Friday, July 3, 2015

The Comfort of Beer

As a long-time beer geek, seeking out beer wherever I'm at it is a given, hopefully a given that isn't too irritating (or an off-base indication that I need to visit the AA folks) to family and friends who haven't gone down the beer rabbit hole themselves. It's a delight to find new beer or in certain locals be reunited with old favorites that don't make it to Portland. It's also a comfort, not just the comfortable escape the ABVs provide but also the comfort of pursuing a familiar hobby.

Case in point is a recent visit back to the Midwest due to a family medical emergency, which for now is out of the crisis category and into the wait and see category. Towards the end of the second day spent mostly in a hospital room I was able to meet up with one of my dearest friends, first at a dive bar just down the street from the hospital and then we continued our visit over dinner at a place she specifically chose because of their tap list. While she's primarily a macro drinker she's a ready student eager to explore, up for tasting anything and she knows a good tap list when she sees it.

Jameson's Public House was the destination and with one look their tap handles I was blown away. There were five Deschutes taps, but not the usual suspects of Black Butte and Mirror Pond, oh no, there was The Stoic, Fresh Squeezed, Armory XPA (on nitro), Pinedrops IPA and Red Chair. In addition there was Rubaeus from Founders and Abrasive from Surly. I was quite serious when I said I'd happily spend the night there.

Rubaeus, made with raspberries, has been a beer I've been eager to try for years, since we visited Founder's on a beercation, in fact. Although they were out of it when we were there I picked up a t-shirt and every time I've worn it I've wondered when I would be able to try it. It was as delicious as I had hoped and was a unanimous hit with my friend, my brother and even my non-beer drinking mom.

I would have greatly enjoyed another Rubaeus but I couldn't resist the pull of Abrasive. It's a big beer so I tried getting a half pour, common in Portland. It turned out not to be an option so I happily enjoyed sip after sip of the full goblet at our patio table as the sun slowly set and the music from down the street filled the evening.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Beer Festival Finds Ways to Set Itself Apart

July is Oregon Craft Beer Month and right away there's a brand spanking new beer festival happening. The Portland Craft Beer Festival is taking place over the 4th of July weekend, Friday through Sunday, at The Fields Park.

In Portland our cup runneth over with beer goodness including a vast array of beer festivals so new entries into the crowded field need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the pack. The biggest thing that sets the #PCBF apart from the rest is that you'll find beers made exclusively IN Portland - nothing from Bend, nothing from Lake Oswego, nothing from Hillsboro. That doesn't however mean the beer won't be plentiful. Attendees can expect to find beers from 45 breweries as well as ciders from Reverend Nat's and Cider Riot, wines from Coopers Hall and those delicious difficult-to-categorize fizzy wines from Hi Wheel.

Another thing that sets #PCBF apart is that they are attempting to strike a balance between a 21+ festival and a family friendly festival. If you're like me and prefer the lil'uns to be somewhere besides the beer festival, go on Friday or Saturday. If you don't mind knee-high humans and strollers or if you have them and want to bring them along, attend on Sunday when the festival is family friendly. And by family friendly they don't just mean you don't need to prove you're 21 to enter, they'll also have a family yoga class, children's market and free vision testing for kids by The Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation. The Oregon Lions is one of three charities, along with the James Beard Public Market and the Oregon Brew Crew, that funds from the festival will benefit.

Portland Craft Beer Festival
Friday, July 3, 4 - 10 pm | Saturday, July 4, 12 - 10 pm | Sunday, July 5, 12 - 7 pm

The Fields Park, NW 11th Ave & Overton
Tickets: $20 both at the door & in advance but if you buy them by July 2 you get 15 tickets instead of 10 in addition to your tasting mug

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Barrel Aged Ciders: A Collaboration Between Reverend Nat's and Raven&Rose

Warning: This post is not about beer. It's about cider that's almost as good as beer.

Reverend Nat's, always on the cutting edge of the cider world, has teamed up with Raven&Rose to produce two barrel aged ciders. Raven&Rose provided the Eagle Rare Bourbon barrels where Revival and Sacrilege ciders sat for about four months. This Thursday those ciders will be available at the Rookery Bar above Raven&Rose.

Before we get to the ciders and happenings  on Thursday, I wanted to share some of what I learned during the "lecture" owner Nat West gave to the Oregon Bartender's Guild. "Lecture" isn't really fair since it was one of the most interesting presentations I've been to (not to mention there was cider being poured throughout). He covered the history of cider in the US and abroad, the process of making cider and the varieties of cider.

Some of the most interesting takeaways:
  • Prohibition was even more devastating to the cider industry than the beer industry. Thousands of apple varieties, suited only for cider making and not eating, were lost when there was no market for them. Unlike beer, when Prohibition was lifted producers couldn't just start making their product again; they had to wait for apples to be grown before they could resume their business.
  • The Pacific Northwest is the fastest growing region in the US for cider. This is due in large part to easy (and inexpensive) access to apples from Washington, the nation's top apple-producing state.
  • Glucose is the sugar in apples. Maltose is the sugar in grains. Glucose is much easier for yeast to eat. (Things got really science-nerdy here.)
  • Most cider makers in the US use white wine yeast. Nat's a bit different (in case you missed his experiments with Angel of Death and Kumiss Mongolian Milkwine) and he uses Belgian yeast.
  • All yeasts have different nutritional and temperature requirements. Nat is dialed in to what his yeast needs and has been known to show up at the cidery at all hours of the night to make sure they're able to do their job optimally.
  • Even with all that attention, yeast used to make cider cannot be repitched, they're just too tired (true across the cider industry).

Now, back to the upcoming release of these two barrel aged ciders. I had a chance to try each and I can assure you that the barrel did its work on the Revival, imparting a ton of bourbon aroma and flavor. Not being a bourbon connoisseur the subtleties may have been lost on me but those more well-versed in the spirit should enjoy the side-by-side boilermaker experience of the cider and the bourbon from that barrel. The effect of the barrel on the Sacrilege is completely different and the result is a very dry and tart product. Intended to be a primary component in the Old Fashioned, generally a very sweet drink, the goal was to enhance the sour, dry and funkiness of the cider. Both the boilermaker and the "Old Fashioned" will be available for $10.

For those not able to make it to Raven&Rose Thursday there are a limited number of bottles of each barrel aged cider. But I can't tell you more than that...just yet. Keep up with Reverend Nat's online or check back here. I promise to let you know more as soon as I can.

Eagle Rare Bourbon Barrel Aged Ciders Release Party
Raven&Rose's Rookery Bar
1331 SW Broadway
Thursday, June 25th 6-10 pm