Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cascade Brewing Expansion Coming Soon!

Portland's House of Sour is going LARGE
I get contacted by folks from all over the country planning beercations to this wonderful city in which I reside, Portland, Oregon. One of the top three brewing destinations those tourists are most interesting in visiting is Cascade Brewing Barrel House. It's no surprise to me that Cascade Brewing has such a far reaching reputation. They brew some world class beer! Their specialty is sour beer, a style that is growing rapidly in popularity and an appreciation among craft beer aficionados that's approaching fanaticism. People love that sour beer! I do, too!

I was very grateful to receive an invitation to a media event at Cascade Brewing Barrel House this past Monday. Hey, they had me at beer, but in addition to tasting some delicious brews straight from the zwickle, I also got to meet founder Art Larrance, brewmaster Ron Gansberg, and many other members of the Cascade Brewing team. What a great bunch of people. It's always a treat to listen to brewers talk about their craft and personal brewing philosophies. There is usually some serious genius going around in most brew houses and Cascade seems to have just a bit more than their fair share. They are genuinely excited about their beer, with big, anticipatory smiles as they hand you a glass.

Cascade has several exciting beer releases coming soon, and I was more than excited to get a sip (or two...or three) last night:

Blackberry 2014
Release date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Description: This NW style sour ale is a blend of Wheat ales that were aged in oak wine barrels with blackberries for up to 12 months.
7.0% ABV | $20

Kriek 2014
Projected release date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Description: This NW style sour ale is a blend of Red ales that were aged in oak wine barrel with cherries for up to 14 months.
8.5% ABV | $20

Sang Rouge 2013
Projected release date: May 20, 2015
Description: This NW style sour ale is a blend of Red ales that were aged in oak wine barrels and oak foudre tanks for up to two years.
8.4% ABV | $22

I also had the privilege to taste an their amazing Almond Amaretto. A blend of sour blond and an apricot base.  Excellent stuff!

The fine folks at Cascade also had some big news to share with us; news that will thrill both tourists and the Portland residents who frequent the Barrel House. They are EXPANDING! Here are the awesome details:

Cascade Brewing is in the process of moving all barrel aging, blending and packaging to a new facility located at 6770 SW 111th Ave., Beaverton, OR 97008. This 23,000 sq. ft. building will also be our new distribution center from which all regional, national and international sales will be shipped.

The bulk of this facility has been committed to a climate-controlled hall wherein all packaging, blending and aging will occur. The hall will house nine oak foudres ranging from 50 to 65 hectoliters, as well as up to 2,000 oak barrels and puncheons. A secondary expansion is under permit review to extend the building to include a non-conditioned hall for barrel and keg cleaning, as well as fruit processing and storage. The transition will be complete by July in time for the start of this year’s fruit season. The Blending House will not have a taproom, nor will it be open to the public.

The move will leave an empty space at the existing Barrel House, but not for long. SUM Design Studio + architecture is excited to continue a partnership with Cascade Barrel House that has been ongoing since the two companies came together for the initial design of the Barrel House in 2009. Since that time, Cascade’s growing brand, in conjunction with a burgeoning beer scene in the inner SE area, have placed a growing demand on the Barrel House that the owners and SUM seek to satisfy through a comprehensive expansion and redesign of the building in late 2015 and early 2016.

In the re-envisioned building, the entirety of the 7,100 SF space will be dedicated to the serving of Cascade’s extensive selection of sours and other beers, alongside an expanded food menu made possible by a full-production kitchen. According to Executive Chef Troy Harris, “We are all excited to embark on an adventure that will enable us to bring even more local and international flavors to our culinary program. Our mission to pair our cuisine with the complexities of our Northwest style barrel aged sour beer projects will continue to grow as we explore flavors from our region and the world.”

Existing production facilities will move off-site in order to make way for amenities like a central 40’ bar with the brewery’s signature “Barrel Taps” – creating room for more than double the taps currently on hand. A “Barrel Room” will bring the unique barrel aging processes behind the beers into full view, and house small-scale gatherings and private events such as Brewer’s Dinners and food/beer pairings. In all, interior seating for the space will be more than doubled, satisfying the growing demand and making it possible to host large-scale festivals.

Outside, plans are in place to create a generous raised outdoor patio with an overhead cover and heaters throughout to facilitate year-round enjoyment of the brewery’s offerings. Integrated landscaping, a variety of seating options, and expanded outdoor bar service are all designed to providing an inviting street appeal for the re-vamped building, while making every season “patio drinking season” for the brewery’s loyal following.

Congratulations to Cascade for their continuing growth and success! I can't wait to see the new pub!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hopworks Urban Brewery - Rise Up Red India Red Ale

Better red than dead?
One of the reasons I love living in the Pacific Northwest is that most of the citizenry around these parts actually gives a dang about the environment in which we live. Lots of folks truly walk the walk when it comes to supporting sustainability. Take Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB), for example. HUB is a Certified B Corporation. What does that mean? Check it out HERE.

I don't know about you, but I feel good about buying my beer from a brewery that is as green-minded as me. Yeah, that's important, and I'll spent a little extra money on products made by a company that is trying to leave a smaller footprint on this little blue planet we all call home. It also helps when those products are organic and flippin' excellent. HUB makes some mighty fine beers, and I'm drinking one of them today: Rise Up Red India Red Ale.

The beer poured from pounder into my glass a clear, red/amber color with a foamy, tan head. The head rose up to almost two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Chunks and clumps of creamy foam were left behind all over the glass and in my mustache.

Aroma was citrus and floral hops up front with sweet, bready, earthy malt in the background. Nice. 

Taste was mild citrus hops, orange and lemon, with some mild pine notes. Sweet, robust, caramel malt. Excellent balance. Hint of toffee. Some mild, spicy, herbal notes.

Medium mouthfeel with no hint of alcohol in this 6.1% ABV brew. Good carbonation. Smooth, slightly creamy finish. Lingering hops flavor at the end.

Overall, this is a smooth, easy drinking IRA. It provides some substantial malty goodness and a respectable NW hops flavor that I really love. I could drink this stuff all day. I also love that you can get it in cans. I'm giving Rise Up Red a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Growlers Hawthorne & Buoy Beer Company - GH Imperial IPA

There's beer in there!
Oregon has some of the most liberal growler laws in the US of A. Basically, any retail store, restaurant, bar, brewpub or winery with the proper OLCC license can fill a growler. There is no limit on the number of growlers an establishment can fill for a patron, only a limit on the size of the growler (two gallons max). What's a growler, you ask, my uninformed friend? Any refillable, securely-covered container, two gallons or less, used to transport beer, wine, or cider that has been sold to a consumer at retail. Need more info? Check out the OLCC fact sheet HERE.

Typically, a standard growler in these parts is a 64 ounce jug. A "growlette" or "grenade" is a 32 ouncer. (I recently heard a growlette referred to as a "growlita" in SoCal. I like that Spanish-influenced moniker.) I have about a dozen growlers cluttering up my house, much to my wife's chagrin. Nevertheless, I like to have plenty on hand, you know, so I can fill 'em up with cold tasty beer whenever the need arises.

There's an app!
I recently visited one of the newest growler fill shops in Portland. Growlers Hawthorne is located--where else--in the ever-popular Hawthorne District in Southeast, It's in an easy-to-spot, red brick building; nestled among the funky, fun shops and eateries on SE Hawthorne. Man, I wish this place was in my NE neighborhood! I'd be livin' there!

It was my pleasure to meet Jim Hillman, the owner of Growlers Hawthorne. Jim is a very enthusiastic guy who was more than happy to spend some time with me and show off his store. With a background in finance, Jim was able to recognize the ever-growing opportunities in the local craft beer market. He is also very interested in technology and has brought some cool, high tech innovations to his store.

40 taps are found behind the counter at Growlers Hawthorne. Those taps are monitored by the always awesome DigitalPour system that provides all the information anyone might need about the eclectic line-up of beer, cider, wine and kombucha to be filled and toted home. There is also a Growlers Hawthorne app that can be downloaded for both Android and iPhone. It gives customers remote access to the current tap list and can even keep track of specific growler fills. How cool is that?

Taps galore!
My wife was quite impressed with the bike lane that runs through the store. Yes, you can simply bring your bike inside and get your growler filled without ever disembarking from your saddle. Again, that's pretty cool.

Not satisfied with stocking the most sought after brews around, Jim has collaborated with some of Oregon's most talented brewers to create some very unique, proprietary beers that cannot be found anywhere but Growlers Hawthorne. George Washington is an historic small beer found only at GH. It is made with a Revolutionary recipe--literally! Also on tap right now is GH Imperial IPA, brewed by Astoria's Buoy Beer Company. That's the beer that brought me into the store, and I left with a growler full.

Growlers Hawthorne is located at:
3343 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214
(503) 628-8000

The exclusive GH Imperial IPA
As I said, GH Imperial IPA was brewed by Buoy Beer Company, exclusively for Growlers Hawthorne. It was brewed with Mosaic and Galaxy hops and comes with an ABV at 9.2%. IBU's are reported at a respectable 100. A 64 ounce growler is $12.99.

The beer poured from growler into my pint glass a semi-hazy, orange amber color with a bright, white head. The head rose up to a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap of lace was left behind.

Aroma was big on citrus, tropical fruit and resinous pine. All the juicy smells you would expect from a beer with this hop pedigree. Nice!

Taste followed the nose. Big bitter hops bite that mellowed on the palate to leave behind grapefruit, orange, pineapple, passion fruit and guava. A bit of that pleasant funk that the best IIPA's accomplish was present and accounted for. Mildly earthy, caramel malt balanced right in. Really nice!

(Danger! Soapbox alert! Here is yet another example of why the long lines and over-the-top hype over the recent release of a certain NorCal IIPA is just...stupid. This is an excellent, top-shelf IIPA that you can go buy RIGHT NOW! No line, it's freaking DELICIOUS and it's brewed in our own backyard. AND it's FRESH!)

Medium to slightly sticky mouthfeel. Just the slightest hint of that high alcohol content detected. Loads of flavor left behind.

This is a terrific beer. A hophead's delight. Right up my alley and I'm going to go get another growler filled tomorrow. The Wonder Beagle drooled up a massive puddle, too. Thus, I'm giving GH Imperial IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lompoc Brewing Teams Up with Hollywood Theatre for Spy-themed IPA Night

I spy a fun event!
PORTLAND, Ore. – Brew Masterpiece Theatre at The Hollywood Theatre is an ongoing series where brewmasters craft beers inspired by films they love. Lompoc is pleased to announce its 4th annual participation in this series, this time promoting Lompoc head brewer Bryan Keilty’s Spy Series of IPAs. On March 27, Lompoc will feature three of its spy-themed IPAs on tap at the theatre, paired with the 1967 James Bond classic “You Only Live Twice.” Happy hour starts at 6pm, the movie starts at 7pm. The following Lompoc Spy-PAs will be on tap:

The Spy Who Dry Hopped Me: This beer was dry hopped in the fermentor and the bright tank with Amarillo hops to create a beautifully fragrant IPA that tantalizes the nose. A wonderful grapefruit and grassy aroma with an alluring golden color that beams out of the glass. utilizes Mosaic hops to create a well balanced flavor of earthy pine and tropical orange zest that goes well with the caramel malt base. Don’t drink this beer before you go on your next mission. The enemy will smell you coming. 5.6% ABV

Dr. Hop: A collaboration with Richard Batchelor, head winemaker at Maryhill Winery, this sessionable, well hopped IPA has a mild malty sweetness that plays nicely with the hop profile. Lompoc employed Horizon and Cascades up front with a large addition of Hopsteiner Experimental 05256 at the end of the boil. 5.4% ABV

From Lompoc with Love: This light-bodied but full-flavored session IPA was brewed with Centennial, Crystal, Ultra, Cascade and Sterling hops and carries a well-balanced variety of bitter, citrus and floral notes, complemented by a subtle malt sweetness. 5.3% ABV

Tickets are $8 and are available at www.hollywoodtheater.org. This event typically sells out, advance tickets are recommended. The Hollywood Theatre is located at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. in Portland.

A Portland staple since 1996, Lompoc Brewing creates seven flavorful year-round beers, plus a ridiculous number of seasonals. You can find Lompoc in 22 oz bottles and on draft at locations around town, and at its five neighborhood pubs: Fifth Quadrant and Sidebar in North Portland, Hedge House and Oaks Bottom in Southeast, and the Lompoc Tavern in NW Portland. For more information, visit www.lompocbrewing.com. Drink Local, Drink Lompoc!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Backwoods Brewing Company - Logyard IPA

He's a lumberjack and he's okay...
Folks here in the Pacific Northwest take beer very seriously. When a brewery in this part of the country claims their beer is brewed with pristine, crystal clear water, it's the truth. When they name their brewery, "Backwoods Brewing Company", you can bet it's not just some kind of advertising gimmick--that brewery is actually located right on the cusp of a real, honest to goodness, Bunyan-esque forest. Yup, the great outdoors and great tasting beer go hand in hand in this neck of the woods. And I'm talking the literal woods, not the figurative woods.

Today, I'm reviewing Backwoods Brewing Company's Logyard IPA. Backwoods is located just a few miles from my home base in Portland, Oregon, across the border in Carson, Washington. Carson is situated on the Washington side of the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, right at the entrance to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In addition to being one of the most beautiful scenic spots on the entire planet, the Columbia River Gorge is also home to a wonderful array of magnificent craft breweries. CLICK HERE for a Gorge Beer Guide.

Logyard IPA comes with an ABV of 6.7% and 78 IBU's. It is reportedly brewed with four different NW hops. I picked up the bomber for a reasonable price, but I honestly don't remember where I bought it. I've been buying a lot of beer with my tax refund money lately--hey, it's an investment...in my waistline.

The beer poured into my pint glass a hazy, orange amber color with a creamy, white head. The head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. Clumps of webby lacing were left all over the glass. There was also a noticeable amount of sediment floating around in there. I homebrew, so that doesn't bother me. Yeasty bits are a natural part of the brewing process.

Aroma was resinous pine and citrus hops. Tropical fruit in the background. Pineapple and guava notes.

Taste followed the nose. Grapefruit-y citrus. Lemon. Pineapple. Respectable hops bitterness that you'd expect from a well-crafted NW IPA. Light caramel malt provided a good balance against the hops. Herbal spiciness in the mix, too. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. A bit of a sticky body on the finish. Hops and malt appropriately left playing off each other on the palate at the end.

Overall, this is a very good IPA. I certainly wouldn't turn one down if you offered me one--go ahead and offer me one, you'll see! I'm giving Logyard IPA a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

PDX Beer Events - March 2015

No shortage of beer here...

Loads of fun beer events going on in and around Stumptown in March! Here are just a few:
  • Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7, noon to 10PM - Barleywine & Big Beer Tastival at Lucky Lab Beer Hall, 1945 NW Quimby, Portland. $15 get you a tasting glass and 4 taster tickets. Additional tickets are $2 each. 50 different big brews will be offered with 20 on tap at a time.
  • Saturday, March 7, 2PM to 8PM - Paws 4 Ales at Coalition Brewing, 2705 SE Ankeny, Portland. Two special beers will be released with all proceeds going to support The Pixie Project and Born Again Pit Bull Rescue.
  • Wednesday, March 11, 5PM - Block 15 Tap Invasion at The Hop & Vine, 1914 N. Killingsworth, Portland. 13 Block 15 beers on tap! You know I'll be going to this one! More info HERE.
  • Saturday, March 14, 11AM to 10PM - Double Mountain Brewery 8th Anniversary at Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom, 8 Fourth Street, Hood River. $5 admission get you in the door and a tasting mug. VIP ticket for $25 gets you admission, mug, 4 taster tickets, snacks and exclusive tasters. Kids welcome until 8PM.
  • Saturday, March 14, 3PM to ??? - PDX Bottle Share at TBA. This will be a pub crawl in Vancouver, WA! Stops at 3 breweries and bottle shops. Follow @pdxbottleshare on Twitter for further details.
  • Saturday, March 21, noon to 5PM - Cider Rite of Spring at Tiffany Emerald Ball Room, 1410 SW Morrison, Portland. Sample 70 ciders from 29 NW cider makers. Tickets are $25 advance and $30 at the door. More info and advance tickets can be had by clicking HERE.
  • Saturday, March 28, 4PM to 7PM - Rip City Ale Fest at Exhibit Hall, Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, immediately before the Blazers v Nuggets game. $40 includes 10 tasters. Click HERE for more info.
It is also time to volunteer to help out at the Oregon Brewer's Festival! The 28th annual OBF will take place from July 22 to 26 and you can sign up to help on the fest's website by clicking HERE. I had a great time pouring last year. I also got a lovely - uh-hem! - orange t-shirt and FREE taster tokens! Sign up early to get the best spots.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Breakside Brewery - New World Bruin Flanders-Inspired Sour Ale

Rockin' in the New World
This wacky beer hobby of mine takes me all over the place, searching for the latest, the greatest, the unique, the rare. Sometimes that leads me to forget that some the the most awesome beers on the planet are being brewed within a few city blocks of my own front yard.

Breakside Brewery's Dekum Pub in NE Portland is so close to home that I could walk there in less than an hour. The brew pub puts out some of the BEST pub grub you could ever hope to eat. Their burger is fantastic and the Smokey Cubano...MAN! What a sandwich! Of course, the beer is what brings me in, over and over again.

Breakside makes one of the best IPA's in Portland and their regular tap suspects are solid, but they show masterful creativity on a regular basis, too. Today, I'm drinking Breakside's Limited Edition, New World Bruin Flanders-Inspired Sour Ale. This beer is a blend of young sour beer with more sour, oakier, aged sours. The label did not provide an ABV. I believe I paid $8.99 for the bomber.

The beer poured into my glass a reddish, amber, light brown color with a fluffy, tan head. The head made it up to just over a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A minimal amount of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was over-ripe, dark fruit. Cherries, figs, raisins. Sweet malt. Just a tiny bit of yeasty funk.

Taste was tart cherries. Moderate lactic sourness. Hints of oak and vanilla. Earthy malt flavor in the background.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Somewhat of a creamy finish. As the mild sour waned, the earthy malt was left prominently behind on the palate at the end. Nice!

Overall, there's less of a vinous quality to this beer than some other examples of the style, and for me, that's a good thing. The drinkability factor is very high. I really like this beer A LOT and would drink it anywhere, anytime. Excellent stuff. I'm giving New World Bruin a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.