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.


  1. All of the beers were delicious! This was a fun event to attend, I am glad we went! Reading this makes me want all the beers again!

  2. This seems like it was a good event! Nice beer descriptions. I think Sara and I would have liked all these beers as well. Maybe next year...