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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Beer Cocktails: Rum Edition

For our second installment of beer cocktails we chose the general category of rum to work with, leaving ourselves plenty of options by having light rum, dark rum, spiced rum and even Malibu coconut rum (which likely conjures up very specific memories for anyone). With such a wide array of liquor flavor profiles the beers we opted not to limit ourselves to a beer style and selected ones were equally wide ranging. Like any experiment there were some great ones and some “work in progress” (to be revisited and refined in the future) ones, the former of which are below.

Fell into a Pile of Leaves
- Whaler’s Rare Reserve Dark Rum
- Reuben’s Autumn Harvest Imperial Pumpkin Ale
- club soda
- coconut sugar
- candied jalapeno simple syrup
- white sugar rim
- candied jalapeno and roasted delicata squash garnish

Dry and mild with a distinctive “fall” taste. The pumpkin ale is one of the better ones we’ve had, providing a full aroma, yet restrained in the level of pumpkin pie spices found in the flavor with a well balanced body. In the candid words of Lee, “Ah, shit, that’s divine!”

Spicy Jungle Rum-tini
- Whaler’s Rare Reserve Dark Rum
- Evil Twin You’re in the Jungle
- Natian Cease & Desist stout (2018)
- cacao juice
- coconut sugar rim

One of the later creations from this session, a time when we were venturing further afiled, we used two beers in this cocktail - the stout to provide both body for the cocktail and as a balance to the heat of the Evil Twin, a habanero peppers-containing beer. Much deeper and darker than the previous cocktail using the same rum, it tastes like what comes after fall - the holidays.

Santa’s Dirty Little Secret
- Havana Club Puerto Rican Rum (aƱjeo blanco)
- Natian Cease & Desist stout (2018)
- homemade Kahlua
- heavy cream

This fairly straightforward cocktail was loosely based on the flavors of a White Russian and it was pleasing to find that each of the ingredients we choose stood up to the others. Cascading and combing over our palate, the multiple layers of flavor change with each sip. We think Santa would be quite pleased to find this “dirty milk” in place of the standard glass of white alongside his cookies. Speaking of cookies, we happened to have some coffee crunch cookies, a take on chocolate chip cookies, on hand that provided yet another layer of flavor. If you’re good little boys and girls we might share our recipe for these crunchy, coffee-forward delights.

You Put the Lime in the Coconut
- Malibu Coconut Rum
- Crooked Stave Sour Rose
- club soda
- cranberry juice
- sugar rim
- lime garnish

Just the aroma out of the freshly cracked bottle of Malibu made us want to find a beach, slather on some back-in-the-day tanning oil and relax. Instead we put our heads to work, coming up with a combination of sour/tart beer and cranberry juice to offset the overwhelming coconut profile of the rum, taking this from a 20-something drink to that a 35+ crowd wouldn’t be embarrassed to drink. The use of club soda boosted the carbonation provided by the beer for a cocktail that screams “lawn chair STAT and keep my glass filled!” regardless of the time of year.

Dark & Stormy Natian
- The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
- Natian Cease & Desist stout (2018)
- Cock'n Bull ginger beer

Once again taking inspiration from a traditional cocktail, this time a Dark & Stormy, we put a beer spin onto it, betting the stout would compliment the “dark” characteristics of the rum in this sipper. Keeping the cocktail from being overly dark was the ginger provided by the Cock'n Bull and the next time we make this we'll expand on that with a candied ginger garnish.

With two editions of beer cocktails behind us (here's the first one in case you missed it), we're looking forward to continuing to use our creative juices to bridge the gap between a pint of beer and a cocktail.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Beer Cocktails: Oktoberfest & Vodka Edition

This year we've been getting more exposure to liquor and the experiences have opened our eyes and palates. We're not afraid to admit that the hard stuff has been intimitating, probably not too dissimilar to when we started drinking craft beer. What is actually good? What is worth the cost? What do we enjoy?

One of our partners on this exploration has been Annebelle, who has a great palate, a taste for cocktails and an eye for presentation. We came up with the idea to try our hand at making beer cocktails, getting together on a monthly basis to test out various combinations of a designated liquor and a style of beer each time. And while having more cooks in the kitchen isn't the best of plans, having another set of taste buds for our experimenting seemed prudent. Insert Lee who has a wealth of experience with tipples - being a mead maker, brewer and distiller - and is just as adventurous as we are.

Since fall is here it felt fitting to use Oktoberfests for the beer style and being our first go around, we chose one of the easier liquors to mix - vodka. What we came up with were a handful of cocktails, that may be subject to a bit more refining in the future, but we quite enjoyed and felt were worth sharing.

- Occidental Festbier
- Olde York Farm micro batch ramp vodka from Hudson, NY
- pickle brine
- lemon juice
- togarishi, salt, sugar, cayenne rim
- lemon slice and pickle garnish
All of the splashiness of a cocktail visually, this creation used a special vodka Lee hand carried back from a trip out east and a house-made version of togarishi in the rimming mixture. Reminiscent of a Bloody Mary in flavor without the heaviness from tomato juice.

Red Oktobier
- StormBreaker Stomtoberfest
- Belvedere vodka
- Apeol
- orange bitters
- lime garnish
Light and bright were the first words that came to mind upon trying this negroni-inspired beer cocktail. Using Apeol, similar to Campari but with a lower ABV, and beer made for a less bracing cocktail and the bitters filled in for Vermouth. 

Hipster Beerlini
- StormBreaker Stormtoberfest
- New Deal vodka
- peach juice
- peach slice garnish
A bellini can be a simple cocktail, just sparkling wine and peach juice or schnapps, and it's that simplistic take that we used to create our cocktail. Drawing on the beer for the carbonation sparkling wine would contribute we balanced the sweetness of the juice with just enough vodka to keep it feeling cocktail-ish. Using a perfectly ripe peach slice as garnish conjured up the aroma of being in the orchard at the height of harvest. 

Passion of the Beerlini
- StormBreaker Stormtoberfest
- New Deal vodka
- Amoretti passion fruit puree
- La Croix passionfruit
- lime
- muddled red raspberries
Taking the inspiration of a bellini further afield, we switched from peach to passion fruit for the juice component and added to the carbonation with flavored sparkling water. Muddling red raspberries gave it a rich color, with the lime providing a citrus brightness.

Although we had decided to make our concoctions with Oktoberfest beers and vodka after a few attempts with Spaten's beer we agreed whiskey was the way to go with it. Thus the final cocktail to come out of this installment uses a local whiskey and a majority local ingredients.
Go Westward, Spaten
- Spaten Oktoberfest
- House Spirits Westward whiskey
- Raft Botanicals smoked tea vanilla
- orange bitters
- The Barreled Bee whiskey barrel-aged honey rim
- orange peel

Stay tuned for the next installment!