Friday, December 20, 2013

Base Camp Brewing Company - In-2-Tents Double Wet Hop Imperial IPL

Brewery: Base Camp Brewing Company
Beer:  In-2-Tents Double Wet Hop Imperial IPL
Style: Imperial India Pale Lager
ABV: 7.7%

Basecamp brewing had no information on this beer on their website, perhaps because it is part of a new "small batch" series as indicated by the bottle... can... whatever.  After some digging I found some website claiming it uses both Centennial and Meridian hops.  In what order, and which was wet hopped is a mystery. The bottle also indicates you should "Soak in a mountain river.
Chill in the snow. Cool off in a lake. Refrigerate if you have to." Kind of a cool marketing campaign for such an outdoorsy beer company.  The 22 oz. bottle is made of aluminum so you can take it hiking or camping or whatever other outdoor activity you like.

I miss my plastic bag

A:  The first thing I notice about this beer when poured into my "micro-weizen" glass is the beautiful cream colored and densely frothy head.  Unfortunately it is gone before I can even snap a picture of it. Once I pick myself up off the floor and recompose after the loss of something so beautiful I start to move down the bodacious curves of the glass.  I finally begin to admire the attractive, lightly hazy, deep orange colored beer.  When swirled a small cascade of tiny bubbles fall like snow against the glass, returning to the beer leaving behind only minimal lacing.

S: A sweet, malty aroma with with a very present backbone of grapefruit and pine. From memory similar to the non-imperial version of this beer but with a more malty profile.  

T: The first taste is overwhelming with vegetal wet hop flavor, in a bad way.  I let the beer sit there and think about how it wants to greet me for a second and then try again.  This time much more pleasant.  You can definitely observe the wet hop character but once the initial shock is over it is quite pleasant.

M:  A medium mouth feel with a creamy body and light carbonation.  Very easy to drink while not feeling like a light beer.

O: Overall a great beer, the standard In-Tents IPL is a fantastic beer and this is a similar but improved version of it.  The additional alcohol is not noticeable enough to comment on although I think this has a lot more malt character than the standard.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout Review

Brewery: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Beer: Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.3%          IBU: 70

Part of the Brothers Reserve series, this beer was a gift from a friend.  I Poured  into a pint glass and immediately realized that I need to have some better glassware if I am going to start doing reviews.  This beer had a dark brown foamy head on top of the incredibly dark brown beer.  Not black but you wouldn't be able to tell unless held up to a light.  The smell is roasted chocolate and raspberry that favors the raspberry as the beer level goes down.  A sweet and upfront chocolate flavor with a background of raspberry is pleasant although not incredibly complex.  This beer has a light to moderate alcohol flavor its not a major detractor but it is definitely present, as you would expect with a 9.3% beer.  The longer I drank this beer the more that the raspberry was present in both aroma and flavor. A full bodied beer with a bit of alcohol burn, again not overbearing but it is present.  Overall a pretty good beer I would probably not drink it again but only because I know the Brothers Reserve beers are around $10 for a 22 oz bottle.

As you can see I am going to start to review beers on the site whenever I have new, unique, rare... to be honest I'll probably just end up doing them when I have time and I remember.  If you have any suggestions on the format or content please leave a comment below.

Monday, December 9, 2013

18th Annual Holiday Ale Festival 2013 Day 2

Holiday Ale Fest Mug
Another Holiday Mug
Day two of the Holiday Ale Fest I was joined by my wife and some friends to amplify the merriment.  We took the MAX down again and jumped right off racing for the line since there were many other plastic beer mugs in our fellow MAX patron's hands.  We got to the door just in time because the line was non existent but as we walked in a horde of people began piling up behind us.  Another frigid day so it was pretty miserable to even be waiting outside in the line while they checked our wristbands.

Slanted Rock Brewing Co. - Pantyhose Porter - Imperial Baltic Porter - 8.4% - 28 IBU - C+
The frothy burnt orange head sitting on this black beer is probably the most amazing thing about this beer. The frothy foam is a very unique color and gets you interested in the beer if for no other reason than how it looks.  The smell is light with molasses and toffee and even subtler undertones of brown sugar and vanilla. The first drinks leaves a shockingly full bodied and sweet chocolate flavor in your mouth, but finishes slightly chalky.

Crux Fermentation Project - Oud Freakcake - Oud Bruin/Flanders Style - 10.5% - 35 IBU - C
This clear dark copper colored beer had a moderate cookie aroma from the malt and a light vinegar scent as well as a little grape.  The taste was lightly sour with a little more sweet characteristic than the smell would lead you to think.  The body of this beer was light with an above average carbonation level.  This beer also had a noticeable alcohol flavor to it but surprisingly not as much as the 10.5% should have given it.  Definitely a holiday ale, not super spiced but it just said Christmas beer to me.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers - Erotic Cake - Chocolate Milk Stout - 6.8% - 20 IBU - C+
An average creamy head which was saying a lot for this festival. Sitting in pitchers and being poured into mugs does not always facilitate the best head for a beer.  This beer looked extremely thick, motor oil thick and extremely black.  The aroma coming off the top was that of Coffee and chocolate, exactly what the color makes you think it smells like. The taste was very strong coffee but lighter on the chocolate. a medium body was not what I was expecting from this beer though, much thinner than it looks.  Overall this beer was neither cake-like or erotic, it was OK though.

Old Town Brewing Co. - Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum - Rum Barrel Aged Old Ale - 7.5% - 30 IBU - C
This dark copper colored beer with an average fizzy head was very opaque.  A light caramel aroma rose from the beer that prepared you for the similar flavor when drank.  The texture was thick and fizzy, it may have been because I've been drinking so many dark beers but it seemed light.  There was nothing really wrong with this beer I was just not crazy about it.

I carefully chose all my beers the day before and did a lot of research to make sure I got the ones I wanted to try. Today however, I kind of was just following my friends around and drinking what seemed interesting in the vicinity.  To this point it had not proved very enjoyable and I was starting to get disparaged because I haven't really liked anything yet today.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. - Hairy Eyeball (2011) - American Strong Ale - 9.0% - B-
A beer I have been wanting to try for some time, this seasonal release from Laguintas is an annual tradition, apparently running out of their cappuccino stout this 2 year old beer was a welcome substitute.  A foamy head topped this hazy brown ale.  The malt profile gave an aroma that  hinted at cookie molasses and caramel and then threw in some light pear after a couple whiffs.  It smelled about what it tasted like with a medium body and soft carbonation, I don't know what I was expecting from this beer but it did not deliver it. I liked it but it was just not the beer that I was expecting.

Collaborator - Collaborator Hallucinator Blend - Specialty Blend - 7.7% - 31 IBU - C
Light foamy bubbles circled the perimeter of this clear copper beer in the mug, releasing the pleasant molasses and caramel aroma.  Cherry and vanilla also came through once you took a drink of the medium bodies beer.  The beer was sweet, a little too sweet for my pallet at this point.

Widmer Brothers Brewing - Biere De Noel - Biere de Garde - 9.5% - 41 IBU - A-
Like almost every other beer at the fest a light diminishing head topped this beer.  I look at this light brown ale and prepared myself for another bouquet of molasses and caramel.  To my surprise this was not what I found at all.  An incredible citrus and grapefruit nose-splosion greeted me and I have make sure I'm still drinking the same beer.  The taste was incredible I can only assume this is heavily dry hopped with Citra or some other citrus hop.  A medium body  with average carbonation and a very smooth finish.  Aggressively aromatic and incredibly well balanced with the malt profile.  Best beer I tasted the whole day, not what I was expecting from Widmer Brothers, but a welcome and pleasant surprise.

Deschutes Brewery - Sage Pumpkin - Pumpkin Ale - 7.5% - 24 IBU - B+
This beer took a couple tickets and was not available the day before.  The Deschutes website said that this is a "pub exclusive" so in leiu of driving to Bend I tried it.  This beer was a very clear light amber with a moderate herbal pumpkin aroma, a hint of cherry was also detectable.  A medium body finished smooth and pleasant.  I could pick up the sage but it was not overbearing, it kind of tasted similar to my pumpkin saison. A pretty good beer all around like any other pumpkin beer great for one but not to drink all night.

We left to go see my friend Jim's Dad in a local bar and I ordered a seasonal beer so I thought, screw it I'll continue my reviews.

Double Mountain Brewery - Fa La La La La - Winter Ale - 7.5 - 85 IBU - B
Finally I get to a bar where they will be pouring a beer from a draft into a real glass I got small but lasting head on the beer which was nice.  A very lightly cloudy amber beer that smelled of bread and caramel from the malt bill and pine with a hint of celery when agitated from the hops.  It was moderately sweet and lightly bitter with a medium body.  This was a good finish to a day of drinking nice smooth caramel-y beer almost like an amber.

This years Holiday Ale Festival was substantially more fun than years past.  I think this was because there was substantially fewer people than years past.  This had two great benefits shorter lines and there was no overbearing claustrophobia that the crowded atmosphere inspires.  I think this may have been caused by the below freezing temperatures and the fear of waiting in a line that wraps around three sides of the block for up to an hour.  Whatever was the reason the effect was very welcome, I only hope the weather is this miserable every year.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

18th Annual Holiday Ale Festival 2013 Day 1

On Friday I went down to the Holiday Ale Fest to try this year’s selection of yuletide ales.  After being released from work a little early I took the MAX with a co-worker down to Pioneer Square, all bundled up and prepared for the hour long wait to get in.  It was especially cold this day and I was prepared for the worst case scenario.  After getting off the max though I was amazed to see no line at all, we just kept walking to the entrance to expecting to see hoards of shivering patrons, but none were to be found.   
After walking in I got my cup and tickets I found out that the cups where the standard plastic mugs from years past. This year there is a map of the various locations inside the tent which was nice.  I was a little disappointed that they did not decide to go the route of the Oregon Brewers Festival and use glassware but I understand why.  If a glass drops on the grass and dirt of Tom McCall Park it will probably be ok, but on the brick floor of Pioneer Square, there is little chance of survival. 
10 Barrel Brewing Co – Beernog – Spiced Winter Ale – 7.5% – 28 IBU –
This beer has an average, but quickly diminishing, deep chestnut head.  The aroma that comes off is boastful with the raisin and chocolate and hiding a hint of spice.  The first drink transfers the raisin aroma onto your tongue and the chocolate is not far behind.  The medium body leaves either a hot alcohol or slightly gritty, metallic feeling that stays with you.  Overall the beer was very drinkable and pleasant, in spite of the less than amazing finish.

Cascade Brewing – Cherry Diesel – Barrel Aged Imperial Stout – 11% – 50 IBU – A 
A great name for a great beer, a black muddy beer with a sparse dark head smells almost like a barley wine on first approach.  Upon closer inspection hints of molasses, raisin and chocolate come through with a backbone of bourbon to justifying its heavy alcohol aroma.  Upon the first sip you are engulfed in the chocolate and cherry flavors that are followed up by slight vanilla on exhalation.  This full bodied behemoth is thick but effervescent.  Stylistically it may be a little too lively with the carbonation but this does not detract from the beer in the least, only enhancing the chocolate and cherry.  This liquid cherry cordial lasted me a long time it was very easy to savor.  A desert beer definitely, and one I would choose over any chocolate cake.

I was about to go grab my next beer and low and behold who did I see?  Not one, but two Santa Clauses.  Of course I had to get a picture with the old saints, they both seemed pretty busy and didn't regale me with a story of lying to Mrs. Claus in order to get out of the North Pole like in previous years.  Just time for a photo op then back to the drinking, which I can respect. To be fair these guys were kind of phoning it in with the Santa outfit. Previous years Santa had a real beard and a real back-story for his costume.

Alameda Brewing Co. – Long Beard’s Baltic Porter – 6.4% – 30 IBU – C+
A sparse and fleeting head was on top of this surprisingly see-through black beer.  One whiff and the chocolate and lightly smoked and burnt aroma beg you to take a drink.  When you concede the result is a pretty standard porter with a hint of smoke and a bit of alcohol burn.  The medium mouth-feel was surprisingly light for such a dark beer.  I consumed this beer rather quickly I don’t know if that was because it wasn’t my favorite or what but it did leave a toasty aftertaste for you to remember it by.

Base Camp Brewing Co. – White Squall – Wheat Wine – 10.7% – 60 IBU – B-
This light amber beer monster of a beer had a floral and spicy, light clove, smell without the detectible alcohol aroma you would expect from such a big beer.  The flavor was definitely showcasing the malty wheat flavor.  A light body and above average carbonation gave this beer a unique perspective on a traditional barley wine.  It almost tasted like a darker beer but I couldn’t quite pinpoint why it gave me that impression.

Deschutes Brewery – The Abyss (2009) – Imperial Stout – 11% – A
A nice surprise I discovered while exploring the Holiday Ale Fest was The Abyss Vertical booth.  They were pouring vintages of The Abyss from 2009-20012, although these cost 2 tickets for a taster pour I decided I would try it. An excellent head topped this murky black beer deserving of its name.  The bouquet that was erupting from the top of my glass was that of all things dark, toasted, coffee, roasted, toffee.  Upon drinking you can almost feel the oak barrels that this was aged in and a light raisin flavor gives pops in to say hello.  A fully developed thick creamy body with soft carbonation finishes smooth and makes you understand why it was worth the two tickets.  This is all-around great stout and beer.  I only wish I could have had 24 tickets to spare so I could have tried full glasses of each vintage next to each other, but alas I must move on.  
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – Luponic Merlin – Oatmeal Stout – 5.5% – 30 IBU - A+
This dark black ale gave off light toasted chocolatey, hidden behind the belligerent citrus and grapefruit aroma.  A thick full bodied beer with a smooth finish immediately jumped up to the top of my favorite stouts ever list.  The very aggressive and up front hop aroma balances well with the roasted flavor of the stout.  I would like to make a clone of this beer.  I think this is probably Velvet Merlin dry hopped with a load of Citra to give it that characteristic hop nose.

Stickmen Brewery – The Twerking Elf – Northwest Sour Brown – 7.2% – 21 IBU – B+
I actually decided to try this beer on the warning that it "tasted like shit" from a girl that I can only assumed was drawn to the name more than the description.  A sparse but lasting head covered this dark brown ale that gave off a slight sour peach aroma mixed with some acetic acid.  The mild vinegar fragrance was not strong enough to burn your nose but it was enough to let you know it's presence. Having a medium body this was a pretty good sour beer.  

While walking to get my next beer I found this fellow who was wearing a pretty sweet sweatshirt.  Fake ugly Christmas sweater vest printed on a sweatshirt.  He had a British accent and said he got it from Macy's so I don't think he was just another Portland hipster but who knows, the accent could have been ironic.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. – High West Whiskey Barrel Aged Cappuccino Stout – Stout – 12.5% – 30 IBU – B
With an eighth of an inch of lasting dark creamy head this black beer gave off a light toffee and raisin aroma with a hint of brown sugar hiding behind the bold whiskey smell.  When you try this cappuccino stout you can pick up the coffee flavor but it is the whiskey barrel taste is much more present. A fully developed thick and creamy body that finishes smooth makes this beer very pleasant to drink .

Ryan                         Me                              Jachin
When going to grab my final beer of the night I felt a tug on my scarf from the side.  I looked over and saw two gentlemen spouting gibberish at me.  After talking with them for a while I found out that they thought I was someone else and the gibberish was nicknames of houses in Corvallis.  The color of my scarf, I can only assume, led them to believe I was a Beaver fan.  I found out their names were Ryan and Jachin, who were brothers and had attended OSU.  We started talking about majors and I found out Ryan was a biology major and I told him I was an engineer.   Jachin quickly began the "ahhhh NEEEERD" and then he asked if he could be my butler because he apparently thought engineers make "Butler Money".  I decided to get a picture because I was drunk and thought it would be a funny anecdote.  As we were taking the picture a girl walked by and Jachin asked if she would be in the picture, using the photo op to hit on her.  She took a couple pictures and informed him she was married.  This was obviously not satisfactory to Jachin because he promptly kicked her out of the picture and she moved on.

Elysian Brewing Co. – Doom – Golden Treacle Pale – 7.4% – 67 IBU – B
This beer had little in the way of head, like most beers here being poured from pitchers instead of direct from the tap. The light amber color was a nice break from all of the dark ales that have consumed the festival.  With a smell of caramel citrus and grapefruit you could detect a light pear aroma hiding somewhere.  A light body with a creamy texture and a soft carbonation this beer was very different from most other offerings at the festival.  Overall a pretty good bear definitely a nice beer to finish up with.

Closing thoughts:
I love beer fests, these are my people; drunk and friendly I can talk to anyone about beer and make recommendations to complete strangers and, for the most part, they know what I am talking about.  I had a really pleasant time at the Holiday Ale Festival this year.  The weather outside was frightful, but the beer was so delightful.

Stay Tuned for Day 2 of Holiday Ale Fest 2013.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lompoc Brewing 2013 Holiday Beer Tasting

     This Monday I attended the Lompoc holiday beer tasting, where this year's seasonal beers could be sampled.  The tasting was located at the Side bar which is next to Lompoc's 5th quadrant bar / brewery.  Since I was coming from Hillsboro I did not have time to eat after work.  I arrived a little early and had a happy hour burger and fries that was an amazing way to spend five bucks and keep myself from getting too drunk off samplers.

While waiting for the tasting to start we were offered a "welcome beer" that was released the week before called Entropy Cream Ale.  This clear honey colored beer has a weaker but pleasant aroma that transitions into a smooth caramel taste.  After the first drink you can feel the silky smooth body with a warm finish.  An overall very drinkable beer .

After a while the owner Jerry Fechter came up and introduced the brewers Bryan Keilty, Irena Bierzynski, and Grant Golden and talked a little bit about the brewery.  Over the night each one would introduce and talk about a couple of the beers to be sampled.  I found out that Lompoc was co-founded by Fechter and Portland's most famous publican, the late Don Younger, whose painting adorns the wall above the rustic fireplace at the back of the room.

Cherry Christmas (2013)  | Specialty Blend | ~5%
A beer was brewed under this name a couple years ago and liked the name so they kept it but changed the recipe according to Fechter. This slightly hazy golden colored ale smells of cherries.  Upon the first sip you can taste the 200 pounds of pie cherries used to give it the unique mild sour taste followed by a hint of apricot.  The body of this beer was light and smooth making a very drinkable beer that even sour beer haters could appreciate.  Jerry Fechter explained that wine totes were used to brew this beer since they have a large top hole making them easy to get the fruit and beer in and out once tri-clamps and racking arms are installed.

Jolly Bock | Lager | 7.3%
A darker amber beer with a slight haze gives off a sweet, malty aroma you would expect from a bock.  When drank this full bodied beverage greets you with an assertive and spicy roasted flavor whose presence remains after the beer is gone.

Brewdolph | Belgian Style Red | 7.7%
The glass I received had little to no visible head which was ok as it allowed the distinctive burnt orange color to be easily viewed.  The aroma given out was a bold, cloved and mildly yeasty smell.  This beer finishes sweet and malty upfront but has clean almost a minty undertone after swallowed.  Not in your face Belgian anywhere but definitely style appropriate.

Holiday Cheer | Robust Vanilla Porter | 6.8%
This dark chocolate colored beer was originally introduced in the early 2000's for the Holiday Ale Festival , like most of their holiday beers.  The aroma hints at undertones of vanilla not overwhelming or in your face but noticeable over the dark roasted aroma.  The body is much lighter than I was expecting for how dark it is.  Someone said that it was flavored with 10 oz. of vanilla bean which seemed low unless it was in a barrel but maybe I misheard and they said lbs.  The burnt roasted, vanilla and chocolate flavors all merge together seamlessly to a very drinkable beer without one flavor hogging the spotlight.

C-Sons Greetings | Imperial IPA | 8%
One of two holiday beers available in bottles this year, and my personal favorite.  A lightly clouded golden beer with a few bubbles stayed from the pour but had little head retention in my snifter.  A bold citrus aroma punches you in the face served up by all seven varieties of C-hops.  Drinking this beer was a real treat. The citrus hop aroma that punched you in the nose, apologizes by hugging your tongue with its soft grapefruit embrace and does not let go until long after it has been swallowed.  The medium to light body holds your attention long enough to beg for another sip of this hop love fest.  As far as drinkability, I would begin a C-Sons Greeting based subsistence lifestyle, if it wouldn't leave me perpetually drunk, fat and unemployed making it difficult to buy more.
Old Tavern Rat

Old Tavern Rat | Barley Wine | 9.4%
Named after Don Younger this clear copper colored beer has a sweet caramel nose.  The flavor is not what I typically expect from a barley wine.  Without the hot alcoholic taste, the sweet, toasted flavor and full malty body make this a very drinkable barley wine.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat | Barley Wine | 9.7%
I was going to write my notes from this beer but Lompoc's description says the same thing but much more eloquently and with more history.
"Originally brewed in December 2011, this dark amber colored barleywine was aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for 22 months, then cellared for an additional two. It boasts a soft oak character with raisin and fig notes. 9.7% ABV"
What it doesn't tell you is that this beer is considerably darker than its non aged counterpart  and also it has a audacious bourbon aroma and flavor.   This beer is for bourbon fans.  The strong presence of bourbon is there from the time you smell it until after you have drank it leaving you with the aftertaste of a bourbon shot but without the associated burning. The beer portion of this beverage has a sweet flavor  almost molasses or brown sugar with a creamy mouth feel that finishes delicately with a mild sweetness.

*Revelry Red Ale | Specialty blend for 2013 Holiday Ale Festival | 8%
This beer has an asterisk because this is a work in progress for Lompoc.  The final beer that will be released for the Holiday Ale Festival is going to be aged more as well as blended more.  I feel like my review for this is kind of moot since the people in this room are the only ones who will ever taste that rendition of this beer outside of the brewery.  The breweries description sounds delightful though:
"This custom blend takes our Big Bang Red aged in Big Bottom Whiskey barrels with 80 pounds of sour cherries for nine months, and blends it with Big Bang Red aged in Maryhill Winery Port barrels for 11 months. The resulting beer is crimson in color, malty in body with notes of cherry and oak, and finishes slightly tart."
I was not exactly clear on which beer this one was because the volume level in the small Side Bar had reached boisterous levels during the explanation.  A reddish color smelled of cherries with notes of other dark fruit.  After a sip you are confronted by the 80 lbs of cherries.  This beer is cherry like that's its job (not exactly sure what that means but I wrote it down) The aftertaste loses some of its pleasant cherry appeal and you get some bitterness.  Its not quite a kreik, more like the son of kreik whose father is disappointed that he "can't just be more like I am?"  The silky mouth feel has a slightly astringent feel to it, astringent may be a little harsh, although it's not just tartness.

This was a really fun event, I got to taste a lot of great beers that, to my surprise, were all very drinkable.  So often Christmas beers are over-spiced or overdone in some way, making you thankful Christmas only comes once a year.  However, this is not the case with Lompoc's holiday ale releases for 2013,  I would be able to drink multiple pints of any of their seasonal selection this year.  Look for Old Tavern Rat and C-Sons Greetings in stores and the rest in their various pubs around town starting December 3rd.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

26th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival 2013 Day 2

Day two of beer fest I had to go to work in the morning, but we got to take the max to the beerfest at 2. I got down there around 3:30 and I remembered why I take Thursday off to go to the beer fest. The lines were much longer than on Thursday, and there was a lot of dust in the air from the stomped grass, overall a less enjoyable experience. I started off at the north tent trying to get all the beers checked off the list. I had a pretty good idea that I wasn't going to be able to get them all with the lines here.

Old Market Pub & Brewery - Dilution of Grandeur - Mixed Berry Belgian Lambic - 8.1 B+ This beer has a Reddish pink color with a pleasant fruity aroma.  The first drink I liked this beer, The sour dark berry flavor comes through pretty strong and then finishes light and crisp.  A very drinkable beer, maybe one of the most drinkable sours.  Not a super sour beer like something really heavily inocculated with pedio or lacto from Cascade Brewing but just enough to get a tart flavor.

Boundary Bay Brewery - Double Dry-Hopped Bravo Pale Ale - Single Hop Pale Ale - 5.5 A A golden ale with very generous dry hop aroma.  The taste from was an amazing crisp grapefruit backed by a light to medium mouthfeel.  A very drinkable awesome beer.

Lompoc Brewing - EleventyOne CDA - Cascadian Dark Ale - 6.6 B+ A very dark beer that can be seen through if held up to the light.  The toasted roasty aroma that is followed up by a hoppy and dark roasted flavor that was very drinkable.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. - Eye of the Thaiger - Thai Lager - 5.2 Super clear straw colored beer has a lightly spiced nose.  Some spiced taste that I could not distinguish, maybe sage or ginger. I probably wouldn't want to drink more than a full beer of this.

Seven Brides Brewing - Frankenlou’s IPA - IPA - 7.0 C Dark copper in color with a musky almost moldy aroma.  This was bitter and not really in a good way, an unpleasant aftertaste.  This medium bodied beer was really not drinkable.

McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse - Silvercone IPL - India Pale Lager - 6.5 B A golden beer, what I would call the definition of golden, has a very piney aroma and then followed up by a pleasant pine flavor and a clean finishing aftertaste.  A medium to light body beer.  This was a very good drinkable beer no unpleasant lingering aftertaste.

We went to go hang out at the north end of the brewfest where there was not so many people.  I'm glad that I did because I was able to witness this sight.  While looking for an open space we saw an ample man lying on the ground.  This guy was a real treat. When we first walked by him he was sitting up with his kilt just hanging out talking with some friends.  He caught my attention because he has an amazing handlebar mustache.  He must have been tired because he had to lay down and take a little nap.  When he was laying down his belly forced his shirt up to reveal a very large gut and what amounted to a sizable hand cannon in a holster tucked into his kilt.  After he had laid there for a bit his legs must have got restless because he decided to lift one of his knees up to reveal what appeared to be the ass crack equivalent of a handlebar mustache.  We hung out here for a while and then decided to go get some more beer.

Boulder Beer Co - Pump up the Jam - Fruit Beer - 5.2 C+ This cloudy tan beer had a minty slightly licorice aroma, Whitney said that it smelled like Jaegermeister.  The taste was like a light red berry and was thin it needed a lot more body.  It was technically drinkable and not filling at all but not a great beer.

Rogue Brewery - Beard Beer - Belgian-Golden - 5.6 C- This clear blonde ale has a light fruit and spice smell that transitions into a clovey taste when drank. A light bodied beer that i could probably drink but I'm not a big Belgian fan.

Ballast Point Brewing Co. - Sculpin IPA - American-Style India Pale Ale - 6.6 A I've had this beer before but it was last call and i didn't want to get a beer that I didn't like for the last one and I only had 4 tokens left and the taps were about to close.  A clear golden beer with a piney aroma and flavor is spectacular.  This is a medium bodied beer is just a real pleasure to drink.  This was a great final beer to have it made the night finish on a good note.

Friday, July 26, 2013

26th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival 2013 Day 1

After several years covering the OBF, my credentials have finally been recognized and I was officially recognized as a member of the press.  This came with several perks one of which was a free glass and a few tokens the other more important one to me was a full excel file with the descriptions of all the beers that could be modified.  This made creating this post so much easier because I could copy and paste the beer names, brewery, ABV, style, etc. into a word doc.  This saved me a lot of time because I didn't have to check for spelling and manually type all of the information in.

     Also it gave me an advanced look at all the beers and let me make an attack plan for what I wanted to try this year.  The biggest problem I found over the last few years in attendance is that I can never find what I want when I want it, and I usually end up going to the beer with the shortest line. My friend Evan came up to the OBF for a wedding this year and we decided to pick what beers we wanted to try in a Google doc (Engineering Nerds).  We each rated how badly we wanted to try a beer 1-3, averaged our scores and then based on the averaged score we determined a threshold for what beers we were going to try.   I took the beer list and highlighted all the ones I wanted to try and added a star for the beers rated 3, and a dash for the beers rated 2.5 after averaging.  This document shall be referred to a "The Attack Plan" henceforth.
     When we got to the event we were wearing pretzel necklaces Whitney had made that morning and we were informed of a new trending hashtag on twitter was #BYOPN.  Social media has really taken drinking paraphernalia to another level.  I did get asked several times where I got my necklace and how much it was.  Enterpenurs here is your chance to really cash in on a burgeoning market.

Bayern Brewing - Kaiser Pilsener - Imperial Pilsener Lager - 5.5 C I dont really like pilsners that much but it was OK for a pilsner. They always taste astringent to me but I think that must be part of the style.

Drake's Brewing Co. - 1500 Pale Ale - American Extra Pale Ale - 5.5 A- Super simcoe hoppy, more of an IPA than a pale ale

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom - ClusterF#ck Single-Hop IPA - Single Hop IPA - 7.3 I wanted to like this beer a lot just for the name but it was... OK.

Epic Brewing Co. - Hop Syndrome Lager - Dry-Hopped American Premium Lager - 4.6 C+ Dank hop flavor not a great aftertaste very light color and mouth-feel.

Worst member of the press ever...  I have gone through 4 beers and before I realized that I was not using my typical analysis of Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouth-feel, and Drinkability. A real rookie mistake from now on my reviews will be more in depth and useful.  I also realized that my phone battery was going to die very fast if I kept using it to write down my reviews so I switched to paper and pen.  It wasn't easy because I have terrible hand writing and no pen or paper.  So I used the back of my press kit paper and the back of the attack plan.  I found out they had pens at the token counters after searching for like 20 minutes.

Terminal Gravity Brewing - Tap Out - Craft Malt Liquor - 10.0 B+ This light copper beer had a really sweet nose to match the sweet flavor complimenting the residual sweetness left after you finished the drink.  This however did not taste like a 10.0% beer very drinkable.. I could drink a lot of these if it wouldn't put me into a coma.

Great Divide Brewing Co. - Colette Farmhouse Saison - Farmhouse Style Saison - 7.3 B- A light, slightly cloudy beer that was heavily cloved aroma and extreme spiced aftertaste had a medium body.  I'm not a huge fan of saisons but this was pretty drinkable.

Heathen Brewing - Transgression IPA - West Coast IPA - 7.5 A-  A light amber beer with a sweet and hoppy aroma.  The resiny taste is an assault up front and then it stays with you long after you have finished your beer.  Full mou.... WHOA LINGERING RESIN! I couldn't get over how much this beer kept the, I'm assuming Simcoe, resin flavor in your mouth.  I wrote down notes and finished my beer and was in line for the next one, and when back and wrote "RESIN X 100" on the paper.  It had a thick full bodied mouth-feel.

Maui Brewing Co. - Lemongrass Saison - Belgian Inspired Saison - 5.0 C This cloudy straw beer with very light the aroma was typical for a saison featuring a heavy clove aroma, no noticeable aroma of lemongrass.  The taste was about what I expected heavy clove flavor that stays with you.  It was about an average saison no lemongrass anywhere in this beer.

Boneyard Beer - Bone-A-Fide Pale Ale - Pale Ale - 5.6 A A golden to light copper beer with heavy pine aromas is very pleasant when you first smell it.  The flavor was dank/resiny and very drinkable but not overpowering.  A medium mouthfeel very drinkable best beer I had had all day at this point.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers - Tallulah - Extra Pale Ale - 5.6 A- Golden beer, extremely clear the aroma was sweet like molasses I think this may be from the new hot hop they are using called Calypso.  The taste was extremely unexpected almost like a CDA. Noticeable chocolate notes with a medium to light body.  I could definitely drink a few of these but not all night.  A great beer.

Hale's Ales Brewery - Hale’s 30th Anniversary Double Pale Ale - Double Pale Ale - 8.0 B A dark golden ale with resiny aroma.  I think I may just be convincing myself everything I drink is Simcoe at this point.  Its a great smelling beer though.  The taste was that of a lingering resin I wrote "Great Taste" but apparently only thought it worthy of a B.  I may have to go back and try it again.  Fully to medium mouthfeel not as drinkable as I was hoping in spite of up front hop flavor the lingering resin does this beer no favors.
Portland Police Department:
 Serving and Protecting the Drunks

GoodLife Brewing Co. - Evil Sister - Imperial Pacific Ale - 8.0 C+ A light amber beer with a a slightly sweet nose, not very noticeable though.  The taste was sweet with a a hot flavor that doesn't stay to long.  It was unique and not something i was able to identify. Very thick and syrupy for an IPA (Im assuming thats the style) I couldn't drink a lot of this beer because its very thick.  This beers description was probably the worst thing I've ever read as far as usefulness.
Think back on the days when your sister tortured you with endless pinching, wet willies and Indian burns.  Evil Sister’s flavors of strong citrus and floral hops balance this beer, but at 8% it will have you cryin’ for your mama!
WTF Goodlife? Descender is so awesome!  I guess their PR department doesn't really reflect the quality of their beer.

Stone Brewing Co. - Stone Delicious IPA - American IPA - 8.3 A- This beer I was one I really wanted to try coming in at 116 IBU according to stone I had to try it on Thursday, because I know it wasn't going to be there when I go off work on Friday.  This dark golden slightly cloudy beer and an amazing citrus and pine aroma.  A very distinctive flavor, with a full mouthfeel.  Pretty drinkable a little sweeter than I would like for an IPA but a great beer.  This used a couple hops Stone has never used before Mosaic and Eldorado.  They tasted awesome.  I had a sip of Whitney's before I had a full glass and thought for sure they had made a perfect beer but when I had a full sampler it wasn't AS good.  But still an amazing beer highly recommend.

Elysian Brewing Co. - Oddland Spiced Pear Ale - Spiced Fruit Beer - 6.5 D+ For some reason the pourer gave me a full glass which I was originally very pleased with, until I tasted this monstrosity.  Cloudy golden beer that was heavily spiced.  No noticeable hops but the pear does come though, finishing off with a light body.  This beer was not really drinkable the spices overpowered the beer I originally gave it a C- but I downgraded to a D+ because I got a full beer and could not finish it. I threw it on the ground!

Collaborator - Smoked Helles - Bamberg Style Helles Rauchbier Lager - 5.9 D+ Light golden color, the aroma was sweet with slightly smokey notes, difficult to pick up. The description says its "a smooth introduction to smoked beers." It was like playing just the tip with a gigantic smokey dong.  I would not drink this beer again but it didn't make me throw up because of the flavor so that's one positive thing I can say about it. 

Dunedin Brewery - Chronicle 11: Subtropical IPA - American Fruited Farmhouse IPA - 7.0 B- Cloudy blonde ale with a unique floral spicy aroma.  This beer was bitter as shit not as pleasant as you would hope for in an IPA the fruitiness from the Nelson hops comes through the second taste was much better than the first.  Medium to light bodied I would drink this beer again but probably not a bunch of them.

Two Beers Brewing Co. - Evo. IPA - American Style IPA - 6.2 B A dark golden, light amber beer smells sweet with light crystal malt notes.  The taste is mildly hoppy but with lots of carmel/crystal malt flavor that comes through, very well balanced. Heavy body but very drinkable.

Silver Moon Brewing - Bone Crusher Imperial Red - Imperial Red Ale - 8.6 A- I was excited for this 100 IBU also.  Dark copper/amber colored this had a very distinct aroma to it but I need to train my nose better to pick out the smell.  This is a great hoppy red reminded me of the Fire Crotch Red that I had made. Fully body very drinkable not SUPER hoppy but you get the point they were trying to make with the hops.

Attack Plan after day 1
Oakshire Brewing Co. - OBF 26 - Imperial Oregon Ale - 7.0 A- A light amber/dark Godlen beer with a dank and musty aroma this beer tastes like simcoe or everything tastes resiny and simcoey to me now. a medium to light body but very drinkable and I liked this beer a lot.

Lucky Labrador Brew Pub - Copperopolis - Copper Ale - 5.1 B- Copper really describes this very clear beer.  No strong aromatics can be picked up maybe a small carmel aroma from the malt.  The flavor is carmel with a strong malt flavor and a medium hop profile.  A medium mouthfeel makes the a very drinkable beer I could probably drink this all night.

Prodigal Son Brewery & Pub - Jackson Sundown - Saison - 6.9 C+  Light copper color with candy aromas At this point my handwriting has devolved to unintelligible chicken scratch.  I can pick up random sentence fragments in there they include "Candy aromas almost candy cane" "Bubble gum when warm"

We went to Paddy's pub to have dinner and finished the evening thoroughly intoxicated.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Beer Sensory Appreciation Class

     This Wednesday June 12, 2013 I went with a group of friends to an event hosted by Jamie Floyd, Co-Founder and Head Brewer at Ninkasi Brewing Company, and Peter Bouckaert, Head Brewer at New Belgium Brewing Company, located at the Bad Habit Room attached to Saraveza In Portland.  This originally was sold as a off flavors in beer class:

Sensory Training at Bad Habit - “Off Flavors” with Jamie Floyd, Founder & Owner of Ninkasi Brewing
Wednesday, June 12th 5:30-9:30pm
Do you think that “Diacetyl” is a dinosaur?  It is not!  It is a flavor that most beer drinkers consider undesirable.  Want to learn about this and other potential “off flavors” in your beer?  Join Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi Brewing for a sensory journey that will educate your palate like the pros!  
This just in:  Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium Brewing will be joining Jamie for the Sensory Panel and will be leading a discussion on Beer Styles as well!  Stay tuned for more details…
Temptation Incartate

     This turned out not to be a true representation of what the class actually was.  The class being taught that day was on sensory perception and how to experience the beer to its fullest. 
     The event started late and we were given strict instructions not to drink any of the beer.  So for 25-30 minutes I stared at this:
     Once the class started Jamie covered some basic brain physiology and biology explaining that your Gustation (taste) and Olfaction (smell) are located in your frontal lobe.  Your tongue can pick up 5 distinct flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.  You probably have a pretty good grasp on those with the exception of umami.  Umami is kind of hard to explain but its basically the savory taste that you get from some foods. Beer is not one of these foods so I am not going to go into depth on it.
     Explaining that there is a proper way to properly experience a new beer or a beer you have not had in a while there are specific steps that should be taken.

  1. Drive By Whiffing: A small whiff of the beer just as you run it under your nose, just to say "Hey, how you doin? I really like your broach."
  2. Visual Inspection: Look at the beer, recognizing its color, clarity, and head.
  3. Two Deep Smells:  Take some time to fully engulf your olfactory senses in all that is this beer.
  4. The Sip:  Take a small sip of the beer letting it fully cover your tongue and let it linger for a few seconds while you appreciate all it has to offer.
  5. Retro-Nasal:  This was a new one for me.  While either plugging your nose or ensuring that you do not breathe in take a sip of your beer swallow and then breathe out your nose.  This allows you to eliminate any other aroma that you are picking up in the air and just concentrate on that of the beer.
Jamie Floyd (Ninkasi Brewing Company)
     We were given a small glass of Total Domination IPA and then 4 small snifters with spiked samples of the Total Domination.  The glass was used so that we would have a base to compare the other samples to.  It was immediately apparent that the 4 glasses were the 4 flavors we had talked about, minus the umami. The glasses were spiked in order from left to right with sweet, salty, bitter and sour.  We did several tasting exercises that demonstrated how some flavors react with others in that they can either amplify of deaden them. Sweet and salty have an amplifying effect we had sweet-> salty -> sweet and each time the sample tasted more intense than the last time it was drank.  Bitter and sour had an similar effect.  We discovered that sweet and salty amplify everything.  Bitter amplified salt.  One functional thing that was brought out of all this taste testing was for beer tasting.  If you drink a lot of bitter beer your taste receptors become desensitized and it all becomes kind of the same.  However this can be counteracted by drinking something sour.  So at a beer fest one should drink some IPA's and then transfer to the sour beers and your experience will not be tainted by over stimulation of the flavor receptors.  He said this has something to do with hop bitterness comes from the oils in the hops and the acids in the sour beers cut through them.  I didn't pay close enough attention here so I can't really speak to it.

Peter Bouckaert (New Belgium Brewing Company)
     Next on the docket was Peter Bouckaert from New Belgium to talk about styles.  This was more of a philosophical chat about why we have styles and if we should have styles.  We were given a one of New Belgium's saisons, Saison du Poivre I believe, and asked what style of beer this was.  Then he asked us why it was a saison and a lot of philosophical questions about it.  After that we were given a Firestone Walker CDA and asked what kind of beer it was.  He spoke to the that since Firestone is in the Sierra Nevadas it should be called a SNDA instead.  It was a good conversation to have I guess philosophically but not really what I came for.  He then told us a story about a trip he took to Europe to bring back a beer to brew and how he saw some old architecture and it was very spiritual and then he translated that into Birre De Guarde.  I didn't quite follow the logical path he took from a trip where he just toured Europe and got really drunk into picking the hops, malt and yeast for his beer, but I wasn't there.  He talked about how style wasn't important only if people want to drink it.  Which to a certain extent is true, but then went on to talk about how it was necessary to let people know what to expect from it.  It was very reminiscent of conversations I have at work about what the definition of Indy Rock is or what bands constitute Butt Rock.

     After the official event was over I got to talk to the two brewers together about how perception plays a large role in how you enjoy your beer.  Also, preconceived notions of the beer will affect how you enjoy it.  For example if you know a beer is from a brewery that you like you will be more likely to like the beer just based on unconscious biases you have towards it.  Jamie said he saw a video presented by a woman at GABF from Pepsi that showed a study they did involving how big a role visual perception plays in the sensory experience of what you are consuming.

     Overall it was a good presentation even though it was not what I was expecting.  Jamie said that he will be returning to Portland soon with the actual off flavor presentation but he needs to figure out how to bring the flavor spiking lab with him on the road.  Another tidbit I got out of him is that they are going to be expanding into sour beers in the near future but they need to find a separate space for it since pedio or lacto infection could ruin one of their standard beers should they get infected.