Monday, September 15, 2014

Two Firsts: Enjoying a Scottish Ale & Being on Live Radio

Recently I had the opportunity to be on the radio for the first time as a guest on Ginger Johnson's weekly show, Beer Radio, on KSKQ 89.5 FM. Not only would we be talking about all things beer but its timeslot lands conveniently during happy hour so it only seemed appropriate that I have a glass of hop goodness to whet my whistle during the show.

Shortly before "go time" I opened the fridge and pulled out a recent beer mail gift - Noble Scot from Portland Brewing. This fall season is not a style that I usually drink as many Scottish Ales I've had in the past have been too malty or sweet for my palate. However as I have mentioned before, beers are continually surprising me so dove in with an open mind and palate. What I found was a slightly sweet aroma and beautiful, rich amber color once poured. Contrary to my memory of Scottish Ales past, there was a pleasant nutty flavor that I found quite enjoyable from the first sip to the bottom of the bottle.

At 6.5% it is an easy drinking beer and suitable for times, like live radio, when one needs to keep their wits about them. Perhaps you'll grab a bottle and que up the archived version of Beer Radio to listen to me ramble on about my favorite beverage.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Collaboration Brews - Taking it to the Next Level

Collaboration beers are fairly common place these days and with the trend continuing, it's evolving in new and interesting iterations. A friend recently gave me Whatcom Wheat, a collaboration of all nine Whatcom County (WA) breweries for Bellingham Beer Week, which starts today. In addition to some groovy, eye catching artwork on the 16 oz can, the beer itself was pretty good. Wheat beers are tricky waters for me to forge as if find strong banana and clove flavors displeasing. When I cracked this can open there was a distinct banana aroma that triggered my internal caution lights but it was for naught. Contained in the can was a well-balanced wheat beer that if it was available in my home market I'd happily buy more of.

Over the summer, as I'm sure you've heard about was the nationwide tour/campaign/distribution from Sierra Nevada - Beer Camp. Not only did they collaborate with 12 breweries across the country for their 12-pk but they went to the next level by making a national tour out of it. Even with Eugene-based Ninkasi being one of the breweries involved, Oregon missed out on being a tour stop. While I was sad about that, I was fortunate to attend a Beer Camp event at The BeerMongers where they had all 12 beers on tap. I previously blogged about my favorites, one of which came from Asheville Brewers Alliance, the only one of the bunch that was a new brewery to me. Nonetheless, Beer Camp allowed me to have beers from some breweries that aren't generally available in this market. For that alone I applaud the effort.

Recently a third collaboration caught my eye. 20+ brewers in North Carolina brewed a gose containing only ingredients from the state. I'm a big fan of that style but based on this Charlotte Business Journal article, it'll be unlikely I'll have a chance to see what this many "cooks in the kitchen" whipped up. Only eight barrels were made and beyond the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC and the breweries' own tap rooms, the only other place it will be making an appearance at is the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The GABF pouring is one that the breweries hope will enhance North Carolina's up and coming craft beer scene. Kudos to them.

How about you, have you been noticing more and more collaboration beers? What do you think of the idea or the beers themselves if you've had a chance to try them?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 Thundercone in the Making

As you read this, fermenters across the McMenamins empire are filled with batches of 2014 Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale. In what is certainly no small feat, 1120 pounds of Brewers Gold hops from Sodbuster Farms were delivered to all 22 McMenamins brewing locations yesterday. It took a fleet of eight drivers just under five hours to drop off the fresh hops. From there the brewers went to work.

I had a chance to visit the Concordia Brewery, housed at the Kennedy School, as brewers Dave Kosanke and Matt Carter spent a full day brewing a double batch. Walking into the brewery I was hit with the familiar, but always just as pleasing, aroma of my favorite beverage being made. Coming in pre-sparge of the second batch, it wasn't until Dave opened the bag of fresh hops that I was treated to the bright scent of fresh hops.

During the brewing I had a chance to get a little history on Dave that included finding out he's an IA/MN transplant like me, although he's been calling Oregon home for much longer. He's been with McMenamins since 2001 where he started out as a bartender...a bartender that was also a home brewer. Attending a formal brewing program was something that Dave had looked into but before he got around to making it happen a brewing internship opened up at Edgefield.

In the two and a half years since then he's been working in the "cozy" facility at Concordia that turns out 300 kegs per month. Both Dave and Matt are big fans of lagers, with last year's Doppelbock being one of the favorites created. They would jump at the chance to brew lagers more often, but time and space constraints make turning out ales the majority of their production.

Thundercone will be hitting the tap lines Friday, September 19th. As with all fresh hop beers, it probably won't last long.

Geek Info:
Malts: Canada Malting Superior Pilsen Malt, Franco Belges Caramel Munich 40
Hops: Chinook, Fresh Brewer's Gold hops
OG: 1.061  TG: 1.013  ABV: 6.19%  IBU: 56  SRM: 7