Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anheuser-Busch - Budweiser and Clamato Chelada

Oh, no, he didn't!
I have to set up the back story on this one. You see, when I was a young, fearless daredevil, I used to talk myself into all kinds of crazy sh*t. When I was young and dumb, I once paddled my surfboard out into 25 foot storm surf just to prove I could make it back in alive. When I was 11 years old, I bombed down a mountain on my Schwinn Stingray, long before real mountain bikes were invented. And let's not even get into the tale about those two high speed police chases...

So, there I was in Rite Aid, waiting for my wife to get a prescription filled, when I found myself peering into the cold case at a can of Bud Chelada. Budweiser & Clamato?

"How bad could it be?" said that evil little voice that gets me into trouble. "Come on, TRY IT!"

"No, that sounds pretty awful," I responded aloud. "Especially the Budweiser part...and the Clamato part."

"Bok! Bok-bok-bok! Chicken! Bok!"

Dammit! That gets me every time! The next thing I knew, I was standing at the cash register with a bag of Corn Nuts and a can of Chelada.

The "beer" poured from can into my pint glass a pinkish, salmon color with a brief, fizzy white head. Lots of carbonation with bubbles coating the inside of the glass. (Note that I prepped the glass bloody mary style with a salt rim.)

Aroma was tomato juice and lime-aid. Stinky, corny Bud smell was present in the background. 

Taste was like a watered down bloody mary. Not terrible. On this horribly hot day, it was actually kind of refreshing. There was a lot more clam and lime flavor than I was expecting. The salt and lime made it palatable--like the Corn Nuts I was washing down with the stuff.

Thin mouthfeel with soda pop carbonation. Tomato was the primary taste left on the palate.

The 24 oz. can set me back $2.65, which is a bit pricey for a crap beer. I obviously wasn't expecting much, but truthfully, I'd drink this stuff again. I'm giving Chelada the coveted "Golden Turd Award", which is reserved for that rarest of beers--one that is so's good.

Coalition Brewing Company - Off the Wagon Dunkel Rye Ale

This beer is no yoke.
Man, do I have a lot of beers to review. Not that I've been slacking in the beer drinking department. Oh, no, that's not the problem. I just haven't felt much like tapping away on my laptop in this zillion degree heat. That's no fun. However, my little beer blog is feeling horribly neglected, so I decided to get caught up a bit.

The first beer on my tardy list is Coalition Brewing Company's Off the Wagon Dunkel Rye Ale. The label reports an ABV of 5.4%. I like the artwork. It depicts a blue ox--maybe Paul Bunyan's Babe?

The beer poured from bomber into my Mason jar a dark brown color with a reddish hue. The tan head was clumpy and creamy and rose up to a full finger thick. It dissipated at a moderate rate and left some sudsy lacing behind.

Aroma was roasted malt and brown sugar. Not a lot of smell coming from this brew. Light hints of citrus and dark fruit.

Taste followed the nose. Predominantly roasted malt with just a bit of a bitter edge. Light brown sugar. Subtle sour fruit flavor and just a smattering of rye spice in the finish.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with low to medium carbonation. Finish was a little watery.

This is an easy drinker and fairly sessionable. Not awesome, but I wouldn't turn one down. I'm giving Off the Wagon a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oskar Blues Brewery - Gubna Imperial IPA

Please, Gubna, I want some more.
My lovely stepdaughter gave me a whole slew of tasty craft brews for Fathers Day. What a great kid, always thinking about her dear old Steppops. Most of my off-spring failed to get me any kind of gift at all. Yeah, that's what happens. As soon as they're out of the house, they forget all about dumb ol' dad. Cue Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle".

Well, before I break out all maudlin on ya, I better get on with the beer review. The beer of the evening is Oskar Blues Brewery's Gubna Imperial IPA. It boasts a healthy ABV of 10% and 100 IBU's. I was expecting a heavy hitting hop bomb.

The beer poured from 12 oz. can into my glass a slightly hazy, golden amber color with a creamy white head. The head came up to a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. Loads of webby lacing was left behind on the glass.

Aroma was big on pine and citrus hops. A bit of sweet malt smell in the background. Hints of tropical fruit.

Taste gave a nice bitter sock to the jaw right up front. A good sting to the salivary glands, but not too extreme. Indistinct citrus and tropical fruit. A earthy malt flavor remained on the palate after the initial bitterness faded. The sweet malt provided a great balance to the bitter hops. Not too bitter, not too sweet.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. There was a bit of a chewy body to this one. Low carbonation. There was just a bit of an alcohol bite to this brew right at the end, but it was barely noticeable.

I really like this IIPA. Definitely a beer I would drink again in a heartbeat. Merry the Wonder Beagle drooled up a storm and stared at me the entire time I was drinking it. I'm giving Gubna a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Glasses, Glasses, Glasses Galore

Choose your weapon...
If you're going to drink fine craft beer, you need some appropriate drinking vessels. Come on, only the most unsophisticated Neanderthal drinks his/her beer straight out of the container that it came in. Leave those vulgar habits to the knuckledraggers and pick up some classy glassware.

So, what kind of beer is supposed to go into what kind of glass? Hey, I'm no expert, but I know what I like to use. Here's my list:

1) The Shaker Pint: Almost anything can be poured into the classic shaker pint. IPA's, pale ales, porters, stouts, wits, reds. This is the go-to glass, and I use it for anything that isn't barrel-aged, Belgian-ish, or loaded with a huge ABV. I've read articles that largely disparage the standard American shaker pint. The premise is that the straight-sided glass actually works to dissipate a beer's head, aroma and temperature. I guess that makes sense. Still, the shaker pint is found everywhere and more bars use them than anything else. I like 'em because they are hard to break--that's important when you have a teenager washing the dishes in your house.

2) The Tulip Pint, AKA English Imperial Pint: This is supposed to be a much better glass for preserving and enhancing a beer's taste, smell and character. I don't know. I guess I'll have to do a taste test someday. I do know that these glasses don't hold up very well under the slam-bang dish washing style that goes on in my kitchen. The glass itself is rather thin and I've lost several before their time.

3) The Handled Mug: Again, almost anything works in a handled mug. My favorite is a skull-shaped mug that somebody gave me for my birthday and/or Christmas. There's just something totally badass about drinking beer from a skull, I'm just sayin'.

4) The Goblet: I drink Belgian-style beers out of these babies. Dubbels, tripels, quads, anything brewed by monks.

5) The Stemmed Tulip and/or Snifter: I use this style of glass for barleywine ales, double IPA's, Imperial stouts and anything with a giant ABV and a massive flavor profile. Barrel-aged brews or something that requires sipping instead of gulping.

6) The Pilsner: Pils, wits, lagers.

7) The Stein: Whenever I feel my German coming out and I want to act like a Bavarian prince, I dust off one of my collector steins and fill it with beer. Prost! 

8) The Mason Jar: I drink beer out of a Mason jar more than I'd like to admit, but these are especially handy when we're having a party. It's generally the most plentiful "glassware" we have in our house and they are practically indestructible.  Everything works in a Mason jar!

9) The Common Whiskey Glass: Whenever I'm sharing a bomber and want it to go a long way, I grab a few whiskey glasses. No sharing. Everybody gets their own glass...albeit, a teeny, tiny glass.

10) Festival Tasters: I go to a lot of beer festivals and if they give out glass tasters, I keep them and use them. It's like having a brew fest in my living room!

I'm not a big fan of tiny stemmed flutes and you won't find any in my bar. I also don't serve beer in long-stemmed wine glasses. That's just wrong. Finally, if you're a hyper-educated beer snob, please don't point out all the errors of my glass selection. Don't be a hater. I revel in my ignorance.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

10 Barrel Brewing Company - OG Wheat IPA

Represent, Bend, Ore-GUN!
It's Sunday and I took a little trip to the Used Food Store (Grocery Outlet) to stock up on cost-effective beer. They have some decent prices at the Used Food Store and this beer drinking hobby of mine is getting out of financial control, I'll tell you what.

I picked up a bomber of 10 Barrel Brewing Company's OG Wheat IPA for $3.49. Deal! The label proclaims an ABV of 6.5%. It also states that OG is an homage to the "original gangsters" of Oregon craft brewing. Okay, let's see how crunk this sh*t can get.

The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, golden orange color with a lively white head. The head bubbled up to an inch thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A respectable amount of lacing was left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was a big sock of citrus hops as soon as the cap was popped off the bomber. Orange and grapefruit. A faint smell of sweet malt and tropical fruit in the background.

Taste delivered a nice, big citrus and pine pucker right up front. Predominantly grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors. Mango, pineapple and guava. Sweet malt and light cereal grain.

Medium mouthfeel with bubbly carbonation that brought the head right back to life when the glass was refreshed. Semi-dry finish.

I really like this one. Lots of character. Nice balance and I would have never guessed wheat beer unless I read it on the label. I'm giving OG a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/3 crushed cans out of 4.

Elysian Brewing Company - Oddland Peppercorn Saison

Pepper in beer? Odd?
I'll admit it, I can be easily influenced by fancy label graphics. Hey, when you're faced with a giant cold case filled with dozens upon dozens of bombers, something has to jump out at you.

The beer that jumped out at me today was Elysian Brewing Company's Oddland Peppercorn Saison. That label sure was cool. There's some kind of lion prancing around with a bowl of what I assume are peppercorns. Hey, it caught my attention.

The beer poured into my goblet a slightly hazy, golden peach color with a minimal off-white head. The head dissipated quickly and no lacing was left behind.

Aroma was very spicy and peppery. The smell of Belgian spice and farmhouse ale yeastiness in the background, with just a hint of citrus.

Taste followed the nose. The label says they used three different kinds of peppercorns in this brew and pepper is certainly the predominant flavor. Hints of cardamon and clove in the mix, too, with some bready, yeasty malt.

Medium mouthfeel with medium to slightly higher carbonation. Dry finish with that pepper zing remaining on the palate.

Hey, I'm not going to stock a beer cellar with this brew, but I'm glad I tried it. It's really different--like a farmhouse ale on spicy steroids. Good stuff and I'm giving it a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Double Mountain Brewery - Cluster IPA

Cluster what?
It's hard to go wrong with the beer brewed by Double Mountain. This outfit in Hood River, Oregon makes some mighty good stuff, and that includes the delicious pizza they serve at the taproom. I can't get the pizza here in Portland, but the beer is sold in pint-sized bottles all over town.

I found a bottle of Cluster Single-Hop IPA hiding out in the cold case at Whole Foods. The stuff is brewed with only one variety of hops--Cluster. I'm not too familiar with Cluster Hops, but the label says they were once "the dominate hop in the US brewing industry literally for centuries." The reported ABV of this beer is at 7.3%. I'm thinking this is the same beer I tried under the name "Clusterf#ck". They must have changed it to protect the delicate sensibilities of cold case browsers.

Whatever it's called, the beer poured into my pint glass a slightly hazy, golden yellow color. The head white was plentiful and clumpy. Copious amounts of sudsy lacing was left all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus and mild grassy hops. There was a fruitiness to the smell. Sweet malt in the background.

Taste delivered a large, bitter hops bite right up front. Indistinct tropical fruit and citrus. Some pineapple, guava, grapefruit and lemon, but no flavor dominated. Nice malt taste after initial bitterness backed down. Interesting. This brew had a lot more complexity than I would have thought, given the single hop used to flavor it.

Medium mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Semi-dry finish left some spiciness and the bitter hops taste on the palate.

This is a really tasty IPA. Masterfully brewed. Double Mountain never disappoints me and Cluster is a keeper. I need to get some more for my next BBQ cooler fill. I'm giving Cluster a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle did a few laps around the dining table after sniffing this beer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Deschutes Brewery - Fresh Squeezed IPA

Squeeze me, pleeze
I live in the Alberta Arts District of NE Portland, Oregon, and if you've never been to this burg, the first thing you need to know is that it's ALL about the neighborhoods. Urban Portlanders are fiercely loyal to their little pieces of turf. Some folks rarely stray outside of their neighborhoods. We shop, dine and drink within the uniquely special confines of our awesome divisions of Stumptown.

Of course, MY neighborhood in the BEST. Friday night and I didn't have any beer in the fridge. Gratefully, there are about a zillion bars and pubs in my 'hood. I can walk out my front door, head for Alberta Street, and have an ice-cold pint of fine Oregon craft beer in my hand in a matter of minutes. Ahhhh. Last night, the missus and I wandered over to The Station, a sports bar with an abundance of great outdoor seating. The massive back patio is where we ended up. I'll have to review the place later.

My first beer of choice was Deschutes Brewery's Fresh Squeezed IPA. I'm told it's made with an abundance of Citra hops. ABV is 6.0%.

The beer came in a shaker pint and was a clear, deep copper color. The bright white head was a full inch thick and dissipated at a moderate rate down to a thick, full cap. A good amount of webby lacing was left all over the glass.

Aroma was big on citrus and tropical fruit. Light sweet malt smell with some floral hints in the background.

Taste was exactly as advertised. Loads of citrus: orange and grapefruit. Nice hops bite that left the palate quickly.

Medium mouthfeel and good carbonation. Bitter, juicy finish.

If you like a juicy, citrus-fruity IPA, this is a good one for you. I found it to be highly drinkable. Not a hop bomb, but probably a good intermediate IPA for the craft beer initiate. I liked it. I'm giving Fresh Squeezed IPA a solid BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rogue Ales - Rogue Farms Good Chit Pilsner

It's the chit
Blogging is the ultimate vanity. People like me, who really have no business writing, take to the Internet to voice their opinions about anything and everything. Just think of any hobby or activity, no matter how obscure, and you'll find a homegrown blog about it. It's the miracle of this modern age: everyone has the ability to put it out there, whether anyone else cares or not.

Of course, I do it all for me, self-absorbed egomaniac that I am. I started this blog as a way to keep track of the beers I've sampled. It's a database with public access. My goal was to try a different beer everyday and review it. I do believe I have pretty much stayed on track with the beer tasting. Where I've fallen down is on the recording of it. I just don't have the discipline to log 'em all. Slacker!

Tonight's beer is Roque Ales Rogue Farms Good Chit Pilsner. Heh, heh, I like the name. It would be fun to order at a bar...until I drove that truck over the cliff...and I would.

The beer poured into my pint glass (where the hell did I put my pilsner glass?) a slightly hazy, pale yellow color with a bright white, foamy head. The head rose up about an inch high and quickly dissipated. A thin, full cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was citrus and grassy hops. Lemony. A pleasant floral smell and a good whiff of malt floated around in the background.

Taste was crisp and clean. Spicy, floral notes. Bready malt and an earthy hops taste balance perfectly.

This is a delicious beer. Medium mouthfeel with great carbonation. The finish was very dry and that great hops taste was left on my palate for a while.

I really like this one. Very refreshing and highly sessionable. I'll be picking up some more when the weather heats up for sure. I'm giving Good Chit Pilsner a BeerGuyPDX rating or 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bear Republic Brewing Company - Hop Rod Rye

The best thing about this beer drinking hobby of mine? Well, besides the massive beer gut, it gives me a great way to improve almost any crappy day. Lousy Monday? Uncap a beer. Mailbox overflowing with bills? Uncap a beer. Mother-in law arriving for a surprise visit? Uncap a lot--A LOT--of beers.

Tonight's Monday beer is Bear Republic Brewing Company's Hop Rod Rye. It comes with an ABV of 8.0% and cool label graphics featuring flames and a hot rod. Awesome.

The beer poured into my pint glass a hazy, dark copper color with a thick, foamy, clumpy, tan head. That head came up to a full inch high and dissipated slowly. Lots to sudsy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was citrus and pine with a distinct spicy smell in the mix. Sweet caramel malt in the background. Subtle hints of honey and brown sugar.

Taste delivered a nice spicy rye zing with lots of pine and just a hint of citrus. A really tasty, sweet malt flavor rounded out the bitter hops bite. Just a bit of an alcohol taste to this brew, but nothing too harsh or boozy.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with good carbonation. A very creamy finish. Lots of flavor was left rolling around on the palate.

I love this beer. It's just damn fantastic in every respect and I can't find a flaw. I'm giving this tasty brew from NorCal a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cascade Lakes Brewing Company - Cyclops IPA

One Eye for the Beer Guy
Drinking lots of beer on this Fathers Day Sunday. Why, not, right? Right? 

Next on the roster for review is Cascade Lakes Brewing Company's Cyclops IPA. I've have this beer several times in the past and I have no idea why I haven't reviewed it before. Weird. I'm usually all up on top of that stuff.

The beer poured from bomber into my pint glass a slightly hazy, orange, copper color. The white head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A full, thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops, primarily orange and tangerine. Floral and tropical fruit smell in the background. A very Northwest style IPA aroma to this one.

Taste followed the nose. Loads of citrus and a nice spicy bite. Not too bitter and not too sweet. There's an alcohol sting without being too harsh or astringent. I'm not sure what variety of hops are in this brew, but I'm guessing there's a good amount of Cascade and Centennial in the mix. That's what I grow in my garden and use in my homebrew every year.

Medium mouthfeel with some nice carbonation. The hops flavors really come back in the aftertaste.

This is a straight up quintessential NW IPA. Good stuff and I'm giving it a solid 3 crushed cans out of 4 rating AND a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle was drooling up a storm for this beer.

Hopworks Urban Brewery - Amarillo Single Hop IPX

Yellow, I love you, won't you
tell me your name?
It was kind of difficult to determine the exact name of this beer from the label. I'm just sayin'. "Hopworks IPX Single Hop Ale Series Single Hop Amarillo Ale," Whew! That's a mouthful! Just stick a "Hollingsworth" in there and it could be the name of a British Lord or something.

Oh, yeah! I almost forgot: Happy Fathers Day, fellow dads! Actually, I'm crying in my proverbial beer right now because not a single one of my ungrateful kids has called to offer their dear devoted pops any Fathers Day wishes. Grrrrr.

Isn't it time we put this "holiday" out of its misery? I'm going to spent this Father's Day doing pretty much what I do every Sunday. I'll bust out the Weber kettle, pop open a few brewskis and kick back in my lawn chair; enjoying the company of my wife and whatever off-spring happen to be wandering through the house. Why don't we just declare the third Sunday in June National BBQ and Beer Day and call Father's Day quits? Huh? Sound good? That way, nobody has to feel guilty about forgetting to get pops a present--most of us dads would be more than happy with the BBQ and beer anyway.

Let's face it--and be honest--this is the one holiday nobody wants to celebrate. You know it's true. Kids dread Father's Day almost as much as having to listening to dad tell one of his "stupid stories". Heck, Portland even puts on it's Gay Pride celebration every Father's Day weekend, making it even more likely that everybody will forget all about dumb ol' dad on his "special day".

For all you dutiful dad's out there, you know your's is a thankless task. You suck it up and do whatever is necessary to feed, clothe and support your progeny, all in the hope that you'll get an ugly tie once a year to commemorate your sacrifices. Riiiiight. In truth, most of us don't really want any thanks or official recognition for what we do as fathers. We do what real men should do--father our kids. By the way, we'd very much prefer you kids go out and get a job than give us a bottle of Old Spice and an unsigned Hallmark card once a year. Seriously, get your feet off my couch and go get a job.

For all you deadbeat dads out there, you know who you are, you slimeballs. I hope you at least have a moment of remorseful introspection on this day. Think about cutting a check for that back child support you owe, or better yet, spend some time with your kids. They'd love to hear from you, even if you're a slimeball. Kids are funny that way.

Anyway, didn't this start out as a beer review? It did!

Amarillo Ale poured from bomber into my pint glass a clear, bright orange color with a minimal white head. The head came up to about an inch tall with some coaxing and dissipated quickly. A decent amount of sudsy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was indistinct citrus with some spicy and floral notes in the background. Not a lot of malt to the nose.

Taste was citrusy up front: orange and lemon. Mild bitterness but with a harsh quality that I didn't really care for. A spicy, almost metallic taste lingered on the palate.

Medium mouthfeel with medium to low carbonation. Dry finish.

That's probably the risk of making a single hop beer--some people may not care for the character of that single hop. I'm thinking that I'm not a big Amarillo hop fan. Still, it's a decent IPA. It just didn't trip my wires. I'm giving this one a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cascade Lakes Brewing Company - Jefferson Park IPA

Park it on my beer mat...
Took a little trip to Orenco Taphouse on Thursday. The power was out at my house in NE Portland (some yutz crashed his car into a power pole) and I was in no real rush to get home. I was looking for some different new-to-me beers to add to my list. (I've reviewed 212 unique beers since I started this blog!)

One of the best brews I sampled was Cascade Lakes Brewing Company's Jefferson Park IPA. Dirk, one of the owners at Orenco, advised me that it's a single hop IPA--Citra hops, I believe.

The beer was presented in a 16 oz. snifter. It was a hazy, golden orange color with a moderate, sudsy white head. A good amount of lacing was left behind.

The aroma was citrus and pine. Pleasantly fruity. Nothing out of the ordinary for an IPA.

Taste gave a nice bitter citrus sock right up front. Orange and tangerine. Some hints of tropical fruit with a surprising spiciness in the background. Not a massive hop bomb. The bitter hops zing trailed off and a well-rounded, robust malt flavor remained on the palate. I believe the ABV was at 6.4%. There wasn't any alcohol taste that I could discern.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. There was a creamy, slightly oily finish that I actually really liked. Left a tasty flavor coating behind. Good stuff! Wish I could find this beer on tap everywhere.

I'm giving Jefferson Park IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg GmbH - Stiegl Pils

Gunter glieben glauchen globen
I'm pretty much stuck in a rut of drinking nothing but Northwest brews. Hey, don't get me wrong, that's a damn awesome rut to be stuck in, but variety is supposed to be the spice of life and a man is only as interesting as his experiences. Therefore, I'm trying my best to branch out beyond the rainy realm of the Cascades and try some beers from far and away.

Tonight, the beer of choice is Stiegl Pils. It's from Austria. I don't know much about Austria, except what I remember from "Sound of Music". Kids dressed in drapes and singing sappy tunes with a Nordic Mary Poppins. Weird place, but I'm guessing they know how to make some decent beer. Stiegl Pils is a German-style Pilsner and it comes in with an ABV of 4.9%.

The beer poured into my pilsner glass a light golden yellow color. The foamy white head came up to a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Lots of webby lacing was left all over the glass and a thin cap was present throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was malt and mild grassy hops. Not a lot of smell was coming off this one.

Taste was sweet, bready malt backed up by mild, lemony hops. Very crisp and clean with some cereal grain flavor in the background, but not at all corny.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation. A dry finish and a smooth malt aftertaste was left on my palate. Nothing skunky or funky like some European beers I've tried in the past.

Good stuff. Not really my style of beer, but I wouldn't turn one down at a wedding reception and/or wake. I'm giving Stiegl Pils a BeerGuyPDX rating or 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hop Valley Brewing Company - Alphadelic IPA

Definitely not the brown acid...
I don't claim to be a botanist or a brewing expert. I'm just a simple, beer-loving consumer--a regular guy who has made drinking and ranking beers his all-consuming pastime. Hey, everybody needs a hobby. Mine is probably just a bit more delicious than yours, that's all I'm sayin'.

I love big, bitter, flavorful brews. Give me an IPA with some serious pucker power and I'm a happy man. And what gives those IPA's their bitter bite? Hops, that's what. From what I've read in Wikipedia, hops resins are composed of two main acids: alpha and beta acids. Beta acids can have an effect on the aroma of a beer. Alpha acids are what gives hops their bitter zing. Alpha acids also have antibiotic properties. How interesting is that?

I picked up a bomber of Hop Valley Brewing's Alphadelic IPA at Freddie's today. With a name like Alphadelic, how could I go wrong?

The beer poured into the glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color. The thick, creamy, clumpy, white head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A great deal of sudsy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was sweet caramel malt and tropical fruit. Pineapple, guava and citrus. A good amount of pine filled the nose as well.

Taste was citrus: orange and tangerine. Tropical fruit notes with a bit of an herbal spiciness in the background. Not the big sting to the tastebuds that I was expecting from the advertised 90 IBU's. Still, there was a good amount of bitterness, well-balanced with the underlying sweetness.

Medium mouthfeel and good carbonation. The finish was dry and I got just a hint of alcohol taste from this 6.7% ABV brew.

This is a really nice IPA. Reminded my of Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA. Definitely a beer that I would drink again at any opportunity. If I saw it on tap, I'd order it. I'm giving Alphadelic a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Merry the Wonder Beagle was all over me as soon as I popped the cap on the bomber, so Alphadelic also earns a Droolie.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Marionberry Hibiscus Gose

Berry, berry good.
What's a marionberry? No, not the crack smokin', "bit*h set me up", Washington, DC mayor from the '90's. That's a totally different Marion Barry. The marionberry we are dealing with here is a plumb, juicy variety of blackberry that's grown all over the place here in Oregon. 

If you're not from Northwest Oregon, you're probably unaware of the fact that blackberry plants are insidious weeds around these parts. I do battle with the blackberry canes in back of my house every spring, and if I'm not thoroughly diligent about chopping them back (with a machete), they'll overtake the house. I'm not kidding. Those canes can get up to 12 feet tall.

The big positive about the whole "invasive species" thing is, of course, that I get to enjoy a big crop of tasty blackberries that can be plucked off the vines (watch out for those thorns) from my bathroom window.

I suppose it's only natural that one of Oregon's premiere craft beer makers, Widmer Brothers, has brewed a marionberry beer. You can't get much more Oregon than that. Brewers throughout the ages have used indigenous ingredients that were cheap, prolific and often found right in their own backyards.

Marionberry Hibiscus Gose poured from bomber into my snifter a bubbly, slightly hazy, purplish rose color. The minimal white head dissipated quickly and left no lacing behind.

Aroma was very floral up front, which I'm guessing was the hibiscus. Spice and berry smells in the background with just a hint of bready, biscuity, yeastiness in there, too.

Taste was tart berry--lots of tart berry--with an herbal tea-like flavor in the aftertaste. Nice balance of sweet and sour. Not too much of a pucker to it.

Thin mouthfeel with a significant amount of carbonation. I found this brew to be very light, crisp and refreshing. Very sessionable and I could knock back a couple of bombers by myself.

I'm giving Marionberry Hibiscus Gose a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Fort George Brewery - 1811 Lager

Astoria's official Bicentennial brew.
Astoria, Oregon is a cool little town located near the mouth of the Columbia River. Besides being the setting of the iconic 1980's Spielberg film "The Goonies", the city has quite an historic pedigree. Named after fur magnate John Jacob Astor, the city is close to the spot where Lewis and Clark spent a grueling, rainy winter before heading back east. Of course, there's some mighty fine beer to be had in Astoria, particularly at Fort George Brewery, which sits on the very site that Astor built the first US settlement west of the Rockies.

The beers brewed at Fort George Brewery are some of the best in the state of Oregon, or anywhere else for that matter. I never miss an opportunity to visit their brewpub whenever I'm in the area.

Fort George Brewery's wares can also be found in local stores here in my burg. They come packaged in pint-sized aluminum cans, which I think is great. Easy to carry, chill and store, cans are also the "greener" packaging option, leaving a smaller carbon footprint than glass, especially in the recycling end of things.

Today, I'm drinking a Fort George 1811 Lager. The beer poured from can into my pint glass a slightly hazy, golden yellow color with a foamy, bright white head. The head dissipated quickly and left a thin cap of lacing behind. Lots of spotty lace was left all over the glass.

Aroma was sweet malt and grain. Light lemony, grassy hops. Subtle floral hints in the background.

Taste was mildly bitter, citrus hops--a distinctive NW flare to this lager. Sweet caramel malt and an earthy grain flavor provides a nice balance to the brew. There's a corn taste but not the harsh corniness you'll find in a mass-produced adjunct lager.

Light to medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Dry finish with that bitter hops taste left pleasantly on the palate. I like it!

This is a sessionable lager that would make a great hot summer BBQ beer. I'm giving 1811 a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Portland Beer by Bus - The Number 77

It's been a while since I posted a list of beer stops along a TriMet bus route. Today's selected route is a long one. The Number 77 traverses an east/west route connecting Montgomery Park, NW Portland, the Pearl District, Union Station/Greyhound, Portland City Center, the Rose Quarter, Irvington, Hollywood, outer NE Portland, Fairview and Troutdale, via Vaughn, Thurman, 21st, Everett/Glisan, Multnomah, Broadway/Weidler and Halsey. It crosses MAX and streetcar routes and if you use the TriMet Trip Planner,   you can make many complicated transfers to many more destinations. Of course, I always provide only the stops you'll find off this individual route. Keeping it simple for the other simpletons like me. You're welcome.

As always, I'm giving you my standard caveat: I provide no guarantee that this information is completely accurate, and I bear no responsibility if something terrible happens to you along the way. If Bigfoot kicks your ass, or you're slap-attacked by a vicious hipster gang, don't sue me. I don't have anything but the beer money in my pocket, a TriMet monthly pass (which costs $100 but is still way cheaper than driving), and a beer mat I stole from the last taproom I visited.

It's PDX Beer Week, so if you hop on one of these buses, you'll probably see me skulking around in one of the back seats.

Lompoc Tavern
1620 NW 23rd Avenue
From East: Get off at NW Thurman & 23rd
Stop ID 10972
From West: Get off at NW Thurman & 22nd
Stop ID 7168

Lucky Labrador Brewing Company
1945 NW Quimby Street
From East: Get off at NW 21st & Pettygrove
Stop ID 7130
From West: Get off at NW 21st & Quimby
Stop ID 7132

Roque Distillery & Public House
1339 NW Flanders Street
From East: Get off at NW Glisan & 14th
Stop ID 2046
From West: Get off at NW Everett & 14th
Stop ID 1608

BridgePort Brewing Company
1318 NW Northrup Street
From East: Get off at NW Glisan & 14th
Stop ID 2046
From West: Get off at NW 21st & Northrup
Stop ID 7127

Deschutes Brewery
210 NW 11th Avenue
From East: Get off at NW Glisan & 12th
Stop ID 2030
From West: Get off at NW Everett & 11th
Stop ID 1607

Tugboat Brewery
711 SW Ankeny Street
From East: Get off at NW Glisan & Broadway
Stop ID 1997
From West: Get off at NW Everett & Broadway
Stop ID 1606

Bailey's Taproom
213 SW Broadway
From East: Get off at NW Glisan & Broadway
Stop ID 1997
From West: Get off at NW Everett & Broadway
Stop ID 1606

PINTS Urban Taproom
412 NW 5th Avenue
From East: Get off at NW Glisan & 3rd
Stop ID 9311
From West: Get off at NW Everett & 5th
Stop ID 8886

Upright Brewing
240 N Broadway
From East: Get off at Rose Quarter Transit Center
Stop ID 2592
From West: Get off at Rose Quarter Transit Center
Stop ID 11817

Columbia River Brewing
1728 NE 40th Avenue
From East: Get off at NE Cesar Chavez Blvd & Sandy
Stop ID 7484
From West: Get off at NE 42nd & Broadway
Stop ID 7509

Laurelwood Public House and Brewery
5115 NE Sandy Blvd
From East: Get off at NE Halsey & 49th
Stop ID 2425
From West: Get off at NE Broadway & 47th
Stop ID 653

McMenamin's Edgefield
2126 SW Halsey Street, Troutdale
From West: Get off at 2100 Block SW Halsey (Edgefield Manor)
Stop ID 2339

Portland Fruit Beer Festival

Fruit me, baby!
I attended the 3rd Annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival at Burnside Brewing Co. yesterday, and I have to say this little fest just keeps getting better and better. I expect that they'll have to find a new venue soon because that place was packed to the fences by mid-afternoon. Nevertheless, I don't mind rubbing elbows with fellow craft beer enthusiasts. The crowd was friendly and everyone was there for fine beer and good times.

This is a terrific beer festival for several reasons:

1) The beer. I know some folks aren't too wild about fruit beer, but you have to expand your horizons every once in a while. If you're nothing but a big ol' hophead, this is the perfect opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone.

There are many unique tasting opportunities at this festival, with local brewing maestros showing off their amazing skills. Just one example is Gigantic Brewing's Hey There Fruitcake! I don't really care for fruitcake (if you do, you're a weirdo) but it's incredible that someone can actually brew a beer that tastes EXACTLY like a slice of fruitcake. How do they do it? I don't know, but you should find out for yourself and taste some. My favorite was 10 Barrel Brewing's Cucumber Crush. Yes, a Berliner Weisse brewed with cucumbers. Just fantastic. How could you not want to try it?

2) The real glass tasting glass. This one is a keeper. Not a full-sized pint glass, but it has fancy gold lettering and will look awesome on the bar for years to come. I know what you're thinking--a bunch of drunks in a big crowd staggering around with breakable glass? Hey, I only saw one glass get broken and it was a water glass. Most people have a death grip on that taster glass. Mine made it home in one piece via the 70 bus.

3) The price. $20 gets you inside with the tasting glass and 12 taster tickets. Most of the tastes are just one ticket, with a few of the regulars at two tickets. There are some rare taps at two, three and four, if you're looking for something pricey. You can get extra tickets for a buck each, but I didn't need more than the 12 I started out with. I got some very generous pours from the folks manning the taps, too.

4) The food. Plenty of food is available inside the brewpub and it's all appropriately priced, tasty pub grub.

5) Family friendly. You can bring your kiddies to this one, although it's pretty much an adult crowd and I wouldn't bring my little ones to a beer festival if my life depended on it, but hey, I know it's tough to get a sitter sometimes. Yes, I will likely give you the stinkeye for carrying around your infant in a Snugli while socking down those brewskis, but don't mind me. No dogs, BTW.

6) Easy to find. Parking is sparse in the area, but the venue is super easy to get to by bus or streetcar. 

The Portland Fruit Beer Festival is continuing today from 11AM to 6PM and I highly recommend. The Festival is held at the Burnside Brewing Co. pub and parking lot at E Burnside and 7th.

Go there now!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Boneyard Beer Company - Nefarious IIPA

Smooth criminal.
Boneyard Beer Company in Bend, Oregon puts out some big, bold brews. Good stuff and I have yet to try a Boneyard beer that I didn't like. I found Nefarious Imperial IPA on tap at Apex. A little, bitty 6 oz. glass for $5.00. Now, I'm not one for sipping beer out of a wimpy lil' wine glass, all dainty-like, with my pinky in the air. That's not my style, but hey, I'm totally comfortable with my wimpy side. Nevertheless, with a name like Nefarious, I just had to give it a try.

The beer was dropped off on the bar mat a hazy, orange amber color with a tiny white, foamy head--hey, it was a tiny glass. The head dissipated quickly but a decent amount of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was a big snoot full of tropical fruit and citrus.

Taste followed the nose. Grapefruit, tangerine and pineapple. Sweet malt in the background. Mildly bitter hops gave a parting note to each sip.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Just a little touch of alcohol bite to the finish of this 10.5% ABV beer.

Tasty and not at all dainty! I would have really liked it more in a full-sized pint glass. Still, I'm giving Nefarious a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Holland Brewing Company - Blue Sunday Sour 2012

Singing the blues.
Here's another great beer I got via beer trading. I was really thinking about cellaring this vintage 2012, but my lack of discipline is truly legendary. Yup, there are exactly two beers in my beer cellar (which is a dark recess between my kitchen counter and my bar). Many vintage beers have been reserved for the "cellar", but few have stayed there for very long.

Alas, Blue Sunday Sour by New Holland Brewing Company never made it into my cellar. I drank it tonight and I have to say that I very few regrets. This 8.4% ABV, oak-aged, sour fruit beer was delicious.

Blue Sunday Sour poured from 22 oz. bomber into my snifter a murky, deep purplish, reddish color with a minimal, bluish head. The head dissipated quickly and left little to no lacing behind.

Smell was sour grapes and blueberries with a mild oak aroma in the background. A distinct booziness became more apparent as the beer warmed up, as well as more defined fruit aromas: currents, cherries and plums.

Taste was sour cherries and blueberries from first sip and all the way through. Prominent oak flavor, but it didn't overpower the tart fruit.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation.

All in all, this is a delightful beer and a nice deviation from my usual big hop bomb line-up. I'm giving Blue Sunday Sour a very respectable 3 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Occidental Brewing Company - Occidental Kölsch

Sometimes, less is more.
I have to be honest, the main reason why I bought this beer is because it's in a can. I walked to the market today and I didn't want to tote back a bottle. I already had half a ton of groceries to carry home. Well, not half a ton, but I certainly didn't need to make my load any heavier. That's one of the reasons why I like beer packaged in cans--soooo much lighter to pack around.

This beer is described on the can as "Occidental's homage to the delicious ale of Cologne, Germany. Crisp and dry with a subtle hop profile." The ABV is 4.5%.

This self-described German-Style Ale poured into my shaker pint from the can a clear, light golden, yellow color. The big, bubbly, white head came up quickly to a full finger thick and then rapidly disappeared. Little to no lacing was left behind.

Aroma was light citrus and grassy hops. Sweet malt and grain.

Taste followed the nose. Sweet malt, notes of honey and lemon. Very crisp and clean.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with very lively carbonation. Dry finish. I drank this beer after an afternoon of lawn mowing and weed whacking. It sure was refreshing and I could have used another one, or two. Very drinkable and highly sessionable. Good stuff.

I'm giving Occidental Kölsch a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Apex - It's ALL About the Beer

Lots of beer pouring in here.
Apex is probably hands down the best beer joint I've ever visited and it's become my go-to bar whenever I'm looking for a new or unique brew to add to my tasting collection. First and foremost, they have 50 rotating taps. 50, no lie. Not only do they have a huge number of beers on draft to choose from, they also have a cold case filled with rare and hard to find bottles. Apex is any beer geeks dream come true.

Apex does not serve food. They concentrate on the beer. However, there are a number of take-out options close by and the folks at Apex are cool if you bring some inside. I highly recommend Double Dragon directly across the street (use the crosswalk) for fantastically delicious sandwiches and snacks. Get the pork belly and foie gras banh mi. Seriously, you won't regret it. There is also a Mexican restaurant right next door.

The atmosphere at Apex is chill. The beertenders know everything about the beers they're serving, most of the time. With 50 taps, there's always going to be something to please every beer taste. Apex is also one of the only bars in town where you'll find the elusive Pliny the Elder on tap--for eight bucks a glass. Ouch. The outside patio is gigantic, with lots of big picnic tables and shady umbrellas. Lots of room inside, too. I've never had a problem getting a seat to plop my ample backside onto at Apex.

50 beers on that menu.
The decor has an obvious bicycling theme going on. If I still cycled, I imagine the big patio and ample space for bike lock-up would be a big plus. Of note, Apex only deals in cash, so be prepared with a fat bankroll when you visit. All of the money transactions are done with an old-timey cash register in back of the bar. Cha-ching! (For those of you too young to know, that's the sound a cash register makes.) Apex even has a few old school pinball machines and a small selection of fine cigars. Heck, what more could you want?

There's a nice mix of clientele at Apex and I've had some very interesting conversations with a number of friendly beer lovers from all over the country, just sitting there sipping my beer at the bar. There are no TV's to distract people from being social at Apex (good thing) and the music on the sound system is almost as eclectic as the beer on the tap list.

Apex is located at 1216 SE Division Street, Portland, Oregon 97202. Hours are 11:30 AM to 2:30 AM.

Parking is not so easy to find close to Apex, but you shouldn't be drinking and driving anyway. The place is super easy to get to by TriMet bus, as noted in my Beer by Bus write-ups. Both the 70 and the 4 will take you right there.