmhouse Ale is available in 500mL bottles, featuring artwork from local artist Patricia Smith.

About Block 15 Brewing Company
Offering unique hop forward ales, crisp lagers, barrel-aged rarities and one of the Northwest’s most extensive wild & sour programs, Block 15 produces a range of ambitiously crafted beers, brewed with a nod toward fresh ingredients and fresh thinking. Brewer owned, established in 2008.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Portland Brewing Unveils a Small-Batch Beer for a Big Cause

ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 30 | SRM: 24 | OG: 16

(PRESS RELEASE)

Island Inspired Pumpkin Ale Joins Lineup of Benefit Brews

PORTLAND, ORE (Oct. 13, 2015) As the first autumn leaves fall from their trees, Portland Brewing honors the change in season and our local community with the limited edition Rico Sauvie Pumpkin Ale with Spices. The seasonal brew celebrates Sauvie Island, which at 26,000 acres is one of America’s largest fresh water islands, and one of Portlanders’ most cherished fall getaways. This benefit beer also supports the Oregon Food Bank.

With Rico Sauvie, the pumpkin patch never tasted so good. This draft-only beer, brewed specifically for fall, showcases notes of roasted pumpkin and a balanced blend of spices. Featuring a huge malt bill and bustling with high-roasted malts including Chocolate, Black and Special Roast, Rico Sauvie presents the perfect canvas for strokes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger, along with a slight aroma of Willamette hops to round out the experience. “There is no better way to celebrate fall harvest than to head out to the farm and see it for yourself. That is my inspiration behind this harvest ale brewed with real pumpkins,” said Head Brewer, Ryan Pappe. “I am thrilled to drive down Hwy 30 from our brewery and pick the best pumpkins to cook and incorporate into the brew. With delicious pumpkin spice aromatics and a rich malt body, this beer is a great pint to raise in celebration of another year’s bounty.”

The Rico Sauvie Pumpkin Ale with Spices is the fourth installment in the Guild’s Lake Series of neighborhood-focused beers, with others in the works. The Series derives its name from Guild’s Lake, a former wetlands in NW Portland where Portland Brewing is now located. A portion of the proceeds from each pint benefit the Oregon Food Bank and its holistic approach to ending hunger by bringing our community together to provide food, education and hope to our neighbors in need.

Rico Sauvie is available, beginning in October, for a limited-time and can be found at Portland Brewing’s Taproom and select Portland-area bars and restaurants.

Portland Brewing Company: Founded in 1986, Portland Brewing Company was one of the first craft breweries established in the city. Offering year-round, seasonal, and now the Guild’s Lake Series, Portland Brewing is committed to giving the public what they want: great beer. Portland Brewing is located at 2730 NW 31st Ave., Portland, OR 97210. For more information about Portland Brewing Company, head to their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Oregon Food Bank: Originally know as the Oregon Food Share, the Oregon Food Bank is a non-profit, charitable organization working to eliminate hunger and its root causes. Oregon Food Bank works with a network of partners statewide distribute emergency food supply to hungry families. For more information, or to donate directly, please visit www.oregonfoodbank.org

Sauvie Island: Located just 10 miles north of Portland, off of Hwy 30, Sauvie Island houses a wildlife refuge, farmland, and public beaches. It is the largest island in the Columbia River and one of the largest islands in the United States. Summer and fall are especially busy with sunbathing and fruit picking. For more information, visit the website at www.sauvieisland.org

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

No-Li Brewhouse - Brass Monkey

What? No 40?
Did you ever drink a Brass Monkey, aka the Poorman's Mimosa? No? Well, here's what you gotta do: get yourself a 40 ouncer of Olde English 800, or any other stinky-stanky, alcohol-fortified malt liquor, and mix it with orange juice. Just pout that OJ right into the 40 after chugging the swill down to label level. Oh, what a horrible cocktail. Just nasty! But after two or three of them, you won't care...about anything.

Brass Monkey, that funky Monkey 
Brass Monkey junkie 
That funky Monkey 
~Beastie Boys

I don't know why anybody would brew a craft beer that pays homage to the drink of choice of 1980's delinquents, but...hey! Why the heck not? Today, I'm giving it a try. I'm talking about No-Li Brewhouse's Brass Monkey. It's an American Strong Ale brewed with Cascade hops and orange peel. It comes with an ABV of 8.0%. Let's get funky, shall we?

The beer poured into my pint glass a deep, golden orange color with a foamy, white head. The head made it up to a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Thin webs of lacing were left behind as I imbibed.

Aroma was NOT the skunky stank of heinous malt liquor! I must say, that did disappoint me for a minute. Instead, there was a prominent smell of orange citrus and sweet, earthy malt. Very juicy in the initial olfactory uptake.

Taste gave a reasonable, upscale facsimile of the beer's namesake. No significant alcohol taste noted. Lots of orange citrus. Appreciable hops bitterness that I was not expecting. Tasted pretty smooth!

Medium to slightly fuller mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Smooth finish. It was a surprisingly easy drinker. Light hops bitterness balanced nicely against bready, sweet malt at the end.

Overall, this brew was a lot more than I expected. I liked it. Ha, I might drink the next one out of an empty Olde English 800 bottle, just for nostalgia. I'm given Brass Monkey a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Knee Deep Brewing Company - Breaking Bud Imperial Pale Ale

Say my name...
Guess what's legal in Oregon as of October 1st. Can you guess? Come on, guess! Okay, I can see I stumped you. Cannabis! Marijuana! Weed! Pot! The ol' Sticky-Icky! Yup, and now we don't have to be coy or shy about comparing Cannabis sativa to it's kissing cousin Humulus lupulus...I'm talking about hops, folks.

Yes, hops and cannabis are in the same plant family. People with an exposure to both plants have noticed similarities for decades. Hops and cannabis do not share narcotic properties, however. Nope, hops won't get you high. In fact, I understand that ingesting or smoking raw hops will give you the mother of all headaches, so don't do that. 

The two plants DO share certain aromatic properties. A perusal of the interwebs via Google scored me this interesting article from Popular Science that discusses substances called terpenes and terpenoids that cannabis and hops both contain. These molecules provide those shared aromas of citrus, pine, lavender (and that "dank" skunky smell); and give hops their desirable bittering property AND make cannabis a psychoactive drug.

Personally, I don't partake of the cannabis. Not my thing, but I've been around it enough to appreciate the smell of some dank weed. The aromatics are quite pleasing and often remind me of my beloved, favorite plant, hops.

Today, I'm drinking Breaking Bud, a beer from Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, CA. (Recreational cannabis is not yet legal in CA, but will be soon, I expect.) Their website describes the style as an "Imperial Pale Ale" and says it is "a fresh approach to the classic IPA." Hmmmm. The beer has a reported ABV of 6.7% and 50 IBU's. Breaking Bud is clearly a reference to the hit TV show Breaking Bad, and the Bud reference would seem to imply some connection to cannabis. That has me expecting some appreciable dankness. Let's find out.

The beer poured into my glass a clear, pale orange color with a bright, white head. The head rose up to over a finger thick with no coaxing. I had to back off the pour a bit to calm it down. The head dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin, full cap and webby lacing were left behind.

Aroma did have a touch of the dank. Yup, it's in there. Citrus and light pine. Juicy tropical fruit aromas of pineapple, mango and guava. A nice POG-like smell. Sweet, bready, malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. This beer is absolutely not a hop bomb. No big bitter pucker and heavy-handed dankness. However, that is not to say there isn't a TON of flavor. Surprisingly complex, this one. There's the orange and lemony citrus, a hint of grapefruit pith, and a flood of pine and tropical fruit on the finish. A little bit of peppery spiciness in the mix, too.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Hops bitterness left primarily on the palate at the end of a dry finish. It's an easy drinker with no hint of any alcohol.

Overall, this is a really nice beer! It's not what I expected, but that's a good thing. There's some real mastery of hops-manship demonstrated. I like it and would absolutely drink Breaking Bud again. I'm giving this brew a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. A 1/2 can of that score is for pleasantly surprising me. I bought the bomber at Grocery Outlet for $4.49. Deal!


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Basecamp Brewing Company - Forest Park Heritage Tree IPL

Drink a beer, save a tree...
Portland is a city of trees. The whole town was carved out of a forest. The nickname "Stumptown" was coined in the late 1840's due to the innumerable stumps left behind when thousands of trees were cut down to make way for development. Gratefully, many big trees were left behind, like the gigantic Douglas Fir that stands in my own front yard. I love that tree. It's about 40 feet tall and the trunk is about eight feet around. When it rains, the drops don't even make it though to the ground beneath its branches.

Most of my fellow Portlanders have the same affinity for old trees. Recently, a developer was prevented from plowing down three massive Sequoias in Southeast Portland due to some swift eco-activism, and the monetary help of South Park creator, Matt Stone. (You can't make this stuff up.)

A number of Portland's trees have been designated Heritage Trees. Heritage Trees are those that are regarded as being of "special importance to the city" because of their "age, size, type, historical association and horticultural value." Currently, 290 trees have been designated as Heritage Trees.

Then there's Forest Park, the largest urban forest in the United States, with over 5,100 acres of massive trees, lush vegetation and thriving wildlife. It's a huge park, with more than 80 miles of hike-able trails. (I know it's big because I got terribly lost there once!) The park overlooks a large section of the city of Portland and the area where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet. Forest Park is a beautiful, picturesque piece of wilderness right on the cusp of metropolitan Portland.

Today, I'm drinking a bomber of Basecamp Brewing Company's Forest Park Heritage Tree India Pale Lager. 20% of the proceeds from this beer goes to support the Forest Park Conservancy. The beer was brewed with Oregon-grown hops and Douglas Fir chips. Man, you can't get more Portland-centric than that! How's it taste? Thought you'd never ask!

The beer poured into my glass a clear, golden orange color with a bright, white head. Wow, that head was impressively creamy and clumpy. It rose up to almost two fingers thick and lasted forever. Thick webs of lacing were left behind.

Aroma was pine and citrus hops. Floral, herbal notes. Honey. Sweet malt and bready grain. Light tropical fruit.

Taste followed the nose. Citrus. Orange and lemon. Mild pine resin. Light, spicy, herbal flavors of lemongrass and pine needles. Tasty stuff.

Medium mouthfeel with lively carbonation. Dry finish that left clean citrus and pine hops flavors behind on the palate to savor.

Overall, this is a really nice brew. Good job, Basecamp! I like it! Enough to make this one a do-over. I may even go out of my way to get me some more. I'm giving Forest Park Heritage Tree IPL a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Pelican Brewing Company - Flock Wave Unfiltered Pale Ale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beers Made By Walking Event - October 10, 2015


(PRESS RELEASE)

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

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

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

Bazi Bierbrasserie - 1522 SE 32nd Ave. Portland

Base Camp Brewing

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

The Commons Brewery

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

High Street Homebrew Club

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

Hopworks Urban Brewery

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

10 Barrel Brewing

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

Belmont Station - 4500 SE Stark St. Portland

Hopworks Urban Brewery

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

Laurelwood Brewing

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

Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider

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

Upright Brewing

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

Horse Brass Pub - 4534 SE Belmont St. Portland

Burnside Brewing / Coalition Brewing Collaboration

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

Humble Brewing

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

Hopworks Urban Brewery

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

Likewise Bar - 3564 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland

Ecliptic Brewing

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

Hopworks Urban Brewery

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

Hopworks Urban Brewery

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

Widmer Brothers Brewing - TBA

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

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

(PRESS RELEASE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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