Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stormbreaker Brewstillery Preview

On Saturday February 28th Stormbreaker Brewing is hosting their inaugural Brewstillery Fest at the brewery.  I had the opportunity to preview some of the pairings featured at the festival.

The host for the evening was Rob Lutz, owner of Stormbreaker Brewing.  Stormbreaker was previously Amnesia Brewing before Rob purchased, and renamed it. Rob was stirring a mashtun while working at Amnesia one day and the owner let him know he was selling the brewery. This set the wheels into motion that eventually lead to Rob buying the brewery. Rob explained that the name Stormbreaker comes from the book Night Dogs in which Mt. Hood is called storm breaker by the Indians, because of its ability to tear up storm fronts.
One pairing really stood out above the others in my opinion.  The Aviation Gin paired with Breakside Brewing Juggling Plums Gose was an incredibly complimentary. The slightly sour salted beer played extremely well with the incredible gin.  I am generally not a huge gin drinker but Aviation Gin from House Spirits Distillery was fantastic.  Fuggling Plums was a collaboration between Breakside and Fat Head's brewries.  This lightly sour beer was salted completely with Japanese "Umeboshi" or salt plums.
Another incredible liquor that did not have an accompanying paring, but will be paired with Cascade Apricot, was Indio Spirits Hopka.  This 80 proof liquor distilled from Cascade and Citra hop oils blew me away.  Unlike anything I had ever tried, this liquor smelled of lemon, tangerine and other citrus fruits and had a flavor with the same character, easily drinkable by itself.    
A preliminary list of breweries and their spirit pairing with a short description follows. Each combination has has been given a name that reflects the pairing.

I had the chance to speak with Stuart Ramsay, who was showcasing a couple beers from his brewery, Whisky Back.  The philosophy of Whisky Back is to create beers designed to go accentuate and compliment Whisky.  Ramsay explained that his beers were designed to either take a back seat to a great scotch or enhance the flavor of a younger bourbon. Ramsay's comes form Heavy use of Golden Promise malt in his beer was a way to promote this relationship between the beer and whisky. Ramsay is currently contract brewing with Coallition to create his whisky complimenting beers.

In addition to the great beers and spirits, there will also be a hand picked selection of food from StormBreaker's Rob Plusko. The food was chosen to go accentuate the beer and liquor pairings.

Pairing Name
Brewery - Beer
Distillery - Spirit

The Devil's Coat
StormBreaker - Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Coat
Bull Run Distilling Co. - Temperance Trader
This is the pairing we had in mind when we created the Brewstillery Festival. Aged for two months in a Bull Run Bourbon Barrel, your tastebuds will be thanking you in different ways as you go from whiskey to beer and then beer to whiskey.  The complimenting aromas of oak, with flavors of vanilla and toffee, are always present as the beer brings big chocalate and dark cherry flavors, while the whiskey adds warmth and spice with a caramel finish to make this a tailored fit for any devil.

Bottom of the Barrel
Amnesia - 10th Anniversary Barleywine Aged in Big Bottom Bourbon barrels
Big Bottom Whiskey - 91 Proof Bourbon
An obvious pairing but a beautiful one. The Bourbon will seamlessly intertwine between the beer and the spirit. Notes of vanilla, amaretto, pralines and slight sherry like flavors will marry and mirror the bourbon in an unmatched, glorious harmony that songs are written about.

The Noble Bomb
Baerlic - Noble Stout
EastSide Distillery - Cherry Bomb Whiskey
This beer-spirit pairing ranks among the best duos of all time. Hall and Oats. Macaroni and cheese. Sanford and Son. Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. Nutella and your finger. The striking aroma of the Cherry Bomb compliments the dry rounded finish of the Noble Stout in an inexplicable way that will stand the test of time, like any famous duo should

The People's Hammer
Base Camp #1 - Ripstop Rye Pils
Stein Distillery - Rye Vodka
Na zdorovje, comrade!  Somewhere in Siberia, old farmers are huddled around the hearth and trying to weather another long Siberian winter, their rye fields sleeping away under a blanket of thick snow.  A toast to us not freezing our asses off there with them!  Pilsner and vodka find a common bond via the earthy, spicy taste of rye.  This pairing is for everybody to enjoy, whether you're proletariat or bourgeoisie (find somebody to give you a high five if you can pronounce "bourgeoisie," comrade!).

Midnight Cowboy
Base Camp #2 - S'more Stout
Stein Distillery - Bull Bourbon 2 Year Old
Pouring 3pm to 6pm.  The Midnight Cowboy will grab you by the saddle horn and plait your lariat.  Chocolate and smoke, vanilla and oak, this bourbon and stout combo might seem conventional to some but there ain't nothin' finer when it comes to partnering up good booze and good brew.

Eagle Cap: EXTREME
Base Camp #3 - Eagle Cap Lager
Stein Distillery - Seven Devils' Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Dark Rum
Pouring 6pm to close.  We paired up a silky-smooth aged Dark Rum, crafted from the crystalline waters of the Wallowa Mountains, with a Candy Cap 'shroom-bomb lager brewed in homage to those same mountains.  Picture this: a majestic giant eagle made from the darkness between the farthest stars, ripping through velvet clouds of maple syrup vapor and leaving a long-lasting series of vanilla- and spice-laden golden sonic booms in its wake. This bad mutha will caress your palate with the power and finesse of an avalanche playing flamenco guitar.

Gin & Juice Gose
Breakside - Juggling Plums Gose:  Breakside/Fat Head's
House Spirits - Aviation Gin explores the rich, floral and savory notes of lavender, cardamom and sarsaparilla to capture the lushness, spice, creativity, and freshness for the Pacific Northwest
The savory saltiness and tart acidity of the Gose works in concert with the floral, spicy, and citrus character of Aviation. Both have a good bit of earthiness so they pair well on that level as well. Flavors of both become heightened, and you will continue to find different flavors when alternating sips of each.  We also encourage you to add the Aviation to the Gose while trying this pairing. 

Cascade - 2013 Apricot
Indio Spirits - Hopka
We paired these products together because of their complimenting aromatics and finishes.  The Apricot has a nice fruit flesh character that pairs well with the resinous aromatics of the Hopka.  Our Apricot has a pleasant acidity on the back end that balances out some of the heat and sweetness that finishes on the Hopka.

Smoke N' Shine
Coalition - Georgia Smoke
Stein Distillery - SteinShine
The idea behind the pairing is a DIY Scotch...take the moonshine, an un-oaked whisky, and add some smoke and roast from the beer to emulate the barrel character, creating a semblance of a scotch or whisky in your mouth.

A Brief Respite From Oak & Puns
Commons - Citrus Myrtle
Stone Barn Brandy Works - Quince Liquor
Funky and tart with bright floral and citrus notes, this pairing is refreshingly low alcohol and showcases both partners' distinctive house styles.

The Oregon Expats
Deschutes - Dissociator Doppelbock
Clear Creek Distillery - McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt Whiskey
Ideal pairing for when the winter months are breaking into spring.  Notes of toffee, biscuit, and bread in the doppelbock pairs nicely with the toasty smoke note in the McCarthy's.  As you move between sips of each, you will taste sweet cherry notes, smoky peat, almond-like char, fruit cake and salted caramel, with a dry finish.

4 Spirits Distillery - 4 Spirits Whiskey
NGC 4 is a  galaxy in Peices. This name links us and 4 spirits distillery. This pairing is very refreshing.The Procyon opens up the whiskey and brings out flavors of honey and orange. The whiskey brings out the malt flavors and tropical notes of the beer.

Cascadian Lovechild
Ex Novo - At Her Majesty's Pleasure, Brown Ale
Oregon Spirits Distillery - Ottis Webber Wheat Whiskey
The high desert and the valley unite in this silky-smooth pairing meant to be together. Round and subtle caramel and toffee flavors with a toasty backbone in the Brown Ale meld so well with the Wheat Whisky's firm yet gentle approach. You'll find notes of orange blossom honey in the whiskey and a very smooth finish on both drinks.

Reach for the Saaz
Humble - Saaz Saison
Oregon Spirits Distillery - C.W. Irwin Bourbon
Inspired by the first line of the CW Irwin description: "A perfect blend of old west and new frontier"

Laurelwood - Mega-Fauna IIPA
Dry Fly Distilling - Dry Fly Gin
We decided to try something a little bit different and go with a hoppy beer and a Pacific Northwest style gin. Megafauna has a very big hop flavor and aroma of tropical fruit, citrus, berry, grapefruit, passionfruit, earth & pine. While Dry Fly’s Pacific Northwest style gin has wonderful aromatics from its use of juniper, coriander, lavender, mint, Fuji apples and hops. After you try this pairing we think you’ll understand why we think this combination is Mega-Fly!

Barrel Aged Black Hearted IPA
Migration - Barrel Aged Black Hearted IPA 
Indio Spirits - James Oliver Rye Whiskey
Local brewery and local distillery colloborate to age a Black IPA in a fresh Rye Whiskey Barrel to create an awesome and unique once in a lifetime seasonal.  Drink up!

Straight Six
Upright - Upright Six
Big Bottom Whiskey - 111 Proof
I just likes the way it sounds, and it ties both the bourbon and beer together. - Alex

Boozy Brown Sugar
Widmer - Kill Devil Brown Ale
EastSide Distillery -  Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon
How come you taste so good?! Brown sugar notes carry seamlessly through both the beer and the bourbon as you take drinks back and forth, making this a continuous flavor explosion that will leave you wanting more.

Stuart Ramsay - Whiskey Back Red
Single Malt (Monkey Shoulder)

Stuart Ramsay - Whiskey Back Gold

Cherries & Rye
Hair of the Dog - Cherry Adam From The Wood
Stone Barn Brandy Works - Straight Rye Whiskey

Death From Above
Hopworks - D.O.A.
Parliament - Ghost Owl

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