Monday, January 7, 2019

What We're Looking Forward to in 2019

With the first week of the new year under our belts and a more normal rhythm resuming we figured it was a good time to share some of the things that we are most looking forward to in 2019.

Beer Festivals
No matter how many beer festivals we've been to or the abundance of them we are fortunate to have in this area, there are still some that get us excited about what will be poured and we make a point to attend. Here are three that take place in the first quarter of the year that fit that description.

- NW Coffee Beer Invitational - This will be the sixth year of the festival and with the exception of 2017, we have been at every one. Dave Fleming's festival has grown in prominence among beer drinkers but has remained true to its original location - Goose Hollow Inn. This year 20 brewers will be showing off their collaborations made with locally roasted coffee on Saturday, January 26. It has historically been the literal bright spot in one of the darkest times of the year and with any luck, that day will be another sunny one.

- Festival of the Dark Arts - For us this festival is about more than just what one finds in their glass. It's the whole experience of getting out of Portland and making an always overdue trip to Astoria for a long weekend. Besides the festival, and staying at our favorite B&B, we do our best to hit old favorites in Astoria and along the way, as well as anything new that may have popped up since the previous year. The mid-February festival is sold out and overnight accommodations are likely in short supply but there always seems to be a few last minute tickets available for those who look hard. 

- Brewstillery - Just a year younger than Coffee Beer and taking place two weeks after Dark Arts, this festival is hosted by StormBreaker Brewing and showcases the delicious flavor combinations that can occur when beer and spirits get together. When we first attended we had little experience with spirits but it has been part of the process that has opened our eyes to a world that we are coming to realize is as vast and complex at beer. 

Beer Cocktails 
Dovetailing on our anticipation of Brewstillery, we are excited to continue the adventure we started last year creating beer cocktails. So far we've experimented with vodka and rum and we've found ourselves paying more attention to cocktail menus, looking for new sources of inspiration. The year end crush of the holidays threw off our plans for December but we've got a late January date on the calendar to start up anew.

Beer and Food Pairings
Whether attending formal pairings put together by professionals or the happy-go-lucky pairings we dream up (Easter candy, Doritos, Kettle Chips, Girl Scout cookies, even coffee creamers) finding what goes together is a source of delight. Even the missteps we make are palate-educating and we are all on board with learning. 

Beyond what we are looking forward to finding in our glass this year is those we will be sharing the experiences with. The craft beer community - from brewers to consumers - is overall incredible. The generosity, the creativity, the willingness to explore is unique and we are thrilled to be part of it. 

In addition to reading what we spew out here (thank you!) check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Cheers to 2019!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fancy or Simple, Say Cheese This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and whether that means attending gatherings, hosting gatherings or doing some of each, having some, quick, easy go-to foods at hand can help reduce some of the inevitable stress. ‘Round here we are partial to things that pair well with beer and cheese, most any kind of cheese, tops that list. Cheese plates are great, a simple baguette with soft cheese can be divine and we've recently found out about a “looks fancy but is super easy” product - Baked Brie en Croute from Marin French Cheese.

In existence since 1865, Marin French is the longest continually operating cheese company in America, located in Petaluma, CA. Wrapping their traditional Brie in a croissant-style pastry crust takes the cheese to another level in both flavor and presentation. Just 25 minutes in the oven creates a crust that is golden and flaky, encasing an ooey, gooey center. Its easily transportable size recently accompanied us to our favorite watering hole where we found it to be delicious with a glass of beer.

Nearly as easy as popping a Baked Brie en Croute in the oven is grabbing a baguette and a soft cheese or two from the store. Plain goat cheese is an obvious choice for something that spreads easily but there are plenty of flavored soft cheeses as well. We quite enjoy mushrooms so Laura Chenel’s Marinated Black Truffle Cabecou was right up our alley for a savory option; blue cheese is always another winner. Flavorings can also go a sweet route, either by topping a schmear of cheese with a dollop of preserves or picking up one like Cranberry & Cinnamon. A bit skeptical as we opened up the round of cheese, we were soon won over by the incredibly balanced flavor that we found to pair well with Ruse Strand, a West Coast IPA.

If you’re in the mood for a bit more cheese plates are another sure fire winner and can be as simple or as complex, as munchable or as meal-able, as you’d like to make them. Marin French offers a straightforward guide on putting one together and the cheese counter at your favorite store can help guide your selections further if desired.

Disclaimer: We were provided with samples for review.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pressing Matters Brings Cider and Cask Beer Together

We’re not sure how Pressing Matters Proper Cider and Real Ale Festival missed our radar last year but we’re pleased to see it hit the radar of enough others for it to make it back to Cider Riot! for a second year. The festival, taking place Saturday, November 17th, brings together the work of 15 cideries and and seven breweries from around Cascadia. The ciders range from those made bittersweet apples to those from bittersharp apples, combining innovations from America with fermentation traditions from England and France. And the all-cask ale lineup offers a greater selection of this traditional style than one is likely to find without a visit to the TSA.

Upon reviewing the cider and beer line up we see many familiar names although we have not had many ciders and we've only had one of the beers, albeit in non-cask form. The three year vertical of Cider Riot!’s 1763 is intriguing and we’ll be interested to see if the same recipe was used each year and if so, how it has aged. In addition, since we drink a comparably small amount of cider this will be a good opportunity to try more.

On the beer side, Baerlic’s New Noise IPA is the only one we’ve previously had an while we quite enjoyed it, the cask version could be considerably different. Both Gigantic and Machine House are bringing styles that lend themselves to cask, English Pale Ale and Bitter respectively, and while Marzen is not a style we find ourselves drawn toward, the Brewers Union offering should showcase well in a cask and alongside ciders.

If you’re as intrigued as we are, then we’ll see you there. Otherwise you shall have to hear about it after the fact, perhaps while kicking yourself for not taking advantage of one of the more unique festivals to grace Portland this year.

Pressing Matters Proper Cider and Real Ale Festival
Saturday, November 17th 1 - 8pm
Cider Riot!
807 NE Couch
Tickets in advance and at the door, $20 - $40

Disclaimer: We have been offered a media pass to attend the festival.