Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beer Musings is going to Feast Portland

Last year I went to Feast Portland on behalf of #pdxbeergeeks and found out first hand that it was as amazing as I had heard. This year I applied for my own blogger pass and am stoked to have gotten approved. I should probably stop eating right now to prepare because yes, it is a multi-day event of feasting on top of feasting.

If you haven't been, perhaps because you think it's just a food event, it's most definitely not. Breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries are involved in nearly all of the events and there's even a series of events dedicated just to booze - Drink Tank. The six events in the series include two on my favorite tipple plus whiskey, pinot noir, margaritas and one in which "a few key players in the wine and spirits industry...share drinking wisdom and closing-time tales."

One of the events I'm most excited about is Feast Portland's Thursday night kick-off party, Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational Presented by Dave's Killer Bread. That's a mouthful and I expect the event to be one, too, with 15 chefs from Portland and across the country competing to claim the judges' and people's favor.

From there, all the way through Sunday night there is an impressive lineup of events taking place across town. While I'm still figuring out all that I'll be at I'll definitely be at Sunday's Tillamook Brunch Village that among other things had most amazing bloody Mary bar I've ever been privy to. Brunch in Portland is what church is to many other places in the country and this event does justice to the esteem we hold it in.

Finally, Feast Portland is not just a food and drink festival but also an event that supports local and national programs to help end childhood hunger. In three years Feast Portland has raised over $162,000 for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon (PFHO) and No Kid Hungry.

Feast Portland
Thursday, September 17 - Sunday, September 20

Find events/buy tickets

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Another Run at Gluten Free Beer

I've been waffling about penning this post for weeks. Part of me feels like it'll just come across shilling for BMC while the other part of me, the part of me that started the post all that time ago, feels there is still some merit to it. The latter half has won so here we go.

On a random Tuesday night in June I went to a macro beer dinner as the +1 of a friend. Yes, you read that correctly. I accepted free beer and food from the evil empire. In return I got three good things: 1) A fun evening with beer friends 2) Great food and an introduction to a new-to-me restaurant in a part of town I don't frequent 3) A gluten-free beer that isn't bad if you are GF.

The dinner was part of the promotion of Coors Peak Copper Lager, a beer that is currently only available in the Seattle and Portland metro areas. The beer is naturally gluten free, being brewed with brown rice, brown rice malt and pure pea protein. As an adjunct brewer Coors is no doubt well versed in the use of rice to make beer so I not that surprised that they've done a darn decent job with this. Or maybe it's the pure pea protein (if anyone has a lead on more information on that let me know).

Gluten content is a big deal these days and Coors ensures the glutenlessness of Copper Lager by doing their own internal testing and having the FARRP Lab at the University of Nebraska test every batch of packaged beer. Apparently those tests consistently show that Coors Peak gluten protein level falls far below the FDA regulated 20ppm, coming in at 5ppm. Interestingly enough, it's also GMO free.

But the taste, what about the taste, right? I haven't done a blind testing, mostly because I'm lazy, but I'd reckon that if I were handed two glasses of copper lager - one with gluten and one without - I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. And while it's still an amber beer, this IPA drinker probably wouldn't mind throwing a few back. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'd take it over Groundbreaker's gluten free beers (they use hazelnuts instead of grain), mostly because they DO make IPAs, but it's a far sight better than the few other gluten free or gluten-reduced beers I've tried.

I don't know if there are enough celiac disease sufferers still looking for a beer they can drink to make this a nationally viable product line. Perhaps the product will just quietly go away instead of having its market expanded. Or perhaps it'll gain some traction for the simple fact that it tastes better than most BMC products, gluten-filled or gluten free. If you've tried it I'd be interested to hear what you thought.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beer Geek 1st World Problems

As a beer geek I tend to fall prey to that beer, the one on the beer list that I've never had almost regardless of whatever other amazing beers are available to me. As an Untappd user I get waaaaay too happy about earning badges and I admit to badge whorin' at times.

One of those times happened this past weekend when we met up with a friend at a sports bar to catch the Timbers game. They didn't have a great tap list and the cream of the crop were ones I'd previously had. So I rather offhandedly ordered my first beer, one of their seasonal selections and one I'd had before. Shame on me because I relied on my faulty memory instead of checking Untappd and ended up with a pint of something that I didn't actually like as much as I thought I had. Beer geek first world problem, right?

Lesson learned and the next beer I chose more thoughtfully. Specifically I noticed a beer on the list that I knew had a badge associated with it, confirmed in Untapped that I had not yet earned that badge and placed my order. The beer wasn't great but I've endured worse to earn a badge. Yes, 100% badge whorin' and another beer geek first world problem.

Nearing the bottom of that pint it was once again time to figure out what the next one would be. Feeling like it was slim pickings I read more carefully and this time saw a beer from Kona that I didn't think I'd had before, probably based mostly on the style - a golden ale. Back I went to Untapped, confirming I had not tried the beer and thinking, "well, at least it will count toward my unique beers and maybe eventually to some badge." I found that globally Kona Big Wave Golden Ale gets a 3.48 rating over 141,000+ check ins, with my friends being a bit harsher with a 3.2 rating however as I scrolled through the ratings and notes there was one that said, "like the tropical notes." Intrigued, that sealed the deal and I ordered it up, finding the beer to fit that comment perfectly. Then I proceeded to enjoy the best pint of the night.

Moral of the story: I may be a beer geek who will chose a new-to-me beer over a long time favorite just to try something new and am not immune to badge whorin' (I was a Girl Scout after all) but sometimes I stumble upon a darn good beer that without my faults coming into play and using my Untappd crutch I would have continued to overlook.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Light Side is Calling Me

Ryan Pappe & Night Market paired with shrimp
and spring rolls.
It seems the tide is turning on my relationship with lagers. Perhaps it's my palate, perhaps I'm trying a greater number of them or perhaps more are being produced with a greater range of flavors. Whatever the reason the list of ones I enjoy continues to grow with the most recent addition being Portland Brewing's Night Market Special Lager which I was introduced to earlier this week.

Right off it was the surprisingly pleasant mouthfeel of the beer that caught my attention. That was followed by a slightly sweet, but by no means cloying, flavor that finished bright and refreshing. This single hop (Liberty) beer with lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves and ginger was brewed on the 2bbl system that was acquired earlier this year. Head brewer Ryan Pappe, who has been with Portland Brewing for seven years, is enjoying the flexibility of brewing on the small-batch system, including being able to lager this beer for five weeks. That's an unheard of amount of time for their large, commercial brewing system.

Part of the brewery's Guild's Lake Series, Night Market was brewed to honor the 2nd annual Jade International Night Market, a cultural event hosted by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO). Portland Brewing is the exclusive beer sponsor for the two-Saturday event (August 15 & 22) being held at the Portland Community College SE Campus and will donate $1 of every pint sold to APANO. The best opportunity to try this limited draft-only offering (only 4bbls were produced) will be at the event with a few, select locations receiving the remaining 1/6bbl kegs.

Todd Struble, Jade District Manager
The Guild's (pronounced like "child's") Lake Series was created to highlight the many diverse and tight-knit communities that inhabit neighborhoods throughout Portland. The name Guild's Lake comes from a now extinct oxbow cutoff of the Willamette River was temporarily deepened in 1905 for the Lewis and Clark Exposition and later filled in with silt dredged from the Willamette River. The series provides a way for one of the pioneers in the Portland brewing scene to give back directly to neighborhood organizations.

Previous beers in the series include Round the Block Belgian-Style Golden Ale that benefitted the Audubon Society of Portland and Pier Park Piney Pale Ale that benefitted the Friends of Pier Park. Some of the Pale Ale may still be available in St. John's locations like Plews Brews and Skyline Tavern. Coming next will be the October release of a pumpkin beer for Sauvie Island tentatively named Rico Sauvie.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Coming Up: North American Organic Brewers Festival

The 11th Annual North American Organic Brewers Festival kicks off this Thursday at Overlook Park and if you feel like something's different, you're right. The festival has historically taken place in June but due to some shifting around of other beer festivals it's taking place in August this year. That's hunky dory by me as there is so much going on in June with Fruit Beer Festival, Beer and Cheese Fest and Oregon Garden Brewfest that this may end up being a more ideal time for it to be held. The festival, which boasts 60+ beers, ciders, meads and a braggot from five states and four countries, expects attendance of around 12,000. With the move from June to August I'll wager attendance will exceed expectations but I still expect it to be the most chill festivals with plenty of space for everyone.

As due diligence requires, I've taken a detailed look at the tap line up, created my handy dandy "drinking list" and added those beers to my Untappd wish list. You're more than welcome to check out either of those lists but if CliffsNotes are more your style here are the top four I'm looking forward to.

Lakefront Brewery Growing Power - Lakefront still holds the trophy for my favorite brewery tour ever so there's definitely some nostalgia influencing me here. There's also in interest to see how bright and citrusy this 6.7%ABV pale ale is.
McMenamins Crystal Brewery Oaken Tower Barrel-Aged Ginger Beer - Raspberry-hibiscus ginger beer that's billed to have "tart acidity and muted funkiness"? Ummm, heck yeah!
McMenamins Edgefield Brewery Double Barrel-Aged Pavol the Collector - Some Baltic porters don't do much for me but I'm hopeful that this "dark, chocolately, organic lager bomb" will be a version that is right up my alley.
Pints Brewing Co Green Line Organic Radler - I'm already in love with their Hot Seismic Squeeze, a blend of Seismic IPA and Hot Lips lemon-lime soda, so I'm excited to see how the pale ale-lemon soda blend stacks up. If the weather stays warm I suspect this will be one of the biggest sellers of the festival.

None of these four are obvious choices for a lot of beer geeks. Lakefront isn't distributed out here, McMenamins gets a lot of flack (from me included but for things other than their beer) and Pints is in my opinion the most underrated brewery in Portland. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to those and at least another nine beers. Beyond that...well, we'll see how the day progresses and if I'm able to make it back for a second day. If you're planning to be there when gates open on Thursday, keep an eye out for me and let me know what you think of these four beers in particular, should you decide to give 'em a go.

North American Organic Brewers Festival
Thursday, August 13 - Sunday, August 16
Overlook Park, 1301 N Fremont St
Gates open daily at 12pm
$7 tasting cup, $1 tokens

Friday, August 7, 2015

For the Love of All That is Holy Can Someone Please Open This for Me?

I was recently contacted by the PR company that is working with Churchkey Beer Co. on their re-launch in Portland. Having not tried (but remember seeing) the beer a while back I took them up on their offer and subsequently received a care package. Before we go further, in case you haven't heard about them, here's a bit of background.

"Founded by Portland native Justin Hawkins and actor Adrian Grenier, the brand was born from the desire to experience a tasty beer in a simple can the same way generations before had. Bringing back the flat top can - originally introduced in 1935, but long forgotten – the team hopes to reinstate a beer experience that is worth the effort of slowing down for in today’s fast-paced lifestyle."

The first step to trying the beer was opening the flat top can, which did indeed cause me to slow down. Based on my struggle (it's ok if you chuckle at me) I'm glad the vast majority of the beer I consume is opened by someone else, comes in an easily opened bottle or can with a convenient pop-top.

Once I'd appropriately punctured the can I found a product that matched my expectations well for a "refreshing, crisp, Czech-style pilsner" weighing in at 5.5% ABV and 29 IBUs.

I don't drink many pilsners in general so you won't find me stocking my fridge with this but, yes, I'd drink it again...on the condition that someone else open the can for me.