Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Against the Grain Brewery Visit

Let's go out to the... brewery?
     This week I traveled to Louisville, KY for work and decided to visit historical Louisville Slugger Field. Home of the Minor League Baseball Team the Louisville Bats...  also Against the Grain Brewery and Smoke House.
     Upon entry into the brewery I immediately was overwhelmed by the smokehouse portion of this establishment.  Heavy charcuterie and other smoked meats are forced onto you by an airlock blower above the door.  Eventually the smoked meat aroma faded as I became acclimated to my surroundings.
      I ordered a flight of their current six beers on tap.  Agianst The Grain Brewery has a pretty unique way of deciding what will be on tap at any given time.  The beers are divided into six categories: Session, Hop, Whim, Malt, Dark, and Smoke. Each of these catagories remains the same year round but the beer placed in it changes.  I thought this was a novel scheme since you can always go in and get a certain type of beer you enjoy but it might not always be the exact same beer.  The selection that was currently on tap and in my flight was as follows:
Session - Pacific Rim Career
Hop - Hop Party #2
Whim - Deborahs Deux Helles
Malt - Meconium Falcon
Dark - We Shuck on the First Date
Smoke - Goin' H.A.M.

While eating lunch and enjoying my flight I had a chance to speak with co-owner Sam Cruz about the brewery.  I had not known this but it seems that Belmont Station in Portland caries their beer.  However,  Louisiana has some pretty strict brewing laws that make it difficult to do so.  Even the brew pub has to buy their own beer through a distributor in order to sell it on site.  If you're in the Louisville area I would definitely recommend checking out Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flat Tail Brewing - el GUAPO

Brewery: Flat Tail Brewing
Location: Corvallis, OR
Beer: el GUAPO
Style: Blonde Ale
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 5.0%

Had to try this crazy mix tape of beer flavors when I saw it.  Cucumber, Lime and Habenero peppers, definitely a beer that needed to be tried if for no other reason than to experience it.

A (3/3): A golden haze topped by a cream colored head that quickly diminishes.

S (8/12): Caught me completely off guard, I just went for it.  Full deep inhalation was met by not necessarily habenero aroma but definitely the volitiles.  I started coughing and sneezing before I could finish my breath.  After a moment I regained my composure and when back for a more reasonable whiff.  I definitely picked up huge blast of fresh cucumber and some of the lime notes but surprisingly little pepper.

T (15/20): Taste is when the three amigos come together.  A slight habenero sting can be felt under the lime and cucumber.  The cucumber and lime are definitely the predominant flavors in this beer when its drank.  After swallowed however the habenero takes hold and pokes the back of the tongue with its spiciness, followed up by a burst of fresh cucumber. This beer, if nothing else, is highly inventive on the palate.  It does still taste like a beer, but a beer with a lot of things going on, steering you away from the beer flavor.

M (3/5): This light bodied beer has a thin texture and a soft carbonation and a dry clean finish.

O (7/10): This beer is surprisingly refreshing; I would have never thought this would be a choice for a lawnmower beer but the cucumber is very crisp and cooling.  The habenero and lime also give it a very interesting flavor profile.  Would probably pair nicely with some spicy Mexican food.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

10th Annual North American Organic Brewers Festival

"Drink Organic, Save the Planet, One Beer at a Time."
     Beerfest season is approaching quickly and one of the first large festivals is the North American Oragnic Beer Festival (NAOBF.) This annual event takes place at Overlook Park in North Portlalnd and lands on the last weekend in June, the 26th though the 29th. (OBF is the last weekend in July, theme?)

Event hours are Noon to 9pm Thursday through Saturday and Noon to 5pm Sunday.  Admission is free, but a $6 compostable cup is required for tastings. Prices are what seems to have become standard beer fest prices: 4 tokens for a full glass and 1 for a taster.

Designed to raise awareness about organic beer and sustainable living, the NAOBF typically has more than 50 organic beers and ciders from nearly 40 different breweries. Most of these breweries brew an organic beer just for this festival.

Since the beer fest is focused on sustainable living there will be NO PARKING provided for this event, so if you must drive you'll need to find off site parking. Luckily the Yellow Line “Overlook Park” Station stops directly across the street from the festival.  Event goers will receive $1 toward the tasting glass with a validated Tri-Met ticket or a ticket from the Hopworks Bike Corral.

I have not attended this event in the past but from what I have heard it is an amazing view "Overlooking" the Willamette River.  In years past there has also been a great selection of beers.  I will definitely be attending this year, hope to see you all there.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bridgeport Brewing - Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout Review

Brewery: Bridgeport Brewing
Location: Portland, OR
Beer: Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout
Style: Chocolate Stout
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 35

Brewed with NW Nugget hops, roasted cocoa beans and dark sweet cherries.

A (3/3): Deep black in color like used motor oil with the exception of the frothy, dark tan head and only nominal lacing.

S (9/12): This beer has a mild nuttiness that rides along with the light coffee aroma and a hint of maraschino cherry.  The roasted malts bring out a slightly bready, grainy aroma that compliment the cocoa beans.

T (16/20): The first sip gives you a nice warm welcome of sweet chocolate and a pleasant light coffee flavor.  Cherry comes in on the back of the palate with a chocolate character that slightly resembles bakers chocolate.

M (4/5): Medium bodied, but much lighter than I expected from the viscous pour.  A silky smooth beer with little to no malt bitterness. A creamy mouthfeel with a very light carbonation and smooth finish.

O (7/10): If you like chocolate stouts this is a great beer to try.  The cherry adds a little extra sweetness that is very enjoyable.  More of a dessert beer than a daily drinker but this definitely would be a nice treat after dinner.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Knee Deep Brewing Co. - Simtra Review

Brewery: Kneed Deep Brewing Co.
Location: Auburn, CA
Beer: Simtra Triple India Pale Ale
Style: Triple IPA
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
Bottled: 2/19/14
ABV: 11.25%
IBUs: 120+

Emblazoned on the bottle is "Not meant for aging enjoy this triple fresh" proclaiming the IPA aficionados mantra, drink it fast. This being said I should have probably drank this beer a little quicker than I did, still 2 months probably isn't enough to change the flavor too much.

A (3/3): A couple fingers of creamy pale yellow head blanket this cloudy amber ale.  Much darker than I was expecting and definitely not typical of this style.

S (11/12): A bountiful bouquet of rich citrus and dank resinous hop notes flourish from this beers surface.  The aroma is given life by the amazing hops that give this beer its portmanteau name, Simcoe and Citra. Some alcohol aromatics can be uncovered but not even approaching that of a barley wine of similar alcohol content.

T (20/20): A linebacker hop flavor chest bumps your tongue with its piney, light lemon and grapefruit manliness. Like any amazing IPA the malt character is noticeable but takes a supporting role to the gratuitous hop flavor.

M (4/5): The first sip is incredibly light and airy.  A hint of citrus pith but just barely.  If you try hard you can unearth the alcohol character.  This beer allows your sobriety to unsuspectingly get out of its 1991 Chevy Lumina and coyly walk up to the house, only to be greeted by Chris "11.25%" Hanson. Never saw it coming! Finishes very clean and dry with a minuscule lingering hoppiness, fantastic beer.

O (9/10): "BOLD MOVE" This beer took a big swing and it payed off.  An incredible technical achievement to cram this much hop aroma and flavor into a beer that strolls by the 11% ABV mark without blinking.  Not a particularly original choice of hops, but with the fantastic execution make this beer an incredible beer.

Outro:  I honestly think this is one of the best beers I have ever had. "I'm not just saying this because I'm drunk, but, I love you man."  This beer is fantastic, every portion of this beer is fantastic.  The smell and taste are incredible and it is still incredbily drinkable while maintaining an ass kicking 11.25%. Unfortunately, it is easier to get Pliny the Elder in Oregon than this beer, along with the $9.50 price tag I do not think I will be quaffing too many of these beers in the future.  However, my next trip to California I am definitely picking up another one.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stone Brewing - Go To IPA Review

Brewery: Stone Brewing
Location: Escondido, CA
Beer: Go To IPA
Style: American IPA
Serving: Snifter Glass (12 oz.) 
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 65

This very low alcohol beer (for reference budweiser is 5.0%) is produced with hopping method aptly named "Hop Bursting." Which is basically dumping one (1) metric crap-load of hops in the latter part of the brewing process (whirlpool, flameout, dry hop, etc.)  According to brewmaster Mitch Steele this creates " intense hop aroma and flavor along with a smoother bitterness."  Mitch also explains that this method allows them to make a lower alcohol beer that is full flavored and doesn't taste thin or watery.

A (3/3): A finger of white frothy head sits on a clear, light gold beer.  Slightly hazy when first poured but eventually becomes more transparent. Nice lacing with a decent head retention that eventually gives way to gravity and surface tension.

S (11/12): Given more citrus character than it knows what to do with this beer is hopped with 9 differnt types of hops (Mosaic, Citra, Ahtanum, Cascade, Crystal, El Dorado, Magnum, Sterling and 06300).  Mild peach aromas also compliment this beer along with enough malt flavor to perfectly support the hops.

T (18/20): Peach, grapefruit, lemon and orange flavors remain dominant as aroma becomes flavor.  Just the right amount of malt structure lies under this hop masterpiece to support the beer.  Like the statue of David sitting on a marble column.

M (4/5): A light bodied beer with a crisp and dry mouthfeel, lively carbonation and a dry, pleasantly bitter aftertaste.

O (9/10): I could definitely see this as being one of my new go to beers.  Perfect for casual or competitive drinking this beer has a ton of flavor and aroma while not being too filling or alcoholic. Very easy to drink, I would say dangerously so if it wasn't for the low alcohol content, a truly fantastic beer.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Alaskan Brewing Company - Hopothermia Review

Brewery: Alaskan Brewing Company
Location: Juneau, AK
Beer: Hopothermia
Style: American Double IPA
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 70

A fun fact I did not know about the largest brewery in my home state is that their sole fuel source for the brewing process is dried spent grain.  Alaskan Brewing calls this process "Beer Powered Beer."  This process is accomplished by taking the spent grain, pressing the water out, placing it in a dryer and then burning it to create steam for their brewing vessels.

Hopthermia is bittered with Nugget and Apollo hops, followed up with Amarillo, Citra and Centennial Hops in the later additions to compliment the two-row and specialty malt profile.

A (*/3): This beer pours with almost no head and devolves into a miniature Aleutian Island chain of bubbles clumping on the surface. I think orange-ish copper is the best way to describe the color of this transparent beer.  Because of the lack of head there was no lacing to speak of. There may have been something wrong with this batch because every picture I have seen show this beer with a big frothy head.  I started to do a hard pour after I saw it was not producing any bubbles, but it did not add anything.

A 2.0 (3/3) After the disappointing head and because I had more that came in my 4-pack I had another bottle and the pour was much nicer.  The retention was still not anything to talk about but at least there was something to start off with.  This produced a moderate amount of lacing and the beer remained the same orang-ish copper color.

S (8/12): Light orange and spicy grapefruit along with tropical fruit hop aromatics overflow the glass while a bready, with a hint of sweetness balance the malt notes.  The slightest hint of alcohol can be detected but not a detractor in any way.

T (17/20): This beer has spicy grapefruit notes with some earthy hop undertones.  The malt flavor is just enough to even out the hops without taking anything away from them.  Also, a pleasant bitterness hangs on your tongue but just long enough so it does not overstay its welcome.

M (5/5): A light bodied beer with a medium level of carbonation and a crisp, bright mouthfeel, finishes off clean.

O (8/10): A great beer, was recommended to me by both my Brother and Dad who live in Wasilla, AK.  Very easy to drink and does not overwhelm you with the 8.5% alcohol.  


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Base Camp Brewing Company S'more Stout Review

Brewery: Base Camp Brewing Company
Location: Portland, OR
Beer: S'more Stout
Style: American Stout
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 70

I've had this beer at Base Camp before they serve it with a toasted marshmallow as a garnish on the glass.  Unfortunately I didn't have one to complete the s'more ensemble.

A (3/3): About two fingers of dark beige head pours extremely nice but eventually fades to a few patches of bubbles floating on the surface.  Topping the beer off really reinvigorates the foamy bubble blanket but it is recedes almost as quickly as it returns.  The beer is murky black and completely opaque.

S (9/12): The aroma is that of light cocoa notes mixed with some coffee aromatics.  The bottle says there I should be detecting figs, but not without drinking it.

T (16/20): Lots of dark chocolate notes with quite a bit of coffee bitterness.  A couple of sips allow you notice the toasted character as well as the light smokiness of the beer.  No detectable fig character as stated on the bottle but not a detriment to the beer.

M (3/5): Medium to thick body with a creamy, silky texture and a light carbonation.  The beer finishes smooth, but with a slight residual malt bitterness.  The beer hides the 7.7% ABV very well,  almost no detectable alcohol character.

O (7/10): Pretty good beer I remember it being much sweeter the last time I had it.  The malt bitterness hangs on the palate a little longer than I would like but over all I would drink again.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

21st Amendment - Bitter American Review

Brewery:21st Amendment
Location: San Francisco, CA
Beer: Bitter American
Style: Session Ale
Serving: Snifter (12 oz. can) 
ABV: 4.4%
IBUs: 42

A (3/3): A boisterous head appears when poured, pale yellow in color.  The foamy topping quickly diminishes to a thin ring of bubbles clinging to the edge of the glass. Leaving behind light lacing that coats the glass. The beer itself sports a dark golden color with a hazy opacity.

S (10/12): The aroma is very resinous and piney with a modest grapefruit character.  For a session ale this beer has an amazing aroma that is very unexpected for the style, but appreciated.  Evidence of the bready caramel malts are present but take a back seat to the forward facing hop aroma.

T (18/20): Presenting a light bitterness this beer has all the qualities of an IPA without the alcohol content.  Maltier than the nose but still having a significant piney, slightly dank hop flavor.  The beer says that its 42 IBU but it tastes a bit higher than that.

M (4/5): This light to medium bodied beer has a smooth texture , medium carbonation and a clean, dry finish.  Nothing about this beer is heavy, meant to drink many rounds.

O (9/10): This is a great session ale, bitter enough to give you a little bite, and low enough alcohol that you can drink a six pack in a night and not feel like crap the next day.  I found myself having to drink two for this review because it was just so drinkable I just kept enjoying it without taking enough notes.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stone Brewing - Enjoy By IPA

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Location: Escondido, CA
Beer: Enjoy By 4.20.14
Style: Double IPA
Serving: Weizen Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 9.4%
IBUs: 88

The "Enjoy By" beer series is designed to inform the public that IPAs are best severed as fresh as possible.  The Hop aroma and flavor slowly start to decay until they are only a silhouette of their former glory. Of course the beer will also start to oxidize and a wet cardboard taste will begin to develop, but this takes much longer.

A (3/3):   A medium off white creamy head tops this beer. A very attractive beer, incredibly clear and light golden.

S (10/12):  A delicate caramel malt is a terrific base to build the hop potpourri.  Bold citrus character presents itself as orange aroma, followed up by the tropical fruit aromas of mango and papaya.

T (18/20): Huge hop flavor with tropical and grapefruit notes.  Not too bitter, but definitely a very hop forward beer.

M (4/5):A medium bodied beer with a slick texture and a soft carbonation level.  A moderate level of alcohol can be felt but not an unreasonable level for a beer of 9.4%.  Finishes dry and clean.

O (8/10): A superb beer I wish I would have bought more than one.  I'm glad I got one when I did the New Seasons my by work was out when I went back the next day.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Spring Reign Review

Brewery: Ninkasi Brewing Company
Location: Eugene, OR
Beer: Spring Reign
Style: American Blonde Ale
Serving: Sam Adams Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 6.0 %
IBUs: 38

A (3/3): This beer has a sparse and creamy eggshell colored head.  The beer itself has a hazy golden color.

S (9/12): Not an incredibly potent but pleasant hop bouquet, lightly floral with a biscuit malt aroma.

T (16/20): Moderate amount of lightly toasted malts up front, bready and biscuity.  The second flavor is the light tropical fruit flavor of the hop followed by a light citrus pith bitterness that lingers.

M (4/5): A medium to light body  with a lively carbonation finishes dry with a very nominal bitterness bite.

O (6/10): A bright ale that embodies the spring time.  A good "lawn mowing" beer on a hot day.  Very clean and dry beer best drank quickly in large quaffs.