Monday, January 27, 2014

10 Barrel Brewing Company - Project: Failed Red Ale

Failure is not an option.
Interesting, self-deprecating label on this new beer from 10 Barrel Brewing Company. "PROJECT: FAILED" is graphically plastered across what I believe is the word "NITRO". Not sure, though. Apparently, the brewer had another intention for this brew than what eventually came out of the tank. Hey, sometimes mistakes turn out fantastic. Isn't that how Post-It Notes, Maraschino Cherries, and Penicillin were invented? Colossal eff-ups gone good, if you will.

Project: Failed is a red ale with an ABV of 6.7%. I bought a sixer at New Seasons. It was on sale and I was looking for something new and different to try. Win!

The beer poured from 12 oz. bottle into my shaker pint a lovely reddish amber color. The off-white head rose up to almost a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A full cap of spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was rather IPA-like. Citrus and mild pine in the initial olfactory intake. Some floral and herbal notes.

Taste was more like what I was expecting. Nice, earthy malt flavor. Very pleasantly balanced hops bitterness. Indistinct citrus. Surprisingly complex spiciness to the stuff.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Somewhat of a dry finish with tasty hops flavors left behind at the end. Great aftertaste.

I like it! Sometimes I'm sorry when I buy a full six pack of a beer I've never tasted before. 10 Barrel did not let me down. Very good beer and probably one of the best red ales I've ever tasted. The Wonder Beagle liked it, too, so a Droolie is in order, along with my 3 crushed can out of 4 rating.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Double Mountain Brewery - Sacre Bleu

Fetch me my beret...
Nothing thrills me more than stumbling across a brand new beer in my supermarket cold case. Well...there are a few things that might thrill me more...but not many.

Today, I discovered a pint bottle of Double Mountain Brewery's Sacre Bleu at New Seasons. I greedily snatched it off the shelf and ran for the checkout. It's a Belgian-style Dubbel with an ABV of 7.3%.

The beer poured into my tulip snifter a brownish amber color. Reddish highlights could be seen while holding the glass up to the light. The foamy, tan head rose up to about a 1/2 inch and dissipated quickly. Practically no lacing was left behind.

Aroma was Belgian spice with hints of banana and dark, over-ripe fruit. Cardamon, coriander and clove. Belgian yeast. Spicy banana bread.

Taste followed the nose. Loads of spice and bready yeast. Grape, raisin and banana. A bit of mild, lingering bitterness in background. Just a hint of alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. A little bit thin in the finish. The flavor kind of dropped off my palate there at the end and disappeared. Still, it was damn tasty.

Nice for an American twist on the style. The Wonder Beagle went absolutely batsh*t loony for the stuff. Tried to steal a taste right out of my glass--while I was holding it! I'm giving Sacre Bleu a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hop Valley Brewing Company - Citrus Mistress IPA

The lady plays nice.
I gotta admit that the IPA is absolutely my favorite beer style. I get tired of other brews, but I'll never turn down an big, juicy, citrus-y, bitter, super-hoppy beer. I love the stuff, especially an expertly crafted, Northwest IPA.

Naturally, an IPA brewed here in Oregon, and with a name like "Citrus Mistress" is going to catch my attention. The beer is from Hop Valley Brewing Company and it comes with an ABV of 6.5%. The label advises that it's brewed with grapefruit peel, four different hops and has 80 IBU's. Intriguing.

The beer poured from bomber to glass a clear, golden orange color with a bright, white head. The head got up to an inch thick with some coaxing and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was big on citrus, that's for sure. Grapefruit and orange. Floral notes. Tropical fruit. Pineapple. Some pine-y dankness in the background.

Taste gave a good pucker of grapefruit rind right up front. Very interesting. You can really taste that peel. Respectable, bitter hops sock to the stuff but not what I'd call a hop bomb. Orange and grapefruit. Tropical fruit. Pine. Not a lot of malt showing up. I wasn't too sure I liked the flavor at first, but it really grew on me the more I drank it.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Juicy finish. That predominant citrus flavor is what hangs around at the end.

Definitely a different take on the West Coast IPA style. Pretty masterful use of that grapefruit peel. If that's the major flavor the brewer was seeking, this beer is a success. Absolutely worth a try. I'm giving Citrus Mistress a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. No Droolie. The dog was asleep and I almost woke her up so I could see her reaction.

Left Coast Brewing Company - The Wedge Black IPA

Gimmie a Wedgie...
Lots of tasty, tasty beers being brewed all over the country. Aren't we lucky to be living in 'MURICA? Yes, yes we are! Tonight, I had a beer from San Clemente, CA: The Wedge from Left Coast Brewing Company. The Wedge is a Black IPA, also known around these parts as a Cascadian Dark Ale.

The beer poured into my shaker pint a totally opaque, pitch black color with a creamy, clumpy, mocha head. The head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. A good amount of webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was predominantly cocoa and coffee with hints of citrus and pine in the background. Nice, fresh aroma to this brew.

Taste was dark, roasted malt up front. Bitter chocolate and strong espresso. Orange citrus and a pleasant, lingering, pine hops bitterness at the end of every sip. Oh, yeah.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriately lower carbonation. Smooth finish. No alcohol taste to this 7.1% ABV beer.

Overall, this brew is a winner, in my humble opinion. They did this NW style right way down there in Nixonland. Good stuff and I'm giving The Wedge a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle recognized those hops she loves ASAP. Gotta have some Cascade or Centennial hops in there somewhere, I'm guessing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

McMenamins Breweries - Red Riser IRA

Rising to the occasion?
McMenamins latest seasonal release is an IRA (India Red Ale) named Red Riser IRA. I had the opportunity to try it in the Boiler Room Bar at the Kennedy School on Saturday.

If you haven't been to the Kennedy School, you should definitely check it out. McMenamins took another derelict building and turned it into a neighborhood gem--it's kind of what they do. The Boiler Room is a very cool bar. First, it's in the basement of the renovated school--because it actually WAS the boiler room back when educatin' youngins was going on inside. Second, the functional industrial art, created from old pipework, is crazy amazing! It's absolutely my favorite bar inside Kennedy School--yes, there's more than one!

Red Riser was delivered to me straight from the tap to pint glass. It was a beautiful, hazy, dark red, copper color with a creamy tan head. The head was a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. Lots of sudsy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was earthy, biscuity malt with some light floral notes. A touch of citrus and pine.

Taste was citrus and resinous pine. A distinct, spicy rye flavor stood out and blended nicely with pleasant, IPA-ish hops bitterness. Delicious, sweet malt flavor lingered after every sip.

Medium mouthfeel with just a bit of a chew to it. Creamy finish. Some alcohol detected in this 7.1% ABV brew, but no harsh to the stuff.

Nice! I'm starting to really get turned on by all these IRA's coming out lately, and Red Riser is a great example of the style. I like! I'm giving Red Riser a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. I enjoyed two pints of it on Saturday and I'll absolutely go back for more!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Tap & Growler - Eugene, Oregon

"Stay or Growl"
My daughter in Eugene discovered this new taproom and couldn't wait to take her beer-lovin' papa there. What a great kid, always watching out me. She doesn't particularly like beer herself, but The Tap & Growler also has an extensive taplist of fine wine. Something for the whole family!

The Tap & Growler only serves beer and wine out of the tap--no bottles to be found anywhere in the place. However, they have a huge selection on tap. I think I counted more than 35 different beers up on their taplist. I'm not a wino, so I didn't really pay attention to the wine taplist, but it looks about the same size.

Oh, and about their taplist: it's pretty cool! The lists (one for beer and one for wine) are projected onto the wall behind the bar. It's a nifty set-up.

I didn't get any food while I was at The Tap & Growler, but it appears they have an appropriate selection of pretzels, bread, cheese and charcuterie. I did get a mighty fine beer: a Poblamo Chile saison brewed by Agrarian Ales of Coburg, Oregon. Outstanding brew!
Fill 'er up!

The decor is a cool, restoration, industrial motif with an open ceiling. Service was friendly and knowledgeable. Although I didn't get a growler of anything, I was impressed with the various sizes of fills and reasonable prices.

The Tap & Growler is the kind of taproom I'd LOVE to have in my neighborhood. Hey, why isn't there a taproom like this in my neighborhood?

As I stated before, I'm not a wine drinker, by the idea of a wine/beer taproom combo makes sense. There are some people who dig on beer and others who prefer wine. Can't we all just, just get along? Of course we can!

The Tap & Growler is located at 207 E. Fifth Avenue #115, in beautiful Eugene, Oregon. Go there. You'll like it!

The Bier Stein - Eugene, Oregon

Bier, bier, bier!
Two of my kids live in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is a cool place to visit. It's a college town--home of the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) and a whole lot of hippies. The late Ken Kesey, famed author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and pilot of the infamous, LSD-powered school bus Further, is perhaps Eugene's most noteworthy citizen. Did I mention there are a whole lot of hippies in Eugene?

In addition to a plethora of tie-dyed t-shirts, patchouli and weed, you'll also find quite a thriving craft beer culture in Eugene. Many great breweries are found within the city limits and just beyond, like Ninkasi, Oakshire and Hop Valley, to name a few. There are also some excellent taprooms, one of them being The Bier Stein.

The Bier Stein recently relocated to a much larger building at 1591 Willamette Street (my ex-Eugene denizen spouse tells me it was previously an indoor farmer's market) and the extra elbow room is greatly appreciated. The bigger space also provides a massive cold case filled with bottles of just about every kind of tasty beverage a craft beer lover could desire. They advertise 1000 bottles and the largest selection in Oregon. Impressive!

The Digital Pour system displays about 30 rotating taps behind the counter. You can open a tab at the cash register and--get this--send subsequent beer and food orders via text message. My (adult) kids love the high tech touch and it seems to work very well. 
Lots of elbow room...

The food is excellent. If you eat at The Bier Stein, you gotta get the Bier Cheese. Delicious! I also highly recommend the artichoke dip for an appetizer. Tasty! They have many of the usual pub grub items on the menu: sandwiches, salads and such.

There's a big, cozy fireplace located in the back section of the pub and I suggest that area for old-timers like me. The large open space and high ceiling make for a bit of a noisy experience, but nothing too bad. I always have difficulty hearing what my beer-drinking companions say at most pubs, anyway. Sometimes, I just have to smile, nod and hope nobody is calling me a dirty, rotten scoundrel.

Service is prompt and friendly. Take-out bottles came with a 20% discount when I was there last. They also have a separate cash register for take-out purchases. Smart.

The Bier Stein is a bottle shop and taproom done right. Great beer, good food and plenty of room. If you find yourself in Eugene, I highly recommend.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wolf's Spicy India Pale Onions

Nothing peps up a tasty burger quite like grilled onions. I love 'em. Of course, my grilled onion recipe requires beer...and hot chiles. Hey, I ain't eatin' no wimpy onions. You gotta spice 'em up! Here's how I do it:

  • One extremely large red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1/4 stick of REAL butter
  • 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 - 4 dashes of Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 medium Habanero chile, finely chopped 
  • 2 ounces of your favorite IPA
Melt the butter in a large iron skillet. Add the onion and chile and cook until they begin to soften up. Add the Worcestershire, hot sauce and lemon pepper. Cook at high heat until the onions are brown and caramelized. Add the beer and continue to cook until it evaporates. I think an IPA adds a special, hoppy, citrus-y zing and compliments the flavor of the Habanero chiles, but you could use any beer--and any other pepper, for that matter. I used Worthy Brewing Company's Worthy IPA for the batch I made tonight. Excellent IPA brewed in Bend, Oregon with a treasure trove of Oregon hops. I'll review the beer later.

Increase the amount of Habanero, if you like the heat. Leave it out entirely, if you have sad, pathetic, wussy taste buds.

This is my favorite burger topping of all time. It's an amazingly simple recipe but everybody in my house loves it. There is never any left in the pan at the end of the burger feast. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ballast Point Brewing Company - Fathom India Pale Lager

The nautical theme continues...
San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing has made it's way to Oregon in a big way. Many of their beers can now be found in bottle shops and markets all over the state. I was at The Bier Stein in Eugene this afternoon--taking the kids to lunch--when I found quite a selection of Ballast Point brews. I picked the Fathom IPL to take home with me to taste and review.

I've tried a few other IPL's--India Pale Lagers--in the past and I haven't been massively impressed. This one comes with an ABV of 7% and 70 IBU's. It's described as combining "time-honored lagering techniques with the hop profiles of a West Coast IPA recipe." Let's see how they did...

The beer poured into my shaker pint a clear, golden orange color with a foamy, sudsy, white head. The head retention was moderate and thin, webby lacing was left behind after it dissipated.

Aroma was citrus and mild pine. Biscuity malt and light tropical fruit. Not a big smell to this beer but it had the IPA aroma profile I was expecting, albeit a bit muted.

Taste was indistinct citrus up front. Orange and tangerine. Tropical fruit with a sweet, honey-like flavor. Solid, clean malt in the end.

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of a weak finish for me. I prefer more of a bitter bite at the end and that was almost entirely absent. No alcohol taste that I could detect. It is an easy drinker. It's kind of a beginner's IPA, in my opinion. Certainly not a hop bomb.

Definitely a tasty brew and it got the Wonder Beagle's nose interested. Nevertheless, I don't think I'd hurry out to buy Fathom again. I'm giving this one 2 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bayern Brewing, Inc. - Dragon's Breath Dark Hefe Ale

Dragon's Breath? Your best friend
won't even tell you...
I bought several orphan beer singles at Whole Foods the other day. Every once in a while they have something worth trying. $1.99 each. Not bad. The other day I brought home a 12 oz. bottle of Bayern Brewing's Dragon's Breath Dark Hefe Ale. That would be a Dunkelweizen. ABV was reported as 5.6% ABV.

This would be my first time sampling a beer from Bayern Brewing. They are located in Missoula, MT. Their website says they specialize in authentic Bavarian beer. Bayern means "Bavaria" in German. Hey! I knew that! I'm an authentic Bavarian, too!

Dragon's Breath poured from bottle (cool label art) into my glass a slighty hazy, reddish brown color with a creamy, light tan head. The head dissipated quickly but left quite a prodigious amount of lacing behind all over the glass.

Aroma was sweet, bready malt with some hints of dark fruit in the background. Light brown sugar. No hops smell that I could detect.

Taste was mellow, earthy malt with mild toffee and cocoa notes. Banana bread. Nice, mildly bitter end to every sip. More robust flavor than I expected from the nose.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Smooth finish. Tasty! I liked it a lot! 

The Wonder Beagle was interested in the aroma, too. Not the typical hop bomb that usually sets her to drooling, but her eyes were riveted on the glass the entire time I was drinking it. Good stuff, and I'd be interested in sampling more offerings from Bayern Brewing. I'm giving Dragon's Breath a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gigantic Brewing Company - Bang On! Beer

Another interesting, different kind of brew from Portland's Gigantic Brewing Company. I picked up a bomber of Bang On! Beer at Belmont Station the other day. The label proclaims that the beer was made with British malt and American hops. It also comes with an ABV of 5.6%. 

It's Gigantic's PNW version of an English Pale Ale. I understand that "Bang On!" is a common expression in Britain, meaning with absolute accuracy or excellent. Does the beer live up to it's name? Let's find out, shall we?

The beer poured from bomber into shaker pint a clear orange/amber color with a bright, white head. The head rose up to about a finger tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. A good amount of webby lacing was left behind all over the glass. A thin cap of foam remained behind throughout the entire drinking session.

Aroma was predominantly sweet malt with floral and citrus in the background. Lemon zest and honey.

Taste followed the nose. Lots of biscuity, earthy malt. Golden honey. Citrus hops bitterness balanced everything out quite nicely. Lemon and orange.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Very drinkable, and at 5.6%, it's almost a session beer. Lots of flavor to this pale ale. I like it!

If you're not in the mood for a hop bomb or a tonsil coater, Bang On! is an appropriately flavorful brew and I highly recommend it. Good stuff and I'm giving it a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. No Droolie. The Wonder Beagle was busy chasing squirrels while I socked this one down.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elysian Brewing Company - Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout

No snarky barista necessary...
I love a good, strong shot of espresso. (My wife makes a darn good espresso.) I also love a fine craft beer. Beer brewed with espresso? That's sounds like a match made in heaven for a guy like me. Unfortunately, I'm not always thrilled with the end product when it comes to coffee flavored beer. Sometimes, you really can have too much of a good thing.

Tonight, I'm sipping on Elysian Brewing Company's Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout. I picked up a single 12 oz. bottle at Whole Foods for $1.99. It comes with an ABV of 5.6%.

The beer poured into my tulip snifter a deep, dark brown color with a creamy, mocha-colored head. The head dissipated quickly and left a tiny ring of lacing behind.

Aroma was almost all coffee. Seriously, big on the coffee.

Taste is also full-on espresso. Just a hint of bitter cocoa. Milky smoothness came with the flavor of a creamy latte. Awesome.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with low carbonation. Smooth, creamy finish. Dare I say that this brew has a pleasant Frappucino-like quality? I will. It does.

I love this brew. It would seriously be a great breakfast beer. Delicious and very satisfying. I wish I had a six pack of the stuff. I'm giving Split Shot a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

10 Barrel Brewing Company & Hop Valley Brewing Company - 86'd IPA

Civil War Armistice?
The Civil War is the moniker given to the most important annual sporting event in the state of Oregon. Every year, the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State University Beavers face off on the gridiron for approximately 3 hours of hardcore college football action.

It's a classic rivalry and everybody in Oregon has their favorite team. I'm not going to tell you who I support...let's just say I have a son who attended U of O and two kids living in Eugene... The Ducks home base is in Eugene. The Beavers are stationed in nearby Corvallis. Hop Valley Brewing Company operates in Duck territory and 10 Barrel Brewing Company is in Bend, which is apparently a hotbed of Beaver support.

Hop Valley and 10 Barrel decided to collaborate on a special Civil War IPA. They named it 86'd. A tag on the bottle explained that the name refers to an incident at a recent Civil War game where-in a 10 Barrel brewer was escorted from Reser Stadium and asked never to return. Cool! That's some kind of intense fandom, right there. How intense is this collaboration beer?

86'd poured from bomber into my shaker pint a slightly hazy, golden amber color with a foamy white head. The head was more than a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Lots of sudsy, webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was indistinct citrus and tropical fruit. Sweet caramel malt.

Taste was grapefruit and orange. Big on the citrus hops with a solid, lingering, bitter zing. Classic West Coast IPA.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. No alcohol taste detected in this 6.5% ABV brew. Hops bitterness left on the palate at the end. 

I liked it! I'm looking forward to more collab beers from these two awesome Oregon brewers! I'm giving 86'd a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. It held the Wonder Beagle's interest for quite a puddle's worth.

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Dawn of the Red

Beer, not brains.
India Red Ale (IRA) is an interesting beer style. A red ale with the qualities of an IPA. Intriguing. Another Oregon brewery puts out an excellent IRA that is quite delicious, so when I saw a bomber of Ninkasi Brewing Company's Dawn of the Red Special Release, I just had to give it a try.

Ninkasi is an awesome brewery located in Eugene, Oregon, just about an hour and a half drive south of Portland. Their beers are outstanding and have been getting quite a lot of nationwide attention recently. Dawn of the Red comes with an ABV of 7% and I found my bomber at Belmont Station bottle shop in Portland.

The beer poured from bomber into shaker pint a slightly hazy reddish amber color with an off-white head. The head was creamy, frothy and rose up to about a finger thick. It dissipated slowly and left copious amounts of sudsy lacing all over the glass.

Aroma was lots of juicy citrus and resinous pine notes right up front. Tropical fruit scents of pineapple, guava and mango. Rich, sweet malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Sweet, earthy malt flavor gave way to a ton of juicy fruit. Wow. Just a touch of dank hops bitterness balanced out all that fruitiness quite nicely and was left pleasantly behind on the palate after every sip. No alcohol taste that I could discern.

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. Creamy finish with a bit of a spicy bite at the end. Awesome stuff!

I'm groovin' on this beer. So good. Ninkasi rarely ever fails to delight my taste buds. I'm giving Dawn of the Red a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 and a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle was drool-groovin' up a puddle for Dawn of the Red. Cool name, too.