Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Portland Passport on Tap

A few weeks ago we were contacted by the folks over at Portland Passport on Tap about the app that they describe as “Portland’s first self-guided beer & cider tasting experience.” Initially launched in Montreal, Portland is their second market and there are plans to add Vancouver, BC and Seattle later this year. Basically it is a discounted way to experience pints or taster trays at local breweries and cideries. For $40 one selects 12 locations from the 21 currently available, conveniently listed in the app by geographical location. At each location the Passport user will receive either a pint or a three-glass taster set. 

The first location we visited after installing the app was Coalition Brewing. It’s a favorite of ours and we were pleased to find that when we ordered, the beertender was very familiar with the app. After we clicked to use Coalition and selected the beer (Circus Hour fruited CBD sour), we handed our phone to the beertender and she signed off on it. Easy-peasy. The app provided a welcome reminder that a tip was not included and after taking care of that we sat down and thoroughly enjoyed our beer.

The second location we visited with the app was Ex Novo. This beertender seemed a little less sure about the process but knew the basics and once again we were able to use it with absolute ease. The app notes that locations may place restrictions on what can be ordered, however as with the our visit to Coalition, no restrictions were conveyed when we ordered a Stereophonic hazy IPA at Ex Novo.

From the date of purchase users have one year to drink through the 12 locations they select. We appreciate that one does not have to select all 12 locations immediately and even once selected, they can be removed if they have yet to be used. Most of the 21 locations available are ones that we like and are happy to have yet another reason to visit (so many good places in Portland, so little time, right?). Also appreciated is that there is an online chat option within the app should any questions arise. Our inquiry was answered right away and as an extra bit of follow up we found a transcript of the chat in our inbox.

One caveat with this app is that it can only be used once at each location. Of course this is part of the goal of the app - to get users to make their way to multiple locations to taste [at least part] of what the Portland brewing scene has to offer. Whether it is more useful for locals or visitors is up for debate however what isn’t debatable is that it is a straightforward and user friendly addition to the encouragements-to-drink app market. Plus, at $40 for 12 pints, that's less than $3.50 a pint (+ tip).

We’ll be interested to see if they take off in this market, how often new locations in Portland are added and what other cities they pop up in. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Personalized Beer Mugs & More

We were recently contacted by Joe Debicella, Right Hand Man, at Groovy Guy Gifts with the offer to test out one of their products. To benefit the greater good we took him up on the offer, selecting the Gunmetal Glugger from their offerings and shortly thereafter it arrived at our door.

Before we get to the Glugger, a bit about GGG. The company was started to be “a site offering several unique personalized gifts for men” and while guys might be their target market our perusal of the items they offer - all with the ability to be personalized - would be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of what’s in their pants. The four person GGG team also has one female on the staff who “adds a woman's touch to a site run by and for men.” Now onto the mug.

The Gunmetal Glugger appears at first glance to be made of metal but is in fact a heavy duty glass mug (think in terms of the glass mug a bartender would heft out of the cooler to fill with a macro lager). Since we’re not big fans of drinking out of metal this suits us just fine, especially when one considers the cool see through bottom (see ----------->>>>).

Like all of the gifts on the GGG site, the mug can be personalized. There is space for up to 15 characters on each of two lines with an additional option of adding "best man", "groom", "groomsman", or "usher" to the banner below it. If none of these are fitting for the person you're buying it for, it can be kept plain.

Even if a mug doesn’t seem to be “the thing” for the person you have in mind, GGG has plenty of other options: travel bags, coolers, flasks, knives, cuff links, watches, wallets, decanters, bottle openers and lighters. Turn around time is pretty quick, as soon as 3-4 business days if you pay for the “Super Fast Shipping.” If you’ve planned ahead and don't need to rush it Standard Shipping is free for orders over $50.

Whether your looking for a gift for a sibling, spouse, parent or friend wander over to Groovy Guy Gifts and at least scroll through what they offer. Maybe you'll find the perfect thing for that person...or yourself.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Girl Scout Cookies & Beer - Year Six

It’s that time of year again and if you haven’t seen them hawking their sugary treats around town or been asked by a friend or relative to buy them then clearly you’ve been living under a rock. Since Chris’ niece was once again selling them, he was once again buying a box of each variety available. Apparently the beer gods looked favorably upon us because we were able to sit down for our annual pairing foray less than a week after the cookies arrived. 

In advance of gathering at our local we perused past years’ pairing posts to see what beers had worked with what cookies, keeping a particular eye out for the unexpected pairs like Do-Si-Dos (peanut butter sandwich cookies) and Bell’s Winter White (Belgian style) or Samoas (coconuty) with Baerlic What the Fluff (hazy IPA). Referencing that information aided some of our decision making while the rest was left to our palates’ preferences and what shiny new things were available this year.

Block 15 Breakfast with Woodford
Our friend Paul brought this treat from his collection and overall the big, boozy stout brewed with maple syrup was a hit both on its own and with many of the cookies. With Toffee-tastic, the gluten free cookie that we were quite happy to see return this year, the pairing took on the flavor profile of French toast. The cookie provided a brioche-like base with its toffee bits playing off the maple syrup notes in the beer. Not surprisingly the rich coconuty Samoas made for a very decadent pairing. Thin Mints, for all of their perceived easy pairing with big, dark beers, have often not been as compatible as we had hoped however here the beer brought the mint to the forefront, making it pop in a deliciously sharp way.

Stone Xocoveza 
A favorite beer of Caren’s, this imperial stout was brewed to have a flavor profile similar to that of Mexican hot chocolate - deep with a balanced spiciness. As with the Block 15, it worked well with many of the cookies but particularly well with S’mores. This sandwich cookie not only does a great job of smelling like a s’more but also tasting like it and when paired with this beer the marshmallow flavor became enhanced to the point of almost reaching coconut.

Trap Door Mango Lassi
We’ve been impressed with Trap Door’s beers in general however none of us were particularly enamored by this sour/gose, that is until we had some cookie in our mouth at the same time. A tropical take on the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich resulted from pairing it with the Do-Si-Dos and the bright fruit helped to lighten up the chocolate covered peanut butter goodness of the Tagalongs. That light fruitiness also worked well to balance the overt sweetness of the S’mores cookie.

Tieton Cider Works Apricot
While we have primarily stuck to beer pairings, we have occasionally cracked open a cider and often found a compatible cookie for it. This year we tried out an apricot cider, agreeing that it was enjoyable on its own, and found its best mate in the tried and true Trefoils (aka Shortbread). The cookie’s butteriness held strong with a pleasant contribution of bright fruit from the cider. For a lighter pairing, the Savannah Smiles lemon cookie hit the mark.

Great Divide Orabelle
This Belgian-style ale “with spices” is in the same family as the Bell’s Winter White we mentioned previously. Similar to it, it’s not a beer we find particularly enjoyable on its own but we did find a pairing that redeemed the beer - the super sweet Samoas. The beer did its part to balance the cookie’s sweetness while the cookie transformed the beer into something that we quite enjoyed. 

Ex Novo Wooden Teeth
Another big, dark beer, this 13.4% ABV whiskey barrel-aged wee heavy ale also found a friend in the Samoas, here being decadent instead of being lightened. For being a "controversial" cookie (depending on your feeling about coconut) this year it turned out to be one of the most versatile and successfully paired cookies.

Thanks to all the friends that joined us, our local and the beertender on staff for making this another fun and palate-informing outing!