Sunday, April 27, 2014

Widmer/Boneyard Brewing Collaboration - Blacklight IPA

Does Red Flocked Jesus approve?
I always get excited when I find a new beer in the grocery store cold case. Today, I discovered Blacklight IPA at Fred Meyer. Holy frijoles, Batman! The sticker price was almost eight bucks! Man, I agonized about making the purchase for several minutes. Hey, I'm no cheapskate. I'll fork out some serious scratch for premium beer, but when I haven't heard anything about, that makes my wallet hurt. Ow.

I wandered around the store for a while and eventually found my way back to the cold case. I hemmed. I hawed. I eventually bought the stuff. The label said the beer is a "session style black IPA". I couldn't find an ABV on the label, so I'm certain it's under 5%.

Blacklight poured into my shaker pint a dark, dark brown, almost black color with an off-white head. The head came up to a full finger thick and dissipated quickly. Frothy, webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was grapefruit and pine with an abundance of roasted malt.

Taste followed the nose with big gulp of citrus flavor right up front. Grapefruit, tangerine. Tropical fruit. Very IPA-ish from the get go, but there was a distinctive nutty, slightly smokey, roasted malt flavor at the end. Lots and lots of taste to this "session" beer.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. A bit of a dry finish with the flavors of grapefruit and roasted malt left behind.

Wow, I don't know if I'd call this a "session" beer, considering the bold flavor profile--and I gotta say the price tag is a bit prohibitive for moi. I mean, to me "session" means low ABV and low PRICE, thereby allowing the consumer of said beer to drink mass quantities in a "session". You'd need to be a bazillionaire to drink a case of this brew, or at least, have more scratch than your's truly.

In any case, it's a nice beer. I enjoyed drinking it and would probably drink it again if I found it on tap someplace. I'm giving Blacklight a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gigantic Brewing Company - Firebird Smoked Hefeweizen

My beer is on fire.
Back in the day, I drove a Firebird. What an awesome car that was. GM still knew how to build muscle cars back in 1978. Now, my "ride" is a TriMet bus. Sigh. Who would have ever imagined it? Not me, that's for sure. Anyway, what brought on this trip down memory lane is the beer I'm drinking tonight: Gigantic Brewing Company's Firebird Smoked Hefeweizen. How is it? Let's find out.

The beer poured into my pilsner glass a hazy, golden yellow color with a white, foamy head. The head rose up to about an inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind when the suds disappeared.

Aroma was lemony citrus with a distinctive, light smokey smell in the background. Some banana bread and spice mixed in there.

Taste was citrus and mild tropical fruit. Pineapple and banana. Hints of clove and coriander. Very pleasant smoke flavor. Not at all overpowering or overwhelming. Delicious!

Thin to medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. That smoke lingered on the palate at the end. Nice!

Smoked beers make me a bit apprehensive. I've had some that taste like somebody poured a bottle of that fake liquid smoke flavor into the fermenter. Not so with Firebird. I really like it. Very refreshing and surprisingly easy to drink. I'm giving Firebird a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle approved.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gigantic Brewing Company - Too Much Coffee Man

Too much is never enough...
Two things Portlanders always take VERY seriously: craft beer and coffee. Yeah, you can make fun of our weather, our hipsters, even our Trailblazers (we're used to it) but don't you ever, EVER say a snide, snarky word about our coffee or beer. We'll give you such a slap!

The love of our two favorite beverages is so deeply ingrained that it should be no surprise you'll find them combined in the most tasty, tasty ways. Such is the case with Gigantic Brewing Company's Too Much Coffee Man. This beer is a Belgian-Style Black Ale brewed with cold-pressed Coava coffee. Yum. I drink Coava coffee every morning. Six cups of it. I'm not lyin'. I love the stuff. How is it in a beer?

Too Much Coffee Man (I think it's named after a comic) poured into my pint glass a dark, dark brown, almost black color with a mocha head. The head came up to a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Very little lacing was left behind, save a thin, oily ring of suds around the rim.

Aroma was toasted malt, cocoa, espresso, roasted hazelnuts and almonds.

Taste followed the nose to a tee. Loads of rich coffee and cocoa flavors. Pleasant bitterness playing off nutty, semi-sweet maltiness. Nice.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriately low carbonation. Creamy finish. Smooth. Surprisingly, no hint of an alcohol taste to this 8.2% ABV beer. 

Delicious! The Wonder Beagle went drool crazy for this beer. FOUR long tendrils of drool were hanging off her muzzle with one reaching almost six inches before it dripped onto my sock. Yuck. But that's going to earn Too Much Coffee Man the first ever Double Droolie. It's also getting 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 on the BeerGuyPDX rating scale.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Schooner Exact Brewing Company - 3 Grid IPA

It's a keeper!
Plenty, plenty, PLENTY of magnificent IPA's are brewed right here in Stumptown. One could seriously argue that there's no reason to look outside the city limits of Portland for IPA's to drink. Of course, variety is the spice of life, and I like to consider myself a beer adventurer. Thus, when I spotted an IPA  in New Season's cold case, from Schooner Exact Brewing in faraway Seattle (joking), I had to give it a try.

Yes, Seattle is kind of like Portland's snooty, stuck up big brother, but we do have a few things in common: rain, clouds, rain, and a love of fine craft beer.

3 Grid IPA poured into my shaker pint a slightly hazy, orange/copper color with a bright, white head. The head rose up to almost a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Thin, webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was big on citrus and pine right up front. Sweet malt way back there somewhere, but the aromatic, citrus and piney hops dominate the nose.

Taste delivers dank citrus and pine flavors that pile it on from the very first sip. Biscuity malt is more prominent in the taste than the aroma. Actually, very nicely balanced.

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of a chew to it. Good carbonation. No noticeable alcohol taste to this 6.4% ABV brew. Subtle hops and malt flavors left pleasantly behind on the palate.

All in all, this is a nice, nice Northwest IPA. I'd definitely buy it again. The Wonder Beagle loved the smell, so a Droolie is in order. I'm giving 3 Grid IPA a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Easy Jack Summer Session IPA

Easy like a Sunday morning?
Back when I lived in SoCal, most of the area was a freaking craft beer wasteland. You could walk into any bar almost anywhere in the state and the only thing you'd find on tap was Miller, Bud or Coors. My taste buds weep just thinking about it.

One of the first major craft beer pioneers on California's Gold Coast was Firestone Walker. I remember when they opened their brewery and tap room in relatively remote Buellton, CA. There were more than a few naysayers at the time. Lots of folks wondered why they'd put so much effort into--OMG--a brewery, right smack dab in the middle of Santa Barbara County's wine country. Me? I was tickled to death.

I often had business up in the area and beyond. On my lonely drives back home to Ventura, I'd stop in at Firestone's tasting room. That was certainly a treat.

Tonight, I found myself sipping on a pint of Firestone's Easy Jack Summer Session IPA. I found it on tap at The Station on NE Alberta Street. Decent happy hour there at The Station. I recommend the nachos.

The beer was delivered to my table in a shaker pint. It was a clear, golden, light orange color with a foamy white head. The head dissipated quickly and left some thin, webby lacing behind.

Aroma was grapefruit, tropical fruit and light pine.

Taste followed the nose but with more malt flavor than the nose foretold. Appropriate hops bitterness for an IPA.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Nice finish with bitter hops, pine and malt flavors left subtly behind on the palate.

This is not a hop bomb by any stretch, but pretty decent for a low ABV (4.5%) session IPA. I'd order it again. I'm giving Easy Jack a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alameda Brewing Company - Rose City Red

Wow, I've reviewed quite a number of brews produced by Alameda Brewing Company. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising. This top-notch Portland brewery is located within walking distance from my house--okay, it's a bit of a LONG walk, but not too far to go for fine craft beer.

Solid brews are made at Alameda. Take a trip to NE Portland's NE Fremont Street and look for the giant hop sculpture hanging above the front door. It's telling you that there's a lot of good stuff inside, including some very tasty pub grub.

Tonight, I'm drinking a bomber of Alameda's Rose City Red. It set me back a very reasonable $3.89 at Grocery Outlet. This beer comes with an ABV of 6.4%.

Rose City Red poured into my shaker pint a hazy, dark brownish-red color with a foamy, tan head. The head came up to about a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Lots of webby lacing was left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was massive, sweet caramel malt with indistinct citrus, floral and light pine notes in the background.

Taste was caramel malt up front. Mild cocoa notes with hints of hazelnut. Nice bitter hops sock was a pleasant surprise. 

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. Bitter hops and sweet malt flavors left behind on the palate. Great balance, in my opinion. Not too sweet, not too bitter. Just right!

Some great red ales are coming out of the Pacific Northwest lately. I approve! Merry the Wonder Beagle LOVED the aroma of this stuff. She drool-slimed me good! I'm giving Rose City Red a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

FYI: Rose City is Portland, Oregon's nickname.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Base Camp Brewing Company - Lost Meridian Wit

Can I get a Wit-ness?
The weather has taken a wonderfully warm and sunny turn here in Portland, Oregon. Time for a craft beer change-up! Now is the time for something light and refreshing! Bring on the ciders, shandies and wits!

Tonight, I'm drinking a Lost Meridian Wit from Base Camp Brewing. I picked up an aluminum bomber at the co-op on the way home. Yes, the co-op. The price was $4.99 for the 22 oz. bottle. "Soak in a mountain river. Chill in the snow. Cool off in a lake. Refrigerate if you have to" proclaims the label. The folks at Base Camp are dedicated to providing packable potables for outdoor adventurers, that's for sure.

The beer poured into my pilsner glass a hazy, golden yellow color. Actually, I filled TWO glasses because one of the only beers my wife will drink is a wit. The white, bubbly head rose up to about a finger tall and dissipated quickly. A thin cap of spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was light, bready yeast and malt. Lemony citrus. Light smell of coriander in the background with some floral notes.

Taste followed the nose. Flavors of lemon and grapefruit rind. A nice, mildly bitter hops taste was left behind on the palate at the end.

Medium to thin mouthfeel with lots of carbonation. No alcohol taste to this refreshing 5.0% ABV brew.

Overall, this is a tasty, easy drinker. It provided absolutely no interest for the Wonder Beagle's nose, however. I like it, and what's more, my wife found it acceptable, which says a lot. I'm giving Lost Meridian Wit a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hoppy Camper

It's a brew-tiful day in the neighborhood.
I live in one of the most awesome neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon. The Alberta Arts District is actually an amalgamation of several old NE Portland neighborhoods, primarily parts of Concordia, King and Vernon neighborhoods. 

The "main drag" is along NE Alberta Street, between NE 7th and 33rd Avenues. I LOVE living in this neighborhood. Yes, it's a little gritty. There's an abundance of graffiti and more than a few interesting individuals lurking about (most recently, the NE Flasher). But, nestled among a vast array of awesome art galleries, bars and restaurants are some of the friendliest folks you'll find anywhere. My neighborhood is also home to probably the most amazing street festival in the Pacific Northwest, Last Thursday.

Like many Portlanders, I'm committed to public transportation. My number 8 bus drops me off at NE 15th Avenue and Alberta Street everyday. After that, it's a brisk walk up Alberta and I'm home sweet home. It's a pleasant walk, even when it's raining. Today, it was gloriously sunny and warm. What could make the walk home even better? How about a cozy food pod complete with a BEER cart? Yeah, that works!

I was very happy to see the Hoppy Camper beer cart open for business in the spot once occupied by the Captured by Porches beer bus at NE Alberta and 23rd. Awesome! I missed stopping in at Captured on the way home. I was sad when they closed, but very happy when I read that a new owner would be reopening the taps.

Serving 'em up with a smile.
I introduced myself to Brandon, the proprietor of Hoppy Camper. What a nice guy, and what a nice little taplist! Oh, yeah! Upright Pils, Laurelwood Porter, Double Mountain Kolsh, Epic Escape to Colorado IPA and a cider. A little something excellent for everybody! Good choices and I was more than happy to plunk down the price of $4 for a pint. Of course, I ended up getting three.

The 23rd & Alberta Food Cart Pod also has a little something for everybody. Garden Monsters has a variety of tasty salads. The Cheese Plate PDX has lots of cheese-related goodies, like grilled cheese sammiches, and the Sugar Shop has tasty sweets, like the AMAZING chicory liqueur s'more I ate today!

The pod has a number of large picnic tables, covered by a spacious awning. It's a great family atmosphere and I'm told that special musical events are being planned for the weekends. I'm there! I have to admit that the Hoppy Camper will certainly help inspire me to walk the dog more often!

There are taps inside that trailer.

Let's meet up at the food cart pod!