Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ninkasi Brewing Company - R&D Tripel Belgian-Style Tripel Ale

Tripel your pleasure, tripel
your fun...
When I want a Belgian tripel, my go-to is always St. Bernardus. It's virtually flawless. What a fantastic beer. It truly deserves to be sipped from a chalice. It's also not easy to find. And it's expensive. Wouldn't it be nice to have a tasty Belgian-style tripel in my supermarket's cold case at a price that is fairly reasonable? Yes, I think that would by very nice.

The other day, while I was perusing through the beer aisle at my local Green Zebra, I spied a bomber of Ninkasi Brewing Company's R&D Tripel. $8.99 for the 22 ounces. Not exactly cheap, but much less expensive than an actual Belgian tripel of the same size...

Major digression alert! Years ago I found 750ml bottles of Koenigshoeven Trappist beers--three varieties--at Big Lots for a dollar a bottle! I bought three cases. What a deal! Two bottles were flat when I opened them, but otherwise, they were perfect.

Could this locally brewed Belgian-style tripel ale be the answer to my prayers and beer budget woes? Let's Find out!

The beer poured into my St. Bernardus goblet a clear golden orange color with a bubbly white head. The head rose up to about a 1/2 inch tall and dissipated quickly. A thin cap and small ring of foam were left behind. Delicate lacing formed on the glass as I  sipped it down.

Aroma was spot-on Belgian tripel. Belgian yeast. Light grain. Somewhat bready. Banana and clove. Indistinct citrus. Over-ripe fruit--apple and pear. Floral notes. Lots of nice things going on in the nose.

Taste followed the nose. Sweet and fruity, but with a spicy hops bitterness. Not at all cloying. DANG! This beer comes really close. Probably the best Oregon brewed Belgian-style beer I've ever had.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Crisp finish with no hint of alcohol burn in this 9.2% ABV beer.

Overall, this is a wonderful beer! A legitimate representation of the style that I will purchase whenever I find it in the cold case. I'm giving R&D Tripel a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans but with one extra 1/2 can--for a perfect rating--because it's such a unique local find. Thanks, Ninkasi!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Zwickelmania Expands to Two Weekends


February 18th in Portland and February 25th throughout the state

Zwickelmania! Oregon breweries open their doors once again, for this annual February tradition. In 2017, Zwickelmania will take place over two weekends. In Portland, it will be on Presidents' Day weekend on 2/18/17. The rest of Oregon will be celebrating the following weekend on 2/25/17. Over 120 breweries throughout Oregon welcome beer enthusiasts for meet-the-brewer events, tours, and beer tastings.

Throughout Oregon’s beer regions including, but not limited to:
The Portland Metro Area, Central Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Gorge/Mt. Hood/ Columbia, Southern Oregon, the Coast and the Willamette Valley.
Visit for a regularly updated list of participating breweries and cities.

February 18, 2017 — Portland Metro Area
February 25, 2017 — Central Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Gorge/Mt. Hood/Columbia, Southern Oregon, the Coast and the Willamette Valley 
o Time: 11am – 4pm, both dates
For more information, head to, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #Zwickel17.

About The Oregon Brewers Guild
The Oregon Brewers Guild is Oregon’s non-profit trade association for the state’s independent breweries. The Guild, which receives no state funding, comprises 160 brewing companies, 125 associate or supplier members and nearly 4,000 enthusiast members or S.N.O.B.s (Supporters of Native Oregon Beer). For more information, see

About Zwickelmania
Zwickelmania, created by the Oregon Brewers Guild, celebrated its inaugural year in 2009. It takes its name from the zwickel, or sample port which mounts on the outside of fermentation or conditioning tanks and allows brewers to sample for quality assurance and control. Similarly, Zwickelmania offers a unique opportunity to taste beers where they were produced and interact with the brewers who created them.

Gigantic Brewing Company - Mons Meg Scotch Ale

This beer is a BLAST!
Sometimes my beerventures lead to learnin', especially if the lesson is conveniently printed on the label. Mons Meg is the loving moniker given to a famous piece of medieval artillery. It's a 20-inch caliber cannon that made it's home in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland for centuries. Man, that's a big gun, and Gigantic Brewing Company has named its heavy-hitting Scotch Ale Mons Meg as an appropriate tribute.

Mons Meg Scotch Ale comes with an ABV of 8%, according to the label--another artistically stylish Gigantic beer label, of course. The label also advises that this beer is:
"As powerful as its namesake medieval cannon, Mons Meg is brewed with rich Scottish Golden Promise malt. In true Highland fashion, we fire the kettles early for increased caramelization and depth of flavor resulting in a toasty strong Scotch Ale."
 Alrighty then! Let's give this beer a go! Will it be a blast, or a dud? I can't wait to find out!

The beer poured into my glass a dark mahogany with a reddish-amber hue when held up to the light. The off-white head rose up to a finger thick and dissipated quickly. A thin ring of foam and some spotty lace was left behind.

Aroma was roasted malt. Biscuit, toffee and caramel.

Taste followed the nose with a nice touch of hops bitterness. Toasted malt. Hints of toffee and butterscotch. No alcohol taste noted in this 8% ABV beer.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Smooth finish. Robust, earthy malt and hops flavors left on the palate at the end.

Overall, this is great beer with plenty of flavor. A nice change up from the Imperial IPA's that typically deliver this kind of punch. I'm giving Mons Meg Scotch Ale a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4 AND a Droolie. It should actually be a GROWLIE. Merry the Wonder Beagle was vocally harassing me for a whiff of this beer.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Baerlic Brewing Company - Dark Thoughts Black IPA

It's satanically delicious...
It's another snow day here in Portland, OR. It doesn't snow very often in Stumptown, but when it does, the whole freaking city shuts down. Heck, we only have one snow plow and the denizens of this chintzy burg are some of the worst drivers in the nation. Thus, when the white stuff comes gently floating down from the sky in Portland, it's best to just stay indoors. Gratefully, I have a truckload of tasty craft beer in my fridge. If I had to--absolutely had to--I could jump on a city bus and visit any number of fantastic craft breweries along the route. If they stay open, that is to say, but happily, I'm snug and cozy here at the Shotgun Shack.

Baerlic Brewing is one of the breweries that I can easliy get to by hopping on the 70 bus. It drops me off about a 1/2 block away from their awesome taproom. If you haven't been there, son, then put it on your list! 

Today, I'm drinking a bomber of Baerlic's Dark Thoughts Black IPA. This devilish brew was just released and I do believe I was the first person in the taproom to pick one up yesterday. This Black IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA), comes with a 6.66% ABV and 66.6% IBU's. See what they did there? With that pentagram adorning the label, this stuff probably isn't going to appeal to the Moral Majority folks, but they all drink Hamm's or holy water or something, so they don't concern me. How's the beer? Hey, it's awesome!

Dark Thoughts poured into my glass a deep, dark brownish black color with a creamy, clumpy tan head. The head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A full, thin cap of foam was left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops, tangerine, and grapefruit, with hints of pine and roasted malt in the background.

Taste was a pleasant surprise. If you blindfolded me, I would identify this beer as a straight-up IPA. That's not a complaint. It's a darn tasty IPA. Loads of bitter hops deliciousness. Citrus and pine. The winning note is a subtle, robust, earthy malt flavor. Just a hint of cocoa nibs. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Smooth finish with the hops and malt flavors taking turns for attention on the palate after each sip.

Overall, this is probably my most favorite example of the style to date, whether you call it a CDA or a Black IPA. Excellent beer, Maynard, and you should go pick one or two up for yourself. Word to the wise: take the bus.

I'm giving Dark Thoughts a BeerGuyPDX ratng of 4 crushed can out of 4.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Baerlic Brewing to Release Dark Thoughts Black IPA Bombers

22oz Bottles & Draft
PORTLAND, OREGON - Baerlic Brewing Co. releases the newest beer in their seasonal line-up, Dark Thoughts Black IPA.
  • Thursday, January 5th
  • 4pm
  • Baerlic Brewery & Taproom2235 SE 11th Ave. Portland, OR 97214
To possess Dark Thoughts with the precise amount of pure evil, we cold steep the hell out of roasted wheat for 24-36 hours. By utilizing this slow and torturous process, we’re able to extract the rich chocolate, sweet and fruity flavor compounds while leaving behind the harsh and tannic flavors of the roasted malt—think of rich cold-brewed coffee vs. that of the heartburn-inducing gas station variety.
Dark Thoughts Flavor Profile
    6.66% ABV
    66.6 IBU
    Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale brewed w/ Cold-Steeped Roasted Wheat
    Dryhopped with .666 lbs per barrel each of Columbus & Mosaic Hops
    Pairs devilishly well with upside-down starfruit, leg of lamb and bloodwurst sausage
A classic IPA possessed with a maniacal evil, Dark Thoughts Black IPA is brewed with cold-steeped roasted malts for an eerily smooth darkness and dryhopped with 6.66 lbs each of pungent Columbus & Mosaic hops.
Style History
Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ales are an attempt to marry the dank, citrus and pine characteristics of a classic Northwest IPA with the flavors, aromas and colors of dark roasted malts. With a controversial and sordid history, CDAs are thought to have been first brewed in the Pacific NW, specifically in the area from BC, Canada to Northern California—known as the Republic of Cascadia. They are more commonly referred to as black IPA. 
Currently Available in 22oz bottles and draft in our taproom in SE Portland and at area retailers, bars and bottleshops. Ask for it at your favorite watering hole!