Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Black Out Beer Fest 2014

Lompoc Brewing is hosting its annual Black Out Beer Fest on Friday, Feb. 21 from 4 to 11pm at Sidebar, 3901 N Williams Ave. The Black Out Beer Fest will feature 6 dark beers from Lompoc and and feature more dark beers from special guests Alameda, Breakside, Cascade, The Commons, Ecliptic, Laurelwood, Lucky Lab, pFriem and Widmer.

This event is free for all those 21 and older.  However, tasting packages are required to drink the beers and cost $15, which includes a souvenir tasting mug and 10 beer tickets. Additional tickets can be purchased for $1 apiece. The standard beer/ticket exchange rate of one for a taste and 4 for a full glass apply. Mug and tickets can be purchased at Sidebar.  The beers will be located in Sidebar, the brewery bar and the tented and heated parking lot. Live music will be provided by Leslie Lou and the Lowburners.

The beer lineup features the following selection of local beers:
  1. Alameda - 2012 Siberian Bear Russian Imperial Stout
  2. Breakside - Salted Caramel Stout
  3. Cascade - Milk Stout
  4. The Commons - Boysen Imperial Belgian Porter
  5. Ecliptic - Mintaka Export Stout
  6. Laurelwood - Baltic Porter
  7. Lucky Lab - CDA
  8. pFriem - Belgian Stout
  9. Widmer - Creaminess Rye Stout
  10. Lompoc - 2013 Sour Stout
  11. Lompoc - Batch 69 Baltic Porter
  12. Lompoc - 2010 Bourbon Barrel Aged Monster Mash
  13. Lompoc - 2009 Merlot Barrel Fermented Batch 69 Baltic Porter
  14. Lompoc - Galia Belgica Belgian Strong Dark
  15. Lompoc - Cherry Wood Porter. (New Release)

Monday, January 27, 2014

NW Coffee Beer Invitational Beer Fest

Saturday January 25th was the inaugural NW Coffee Beer Invitational so I took the MAX down to Goose Hollow Inn.  This bar and restaurant is literally right off the MAX line which made it incredibly convenient to get to.  A large tent adjoined the building where the event was held.  Throughout the fest there were multiple live bands playing under the tent.  This beer fest featured twelve beers created using locally-roasted coffee.  One detail that I liked was the pourers were placing used tickets in a coffee carafes.  This was a nice touch for a coffee beer fest.  It was a very sunny and beautiful day however the weather was much colder than I was expecting.  I arrived anticipating a "copy and paste" for the Appearance section of my reviews, (There are only so many ways you can describe a thick black stout or porter) my first selection quickly showed me I was mistaken.

Breakside Brewery - Coffee Sesame Brown
ABV: 5.8% - IBU: 15
Coffee: Stumptown Coffee Beans

A: This hazy almond colored beer had an average but quickly dissipating head.
S: Mild coffee and aroma, featuring doughy malts woven in.
T: Malt profile blends well with the coffee and the yeast produce a biscuit and doughy flavor.  The coffee is not in your face but it is definitely recognizable and present.
M: Medium body, with a creamy texture and an effervescent level of carbonation.
O: Good beer very drinkable. This beer was fermented with roasted and toasted sesame, giving it a unique nuttiness.

Pints Brewing - Cherry Bomb
ABV: 2.8% - IBU: 0
Coffee: Portland Roasting's Goose Hollow Blend
Brewed with lemon juice, sugar, lemon, maraschino cherry and coffee liquor.

A: Cloudy, light orange beer with minimal head. Served with a maraschino cherry.
S: Small coffee aroma, cherry notes but I don't think its from the maraschino cherry.
T: Very sour beer but not in an unpleasant way, the lemon juice is present but not overpowering.  A bready flavor from the malt and a mild barnyard, horse-blanket flavor.
M: Light body, thin and creamy texture with a lively, effervescent carbonation.
O: An excellent beer, very fizzy and sour. This would be fantastic on a hot day in summer but was not seasonably ideal to the frigid afternoon.  Not bitter at all, the zero IBUs is not an exaggeration.

Fire on the Mountain Brewing Co. - Nutty Irish Mud
ABV: 7.0% - IBU: 30
Coffee: Spella Caffe
Fire On The Mountains base oatmeal stout, Electric Mud, is conditioned on hazelnuts, cold pressed coffee, and whiskey soaked oak chips.

A: A muddy black beer with almost no head.
S: A very strong and sweet toffee aroma with coffee backbone, and a great roasted and nutty smell.
T: Dark roasted coffee flavor, the sweet toffee is there but not as bold as it is in the nose.
M: The heavy and thick, creamy liquid coats your mouth as you drink.
O: One of my favorite beers I had the whole night, a very complex and intricate beer. This beer really has strong nutty and toffee flavors.

Grain Station Brew Works - Hank's Dark Roast
ABV: 5.5% - IBU: 60
Coffee: Mud River Roasting coffee

A: Sparse head sitting on deep blackness with what seems to be very particulate free beer.
S: Fresh baked cookie, grain, and coffee with a minute herbal hop aroma.
T: Dark roasted malts with a strong coffee flavor.  This beer is for coffee lovers, the closest thing to a cup of coffee that I had at this event.
M: Medium body with a thin texture, this flat beer finishes lightly astringent with diminutive alcohol finish.
O: A thick a cup of coffee with a stout poured in it. If you like coffee this beer is for you.

Three Creeks Brewing Co. - Coffee Strong Breakfast Stout
ABV: 6.5% - IBU: 32
Coffee: Cold pressed Sumatra from Sisters coffee added to the brite tank.  This beer is a blend of bulletproof export stout and oatmeal porter.

A: An average amount of frothy head with a murky black beer.
S: A nice aroma of coffee, cookie and dough, a light cherry aroma presents itself midway through the beer.
T: The flavor has chocolate coffee and roasted notes
M: A full bodied beer with a thick texture has soft carbonation with a smooth finish and a light alcohol flavor.
O: A very drinkable beer, very thick the coffee blends nicely with the two beers.

Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. - Counting Sheep
ABV: 5.8% - IBU: 75
Coffee: Portland Roasting's French Roast

A: A root-beer colored ale is covered by a very strange head with huge thin bubbles, like a soda.
S: A bold aroma of roasted, burnt coffee and a boistrous, complex grapefruit and citrus scent from this massively hopped beer.
T: Great citrus and grapefruit hop flavor to contrast the burnt roasted coffee flavor.
M: A light to medium body with a thin texture and soft carbonation, finishes slightly chalky.
O: The hops used in this beer are Summit, Centennial, Fuggles, and Galena and give it a very up front citrus characteristic. Great dark coffee and citrus hop combination, they both compliment each other nicely.

Base Camp Brewing Co. - The Incredible Baltor
ABV: 6.9% - IBU: 42
Coffee: Guatemalan Trailhead Coffee
Barrel aged on Oregon grown house toasted oak that was soaked in bourbon and rum.

A: A pretty sparse but surprisingly leggy head on a black particulate free beer.
S: COMPLEX!  I got cookie, molasses, and caramel from the malts and a mild herbal aroma from the hops, followed up by a little musk with raisins and prune.
T: The roasted malts compliment the non-boisterous coffee flavor while cascades of raisin and a hint of spice dance across the palate.
M: Medium to full bodied  beer with a slight silky texture and a very soft carbonation level.  It finishes bitter and has a petite alcohol feel, just enough to warm the tongue.
O: Excellent creation from Base Camp.  I am not usually overly excited about Baltic porters but this one made me take a second look.

10 Barrel Brewing Co. - Pray for Joe
ABV: 7.0% - IBU: 75

A: A brownish ruby color with a frothy but diminishing head.
S: Cookie and caramel malts support a mild coffee aroma that welcomes you to drink more.
T: The beer starts of a little sweet and then transitions into pretty substantial coffee or hop bitterness.  Though present, the coffee flavor is not overwhelming.
M: Medium body with a slick texture.  The carbonation is soft and has a bitter finish.
O: Pretty good beer but not my favorite of the afternoon.

Coalition Brewing Co.- Night Cap IPA
ABV: 6.0% - IBU: 43
Coffee: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee from Ristretto Roasters

A: One of the lightest beers at the festival with a pale hazy orangish color and sparse diminishing head.
S: IPA all the way, notes of pine and citrus present itself and a large and distinct orange aroma rushes into your nose.
T: Much sweeter than I was expecting and the the citrus, orange aroma is dissolved into this beer however no hop bitterness.  I also detected a hint of pear.
M: Light bodied, with a soft to flat carbonation level and a smooth finish.
O: Possibly the only beer here that the coffee was not noticeable, this is probably because this coffee is one that I am not familiar with.  I did some research and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee is known to have an distinct orange blossom aroma which would explain the bold orange aroma and taste of this beer.  Also, the Cascade and Citra hops this was brewed with did not hurt, but I think the unique orange character is surprisingly from the coffee.

Burnside Brewing Co.- Trifecta Collaboration Stout
ABV: 7.0% - IBU: 35
Coffee: Ristretto Roasters cold pressed coffee

A: Foamy tan head on a deep black beer.
S: Coffee and molasses.
T: Toasted and roasty coffee flavors definitely a coffee forward beer.
M: Full bodied with a creamy texture is very lightly carbonated an finishes slick.
O: Definitely one of the more upfront beers about its coffee content.

Old Town Brewing Co. - Ol' Joe
ABV: 7.3% - IBU: 30
Coffee: "Well over a pound" of French Roast from Portland Roasting in each barrel.

A: Muddy brown describe this beer perfectly, full of particulate and a thick brown hue.
S: Cookie molasses and coffee are the aromas that linger in the nostrils as you take the first sip.
T: Bold toffee and caramel notes blend in nicely with the coffee flavor leaving a light alcohol and raisin aftertaste.
M: Medium bodied with a soft carbonation level.
O:  An overall agreeable beer, the bitter coffee is balanced nicely with the sweet toffee flavors.

Widmer Brothers Brewing - Scared Half to Death
ABV: 6.3% - IBU: 48
Coffee: Cold press coffee from Stumptown roasters and Ecuadorian cocoa nibs.

A: A very clear, deep gold beer with maybe a dozen bubbles calling themselves head.
S: Strong roasted coffee with subtle cookie and toffee notes.
T: Toasted, coffee, mild chocolate
M: Medium bodied beer with a thin texture an average amount of carbonation, along with a light alcohol character and a dry finish.
O: A good beer to finish the night from Portland's largest brewery.

I also found this relic from days past, a functioning pay phone.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of it but I did see someone make a phone call on it.  I was just drawn aback by seeing one out in the wild and not in a museum somewhere. The beer-fest was a great success in my opinion, the only suggestion I would have for it next year is to maybe block the tent off a little bit more because it was very drafty and cold and perhaps expand the venue.  I spoke with the events organizer Jean Heffernan and she said that they were not anticipating this big of a turn out.  That being said, I would not have guessed this was an inaugural beer fest, everything was run very smoothly.  The beers were selected very well also.  There wasn't a single beer I drank that I would not drink again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Founders Brewing Co. - Breakfast Stout Review

Brewery: Founders Brewing Co.
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Beer: Breakfast Stout
Style: Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout
Size: 12 oz. 
ABV: 8.3 %
IBUs: 60

This seasonal beer is only available from October through December, which I guess makes it a winter ale.  However this beer has nothing that screams winter ale.  No spice, just nice.

From the Founders website "The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever."

A (3/3): Tarpits are lighter than this beer, also more translucent I held this beer up to a light and none was to be found. The head was a pretty sparse but it lasted longer than anticipated, although the lacing made up for it by its scarcity as the beer level sank.

S (10/12): I occasionally visit a local coffee stand where with each cup of Joe, you receive a chocolate covered espresso bean, this is what this beer smells like.  The coffee and coffee aroma are very assertive; however, a very delicate, earthy hop aroma can be detected.

Secret Recipe Revealed
T (18/20): Milk Chocolatey flavor gushes over your tongue followed by the intense coffee (Sumatra and Kona) flavor.  This beer has a light sweetness all the way through but not in a bad way.  The finish is sweet and and oatmeal-y, like a cup of coffee was poured over a chocolate oatmeal cookie.  A slight cherry characteristic be found in the middle of the beer.  No malt bitterness to speak of which is surprising for a beer this dark, but I did detect a hint of smoke towards the end.

M (5/5): Thick gently carbonated silky smoothness from the flaked oats.  It is difficult to describe this beer with any word other than "perfect". This is my new benchmark for what a stout should feel like coming from a glass.

O (10/10): Found myself pouring the last drops from the 12 oz bottle as the beer level kept going down hoping to get some more.  One of the best Stouts I've ever had.  I really enjoyed drinking this treat.  Maybe not a beer that you would drink a case of but this beer definitely has its time and place.... which is pretty much from breakfast until dinner.  The biggest flaw with this beer is it does not distribute in Oregon and its only available for three months.

Total: (46/50)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Firestone Walking Brewing Company - Union Jack IPA Review

Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer:  Union Jack IPA
Style: American IPA
Size: 22 oz. 
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 70

A (3/3): About a finger of foamy light yellow head remains on this golden beer for several drinks, then quickly goes away. A decent amount of lacing is presented as the beer is drank and you become aware of its clarity.  I observed a very sparse stream of bubbles slowly rising from the bottom and then clinging to the walls of the glass once they reached the surface, forming a thin ring of bubbles around the top.

S (10/12): The first smell of this beer lets you know what its about, hops. Grapefruit, orange and pine present themselves immediately, after a moment , unity is reached and the malt aroma comes through.  The malt is much weaker than the hops obviously but it makes itself known.  You notice the bashful malt like you would an 80 lb. high-schooler when picking teams in gym-class, aware of their existence but much more interested in the star players.

T (17/20): The first thing I noticed about hits beer is how clean it finishes.  It has a very clean and bright finish, this cause you keep wanting to drink it.  The hops definitely take front and center but there is a malt character that does not go down without a fight.  I feel like my palate was a child stuck in a domestic disturbance where the malt and hops were both fighting for its love.  A great tasting beer from start to finish.

M (5/5): The perfect embodiment of how an IPA should perform when drank.  A medium bodied beer with light to moderate carbonation. The beer finishes a little sticky but for the most part clean and dry. A small but pleasant hop bite that doesn't grab your tongue long enough to leave its impression. This begs you to take another sip and relive the experience.

O (9/10): An amazing beer in my opinion, good all the way through. I checked the Firestone Walker website and as I expected this is a heavily C-hopped beer. with Cascade and Centennial added late in the kettle and then dry hopped with Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Chinook and Simcoe.  The Simcoe flavor stays with you after your finished drinking. A great combination of hops not too bitter, not too sweet a wonderful IPA.

Total: (44/50)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hipsters Love Beer

I have seen this video floating around the internet, and posted on various Facebook pages for the last few weeks and I wanted to comment on it.
This video shows a bunch of pretentious hipsters ordering beers with ridiculous names like "Baby Dick Belgian White" and "Pompous A**hole" poking fun at how some breweries have got creative with beer names.  Some classic examples are Stone Brewing's "Arrogant Bastard" or Firestone Walker's "Velvet Merkin". 

 I understand the this video was supposed to be funny but it brings up a larger problem I have seen develop in the craft brew scene.  Craft beer has increasingly become associated with hipsters and a certain snootiness around beer knowledge.   This video is more of an indictment of beer snobs than hipsters.  Actually, its an indictment of a subsection of beer-snobs that are also hipsters.  

Hipsters and beers snobs do have some similarities they both proclaim their preference for things before their introduction to "the mainstream".  Also, both have been know to publicly denounce a product simply because of its ownership (i.e. Goose Island being purchased by Anheuser-Busch.)

However, their main characteristics remain very different. Hipsters usually spend their time pining over heirloom tomatoes, irony, and fixed gear bicycles. Whereas a beer snob will go on diatribes about drinking from the wrong glassware, their latest "drain pour" and judging others for enjoying a beer they have deemed unworthy.

So go out, be knowledgeable about your beer, drink what you like and above all else, don't act like a pompous asshole.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lagunitas Brewing Company - The Hairy Eyeball Ale Review

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer:  The Hairy Eyeball Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 9.4%
IBU: 56.66
OG: 1.090

A (3/3): A curtain of effervescent bubbles continually float the top of  a short and persistent creamy head.  The legs on this beer coat the glass all the way to the bottom when drank.  The head on this beer stays for longer than any beer I have had in a while.  This dark copper colored beer is incredibly clear.

S (8/12): Light pine and molasses with a hint of citrus exhale from the glass as you bring it to your nose.  After the initial molasses note a raisin aroma presents itself along with a noticeable alcohol smell.  This kind of reminds me of a dopplebock with its fig-like aroma.

T (12/20): A very warming and complex beer with an very malty flavor, presenting itself as a bold chocolate and raisinette flavor and a complex spiced backbone.

M (3/5): A thick sticky beer coats your mouth and as the mild alcohol its pretty boozy but it is balanced enough that it does not detract from the beer.

O (6/10): A good beer but not my favorite, it lives up to its style by being a strong ale.  Its a pretty thick and heavy but drinkable.  Not a beer that I could drink a lot of but a once in a while beer would be ok.

Total: 32/50

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bear Republic - Racer X Double IPA Review

Brewery: Bear Republic
Beer:  Racer X Double IPA
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.3%
IBU: 100

A:  This beer pours with a little more than a pencils thickness of head and reduces to a thin layer after a few moments revealing a very clear pale orange beer.  The lacing around the glass was plentiful and persistent with deposits denotation every sip from the glass.

S: This is a hugely aromatic beer with hints of grapefruit, pine and mild dark fruit. There is a detectable malt profile you look for it, however it is hidden under the tumultuous hop explosion.

T: Great taste consisting of citrus and pine transferred from the aroma into the taste.

M: A medium bodied beer that goes down nicely with an almost syrupy mouthfeel.

D: An fantastically drinkable beer even a non hop lover would be able to enjoy.