Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gigantic Brewing Company - Whole in the Head Imperial IPA

Ain't that a kick in the head.
Gigantic Brewing Company has become one of my most favorite Portland Brewers. They put out some mighty solid beers. And not that it's majorly important, but their label art is pretty solid, too. I look forward to the artwork featured on their new releases almost as much as the beer inside the bottle.

Gigantic recently released their version of the Northwest IIPA. Whole in the Head comes with an ABV of 8.5% and some nifty label graphics. Hey, you can't go wrong with a spooky-looking skull motif.

The beer poured into my imperial pint glass a bright, orange/amber color. The white head came up at just over a finger thick and dissipated slowly. A good amount of lacing remained and left spiderweb remnants all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus hops and more citrus hops, along with a touch of resinous pine. Grapefruit and orange, with hints of tropical fruit. Pineapple and guava. Reminded me of POG in the background. Sweet caramel malt is also present and accounted for.

Taste followed the nose. The label proclaims this brew to be a hop bomb. My hops tolerance level is very highly elevated, so to me, a "hop bomb" means there should be some major stinging to the salivary glands involved. A big pucker that makes you shake your head and go "Bluhhhhhhhh!" This IIPA doesn't do that for me, however, it is definitely a tangy treat. A bit spicy and peppery in the finish. There's also a really nice malt flavor that hangs around in the aftertaste.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. This is the quintessential NW IIPA. I'm guessing Cascade or Citra hops in the mix? Whatever. I really like it and I'm not finding a flaw. The Wonder Beagle loved the smell of the stuff, too. I suppose every NW brewery has to have an IIPA in it's beer stable and this one is a f**king thoroughbred.

I'm giving Whole in the Head a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. A perfect score.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - American Rye

I pledge allegiance to this beer...
I picked up a bomber of Alameda Brewing Company's American Rye at Grocery Outlet the other day. Yes, Grocery Outlet, or as my wife calls it, The Used Food Store. No, the food at Grocery Outlet isn't really used, but it is primarily overstock stuff at dirt cheap prices. They have a fantastic craft beer selection with lots of local staples for way less than you'll pay at your grocery store or bottle shop.

American Rye has an ABV of 5.5% and comes in a bomber with a blue wax-dipped neck. Hey, I've already written about my thoughts on wax-sealed bottles: the stuff inside damn well better be worth the effort it takes to get the cap off. That's all I'm sayin'.

The beer poured from the bottle into my Shaker pint a hazy golden orange color. The off-white head was redonkulous. It rose up more than two fingers thick and was as clumpy, lumpy and creamy as any head I've ever seen. When I walked out of the kitchen, my wife commented about what a pretty looking beer it was. I concur. That head dissipated slowly and left a latticework of lacing all over the glass.

Smell was grassy rye and light citrus hops: lemon and grapefruit.Very light tropical fruit and floral notes in background.  Not an enormous aroma to this one. Then again, my nose isn't cooperating today.

Taste delivers a sharp, bitter hops punch. That bitterness is left pleasantly on the tongue with a spicy, peppery bite. The citrus from the nose is present in the taste: flavors of lemon and grapefruit. The balance is really nice. The hops don't overpower the other flavors and they all take turns skipping around on the palate.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. The finish is dry, as expected, with little to no sweetness hanging around at the end.

I love rye whiskey and I love rye beer. This brew went great with the homemade Indian dinner my wife prepared tonight. The Wonder Beagle didn't notice this one until I was almost finished drinking it. However, she did eventually work up quite an appreciative drool.

Okay, it was worth breaking a nail peeling off the wax. I'm giving American Rye a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - Huckleberry Hound Golden Ale

You ain't nothing but a
(delicious) hound dog.
I was trying my best to make it over to the last day of the Oregon Garden Brewfest today, but the best laid schemes o' mice an' beer geeks gang aft agley.

I did get to spend some quality time with my lovely wife and daughter, so the day was not lost--especially since part of that day WAS spent at a brewery tasting room. Heh, heh.

On the way home, I stopped at Freddie's for some hot dogs and charcoal for the grill. I also picked up a couple of bombers of fine craft beer. One of those brews was Alameda Brewing Company's Huckleberry Hound Golden Ale. The bottle proclaimed an ABV of 4.3%, but otherwise there was no info on the label about the stuff. Even the Alameda Brewing website told me only "Details about Huckleberry Hound Golden Ale are coming soon!"

This mystery beer poured into my shaker pint a hazy, golden amber color. The white head made it up to about a quarter of an inch with an aggressive pour and dissipated quickly. A thin cap of lacing was left from rim to rim and remained throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was toasty caramel malt right up front with a delicate fruity smell in the background: Apple, pear and berry.

Taste was light, earthy malt with a nice sourdough breadiness. Slightly sour fruit plays well off the underlying sweetness of this beer. No real distinct hops flavor that I could detect. A nice malty taste was left on the palate at the finish, along with some subtle spiciness.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. This is an easy drinking, sessionable beer. I'm assuming it's brewed with huckleberries, but it's definitely not overly fruity. I could chug a gallon of the stuff, and it really went well with those Hebrew Nationals I grilled.

Surprisingly, Merry the Wonder Beagle was drooling up a storm over this beer--a reaction she typically saves for beers loaded with hops. Perhaps she recognized her hound dog cousin on the label. In any case, I'm giving this tasty brew a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

In Praise of the Humble Churchkey

When I was a kid, beer came in a bottle or a steel can. Both vessels required a special opener to get to the beer. I clearly remember my pops calling those openers "churchkeys". As in "Where the f**k is that g-damned churchkey?!" Actually, he had them strategically planted all over the house--in his fishing tackle box, tied to the beer cooler, in the side pocket of his La-Z-Boy. If the old man was anything, it was prepared. God forbid my drunk uncles showed up at the house with a case of Schlitz and no way to get the cans opened. There would be fisticuffs for certain.

The churchkeys I remember were typically made of stamped metal with a can opener on one end and a bottle opener on the other. They all looked the same, except for a few that had a beer logo engraved on them. Mom had one in her kitchen, but that was STRICTLY reserved for opening cans of evaporated milk.

With the advent of the aluminum can and the pop-top, (I often wonder how many people still get the "stepped on a pop-top" reference in Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville) we saw less and less of those churchkeys around the house. When the screw-off bottlecap came into existence, those openers were relegated to back of the junk drawer. The only time a churchkey was needed was when somebody got all highfalutin and brought a six pack of some European import beer to the house--which wasn't very often. Pops had high suspicions about the sanitation standards in those "foreign" breweries.

Of course, everything old becomes new again. The craftbeer and homebrewing revolutions resulted in more and more beers bottled with old-fashioned, non-screw-off caps. I suppose because the equipment for bottling the old way is far cheaper and can be easily done by hand. Also, there's a certain cool factor involved. If the beer is worth drinking, it worth finding a way to get the bottle open. There's even a brewer out there canning beer in old-fashioned steel cans. Fittingly called Churchkey, six packs of the beer come with an old-fashioned opener. Their moto "it's worth the effort", pretty much tells the whole story.

The end result is that the old familiar churchkey has had a dramatic resurrection over the past few years. Not including those circus geeks who open bottles with their teeth, most of us beer geeks carry some kind of opener with us wherever we go. Mine is firmly attached to my keychain. (See on the top in photo above.) It's actually shaped like a key and waits covertly in my pocket until needed.

Bottle openers now come in a wide variety of cool shapes, sizes and designs. I have my eye on Mjolnir  from ThinkGeek. This Butterfly Knife Opener is pretty damn cool, too. (Dropping Father's Day hints like anvils.)

What do you use to open your beer bottles? Send me a message, or leave a comment. I'd like to know!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Silver Moon Brewing - Hop-tagon Imperial IPA

Eight is great.
I was searching for the perfect beer to drink while watching UFC 159 tonight and, by gosh, I found it at Grocery Outlet.

The beer in question is Silver Moon Brewing's Hop-tagon--like Octagon. Of course, the beer has nothing to do with the eight-sided cage where-in two mixed martial artists beat the holy bejeebers out of each other. No, from the label I surmised that the number "eight" refers to the number of hop additions that go into the brew during the boil. Cool.

Hop-tagon rings in with an ABV of 8.5% and 99 IBU's. That all sounded like my kind of beer.

The beer poured from bomber to pint glass a slightly cloudy, golden amber color. The off-white head came up to more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops and sweet tropical fruit. Light caramel malt and floral notes in the background.

Taste wasn't quite as sweet as the smell. The flavor of grapefruit is predominant. Bitter hops zing competes with a toasty caramel malt--the hops win. The alcohol is also noticeable in the aftertaste.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. The finish surprisingly creamy.

Hop-tagon is a pretty decent IIPA. While it isn't quite the hopbomb I was expecting, it's a pleasant drink. Merry the Wonder Beagle expressed mild interest in the stuff, but no noticeable drool was produced. Thus, I'm giving Hop-tagon a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Merry the Wonder Beagle Goes Hop-Wild

Merry the Wonder Beagle knows what kind of beer she likes and I really believe she would have stolen this pint of Laurelwood Portlandia Pils...if she had opossable thumbs...and a gun.

Please excuse the lazy, slouchy, beer-gutted slob on the couch. I have no idea who he is.

Laurelwood Brewing Company - Portlandia Pils

Better with a bird on it?
I have to admit that I'm pretty much done with the TV show "Portlandia". Yeah, it was kind of cool at first. I enjoyed seeing so many familiar local spots on the tube, and the program almost captured the spirit of oblivious individualism that is celebrated here. But after a while, it was pretty clear Fred and Carrie were laughing at us more than with us.

I knew that sooner or later somebody would name a local craft beer "Portlandia". I picked up a bomber of Laurelwood Brewing Company's Portlandia Pils at New Seasons this morning. I was curious about what kind of brew deserved the moniker. Gratefully, I was very pleasantly surprised.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a clear golden yellow color with a bright white, bubbly head. The head dissipated quickly but left a good cap of lacing across the top.

Aroma was floral, grassy and citrus hops with a mild, earthy, sweet malt smell in the background. A pleasant breadiness floating around in there, too.

Taste was crisp citrus hops: orange and grapefruit. Great little bitter zing to the stuff. Kind of like a baby IPA. The wonderful hop profile doesn't completely overpower the malt flavor. There's still a sweet biscuity, honey-like malt note there in the background.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. The finish is dry with that great bitter aftertaste.

I love this "NW Pils". It's very drinkable and will definitely find it's way into my BBQ cooler. I have to also mention that Merry the Wonder Beagle, my beer-loving pooch, went absolutely bat-crap crazy over the smell of this beer. My wife caught it on video, which I'll post later. I'm giving this brew a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Uncut Kill Devil

The devil made them brew it...
Thursday was my Friday so I dropped off the MAX near Bailey's Taproom for some malty libations. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea because the place was slammed. I found an empty barstool near the restrooms, where everyone walking past me felt compelled to poke me in the ribs with an errant elbow. Grrr. Beer get in mah belly 'fore I snap!

Gratefully, Bailey's always has some bangin' brews on their gigantic draft list. I knew they would have something to help take the edge off my grump. They did.

One of the beers I ordered was Widmer Brothers Uncut Kill Devil. This stuff is a rum barrel-aged strong ale with an ABV of 10.3%. It's a seriously serious beer.

It was presented in a 10 oz. snifter a deep, dark brown color with a lovely off-white head. The head dissipated quickly and a small ring of lacing was left around the rim of the glass.

Aroma was a big, bold and boozy right from the first sniff. Yow! Lots and lots of booze with molasses, dark fruit, brown sugar and vanilla bringing up the rear.

Taste was sweet, boozy rum and molasses. Roasted malt and more booze. Each sip was kind of like taking a straight shot of rum. Lots of warmth from the booze in this one. The flavors of oak, malt and hazelnut were left rolling around on the palate after the initial boozy zing.

This is definitely a sipping brew and probably more suited for an aperitif or to go along with a rich dessert. Medium to full mouthfeel with moderate to low carbonation. A bit of a palate-coater, for sure.

I like this stuff. It's certainly not an easy drinking, summer BBQ beer, but it would be welcome at any dinner party at my house. I'm giving Uncut Kill Devil a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Natian Brewery - Undun Blonde Ale

She's come Undun
Did I mention that I really like these pint-size cans that a number of craft brewers are packaging their wares in lately? I think I probably did. If not, well, I am now. Cans are lighter than bottles, don't break, store easier and chill faster. You can also toss a can across the room to one of your buddies without fear of it breaking and showering your party guests with sharp, injurious shards of glass. Yup, cans are cool.

One of the single cans I picked up on Monday was a pint of Natian Brewery's Undun Blonde Ale. Natian is located right here in Portland, Oregon. They make some mighty good beer.

Undun poured from the can into my pint glass a slightly hazy golden yellow color. The bright white head bubbled up to just about a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A nice thin layer of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was bready malt on the first olfactory intake. Pleasant floral and citrus hops in the background. Lemon zest and spice.

Taste follows the nose to some extent. Subtle citrus: lemon and grapefruit. There's a surprising little bitter zing after every sip that kind of sneaks up on your taste buds. The finish is dry and a spicy, malty, slightly bitter aftertaste is left rolling around on the palate.

Medium mouthfeel with a perfect amount of carbonation. Just enough to make the beer lively, but not at all fizzy.

I really like this beer. This is the one I want to have waiting for me after I finish mowing the lawn on a hot summer afternoon. And I have an old, rickety push mower, so you know I need a super-refreshing brew for that job. I can't wait.

Excellent beer and I'm giving it a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff.

Anheuser-Busch - Bud Light Platinum

When I was picking up my bag o' beers for reviewing this week, I found a single of Bud Light Platinum in the cold case mixed in with the craft beers. Just for sh*ts and giggles, I decided to buy it, try it and review it.

The 12 oz. bottle cost me $1.99. It was also a brilliant blue color. Wow. I noticed that the label isn't screened onto the bottle--it's a sticker. That's classy. ABV was noted to be 6%. The cap is, of course, a screw-off. No need for a churchkey with this brew. No siree.

Okay, this is almost too easy. I swear I'm going to try my best to remain objective here. Must... control... urge... to... snark.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a pale, clear yellow color. When I held it up to the light, I could see right through it! The extremely fizzy, white head barely made it up to a 1/4 inch tall and very quickly disappeared. Seriously, as you can see from the photo, the head vanished before I could get my camera fired up. Zero, zilch, nada lacing was left behind.

Smell was sour, grainy, corny horribleness. My nose did not want to linger over the rim of that glass for very long. No hops detected. Honestly, the stuff smelled very much like an old, mildewed dishrag.

Taste was like a malt soda mixed with rubbing alcohol. People really drink this crap? Seriously? I took two sips, held my nose, and tried to chug it down. I couldn't do it. I spit it out and poured the rest down the kitchen sink. It fizzed quite loudly on it's way down the drain--almost like a demon hissing at me.

Mouthfeel was thin and the carbonation was as fizzy as a Mountain Dew.

Bud Light Platinum did not surprise me, I'll give 'em that. It was every bit as terrible as I thought it would be. It's pure swill. I'm giving this beer (in name only) a BeerGuyPDX rating of a 1/2 crushed can. That's the worst rating anything can get on this lil' ol' blog. Now, excuse me while I go drink some Listerine to get the taste of this crap out of my mouth.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oskar Blues Brewery - G'Knight Imperial Red IPA

Red Rover, Red Rover,
send this beer on over...
I stopped in at Whole Foods on the way home from work and picked up a bag o' singles to drink and review this week. I picked up a couple of cans and three or four bottles. I think I mentioned in a previous review that I really like craft beer in cans. Cans are easy to carry, store in the fridge, and they don't break.

Tonight I'm drinking a G'Knight Imperial Red IPA from Oskar Blues. Right off the bat, I'm wondering what the heck kind of beer style this stuff is really going to be. A legitimate IPA? A red  ale? Something else? I had no idea what to expect.

The beer poured from the pint-size aluminum can into my tulip pint glass a clear reddish amber color. The white head rose up to a full two fingers thick. It was quite creamy and foamy. The head dissipated slowly and left a good amount of lacing behind. Quite an attractive beer, I must say.

Aroma was indistinct tropical fruit, sweet caramel malt and booze. There was quite a big alcohol smell to this 8.7% ABV beer.

Taste was sweet malt and a big sock of alcohol right up front. Mildly bitter citrus hops: grapefruit, orange and lemon flavors. Interesting. If it was a blind taste test, I doubt I would call it an IPA. It's almost like a malt liquor without the corn and skunk, and I mean that in a good way. I like it.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. The finish leaves alcohol on the tongue with remnants of caramel malt and hops.

G'Knight is a different kind of beer. I wasn't sure about it at first, but it really grew on me as I drank it. I'm giving this beer a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Oregon, the Rodney Dangerfield of Craft Beer?

There was an article in USA Today this morning that proclaimed itself--the bastion of American journalism excellence that it is--to be the ultimate authority regarding the top 10 craft beer states in America. I saw it referenced all over the Twitterverse. Arrrrgh! Once again, it appears the great state of Oregon has been slighted by yet another moronic mass media rag. Oregon is like the Rodney Dangerfield of craft beer. Where's the respect? Wasn't I just reading an article in another publication of ill-repute that listed the top craft breweries in the US of A? And wasn't some of Oregon's bestest and tastiest left conspicuously by the wayside? It's enough to make a proud Oregonian's blood boil (if it wasn't so gosh darn wet and rainy). 

As for the USA Today article, the only criteria they used was the number of craft breweries in each state. Excuse my abbreviated French, but WTF? Oregon came up number 4--behind California, Washington and Colorado. Poppycock! What a simplistic, flawed way to come up with a "10 Best" list. First, California is HUGE! Gigantic in both area and population. You could fit Oregon, Washington and Colorado INSIDE California. Hey, don't get me wrong, they make some great craft beer in California, but only in a few select areas. Have you ever been to Oxnard, CA? No craft beer in Oxnard. Second, since when did "most" equal "best"? I have three ex-wives. Does that make me better than a guy who's only been married once? I'm sure the former Mrs. Lindermans would say "no".

Los Angeles, the largest population center in SoCal, is a craft beer desert. Walk into almost any bar in LA and ask for a craft beer. Just see what you'll get. (It rhymes with Poo Goon.) And while San Diego is like the beer Mecca of the Golden State's nether regions, I dare you to find a craft beer bomber in that burg for under five bucks. I double dog dare ya. Additionally, the mysterious breweries of NorCal are in remote mountainous regions populated by Mad Max style maniacs, insane hippie pot growers and--dare I say it--zombies. It's true. People rarely come back alive from NorCal beercations.

Colorado also brews some decent craft beer, but that Rocky Mountain "air" makes people hallucinate and, really, they have a LOT to make up for--being the home state of  **shudder** Coors Light.

Washington? Come on...just come on. They've got some rogue legislators up that way trying to raise taxes on beer by about a zillion percent. It's true. Not a very craft beer friendly environment, if you ask me.

I believe that the only FAIR way to compile this list would be to compare the number of craft breweries to each state's population. Taking the top four, I came up with the following demographics:

124 craft breweries
3,899,353 population
= 31,446 people per brewery

130 craft breweries
5,187,582 population
= 39,904 people per brewery

136 craft breweries
6,897,000 population
= 50,713 people per brewery

268 craft breweries
38,041,430 population
= 141,945 people per brewery

As you can see, when calculated this way, Oregon comes way out on top of those other allegedly higher ranking states. Of course, I'm too gawd-damned lazy to do all fifty. If you think your crummy locale is the top craft beer spot, do the math yourself. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a grouchy ol' grumpy pants.

Finally, you know I'm just kidding. I love beer people from every corner of the US of A--except Asheville, NC. Just kidding! I joke! I joke! Every craft beer community has it's own different kind of awesomeness and I want to visit them all. Of course, I wouldn't live anywhere else but Portland, Oregon, THE BEST BEER CITY IN THE WORLD!

Hair of the Dog Brewing Company - Blue Dot Double India Pale Ale

Am I blue? No way!

Today is the day that we vile, polluting, litterbugging humans are supposed to celebrate Planet Earth and reinforce our respect for the environment. It's a nice concept, dreamed up by optimistic, well-meaning hippies. Nevermind that the hole in the Ozone Layer keeps getting bigger and bigger--along with that giant island of trash floating around in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And while the Luddites in DC insist that mankind shared this planet with dinosaurs and that Global Warming is a myth, you can almost hear Mother Nature weeping--as the acid rain falls. Sigh. I started this post on such a positive note...TIME FOR A BEER!

Of course, I needed to pick an appropriate beer to review on this special occasion. Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IIPA fills the bill quite nicely. That "Blue Dot" moniker refers to--what else--our fragile blue planet. Says so right on the bottle: "Make every day Earth Day."

The beer poured from bomber into my shaker pint a cloudy, pale orange color with a thin white head. The head barely made it to half a finger thick, and I was really giving it an aggressive pour. It dissipated quickly and left a pithy, thin cap of lacing behind.

Aroma was straight up citrus hops with just a hint of pine. The smell of sweet malt and tropical fruit. Pineapple, orange and tangerine.

Taste is a solid sock of bitter grapefruity hops ASAP. Lots of tangy fruit flavor. There's some malt way in the background, but it's fairly muted and overpowered by all the fruitiness. However, I wouldn't say this brew is too sweet for my taste. Interesting. There's just enough spicy, peppery rye bite to provide a dry finish and save the day. I couldn't detect any alcohol taste to this 7% ABV IIPA.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with moderate carbonation.

I was a tad apprehensive about this beer at first pour, but it really came through. Merry the Wonder Beagle was all over me, drooling like a leaky faucet through my entire drink. Disgusting, but the ultimate sign of approval from the top beer critic in my household. Blue Dot earns a perfect 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie Award.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boulder Beer Company - Obovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout (Nitro)

A lil' snifter full o' tasty.
Argh! After more than a week off, I have to go back to work tomorrow! My beercation in San Diego wasn't nearly long enough, so I had to extend it a bit today. I hopped on the number 8 bus and found myself at the Fifteenth Avenue Hophouse.

From the extensive taplist, I ordered several beers. One of them  was Obovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout from Boulder Beer Company. They had it on nitro. It has a reported ABV of 6.8% and 40 IBU's.

The beer was presented in a small snifter, although I really could have used a full pint. It was a deep, dark black color with a luxurious, creamy, mocha/tan head. Hey, it was poured out of a nitro tap, so that head looked like chocolate mousse. Pretty.

Smell was cocoa and coffee, with a light oak-y, smokey aroma in the background. Just a bit of earthy, over-ripe fruit scent following everything up: plum and black cherry.

Taste followed the nose. Bitter dark chocolate and burnt coffee. Roasted malt and smokey oak providing a good flavor balance.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Dry finish with primarily the smoked oak notes left on the palate at the very end. No alcohol detected by my tastebuds.

All-in-all, this is pretty decent stout. Very smooth and drinkable on the nitro. I'm giving Obovoid a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

GoodLife Brewing Company - Mountain Rescue Pale Ale

Rescue me? Rescue you!
Ah, what a perfect lazy Saturday it was. I fired up the Weber kettle for the first time in months and grilled up some chicken. There was a free UFC event on TV - Henderson v Melendez. And I have a fridge filled with tasty craft beer. It doesn't get much better than that. Life is good.

My first beer of the evening was brewed by GoodLife Brewing Company. How appropriate. I found a bomber of Mountain Rescue Pale Ale on sale at Fred Meyer. It was nice to pay under $4 for a bomber after my trip to the land of uber-expensive craft beer--San Diego, CA.

The beer poured from bottle to my imperial pint glass a hazy golden amber color. The off-white head came up more than two fingers thick and had good retention. Loads of lacing was left behind.

Aroma of sweet caramel malt and tropical fruit fills the nose behind citrus hops. A light herbal, floral smell is also present.

Taste is citrus up front: orange and lemon. The malt is right there, too. Very nice balance between the hops and the malt. Kind of like a baby IPA. A very mild earthiness at the finish. Lots of flavor to this one and it perks up as it warms a bit.

Medium to slightly thin mouthfeel. Good carbonation.

I like this pale ale and it was a welcome change up after the million or so IPA's I knocked back this week. Good stuff. Merry the Wonder Beagle was impressed by the aroma of this brew and couldn't stop whining for a taste. I'm giving Mountain Rescue a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ballast Point Brewing Company - Sculpin IPA

Nothing fishy here.
Holy moly, I drank a truckload of beer during my week long vacation in beautiful Southern California. San Diego is a helluva beer destination, but not as good as my hometown of Portland, OR, of course. (Oh, no, he didn't!)

Don't get me wrong, there's a ton of amazing craft beers to be had in San Diego, but you have to do quite a bit of traveling by car to get to their source. In Portland, you can easily visit a dozen breweries and brew pubs in one day--on the city bus. You can randomly throw a rock and hit a brewery in Stumptown. Also, beer prices are generally lower in Portland and we don't pay sales tax.

What I did find in San Diego is that just about every mom and pop corner liquor store has a MASSIVE selection of craft beer bombers and six packs for the pickin'. Expensive, but it's easy to find anything you're looking for. Also, the IPA's brewed in San Diego are the best kind of ridiculous.

My favorite San Diego IPA has got to be Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. Based on conversations I had with a few local beer drinkers, this beer is legendary among San Diego beergeeks, and for good reason. It's practically flawless.

The beer poured into my rented mug a clear, golden orange color. The creamy head rose up to almost a full two fingers and dissipated slowly. A good amount of lacing was left behind. I feel bad that I didn't have an appropriate drinking vessel to showcase that beautiful head. It would look grand in a chalice or an imperial pint glass.

Aroma was citrus hops and tropical fruit. Orange, pineapple and tangerine. A little bit of pine and some sweet malt in the background.

Taste is big bitter grapefruit right up front. Flavors of pineapple, orange and mango. There is a sweet, bready malt taste but it is very well balanced by the hops bitterness. Nice spiciness in the finish.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Slightly dry finish with a spicy zing left on the palate. 7% ABV but no noticeable booziness. It's an easy drinker and I was wishing I had another bomber of the stuff after I quickly finished it off. 

Sculpin IPA gets a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mother Earth Brew Company - Primordial Imperial IPA

It's a mother of a beer.
Last night in San Diego and I had one more beer in the fridge to try. Damn, they clearly like brewing IIPA's down San Diego way. There are so many different ones, I do believe I could stay down here a month and barely make a dent in the line-up.

Tonight, I'm trying one I've never heard of before: Mother Earth Brewing Company's Primordial Imperial IPA. This beer has a 9.5% ABV and a spooky demon-thing screened on the bottle. Not sure what that's all about. Looks kind of cool, though.

The beer poured from bomber into shaker pint a cloudy, dark reddish orange color. The off-white head was a full finger thick and disappeared at a moderate rate. A significant amount of lacing coated the glass throughout the entire drink.

Smell was citrus and pine. Alcohol was noticeable in the smell, as well as a sweet malt aroma in the background.

Taste was big bitter citrus hops: Grapefruit and tangerine. A big hit of pine comes through with just a bit of alcohol bite. Nice malt aftertaste is left on the palate. The sweet malt is very well balanced by the hops bitterness.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Creamy finish. Very easy drink, in spite of the higher ABV.

I really like this IIPA. I'm giving Primordial IIPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Societe Brewing Company - The Apprentice IPA

This one is hard to Trump.
Last day in San Diego. Stopped in at OB Noodle House for some lunch and a couple of brews. The food was pretty good. I got the lemon rare beef salad and my lady ordered steamed rice with Vietnamese BBQ beef. 

The restaurant was closed yesterday when I tried to wander in for a mid-day beer. Unfortunately, spikey-haired gastronomicon Guy Fieri was there filming a segment of "Triple D". All I saw was the wait staff standing around on the sidewalk. I wondered what the hub-bub was all about. For a minute, I thought they were being shut down for some kind of OSHA violation. Turns out it was just that f**ker Fieri keeping me from getting my drank on! Damn you, Fieri! Damn you!

Today, the place was pretty crowded but they got us seated very quickly. Of course, I wasn't there for the food--I was there for some beer. My first choice was Societe Brewing Company's  The Apprentice IPA.

The beer was presented in a shaker pint a slightly hazy, golden orange color. The white head was a finger thick and dissipated slowly. Lots of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was citrus and pine, along with a light floral note. Tropical fruit in the background: pineapple and melon. No real discernible malt smell present.

Taste pretty much followed the nose. Grapefruit, tangerine and orange with a very forward resinous pine giving a zing to the tastebuds. A nice malt aftertaste was left on the palate. No real alcohol bite detected.

Medium mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Finish is slightly dry.

Damn, they cook up some excellent IPA's in SD. Yes, they do. This is one of my favorites so far. I'm giving The Apprentice a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pizza Port Brewing Company - Poorman's IPA

Best head ever...
Pizza Port in Ocean Beach is officially my favorite craft beer destination in San Diego. I was terribly disappointed on my visits to several of the other famous craft brewers during my visit to this lovely town. They seemed totally corporate, stodgy and expensive--basically, the antithesis of what I feel a craft brewery should be about. Douchebag, preppy, country club types in ironed chinos and plaid shirts sipping on expensive beer and nibbling on fancy, stinky cheese plates? Please!

Pizza Port keeps it real. Honest craft beer, served with appropriate beer-related grub: wings, pizza, cheese sticks, pretzels. NOT chic-chic quail knots and massively over-priced pu-pus. Their taplist is loaded with Pizza Port's own great brews and many, many tasty guest taps. Plus, you can get out of the place without having to dip into your 401k to pay the bill.

My favorite beer from my last visit to Pizza Port was (appropriately) their Poorman's IPA. It's a double IPA with a respectable ABV of 9.5%.

The beer was poured into a shaker pint and was presented a lovely golden copper color. The white head was amazing. Just look at that photo. It was thick and creamy and rose up almost a full finger above the rim of the glass. The head dissipated slowly and left an abundance of lacing behind.

Aroma was citrus and resinous pine. Just what you'd expect from an IIPA. Light floral and tropical fruit in the background.

Taste was citrus hops up front: orange and grapefruit. Nice bitter hops bang to this stuff. Significant pine and just the right amount of skunky-funk way in the back. Delicious stuff.

Medium to just a little chewy in the mouthfeel. Great carbonation. Very hard to detect much of an alcohol bite, which is impressive given the 9.5% ABV. Very drinkable and my kind of IIPA. I really couldn't find a flaw.

I'm giving Poorman's IPA a BeerGuy PDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ballast Point Brewing Company - Habanero Sculpin IPA

Yes, I drank those sake shots, too...
We're still on our San Diego beach vacation and it's still raining. No worries. We're still having a good time. If there's one thing living in Portland, Oregon will teach you, it's how to deal with less than perfect weather.

I walked my wife over to a yoga class this afternoon and on the way back to the beach house, I spotted OB Noodle House. It looked like a cool little bar, so I decided to drop in and wait there while my lady pretzelized herself.

Oh, what kind of craft beer radar do I have? All kinds, that's what kind. As I approached the bar, I saw several dozen taps of amazing craft beer awesomeness. There was one empty barstool waiting for me. KA-BAM!

There were so many tasty brews on that taplist that I had trouble making up my mind. I finally settled on the Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin IPA. Chile beers intrigue me, mainly because the idea of mixing my two favorite taste treats seems like it should be such a winner. Sadly, I have never found that to be the case--until today.

The beer was presented in a goblet a lovely clear, copper orange color with a foamy white head. The head was a full finger thick and slowly waned to a sudsy cap that left a good amount of lacing all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus hops and luscious tropical fruit right up front. There was a definite, unmistakable Habanero pungency in the background. I was really hoping the taste wouldn't be all chile pepper sting. It wasn't.

Interestingly, the initial flavor bang from this brew comes from the hops. Straight forward IPA flavor profile: Lots of grapefruit and orange. The tropical flavors of mango and pineapple are present and accounted for. The Habanero zing rolls across the palate in the most delightful way, complemented by the initial fruitiness. Habanero chiles have their own wonderful citrus-like flavor and they are used in this beer for taste as well as heat. Awesome.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Great malt flavor in the finish, too.

This is undoubtedly the best chile beer I've ever tasted. Delicious and spicy without being heavy-handed on the heat. I need to take some home with me somehow. I'm given this beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ballast Point Brewing Company - Dorado Double IPA

Nothing fishy here.
I'm still having a great time on my San Diego beercation. Tonight, we picked up some prime ribeyes and grilled them for dinner at the beach house we rented. My lovely wife surprised me with a bomber of Ballast Point Brewing Company's Dorado Double IPA. She's the best.

Years ago, I caught a huge Bull Dorado while sportfishing down in Cabo San Lucas. What a beautiful fish and it was damn tasty, too. As soon as we brought it into the harbor, we had it cooked up for dinner. Not sure what the connection could be between this beer and the fish, but it makes for some pretty cool label art.

The beer poured from the bomber into my rented beer mug a slightly hazy, deep golden color. The bubbly white head rose up more than a finger high and dissipated slowly. A significant amount of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was very floral. I could smell this beer from across the room. Tropical fruit, orange citrus, muted resinous pine, with a spicy herbal note present in the background.

Taste was sweet tropical fruit up front--almost a little too sweet for my liking. Hops bitterness chimed in soon afterward. Orange and grapefruit with just a bit of funkiness. There was a spicy, herbal aftertaste.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Almost a little syrupy. Finish was creamy and that spicy bite lingered on the palate.

I like my IIPA's just a little less sweet, but this is still a nice brew. I'm giving Dorado a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Coronado Brewing Company - Idiot IPA

Day three of our San Diego beach vacation and damn if it isn't raining. Craptastic. Anyway, things could always be worse...I could be trapped in this house with Justin Bieber...or The Situation..or both. That would be horrible. Instead, I'm here with my lovely wife and a fridge full of tasty, local beer.

I picked up a bomber of Coronado Brewing Company's Idiot IPA at a local deli market. They had quite an extensive selection of local craft beers--at exceptionally high prices. Ouch. Nevertheless, we didn't rent a car so my aching feet made paying the premium for these brews well worth the expense.

I poured Idiot IPA into the only beer mug available in our bench rental. It was a clear, bright, golden amber color with a humongous fluffy white head. That head was a full two inches thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of suds was left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops and sweet tropical fruit. Orange, tangerine and summer melon.

Taste delivered a nice bitter sock from the hops right up front. Flavors of orange and grapefruit. Tasty caramel malt in the background.

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. Very creamy finish and no alcohol taste that I could discern, in spite of the 8.5% ABV.

This is a very easy drinker and I would buy it again without hesitation. It almost made me forget about the drizzle going on outside. Good stuff and I'm giving it a BeerGuy PDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mission Brewery - Dark Seas Stout

Having a cold one at Our Lady
of Guadalupe Church...
I'm in San Diego, be-otches! The land of sun and fun--although it appears we brought the cold, cloudy Portland weather with us. Nevertheless, we are having a blast. Today we took the Trolley from Old Town to downtown, seeking out the Mission Brewery tasting room. We found it! Even though the GPS on my Android phone kept insisting we were at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Whaaa? I guess a brewery IS my kind of church, so there you go.

I ordered a flight of tasters, which usually isn't my thing, but I've never had any Mission beers and they had so darn many on the taplist. All were excellent but my favorite was the Dark Seas Stout. So good, I got a glass of it.

The beer was poured from tap to glass a jet black with a pithy mocha head. The head disappeared before I walked it over to the table and no lacing was left behind. Just a tiny ring of bubbles around the rim.

Aroma was roasted malt, cocoa and coffee. There was a sweet, dark fruit smell in the background, along with some molasses and brown sugar.

Taste followed the nose. Nice bitter chocolate, rich espresso and a very pleasant smokiness. There was just a little bite of booze as it warmed up, but at 10.5% ABV, the alcohol seemed really well masked. More dark fruit flavor came out as it warmed. 

Full bodied and low carbonation. Just a tad viscous, but appropriately so. This is a smooth, creamy sipper. I really like it a LOT and will bring a bottle home with me if I can. Quite a lovely stout and I'm giving Dark Seas a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pizza Port Brewing Company - Kung Fu Elvis

Tae Kwon Hops to the Head!
Sometimes you don't realize just how badly you need a vacation until you're on one. Man, did I need a vacation! When our plane landed in sunny San Diego, I felt like a massive boulder was immediately lifted off my shoulders.

We ended up renting a cozy little beach house in Ocean Beach. As soon as we got settled in, I fired up the Yelp app on my phone and searched for "brewpub". Imagine my extreme ecstasy when I discovered a Pizza Port location 0.2 miles away!  OH-YEAH!

Pizza Port has a huge taplist that consists primarily of their own brews. So many, in fact, it was difficult to make a selection. Kung Fu Elvis immediately got my attention. Seriously, how could I pass up a beer called Kung Fu Elvis? Seriously. It's an American Pale Ale with an ABV of 6%. Did it have a hunka-hunka burnin' kick to it? Hells to the yes!

The beer was poured from tap into a Shaker pint a clear, golden orange color. The white head was a finger thick and dissipated while I was chatting with the brewtender. Man, I'm just not quick enough with the camera. It looked real purty with that head on there. A nice cap of lacing was left behind, though.

Aroma was citrus hops with a bit of resinous pine. Very floral with sweet malt in the background. Nice.

Taste followed the nose. Bitter citrus hops right up front, but not a pucker bomb. Orange and tropical fruit flavors. Nice malt flavor in the aftertaste.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Somewhat of a dry finish. Not at all too sweet. Very drinkable. I could knock back a growler of this stuff all by my own damn self--and I just might. I'm here in San Diego for a week.

I've heard that Elvis didn't really earn his blackbelt and that he was kind of a karate fraud. There is nothing fake about this Kung Fu Elvis, however. It's the real deal. I'm giving this one a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fort George Brewery - Tender Loving Empire NWPA

Love Me Tender...
Oh, boy! I'm flying to San Diego for a sweet vacation tomorrow morning. The plane leaves at 6AM, so I should probably pack...and go to bed early...but here I am drinking a beer. Hey, it's what I do. Picasso painted pictures of three-eyed people, Thoreau wrote about his pond ponderings, I chug craft beer.

I picked up a can of Fort George Tender Loving Empire NWPA at New Seasons on the way home from work. No, I didn't just stop for the beer. We needed milk or something, too.

The beer poured into my tulip pint glass a very hazy golden orange color. The white head rose up to a finger thick and quickly dissipated to thin cap of lacing.

Aroma was straight up citrus hops with mild pine notes in the background.

Taste follows the nose with a big bitter sting of pine and citrus hops. Orange and tangerine. Sweet caramel malt rolls around on the palate as an aftertaste.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Finish is dry with a spicy, earthy rye bite right at the end.

Fort George Brewery has yet to disappoint my tastebuds. This is a damn good Northwest Pale Ale. No wimpy scrimping on the big, bold ingredients. No sir. I like it. I'm giving Tender Loving Empire a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.