Thursday, March 1, 2018

4th Annual SheBrew Beer Festival

As 2018 rolls on and the frequency of beer festivals picks up, don't miss your chance to attend one of the newer, somewhat smaller, but definitely worthy festivals in Portland. SheBrew is now in its fourth year, offering beer, cider and mead from female Pro Brewers and Home Brewers. Unlike the WW Pro/AM (which we love as well), at this festival the pros and the home brewers don't team up to brew a beer/cider/mead but instead offer their creations as two components of a festival that is also a fundraiser for HRC. (The organization works with lawmakers and other groups to achieve equality for LGBTQ people in Oregon and across the US.)

For the second year the festival will take place inside Buckman Coffee Factory, a female-owned roaster located in inner SE. In addition to the 30+ beer/cider/mead offerings from the Pro Brewers and Home Brewers there will be music throughout the festival, comedians starting at 6:30pm and Spotlight food cart set up. For an added bit of fun attendees will be able to vote (until 6pm) for their favorite home brewed beverage in the People's Choice competition, with the winner being announced at the conclusion of the festival.

While being named People's Choice is an honor, a pre-festival American Homebrewers Association sanctioned competition took place that included submissions from across the country. 121 entries competed in 17 categories with the category winners selected by a team of judges and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners being awarded medals. The overall winner, Best of Show, will have the honor of collaborating on a beer with Natalie Baldwin, R&D brewer at Breakside Brewery. The Best of Show winner will be announced at 6pm.

The $20 general admission fee includes festival tasting glass, 10 tasting tokens and punch card to sample and vote on all the homebrew beverages. (The festival-standard option of purchasing more tokens for $1 each applies.) For those wanting to get a jump on the general admission entry, $40 VIP tickets are available. In addition to glass, tokens and punch card, VIP ticket holders get early entry (11am), t-shirt and 10 raffle tickets. 

We plan to be there when the doors open and hope to see you!

Saturday, March 3 12 - 8pm
1105 SE Main St.
Purchase tickets in advance or at the door

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Beer & Girl Scout Cookies Pairing Year 5

Our annual sugar fest in which we support the Girl Scouts and use as an excuse to play with beer happened Sunday. Last year we split the event into two separate days since we were able to get our hands on some out-of-state offerings and while that was fun, what we have access to here is more than enough to put us into sugar shock.

Here was our lineup:
- Do-Si-Dos (aka Peanut Butter Sandwich)
- Samoas (aka Caramel De-Lites)
- Savannah Smiles
- Shortbreads (aka Trefoils)
- S'mores (the non-vegan graham cracker sandwich version)
- Tagalongs (aka Peanut Butter Patties)
- Thin Mints
- Toffee-Tastic (gluten-free)

Per our usual we gathered at our favorite watering hole (which by the way was just named as Oregon's favorite beer bar by's readers), opened all the boxes and started hitting the coolers to pull out beers to pair with the cookies.

First up was Chris' pick of Berried at Sea from Pelican, their Tsunami Stout that was aged in oak barrels with blackberries and currants to re-ferment. Along the lines of a sour stout, the acidic profile somewhat distracted from the overall profile of the beer. Nonetheless, it found a peanut butter partner to its "jelliness" in the Do-Si-Dos and Tagalongs. Going a lighter route it created an acid-expected berry lemonade flavor with the Savannah Smiles, which we've agreed is The Best Beer Cookie (more on that below).

Another beer that made fast friends with the two peanut butter cookies was Fort George From Astoria with Love, the Russian Imperial Stout is the base beer for all of Fort George's Matryoshka variants. Mag was impressed by Do-Si-Do's ability to hold its own against the 9.4% beer while Kris would be happy to sit down with a box and a few cans to fully indulge in the rich pairing. Speaking of decadent pairings, Left Hand Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout made for a great one with the other peanut butter cookie, Tagalongs. For a more complimentary pairing to the Do-Si-Do's, reach for Crooked Stave St. Bretta. Now available in 12oz cans, the beer pleasantly lightened the richness of the cookie while the cookie brought to the forefront more of the dryness in this Saison.

Samoas, historically a difficult cookie to pair due to the coconut and over the top sweetness, found many beer friends this time around.
- Falling Sky Juniper Rye became more malty, in a very pleasant way
- Boulevard Rye on Rye, a rye-heavy beer on its own, was moderated and made more enjoyable
- Baerlic What the Fluff NE-style IPA accentuated the saltiness of the cookie while toning down its sugar forwardness
- Evil Twin B is for Blueberry brought the chocolate component in the cookie to prominence
- Left Hand Nitro Bittersweet found its only cookie buddy here

Falling Sky Juniper Rye, Boulevard Rye on Rye and Baerlic What The Fluff also paired well with the S'mores graham cracker sandwich cookies. So, too, did pFriem Cognac barrel-aged Belgian Style Dark Ale. The 10.3% beer was well balanced between its booziness and its Belgian characteristics.

Toffee-Tastic, the Girl Scout's gluten-free offering, is a cookie that has surprised us from day one both with its flavor and texture as well as its ability to pair well with beer. This year our favorite beer we paired it with was pFriem Cognac which accentuated the rich butteryness of the cookie. For those who prefer to have that buttery quality tempered, we suggest going with Crooked Stave St. Bretta.

Thin Mints, one of the staples of the Girl Scout cookie line up, have typically been most successfully paired with stouts and that trend continued this year when paired with Left Hand Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout. The boozy beer balanced nicely with the cookie's minty profile. Shortbreads were another cookie we'd paired often enough that we didn't dive too deep into that well but found Pelican Berried at Sea, especially once it had warmed, made for a nice companion.

Thanks to our Sunday Monger, David, for keeping an eye on us.
Saving the best for last, our picks for the top beers to pair with The Best Beer Cookie, the lemony, powdered sugar coated, crescent shaped Savannah Smiles.
- Pelican Berried at Sea, as mentioned above
- Evil Twin B is for Blueberry for a lighter version of the Berried at Sea pairing
- Little Beast Tree Spirit for a trip down the cherry lemonade path
- Baerlic What the Fluff's hoppiness for a pairing that brings out the lemon even further in the cookies
- Crooked Stave St. Bretta for the cookie to accentuate the lemon-citrus notes of the beer
- Falling Sky Juniper Rye for a surprising pairing where the cookie brought out the malty qualities in the beer and increased its drinkability (for our group)

Beer is tasty, beer is fun, beer is better with friends. We're already brainstorming on our next beer and [something] pairing. If you have ideas for what you'd like us to play with, leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

21 Breweries + 20 Distilleries = Brewstillery 4 Festival

Now in its fourth year StormBreaker's beer and spirit pairing event, Brewstillery, returns this Saturday. For the uninitiated the festival brings together local breweries and distilleries to create perfect pairings - 4oz of beer and 1/4oz of the selected spirit. While we'd encourage you to try at least a couple of them paired, if spirits just aren't your thing or perhaps you'd prefer to try out a bunch of spirits, no problem. Each tasting ticket is good for either a beer pour or spirit taste. How you spend your tickets is completely up to you. 

We recently had the opportunity to try a handful of this year's pairings and are pleased to report that they brought a smile to our beer-loving mouths. So that you can get an idea of what will be offered, here's a recap of what we tried.

Noble's Big Triple: StormBreaker Big Bottom barrel-aged Triple XL IIIPA & Big Bottom Bourbon finished in port casks
Triple IPAs can be hit or miss with us. Too sweet, too hot, there are many ways to screw them up however StormBreaker nailed this 10.5% version. When paired with Big Bottom's 91 proof Bourbon, it tastes closer to 5% and the two are well balanced with the port characteristics in the Bourbon contributing to the smooth finish of the beer.

Nocino Vlad: Cascade Orange Vlad & Stone Barn Nocino
Nocino, a liqueur made from unripe walnuts picked in late June, is one of the few spirits we enjoy outside of a pairing situation. This 60 proof spirit presents with a spicy aroma and finds a wonderful partner in Cascade's 12% Belgian quad that was aged in bourbon barrels with orange peel and coriander. Less sour than many of Cascade's beers, the heavy orange characteristics of the beer make the pairing feel cocktail-like.

Gin Beast: Little Beast Bes tart wheat ale & Rose City Distilling Cricket Club Gin
Gin is our go-to spirit so we were expecting a lot from this pairing and it didn't disappoint. Cricket Club's flavor profile is lemongrass-heavy (but not overly so) which combines pleasantly with the chamomile component of Bes. We agree with Little Beast owner Chuck Porter that this pairing is "a refreshing change to [some of the] heavy beers and liquors" you'll find. 

To Peach Their Own: Ecliptic Carina peach sour ale & Townshend's Bluebird Alpine Liqueur
Bluebird is distilled from spiced apple kombucha, a process which transforms 35-45 gallons of kombucha into 750ml of Bluebird. The result is delightfully herbal, especially when it's made into a cocktail with lemon juice and IPA wort, then topped with Carina. In our opinion, the cocktail is far superior to the sum of its parts.

We hope your interest has been peaked and that you're ready to hit the "buy" button to a festival in which you'll almost never have to wait in line due to the nature of the sampling. If so there are two options available.
#1 VIP
- 11 AM entry
- festival beer glass AND festival whiskey snifter
- 15 tasting tickets
- $45 (buy online by 10 AM on the 24th for $5 off with code brewstillery5OFF)

#2 General Admission
- 12 PM entry
- festival beer tasting glass
- 10 tasting tickets
- $25 (buy online by 10 AM on the 24th for $5 off with code stormbreaker5)

StormBreaker Brewstillery 4 Festival
Saturday, February 24th
823 N Beech Street
11 AM/12 PM - 8 PM