Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Base Camp Brewing Company - Magnetic Meridian IPA

Hope my review isn't
too polarizing...
I stopped in at Orenco Taphouse for the first time yesterday. I already reviewed the taphouse (see below) but I still have to review the beer. I often wonder what people think when I start snapping pictures of beer with my phone. I'm sure beer geeks understand, but casual drinkers probably think I'm some kind of weirdo. Talk about weirdos, some hipster was drinking a bottle of Coors Light at Orenco Taphouse while I was there. Dang...just...dang. Gratefully, I was drinking something...better.

One of the beers I enjoyed was Base Camp Brewing Company's Magnetic Meridian IPA. It comes with an ABV of 7.5% and 62 IBU's.

The beer was presented in a large snifter. It was a clear, orange amber color with a thick, white head. I didn't get my phone fired up quickly enough to get a photo of the head in it's full glory. It dissipated at a moderate rate and left a good amount of lacing behind.

Aroma was mild citrus and pine hops, followed up by tropical and stone fruit. There was an interesting, spicy smell in the background that reminded me of something but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Taste was a big mouthful of tropical fruit flavors. Orange, guava, and banana. The hops came in with a nice pine zing. This brew would have probably been too sweet for me, but the hops gave it just enough pucker power.

Medium mouthfeel and good carbonation. Smooth finish with that pleasant hops taste remaining on the palate. Just a little bit of an alcohol hit there at the end.

That banana flavor was really different. Base Camp beers are often a little out of the ordinary. Magnetic Meridian is a solid IPA and I'd definitely drink it again. Good stuff. I'm giving it a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Orenco Taphouse

What wonders await behind that door?
Life sure is crazy, isn't it? When I was an Angeleno, I lived in the suburbs and drove into the city for work. Since moving to Portland, I live in the city and work in the 'burbs. Seems I'm destined to have one helluva, horrible commute no matter what I do or where I live. Hey, whadda ya gonna do? That bacon ain't making it to the table on it's own.

These days, I take two different buses and the MAX to get to and from the office, each and every day. It usually takes about an hour and a half  one way. Sometimes, when it's just too crowded and/or smelly on the public transit, I jump off and find a place to have a cold one...or two...or a few.

There are many, many fine craft beer establishments in which to imbibe in Portland proper, but until recently the pickings were rather slim on the other end of my commute. Not anymore! There's a new taproom in Hillsboro that has 20 rotating taps of craft beer awesomeness. Orenco Taphouse just opened on May 17th and I've been anxious to give them a try. Well, today was the day.

Orenco Taphouse is just a block away from the Orenco/231st Avenue Max Station, which makes getting there very convenient for a public transit commuter like me. To make things even easier, there's a TriMet transit tacker screen mounted inside the bar. Of course, that eliminates any possibility of using a missed bus or train as an excuse for getting home late. 

The decor at Orenco Taphouse is very modern and perhaps a little austere. It's a big, open space with multiple tables and, of course, a bar. I wouldn't call the place cozy, but it doesn't need to be. It's clearly set up to efficiently serve beer--lots of tasty, tasty beer.

Trackin' the taps.
Orenco Taphouse uses the DigitalPour menu system which, as my daddy would so indelicately say, is slicker than snot on a doorknob. (He really says stuff like that, I swear.) Not only does the DigitalPour screen show you exactly what's on tap, along with all the beers' vital statistics, it even indicates how much brew is left in the kegs. You can also check-in using Untappd or Foursquare and see your smiling avatar up on the screen. How cool is that?

The bartender was friendly and served up my chosen beers with a smile. The beer selection is an eclectic mix of the most popular craft beer styles. Many local favorites and new releases from the some of the best brewers around. Let's just say I was not disappointed.

I noted three big screen HD TV's were mounted in each visible corner of the room. I imagine they plan to show Timbers games and other sporting events for folks who need their attention focused on something other than their beer.

Orenco Taphouse is a great addition to the already jam-packed greater Portland beer scene. It is an upscale, genuine beer geek destination that was long overdue in Hillsboro. I'll definitely be frequenting the place.

Orenco Taphouse is located at 1198 NE Orenco Station Pkwy, Hillsboro, OR 97124.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Elysian Brewing Company - Space Dust IPA

Totally spaced out?
Elysian Brewing Company puts out some mighty fine brews. They also have some pretty cool label graphics, especially on their Manic IPA Series beers. The label for Space Dust IPA jumped out at me from among all the other bombers in the Fred Meyer cold case. Just look at that happy hop guy, uh...what's he doing? Vomiting up some Space Dust? Yeah, I guess that's what he's doing...but at least he's happy about it.

The beer poured from the bomber into my Mason jar (I was too lazy to wash a real pint glass) a slightly hazy, orange amber color. The off-white head was more than a little lively. It foamed up more than two fingers thick and was massively clumpy and lumpy. The head had great retention and left loads of foamy lacing behind.

Aroma was citrus hops: orange and tangerine. Lots of tropical fruit and sweet malt. Pineapple and mango.

Taste followed the nose. Tropical fruit and orange. The hops provided a nice bitter balance to the sweet, bready malt and fruit flavors. This one rings in just a little too sweet for my taste, but if you like very fruity IPA's, you've found your beer. It is definitely not a hop bomb.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. The finish was just a tad watery, with the flavors dropping off without much of a goodbye.

Probably not a beer I'll purchase again. Just not my kind of IPA. I'm giving Space Dust a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Free Will Brewing Company - Rapunzel Ale

NOT brewed with hair.
Here's another East Coast beer that I got in trade. Another good deal for me. (Thanks! You know who you are.) Not much information was to be found on the label of this beer. No mention of the style, ABV or anything. What is it? What's in it? A mystery pour! 

The beer poured from the 12 oz. bottle into my glass a hazy, golden orange color. The off-white head was more than a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A good amount of suds was left behind, coating the inside of the glass with webby lacing.

Aroma was citrus and floral hops with a prominent smell of Belgian spices in the background. Hey, it's a Saison!

Taste followed the nose. Belgian spice and a hint of stone fruit. Tangerine and lemon. Mild bitter hops.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. The finish was dry with a pleasant maltiness mingling with the spice.

I'm not sure why they named this stuff Rapunzel Ale. I didn't find a single hair in it. It's a pretty decent farmhouse ale that I wouldn't mind drinking again. I'm giving Rapunzel a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out or 4.

Columbia River Brewing Company - Ground "N" Pound IIPA

This sucker will put a
kimura on ya.
A friend sent me a tweet yesterday advising me to try Columbia River Brewing Company's Ground "N" Pound IIPA. People who know me know that the only thing I enjoy more that a fine craft beer is MMA. (For the uninitiated, MMA refers to "mixed martial arts", as in UFC. Ground "N" Pound refers to the basic MMA technique of taking your opponent to the ground, preferably on his back, and then beating the holy bejeebers out of him with big punches and elbow strikes to the face.) Giving a beer that moniker is kind of like throwing down the gauntlet for this beer drinker. I had to give it a try.

I wandered over to Columbia River Brewing's brewpub this morning and bellied up to the bar. The friendly bartender advised me that Ground "N" Pound is an "English IIPA", in that it's brewed with English malt--and lots of it. I was intrigued. The  tap list behind the bar advised that the beer comes with an ABV of 8% and 86 IBU's.

The beer was delivered to my beer mat in an English pint glass. An all day happy hour price of $4.50 made it a sweet deal, especially for a full pint. So many places only serve double IPA's in itty-bitty snifters. That always makes me sad.

The pour was beautiful, I must say. The beer was a hazy, brownish orange color and had a spectacular, creamy, light tan head that rose up above the rim of the glass. Quite a mustache coater. The head dissipated slowly and left a generous amount of sudsy lacing behind.

Aroma was sweet malt right up front. A big nose full of citrus, pine and floral hops. Light brown sugar smell floating around, too.

Taste gave a big, bitter hops pucker ASAP. Once that faded, a tasty malt flavor was left behind. Then the hops came back, rolling around on my palate for a good long time. I was still tasting the hops while driving home. I'm also still smelling that malt aroma from the suds left in my beard.

Medium mouthfeel, with just a bit of extra body. Good carbonation. I didn't detect much of an alcohol taste at all.

Hey, this stuff is an asskicker and deserves the Ground "N" Pound name. I like it because it's not your typical NW IPA. It's just different enough without being weird. I like it and would definitely drink it again. I'm giving Ground "N" Pound a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Cool Jerk Chicken

Burnin', burnin', burnin'.
Argh! It's Memorial Day and it's raining! I've been mourning the disappearance of my trusty Weber kettle all winter . It went back under the tarp on our deck and I haven't seen it for months. It's a sad, sad day, but I know there are plenty of grilling opportunities coming in the summer months ahead.

Summer grilling is one of my favorite activities. It's one of the few chances we dads and husbands get to impress and amaze our doubting spouses and picky progeny. We get to don our "Kiss the Cook" aprons, dust off our super-secret marinade recipes and do some BBQ ballet.

I've always grilled on a Weber kettle. My dad taught me how to use one and I've adopted the same techniques--make that rituals--that he always employed while manning the grill. For example, there's only one RIGHT way to get the fire going. Liquid charcoal lighter is a SACRILEGE. Meat should only be handled with TONGS when it's on the grill. BBQ forks are FORBIDDEN. Nothing should EVER go on the grill until the coals are ALL glowing red hot. Meat should only be turned over ONCE. No woman may EVER touch the Weber (like that one ever goes over well in my house). The grillmaster must mark his territory by belching loudly while holding a beer in his hand during the entire grilling process.

Yeah, I've mastered all of those techniques, and one of my favorite recipes is Jerk Chicken. This one is great because the sweet and spicy marinade is the rockstar of all marinades, in my opinion. Of course, this recipe includes beer as an ingredient. You can use anything, but a light lager works best. Anyway, enough of my blabberin'. Here's the recipe:

8 to 10 boneless chicken breasts
5 to 6 Habanero Chiles (use less peppers if you can't handle the heat)
1 large Maui onion
8 - 10 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp fresh marjoram
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp of brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup of your favorite beer
All ingredients go into a blender (except the chicken). Blend at high speed until it's a smooth, lumpless sauce. Set a 1/2 cup of the sauce aside, in a jar or sealed bowl, and refrigerate. Pour equal amounts of the liquid into 2 one gallon size Ziploc bags, add the chicken breasts, seal the bags, and massage to make sure every piece of chicken has a nice, thick coating. Refrigerate OVERNIGHT. When you are ready to grill the next day, pour the set-aside sauce into a small sauce pan, add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, and bring to a boil. Cook until it is reduced to a thicker consistency. Remove from heat and let it cool. You're going to use this sauce as a brush-on marinade when you're grilling. I grill on a Weber kettle. I use Mesquite charcoal and no smokey wood chips for this recipe. Grill until done, basting occasionally. WARNING: If you haven't cooked with Habaneros before, you need to know that they are extremely hot. I don't use gloves when I handle them, but I'm used to the burn. DO NOT rub your eyes or other sensitive areas, even AFTER washing your hands well. Trust me, you'll be sorry if you do. Don't scrimp on the thyme and the ginger. The fresh thyme and ginger make ALL the difference. Trust me on that, too.

Merry the Beer-Lovin' Wonder Beagle

Is that a craft beer I smell?
Meet Merry the Wonder Beagle. She's quite an extraordinary pup. Why? Well, she does a helluva Chewbacca impression for one thing. She can also close the door behind herself when she comes inside the house. Actually, she slams the door, but beagles aren't exactly known for their stealth. Beagles are world renowned for their amazing noses, and Merry's nose is truly amazing.

Like her papa, Merry is crazy about beer--hoppy beer. The more hops the better. Whenever I'm sipping a tasty, premium brewski, you'll find Merry at my feet with long, viscous strings of drool flowing from both sides of her mouth. The smell of beer is one of the few things that can rouse the pooch from a deep, snoring nap. (That's the origin of the "Droolie" award that only a few select beers are honored to receive.)

Merry generally ignores cheap mass-produced beer. Bud or Miller won't even get a reaction from her. She doesn't care for hard liquor, either. However, there are some beers that she can smell through the bottle. Lagunitas Hop Stoopid is an example. She'll be yapping at my feet before I even remove the bomber from my grocery bag.

It's the lofty aroma of a freshly opened craft beer that really gets Merry going. If I gently waft the bottle or glass in Merry's direction, she reacts like it's a slap to the snout. The aroma of hops is simply irresistible to her. She'll growl, harangue and bully me to try to get a taste, and every once in a while I'll indulge her with a couple of drops from the tip of my pinky.

Of course, Merry only gets that teeny, tiny taste of beer from time to time. Don't run off calling the Humane Society or go all righteously indignant on me. I didn't teach my dog to do kegstands or anything like that. Alcohol is NOT good for doggies of any kind, and we can't have her waddling across the living room with a ginormous beer belly--that's my gig. I often wonder if other beagle owners have experienced the same beermania from their pooches. In any case, Merry's beer-inspired antics are always hilarious and I never get tired of watching her drool. Good dog!

Anchor Brewing Company - Anchor Bock Beer

Get the bock out of here.
Usually I'm on a very specific mission when I go beer shopping. I know exactly what I'm looking for and I'm like the Terminator until I find it. Other times, I like to grab a bunch of single beers out of the market's cold case and stuff them into a bag without even looking at them. When I get the bottles home, I stick them waaaay in the back of the fridge and then just forget about them. Weeks or even months later, it's like a beer surprise.

Anchor Brewing's Anchor Bock Beer is a brew that I seriously don't remember buying. Where did I get it? I don't know. I think I picked it up a couple of weeks ago. I found it today, hiding in back of the Clausen pickles and that giant bottle of bloody mary mix that's been on the bottom shelf of the fridge since last summer. Ack.

The beer poured from 12 oz. bottle into the glass a deep, dark brown color with a thick mocha head. The head was a full inch thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was molasses and brown sugar. Toasted malt and prunes.

Taste was brown sugar and molasses. Bitter chocolate, raisins and lots of malt. Almost too sweet, this beer. If it wasn't for the slightly smokey, bitter aftertaste, it would be cloyingly sweet.

Medium to full mouthfeel with a syrupy quality. Low to moderate carbonation.

I'm not really feeling the love for this brew. It could have stayed behind the pickles for a while. I'm giving Anchor Bock Beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Voodoo Brewing Company - Voodoo Love Child

Who do? Voodoo!
You know, one of the hazards of this beer hobby of mine is trying to remain reasonably coherent after sampling multiple subjects of said hobby. Hey, I NEVER drink and drive (and neither should you), but I often drink and TYPE. No chance of anybody ever getting hurt by a drunk typer, but the results may not be very pretty.

I just polished off a bomber of Voodoo Brewing Company's Voodoo Love Child. 9.5% ABV ain't fooling around. Of course, I probably had a couple of other beers earlier in the day--you know, purely for research purposes. Anyway, I think you can see my problem. What exactly am I writing right now? Something weird? Embarrassing? Felonious? 

In any case, the subject of this review poured from bomber into my Chimay goblet a bright ruby peach color. There was really no head to speak of, but a significant amount of bubbles lined the inside of the glass.

Aroma was straight up fruit and more fruit: cherries, raspberries and a bready, yeasty aroma that made the whole thing smell like fresh berry-rubarb pie.

Taste followed the nose. Lots of fruit and a pleasant maltiness in the background. As the beer warmed, the alcohol became more apparent. However, the booze never eclipsed the sweet and sour fruit flavor.

Medium mouthfeel with very lively carbonation.

I've never been a big fruit beer aficionado, but this brew could change me over. What a pleasant, highly drinkable beer. Just excellent and an interesting, fruity take on a Belgian-style trippel. I'm giving Voodoo Love Child a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

The Oregon Public House - Saving the World One Pint at a Time

Choose the charity that gets your beer money.
Yesterday, I hopped on a TriMet bus to check out  some of the stops on my Beer by Bus postings. Hey, it's a tough job but somebody has to do it. It might as well be me. The reliable ol' Number 8 lead me to someplace new: The Oregon Public House.

It was just after 3PM and it looked like the place had just opened. A number of people were occupying picnic tables outside, having a pint in the surprise Saturday sunshine. (Hey, in Portland, you gotta take it when you get it.)

I was on a mission for beer, so I wandered inside. The decor is warm and inviting. Some high booths on one side of the room and tables in the front area. There's even a kiddie play area in a back. (Kind of like those separate play areas in doctor's offices...but with beer...and less germs.) The main space is exposed brick and open ceiling--the old building renovation style that is popular nowadays. The big natural wood bar and log-sliced stools are pretty cool.

They had a tap list of about a dozen local, quality craft beers posted on a blackboard and a nice pub grub menu, too. I didn't order any food during my visit, but I spotted an awesome looking Reuben on a table when I was leaving. I was almost tempted to pull a snatch and dash, it looked that delicious. Of course, I was there for some beer and I wasn't disappointed with the tap list. Ninkasi, Boneyard, Pfriem, Oakshire, etc. A decent selection with something for everybody.

I was greeted with a friendly welcome as soon as I walked in the door. That's always a pleasant surprise. I saddled up to the bar and ordered a Country Boy IPA. The friendly bartendress asked me what charity I wanted to support with my order. Seriously? Seriously. There was a blackboard behind the bar listing eight popular charities from which to choose. I picked Friends of Trees. Some of my best friends are trees.

The Give-O-Meter
The Oregon Public House is a non-profit pub. I was told that 100% of their profits go to worthy causes throughout the community. What a great idea! That means my beer purchases can actually contribute to something more than my ever-expanding beergut!

Apparently, there are quite a few charitable beer drinkers in NE Portland. The place really started to fill up by the time I was halfway through my beer.

The Oregon Public House is child-friendly. I know that's a turn-off for a few of my fellow pub frequenters, but putting the play area in the back should satisfy the grouches who are aggravated by the joyous sound of happy children. 

The favorite part of my visit was the Give-O-Meter. I love contraptions and this one is constructed with vintage beer steins. What does it do exactly? I'm not sure, but the thing emits smoke when a dial is turned. That's all I need to know. Stop in and see for yourself.

The Oregon Public House is located at 700 NE Dekum Street, Portland, Oregon 97211. Check it out and give your beer money to a good cause.

Tröegs Brewing Company - Flying Mouflan Barleywine

Seriously, what's a Flying Mouflan?
While I clearly have an unreasonable bias towards the fine craft beer produced here in Portland, Oregon, I have to admit that there is some awesome stuff being brewed all over the country. I recently swapped some East Coast brews for some Northwest brews, in my first ever cross-country beer trade. (Why didn't I do this sooner?) I sure hope my trading partner is enjoying the beers I sent her as much as I'm digging the new-to-me gems she sent me. They're awesome!

The first brew out of the box was Tröegs Brewing Company's Flying Mouflan Barleywine. It has a hefty ABV of 9.3% and an illustration of a fearsome-looking flying beer cap on the label. I have no idea what a Flying Mouflan is, but the beer is fantastic.

The beer poured from bomber into my goblet a hazy, ruddy brown color. The tan head was almost a finger thick and had good retention.

Aroma was brown sugar and toffee. Dark, dried fruit smell: raisins, dates, cherries. There was hint of citrus hops in the background.

Taste followed the nose with the flavors of caramel, brown sugar, toffee and over-ripe fruit. Reminded me of a Milky Way candy bar with a healthy, bitter hops note. The flavors perked up and the booze became more apparent as the beer warmed up in the glass.

Medium to full mouthfeel. The body rolls around on the tongue a bit, but it's not a tonsil-coater. This is a very easy drinker for the style. I polished off the 22 oz. bomber lickity-split.

Awesome barleywine. The only flaw I could find is that I won't be able to pick up a bottle of Flying Mouflan at my local bottleshop any time I want one. I'm giving this one a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie because it made the Wonder Beagle howl, too.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - El Torero Organic IPA

Toro! Toro! Toro!
Memorial Day weekend and Alameda Brewing Company is offering $5.00 growler fills. Heck, that's about as much as you'd pay for a pint. I'm there! It's a UFC fight night, so I'm going to need some libations. Cheap, good beer. You can't go wrong there.

I bolted over to that brewpub as soon as they opened and got myself a  growler of El Torero Organic IPA. It was a tough choice and I was considering going home and dusting off another growler, but common sense prevailed and I just got the one.

The beer poured from growler into my shaker pint a slightly hazy, golden orange color. The frothy white head came up to more than a finger and a half thick and had great retention. A healthy cap of lacing was left behind and the glass got a good coating of spiderweb suds.

Aroma delivered an immediate dose of sweet, earthy malt. Smell of citrus hops in the follow up: orange and tangerine. There's also hints of tropical and stone fruit in the background.

Taste was earthy malt and big, bitter hops. Really good balance. There was a spicy, herbal zing. The underlying sweetness and fruity flavor was prominent in the middle but soon got eclipsed by the hops bitterness--which is how I like it. Sugary sweet IPA's are not my thing.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Finish had some creaminess, but the bitter hops taste was the last thing on the palate.

This IPA has decent character and is highly drinkable. Not sure about the ABV but I'm guessing it's around 7%. I made a good choice. El Torero gets a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, May 24, 2013

GoodLife Brewing Company - Sweet As! Pacific Ale

Was praying they didn't
forget a letter...
It's Friday! It's Friday! It's Friday! Long weekend Friday! I don't care that it's raining like a motherflubber. I'm not working for three days! Well, okay, I have to work a little bit tomorrow...and Sunday, too...but other than that... Oh, crap, I probably have to squeeze in some work on Monday, too... Well, at least I have a fridge full of beer!

I pulled out a cold can of GoodLife Brewing Company's Sweet As! Pacific Ale and popped that sucker open as soon as I got home from the office. It's a wheat beer brewed with Pacifica and Galaxy hops and comes with an ABV of 6.0%.

The beer poured from 12 oz. can into my 12 oz. glass a hazy golden color with a bubbly, white head. The head rose up to about a 1/2 inch tall and quickly dissipated. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was big on citrus hops: grapefruit. There was also a heavy presence of sweet tropical fruit: pineapple and mango. A spicy, herbal smell lingered in the background.

Taste was tropical and stone fruit. Interesting that the citrus that was some prominent in the nose took a backseat in the flavor. Spicy, slightly bitter hops zing is left on the palate in the finish, which is particularly dry.

Medium mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation.

Again, I find myself drinking a beer that would most absolutely be a very refreshing summer brew on a rainy Portland day. I must remember to have a few of these when the weather is more appropriate. Nevertheless, this is a tasty beer and I'm giving it a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. No reaction from the Wonder Beagle noted.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bison Brewing Company - Organic Chocolate Stout

Who doesn't love chocolate?
I've got plenty of beers in the fridge tonight, but nobody is interested in sharing them with me, except the Wonder Beagle, of course. She's not allowed to drink the stuff--only sniff it--so she's not much of a drinking buddy. Plus, the dog is farting up a storm, which isn't adding to the ambiance. Let's just say it's hard to drink with my t-shirt pulled up over my nose.

My second beer of the evening is Bison Brewing Company's Organic Chocolate Stout. The brew boasts that it is brewed with organic Peruvian cocoa and comes with an ABV of 5.0%.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a solid, dark black color with a full finger of creamy, mocha head. The head dissipated quickly and left very little lacing behind.

Aroma was coffee, cocoa and toasted malt. Some light scents of over-ripe, dark fruit present in the background.

Taste is bittersweet chocolate and coffee. Roasted, earthy malt flavor. A nice chocolate malt flavor is left on the palate after every sip.

Medium mouthfeel and medium to low carbonation. Slightly dry finish.

This is not an Imperial Stout, nor is it aged in any kind of barrel. Anybody expecting that kind of bang from this brew will be disappointed. That said, it is a very drinkable, tasty stout. I like that it isn't too sweet but still delivers the chocolate it promises on the label.

I enjoyed this stout and would definitely drink it again. I'm giving it a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Elysian Brewing Company - Loser Pale Ale

Try it. What do you have to loose?
When I was junior in high school, a mean girl named Becky (a popular, blonde cheerleader) got her hot-pink manicured fingers on my yearbook and inscribed one simple word with her loopy, teenage penmanship: LOOSER. Punctuated with the obligatory smiley face at the end. Of course, I'm pretty sure the illiterate little witch meant LOSER. She was quite proud of her nasty defacement of my 1977 edition of "The Constellation". My spot-on retort of "at least I can spell" was completely lost on her. God, I hated high school. 

When I spotted a bottle of Elysian's Loser Pale Ale in the cold case at Whole Foods today, I have to admit that I felt a little wounded. Why would a bottle of my favorite beverage mock me so? Just like Becky Whatshername. Why? I had to buy it, of course. I'd show 'em who's a loser with my fearsome beer reviewing skills.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a deep, golden orange color with a slightly off-white head. The head was almost an inch thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind from rim to rim.

Aroma was citrus and herbal hops. Caramel malt smell in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Orange and lemon. Sweet caramel malt. There was a definite alcohol taste throughout the entire drink. The somewhat muted hops and malt flavors couldn't quite eclipse the 7.0% ABV.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Dry finish.

Not an awesome beer, but I certainly wouldn't turn one down. The Wonder Beagle wasn't interested enough to climb down from her perch on the top of the sofa back for this one. I'm giving Loser a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

10 Barrel Brewing Company - Swill Beer

Swill, or swell?
Beer Guy, stop taking yourself so serious, our Swill was designed to throw down!
That's what it says right there on the label of 10 Barrel Brewing Company's Swill Beer. Hey, you talkin' to me 10 Barrel? I said, you talkin' to me? Okay, I'm pretty sure that message wasn't meant for me. They're probably just referring to all generic beer guys...but...

I really didn't know what to expect from this beer. I had zero clue what was contained within that plain, black labeled bomber. I did note that the ABV is a modest 4.5%. 

What a curious name they gave this beer, too. "Swill" does not conjure up much of a pleasant mental image. My pops used to drink swill. I clearly remember him opening a bottle of Schlitz, declaring it "skunk", and drinking it anyway. "Ack! This crap is pure swill! BELCH!" Ah, pops, always the gentleman.

The beer poured from the bomber into my shaker pint a cloudy, pale yellow color. The fizzy white head was a finger thick and disappeared quickly. No lacing was left behind, save a thin ring on top.

Aroma was full on grapefruit. There was also a prominent soda smell wafting up from the glass. Hey! It's a grapefruit radler! That's the last thing I expected.

Taste was straight up grapefruit--and I'm talking the natural citrus fruit. There were no hops detected by my nose. It's very much like a grapefruit soda, but not too sweet.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with a significant amount of carbonation. Very clean and refreshing.

This cool, rainy Wednesday evening was the wrong time to try this beer. I can imagine it would be an awesome summer BBQ beer. My wife took a taste and proclaimed it good. She only drinks Hefes, Belgian Wits and no-too-sour fruit beers. I've been wanting her to try Stiegl's Grapefruit Radler, so tonight's was quite a fortuitous beer selection. I think this brew is better than Stiegl's. Higher ABV, less soda and more beer. Interestingly, the Wonder Beagle continues to widen her beer sniffing preferences. This beer had her drooling up a storm.

I'm giving Swill Beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Fearless Brewing Company - Loki Red Ale

Nothing tricky here,
just damn good beer.
My wife is a teacher and a darn good one. She knows everything about anything and has the most annoying habit of constantly correcting my grammar. I do admit that my grammar often needs correcting. I constantly end sentences with prepositions and don't even mention my tangling participles.

Hey, I'm not complaining. Whenever I have a burning question, my lady is typically WAY faster than Google. For example, I was drinking a can of Fearless Brewing's Loki Red Ale tonight and I had no idea who or what "Loki" was. "Who the heck is Loki?" I asked my encyclopedic spouse.

"In Norse mythology, 'Loki' is a god known for being a trickster or a troublemaker," said my teacher extraordinaire. "He was always making problems for the other gods and goddesses. He was also a shapeshifter and, well, kind of a dick." Hmmm, interesting. Is the beer a troublemaker, too? I was anxious to find out.

The beer poured from pint-sized can into my AWESOME skull-shaped beer mug a reddish amber color with a thick, tan head. The head rose up a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A good amount of frothy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was earthy, toasted malt up front with mild brown sugar notes. Light, citrus hops in the background.

Taste presented a delicious hops and malt balance. Every sip delivered a wonderful tug-of-war that ended with a nice hops zing to the tastebuds. Virtually no alcohol taste was detected in this 7.5% ABV beer, which could make Loki a serious troublemaker, indeed. The flavors really popped as the beer warmed up a bit.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Finish was very smooth.

I'm really liking this beer--A LOT. Good, good stuff and I'm enjoying it so much I wish I had picked up more than one can. Very drinkable. The Wonder Beagle was busy snoozing while I drank it, so the Drool Factor is unknown. Nevertheless, I'm giving Loki Red Ale a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Base Camp Brewing Company - Northwest Fest

Now, that's a pretty pour.
I dropped by Base Camp Brewing's tasting room the other day after dropping the kid off at work. Hey, I did a good deed, so I deserved a beer. Yeah, yeah, I know--I think I deserve a beer for everything I do. Thank God my hobby isn't collecting diamonds or something.

I bellied up to the bar and ordered a Northwest Fest, mainly because it was new to me. The description on Base Camp's website says it's a Bavarian-style fest bier with an ABV of 5.6%

The lager was delivered to my beer mat a slightly hazy copper color in a tall pilsner glass. The bright white head was a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. An appreciable cap of lacing was left behind. It certainly was an attractive beer, standing there all stately--like a Bavarian king.

Aroma was bready malt with floral and citrus hops in the background.

Taste was pleasant, biscuity, toasted malt on the initial uptake. Some caramel sweetness, but not too sweet. A nice, mildly bitter hops flavor in there, too.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Slightly dry finish. Good hops and malt balance to the stuff. I like it.

I'm giving Northwest Fest a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Vanilla Oatis Stout

Oatis, Oatis, baby.
Is it Monday again...already? Really? Man, the weekends really blast by fast, especially when there are a multitude of fun beer-related activities to fill those two short "S" days. Gratefully, this Monday went by without too much sh*t hitting the fan, and I had a fine craft beer waiting for me when I got home.

I found a bomber of Ninkasi Brewing Company's Vanilla Oatis Stout in the fridge and popped that sucker open soon after my jacket hit the hook. It boasts a respectable 7.2% ABV and the 22 oz. bottle was a very reasonable $3.49 at Freddie's.

The beer poured from bomber to shaker pint a solid black color with a creamy, mocha head. The head was a good finger thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of webby lacing was left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was luscious vanilla bean, cocoa and roasted malt. A little bit of brown sugar in the background.

Taste was mildly bitter chocolate, coffee and vanilla bean. The vanilla flavor was pleasantly subtle, but noticeably present. Not at all artificial or over-powering. Not a hint of alcohol to this brew that I could detect.

Mouthfeel was medium, but just a bit thinner than I expected. Finish was creamy with the bitter cocoa and vanilla flavors the last to leave the palate.

This is a very drinkable stout. I could just as easily sip it as chug it. The Wonder Beagle was mildly interested in the aroma and just a little bit of drool was coaxed from her muzzle. I'm giving Vanilla Oatis Stout a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Base Camp Brewing Company - Ripstop Rye Pils

Let 'er rip!
Base Camp Brewing Company has quickly become one of my most favorite Portland breweries, and it is a must visit beer destination for any beercationer passing through Stumptown. Besides having one of the friendliest, most chill-laxing tasting rooms in the city, Base Camp does things just a little bit differently. Yes, there's definitely a Northwest flavor to the beers they brew, but they don't just put out your typical, heavy-handed, hopped-up ales. My review of the day is a prime example.

Ripstop Rye Pils is a German-style Pilsner lager with a delicious twist. It comes with a 5.7% ABV and packaged in Base Camp's awesome 22 oz., capped, aluminum bottle. I really love these metal bombers. The graphics are stunning, they are unbreakable, and they chill almost instantly. Of course, it's the stuff inside that matters most.

Ripstop Rye Pils poured from the bomber into glass a bright, clear, golden yellow color. The white, bubbly head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated quickly. However, a significant amount of spiderweb lacing was left all over the glass.

Aroma was sweet malt and floral hops up front. Herbal, spicy rye notes in the background.

Taste delivered a nice, bitter hops zing from the get-go. It was a pleasant surprise and more than I expected from a lager. A very crisp and clean malt flavor backed everything up. Lightly spicy rye bite there at the end, but not too much.

Medium mouthfeel with lively carbonation. The head came roaring back to life whenever I refreshed the glass. Dry finish with the malt and rye competing for attention on the palate until the very end.

This is an extremely drinkable beer. Very sessionable and quite delicious. Interestingly, Merry the Wonder Beagle wanted some. She drooled up a storm, which is a reaction she typically saves for big, hoppy ales. I'm giving Ripstop Rye Pils a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Wanna Trade?

I found this extremely useful video on YouTube about how to successfully pack beer for shipping. (Thanks to for posting the video.) I really wish I had mailed some bombers to myself from San Diego when I was down south last month. Duh, I was there for a whole week and literally surrounded by fine craft beer that I can't buy up here in Stumptown. I could have had all kinds of deliciousness waiting for me on the front porch when I got home.

Hey, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of awesome beers to be had here in Portland, but it's nice to drink something a bit more unusual and hard to find every once in a while. Which leads me to the subject of beer trading. I've never done it and I'm wondering if anybody out there would like to swap some tasty Oregon beers for a few of the rare, regional delights from your own neck of the woods.

Here's the deal:
1) I'd prefer a price range between $25 and $30 a swap.
2) We pay our own shipping costs.
3) Bottles should be packed in the manner demonstrated in the video above.

I'd really like some Mid-West or East Coast craft beers that cannot be had in the Northwest. If you're interested, please email me at:


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ballast Point Brewing Company - Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

I spent the late morning, early afternoon of this rainy Portland Saturday at a bottle-sharing event. Hanging out with nice people and sampling some tasty, unusual beers? Hey, I dare you to find a better time in Stumptown. Double dog dare you.

One of the beers I brought along for the share was Ballast Point Brewing Company's Victory at Sea. I picked the bomber up in San Diego during my recent beercation to that sunny SoCal locale. Victory at Sea is a coffee vanilla imperial porter with an impressive ABV of 10%. Yoink! They love their big, boozy brews in San Diego.

The beer poured into my glass a dark brown/black color with a slight ruby tint around the edges. The mocha head dissipated quickly and left a light ring of lacing behind.

Aroma was a big sock of strong coffee right up front. Vanilla and booze bringing up the rear, along with some sweet, ripe fruit. Dark cherries and plum. Brown sugar.

Taste was dark, meaty espresso with lots of vanilla. Cocoa and roasted malt. Lots of booze, but it was a warm, smooth booziness. Not at all harsh. Just the right amount of hops bitterness off-setting the underlying sweet chocolate malt flavor. The flavors really popped as the beer warmed up. Delicious.

Slightly heavy, lightly viscous mouthfeel with low carbonation. Very smooth finish. This brew is extremely drinkable. The 10% ABV was evident but not at a deterrent to a healthy chug. Dangerous stuff.

This brew is pretty damn flawless. I wish I had brought back more than one bottle. Dang it. I'm giving Victory at Sea a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Breakside Brewery - Breakside Pilsner

Pilsner is NOT a dirty word.
Oh, man, what a week! Thank God for beer. Seriously. Beer is the ultimate reward for the working stiff--has been since time immemorial. Yes, wine may be divine and liquor may be quicker, but nothing takes the edge off the taskmaster's lash (both ancient literal and modern figurative) like a tasty, tasty beer.

We took the girl-child out for dinner tonight and the restaurant had Breakside Pilsner on tap. I decided to give it a whirl. The chalkboard behind the bar said the ABV was 5.2%.

The beer was presented in a shaker pint a pale, golden yellow color with a bright, white head. The head dissipated quickly and left just scatter of lacing across the top.

Aroma was grain, malt and grassy, citrus hops. Light floral smell in the background.

Taste was malt right up front with a mildly bitter, citrus hops flavor at the end. Lemon zest with a lightly spicy, herbal finish.

Thin mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation.

This brew is very crisp and clean and went well with the spicy food I was eating for dinner. Good choice when you don't want your beer to complete with the flavor of your meal. I'm giving Breakside Pilsner a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lagunitas Brewing Company - Lucky 13

Lucky dog.
Mondays suck. Seriously, who invented Mondays, anyway? That dude should be in all the history books--as the biggest d-bag of all time. Right up there with Rasputin and Mussolini, that guy--Mr. Monday Inventing Guy. I hate you.

Yeah, it was a lousy Monday, but "lucky" for me, I had a fine craft beer in the fridge to help make things all better. My brew of the evening is Lagunitas Brewing Company's Lucky 13 "A Mondo Large Red Ale", whatever that means. The beer comes with an ABV of 8.65% and 76.92 IBU's.

The beer poured from bomber to shaker pint a clear, reddish amber color, with a clumpy, creamy, off-white head. The head was almost two fingers thick and dissipated very slowly. Lots of sticky lacing was left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus hops and lots of over-ripe tropical fruit. Pineapple, guava. Big smell of bready malt and brown sugar in the background. Lots of fun for the nose. As soon as I popped the cap on the bomber, Merry the Wonder Beagle came running into the room, thoroughly excited.

The taste gives a bitter sting to the salivary glands right from the get-go. Big flavor of grapefruit. Good earthy malt backbone to this beer. Great balance.

Medium mouthfeel and great carbonation. No alcohol burn that I could detect. Finish leaves that hoppy tang on the palate. Good stuff.

I'm giving Lucky 13 a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 and a Droolie. The normally aloof Wonder Beagle actually crawled up on my lap trying to beg a sip of this brew off me.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beer, Beer, Beer

Asylum Street Spankers - Beer

Three Floyds Brewing Company - Artic Panzer Wolf IIPA

I'll give you something
to howl about...
I found myself at Apex this afternoon. I took the TriMet number 70 bus, based on my own good advice. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out my posts about Portland beer locations and the various city bus routes that can get you to them: Portland Beer by Bus. I've written up seven routes so far and it's still a work in progress.

At Apex, I ordered myself an Artic Panzer Wolf from Three Floyds Brewing Company. Yeah, I suppose I would drink any beer with the word "wolf" in it's name. Luckily, every one I've tried so far has been pretty damn good.

Artic Panzer Wolf was served up in a twelve ouncer and was a slightly hazy, golden apricot color. The creamy white head was a good 1/2 inch thick and left a decent amount of lacing behind throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was sweet malt and tropical fruit from a distance. Mango, pineapple, tangerine and melon. Big citrus hops filled the nose immediately upon a closer uptake.

Big bitter hops bang hits with the first sip. Largely grapefruit with a bit of orange in the mix. I didn't pick up much of the tropical fruitiness in the taste that the smell hinted at. The malt flavor isn't completely over-shadowed, but the slightly funky, spicy, pucker power of those hops is the major component. Don't order this beer unless you have a sincere appreciation for an everlasting hop bomb. That's all I'm saying.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. There's just a bit of stickiness to the stuff. 9.5% ABV, but I didn't get any alcohol harshness at all. The finish is fairly smooth, with a lingering citrus hops bitterness.

I really like this one and would order another glass or pick up a bomber in a heartbeat. I'm giving Artic Panzer Wolf a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.