Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Caldera Brewing Company - Lawnmower Lager

Get your mower runnin'.
Man, I hate mowing my lawn. I have a crappy little push mower that barely gets the job done. It leaves the grass looking like a 1970's avocado green shag carpet--which hipsters probably think is cool--which may explain why I have to pick empty PBR tallboys off my lawn every morning.

Truthfully, people with perfectly manicured lawns are looked at with a certain degree contempt and suspicion here in Stumptown. A weed-free, ultra-green lawn means you're a herbicide-slinging, water-wasting weirdo around these parts.

The brew review for this evening is Lawnmower Lager from Caldera Brewing Company. (Whew, that segue was a stretch. I think I pulled a hammie on that one. Sorry about that.) This beer is pretty easy to mow down, with an ABV of 3.90%. (Okay, I'll stop with that one.)

The beer poured from bomber into pilsner glass a clear, pale gold color. Copious streams of pinpoint bubbles rose up steadily from the bottom of the glass. The bubbly white head reached about a 1/2 of inch before it disappeared completely. Very little lace was left behind.

Aroma was grain and sweet malt with just a hint of lemon in the background.

Taste was just what the nose foretold: cereal grain, sweet, bready malt, and light, lemony citrus.

Thin mouthfeel with lots of carbonation. Crisp and clean. Finish had a bit of a watery quality, leaving the light, citrus bitterness behind at the end.

Not a particularly memorable brew, but I certainly wouldn't turn one down after an afternoon of summer lawn mowing. It's very sessionable and an easy, easy drink. I'm giving Lawnmower Lager a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 3.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Citra Summer Blonde Brew

Blondes have more fun.
"For every season there's a beer, for every beer there's a season." ~Some Famous Beer Expert

Psych! That's not a real quote. I just made it up. I was having a hard time getting this review started and decided some obscure pearl of wisdom from some famous beer expert would be the perfect ice breaker. Unfortunately, Google let me down in the perfect quote area and I was left to my own devices. Meh, at least it got me writing.

Tonight's beer review subject is Widmer Brothers Brewing Company's Citra Blonde Summer Brew. Citra Blonde is an American Golden Ale and comes with an ABV of 4.3%. It's brewed with Citra hops and comes with a bright, colorful, brand new label for 2013.

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

Aroma was citrus up front: grapefruit and lemon. Grassy, floral hops and a mild, bready, yeasty malt smell in the background.

Taste followed the nose pretty much to a tee. The star flavors are in the citrus medley: lemon, grapefruit, orange. Some light tropical fruit in there, too. Hops bitterness and a smooth, bready malt taste rounded everything out quite nicely.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with lively carbonation. The citrus hops flavor was left pleasantly on the palate at the finish. Very crisp and refreshing.

This is a perfect brew to drink out on the deck on a hot, hot afternoon. Very sessionable but highly memorable. This is the odd brew that both my wife and I like, and we have quite different tastes beer--well, mainly, I love beer and she doesn't. But she will drink--and finish--a Citra Blonde. Good stuff and I'm giving this one a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. Citra Blonde also earns a Droolie. Merry the Wonder was quite interested in the aroma of those Citra hops.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Oregon Brewers Festival

A taste of awesome
Crowded. Hot. Expensive. Still, there's something amazing about a huge mass of beer lovers lined up to taste some of the best beers made anywhere in world. The lines can be long on the busy weekend days, but there's a pitcher full of wonderful waiting for you at the end. It's kind of like Disneyland for grown ups. The Hoppiest Place on Earth, if you will.

We're talking the Oregon Brewers Festival.

The festival is held every year in June at Portland's Waterfront Park and you get to take in a fantastic view of the river and downtown while sampling dozens of fantastic brews. People watching is fun in Portland. Lots of interesting folks--many of them at least partially illustrated. The locals are friendly and the vibe is relaxed. Portlanders know their beer, so you can bet that the longest lines lead to something pretty tasty.

In previous years, the souvenir tasting mugs have been made of plastic. Not very eco-friendly for a Portland event, I'm just sayin'. I'd typically see dozens of those plastic mugs at Goodwill soon after the festival. Gratefully, they provided real glass tasting vessels this year (for $7.00), which created some minor controversy. Some overly-cautious folks with hyperactive imaginations foretold of an inebriated throng slinging around breakable glasses, resulting in a stream of blood flowing into the river and filling the local hospital emergency rooms in no time flat. Of course, that didn't happen. My taster glass now occupies an honored space on my bar.

This would mark my fourth time at the Oregon Brewers Festival and I'm officially marking off the years of my exile in Portland with my attendance at this event. I finally have this one wired: obscure craft brewery t-shirt--check; multi-pocketed shorts for holding fists full of tokens and wads of cash--check; unique hat so my crew can spot me in the crowd--check; beer tap scepter--check.

This is the freaking Pacific Northwest Oktoberfest. The biggest, bestest, baddest beer festival in Oregon and perhaps the entire country. You MUST go early if you want to get in on the best beers. There were so many of them this year, my only problem was staying on top of documenting them all. (How DO young people work those smartphones so quickly? Takes me 20 minutes just to take a beer pic.)

Yes, it gets insanely crowded during peak hours. Yes, you have to pass through a gauntlet of panhandlers to get to the gate. Yes, you have to park a mile away if you don't take the MAX. Yes, they only take cash. But, if you're a local, you should know these things. Get there early, take the day off on Thursday or Friday, find the Buzz Tent, and leave the weekend dregs for the tourists.

I got some VERY generous taster pours during my trips to the tables. A please and a thank you still goes a long way with some of the volunteers. Taster tokens were a buck each and unused tokens are still good next year! I still have a few. Tip: they're great for propping up wobbly table legs.

See you in 2014, OBF!

Imperial Bottleshop and Taproom

Fill'er up!
I must admit that when I heard a new taproom opened up in SE Portland, my first thought was that there's already quite a number of well-established beer drinking spots in that part of town. You've got Belmont Station, Beermongers, Apex and a whole mess of bars on SE Division that have fairly robust taplists. "What could a newcomer bring to the table that the others don't already have a handle on?" I posited to the Wonder Beagle perched above me on the back of the sofa. (Yes, the dog is more or less the co-author and head editor of this blog. Can't you tell?)

I looked up Imperial Bottleshop and Taproom on Google. It's located at 3090 SE Division Street, Portland, OR 97202. My wife tells me the place is located in the old Wild Oats building. She's the Oregon semi-native in this household, so I'll take her word for it. (She's usually right about everything, anyway.) We piled into the Family Truckster and weaved our way on over to SE Division.

Upon arrival, it's clear that the building is in the midst of a major renovation. Apparently, the taproom just opened this weekend. The inside furnishings, bar and picnic tables out on the sidewalk look brand-spanking new and the smell of fresh paint greeted us when we walked inside. There are some nifty light fixtures made from wine carboys hanging from the ceiling. The tables appear to be made from giant wire spools. Cool.

There's a big screen behind the bar that displays a taplist of 16 beers. There's also a nice, big cold case filled with craft beer bombers and six packs. A shelf filled with non-chilled bottles lines the far back wall. I immediately noticed a bottle drying tree and a bottle capper on the counter--equipment most homebrewers would be familiar with--and wondered what purpose they served behind the bar. I soon found out the answer, and it's the deal maker that will set Imperial apart from most of the other taprooms in the area--and keep me coming back.

Not only can you get a cold, frosty glass or pint of beer to drink on premises at Imperial, they will gladly cap up a 16 oz. bottle for you! (There's a $1.00 deposit on the bottle. Bring it back and get your buck returned.) How awesome is that? Pretty dang awesome. Of course, you can get a growler of anything they pour, too.

Rob, the friendly beertender, told us that the owners will try to keep beers on tap that you won't typically find in bottles at the market or elsewhere. Fantastic! I'm always looking for a new beer to try and, truthfully, I prefer to do most of my drinking from the safety and comfort of my own couch. Hey, don't get me wrong. I love rubbing elbows with my fellow beer lovers...just not every day.

Additionally, although my beer drinking is pretty much at a professional level when it comes to capacity, I just can't drink a whole growler by myself. It's so sad when half the beer in a growler goes flat. I feel so guilty. I won't have that problem at Imperial Bottleshop and Taproom!

I'll have to go back sometime in the evening when the joint is jumping, just to check out the vibe. I'm already impressed. The taplist was quite eclectic, with something for everyone. They had a couple on the screen that I hadn't heard about yet. That's pretty cool.

I didn't see any food, but there are dozens of restaurants within walking distance. Imperial is clearly dog friendly with a number of big picnic tables outside and water dishes set out for our furry lil' friends. I'll bring the Wonder Beagle along next time. Looking forward to it!

Just one suggestion for the folks at Imperial: Please get that taplist posted online and get a Twitter feed for keg changes. I plan my beer outings online, as do many of my beer drinking buds.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Uinta Brewing Company - Baba Black Lager

Baba, not wawa
I picked up a couple of loose brews to drink in my hotel room while attending UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle this weekend. Hey, I don't want you to think I spent a lot of time drinking all alone in faraway hotel rooms... in my baggy, old man chonies. Ah, that's probably TMI. Sorry.

Anyway, I had to chill my lonely beers in an ice bucket--no fridge in our expensive room. Now that I'm on the subject, don't ever stay at the Westin in Downtown Seattle. First, the elevators need some serious renovation--SLOOOOOOW! Second, they charge $40 a night for parking--RIP OFF! Third, the only fridge in the room is the expensive mini-fridge that doesn't allow you to chill your own beverages--STUPID! Fourth, well, let's just say that the showerhead was--FREAKY!

I realize these complaints belong in a Yelp review, instead of my lil' ol' beer blog. I'm just sayin' that there's some serious price-gouging shenanigans going on in the Emerald City. Sorry again, back to the beer...

One of the cans I picked up for late night hotel room consumption was Uinta Brewing Company's Baba Black Lager. It boasts a lightweight ABV of 4% and the 12 oz. can set me back two bucks.

The beer poured into my hotel room plastic water cup a dark, coffee-like black color with a creamy, clumpy mocha tan head. The head rose up to a finger thick and dissipated slowly, with very good retention.

Aroma was big on roasted malt but not much else. Perhaps a hint of brown sugar and molasses in the background.

Taste was mild cocoa and toffee up front. There was a nutty character and some smokey malt flavor. Mild bitterness.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Just a bit of a watery finish, but nothing too problematic. Hops bitterness left on the palate at the very end.

This is a highly sessionable, easy drinking beer. Lots of bang for the buck and much better than some other black lagers I've tried. I like it. I'm giving Baba a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Laurelwood Brewing Company - Workhorse IPA

Working for the weekend
Everyone knows about my obsession with craft beer--I'm Beer Guy PDX for cripes sake--but I'm currently in Seattle, dedicating the weekend to my second obsession, Mixed Martial Arts. Yeah, yeah, I know. MMA isn't for everybody. It's a violent combat sport. If watching two highly skilled combatants beat the holy crap out of each other isn't your cup of tea, that's okay. I understand. You have delicate sensibilities. See you at the orchid show or the yoga convention--or not.

This weekend, I'm attending UFC on FOX 8, Johnson v. Moraga. I'm excited as all heck about the fights. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait! I'm also excited about all the fine craft beer they have up here in Seattle. I already had a few last night. 

This review is not about a Seattle beer, however. I'm way behind on my beer reviews. Beer Guy PDX been slackin'. I'm writing this review from my hotel room, tethered to my Droid. I'm using my ample beer gut as a laptop tray. Hey, just one of the many benefits of drinking craft beer!

Fittingly, I'm reviewing a true craft beer gladiator, Laurelwood's Workhorse IPA. Truthfully, I can't believe I haven't reviewed this brew before. It's one of Portland's finest and the name is most appropriate. This IPA gets the job done. Period. With an ABV of 7.5 and boatload of hoppy goodness, it's one of my favorites and a regular in my cooler.

I recently found Workhorse on the tap menu at The Station on Alberta Street (my 'hood) and was more than happy to order one (okay, two). The beer was delivered to my in a shaker pint. It was a golden orange color with a beautiful, bright white, creamy, clumpy head. The head had excellent retention and copious amounts of lacing was left all over the glass.

Aroma is huge with pine and citrus hops. Lots of delightful tropical fruit notes in there, too. Classic West Coast IPA smell.

Taste is exactly what you'd expect. No surprises, but so damn good. Pine, grapefruit, pineapple. A solid bitter sock to the taste buds. Sweet caramel malt with a perfect balance against the bitter hops.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Creamy, smooth finish with just a hint of alcohol bite at the end. Lots of hops complexity left rolling around on the palate.

As I said, it's hard to find a better IPA anywhere. Interesting that this brew isn't as celebrated as some other more highly-hyped beers out there. Merry the Wonder Beagle was under the table while I was drinking this one, drooling up a storm, so Workhorse gets a perfect 4 crushed cans out 4 rating AND a Droolie.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BridgePort Brewing Company - Smooth Ryed

Helluva ryed?
I really like rye beer. Hell, I love rye whiskey, too. Rye bread, yeah! Let's just say I have a big respect for that spicy grass. Somebody brought a six pack of BridgePort Brewing's Smooth Ryed Ale to my last backyard BBQ... Actually, I don't have a backyard. All of my neighbors have backyards, but mine is just a giant-ass frontyard. There's nothing behind my house except an alley where drunk hipsters pee (PBR pee adds insult to injury) and out of control blackberry canes grow.

Rye isn't for everyone. It's a sophisticated, acquired taste. If you're the kind of person who thinks rye anything is "yucky", well, you're probably six years old and you shouldn't be drinking beer anyway.

Smooth Ryed poured from 12 oz. bottle into my glass a clear, orange-ish amber color. The white head rose up to about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. A full cap of lacing was left behind with a good amount of spotty lace all over the glass.

Aroma was interesting. Over-ripe stone fruit, citrus and butterscotch. Toasted malt and herbal tea.

Taste was lemony citrus and spicy rye. Toasted, earthy malt. The balance between the bitter hops and sweet malt was really nice. 

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Dry finish. I really liked the spicy rye flavor left on the palate at the end.

I like this rye. Good stuff. I'm giving Smooth Ryed a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

2 Towns Ciderhouse - The Bad Apple

...don't spoil the whole batch
I've been trying quite a few hard ciders lately. Just expanding my drinking horizons. Two things I've noticed about ciders: 1) They're expensive and 2) They usually have a really big ABV. I suppose that means you get more bang for your booze buck, but with the typical bomber of cider costing more than $5, it's hard to talk myself into buying the stuff very often.

Luckily, I can often find cider on sale at the Grocery Outlet. I buy quite a bit of beer at "The Used Food Store", as my wife calls the place. Seriously, though, Grocery Outlet has some great prices on beer (and cider) and a huge selection. The other day, I picked up a bottle of 2 Towns Ciderhouse's The Bad Apple.

The Bad Apple comes with a big ABV at 10.5% and comes from Corvalis, Oregon. The label also says it's aged on Oregon White Oak.

The cider poured from the 500ml bottle to my glass a clear, light golden color. A tiny amount of white foamy head came forth at the initial pour and quickly dissipated.

Aroma was sweet apples and a hint of tart acidity in the background.

Taste was apple and pear. Light spice but I didn't detect any oak notes. Very pleasant tartness.

Good carbonation. No significant booziness to this high ABV cider. Dry finish.

The Bad Apple isn't bad at all. Well, it's bad-good, not bad-bad. A couple of bombers of this stuff could get a lightweight screwed up pretty fast, though. It's a decent cider and I'd likely buy it again if the price is right. I'm giving The Bad Apple a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gigantic Brewing Company - Hellion

It's a helluva beer.
When I was a kid in the 60's and early 70's, album art was AWESOME. Music came on LP's (vinyl, baby, vinyl) and the size of the medium allowed for a 12" X 12" piece of artwork to be prominently displayed on the front of  every record package. Music stores were practically art museums and album art was one of the MOST important marketing tools for selling music--before cassette tapes, CD's and digital formats ruined everything.

I always get excited when I find a new beer from Gigantic Brewing Company in the supermarket cold case. This Portland brewer puts out some mighty fine beers. The label art is always interesting, too, and it gets me almost as amped as the debut of a new Led Zeppelin album did back in the day.

I found a bottle of Hellion on the shelf at New Seasons today. I was immediately drawn to it by the artwork. Weird. Kind of spooky. Definitely interesting. I greedily snatched the bomber out of the case and headed for the check-out line. We'd see what kind of brew it was when I got it home.

It turns out Hellion is a Belgian-style golden ale. It boasts an ABV of 8.5% and claims to be dry-hopped. I have no idea what that has to do with the label art, which appears to be Japanese inspired. Kind of a Rising Sun/Kabuki thing going on there. It doesn't matter. It's a really cool B&W piece of artwork. I'll be soaking off the label and saving it. Now, on to the beer review!

Hellion poured from bomber into my goblet a clear, golden yellow color. The bright white head took some coaxing to come up to about a 1/2 inch tall and quickly dissipated to a spotty film of lacing. Many strings of lively carbonation rose up continuously from the bottom of the glass, however.

Aroma was bready yeast up front. Apple and pear. Belgian spice.

Taste followed the nose. Apple, pear and a good yeast funk. There was also a distinctive blast of citrus hops. Lemon and orange. Very different and I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it until the beer warmed up a bit. The stuff is delicious. Lots of subtle complexities to this brew that you have to savor to really enjoy. Let this one warm up and take some appreciative sips. You'll be glad you did.

Medium mouthfeel with just a bit of an oiliness to it. Good carbonation. Finish is semi-dry with a great spicy bite to it right at the end. Just the slightest hint of alcohol right at the end, too. No booze harshness to detract from the flavors, though.

This beer really grew on me while I polished off the bomber. Nice! I want to try it on tap. I'm giving Hellion a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale

It's a hoot.
I gotta say that Alameda Brewing Company  knows how to do it, and I'm not just talking about brewing great beer. This NE Portland brewer knows how to inspire and cultivate neighborhood loyalty. Their $5 Saturday growler deal is the best beer deal in Stumptown. They also treat customers at the brewpub like their business is appreciated and valued. To me, a regular guy without a limitless beer budget, that means something. I like to get the most beer bang for my buck, and Alameda delivers. I'm a fan.

I was happy to find that Alameda was putting on a little beer tasting at the Hollywood Grocery Outlet this afternoon. (For folks not familiar with Portland, there is a Hollywood neighborhood in this burg.) I've already tried most of the offerings they were showcasing at the tasting table, except the Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale. That was a mighty tasty beer and I had to pick up a bomber to review.

The beer poured from bomber into my pint glass a deep, dark brown color with a thick, creamy, tan head. The head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated very slowly. Copious amounts of lacing remained behind.

Aroma was earthy malt up front. Toffee and caramel. Dark Fruit.

Taste was nutty, toasted, earthy malt. Buttery, mild cocoa notes. Nice bitter hops zing with a slight citrus flavor. Pleasantly complex.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Slightly creamy finish with just a bit of an alcohol taste.

Barn Owl is an easy drinker. I really like this one and would definitely buy it again. I'm giving this brew a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks - Anthem Pear

Guessing it's made from pears...
Cider is pretty easy to make. Probably easier to make than beer, actually, but it's damn labor intensive and requires quite a lot of working space. I don't have a garage or a suitably large area to juice fruit by hand. Here's a pretty good Instructables article that breaks the whole process down, in case you're interested in how it's done.

I have made cider from apples run through my juice machine. That worked okay, but I had to use a couple of boxes of apples we picked out at Hood River just to make a gallon jug of the stuff. It took forever and that kind of repetition drives me crazy. Not to mention the picking. Much easier to just pick up a bottle of cider at the market. I'm just sayin'.

I did pick up a bottle of Anthem Pear at the store the other day. It's pear cider, duh, and it comes with an ABV of 6.2%.

The cider poured from bomber into my glass a clear, golden yellow color. There was no head to speak of and gentle bubbles of carbonation rose up in streams from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma was sweet pear and apple. Slight yeasty smell in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Pear and tart apple. Tiny bit of yeasty funk and a touch of alcohol.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Dry finish with a tart, acrid fruit flavor left on the palate.

Not bad. This stuff sure went down easy last night when it was 81 degrees on my couch at 10:PM. Crisp and refreshing with just enough bang to remind you that you're not sipping on a juicebox. I'm giving Anthem Pear a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gasthaus-Brauerei Braustelle - Freigeist Geisterzug Spruced Traditional Gose

I was playing a game at the supermarket cold case the other day, you know, just to entertain myself. I decided to just snatch the first beer off the shelf that caught my eye. Freigeist Geisterzug had a ghost and what appeared to be a spooky mausoleum on the label. Babelfish tells me the German to English translation is: free spirit ghost train. Oooooo! Scary! The label says the stuff has an ABV of 5.0%.  Oooooo! Not so scary!

The beer poured into my pilsner glass a hazy, straw yellow color. There was little to no head to the stuff. What head did rise up on the pour disappeared instantly.

Aroma was earthy grain, lemon zest and funky yeast. No "spruce" to the nose that I could detect.

Taste was mildly sour apple and pear. Lemon. Some coriander and clove spice way in the background. Not a lot going on, but it was an easy drinker. Again, nothing spruce-y in the flavor. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Spruce, maybe?

Thin mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. The finish was fairly dry. That sour fruit taste was the only thing left on the palate there at the end.

Meh, the bottle was way more cool than the beer. It's not a bad brew, but I doubt I'll ever buy it again. I'm giving Geisterzug a BeerGuyPDX rating of 2 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Where everybody knows your beer.
Sorry, I'm going to start this post with a cliche adage: you can't judge a book by its cover. In this case, it's actually more like you can't judge a bar by it's dive-y exterior. Located in Portland's Montavilla neighborhood, Roscoe's looks like your typical, run-of-the-mill, neighborhood watering hole. Just walking by, you'd likely never give the place a second glance, and if you're a beer lover, that would be a sad, sad mistake.

I have no idea who Roscoe is, or if there really is a Roscoe, but he sure knows a thing or two about craft beer. Once you're inside the front door and perusing the tap list, you know you're in the realm of legitimate, hardcore beergeekdom. Almost 20 selections of the latest, greatest and most sought-after brewskis in Stumptown are chalked up there on a blackboard behind the bar.

The leaderboard.
I have never been disappointed by Roscoe's beer selection. In fact, it's the first bar in Portland where I was able to find Russian River's Pliny the Elder on tap. The line-up is often both eclectic and delightfully local at the same time. Cask and nitro options, too.

Of course, all would be for naught if there wasn't some decent pub grub to go along with the great beer. Roscoe's has that covered, too! Happy hour runs from 2 to 6 PM and there are some awesome snacks to be had on the HH menu. There are a number of tasty, Cajun-inspired items to choose from. My favorites are the hush puppies and catfish sliders. The gumbo is also most excellent.

Roscoe's also has sushi available from the sushi bar next door. Apparently both places are owned by the same folks and cross-ordering is encouraged. I've never tried the sushi--not my thing--but friends tell me it's pretty good.

Service is chill, but still excellent. The bartenders know and appreciate the wares they're serving and can tell you just about anything you might want to know about every beer on tap. I even got some free advice on how to deal with the mites infesting my hops plants the last time I was at Roscoe's--only I'm pretty sure they thought I was talking about some other kind of plant.

There's a friendly, neighborhood vibe at Roscoe's and a couple of pool tables in the back. It's a great place to have a few awesome brews and make a friend or two. That's why I've got this place right up there on my Portland must-do list.

Check it out for yourself and if you see me there, you can thank me for the tip by buying me a beer.

Hop Valley Brewing Company - Double D Blonde

Blondes have more fun
Eugene, Oregon is a beautiful city about 90 minutes south of Portland. Eugene is famous for the University of Oregon (go Ducks!), Prefontaine, the Oregon Bach Festival...and hippies. Lots and lots of hippies. Hey, I'm not saying it like that's a bad thing. Dye-tie, tempeh and macrame never hurt anybody. Women can legally walk around topless in Eugene. How hip is that?

Eugene is also a great beer town. Creativity and free-spirited individualism form the foundation of great craft brewing and there's plenty of both in Eugene, that's for sure. Eugene's Hop Valley Brewing makes some mighty fine beers. Tonight's subject brew is Double D Blonde. It comes in at 5% ABV and set me back $3.99 for a bomber at Whole Foods.

The beer poured into my tulip pint a slightly hazy, golden yellow color. The bright white head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. Spotty, sudsy lacing was left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus hops with just a hint of pine. Sweet caramel malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Grapefruit. Mildly bitter. Bready, slightly earthy malt flavor. Good, good balance. Not a lot of complexity for the palate to savor in this one, but that's okay.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Slightly creamy finish.

This is a very easy drinker. Highly sessionable. This would make a good beer to stock the cooler with on BBQ Sunday. Would be nice in 12 oz. bottles or cans. I'm giving Double D Blonde a BeerGuyPDX ratng of 3 crushed cans out of 4. It also earns a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle's nose was quite interested in this beer.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Alameda Brewing Company - Yellow Wolves of Thailand IIPA

On any given Saturday, you can wander into Alameda Brewing Company with an armload of growlers and fill 'em up with darn near any beer on tap for five bucks! FIVE BUCKS! Seriously, your won't find a better beer deal anywhere in Stumptown. FIVE BUCKS! That's what you'll pay for most premium pints in this burg.

This Saturday, I picked up a jug full of Alameda's Yellow Wolves of Thailand IIPA. It's similar to the regular Yellow Wolf IIPA, except this brew is made with basil, ginger, mango and flaked coconut. A very Thai-inspired beer. ABV is 8.2%.

The beer poured from my growler into a tulip pint a hazy, golden orange color. The white head came up to about a 1/2 inch high and dissipated quickly. Minimal spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was big on tropical fruit and citrus. A definite herbal, spicy smell was present in the background, along with sweet caramel malt.

Taste delivered citrus hops and tropical fruit. Orange, mango and pineapple. The flavors of basil, lemongrass and ginger were distinct and abundant. Delicious stuff. I've never tasted a beer that so adeptly captured the flavors of Thai cuisine. Awesome.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with medium to low carbonation. Very little alcohol taste to the stuff.

Yellow Wolves of Thailand was surprisingly refreshing and drinkable for an Imperial IPA with an ABV over 8%. I finished half the growler before I realized how easy the stuff went down my gullet. Very different and not just a novelty brew. I like it. I'm giving Yellow Wolves of Thailand a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Brouwerij Roman N.V. - Rince Cochon

Here piggy, piggy!
My beer drinking rarely takes me out of Portland, let alone the country. Don't get me wrong, I'm not into snobby beer local-ism or anything like that. There are just so many awesome Oregon beers I want to try--and new ones coming out all the time--that I spend most of my beer pickin' efforts on the local stuff.

I like going to beer sharing events because someone always brings something that I probably would never buy myself. Lots of unique, interesting stuff hits the table. At the last bottle share I attended, somebody brought a blonde Belgian--I'm talking beer, not supermodel. These are beer geeks, after all.

Rince Cochon means "drunk pig" and there's a graphic depicting just that on the label of this 8.5% ABV import.

The beer poured in my improvised tasting glass a hazy, pale yellow color. Even with a tiny taster amount, there was a good amount of foamy white head.

Very yeasty, bready smell right up front. Aroma was also quite fruity: apple, grape, pear.

Taste was light, bready malt and lemon zest. Belgian spice and yeast. Cardamon and clove. There was a noticeable alcohol bite but not overpowering.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation.

Rince Cochon is tasty beer and I wouldn't mind having a bottle NOT to share. I'm giving it a BeerGuPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Sterling Pils

Silver lining.
Another beautiful, warm day in Portland. I had my laptop fired up on the kitchen table, working on that novel I'm trying to finish. Oh, who am I kidding, I was farting around on Facebook and looking at Grumpy Cat memes.

I was too lazy to fix lunch and my wife was busy babysitting. What to do? What to do? Well, there was a Chevy Cobalt sitting outside with an 1/8 of a tank of gas...

I found myself at Killer Burger. They serve up some of the best burgers in Portland, in my opinion. Hey, every burger includes bacon. That's all you need to know. Okay, you also need to know that they typically have a number of tasty, local craft beers on tap. Mmmmm, burgers and beer. Come on, we all know that's what Eve REALLY tempted Adam with. An apple? Pfft!

I ordered my burger, a Black Molly, and a beer to sip while I waited for that cooked-to-order masterpiece. In keeping with my current Pilsner binge, I got a Sterling Pils from Ninkasi Brewing Company.

The beer was presented in a shaker pint and had a clear, golden yellow hue. The bright white head was a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. Loads of webby lacing was left all over the glass.

Aroma was grassy hops and lemon zest. Biscuity malt in the background with some faint herbal and floral notes.

Taste was grassy and citrus hops with mild bitterness. Earthy, biscuit malt flavor provided a great balance. Crisp and refreshing.

Medium mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation. Somewhat of a creamy finish with the hops being the major player in the aftertaste.

Overall, this is a very drinkable beer. Crisp, clean and easy to chug. No noticeable alcohol bite with this 4.9% ABV brew. I like. I'm giving Sterling Pils a solid BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Sasquatch Brewing Company

Gone Squatchin'...
This is the Pacific Northwest--home of the legendary Bigfoot. Now, I've never encountered that stinky, hairy beast of lore during any of my treks through the forest, but I'm not about to start poo-pooing his existence. There are some remote, pristine areas of wilderness just minutes away from my front porch. Almost anything could be out there. For all I know, entire families of squatch roam the streets of Stumptown in the wee hours of the morning. Hey, something dug through my trashcans the other night, I'm just sayin'.

Sasquatch Brewing Company is a family-owned place located in the woodsy high country of suburban Portland. Don't worry, those creatures with the hairy faces aren't squatch, they're probably just beer geeks enjoying some of the tasty brews made at this well-appointed neighborhood brewpub.

I dropped in with a friend right after happy hour ended a couple of days ago. (Like many bars and pubs in the Portland area, happy hour is 3 to 5 and 9 to close.) They have a decent HH menu and some tasty snack items on the regular menu. I got the Deep-Fried Kimchee Pickles and some House-Cut Fries. The dinner menu is loaded with some interesting pub grub. They have small plates, burgers and some big plates with items like grilled pork loin and beer can chicken. Of course, I was there for the beer.

Good stuff of tap.
Sasquatch Brewing Company has an outside patio and several tables out front on the sidewalk. All of the outside seating was full-up on the evening I was in, so you may want to get there early on a nice night.

There are three dining areas inside the building and a small bar near the main entrance. Service was reasonably attentive and friendly. Our food was brought to the table promptly and our glasses were kept full.

I sampled three beers, each one as good as the last. My favorite was the Moby Dick IIPA, which I'll review at length later. I was also quite fond of the Hairy Knuckle Stout... and the Woodboy Dry Hop IPA... oh, hell, they were all good! They're brewing up some tasty beers out there among the tall trees!

There are so many fine breweries and brewpubs in and around Portland and Sasquatch has made it on my list of "must tries". I highly recommend a visit, whether you're a Stumptown native or a beercationer. Good stuff.

Fort George Brewery (et al) - 3-Way IPA

Ménage à Tasty
Collaborations can be awesome things...or not. It all depends on who is doing the collaborating and what they are collaborating on. Remember when all those popstars collaborated on Michael Jackson's "Feed the World"? That was a pretty good thing. I was watching a program on the Military Channel the other day called "Nazi Collaborators" ...ehhhh, that was the not so good kind of collaboration. Very bad people doing very, very bad things. See, it all depends.

Gratefully, I'm dealing with the very best of collaborations today, at least in my beer-y world. The good folks at Fort George Brewing, Gigantic Brewing and Lompoc Brewing got together and collaborated on an IPA! Now, these three Oregon brewing superstars have made some damn fantastic IPA's all on their own. What possessed them to get together to create a team effort beer? I don't know, but the results speak volumes about the mastery of these great NW brewers.

I found 3-Way IPA on tap at 1856, a friendly little wine and beer shop in my NE Portland neighborhood. It comes in with a 6.69% ABV and from my understanding it's brewed with a lager yeast and a boatload of hops. 

The beer was poured from the tap into a shaker pint and was presented before me with the most beautiful, foamy, creamy head. That's a picture of the actual beer up there. Ain't it pretty? I almost didn't want to drink it...almost. The color was a hazy, golden orange. The head dissipated slowly and left a good amount of lacing behind--on the glass and in my 'stache.

Aroma was big on citrus. Grapefruit and orange. Lots of sweet tropical fruit smells in there, too, and a nice, clean malt aroma in the background.

Taste followed the nose. A good bitter hops sock to the stuff, but it was very smooth. Grapefruit and orange. Caramel malt. Mango and guava. Mild, herbal spiciness. Quite a hops showcase, this one.

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of a chew to it. Good carbonation. Smooth, creamy finish.

3-Way is an easy drinking IPA that still manages to deliver some lip-smackin' flavor. It's outstanding. I understand they're going to be canning this brew under the Fort George label as a seasonal release. I will be buying a truckload of it. Good stuff. I'm also interested to see what the Wonder Beagle's nose has to say about it when I get some home. In the meantime, I'm giving 3-Way a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg GmbH - Stiegl Goldbräu Lager

I tried to do a little research on this Austrian beer. Apparently, "stiegl" means "stairs" in German. Which makes the graphic design on the can more understandable, as well as this TV ad. I snatched a can out of the cold case at my random neighborhood supermarket. I had a bit of difficulty determining the exact name of the beer. "Goldbrau" was printed innocuously on the back of the can, so I think that's the formal name of the stuff.

The beer poured from can into pilsner glass a bright, golden yellow color. The white head came up at about a 1/2 inch and disappeared quickly. A moderate ring and thin cap of lacing was left behind and remained throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was sweet malt and grassy hops. Somewhat fruity smell in the background. Grape juice and light citrus.

Taste was bready, yeasty malt up front with an appreciable hops bitterness following it up. Honey and caramel sweetness at the end.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. A bit of a watery finish. Zero alcohol taste in this 4.9% ABV brew.

All in all, this is a fairly decent beer. If I saw a can in the BBQ cooler, I'd pull it out with no hesitation. I'm giving Stiegl Goldbrau a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Oskar Blues Brewery - Mama's Little Yella Pils

Runnin' for the shelter...
I'm on a pilsner roll! Tonight's review subject is a "Rocky Mountain Pilsner" from Oskar Blues Brewery named Mama's Little Yella Pils. That's an interesting name. Throwback to the Stones, ya know. (Pssst, it's a '60's drug reference.) Here's the link for all you younguns.

My mother's "little helper" wasn't a pill or a beer. It was me...with a bucket full of rags and a bottle of Windex. She was a firm believer in keeping idle hands busy, and lazy butts whipped. Ah, I'm getting a mental picture of mom and pops in their matching Laz-E-Boys, barking out orders and squabbling over the "clicker". (That's an old school '70's TV remote.)

Yella Pils came in a tall "stovepipe" can. Slightly more than a pint. It poured into my glass a slightly hazy, pale, golden yellow color. Not much of a head on this one. It came up to about a 1/2 inch with some coaxing and quickly dissipated. A thin cap of lacing remained.

Aroma was grassy hops, with sweet malt and cereal grains.

Taste was mildly bitter hops with a hint of lemon zest. Bready malt flavor in the background.

Thin mouthfeel with good carbonation. Finish was dry with a slightly metallic aftertaste. No noticeable alcohol taste in this 5.3% ABV beer.

There's just a bit of a harsh edge to this pilsner that I don't really care for too much. Admittedly, that's just my taste. Nobody likes 'em all. I'm giving Mama's Little Yella Pils a BeerGuyPDX ratng of 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Evil Twin Brewing - Low Life Pilsner

Gotta get low, low, low.
Wow, I've been searching out and drinking a lot of pilsners lately. It's the heat. I want to drink beer (duh), but I just can't handle a tonsil-coater right now. A beer needs to be crisp and clean when the weather is broastingly hot. I don't have an air conditioner--I'm certain I've whined about that in a previous post. Did I mention that I don't own an air conditioner? Yeah, I don't have an air conditioner.

I was lurking around the cold case at the market today. Hey, it's cool in the beer aisle--wish I could just set up a lawn chair and stay there all night. I spotted a bottle of Evil Twin Brewing's Low Life Pilsner. Ha, that's pretty funny--"low life", as opposed to "high life". I get it. Miller High Life is perhaps the most horrible tasting of all the mass produced adjunct brews. Ack. I was hoping Low Life would be the polar opposite, as the name would seem to imply.

The beer poured into my pilsner glass from a 12 oz. bottle a clear, bright, golden yellow color. The white head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated rather quickly. A very thin cap of lacing was left behind. It was certainly a picture-perfect beer, looking quite stunning in that tall glass.

Aroma was grassy hops with hints of lemon. Mild herbal notes mixed with bready, yeasty malt in the background.

A surprising hops bitterness was the initial taste opener. Lemon zest and herbal spice. Everything was pulled together perfectly with an earthy, bready malt backbone. Very well-balanced.

Medium mouthfeel with lively carbonation. 5.5% ABV. No noticeable alcohol taste present.

I wouldn't mind knocking back a few of these. Low Life gets some high marks from me. 3 crushed cans out of 4 on the BeerGuyPDX rating scale.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Elysian Brewing Company - The Mens Room Original Red

You find the strangest things
in the Mens Room
Edit: [When I first drafted this post, I couldn't think of any reason why someone would name a beer "The Men's Room". I suggested that the imagine it conjured up was not...appetizing. However, as you can see from the comment below, the name  of the beer comes from a Seattle radio program and part of the money that is made from the sale of "The Men's Room" goes to a very worthy cause that helps veterans and their families. Bravo, Elysian!]

I picked up a bomber of this brew at--Walmart. Don't ask how I ended up in a Walmart. Let's just say we were on the road and I didn't feel like searching around unknown territory for a store that isn't owned by a megacorp that's sucking the marrow from the bones of the dead American Dream... uh, sorry, that was my inner radical speaking... back to the beer review.

The Mens Room poured from bomber into tulip pint a hazy, golden amber color. The off-white head rose up to more than a finger thick. It looked very creamy and dissipated slowly. Prodigious amounts of webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was sweet bready malt. Caramel and honey. A light citrus, floral hop smell in the background. Not much of an aroma to this one.

Taste was mildly bitter with a decent hops bite to it--grapefruit--but the backbone of this brew is the sweet, earthy malt flavor.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. The hops bitterness remained in the finish.

This is a very easy drinking, highly sessionable beer. I really like it. Weird name. Good beer. I'm giving The Mens Room a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.