Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gigantic Brewing Company - Saboteur Baltic Porter

What's the buzz on this beer?
One thing I like about Portland's Gigantic Brewing Company, besides the tasty beer they brew, is the cool artwork they put on their labels. I'm almost as interested to see the new labels as I am to taste the new beers. The beer I'm drinking today came in a bottle adorned with the image of a honeybee who's thorax is either encased by a bomb or IS a bomb. The beer is named Saboteur. There's a slogan on the label that says, "Always watch out for the saboteur trying to enter your hive" -the guy not watching.

The label also proclaims: The Saboteur seeks not only to destroy but to save. To be free of the machine, the powerful, the dogmatic. Consider this beer both the agent and his action. Resulting in a new concept of what a Baltic porter can bee.

I'm sure there's some deep literary or lyrical reference in there that I'm too dull to get, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I do like my beer with just a touch of anarchy and/or Orwellian dystopia, so it's all good. But how's the beer, you ask? Let's find out...

Saboteur poured into my glass an opaque, dark, dark brown color. It was almost pitch black. The mocha head rose up to more than a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A decent amount of webby lace was left behind. Very pretty in the glass, I must say.

Aroma was cocoa and coffee right up front. Lots of both in the nose. Roasted malt and dark fruit in the background. Overripe cherries and figs. Toffee.

Taste was bittersweet, dark chocolate and espresso that faded to more of a milk chocolate and toffee flavor as it stayed on the palate. Very subtle fruit notes. Wait, I never use profanity in my reviews, but there's a time and a place for everything: This beer is F*CKING DELICIOUS! Seriously, one of the most flavorful porters I've had in a long time. Plenty of complexity. Not too thick, not at all watery, not cloying. It was just right.

Slightly full mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. A semi-dry finish with a nice bitter bite at the end. No hint of alcohol to this 8% ABV brew. A bit of a metallic taste at the very end, but something I really liked. Similar to what you get from an oyster stout, although there's nothing oyster-y about this beer. It has a mature, grown-up kind of flavor, though. Like a slow tug on an expensive maduro cigar. I know that probably doesn't sound appetizing to most people, but trust me, this is a tasty, tasty brew.

I'm giving Saboteur a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. I'm also going to buy a few more bombers of this seasonal before it leaves the shelves. You should, too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Laurelwood Brewing Company - Coniferous Pale Ale

Beer Guy tested, gnome approved.
Every once in a while, someone will ask me where I get all the cool "props" in my beer photos. The truth is perfectly Portland: those aren't props. Nope. Every kitschy thing you see in my weird lil' beer photos are objects that are just sitting around my house. Yup, we are livin' la vida loca at Casa de Wolfgang. 

The photo in this post was taken in my front yard. I just poured the beer, set it down in our fairy garden (Doesn't everyone have one of those?) and snapped the picture with my phone. I had to pick it back up quickly, lest a pesky gnome or enchanted squirrel snatch the brewski away. 

It seemed appropriate to capture the subject of tonight's beer review amid the pine cones and needles: Laurelwood Brewing Company's Coniferous Pale Ale. I purchased the bomber at Fred Meyer for $4.99. The bottle declares that it comes with an ABV of 5.8% and 55 IBU's. It is described as a seasonal winter pale ale. Let's see how it stacks up.

The beer poured into my glass a deep orange amber color with an off-white head. The head rose up to almost two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of sudsy lacing were left behind all over the glass. What a lovely beer on the initial pour. It wasn't difficult to get a nice photo of the stuff.

Aroma was a healthy dose of pine and citrus with tropical fruit and sweet malt in the background. Floral notes and a hint of honey.

Taste gave a nice hop-forward tang right up front. Orange and lemon citrus. Pine and light, indistinct tropical fruit. Sweet, earthy malt immediately chimed in to provide a terrific balance against the hops bitterness.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. A bit of a dry finish left those hops and malt flavors shining on my palate for some pronounced appreciation by my taste buds. Not a hint of alcohol. Nice!

To me, this is a darn-near perfect pale ale. I'm digging it and the aroma sent poor Merry the Wonder Beagle into an euphoric fit of reverse sneezing. (It's a Beagle thing--google it.) I'm giving Coniferous Pale Ale a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4, and a Droolie.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom - Pale Death Belgian Style Imperial IPA

A killer brew?
Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom is a must for any tourist visiting Portland and surrounding areas. In fact, Hood River, Oregon is a must. What a beautiful, scenic town and the drive there from Portland, through the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, is absolutely spectacular. I never get tired of it, just like I never get tired of Double Mountain. The beer is AWESOME and the pizza they serve at the pub is freaking MARVELOUS. Seriously, in the summertime, they make a special pizza with heirloom tomatoes that is the best pizza I've EVER eaten. EVER! DAY-UM!

Okay, back to the beer. I don't believe I've ever met a Double Mountain beer I didn't like. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. THIS is the kind of beer that is brewed to be FUSSED OVER and it's definitely brewed the HARD WAY.

Tonight, I popped open a pint bottle of Double Mountain Brewery's Pale Death Belgian Style Imperial IPA. It comes with an ABV of 9.3%. The description on the bottle says, "tropical, dank, forested aromas brought on by a mountain of Mosaic hops, the rider was Death, and hell followed him." Interesting, huh? Is this beer a killer? Let's find out!

The beer poured into my glass a semi-hazy, golden orange color. The bright white, foamy head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Threads of webby lacing and a thin cap of foam were left behind.

Aroma was a big whiff of tropical fruit, Bready Belgian yeast and indistinct citrus. Pine notes in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Loads of tropical fruit: mango, pineapple, guava. Orange and grapefruit. Belgian spice. Biscuity malt. Nice hops bitterness in there, too. No hint of that big 9.3% alcohol content. This stuff could be dangerous in the hands of a noob.

Medium mouthfeel. Good carbonation. A bit of a dry finish, but the juicy fruit flavor lingered on the palate, very well-balanced against pleasant, earthy malt.

Yes! I love this beer! It's probably not for everybody, but it should be. Fantastic! I'm awarding Pale Death a perfect BeerGuyPDX rating for 4 crushed cans AND a Droolie. This is the kind of beer the Wonder Beagle would probably kill me to get at. She drooled up a storm.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February Beer Event Calendar

Foamy, hoppy, malty goodness abounds...

February is stacking up to be a quite a busy month for craft beer activities! Once again, there are so many amazing events happening that I couldn't possibly get to them all. Check out the list!

  • Tonight! - Growlers Hawthorne One Year Anniversary and Buoy Beer Release Party - 3343 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland. Imperial IPA collaboration release. 6PM to 8PM. Info HERE.
  • 2/14/15 - Festival of Dark Arts - Fort George Brewery, 1483 Duane Street, Astoria, OR. Stout tasting is $30 for a mug and 10 taster tickets. Arts, crafts, live music and 55 eclectic beers to taste, in the scenic beauty of Astoria. Click HERE for tickets and more info!
  • 2/14/15 thru 2/15/15 - Brewpublic's 6th Annual My Beery Valentine - Saraveza Bottleshop and Pasty Tavern, 1004 N Killingsworth Street, Portland. Special Valentine's Day inspired draft list, flights and a hugging booth... Click HERE for details.
  • 2/14/15 - Zwickelmania - Oregon brewery tour! Almost every brewery in Oregon will open their doors to the public for FREE tours and FREE samples. Event starts at 11AM all over the state of Oregon. Sponsored by the Oregon Brewers Guild. Click HERE for more information.
  • 2/20/15 - Black Out Beer Fest - Lompoc Brewing Sidebar, 3901 N Williams Avenue, Portland. 19 dark beers from Lompoc and 15 other local breweries. Details found HERE.
  • 2/21/15 - Firkin Fest - PDX Green Dragon, 928 SE 9th Avenue, Portland. 11AM to 6PM. Firkin beers from 40 Oregon breweries. $10 general admission. Click HERE for info and link for tickets.
  • 2/21/15 - 9th Annual Chowder Challenge - Lompoc Fifth Quadrant, 3901 N Williams Avenue, Portland. 12PM to 4PM. Live music, beer and a chowder competition! Info HERE.
  • 2/21/15 - 22nd Annual Hillsdale Brewfest - McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House, 1505, SW Sunset Blvd, Portland. Free admission. Vote on favorite of 20 different McMenamins beers. 11AM unit "late". But go early! Last year, I couldn't get inside the place! More details found HERE.
  • 2/25/15 thru 3/5/15 - Cascade Tart Fruit Fest - Cascade Brewing, 939 SE Belmont Street, Portland. Just as the name describes. Lots of special sour and fruity fermented deliciousness available. More details HERE.
  • 2/28/15 - The First Annual Brewstillery Festival - StormBreaker Brewing, 832 N Beech Street, Portland. 18 brewers and 12 distilleries will present special beer and and distilled spirit pairing. $20 advance tickets, $25 the day of the event. Buy advance tickets HERE. Admission includes tasting glass and 10 taster tickets.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hopworks Kentucky Christmas

My good friend Chris at +Portland Beer made a little video "review" for Hopworks whiskey barrel-aged Kentucky Christmas.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Walking Man Brewing Company - Homo Erectus Imperial IPA

Upright is alright...
Man, I have a lot of beer reviews backed up in the queue right now. Many, many, MAAAANY great beers stacked up in my fridge right now, too. Hey! I got my Oregon state tax refund last week, so you KNOW I'm spending a good chunk of it on beer! I'm actually running out of room in the fridge, to tell you the truth. It won't be long until my wife asks me to make space for pickles or kumquats or something. I guess I better get to drinkin'!

Tonight's brew review is all about Walking Man Brewing Company's Homo Erectus Imperial IPA. I picked up the bomber at Belmont Station, a pretty decent bottle shop and taproom here in Portland. They give a decent little discount if you pay with cash, by the way, just like my plumber. Homo Erectus comes with an ABV of 9%. I don't remember how much the bomber cost me--I was buying a box full of Tax Refund Beer, remember?

The beer poured into my glass a hazy, deep amber color with a creamy, clumpy, white head. The head rose up more than two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Chunks and clumps of foamy lacing was left behind.

Aroma was pine and indistinct citrus hops up front. Bready, biscuity malt. Just a hint of tropical and stone fruit.

Taste provided a good bitter punch of citrus and pine ASAP. Not too crazy, though. Orange and grapefruit. Hints of tropical fruit. Sweet malt balanced well against the initial hops bitterness. No hint of alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Surprisingly easy to drink, considering the 9% ABV. Slightly creamy finish with the bitter hops and sweet, earthy malt left behind on the palate, vying for attention.

Overall, this is a very respectable IIPA, and it could easily turn you into a "crawling man" with that high-end ABV and quaff-ability factor. Be careful! I'm giving Homo Erectus a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle thought it smelled, well, wonderful!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rogue Ales - PDX Carpet India Pale Ale

Iconic or gimmick?
There are lots of gimmicky craft beers out there nowadays, and Oregon's Rogue Ales appears to be the little engine pulling that gimmick train. Rogue is responsible for the unbelievably popular line of Voodoo Doughnut inspired beers. They all come is shocking pink bombers (like the doughnut boxes) and a wide array of truly awful doughnut inspired flavors: Maple Bacon; Lemon Chiffon Crueller; Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate; Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana. My god, they are terrible, horrible tasting beers. Let's just say, I'm not a fan, but out-of-state tourists can't seem to get enough of the stuff. Rogue is catering quite successfully to the tastes of these tourists, as the Voodoo beers are apparently flying off the shelves at Made in Oregon stores.

Rogue has also received much publicity with a beer brewed with yeast gleaned from a brewer's beard (that one was actually a very decent farmhouse ale) and an upcoming release of a Sriracha hot sauce flavored beer. Yup, they are pretty much cornering the market on craft beer gimmickry, so it should come as no surprise that Rogue has come out with a beer that could not possibly be more laser beam marketed toward tourists: PDX Carpet India Pale Ale.

For the past 20 years, visitors to Portland (and returning Oregonians) have taken photos of their feet landing on the unique pattern of the carpet at Portland International Airport. That old carpet was recently replaced with a new pattern, much to the disappointment of many residents and travelers who considered the rug to be a Portland icon. Not missing a beat, Rogue has dedicated a beer to the pattern and ensured that bombers of the stuff will be toted home by thousands of visitors to our fair city and state. Ingenious!

I'd rather EAT doughnuts, thank you.

Of course, my immediate fear was that the beer was brewed with yeast gleaned from the CARPET itself. Gratefully, that is not the case. PDX Carpet IPA comes with an ABV of 6.4% and 46 IBU's. How's it taste, you ask? Like carpet, you wonder? Let's find out...

The beer poured into my glass a classic, slightly hazy, orange amber color. The off-white head rose up to about an inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap and spots of webby lace left behind.

Aroma was also classic PNW IPA: citrus and pine hops. Caramel malt.

Taste followed the nose. Citrus. Grapefruit and orange. Sweet, earthy malt. Nice balance. 

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation.

Overall, it's a decent IPA. Nothing amazing but nothing bad about it either. Not worth the $8.00 I paid for the bomber. There are many other, less expensive, Oregon-brewed IPA's out there that can match this flavor profile. It actually isn't a bad representative of a classic PNW IPA for tourists to take home with them. It's not too bitter for the uninitiated palate but has all the right tasty parts to it. I'm giving PDX Carpet a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.