Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ninkasi Brewing Company - The Devil Went Down To Oregon

Runnin' with the devil...
Every once in a while, I try a new (to me) beer that just really knocks my socks off. Here's one of them: Ninkasi Brewing Company's The Devil Went Down To Oregon, Imperial Dark Rye Ale. Damn! It's a great beer!

I love rye whiskey and I love rye beer...I was going to try to come up with some kind of fancy rhyme here, but I got nothin'. The Devil WDTO comes with a respectable ABV of 7.2%. 72 IBU. I paid $5.99 for the 22 oz. bomber. Not a bad price for a superior beer.

The beer poured into my snifter a dark, reddish brown color with a tan head. The head rose up to a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was bready, biscuity malt up front with some over-ripe fruit. Reminded me a bit of banana bread. Chocolate, cherries, toffee, caramel. Lots of stuff going on in the nose.

Taste followed the nose to a large extent, but there was also a distinctive, spicy, peppery rye flavor punctuating every sip. Not at all sweet, as the aroma might foretell. Some citrus lurking in the background. Nice!

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Some alcohol warmth on the finish. Spicy rye, malt and mild hops bitterness left behind on the palate at the end. I like it!

Overall, this brew is awesome! It's complex and straight forward at the same time. Lots of different flavor shifts but the end result showcases the rye beautifully. I got myself a shot of George Dickel Rye to chase it with. Perfect! I'm giving The Devil Went Down To Oregon a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. I need to pick up a case.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Breakside Brewery - Amuse Belgian Style Ale

Someone's not clownin'
Do you know how much I despise clowns? No, they aren't funny and they aren't cute. You can stop right there because I'm not having any of it! Clowns are evil, man! Sure, one minute it's all floppy shoes and seltzer bottles and the next thing you know SOMEBODY is tied up in the backseat of a teeny, tiny car with 50 vicious, killer clowns! shudder

Whoa, Nelly! (Quoting Bozo, here, kids.) It's going to be hard to make it through this review, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Tonight, I'm drinking and reviewing Breakside Brewery's Amuse Belgian Style Ale. Guess what's on the label? Yup, you know it...A CLOWN! Why you do this to me, Breakside? Why?

The beer comes with a an ABV of 5%. It's a Belgian-style saison. The label is creepy. How does it taste, you ask? Let's find out!

Amuse poured into the glass a golden straw color with a white, foamy head. The head rose up to about a 1/2 inch high and dissipated quickly. Minimal spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was light Belgian spice: coriander, ginger and clove. Lemon zest. Floral and herbal notes. Biscuity yeast.

Taste followed the nose. Ginger and lemon. Light, peppery spice. It seemed a little thin on the flavor profile at first, but the subtle complexity kind of sneaked up on my taste buds the more I drank it. Very interesting.

Medium to thin mouthfeel. Dry finish. Spicy, peppery, yeasty flavor was left behind on the palate at the end.

Overall, this is a very pleasant, easy drinking beer. Perhaps just a tad lacking in flavor, but for an after work, before dinner brew, it was just what I needed. Refreshing! I'm giving Amuse a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The Wonder Beagle really loved the smell and drooled up a puddle for this one.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cerveceria Mexicana - DOA IPA Hop On Or Die

A Mexican IPA?
I was wandering around in a little out of the way Middle Eastern deli the other day and--of course--found myself in front of the cold case. (I'm drawn to beer displays like a mouse to cheese, or a moose to...what the hell are moose drawn to? Never mind.) The beers were all your usual local suspects, except one that I'd never heard of before: DOA IPA (Hop On Or Die) brewed by Cerveceria Mexicana in Tecate, Mexico. Hmmm, a Mexican IPA? I had to buy one.

The single 12 oz. beer set me back $1.95. The label proclaimed an ABV of 6.8%. It was also described as "Cerveza De Los Muertos" or Day of the Dead Beer. Again...hmmm...

The beer poured into my glass a hazy, orange/amber color with a foamy, white head. I coaxed the head up to about a 1/2 inch high and it quickly disappeared. leaving a thin, minimal cap of lacing behind.

Aroma was indistinct citrus hops and mild pine. Some floral and herbal notes. Sweet, caramel malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Wow, way better than I expected! Fruit juicy hops. Grapefruit, lemon and stone fruit. Respectable hops bitterness.

Medium mouthfeel with just a bit of stickiness. Good carbonation. A bit of a dry finish with hops bitterness left behind on the palate.

Not bad! I've certainly had worse and, hey, I didn't die, in spite of the name! I'm giving DOA IPA a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crazy January Calendar of Beer Events!

Let the good times pour!

It's hard to believe that it's 2015 and we're already halfway through the month of January. Time sure flies when you're having fun! I was just going over my January 2015 Google calendar and OH MY GAWD! There is so much going in the Portland beer scene it is RIDICULOUS! Check all this out:

  • Tonight, 1/17/15 - Culmination Brewing Taproom Opening Party - 7pm to 11pm at 2117 NE Oregon Street, Portland - I'm always excited to check out a new brewery, especially on my side of town!
  • 1/20/15 - Cascade Brewing Tap It Tuesday - 6pm at Cascade Brewing Barrel House, 939 SE Belmont Street, Portland - Every Tuesday night, Cascade taps soemthing special from their cellar!
  • 1/24/15  - Base Camp's CollaboFest presented by PDXNOW - 12pm to 8pm at 930 SE Oak Street, Portland - 10 breweries team up for Portland's first ever collaborative beer festival!
  • 1/24/15 - NW Coffee Beer Invitational - 12pm to 7pm at Goose Hollow Inn, 1927 SW Jefferson Street, Portland - Coffee beer! I like it and if you do, too, this fest is for you!
  • 1/24/15 - PDX Bottle Share - 3pm to 6pm at Brannon's Pub & Brewery, 3800 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton - Bring a bottle of craft beer or cider to share - Free admission and kid friendly!
  • 1/30 - 1/31/15 - Super Barrel Week(end)??? - Saraveza, 1004 N Killingsworth, Portland - ALL taps taken over by barrel-aged beers!
A lot of things are happening on the 24th, that's for sure. I think I'm going to need Doc Brown's Delorean to get to them all. You know what's crazy? February is even busier! Cheers!

Zwickelmania 2015

Action shot from last Zwickelmania 2014
It's almost that time again! ZWICKELMANIA! What the heck is Zwickelmania, you ask? What the heck is a ZWICKEL, you query? If you don't know the answers to those questions, you clearly do not live in Portland, Oregon, my friend. Zwickelmania is an annual event that is only surpassed in popularity by the Naked Bike Ride...and maybe the Adult Soapbox Derby. 

Every year, the Oregon Brewers Guild organizes Zwickelmania, a one day event where just about every brewery in Oregon opens its doors to the general public for brewer meet and greets, brewery tours and...wait for it...this is the best part...FREE BEER SAMPLES! Yes, free beer will be flowing all over the state of Oregon, and especially here in Portland, with at least 50 breweries participating. Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds!

This year, Zwickelmania will be held on February 14th, which is also Valentine's Day. Um, that will make it tough for those of us with wives, husbands and/or sweethearts who do NOT like beer and may not consider marathon brewery touring to be "romantic". If that is your likely scenario, I recommend you start planning on an extra large box of chocolate and a more expensive Valentine's brunch right now. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

As for transportation, it can get a little daunting planning your travels from brewery to brewery. Many participants can be reached by public transportation and that is my best recommendation. I charted out a multitude of Portland breweries by bus route a couple of years ago, and most of the info is still pertinent. Check those out here: An all day bus pass costs five measly bucks. Much cheaper than a cab.

Brewvana Brewery Tours is also providing shuttle service to a number of participating breweries again this year. It's a fairly convenient way to get from spot to spot and make a bunch of new friends. Here's the schedule:

Whatever you do, don't drink and drive. We don't need any car-bike-moped pile-ups clogging a bridge or sending multiple Zwickelmania revelers to the ER. Got it? Awesome!

Some of my favorite places last year:
  • Commons
  • Gigantic
  • Burnside
  • Hopworks
  • Base Camp
  • Laurelwood
All were most generous, both with information and free samples.

Everything will begin at 11:00am and end when your knees give out. I'll see you out there, rain or shine!

FYI: "Zwickel" is NOT the name of a legendary, Bunyan-esque, Oregon brewer. It's a little valve that brewers use to take samples of beer straight from a tank. The more you know!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Stone Brewing Company - Go To IPA

Go to where?
It seems like everybody is brewing a "session" IPA right now. I've had a few recently that are in line for reviews. Some were hits, others were clear misses. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a session beer is one that is supposed to be high on flavor but low on ABV (below 5%) that you can consume in mass quantities in one drinking "session".

The idea makes sense on a money-making model. Most of your American macro-brews have lower ABV's (alcohol by volume), which is why you see your local bros and bubs buying that crap by the caseload. It takes a lot of it to get a buzz going. If you quickly do the math in your head, you can see that the purchase of a lower priced six pack puts more moola in the bank for a brewer than a moderately priced craft beer bomber. $7 vs. $5 is a big difference in a business where even a few pennies can make or break.

Tonight, I'm reviewing Stone Brewing Company's Go To IPA. With an ABV of 4.5%, it's a true session brew. Stone's full-strength IPA comes in with almost 7%. How does Go To IPA compare to it's proud papa beer? Let's find out!

The beer poured into my IPA glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a bright, white head. The head looked creamy and foamy and rose up to just over a finger thick. The head dissipated at a moderate rate, leaving behind thin, spotty lacing.

The aroma was citrus and subtle pine. Tropical fruit. Pineapple and mango. Sweet caramel malt. Smelled like a classic West Coast IPA.

The taste followed the nose but was much more subdued than anticipated. Grapefruit, orange, pineapple, mango and stone fruit favors all seemed to drop off in the middle of the drink, only to come roaring back to life in the aftertaste. Interesting.

Medium to thinner mouthfeel with a semi-dry finish. Absolutely no alcohol detected. A significant bitter hops flavor rose up at the end, balancing nicely against a pleasant malt taste that sneaked in there somehow.

Overall, this is a very easy drinker that delivers some real IPA flavor--although it kind of disappears in mid-sip. Odd, I don't really know how to adequately describe it. Nevertheless, Go To certainly delivers on it's intended purpose. It's a low ABV IPA that tastes good and is sufficiently complex to appease the palate of a hop lover. I'm giving Go To IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Burnside Brewing Company - Project Ale

Beer for boards...
Wouldn't it make you feel good to know you helped support a good cause just by drinking a beer? Heck, that takes some very minimal effort for me. I'm drinking beer all the time! It's like money in the bank!

Burnside Brewing Company is donating a portion of the proceeds from their Project Ale to benefit the Burnside Skatepark. I've never been to the Burnside Skatepark because, well, I haven't been on a skateboard since 1972...

Hey! Why are there so many grown-ass men riding around on skateboards in Portland? I'm thinking that if you can grow a beard down to your bellybutton, it's probably time to hang up that deck and get a bus pass, know what I mean?

Project Ale is an Imperial IPA with an ABV of 8% and 99.5% IBU's. I picked up the bomber for about five bucks...somewhere. It was in my fridge for a while. How was it? Let's get to it.

The beer poured into my Spiegelau IPA glass a slightly cloudy, orange/amber color with an off-white head. The head rose up to two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of clumpy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was big on citrus, pine and stone fruit. Orange and lemon. Pine needles. Sweet, earthy malt in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Bitter, earthy, pine and obscure citrus hops flavors dominated throughout the entire drink, Sweet, bready, caramel malt. Toffee. 

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. Creamy finish with the the malt flavor left behind on the palate at the end. No noticeable alcohol.

Overall, Project Ale is an easy drinking, well-balanced IIPA. Good stuff and Burnside Brewing should be able to raise a nice amount of skatepark fundage with this brew, I'm giving Project Ale a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gilgamesh Brewing Company - Mega Monster Imperial IPA

There's a monster in my mouth...
Perusing the interwebs the other day, I ran across another lame article about beer. Wow, there are a lot of those--many of which you'll find right here at Beer Guy PDX! (This is my 500th blog post! Big deal.) That other article was all about how the alleged excessive use of hops as a flavoring and bittering ingredient is ruining beer for people who don't like hoppy beer...oh, wah, wah! What a bunch of crybabies!

Of course, the entire premise of the article was flawed. The truth of the matter is that big hoppy craft beers are indeed insanely popular. The India Pale Ale is the most popular style of craft beer. People love the stuff! Seriously, if folks didn't love hoppy beers so much, there wouldn't be an ever-increasing shortage of hops every year. Nevertheless, there are PLENTY of non-hoppy craft brews out there for those with wimpy, wussy palates. There are even quite a few of those that I LOVE.

Today, I'm reviewing a HOP MONSTER. These beers are typically Imperial IPA's that are so chock-full of lupulin (the active ingredient in hops that provides the pucker power) that only the most ardent and hardcore hopheads can drink them. Gilgamesh Brewing Company's Mega Monster Imperial IPA is one such beer. It comes with an ABV of 9.8% and IBU's (International Bittering Units) listed as the symbol for 'infinity" on the label, That's a pretty big claim. Let's see if it's true, shall we?

The beer poured into my glass a deep, reddish, amber color with a tan head. The head rose up to almost two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Creamy chunks of spotty lacing were left behind.

Aroma was indistinct citrus with some interesting cocoa and burnt caramel notes in the background. Hints of pine and some herbal notes. A tinge of an astringent, alcohol aroma lurked in the background, too.

Taste was sweet, earthy, malt flavor right up front, immediately followed by a big, bitter hops punch. Honestly, this stuff would be way too brutal for any hops novice. A real hophead would probably say it's not the most hardcore hops experience they've ever had, myself included. That's a good thing, because once the initial hop attack was over, and the beer settled down on my palate, I got a very pleasant flavor explosion of grapefruit, pine and chocolate caramel. Nice!

Medium to full mouthfeel. Appropriately lower carbonation. A little bit sticky and chewy at the finish, but reasonably easy to drink--if you like hops.

Overall, this beer delivers exactly as advertised. It's an advanced-placement brew for hops over-achievers. If you like light, grassy, straw-flavored beer, this is NOT the one for you. If you like to take your taste buds on hardcore flavor adventures, Mega Monster should be right up your alley. I'm giving this beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. 1/2 a can is for pure audacity and the cool label art. Mega Monster gets a Droolie, too. One whiff of this beer set Merry the Wonder Beagle into a fit of reverse sneezing that went on for 15 minutes. I've never seen that happen before!