Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: April 10 - 16

In reviewing our drinking last week it turns out that we had a lot of good beer, in fact so much that we decided to distill this post down to only the top two.

Ruse 4th Kind - Ruse is one of those breweries that holds a special place in our hearts, in part because we got to know owner/brewer Shaun Kalis when interviewing him for a piece in the Oregon Beer Growler last year. His brewery is housed inside Culmination, where he is also part of their brewing staff. This Northeast-style oatmeal pale ale, brewed with lactose, is citrusy and juicy and hazy as one would expect for this style of beer we're seeing an abundance of lately. Certainly one of the best hazy beers we've had the pleasure of enjoying it is not "traditionally pretty" but it's so damn delicious it doesn't even matter.

The Commons & Grains of Wrath Pay No Attention to This IPA - The collaboration beer, from another special-to-us brewery and a new-to-us brewery, is definitely something to pay attention to. Earlier this year The Commons brewed its first IPA which was delicious and showed that while they don't usually make this style they are more than capable of making a very good one. This time around they have surpassed the initial IPA bar they set for themselves and gotten us excited about future beers from Grains of Wrath, the Washington brewery from former Fat Head's brewer Mike Hunsaker. With so much hoppy yum-ness we know we'll be missing it once it's all been consumed but in the meantime we'll do our part to drink plenty of it.

While those two were our favorites, close runners up and tasty in their own right were:
- Block 15 Animal Cookies IPA
- Culmination Away Days English IPA (brewed for The Toffee Club)
- Modern Times City of the Dead barrel-aged coffee stout
- Modern Times Oderville IPA
- Montavilla Citrasphere IPA
- Pono El Garrote IPA
- Schilling Grapefruit Cider Special Release

Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 Portland Spring Beer & Wine Fest

Yesterday the 2017 Portland Spring Beer & Wine Fest kicked off its two-day run at the Oregon Convention Center. One of the few indoor only beer festivals, in addition to the beer and wine the name alludes to, there are also distilled spirits, food booths and something for just about everyone. Oh, and sugar gliders.

We always find ourselves introduced to someone new when we attend this festival and this year was no different. One of those new-to-us folks was Bandon Rain cider. Located on the southern Oregon coast south of Coos Bay they are a family operation that started as a hobby. They brought to the festival their signature cranberry apple cider, Cranberry Squall, and Apple Pie. Both are semi-sweet ciders, at 6.7% and 6.9% respectively. Beyond being available in Bandon and Coos Bay, they currently are available in Eugene, Forest Grove and here in Portland at Bushwhacker Cider.

Among those returning to the festival is Pono Brewing with two delicious and decidedly different offerings - Southern Whirl Belgian Strong Golden Ale with black currant and Oregon grown raspberries. Gorgeous to behold, the berries temper the Belgian characteristics to make for a drinkable 8.14% beer. Their other offering, El Garrote IPA, sports a great caveman logo and "will knock you out." We'll be looking forward to seeing much more of this around town.

Since we are hop heads, we can't overlook mentioning two other IPAs that we had for the first time at the Fest - Montavilla Citrasphere IPA and Modern Times Orderville. Citrasphere was the first beer in our glass yesterday and the lovely citrus aroma and flavor made for a great start to things. Shortly thereafter we had the dank-to-the-max Orderville. And while we won't go on and on about all the rest we drank and ate suffice it to say it was a very enjoyable time. The festival runs 12-10pm today and we'd recommend finding time to check it out yourself.

Portland Spring Beer & Wine Fest
Oregon Convention Center
April 14 and 15, 12-10pm

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: April 3 - 9

This week's Best Things is dominated by fruit but used in a variety of beer styles which kept things interesting (and pretty to boot).

Yachats Salal Sour - Sitting at the top of the heap according to our taste buds is one of the first beers Yachats has bottled. We've known Charlie and Jenna for awhile and are thrilled to see their beers making it up to Portland. This one presents with a tart, fruity aroma and an absolutely gorgeous color. Made with local, wild salal berries (used by the indigenous people of Cascadia for generations) it is a clean, drinkable fruit sour. Keep 'em coming!

StormBreaker Guava Man - "Don't judge a book by the cover" definitely applies to this beer. Looking like cloudy grapefruit juice the appearance belies the delicious flavor, which is in fact pithy as well as hoppy, that is found upon drinking it.

North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse - We were surprised to see North Coast making this style of beer but couldn't pass up trying it. While we found it to be a bit on the sweet end of the fruit Berliner Weisse spectrum it was very drinkable with a real cherry flavor, the result of using real Michigan Montmorency cherries. Apparently it's a very limited release beer so if you're intrigued and see it you'd better grab it now or  settle for regretting it later.

Modern Times Black House Nitro w/Coffee, Coconut & Cocoa - A take on the brewery's oatmeal coffee stout, there is an impressive amount of flavor - mild coconut, coffee and hop bitterness - packed into its 5.8% ABV. We continue to be impressed with beer after beer from this brewery and are excited to have a newcomer that is so solid in our market.

McMenamins Captain Neon's Mango Double IPA - We loved the colorful can artwork from first glance and were very pleased with the beer inside. At 9%+ ABV it's not surprising that the aroma is somewhat boozy. What may be surprising is that it doesn't drink that heavy. The combination of dry-hopping with Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic and Chinook and use of mango puree creates a yummy, hoppy flavor that may or may not have led to the consumption of multiple cans one evening (under the watchful eyes of Thing 1 and Thing 2).

If you've had any of these beers we'd love to hear what you thought of them. And if you've had anything outstanding you think should be on our radar, let us know.