Sunday, May 25, 2014

Loowit Brewing Company - Shadow Ninja IPA

Black belt in brewing?
I think I may have found the perfect beer to drink while watching the UFC fights: Shadow Ninja IPA from Loowit Brewing Company. Loowit is just over the border from Portland in Vancouver, WA.

Talking about the UFC, in case you didn't know, I'm a BIG MMA fan. I've loved Martial Arts since I was a kid. I trained in Tae Kwon Do for many years, and I've watched Mixed Martial Arts since UFC 1. Interestingly, I have way more Twitter followers for MMA than for beer. In fact, it seems whenever I tweet during an MMA event, I LOSE beer followers. Why you beer drinkers so sensitive, huh? Guess I should really call myself MMAguyPDX. In any case, back to the beer review before I lose blog followers, too.

Shadow Ninja poured into my IPA glass a coppery, golden orange color with a big, bright, foamy, white head. It looked quite spectacular, actually. The head had excellent retention and left loads of frothy lacing behind.

Aroma was citrus and piney hops up front. Lots of juicy tropical fruit in the nose, too. Pineapple, mango, guava scents. Some floral notes to top it off. The Wonder Beagle came running as soon as I popped the cap.

Taste followed the nose. Orange and grapefruit. Tropical fruit. Sweet caramel malt. Appropriate hops bitterness. Some nice herbal spiciness. Oh, my quivering taste buds! This is just the kind of IPA I like! Delicious stuff! Loowit didn't blew it! (Groan. Sorry, you know I wanted to use that heinous pun the minute I picked up the bomber.)

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Creamy finish. Citrus and caramel malt left competing on the palate for attention at the end. No alcohol taste. Easy to drink. I really like!

Wow, I'm going to have to pay Loowit a little visit the next time I'm in Vancouver. I can't find any flaw in this IPA. It's excellent and I do believe I paid about $3.50 for the bomber. Local. Check. Delicious. Check. Fair price. Check. Shadow Ninja IPA is getting a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 from me and a Droolie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rogue Ales - Beard Beer

Weird beard?
I heard a lot about this particular brew when it was released. I saw it on tap at Fifteenth Avenue Hophouse today and got a pint, just on a lark. What's the deal with Beard Beer, you ask? It was brewed with a yeast strain that was supposedly gleaned from the beard of the brewer. Seriously, that's the story. You can't make this sh*t up.

My wife calls my beard my "flavor savor". Right now, I'm pretty sure there's some remnants of chip dip, chicken satay, Oreos and salami in my beard. I'm wondering if there's some kind of exotic yeast hanging around in there, too. Hmmm...

In reality, yeast is freaking everywhere. It's a microorganism for gripes sake! Open fermentation techniques rely on spontaneous fermentation to get yeast into the brew--i.e. yeast that is native to the immediate environment. Just floatin' around in the air, hangin' out. The idea that there could be all kinds of yeast lurking deep within a brewer's beard isn't really that far out.

"Ew." That's what my daughter said about Beard Beer, when informed of the yeast's beard-y origin. I couldn't get any other member of my happy hour gang to try the stuff, either. Come on, wussies! It was pretty good!

The beer was delivered in a tall pint glass. It was a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a thin, white head. The head dissipated quickly and a small ring of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was big on yeast and Belgian-style spices. Bready. Malty. Floral and citrus notes in the background.

Taste was lemony citrus up front. Clove and coriander. Yeasty. A little funky. A little bit peppery. Nice flavor.

Medium mouthfeel with just a bit of a watery finish. Those Belgian-ish spice flavors were left on the palate at the end. No alcohol taste to the brew.

Overall, I found Beard Beer a pleasant, easy drinking brew. Yeah, in spite of the gimmick, I'd drink the stuff again. I'm giving Beard Beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

On the Road to Beercation

Ready for the roadtrip! (Not really my car.)
The wife took me along with her on a buying trip to SoCal last week, so of course, I made her stop at every brewery from here to LA. Hey, it's like that Scorpion and the Frog fable. I can't change my nature. It's what I do.

We stopped at a lot of great beer spots and I'll review the best one in another post. This post is about an entirely different experience--a completely negative one. I'm not going to name names. That's not my nature either. I don't use this blog to troll. I'm not some angry beer dilettante, using my modicum of knowledge to deride brewers and make enemies. Nope, not me. However, I would like to document a few observations and make some recommendations for ANY business owner out there who gives a sh*t about cultivating a positive public image.

Traveling up the 101, I spotted a rather well-known Gold Coast brewer's taproom. The signage was huge and could be seen quite clearly from the road--even with my terrible eyesight. "TAPROOM" it proclaimed. I was thirsty. Score! It was about 2:00 PM, on a weekday, so I was fairly certain they would be open.

We pulled into the parking lot and it was filled with vehicles. Yay! A guy was getting into his truck as we arrived. "You know they are closed for remodeling, right?" he snarled. Seriously, the dude literally snarled, or snarked. In any case, he was a jerky deliverer of bad news.

Now, I don't know how me or any other traveler would have had any CLUE the place was closed for remodeling. The giant-ass sign and all the cars in the parking lot seemed to be relaying the opposite message. In any case, I knew that this particular brewery had another taproom in another city down the road. We would just have to hold our thirst and hunger for a few more miles.

When we arrived at the second location, I started to get excited. Yes, just like Charlie at the gates of the Chocolate Factory. If my wife hadn't been with me, I probably would have sprinted for the door of that taproom. Hooray! I love brewery tours and taprooms!

My wife headed for the restroom and I plopped down at the bar and began perusing the tap list up on the wall. A tall, blonde beertender immediately approached and asked what I wanted to drink. Unfortunately, I was still trying to make a choice--apparently not fast enough for the beertender. She took an instant dislike to me, snorted "I'll give you more time", and stormed off in a visible huff. She never came back.

When my wife returned from the restroom, she looked over the menu and asked if I had ordered a beer yet. I replied in the negative. About 15 minutes went by and it became obvious that we were being intentionally ignored. Beertender would not even look in our direction. My wife would have none of that and hollered for some service. Another young lady, who advised us that she was a new trainee, was sent over to us.

Now, I really don't know what I did to piss off that first beertender. Perhaps she was just having a bad day. That taproom was clearly constructed to serve tourists. I'm certain I'm not the first person who has taken more than a minute to decide what beer to order. Maybe I look like her deadbeat dad. I don't know. I don't care. What I do know is that she ruined my entire experience at that brewery. I didn't want to take a tour, I didn't want to buy any swag, I just wanted to leave.

I've said this many times: if I leave your beer serving establishment with only one beer in my belly, you are doing something very, VERY wrong!

Business owner, be you a bar, brewery, taproom, or retail store, your employees are your face. If they are rude assholes, YOU are going to be deemed a rude asshole by proxy. It's really that simple. If that beertender worked for me, well, she wouldn't work for me. I would insist she greet every customer with a smile and provide the same service to everyone. Not able to do that? Go work at the DMV.

When we were finishing up at that taproom, my wife asked the trainee if she was getting any tips yet. "No, just the servers get the tips while I'm training," she advised. My woman demanded my wallet, plucked out several crisp bills and handed them to the trainee. Rude beertender got zip, zed, nada, zilch. Sure, it only amounted to enough to pay for her next pack of Virginia Slims, but TOUCHE!

StormBreaker Brewing - Cloud Ripper IPA

Is it a hole in one?
I had a blast volunteering as a scorekeeper for the 2nd Annual Brewvana Drink Drink Putt event here in Portland yesterday. Basically, it's a pub crawl, where-in different breweries across town build their own diabolical mini-golf holes for the imbibing contestants to embarrass and/or humiliate themselves upon. Hilarity ensues. Much delicious craft beer is consumed. Good times for all.

I was stationed at StormBreaker Brewing, one of the newer upstarts in town--which is actually a reincarnation of Amnesia Brewing that was located at the same NE Portland location for many years. What a fun time! Yes, there were a few unfortunate incidences: the ramp on the hole was smashed twice and one very impaired fellow had to have his putting privileges revoked when he winged a ball across the beer garden. Still, everybody had a safe, enjoyable day.

Brewvana, which is a super-fun Portland craft beer tour and event company, organized the event and was kind enough to reward me for my volunteering gig with a mug and two taster tokens. Awesome. I'll never turn down free beer. Never.

They are brewing up some pretty good beer at StormBreaker. Yes, indeed! I had a mug of the Mississippi Red and their Cloud Ripper IPA. I liked the IPA so much, I got a second pint of it. Let's review it, shall we?

The beer was presented in a shaker pint--I'm not faulting anybody for serving their brews in shakers, by the way. Shakers are cheap, stack-able and virtually indestructible. If I ever own a bar or taproom, I'm going to use shakers as the primary glassware. Just sayin'. Anyway, I digress. Back to the beer.

Cloud Ripper was a deep, golden orange color with a bright white head. The head was about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated quickly to a thin cap of lacing. Thin, webby suds were left behind on the glass throughout the drink.

Aroma was indistinct citrus with some pine notes. Tropical fruit. Pleasant, light malt in the background.

Taste provided an excellent citrus medley: orange, tangerine, some grapefruit. Orange mostly. They got some IBU's in there, too. Appropriate bitter hops zing with just the right amount of dankness in the mix. Light tropical fruit flavor hung around on the palate at the end. Mango and melon. Nice.

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of a chew to it. A little touch of oiliness. Smooth, clean finish. No alcohol taste to this 6% IPA. It's very drinkable. Surprisingly sessionable. I'd have no problem if somebody brought a pitcher of it over to my table. (Why didn't that happen?)

Overall, this is a practically perfect Northwest IPA. I could find no flaws and it hit every taste bud tidbit my palate prefers. My wife brought Merry the Wonder Beagle by and, yes, she drooled up a storm--bad pun intended. I'm giving Cloud Ripper a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.