Friday, June 27, 2014

Heathen Brewing - Vantucky Pale Ale

Tasty brew from the South (S. WA, that is)
Vancouver, WA is directly across the river from Portland, OR. It takes me about 18 minutes to drive over a bridge to get there. I have a daughter and two grandkids living in Vancouver, so I take the trip quite often. It's a beautiful drive. Lots of trees, and the Columbia River is spectacular.

As close in proximity as Vancouver is to Portland, the two towns are like different worlds. To begin with, the towns are in completely different states. Politically, Portland is definitely more "blue" than Vancouver. There's no sales tax in Oregon. Marijuana is legal in Washington. You can buy hard liquor in grocery stores in Washington. Lots of hipsters in Portland. Lots of strip malls in Vancouver.

Truthfully, some denizens of Portland display a surprisingly overt animosity towards Vancouver. Some folks in Stumptown think they are way too cool and refer to the sleepy, suburban community of Vancouver as "Vantucky". That's just mean. I would never use that term...around anyone from Vancouver. I prefer to use the moniker "The 'Couv". No offense intended. I personally love our neighbors to the North. We are all Cascadians!

One thing we Portlanders absolutely have in common with folks from Vancouver is our love of fine craft beer. Heathen Brewing is located in Vancouver and I was happy to find bombers of their tasty brews here in Portland. (Grocery Outlet-cheap!) My first sampling was a bomber of their Vantucky Pale Ale. First, the self-deprecating name of the beer is intriguing. It comes with an ABV of 5.8%. 43 IBU's. The label proclaims it was brewed with Mosaic and Cascade hops. Also very intriguing.

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color. The off-white head rose up to almost two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Lots of foamy, webby lacing was left behind throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was citrus hops up front. Stone fruit and floral notes. Sweet caramel malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Citrus hops with some pine. Grapefruit and tropical fruit. Nice bitterness. Almost an IPA profile. Grassy, earthy, robust malt flavor. Good hops/malt balance.

Medium mouthfeel with excellent carbonation. Juicy finish. Lots of fruit and malt flavor left rolling around on the palate at the end. Nice.

Overall, this a really nice pale ale. It's an easy drinker with enough going on to please most hopheads. Good stuff! I'm giving Vantucky a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. It also earned a Droolie from Merry the Wonder Beagle. I'm looking forward to many more tasty brews from Heathen, and next time I'm in Vancouver, I'm going to hit their tasting room.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Beer & Soccer, Soccer & Beer

The 10th Annual North American Organic Brewers Festival is going on this Thursday through Sunday (June 26 through June 29) at Overlook Park, right here in beautiful Portland, Oregon. Is there anything real Portlanders love more than delicious, awesome craft beer? Duh, yeah! There's one thing: soccer, futbol, that sport everybody else in whole world is CRAZY about, except the majority of Americans. Yes, Portlanders love their soccer.

Me, I'm not a big soccer fan. I grew up playing baseball and I'm a big Mixed Martial Arts fanatic. Hey, don't judge my sports and I won't judge yours. However, I have been checking out the soccer matches on TV. Truthfully, I have no idea what's going on there. Guys get a little bump on the hip and fall down on the ground, looking like Lee Harvey Oswald right after Jack Ruby plugged him, and the next thing you know they're up running around again like nothing happened. What's up with that? I also need somebody to explain exactly what the hell "off sides" means in soccer. For the life of me, I can't figure it out. Still, I do enjoy the spectacle...and I'm talking about the antics of the fans in the stadium. Wow, those are some face-paintin', fright wig-wearin', incomprehensible sign-wavin' maniacs! I could really get into that!

The Portland Timbers is the team that's fanatically supported around these parts (OMG, if you want to lose some PDX Twitter followers, tweet something nasty 'bout the Timbers!) but the FIFA World Cup is also going on right now. Seemingly endless soccer matches (from June 12 to July 13) are filling bar stools and La-Z-Boy recliners throughout the greater Portland area, and it must be causing quite a dilemma for many of Stumptown's ardent beer lovers. What will you do, WHAT WILL YOU DO? Go to the NAOBF or watch Algeria vs. Russia, or is it Portugal vs. Ghana? I don't know, but that's got to be a mind-blowing, impossible decision to make! 

Never fear, soccer and beer lovers! The NAOBF appears to have the solution to all your problems. How about hooking up four flat screen TVs at the venue to show all the World Cup matches AND the Friday Portland Timbers game? Yup, now folks can watch the matches, drink organic beer with friends and enjoy one of Portland's nicest settings ALL AT THE SAME TIME! How sweet is that? Pretty damn sweet!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Lagunitas Brewing Company - NightTime Black Ale

Fear the Dark?
"Fear the Dark." That's the slogan printed underneath the name of this American Black Ale from Lagunitas. Trust me, I'm not scared, homie. Whatever you can brew up, I can handle! (I hope.)

I first sampled NightTime at the Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, CA. Hey! If you're ever in the area, you MUST tour Lagunitas. It's not your typical brewery tour, that's for sure. First, the fine folks at Lagunitas START the tour with a beer tasting. That's how it should be done! Why make drooling beer aficionados slog past giant steel tanks, forklifts and stacks of loaded pallets before they get to taste the wares?  We all know why we're there! Gratefully, Lagunitas does, too.

Actually, the tour is very interesting. You'll get to hear the TRUE story behind the "Undercover Shutdown". (It should really be made into a movie.) The brewpub at the end of it all is also topnotch. Tasty, unpretentious pub grub and a lot more tasty beer.

Where was I? Oh, yeah! NightTime. It's an American Black Ale, which is also known as a Black IPA or, by my favorite moniker, a Cascadian Dark Ale. It comes with an ABV of 8.2% and 63 IBU's. How did Lagunitas do with it? Let's find out...

The beer poured into my IPA chalice a pitch black color that only let a little bit of light through around the edges. The mocha colored head was spectacular. Creamy, clumpy and it was almost two fingers thick. Retention was seemingly endless. Copious amounts of sudsy, webby lacing was left all over the glass.

Aroma was citrus and pine hops right up front. If I was blindfolded, I'd say IPA right away. However, there was a distinctive roasted malt smell bringing up the rear. Mild cocoa notes with hints of dark fruit.

Taste followed the nose. Big citrus and pine hops banging it up with an unexpected dankness. Grapefruit, lemon, orange. Tropical fruit. Pineapple. Nice. As the initial hops flavors faded out, there was a rich, roasted malt taste left on the palate. Really a nice balance there. Cocoa, coffee and over-ripe fruit flavors. Pleasantly complex. Lots of flavor competition. I like it!

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. There's some body to the stuff. Creamy finish. No hint of the 8.2% alcohol.

Overall, this is an excellent brew. I'd drink it anywhere, anytime--even at nighttime, with no fear whatsoever. I'm giving Lagunitas NightTime a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. I highly recommend.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Elysian Brewing Company - Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale

Today seemed like a good day to do happy hour after work. The sun peeked out and it became shirtsleeve weather in the late afternoon. I got home early and gathered up my wife and daughter for a stroll down Alberta Street. Did I mention that I live in the most awesome happy hour 'hood in NE Portland? Well, I do.

Our walk eventually landed us at Cruzroom, a cool little bar that serves up designer tacos and cocktails. They also have a nice little tap list that consists primarily of beers from Elysian Brewing Company. I don't know what the deal is with that, but I'm not complaining, Elysian makes some mighty fine beer.

I ordered a Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale because it was advertised as the seasonal rotating tap. Did I mention that Cruzroom also has a very nice outdoor patio? Well, they do.

The beer was delivered in a shaker pint a hazy, ruby-tinged orange color. The white head was only a 1/4 inch high by the time it reached my table and dissipated quickly. A very thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was spectacular. Loads of citrus--orange, grapefruit and lemon zest. Tropical fruit in the mix, too. Mango, pineapple. Floral notes galore. Wow. It's been awhile since I've had a beer with so much going on in the nose.

Taste delivered a big medley of citrus that followed the nose. Orange and grapefruit. Nice, mild bitter hops bite to the stuff. Sweet, earthy malt flavor. You can really taste the blood orange, mingled with juicy tropical fruit. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel with light carbonation. There's some body to the brew.

Overall, this is a very flavorful brew with a nice NW hops edge to it. I like it! Superfuzz gets a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day - A Non-Beer-Related Rant

My pops, circa 1960. Which twerp is Wolf?
Father's Day was created around the turn of the last century. My guess is that somebody finally decided to throw a bone to the "man of the house" and, purely as an after-thought, invented this flimsiest of the "Hallmark Holidays".

Here's what Wikipedia says about Father's Day: "Father's Day is a day honoring fathers, celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 52 of the world's countries and on other days elsewhere. It compliments Mother's Day, the celebration honoring mothers."

There you go: "compliments Mother's Day". That says it all. Dads are typically taken for granted and their "honor" is generally bestowed half-heartedly. Even on our alleged special day, we serve only to "compliment". We are merely an adjunct--a secondary add-on to things that are much more important and worthy of appreciation.

Truthfully, no one really has time for Father's Day. It comes right at the end of all those graduation ceremonies, prompting countless "Dad and Grad" sales at electronics and home improvement stores. Even in the annual advertising campaigns that surround "our" holiday, we are forced to share the spotlight. Heck, this year Father's Day in Portland, Oregon is celebrated on the same day as the Portland Pride Parade. Yeah, go to an amazing, fabulous parade or hang out with smelly, old dad...which would you choose?

While standing in line at the supermarket on Saturday, I overheard a young woman exclaim to her companion, "Oh, sh*t! Tomorrow's FATHER'S DAY!" I'm certain that exact phrase was uttered by at least a zillion people at the same exact time.

I accept the fact that we dads are on the bottom of the holiday food chain. It is quite likely that I may not even hear from any of my progeny on the third Sunday of June. Not a single "Happy Father's Day, pops. Here's your ugly tie. Can I have a $100?" That's okay. I'm comfortable with the fact that I did a fairly decent job as a father. I don't need a holiday, and quite frankly, I wish they'd call the whole damn thing off.

In any case, I send a salute to all my fellow fathers out there. I pray you got to hug at least one of your kids or had the opportunity to kiss your sweet grandchildren on the forehead. We don't need no stinking holiday to give us affirmation. We don't need gifts or gratitude. We know what we do. We're dads.

(Update: I did indeed hear from all of my kids yesterday. I had a wonderful breakfast with my 1st daughter and two adorable granddaughters. I even received two lovely notes from my other girls that brought a tear or two to this old man's eyes. Number One Son called and we had a great chat. Okay, maybe Father's Day can stay...)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Beer Hack Number 1 - The Radler

There was a time when I would have totally turned my nose up at the idea of making a "beer cocktail". Why adulterate and/or pollute a perfectly fine beer? Heck, I generally disapprove of mixing hard liquor with anything, too. Keep it clean has always been my motto...well, when it comes to libations, anyway. Yup, I like my booze like I like my women...simple and straight up...uh, that didn't come out right. Never mind. In any case, even an old, set-in-his-ways codger like me can change. That's a good thing.

Today, I'm talking about the Radler, also known as the Shandy in some parts. The Radler is a very easy to make beer cocktail. Not much too it, really. All you need to do is mix a light lager, pilsner or hefewiezen with some citrus soda or lemonade. Easy breezy.

I prefer San Pellegrino grapefruit soda. I make mine with a mix of 50/50 soda vs. beer. However, you can make it to your own taste. No rules here! According to Wikipedia (I spare no expense in my research) the Radler was officially "invented" in 1922 by Munich gastronomer Franz Xaver Kugler. Okay, but I really wonder how much credit can be given to one man for mixing beer with lemonade. Huh, seems like it could happen almost by accident anywhere (think "you got chocolate in my peanut butter").

As for the beer, you could probably use any popular adjunct lager to get the job done. That sweet citrus soda will likely knock the heinous, corny, filler flavor out of anything you mix it with, but why? Yesterday, I utilized Orlison Brewing's Havanuther Light Lager. It was delicious in the Radler and on it's own. How could you go wrong with a tasty, NW craft beer? You can't!

A Radler makes a perfect BBQ or yard work beverage. Light, refreshing and totally thirst quenching. There are several "pre-mixed" Radlers available on the shelves of your local markets. Leinenkugel Brewing makes a bunch of different flavors and 10 Barrel Brewing's Swill is a mighty fine "American Radler". However, a drink this easy to make calls for some home experimentation. I recommend you give it a shot the next time you're pushing that lawnmower around in 90 degree heat. You won't be sorry!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Reverend Nat's Hard Cider - ¡Tepache!

Gracias, Padre Nat.
Okay, let's get right down to it, no pussy footin' around. Many of you are already asking, "What the HECK is TEPACHE?"

Tepache is a traditional, fermented Mexican beverage made from pineapple. Folks south of the border have been brewing the stuff since before Pancho Villa was in knee pants. Actually, it dates back to pre-Colombian Mexico and the name "tepache" means "drink made of corn" in the language of the native Nahual people. Hey, I'm swiping this info straight off Wikipedia, so you know it's true.

Tepache is typically low in alcohol content, so people in Mexico and Mexican communities across the US have traditionally souped the brew up by mixing it with beer. Can you say "Tecate"? TAY-CAW-TAY - I knew that you could.

Reverend Nat (yes, he's a real dude) has started bottling his own version of this tasty stuff. I picked up a bomber of it at New Seasons for $5.99. It comes with an ABV of 3.2%. So, what can you do with it? Lots of things!

As previously stated, you can mix Tepache with beer and make a delicious pineapple radler or shandy. A light lager, pilsner or hefeweizen is your best bet. The recommended mix is 2/3 Tepache to 1/3 beer. I used a bomber of Cascade Lakes Brewing Company's Paulina Lake Pilsner for the job. It worked perfectly!

My wife and I also decided to do a little experimentin' with Tepache and another traditional Mexican beverage: tequila. We tried quite a few variations. Tepache is an awesome mixer for tequila, I'll tell you what. My lady's favorite drink of the evening: 10 oz. of Tepache, 2 shots of tequila and a splash of Jarritos Mandarin soda on crushed ice. How refreshing does that sound?

If you haven't tried any of Reverend Nat's hard ciders, you really need to get yourself over to his tasting room over at 1813 NE 2nd Avenue, here in beautiful Portland, OR. The Rev. is a true craft cider innovator and an exceptional contributor to the Portland craft brewing scene.

As for Tepache, you won't find anything else like it in your market and bottle shop cold cases this summer. Get some! You'll be glad you did. Of course, you can also drink it straight with no mixing, but it's fun to try to come up with new drink ideas with it. I'm giving Tepache a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Fort George Brewery (Boneyard/Block 15 collab) 3 Way IPA 2014

3 Way all the way!
What kind of ship never sails? A PARTNERSHIP! Ha, ha, my poor wife just had a terrible experience trying to open a retail store with a partner. Turned out her "partner" was a complete knucklehead. Things did not go well, but my darling esposa got out of the deal before it cost her any major cash or too many migraines. Nope, teaming up with people doesn't often turn out to be a Gilbert and Sullivan-esque success story...except, of course, when it does.

For the second year in a row, Fort George Brewery has teamed up with not one, but TWO other breweries to create their summer seasonal 3 Way IPA. Last year, it was Gigantic and Lompoc. This year, the collaborators are Boneyard Beer out of Bend, OR and Block 15 Brewing in Corvallis. Are three heads really better than one? Let's find out!

The beer poured into my IPA glass a slightly hazy, light golden orange color with a beautiful white head. The head rose up to more than a finger thick and lasted a good, long time. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma gave a nose full of citrus hops ASAP. Orange, lemon, grapefruit. Floral and tropical fruit smells with a dose of light pine in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Huge citrus medley lead the way. Nice malt flavor mixed it up with some indistinct tropical fruit. Nice hops pucker to the stuff. There's some IBU's lurking about. Some light, earthy dankness going on in there, too. Lots of tasty flavors competed for my attention, which is what I'd expect from a masterful IPA created by three masterful brewers. F**k ya!

Medium mouthfeel with a bit of a chew to it. Juicy finish to the stuff. 

Overall, this brew is a keeper! I like it better than last year's version. Wow, does it have to be a seasonal? I was sad that I only bought one can of this brew. I could have polished off a four pack on my own. 7.2% ABV but no alcohol taste detected. I'm giving 3 Way IPA 2014 a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle responded to the aroma with a healthy two tendril drool. Great beer that I'm definitely going to stock up on.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coalition Brewing Company - Simple India Sesson Ale

Simple is as simple does.
I've written about "session" beers before. The term indicates that the beer has a lower ABV (below 5%), thereby allowing the consumer to drink mass quantities without falling off the picnic table and into the BBQ pit--at least not right way. 

I'm of the opinion that a session beer should also be affordable. Not too many of us "regular folk" can shell out $8.00 a piece for bomber after bomber of expensive brews every weekend. No, a session beer must come with a decent price tag. It should also taste good.

So many brewers are putting out session beers. Trying to bring those PBR guzzlers into the craft beer fold, I surmise. I picked up a bomber of Coalition Brewing Company's Simple India Session Ale at QFC today. It was on sale for $2.99. Hey, the price works for me! How does it stack up? Let's find out!

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a lovely, creamy, clumpy, bright white head. That head rose up to almost two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of lacing left all over the glass. Looked beautiful in the presentation, that's for sure.

Aroma was lots of citrus with a hint of pine. Very fresh and floral in the initial uptake, too. Sweet caramel malt.

Taste was citrus hops up front. All grapefruit. Very nice malt flavor. Really seemed more like a pale ale to me. Just a little bit dank. Very refreshing. Tasty!

Medium to slightly thin mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Crisp, clean hops finish.

Overall, Simple ISA is a very nice session brew. Low price, low ABV and nice flavor. Will it convert any adjunct lager hipsters to craft beer? I don't know why not. I'm giving Simple ISA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. I should have bought two bombers! DOH!

2014 NAOBF Beer List!

Cheers, NAOBF! (photo by Timothy Horn)
The North American Organic Brewers Festival (NAOBF) is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year, and I'm really looking forward to it. Mark your calendars for June 26th through June 29th and I'll see you there at Portland's Overlook Park!

This event has always been one of my favorite Portland brew fests. Why? Well, besides being eco-conscious and jam-packed with over 60 organic beers and ciders of every variety, admission is FREE. That's right, you can bring all your friends--even those who don't drink beer. A compostable tasting cup will set you back a mere $6.00 and taster tokens are $1.00. That really is one of your best beer fest values. Drink exactly as much as you want and pay as you go! 

To make it even better, a Trimet ticket or a ticket from Hopworks Bike Corral will get you a dollar discount off the cup. Seriously, folks, don't drink and drive, and NAOBF makes it simple enough. The MAX literally rolls up and drops you off directly in front of the park. Tons of secure bike parking, too. Easy-freaking-breezy!

In addition to affordability and promotion of sustainability, the venue is AWESOME. There's always a laid-back family feeling--not the chug-a-lug fratboy atmosphere that permeates some other events. Overlook Park provides a great view of the river and the city beyond. Relax and enjoy your beer! There's even a Kid's Zone with games and activities for the shorties in your crew. Need more convincing? Okay, here's the beer list for 2014:

Alameda Brewing Co
Alameda Fruit Berliner Weisse
Berliner Weisse
Ambacht Brewing
Ambacht Ginger Farmhouse Ale
Belgian Specialty
Ambacht Brewing
Ambacht Bourbon Barrel Aged G++
Belgian Strong Golden
Bison Brewing
Hop Cuvee
American Strong Pale Ale
Bison Brewing
Honey Basil Ale
Herbed/ Spiced Beer
Coalition Brewing
Space Fruit
Citrus Infused IPA
Eel River Brewing
Citra IPA
American IPA
Eel River Brewing
Acai Berry Wheat
Fruit Infused American Wheat
Elliott Bay Brewing Co
Organic Demolition Ale
American Strong Pale Ale
Elliott Bay Brewing Co
Cascadia White IPA
White IPA
Falling Sky Brewing
Biopiracy Best Bitter
Best Bitter
Falling Sky Brewing
Brewin’ It Rye’t Pale Ale
Rye Pale Ale
Finnriver Farm & Cidery
Finnriver Pear Cider
Semi Sweet Cider
Finnriver Farm & Cidery
Finnriver Dry Hopped Cider
Dry Style Cider
Fish Brewing Company
Organic Amber Ale
Fish Brewing Company
Organic India Pale Ale
Fort George Brewery
Tripel Au Poivre
Belgian Tripel
Fort George Brewery
Spruce Budd Ale
Pale Ale
FOTM Brewing Company
Shocks of Sheba
Gilgamesh Brewing
Sweet Potato Rye PA
Pale Ale
Golden Valley Brewery
Wheat Tart
Berliner Weisse
Hi-Fi Brewing
Pale Ale with Thai Basil
Hopworks Urban Brewery
IPX Ahtanum
Single Hop IPA
Hopworks Urban Brewery
Totally Radler
Kells Brew Pub
Kells Irish Red
Irish Red Ale
Kells Brew Pub
Miley Citrus
Dry Hopped Lager
Laht Neppur Brewing Co
Strawberry Cream Ale
American Amber Ale w/Fruti
Laht Neppur Brewing Co
Peach Hefeweizen
American Wheat Beer w/Fruit
Lakefront Brewery
Lakefront White
Belgian Wit
Lakefront Brewery
Fuel Café Coffee Stout
Organic Stout
Laurelwood Brewing Co
Endless Summer Session Ale
India Summer Ale
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
Seizoen Bretta
Tart Saison
Lompoc Brewing
Santiam Pale Ale
Pale Ale
Loowit Brewing Co
Pale Ale
McMenamins Concordia Brewery
Super Ligero Mexican Lager
Vienna Style Lager
McMenamins Crystal Brewery
California Condensation
California Common
McMenamins Edgefield Brewery
Pavol The Collector
Baltic Porter
McMenamins Roseburg Station
White Rhino Wit
Natian Brewery
Elder Jazz Man Organic Festival Blonde
Herb/Spiced Tea Infused Blonde

Natian Brewery
Destinatian Organic Honey Lager
Honey Lager
Old Town Brewing
Chemtrails Are Real!!!
Cascadian Hefe
Pints Brewing Co
Bio Berliner Weisse
Berliner Weisse
Pints Brewing Co
Green Line Organic Pale Ale
Pale Ale
Reverend Nat's Hard Cider
Overlook Organic Heirloom
Rock Bottom Brewery
Root Vegetable Ale
Rock Bottom Brewery
The Wreck of Annie Faxon
The Mash Tun Brewing Co
Curiosity IRA
Imperial Red Ale
ThirstyBear Brewing Co
Panda Bear
Spiced Golden Ale
ThirstyBear Brewing Co
Howard Street IPA
West Coast IPA
Three Creeks Brewing Co
Greenwash Semi Organic Pale Ale
Pale Ale
Two Kilts Brewing Co
Saison De Poivre
French Saison
Two Kilts Brewing Co
Crystal Kush
California Common
Upright Brewing
Marble Tulip Juicy Gruit
Saison/Gruit Hybrid
Vertigo Brewing
Closer Pale Ale
American Pale
Wandering Aengus
Anthem Hops
Dry Hopped Session Cider
Wandering Aengus
Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry Cider
English Style Dry Cider
Widmer Bros Brewing Co
Gruit To It
Organic Uphopped Ale

Overlook Park
1301 N Fremont St, Portland, OR 97227
(intersection of N Fremont St & N Interstate Ave)

June 26 – June 29, 2014

Noon to 9 pm Thurs - Sat
Noon to 5 pm Sun