Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: June 5 - 11

Four of the best things we drank this week come from a PDX Beer Week event that we hadn't even planned to attend. Big thanks to Larry and Kate for inviting us to join them at Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom's 4th Annual Weird Beer Bonanza!
54ยบ 40' Vita-Beer Shandy - Who remembers Sunny-D? Yes, you can still buy it but for those of similar age to us you may remember when it came on the market. Around our house that was considered a treat so there are good memories linked to it. This beer brought back those memories right from the start with its aroma. The flavor continued to take us down memory lane, although it is lighter and less sweet than the juice drink. And while its 4.8% is a sessionable ABV it drinks like there's no alcohol in it at all and we suspect it would make great beermosa.

Baerlic Fancy Umbrella Drink - In addition to making an appearance at Imperial, this was also Baerlic's entry for the Portland Fruit Beer Festival and available in their taproom starting last weekend. With a great guava aroma and nice tartness (although minimal/no salt) it certainly lives up to its tagline: "Toes in the water, ass in the sand, a smile on your face and a Fancy Umbrella Drink in your hand."

Trinity Sour Cherry Threads - Tied with the Wolf Tree entry for highest ABV of the fest at 12% and similar in the use of cherries, this one hit much higher notes for us. Both have tons of cherry on the nose, but where that one goes down the Belgian road, this oak barrel aged lactic beer displays the lovely horse blanket funk that we love along with cherries. It was most certainly worth the additional tasting ticket!

Nectar Creek Raspberry Chocolate Mole Mead - This mead definitely lives up to its "weird" billing when one considers the gorgeous, rich berry color that the eyes behold but the disconnect as one takes in the aroma of mole. But it works. It's super fun and tasty, with the smoke and spice from the ancho and chipotle peppers being balanced by the chocolate, raspberries and wildflower honey. Being the other two ticket offering at the event, it, too was worthy.

As our time at Imperial wound down Larry and Kate mentioned that they would be heading over to The Commons as they had heard that Biere Royale was on tap. A beer we enjoyed multiple times in 2013, we were just as pleased with it now as we were back then. And the color...can't get enough of its beauty!

The remaining three to make this week's list all came our visits to The BeerMongers, shared by and with our frequent drinking buddy, Chris.
Alesong Touch of Brett: Mosaic - A dry, French-style Saison, the Brett it was fermented with is just slightly more prevelant than the Mosaic hops that provide ripe pineapple, mango and grapefruit flavors. Both components are favorites and this one masterfully blends the two.

Modern Times Monsters' Park Aged in Bourbon Barrels (Mexican Hot Chocolate 2017) - Modern Times has been a frequent flyer on our list and this 14.6% barrel-aged imperial stout is simply fabulous, especially after it sits for an hour and the full flavor profile - cinnamon, cocoa nibs, chilies and vanilla - blooms.

Fremont The Rusty Nail - Fremont makes good beers but where they really shine are with their aged, high ABV beers. This one begins with an oatmeal stout base, brewer's licorice, smoked barley and pale malt aged on cinnamon bark. That beer, called The First Nail, begins its second life after spending 15 months in 12-year old bourbon barrels, the result of which is an amazing dark, sour and smooth creation whose 13.2% is an afterthought.

PDX Beer Week continues through Sunday, offering plenty of options for great, unique beers and events. And even if one isn't attending "something special" there always seems to be special things waiting on the shelves and taps of our favorite places. Here's hoping you're finding some gems!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Beer Musing's Picks for PDX Beer Week

Yesterday we looked at the official foods for PDX Beer Week. Today we look at the PDX Beer Week events we're most excited about, most of which also have a food component.

Fruit Beer Festival - Last year was the first year we missed this festival, which temporarily moved across the river. The festival returns to its original home at Burnside Brewing Friday, June 9 - Sunday, June 11 with nearly 30 fruit beers and cider. The Friday session (4-9pm) will offer 20 of those and most likely, a smaller crowd. Ticket options are $20 for a plastic cup + 12 drink tickets OR $25 for a branded glass + 14 tickets and apply to all three days of the festival.

Sweet & Sour Dessert Pop-Up - Taking place at McMenamins 23rd Ave Bottle Shop on Tuesday, June 13, the event features Culmination Peche, Edgefield Dry Hopped Sour and Ruse Noctuary Sour. The three beers will be paired with three delicious desserts from Grains of Wrath Brewing's Chef Fabiola. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase at the Bottle Shop ($16).

Culmination Brewing at the Woodsman Tavern - Also on Tuesday is a beer pairing dinner featuring the PDX Beer Week beer, Hop Berry IPA brewed by Culmination, served with the amuse of Henderson Bay Oysters, along with five other beers and food courses. Tickets are available here for $60.

Sweet & Sour encore - On Wednesday, June 14 Chef Fabiola moves over to Saraveza for a similar event, this time featuring Block 15 Love Potion #9, Fort George 3-Way IPA and Ex Novo Cactus Wins the Lottery.

StormBreaker Beer & Wings Pairing - We haven't yet gotten around to trying StormBreaker's smoked wings but this may just be the push we needed. All day on Thursday, June 15 they are offering five smoked wings, each with a different sauce, paired with five different beer tasters.

Portland Beer & Cheese Fest - We missed this event, which is returning to Culmination for a second year, last year as we were in Silverton taking in the Oregon Garden Beer Fest. In its sixth year the festival take place on Saturday, June 18 and offers 10 beer and cheese pairings carefully selected by our favorite cheesemonger, Steve Jones. In addition to beer and cheese there will be complimentary chocolate and charcuterie samples. General admission ($35) and VIP ($45) tickets here.

Now just because we're excited about these events doesn't mean we'll make it to them all. Just like that letter you sent to Santa as a kid, this is a wish list. We'll see what kind of stamina we have.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

PDX Beer Week Begins

Today is the first day of the 11-day run of PDX Beer Week and the number of events going on throughout town is staggering. Since most of us have jobs, families and other commitments you'll have to pick and choose from the too-many-to-count events. Today alone there are 16 events to choose from (some of which are multi-day) but one aspect of the Week that is more widely accessible is the food and beer tie-ins.

The official beer is Hop Berry IPA, made by Culmination Brewing and utilizing Oregon Fruit Products' marionberry puree. 15 batches of this 7.1% ABV, fruit-forward IPA were brewed on their 5bbl system which kept the brewers busy but should also ensure that there will be plenty - on tap and in bottles - to go around throughout Beer Week.

On the food side there is one of the best accompaniments to beer, an official pizza, as well as an official donut and official ice cream. We had a chance to try all of them at a preview and boy did we enjoy that!

Pizza - Hotlips Pizza has once again created a special pizza for Beer Week. We tried the beta version a month ago and it was good but it's also clear that they have refined the pizza. The result is an amplification of the kimche flavor that pairs oh so well with the Pear and Ginger Hotlips soda-glazed pork belly. Throughout beer week you'll be able to snag a slice and a pint of Hopberry IPA for $8.

Donut - Made by Blue Star, it's gorgeous to behold thanks to the dehydrated fruit used to dust the outside of the fruity, cream-filled brioche donut. As with the ice cream, this sweet treat has a restrained sweetness, which is appreciated. When eaten alongside the beer it accentuates the hoppiness of the beer. So have it anytime of day, with or without a beer sidekick.

Ice cream - Made by Salt & Straw with marionberries and hops steeped in the cream mix, the flavor is designed to be an ice cream clone of Culmination's Hop Berry IPA. The berries take center stage initially with the hops taking over on the back end. It's an interesting flavor combination but hey, that's what Salt & Straw is known for and we applaud their abilities to use non-standard ingredients. Eat it alone or have a beer float!

One item that we weren't able to preview is Lardo's Beer Week sandwich. We're huge fans of everything Lardo turns out so we have no doubt that their cold fried chicken with blue cheese, bacon, pickles and butter lettuce will be phenomenal. In addition, both Lardo locations will host "pop up pub" events with Culmination taking over the taps downtown and Melvin moving in at the SE location through the 15th.

All of these will delectable delights be available throughout PDX Beer Week at their respective retail locations (as well as at select events) for your eating enjoyment.

Check back tomorrow for a look at some of the events that have us most excited.