Monday, May 13, 2019

Beer Cocktails: Tequila Edition

Our first three forays into creating beer cocktails found us testing our hand with whiskey, vodka and rum. This time around we went for a slightly more challenging spirit - tequila. While not our spirit of choice in general we have enjoyed some professionally made tequila-based cocktails. Gathering up some traditional cocktail recipes to use as our basis of inspiration we met up at Gateway Brewing with an assortment of fruit juices and other mix-ins, bitters, rimming ingredients and a few other select beers to round out our tequila cocktail-making bar. 

Joel and Karen Sheley, owners of Gateway, not only fully opened their brewery up to us but also their inviting and perfect-for-entertaining back yard on what turned out to be a gorgeous early May evening. That full access allowed us to sample and select from Gateway Pilsner, Exit 7 IPA, Wood Hill Stout, Jet Coffee Stout, Ventura Red Ale and Mahogany Dark Lager to match with the Reposado (oak aged) and Silver tequilas. Here are the best of this session's creations.

Gateway Mule
- Reposado tequila
- Gateway Ventura Red Ale
- Cock'n Bull ginger beer
- Jalapeno simple syrup
- Lime juice

As fans of the ginger beer based "mule" we couldn't resist creating our own version, using the Ventura to provide a more complex backbone.

Spicy Pineapple Margarita
- Silver tequila
Gateway Pilsner
- Pineapple juice
- Jalapeno simple syrup
- Lemon wedge
- Salt rim

We are not fans of the overly sugary versions of a margarita that one might find at a national chain restaurant and in making our beer cocktail version we opted for just a splash of fruit juice.

Nice & Easy
- Silver tequila
- Baerlic Nice & Easy
- Triple Sec
- Salt rim

Just like the Baerlic gose we used for this beer cocktail, the name seemed fitting for this easy to drink cocktail.

Night Falls
- Silver tequila
- Homemade Kahlua
Prairie Artisan Bomb (imperial stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chile peppers)

Transitioning from a sunny day of patio drinking to gathering around a fire, this three ingredient cocktail was inspired by the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate.

Muffin Maiden
- Great Notion Blueberry Muffin
- Silver tequila
- Limeade
- Lemon sugar rim
- Lime wedge

Great Notion Brewing's beers can be polarizing - either you like them or you don't. We happen to appreciate their unique contribution to the Portland beer scene and found that one of their beers made a very nice contribution to our cocktail creating.

Huge thanks go out to our hosts, Joel and Karen, along with our merry band of taste testers! 

Follow our adventures in picture form on our newly created Instagram account just for our cocktails, Craft Beer Concoctions.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Opening Day at Assembly Brewing

Today marks the official opening of the latest addition to the Portland Brewing scene, Assembly Brewing. Located on busy SE Foster in what had been a grocery store since 1948, the new charcoal and orange paint job makes it hard to miss from any direction. With plans to be open from 11am - 2am daily making time to stop in to check them out shouldn't be too hard.

We had a chance to check out the beer and food earlier this week and hear from owners Adam Dixon and George Johnson. The beer, according to George, is intended to be "flavorful, balanced and drinkable" with the goal that one can have a few pints and remain upright. The beers will be brewed in the 5.5% - 6.5% range and from the ones that we sampled, we agree that they do hearken back to the days before hop bombs and aggressive ABV beers became so common. The SMaSH, using 2 Row malt and Ekuanot hops, hit a high note for us with its bright, light hoppiness and easy drinking quality. In addition to their seven beers, they're also offering two Cider Riot! ciders and a handful of cocktails.

On the food side, the focus of the menu is on their Detroit style pizza which George makes from a proprietary dough recipe. Apparently the style started in a speakeasy and as one may have noticed, has been growing in popularity in recent years. Ex Novo, Ranch and East Glisan all offer their own versions of the square pies, with Assembly's sticking to similar parameters but putting their own touch on it, including the ability to order a veggie or vegan pie. If one isn't in the mood for pizza, they also offer sandwiches, salads and a handful of appetizers.

The space itself is big enough for a crowd, offering a mixture of high top and standard tables. An extensive mural dominates two of the walls and is worth taking the time to fully appreciate. There is also outdoor seating between the building and the 12-space parking lot. With spring just around the corner it will no doubt see plenty of use. As pinball fans we were thrilled to spy three machines - Ghost Busters, Hurricane and Theatre of Magic - that will need some of our attention next time we're in.

Adam, on the right, said that they hope "Assembly Brewing will become a cornerstone of the Foster-Powell neighborhood." It's a neighborhood that is changing and one that had been devoid of a brewery, with the closest ones being Hopworks west on Powell, Double Mountain south in Woodstock and Zoiglhaus to the east.

The grand opening, next Saturday, March 29th, will include live entertainment and some of the local artists that contributed to the aesthetics. Check out all of the details on their Facebook event.

Assembly Brewing   
6112 SE Foster Rd
Open 11am - 2am daily

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.