Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adventures in Homebrewing: Cascade Hopped Blackberry Cider

The juice is loose.
Okay, let's get one thing straight right now: I am NOT a good homebrewer. I don't like to follow instructions, I'm not at all patient and, let's be honest here, I'm not very bright. These attributes do not a good brewer make. Still, I keep trying, even though my list of misses is far longer than my tiny tally of hits.

Earlier this month, we had visitors from out of town and my wife took them on the obligatory tour of the Columbia River Gorge, ending up in Hood River. After a trip through the Fruit Loop, we found ourselves with a box full of pick-your-own apples that was impossible for us to finish--even after a pie, some turnovers and my vow to take one to work every day for lunch. We had to do something with them, so we broke out the juicer.

I also had a massive bag of blackberries in the freezer that I harvested from the twisted devil vines behind our house. I needed to get rid of those, too. They've been taking up valuable ice cream space for months.

I decided to make some hard cider. I've made hard cider before from store bought apple juice, right in the glass jug it came in. I just poured in some dry Cooper's brewing yeast and stopped up the jug with a rubber stopper and airlock. Easy, breezy and it fermented into hard cider in about five days. This time, I decided to use apple juice from our fresh picked apples and our homegrown blackberries.

I'm flying totally by the seat of my pants here--remember, I don't like to follow directions. Yeah, so I wasn't quite sure how to use the blackberries. A few thrown into the juicer just turned to goo. That wasn't going to work, so I tossed them into a pot with a 1/2 gallon of water and a 1/4 cup of sugar and set it to boiling. In a few minutes, I had a bright purple juice.

I still have a bushel of homegrown Cascade hops from my harvest. A bunch of them were pretty dry already. Inspired by the guilt of wasting them, I decided to toss a few into the blackberry juice just for the heck of it. Wow, the aroma of the hops and blackberries simmering together was positively sublime. I added more!

I let the blackberry juice cool down, strained out the hops and berry chunks and added it to the apple juice in a 4 liter wine jug. I poured in some of that dry brewing yeast and stopped it up with the rubber stopper and airlock. Ta-da!

The concoction has been bubbling away in the back hallway since Saturday. I'm going to bottle it this coming Saturday. Hopefully, a week is an appropriate length of time for the stuff to be fermenting in the jug. I want it to be sweet. Once again, I'm just winging it. I'm not sure what to expect as far as alcohol content, either, but I'm thinking it will be potent. We'll see!

If it turns out good, I'll let you know. If it turns out bad, we shall never speak of it again. Fingers crossed!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gilgamesh Brewing - Fresh Prince Fresh Hop IPA 2015

Fresh Prince...or Carlton?
Let me tell you what, Homer, it's stacking up to be one awesome fresh hop beer season here in Oregon. I'm in hop heaven and I haven't even gotten started yet! So many, many tasty beers. What an exhausting hobby I've chosen, huh? Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Today, I'm drinking a Fresh Prince Fresh Hop IPA from Gilgamesh Brewing, located in Salem, the Capital of the fine State of Oregon. I've never paid their brewery a visit. I'm thinking I need to plan a little road trip soon.

The label advises that Fresh Prince was brewed with fresh Centennial hops and comes with an ABV of 6.3%. It says something about the beer being hop-bonged. I had to google that. What I found is that hop-bonging is the same thing as randalizing, which is a hop infusing technique pioneered by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The piece of equipment used is also known as an organoleptic hop transducer module... say that three times real fast. I would love to learn more about the specific process used by Gilgamesh. It sounds fascinating! But how is the beer? Let's find out.

Fresh Prince poured into my pint glass a hazy, golden orange color with a spectacular, bright white head. That head rose up to a full finger thick with no coaxing. It was creamy, clumpy and dissipated slowly. Copious amounts of thick, webby lacing were left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was a massive blast of citrus hops and pine. Sweet caramel malt. Floral. Herbal. Hints tropical fruit. Pineapple and guava. The smell wafting from this brew perked up the nose of the Wonder Beagle ASAP. Dang, that dog has a nose for hops--and she's particular, too.

Taste followed the nose. Big, bitter, citrus hops right up front. Grapefruit and orange peel. Slightly dank. Appreciable pine. Spicy, herbal, mild grassy notes of fresh hops. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. No appreciable alcohol taste, but there's a mild hotness on the finish from the spicy, herbal hops. That bitter hops flavor was left behind on the palate for a while. This is one of those beers that has a wonderful aftertaste that keeps on giving after each sip. Fantastic!

Overall, this is one of the 2015 fresh hop beers that you must taste. Get over to your local bottle shop and pick up a bomber right now! I bought mine at Hollywood Beverage on NE Sandy. I'm giving Fresh Prince Fresh Hop IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gigantic Brewing Company - Hops and Kisses Fresh Hop IPA

And the fresh hop train
rolls on!
Man, oh, man, oh, man! If you're a hophead, you really should be in Portland, Oregon right the heck now! Seriously, Oregon brewers have their fresh hop beers on tap all over this burg! Just check out the tap lists linked on the sidebar of this blog! Yes, right over there on the left. Click on a few of those 45 links! (This post is time sensitive. If you're reading this on, say, January, something-or-other, 2017, you're TOO late!) OMG! OMG! OMG! It's time for a fresh hop tour of PDX! For me, this is better than a first time trip to Dinnyland for a six year old! FRESH HOPS!

The bottleshops have a bunch of freshies in their cold cases, too. Today, I was wandering around in Hollywood Beverage and found a couple. Score!

Fresh hop beers are meant to be consumed ASAP. Seriously, they are not for hording and aging. The delicate, nuanced taste profiles of the fresh, green hops do not last a long time. The sooner you get these seasonal masterpieces in your belly, the better!

Today, I'm drinking a wonderful fresh hop IPA from Portland's Gigantic Brewing Company called Hops and Kisses. The label advises that this brew was made with loads of fresh Centennial hops that went from field to brew in a matter of hours. ABV is 6.5%.

The beer poured into my pint glass a slightly cloudy, honey orange color with a bright, white head. The head made it up to more than an inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. Spotty, webby lacing was left behind.

Aroma was a medley of citrus: Orange, lemon and tangerine. Sweet caramel malt. Light tropical fruit. Guava. Herbal, floral notes.

Taste followed the nose. Indistinct bitter, citrus hops. Primarily orange and lemon. Mild, grassy, herbal, spiciness of fresh hops. Excellent! Sweet, biscuity malt. Nice balance.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Clean finish that left that spicy, herbal, lemony, fresh hops flavor on the palate at the end. Love it!

Overall, this is a great fresh hop brew. I love it and will seek it out again soon. I'm giving Hops and Kisses a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

McMenamins Breweries - Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2015

As fresh as it gets...
I'm all about supporting local. Hey, don't get me started! It's not like I've got some kind of highfalutin political agenda or anything like that. I just like thinking that the money I spend on important things--and nothing could be more important than beer--goes pretty much into the pockets of people who live in my own community. There is no shortage of premium craft beer in Portland, Oregon, that's for sure. Why would I need to buy beer brewed anywhere else?

When I'm talking about locally brewed beer, nothing comes close to McMenamins. Literally... McMenamins Concordia Brewery is the closest brewing operation to my NE Portland casita. I can walk there in 15 minutes. Bike there in five. It's located inside McMenamins awesome Kennedy School. To be more specific, Concordia Brewery is located inside what used to be the little girls' room of the Kennedy School, when it was a school. Established in 1997, Concordia Brewery produced 428,792 pints of beer last year. That's a lot of beer!

I picked up a gratis growlette of McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale at the Kennedy School this AM. Yes! 32 ounces of tasty! The beer was brewed with fresh Simcoe hops just a few short hours after they were picked at Sodbuster Farms near Salem. ABV is reported at 6.19% and IBU's at 58. Dry hops added to the brew were Galina and Cascade. How was it, you inquire? I thought you'd never ask!

The beer poured from growlette to pint glass a slightly hazy, golden amber color. The off-white head rose up to a finger thick and stuck around for a while. A thin cap and light webs of lacing were left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops and a hint of pine. Tangerine. Sweet, caramel malt. Honey. Hints of tropical fruit.

Taste gave a big hit of piney, grassy, bitter, citrus hops right from the git-go. Orange and tangerine. Grapefruit rind. Robust, sweet, earthy malt. A bit of appreciable dankness in the mix.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. A little sticky on the finish. Hops bitterness left quite a significant impression on the palate at the end, making the ol' salivary glands sting just a bit. Nice!

Overall, this is a stellar fresh hop brew. If you've never had a beer brewed with fresh-from-the-field hops, this would be a good choice for your first. If you're a hophead, you won't be disappointed. Good work, McMenamins! Thanks for slogging it out to the fields and trucking these fresh hops home for my happy taste buds! I'm giving this 2015 Thundercone a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. The hops aroma of this brew made the Wonder Beagle unruly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

BridgePort Brewing - Hop Harvest Fresh Hop IPA 2015

My Precious...Freshest...
Okay, I'm officially out of witty, topical captions for my beer photos. Seriously--cue The Steve Miller Band--it just keeps gettin' tougher every day... Oh, that's really terrible. Sorry, writer's block...but it's not like anybody's paying me to do this. What the heck was I going to write about? OH, YEAH! Fresh hop beer!

It is the season! Hops have been harvested and brewers all over the Pacific Northwest have been as busy as beavers getting those delicious cones into their beers. The Hood River Fresh Hop Festival is happening THIS Saturday, 9/26/15 from noon to 8PM. You know where you'll find ME this weekend! In the meantime, there's an abundance of freshies available in local taprooms and a few making it into cold cases. Awesome!

Today, I found a bomber of BridgePort Brewing's Hop Harvest Fresh Hop IPA in the cold case at Freddie's. Bam! That sucker went straight into my cart. The fumble fingered clerk almost lost it for me at the checkout. I swear, I would have cried. Gratefully, the bottle made it into the grocery bag and into my fridge. It was a close call.

This fresh hop IPA was brewed with a truckload of fresh, green Crystal hops. It comes with an ABV of 7% and 60 IBU's. How did it taste? I thought you'd never ask!

The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, golden orange color with a creamy, white head. The head was more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. Thick, creamy clumps of lacing were left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops up front. Orange, grapefruit and tangerine. Spicy, grassy, herbal notes. Sweet caramel malt. Some tropical fruit in there, too. Pineapple. What a great smelling beer. The fresh hops were abundantly noticeably as soon as I popped the cap. Nice!

Taste followed the nose. Wow! Good job, BridgePort! Clean, distinct, spicy, bitter hops. Beautifully subtle and complex at the same time.

Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Clean finish with that fresh hop flavor left lovingly on the palate at the end. No alcohol taste detected.

Overall, this a wonderful fresh hop IPA. Not too grassy or woodsy, but you can definitely tell there are fresh, green hops in this brew. I like it! I'm giving Hop Harvest IPA 2015 a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sierra Nevada & Crux Fermentation Collab - Paddle Trail Ale Session IPA

A brew with a cause...
You've no doubt seen them at one of the outlying, non-metro, semi-rural area breweries and taprooms: The Adventure Beer Set. You know the folks I'm talking about. They just finished a rousing session of kayaking, wind surfing, mountain biking, rafting, hashing, triathaloning, whatevers. Now, they've parked their toned, athletic bodies on bar stools, looking for some equally health-conscious libations. "Nothing too FILLING!" they decry. "We just finished an uber-ultra-mega-marathon!" Pfft! Amateurs!

I spotted a four pack of Paddle Trail Ale in the cold case at New Seasons today. Cool packaging--four 16 ounce cans in a wrapper that looks like a little life jacket. Very outdoors-y. Paddle Trail Ale is a "session" IPA, which is a style popular with the Adventure Beer Set. The theory is you can drink a full-flavored, hoppy beer without getting all loopy from a big bang of alcohol and all overloaded in the taste buds. (Most IPA's come with an ABV of between 6 to 8%.) A session version should be under 5%. Paddle Trail Ale was brewed with experimental whole-flower hops and comes with a 4.7% ABV and 35 measly IBU's.

This beer appears to be perfectly marketed toward the sensibilities of fit, young adventurers; not just in style but in substance. It's a beer with a cause. It's a collaboration between California's Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Oregon's Crux Fermentation Project and Columbia Distributing. Hey! This beer has it's own website! Check it out HERE. You can read all about how $2 from every four pack will go to benefit the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance and help complete the Whitewater Project in Bend, Oregon. That's a very admirable cause, but I know what you're thinking, "How's it taste?"

The beer poured from can into my pint glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a foamy, white head. The head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. A thick, full cap and copious webs of lacing were left behind. Quite a pretty lil' brew.

Aroma was a bouquet of citrus hops right up front. Grapefruit, orange and lemon. Sweet, biscuity malt. Some floral and herbal notes.

Taste followed the nose. A decent dose of bitter, citrus-y hops flavor. Grapefruit and orange. Pleasant, earthy malt.

Medium to slightly thin mouthfeel. Moderate carbonation. This one is a little watery on the finish, which is what I expected.

Overall, this is indeed a very sessionable, highly drinkable beer. Of course, I prefer a full strength IPA. These session brews just aren't for me. Sorry, Sporty Spice, I don't have much use for trainer IPA's, but I can certainly see the appeal for those seeking an IPA drinking experience without the risk of permanent hops pucker or liver damage.

I'm giving Paddle Trail Ale a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. Some of that score is for the great packaging and the support of a worthy cause.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mammoth Brewing Company - IPA 395

A beer of pachydermal proportions? 
My wife's niece is visiting from California with her two year old daughter, Sienna. It's been a while since a wee one has toddled around Casa de Wolfgang, AKA The Shotgun Shack. I really enjoy having kids around, especially when I get to do all of the fun stuff and none of that annoying "parenting" stuff. And what a sweet, thoughtful house guest we have--brought old Uncle Wolf some tasty, tasty beer from the Golden State. It's not easy to find a brew that's new to me, but she did it.

Lucky me. I'm drinking an IPA 395 from Mammoth Brewing Company. I've never tasted a beer from this brewery, so I had no idea what to expect. The label advises that this 8% ABV beer is brewed with juniper berries and sage. 50 IBU's. Interesting.

The beer poured from 12 ounce bottle to Mason jar a slightly hazy, reddish amber color with a creamy, off-white head. The head rose up to almost two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious clumps of thick, webby lacing were left all over the glass.

Aroma delivered a big dose of gin-like botanicals right up front. Juniper and sage are clearly present. Pine needles. Citrus hops in there, too. Sweet, earthy malt. Herbal and floral. Lots of things were happening in the nose with this brew. Nice.

Taste followed the nose. Sweet caramel malt was immediately tempered by sage and juniper flavors. I was pleasantly surprised. Nothing dramatically woodsy. The gin-like taste was subtle. Not at all boozy. Nice level of hops bitterness left behind on the palate on the finish. I like!

Medium mouthfeel with appropriately moderate carbonation. Semi-dry finish. I didn't detect any alcohol taste.

Overall, this is very unique IIPA that delivered a different flavor profile without going too weird to be drinkable. Everything seemed to blend together quite nicely. Good stuff and I would definitely drink it again. I'm giving IPA 395 a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pyramid Brewing Company - Outburst Imperial IPA

The Price is Right?
I don't know about you, but around Casa de Wolfgang, AKA The Shotgun Shack, times are tough. The landlord just raised the rent to match the "new" and "trendy" prices here in our NE Alberta Street neighborhood. The three bedroom, ONE bathroom house down the street just sold for $560,000. Yoink! Seriously? That's the kind of money people are willing to pay for a 100 year old pile of moldy wood?  In this 'hood? That's crazy!

Heck, also don't forget that "local flavor" around here includes a double stabbing in front of Boxer Ramen last night and some serious ratcheting up of the old fashioned, gangbangin' ultraviolence! I'm just saying, this ain't no gated Orange County community, no matter how ridiculously high the rents climb.

Needless to say, the higher cost of living in this burg is putting a significant dent in my beer money budget. I'm between paychecks and that has me digging through the sofa cushions for spare change. Sad and humiliating, I know, but I came up with a buck twenty!

Today, I'm drinking an Outburst Imperial IPA from Pyramid Brewing Company. Why did I select this beer from among the vast array of tasty brews in the Fred Meyer cold case? How about a price tag of $2.49 for a bomber? You can't beat that with a stick! Well, you could, but that would make one helluva mess and probably get you thrown out of Freddie's for life. How is that inexpensive beer? I thought you'd never ask!

The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, deep, amber color with an off-white head. The head was quite prodigious, rising up to almost two fingers thick with no coaxing. The head dissipated slowly and left a good amount of webby lacing behind.

Aroma was an interesting mix of bubblegum-like tropical fruit--banana, pineapple and passion fruit--and indistinct citrus. Sweet caramel malt with notes of brown sugar.

Taste gave a significant bitter, citrus hops bite right up front. The label says this brew is dry-hopped and I believe the hops bitterness imparted there saved this brew from being overly sweet. Interesting juxtaposition between bitter hops and butterscotch sweetness. I wouldn't call it balanced. It's more like a competition on the palate. Just a hint of alcohol taste in this 8.5% beer.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with low carbonation. Seemed a little thick and slightly oily on the finish. Bitter hops and sweet malt flavors were both left behind at the end.

Merry the Wonder Beagle thought this beer smelled really good. It was enough to rouse her from her afternoon nap and commence to droolin'. This is not the most complex or interesting IIPA I've ever tasted, but for the PRICE, it certainly is a keeper. $2.49 for a bomber is dipping down into near homebrew value and it's certainly better than anything that I've ever bottled.

I'm giving Outburst Imperial IPA a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. Yes, indeed, some of that is based on the price. It also deserves a Droolie.

Kells Brew Pub Marks Third Anniversary with Daylong Celebration


Event Will Also Announce Bottling of Flagship Line of Beers

PORTLAND, Ore. – Kells Brew Pub is observing its third anniversary in Northwest Portland this month and the pub and brewery is marking the occasion with a daylong celebration on Saturday, Sept. 19 from Noon to Midnight.

The event will feature $3 Kells beers all day, including its three flagship beers – Kells Irish Red, Kells Irish Lager and Kells IPA – as well as its stout on nitro and current seasonals. To complement the beer, head chef Travis Stark has created $3 Kells bites for the day: a stuffed lamb slider, a falafel slider and meatballs topped with Kells stout sauce. 

The celebration will feature live music by Bridgid's Cross from 6 to 8 p.m. and local favorite Sami Rouissi from 9 p.m. to Midnight. There is no cover charge. At 7 p.m., owner Gerard McAleese and lead brewer and pub manager Garrett McAleese, will raise a toast in honor of the occasion.

The event will also serve as the release party for the brewery’s newly bottled beers. For the first time since its inception, Kells is bottling three of its products: its Red, Lager, and a rotational IPA (the initial version is dry-hopped). The brewery will bottle 20 bbls of its Lager, 10 bbls of its Red and a pallet of IPA on Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Going into retail is a big shift for us, but one we’ve always had our eye on,” explained Garrett McAleese. “Our brewery has grown since day one and demand for our draft beer has always kept us busy, but we decided it was time to take the next step.”

With a motto of “Irish Roots, Oregon Brewed,” the labels feature traditional Irish imagery, including a shamrock for the IPA, the Tower of Kells for the lager, and a red hand for the Red; a nod to the Northern Irish heritage of the McAleese family. The Red Hand of Ulster is a symbol used to denote an Irish tale in which a Viking longboat war party, closing in on the shores of Ulster, promised the first man to touch land full possession of the territory. On board was an Irish mercenary who severed his hand with his sword and threw the bloody hand ashore.

Kells will be bottling every quarter; the brewery will likely add seasonals to the rotation next summer. The brewery will sell its brown longneck bottles in crafted six-packs that will retail for $11.49. Garrett McAleese noted that if the brewery keeps growing at its continued pace and the retails takes off, a production brewery will be inevitable.

Located at 210 NW 21st Ave., Kells Brew Pub is open to all ages from 11:30 a.m. to close Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to close on weekends. For more information, visit www.kellsbrewpub.com or call 503-719-7175.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lagunitas Buy-Out Shocker! (Well, Uh, Not Really)

BEST tasting Heineken EVER!
Today, it was announced that 50% of Petaluma, CA based Lagunitas Brewing Company has been acquired by Dutch brewing behemoth Heineken. Here's a LINK to the press release. Read it and weep, craft beer peeps. Of course, this really shouldn't come as much of a shock to anyone. Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, has been dropping hints like a-bombs for a few weeks that he was out shopping his brewery for investors.

First things first, I loath Heineken. It's terrible beer. It smells like a skunk...a dead skunk...a dead skunk that's been under my unwashed armpit for a month. I can't see this acquisition as anything but a plus for Heineken and it's various brands. They will be able to sell some decent, palatable, "craft" beer all over the world. They certainly have the distribution and the big bucks to make Lagunitas a world brand. Hey, isn't that what we all want? The uninitiated, pathetic macro-beer drinkers of the world to drink decent beer? This could be a big step in that direction.

I'll admit that when AB-Inbev bought up Elysian and 10 Barrel, I was up in arms. The Huns were invading my backyard! Given some time to ruminate on it for a while, I'm backing off my "git mah gun" stance just a bit. I believe that there's a lot of emotion involved whenever there are dramatic changes in the craft beer industry. Unlike many other businesses, craft breweries have FANS. It's not unlike the reactions sports fans have when their favorite player is traded, ownership changes, or their beloved team moves away. (I'll never forgive the Raiders...EVER!)

Mergers, buyouts and acquisitions happen in other industries every day, and 99% of the time, nobody even bats an eye. Take for example, my in-laws. They have a free range egg business. Somebody offered them a huge buy-out a couple of years ago. The only reason they turned it down is because 1) they are workaholics, and 2) they want to leave the business for their kids when they go on to that big chicken pasture in the sky.

Can anybody really blame Tony Magee for cashing in? He's certainly not a young man and I'd say he deserves to eat the fruit of his decades of hard work and labor. Honestly, if somebody offered me enough cash to buy my own private island, the only folks who'd ever see me again would be my family and the multitude of grape peeling servants at my beck and call. Come on! You'd do the same thing! Admit it! It's the American dream!

I do hope Lagunitas remains a relatively independent and highly creative brewing operation for as long as possible, without much change to their brand and quality. I guess we'll know something is up if the logo image of Petey the Pitbull is changed to a poodle... Just sayin'.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ex Novo Brewing Company - Dynamic Duo IIPA

Ex Novo is a different kind of brewery. It's a non-profit brewery and after paying costs, they donate their profits to humanitarian causes. Here's what Ex Novo's own website says about their mission...

We make money from food and beer…and then give it away. It’s that simple. After covering our costs and building a small reserve fund, we distribute all of our net profits evenly amongst our partner organizations. Once we’ve reached our commitment to our partners we’ll reassess and potentially add new ones. So, when you drink from our taps or eat from our kitchen, you’re helping us help others. Thanks for that. Seriously.

How flippin' awesome is that? I'd say pretty damn flippin' awesome. Out of the dozens of breweries in the Portland metro area, this is the only one that donates all of their profits to some amazing organizations. And these are real-time, important causes that need the help, like MercyCorps, an organization that is bringing relief to suffering Syrian refugees as - I - type - this.

It also helps that Ex Novo brews some solid beer, and the food in their brew pub is excellent. I previously reviewed the pub HERE, and I highly recommend you pay them a visit ASAP. Today, I was excited to find a bomber of Ex Novo brew in the cold case at QFC. I believe it set me back $5.99. Dynamic Duo is an imperial IPA brewed with Cascade and Amarillo hops. (I believe a previous version was brewed with Citra and Chinooks.) The label reported an ABV of 8.0% and 70 IBU's. I gotta say up front, Cascades are my favorite hops. I grow them in my yard every year and they make my taste buds do a happy dance in my mouth. Let's see how this brew does back there near my uvula...

The beer poured from bomber to pint glass a clear, golden amber color with a bright, white head. The head rose up to an inch high and quickly dissipated. A light ring was left around the glass, but no significant lacing was seen. 

Aroma was sweet caramel malt and a big snoot full of citrus hops. Orange and lemon. I didn't have to sneak up on this beer to get a whiff of those hops. It was right there when I picked up the pint. Yoink!

Taste followed the nose. Not what I would describe as dank at all. Flavors of orange and lemon citrus and a big, bitter hops pucker. This one gave my salivary glands a little sting. Nice! Pleasant, sweet, earthy malt taste remained after the bitter hops began to subside. Good hops/malt balance was achieved, despite the aggressive hoppiness.

Medium mouthfeel with surprising, lively carbonation. A moderate amount of pinpoint bubbles could be seen rising up the glass throughout the entire drink.

Overall, this is a damn delicious IIPA. Some IIPA's are just too overbearing. Thick and viscous. Dynamic Duo is an amazingly easy drink. Semi-dry finish but with some residual juiciness. Bitter hops and smooth malt flavors competed for attention on my palate at the end. I LOVE!

I enjoy a beer that makes me salivate and savor every sip. This version of Dynamic Duo works for me. Just excellent and I'm going to go back to the store for another bomber. I'm giving Dynamic Duo IIPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4. I love it. No Droolie, only because the Wonder Beagle is snoozing on Benadryl (she's sick with an ear infection), otherwise, she would probably attack me for a whiff of this brew!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Double Mountain Brewery - Homestead Pale Ale

The end of the trail?
Ah, ORE-A-GUN, what a wonderful state. You know, there's so much more to Oregon than Portland, my funky home base on the Willamette River. Portland always seems to get the most attention, as unwanted as it may be. Boatloads--wait, make that VOLVO loads--of Californians are moving here to Stumptown, much to the chagrin of everybody else who got here first. Lately, whenever I drive down the street, it seems like every other license plate is from the Golden State. My gawd, when will it end? I blame the beer, and I think we need a new city motto:

PORTLAND, come for the BEER, but stay for the...NO! DON'T STAY!

Hey, I'm only kidding. I myself am a transplant, originally from Nebraska then through SoCal. Of course, Portland wasn't considered chic and trendy when I moved here--just weird. The city is "evolving", like all metropolitan areas do, but I'm really going to miss the weird.

Still, Portland is an amazing craft beer city, and the beer scene just keeps getting better, but if you get out into some of the other parts of Oregon (hint, hint), you will find a healthy, thriving, craft beer culture AND some beautiful scenery. Let's look at the city of Hood River, for example. Hood River is home to an array of fantastic breweries for a city of its size. It's only a short drive through the pristine Columbia River Gorge from Portland. The drive itself is a treat and the beer at the end of the road makes the trip a must for any visitor to this corner of the Pacific Northwest.

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom is a craft beer destination that cannot be missed. The beer is top notch and the pizza is like the icing on the cake. So GOOD! I have yet to try a Double Mountain beer that I didn't love, or at least like. I'm always excited to find a new-to-me beer from Double Mountain in my local market cold case. Today, I spied a pint bottle of Homestead Northwest Pale Ale at New Seasons for $3.99. I ran off with it toward the checkout like a gleeful gnome. Let's see how it tastes, shall we...

The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, golden yellow color with a clumpy, creamy, white head. Quite a different looking pale ale. The head came up to an inch tall and dissipated at a moderate rate. Spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was tropical fruit and citrus hops. Sweet, earthy malt. Floral and herbal notes. Wow, Merry the Wonder Beagle went crazy over the smell of this beer. Four long, viscous tendrils of drool dripped least six inches from her muzzle. Just nasty, I know, but the dog only has that kind of reaction to the smell of a few select beers, and let's face it, her sniffer is far more powerful and perhaps even more discriminating than mine.

Taste followed the nose. Very IPA-like. Citrus hops with a dose of pine. Grapefruit and lemon. Tropical fruit flavors of pineapple and mango. Quite juicy.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Crisp, clean finish. Respectable hops bitterness left behind on the palate.

Overall, this is a unique variation on the familiar pale ale style, and an appropriate addition to Double Mountain's cold case line-up. It's different enough to be a standout, in my opinion, and I was quite pleasantly surprised. I'm giving Homestead Northwest Pale Ale a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 and a well-deserved Droolie.

Cascade Lakes Brewing Company - Hopsmack IPA

Let's talk some smack...
Know what I really like about craft beer? Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. You can spend 8 to 10 bucks for a six pack of craft beer and, more often than not, be completely satisfied with your purchase. Yeah, you paid a little more (but not that much more) than you would for a macro brew, but the difference in price is absolutely worth it.

Let's face it, most mega-corps are interested in only one thing: maximizing profits. If they can squeeze an extra penny by lowering standards, using cheaper ingredients or taking shortcuts, you bet your ass that's what they'll do. They answer to their shareholders, not consumers. In fact, you can see just how much contempt Big Beer has for discerning beer consumers from their most recent commercials. Jerks.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of always getting ripped off. My car got recalled. My new laptop arrived without a battery. My vet charged me hundreds of dollars for making my dog's illness worse. Damn! It's nice to get a little bit of value, even if only comes in a brown glass bottle, or a convenient aluminum can.

Today, I'm drinking a Hopsmack IPA from Cascade Lakes Brewing Company. A house guest brought over a six pack of this brew and left one in my fridge. Yes, there's one house guest who will always be welcome at Casa de Wolfgang, AKA The Shotgun Shack. Here's a tip, if you're visiting my house, arriving with a sixer of tasty, local craft beer will earn you the Seat of Honor--yes, the spot on the sofa where Merry the Wonder Beagle usually sleeps.

Hopsmack IPA poured into my glass a clear, orange/amber color with a foamy, white head. The head rose up to a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A thin cap and light, spotty lacing was left behind.

Aroma was orange, grapefruit and tangerine citrus up front. Tropical fruit in the mix. Loads of mango and pineapple. Sweet, caramel malt. Honey notes.

Taste provided a healthy, bitter hops zing from first sip and throughout the entire drink. Mildly dank pine and indistinct citrus. Spicy, herbal. Pleasant, appropriate, biscuity malt backbone. Easy drinker for me with no significant alcohol taste in this 6.4% ABV brew.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. A bit of a dry finish. I was left with bitter citrus hops and mellow malt flavors on my palate at the end. Nice!

Overall, Hopsmack IPA is a very tasty version of the classic PNW IPA. It certainly suits my taste buds just fine. My favorite EDD (Every Day Drink) is an IPA just like this one. Good work, Cascade Lakes!

Merry the Wonder Beagle is whining at me for a taste of it right now. Makes me feel bad for her, since the only taste she'll get is a drop off the end of my little finger. (Beer is not good for dogs. DON'T feed your dog beer.) I'm giving Hopsmack IPA a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie.