Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: September 11 - 17

An interesting combination of beers made this week's list. On one end two sour beers, on the other end two darker beers. Each pair also contained one low-to-moderate ABV beer and one on the high end of the booze spectrum.

Bruery Terreux Confession - One of the beers gifted to us at our recent housewarming party, the Riesling characteristics of this variation on their sour blonde ale came out splendidly. Even at nearly 10% ABV this was quite easy drinking and we recommend sour beer lovers seek this out.

Grimm Artisanal Ales Living Daylights - Hailing from New York, Grimm has recently come to the Portland market and this one was shared by a friend who loves sours. A Citra dry-hopped imperial Berliner Weisse (yet only 5.8%), it is also "aggressively dosed" with Mosaic and Simcoe lupulin powders. This may be the first lupulin powder beer we've had and we'll be keeping our eyes open to see what other breweries start experimenting with it, hopefully as successfully as this bottle of goodness. 

Fish Brewing Fish Tale Organic Porter - Bought primarily because it was Thursday (so we wouldn't be negligent on New Brew Thursday ticks) this was a surprisingly rich canned porter with an unassuming label. 5.5% with a medium body it has just the right combination of rich and bittersweet chocolate notes, finishing pleasantly dry.

Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Maple Shake - Mikkeller tends to be hit or miss with our palate but this one hit the right notes with its motor oil look and molasses flavor. If only there had been some sticky buns around to accompany it and perhaps help soak up some of the 13% ABV. Oh well, maybe next time...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: September 4 - 10

Hops ruled our week however in this season of fresh hop beers, only one of those made the list. We've found we've become less enamored with fresh hop beers on the whole in the last couple of years but it's still a joy to find ones that hit us just right.

Fremont Field to Ferment Centennial - Field to Ferment is a series of fresh hop beers used with a pale ale base. Being that Centennials are the first that are ready to be harvested, thus they are the feature of the first batch. Yummy, yummy Centennials.

Firestone Walker Propagator Generation 1 - An unfiltered IPA, it runs the line between those popular-right-now NE style IPAs and the typical West Coast IPAs. Whatever the style or un-style, when it comes to hoppy beers Firestone Walker is rock solid.

Three Magnets Big Juice Smoothie - The biggest of the beers this week at 8.5%, it starts with a grapefruit aroma that follows through to the flavor and is accompanied by a bit of lactose to round the edges, all contained within a handy to-go 16oz can.

The last beverage on this week's list is a cider and a simply amazing cider at that. Made by our favorite cidery, Reverend Nat's, and shared by one of our favorite (and generous) beer buddies, Chris, this cider is the result of Revelation Newtown Pippin, fortified with dark Muscovado sugar, being refermented in Elijah Craig bourbon barrels. 17% sounds daunting until one finds it in their glass and must resist the urge to grab the bottle and run. So. Very. Good.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Weekend To-Do: BenFest & DIY Invitational

It's hard to believe that we are actually turning the corner from summer into fall but in addition to cooler weather (which will hopefully stick around) there are only two beer festivals on our radar for this weekend. One is a two-day event even, meaning no hard decisions about what to attend and what to skip or how to manage a marathon day of multiple events!

This year marks the eighth year of the festival, a festival that was inspired by a photo snapped at the Cheers to Belgian Beers dart throw featuring four brewers named Ben. What started as a joke became a festival that rotates venues and increases more Ben brewers and beers each year.

This year there will be nearly 20 beers and ciders available with the proceeds of the event benefitting Ben Flerchinger's memorial fund. One of the original BenFest Bens, he passed away unexpectedly and suddenly earlier this year, leaving a hole in this beer community. In addition to the standard line-up there will be special tappings of cellared beers at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm (4oz pours will be three or four tickets each).

Saturday, September 9 1 - 8pm
Gigantic Brewing Company (Back Lot)
5224 SE 26th Ave
Advance tickets: $30 (entry + 10 drink tickets), additional tickets $1

Growler's Taproom DIY Invitational
Those familiar with the area of 33rd and SE Hawthorne may have noticed that changes have been taking place at the former growler fill station, Growlers Hawthorne. Bihn Pham and Joe Rodgers purchased the business earlier this year, transforming it from a fill-only location (no consumption on premises allowed) to a more common model which allows for drinking on site or fills to go. Their grand opening celebration was the last weekend of July and this Saturday and Sunday they'll host their first beer festival.

The festival is the brainchild of local favorite bartender (and employee) Jim Parker and it will fill their 35+ taps with beer, cider, mead, kombucha and soda by breweries that are self-distributed. Self-distribution, available to breweries producing up to 7,500 barrels/year, costs breweries more in time and manpower to sell and distribute their product with the trade-off being that they retain the full purchase price of the kegs sold. Breweries who contract with a distributor commonly split the profit, retaining 70%.

September 9 & 10 11am - 11pm
3343 SE Hawthorne
No entry fee or tickets
Purchase beverages in 4oz, 12oz and 16oz sizes

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Farm to Brewery, the Centennial's Trip from Silverton to Portland

Last week we showed you the trip we took down to Goschie Farms with Pyramid/Portland Brewing to experience the hop harvest. The trip was a dual function in that we brought back with us 200lbs of fresh-from-the-vine Centennial hops.

Five bags, filled straight from the conveyor belt that shuttled the hop cones onto the drying floor, were tied up and packed into the van along with the human cargo. A little tighter fit than on our way down to be sure but the trade off was being surrounded by the heady aroma the Centennials gave off. Those hops were some of the best car mates any of us had ridden with.

The brewers that joined us on the trip, head brewer Ryan Pappe and brewer Brian McGovern, enjoyed the visit but it was clear that they were eager to get back to the brew house and get those hops into their brewing kettle. Upon our arrival they headed off with the bags of green goodness while the rest of us took a brief respite, consuming some of their previous efforts, before rejoining them in the brewery.

The Centennials had been loaded into laundry bags (apparently Bed, Bath & Beyond's are the bags of choice) and were being tied up with fishing line, efforts to keep them from going too far into the tank of Outburst Imperial IPA.

One may recognize that beer as a standard in the brewery's lineup however this will be the first time that it has been aged on fresh hops. Going by the name of Fresh Hop Outburst, Ryan chose to use Centennials in part because they’re a favorite of his and in part because they are already used in the beer. He said by doing this “we will get a chance to see the difference between the way we normally use those hops compared to the nuances that the fresh hops bring to the beer.”

In the past they have made a fresh hop version of another standard, Mac's Amber, but this year Ryan wanted to try something different. "Fresh hop beers are always experimental, because unless you are repeating a beer you have previously produced, you don’t know what is going to come out on the other side. You can’t brew a test batch, because you can only brew while the fresh hops are available."

The 55bbl batch was kegged late last week and is currently on tap both here in Portland and at the Pyramid Alehouse in Seattle. It will also be making an appearance at the Portland Fresh Hop Festival taking place September 29 & 30 at Oaks Park. He's eager for feedback, "I would love to hear what people think about our Fresh Hop version of Outburst!" so if you get a chance to try it leave a comment here and we'll pass on your thoughts to him.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: August 21 - 27

Over the weekend we had friends over to help us break in our new digs and being that our friends tend to be beer geeks, generous beer geeks, many of them showed up with bottles of very delicious, often rare beers. Some of them have yet to be opened but others we enjoyed that night and as expected they were fantastic.

Dionysus Currantly Noir with Vanilla #02 - The first beer we've had from this two year old Bakersfield, CA brewery was an incredible introduction to them. A golden sour ale aged six months in Pinot Noir French oak barrels with black currants and vanilla, it has just the exact right amount of sourness for us. 

The Commons Fishing With Hallet - Listed as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, on the surface it wouldn't appear to be a beer that would trip our trigger. However, being brewed by The Commons increases the chance that we'll like it and sealing the deal is that the amount of sour character is sufficient to subdue any Belgian characteristics that in other instances might turn us off.

Bruery Terreux Frucht: Lemon & Cherry - The level of sour, especially from the lemon zest, may be a bit much for some but we really enjoyed the combination of lemon and tart cherries in this Berliner Weisse-style sour. Apparently it is the first beer in their Frucht series and we'll be looking forward to seeing what this subsidiary of The Bruery turns out in the future.

Firestone Walker Krieky Bones - Picked up by Mag, it starts with a tart cherry aroma and follows with the best tart cherry cobbler flavor we've ever run across. It was brewed to celebrate David Walker's 50th birthday and is a Flanders Red style beer that was aged for eight months in a French oak foeder with sour cherries that allowed for a secondary fermentation. We suspect that the Vienna malt used is what gave us the feeling of cobbler.

Image courtesy of Founders since ours didn't properly show the awesome can.
The lone beer to make this week's list that was not consumed at our party was enjoyed earlier in the week at The BeerMongers. Cans of Founders Green Zebra sport fun, bright artwork and inside is a take on a gose.

This one won't be for everyone but we enjoyed the heck out of the flavor that is reminiscent of watermelon Jolly Ranchers with just a touch of salt, a primary component setting this style of sour beer apart from others. Considering how many bad (like REALLY bad) watermelon beers we've had this is yet a further achievement. A "limited" beer, according to their website, it's definitely worth grabbing a can before summer transitions into fall. As a bonus, the beer was brewed to benefit ArtPrize, a non-profit international art competition in Grand Rapids, MI. Drink good, do good.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Visiting Goschie Farms for the Hop Harvest

Over the past few years we'd been invited on various trips during the hop harvest, something we were eager to experience, but the timing never ended up working out. This year the stars aligned and we were able to take advantage of the opportunity, hopping into a van driven by Pyramid/Portland Brewing brand manager Bruce Kehe last week. Along with other members of the Portland beer community we made our way to Silverton and back, taking in the harvest of Centennial hops at Goschie Farms.

When we arrived owner Gayle Goschie informed us that the harvest had begun earlier in the morning (in fact we ran into 54 40's Bolt on our way in, his van already loaded up with a batch of fresh hops). Making our way over to one of the farm's buildings we were greeted with a view of the hop bines being lifted out of the harvesting trucks and attached to the mechanical system. The noise level made conversation impossible but there was no need to speak, only to breathe in the dizzying aroma of fresh hops and watch in fascination as the bines made their way through the processing machinery.

Mechanical harvesting of hops began in the 1940's, a system that is based on hops being round and leaves/stems being flat. Once stripped off, all of the material makes its way through a series of belts that separates the usable hop cones from the discarded material. The final set of belts, called dribble belts, are where the hops fall/roll/dribble down for collection while the leaves and stems are carried on. Since hops vary not only in the profiles they impart to beer, but also in overall shape, there is some variation in the efficiency in which the mechanical system pulls them off the bines. Regardless of variety, non-hop cone material making it through with the hop cones is less than 1%, a dramatic decrease from the 12% that was common when hand harvesting was the norm.

Once the hop cones have been isolated it's time for them to head to the drying house. Entering at nearly 80% moisture, the hops are spread out to a depth of 24 inches where 130 degree heat is pumped through, drying them to around 8% over the course of about seven hours. This part of the process has remained largely the same over the last 100 years even though computers assist in monitoring kiln operations and growers have instruments to help gauge when the hops are dry. Ultimately however, Gayle still uses the age-old process of rubbing the cones between her fingers to judge dryness, just as her father and grandfather did.

The dried, yet still warm, hops are then moved to a cooling room for about 12 hours. During that time gentle, non-heated air is blown through the mountain of hops before they are compressed into 200lb bales. Mini/mobile "sewing machines" are used to seal the bags around the bales, with the final stitches on the ends being done by hand. At Goschie it is tradition that at the end of the hop harvest, when the last hop bale has been made, Gayle herself sews the final bag shut.

This year the weather has been nearly perfect for hops, meaning that soon, especially the fresh hops that went straight from the dribble belts into large bags picked up by brewers like Pyramid/Portland Brewing head brewer Ryan Pappe, will be make an appearance in our glasses as fresh hop beers begin to hit taps around town. The rest, in dried form, will make their way from Goschie and other hop farms to supply brewers throughout the coming year.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: August 14 - 20

There were a considerable amount of mixed feelings as we reviewed our drinking and rating of the beers from last week. Why? Well, because in a rare turn of events, every beer that made the list is a beer that we've had a least once before (if not multiple times).

The internal dialogue went something like this:
"Really? We just had things (or at least good things) that we'd had before?!?."
"Are we really so fickle, so set on trying and finding new and great beers that we can't just enjoy and be happy with having had some past favorites?"
"It's ok to enjoy the same beers we had in the past because we DID quite enjoy them."

Perhaps some of you reading this understand the conversation we had with ourselves. Others may be questioning our judgment. Either way, here's what we had (again) and enjoyed.

Uinta Hop Nosh - Uinta's flagship IPA, the first time we had it (nearly six years if anyone's counting), we were impressed by its grapefruit and stank qualities. Since then we've relegated it to an any day or first beer of the day. Perhaps it's our taste buds. Perhaps the recipe has changed a bit.

Fort George 3-Way IPA - Far and away the highest rated of this week's list, pictured here at Church, we can't say enough good things about this fruit-forward, hazy IPA collaboration with Great Notion and Reuben's. We thought that the supply was nearly gone but have hear that another batch may be on its way this week. Please, please, pretty please let this be true!!

Georgetown Johnny Utah - Pale ales generally have a hard time competing with IPAs for us however this one, likely because of its pronounced grapefruit and pine flavors and minimal amount of maltiness, is a great go to.

Fire on the Mountain Wonderin' Rye - Four years ago this beer first graced our lips and since then we've always had it AT Fire on The Mountain (Burnside). It's basically our default beer when enjoying The Best Wings in Portland.

Culmination Choco Mountain Milk Stout - This sweet/milk stout rides the perfect balance between sweet and dry. Combined with its easy drinking 5.6% this is a stout for any time of the year and is a great adult chocolate milk beer, especially when it's served on nitro.

If there are any beers above that you haven't had, we definitely recommend trying them. For the most part they won't be too hard to track down and if you order one and don't like it, just give us a buzz and we'll come finish your pint for you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: August 7 - 13

This week's list starts off fruity and light, with four of the offerings from the 1st Annual Portland Radler Festival that was held at StormBreaker Brewing last Saturday. With generally low ABVs one could enjoy these all day (but be careful if you're prone to sugar overload).

54 40 Ginger Lemonade - Their Kascadia Kolsch was taken to the next level (in our humble opinion) with the addition of organic lemonade and freshly grated ginger. It's so well crafted that the 3.2% ABV completely disappears.

The Commons Lemon Urban Farmhouse - We thought Urban Farmhouse was pretty close to perfect to begin with and have to admit we were a bit worried by altering it to be their festival entry it wouldn't be up to snuff. Silly us!!! The lemon works perfectly with the beer and we'd love to see it offered every summer in the taproom.

Great Notion Blueberry Muffin Radler - This radler version of their Blueberry Muffin kettle soured beer, it is a tad more tart than the non-radler version and just as good (maybe better?).

Wild Ride Thorny Bushwacker - A 50/50 blend of Wild Ride's Tarty to the Party apricot sour and blackberry soda, they nailed balance between fruit tartness (apricot sour) and fruit depth (blackberry soda). An added bonus is the mouthfeel that apricots naturally impart.

The rest of the list is a mixed bag of yum, all of which are as easy drinking as the radlers (with a lighter sugar bill).

Prairie Artisan Prairie Flare - Office Space fans will appreciate the name and super fun can. A citrus fruit-added gose, it displays great tartness, staying mild on the coriander with enough salt is present to qualify as gose in our book.

Ex Novo His Name is Robert Paulson - The darkest (but not highest ABV) beer on this week's list, it gets an enticing coffee aroma from the Columbian coffee used which combines with the Ecuadorian cocoa nibs and honey "dry hopping" for a coffee-chocolate milk flavor that we would will drink all day, any day.

Smog City Brix Layer (2017) - A wonderfully complex, balanced beer (great choice, Mag!) it starts with a barrel-sour aroma and is an easy drinking 8.8% wine barrel-aged sour blonde with Reisling.

As you gear up to hunker down or party it up for next Monday's eclipse make sure to have plenty of delicious beer, perhaps some of these, on hand.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: July 31 - August 6

Fruit, haze, coffee and an imperial stout, this week's list runs all over the beer style spectrum. Whether your palate enjoys similar diversity or you prefer a tighter flavor profile something on here should find its way into your glass because they are all stellar.

Urban Family Aprium Dream - Huge thanks to Chris for sharing this foeder-fermented American Wild Ale (and for snapping a great pic!). Starting with a sweet tart aroma that follows through the to the flavor, it finishes fruity and clean. In case you were wondering, apriums are a real fruit, a hybrid of apricots and plums that Urban Family sourced from Collins Family Orchards and introduced to their house Brett-Saison culture. What a wonderful match!

Block 15 Fluffhead - This hazy IPA smells juicy and has a flavor that follows. Balancing the beer is a slight hop bite from the late addition hopping with Mosaic, Chinook and Azacca hops.

North Jetty Discover Coast Coffee Stout - We've had this beer before but not on nitro and that is most certainly the way is should be served. Starting with a nummy, nutty aroma that is followed by a chocolate milkshake flavor with just the right amount of sweetness, it finishes with a slight bitterness.

Alesong Mocha Rhino Suit - An incredibly smooth 12% beer that is a blend of imperial stouts aged over 10 months in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels and finished on Eugene's Coffee Plant Roasters' Costa Rican coffee beans and Chocolate Alchemy's Honduran cocoa nibs, don't let the slightly sharp aroma faze you.  It's adult beer candy that isn't overly sweet and if you can get your hands on this, don't hesitate to do it.

Both the North Jetty and Alesong were enjoyed at a the new Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom on NE Alberta. If you haven't been, put it on your list to check out. Alex and Shaun have created a worthy sister location to the original on SE Division.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Radler Festival This Saturday

Radlers have a long history in German speaking regions and often make a splash in the summer with their 50/50 mix of beer and lemonade or soda. This Saturday the refreshing, low ABV drink will debut as the focus of the 1st Annual Portland Radler Festival at StormBreaker Brewing.

19 breweries and three cideries will be pouring blends that include the traditional lemonade as well as ones using sodas and juices. We had a chance to try some of the radlers earlier this week and they ranged from those that are already commercially available and canned to those that were the result of in-house blending and will be unique to the festival.

One of the ones at the preview we enjoyed most was Hopworks Totally Radler, a beer that we were introduced to at NAOBF a few years ago, and is now available in 16oz cans. It has a pleasant, real lemon juice bite from the organic lemon juice that is blended perfectly with organic HUB Pilsner. (Those who prefer grapefruit to lemon should keep their eyes out as Hopworks will soon be debuting that version in 16oz cans). Just as delicious was the passion fruit flavor of Hi Five Cider Rosemancing the Radler. It's a blend of passion fruit and pink guava cider and rose cordial soda from Portland Soda Works.

Tea lovers should be particularly fond of Oregon Mead and Cider's Lime Ginger Trinity Mead Radler. The name is a mouthful and so is the complex blend of their Trinity mead and the Pearl Soda Company lime ginger soda. Owner Brooks enjoyed the process of creating the radler so much that he's already planning to offer three or four radlers next summer.

Those who prefer a sweeter radler should make a beeline to Zoiglhaus Orange Creamsicle Gose Radler. The blend of brewer Alan Taylor's traditional Gose and orange cream soda smells and tastes exactly like an orange creamsicle that has melted.

Stiegl, one of the event sponsors along with StormBreaker and Hotlips, will have both their Grapefruit and Zitron Radlers at the festival. We've had both multiple times but it was still fun to have them side-by-side, confirming our slight preference for the grapefruit version. As a side note, Portland is the #1 market for it, recently dethroning Chicago.

1st Annual Portland Radler Festival
Saturday, August 12th 12-8pm
StormBreaker Brewing, 832 N Beech St.
Advance tickets $15, at the door $20 (both include tasting mug and 8 tickets)
Full radler lineup

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: July 24 - 30

Last week was The Big Show aka the 30th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival and some of the best beers we drank were consumed on our two visits to it. The other portion were had at our Cheers aka The BeerMongers.

Boundary Bay Raspberry Radler - One of the first beers consumed at this year's OBF, it was as delicious as it was gorgeous. A radler in name, this beer is a combination of raspberry puree and kettle soured beer fermented with an ale strain and house bacteria and dry hopped with Citra. It was bursting with fruit flavor and just the right amount of fruit tartness.

Baerlic Dropping Acid Psychedelic Sour IPA - The kettle souring with lactobacillus provides a sour-in-a-good-way aroma with a pleasant hop stank flavor from the El Dorado, Comet and Amarillo hops used. At 5% one could drink many of these.

Upright Heirloom Saison - Complex beers are Upright's thing and this blended beer starts with delicious wood on the nose (from the Saison part that spent 18+ months in barrels) and offers a bright, slightly sharp but refreshing flavor contributed by the black lime wheat component.

New Holland Dragon's Milk Reserve: Thai Curry - The biggest beer at the festival, an 11.7% imperial stout, was arguably the best beer of the festival as well. It's a meal (or at least dessert) in a glass with a coconut, mild spice and cocoa-y flavor. The elements combine to create a dangerously drinkable combo.

At TheBeerMongers
Bellwoods Farmageddon  - A true treat and a reason why generous beer people are so cool - they are happy to share great stuff with those that will appreciate it. Our buddy Chris recently visited Vancouver, B.C. and brought this back. Perfectly tart and delicious, this is a special edition of their classic Farmhouse Saison which is a blend of young and old barrels ranging from 6 months to 1.5 years. If you should see a bottle DO NOT hesitate to buy it. We guarantee it will be worth the price.

Off Color Hell Broth - Listed as a "Danish style American Wild Ale" and is a collaboration with Amager Bryghus, it possesses the aroma of cider with a light, drinkable beer flavor.

Schilling Cider Road Trip Peach Citra - It's coincidental but appropriate that the next beer on our list is in fact a cider. Whereas Schilling's grapefruit cider is just a fruity cider, here they've bridged the beer gap by finding the sweet spot between the fruitiness of peaches and the bitterness of hops.

If you attended OBF we'd love to hear what you thought topped the taps. If you didn't what has recently filled your glass with delight?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Take a Look at Imperial's Second Location

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom, one of the best in town despite it tender young age of four, now has a sister location on NE Alberta Street and we had the distinct pleasure of getting an early look at it last night.

Similar in size and overall feel to the original space, Imperial North (at least that's what you'll check into on Untappd), manages to feel like a sibling instead of a twin. Occupying a center space instead of a corner one, wood plays a prominent role from a double set of beams in the high ceilings to the bar stools, chairs, booths and tables (some of which were made from barrel tops acquired from Ruse Brewing) to the floor. Slate black walls on the bar side of the space, under which rests a gorgeous copper bar top, sit in contrast to the opposite walls that feature large mirrors and a work-in-progress mural (Sasquatch has already found his way there). The large storefront window looks back toward the brick wall that was opened up and behind which the shelves and coolers filled with bottles are found.

With nearly 30 taps, including two nitro taps and a cask engine, that's double the beer and cider availability of the SE Division location so be prepared for an even tougher decision on what to order. We were so enamored with the opening tap list we have to admit that we didn't get around to perusing the bottle selection (but we trust it's as good).

For those who've made a habit of combining a visit to Imperial on Division with a stop at Bollywood Theater or Salt & Straw, you're in luck! Both have locations just across the street, in addition to a Bunk Sandwiches, and a multitude of other options are available within a short meander. As with the Division location, you're welcome to bring food in and will find the restrooms through the back of the shop in a shared space.

The harshest criticism we have to offer is that it can get a bit loud but if it hasn't bothered you at the original location, it won't bother you here. Huge congrats to Alex and Shawn for all the hard work that has gone into getting the space open in such a short time. It is a beautiful space that will surely be filled with many happy beer lovers, especially those who now have an Imperial closer to them.

2006 NE Alberta St
Open daily at 12pm

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: July 17 - 23

The Oregon Brewers Festival may be in full swing but we know festivals aren't for everyone, especially those that live here. So if you're looking for beers beyond OBF, perhaps one of our favorites from last week will be up your alley. As a bonus, three of the four came out of bottles/cans, a more convenient option for enjoying anywhere.

The first two come from Avery Brewing Co. and their selection was prompted by our buddy, Chris. He grabbed the Raspberry Sour off the shelf first and we happily followed suit picking up the Apricot Sour. Before checking into Raspberry Sour we figured it was a new-to-us beer. However according to Untappd we'd actually enjoyed this two years ago and as a testament to how good it actually is, we enjoyed every drop of it just as much as we did last time. Thanks to Dan for the first go-around sharing of this lactic, red raspberry gem.

The Apricot Sour was indeed new to us and equally enjoyable. Starting off with a  fantastic, smooth apricot aroma from the "bushels" of apricots used, the barrel-aged tartness is more assertive on the aroma than the flavor, making for an all around delicious experience.

The last of the packaged beer on the list comes from the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across the World box we picked up and have been slowly making our way through. The West Coast-Style DIPA, a collaboration with Boneyard, is our favorite we'd had from the box so far. Not surprising considering our love of hops and Boneyard's skill with them, in this case a combination of Citra, Centennial, Simcoe and Mosaic. Hop heads like us will enjoy all 16oz of this 8.3% DIPA.

The one draft beer making this week's list begs to be enjoyed in the sun, which can happen on the Montavilla Brew Works patio or any outdoor venue when you get a growler filled with it. Summer Wheat is an American-style Hefeweizen with a 50/50 blend of Pilsner and Wheat malts with what we feel is just the right amount of blood orange puree (42lbs if you were wondering). At 5% one could drink this all day!

Switching over for a bit of insight from "the big show" in town this week (aka OBF), we visited for a couple hours yesterday and focused on fruit/sour beers. Of the 12 beers that crossed our lips Boundary Bay Raspberry Radler was easily our favorite. Our tasting notes are here and for those curious as to which G & T we preferred during our back-to-back sampling, the winner in our book goes to Coin Toss Toss Tonic (sorry, Gigantic, yours was a bit too Gin-powerful for our delicate beer taste buds).

Returning to OBF on Thursday we found three more beers that we'd recommend you give a go:
- Upright Heirloom Saison - Delicious wood on the nose, complex flavor and still refreshing.
- Baerlic Dropping Acid sour IPA - Starting with a sour aroma that brought a smile to our face, that smile was continued when the hoppy-stanky flavor hit our lips.
- New Holland Thai Curry Dragon's Milk - This is a meal/dessert in a glass and you'll get bang for your buck (11% for a single tasting ticket). It gets our nod for those attending when lines get long and a full pour is in order.

Cheers, friends!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's Nearly Time for OBF

This time next week the 30th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival will be in full swing at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Featuring over 90 independent craft breweries from 13 states plus one from The Netherlands and a Specialty Tent (which replaces the International Tent from the last couple of years) with 80 rare, bold and experimental beers that will rotate throughout the duration of the festival.

In total, that's 170+ beers and try as we might, that's probably more than we can manage even if we camped out open 'til close all five days (which would make neither our livers nor our bosses very happy). With a mindset of pairing that incredible list down to something manageable we focused on scouring the Main Festival Beers. We'll definitely stop in to the Specialty Tent but won't be basing our festival plans around what's on tap when. Those will just be bonus.

The review of Main Festival Beer list brought to light a couple of trends, and being they are to our liking, we decided to make them the focus of our drinking plans. Beers that were also listed as "unique to the fest" garnered greater pull in our decision making. The result is a list of 31 beers that even for us feels a bit daunting. But we'll give it our best!

Trend #1 - Lime
  1. Coalition Honcho - An untraditional Kolsch made with Jacobson sea salt, fresh lime zest and fresh lime juice sounds like a perfect summer beer. Besides, Coalition knows what it's doing with zests and juices.
  2. Coin Toss Toss Tonic - Listed as an herb and spice beer this didn't initially catch our eye but then we saw "a deconstructed gin & tonic." We're looking forward to being the judge on that.
  3. Ecliptic Espacio Mexican Lager with Lime Zest - John Harris makes great beer, no question, and while there's no lime juice used, the fresh lime zest might be the perfect compliment to the base beer.
  4. Ex Novo Cal Estupido - Great name (meaning "lime stupid") and fresh lime juice and sea salt added during the lagering.
  5. Gigantic G & T - Nothing inspiring about the name but Gigantic has a way with botanicals and we'll be intersted to see how prominently they stand out against the lime.
  6. Rusty Truck Tequila Lime Lager - We're not sure if the use of tequila oak spirals added post-fermentation will overpower the delicate lager base but if so hopefully the lime juice added at the end will balance it.
  7. Sasquatch KGB - A "Kremlin Ginger Blonde" it contains fresh organic ginger, lime and lime zest. Sounds like we should bring a copper mug to drink it out of.
  8. Heathen Mojito Sour - A take on another lime-focused cocktail, mint comes into the mix in this kettle soured beer (but also runs the line with our next category).

Trend #2 - Sours/Fruit
  1. Backwoods Blueberry Sour - Kettle soured with Nancy's Yogurt (based in Eugene) and using Rock Creek water (from Stevenson, WA) that is "some of the best water in Washington."
  2. Base Camp Brett Livin' - A "true lacto soured, Brettanomyces fermented ale, with raspberry added as puree late in fermentation" and get this, NO HOPS.
  3. Boundary Bay Raspberry Radler - A German-inspired, kettle soured beer with Oregon raspberry puree and dry hopped with Citra.
  4. Deschutes Overnight Phenom - A kettle soured ale with black raspberry puree added during conditioning
  5. Druthers The Dare - We're unfamiliar with Druthers (which hails from New York) but this gose took gold at the 2014 World Beer Cup in the German style sour ale category so it seems that it should be worth a taste.
  6. Eel River Organic Tropical Blonde Ale - While neither the brewery or the base beer does much for us it's the passion fruit and kiwi concentrates that caught our eye here.
  7. Elk Horn Siberlin - We've visited Elk Horn (in Eugene) just once but quite enjoyed their beers and this kettle soured Berliner-style Weisse with lychee fruit will hopefully back our initial impression up.
  8. Ghost Runners Chasing Fluffy Pink Unicorns - What a name!!! Then there's description that it's a "lightly fruited raspberry gose." Game on.
  9. Ghostfish Dry Hopped Sour - A gluten-free, kettle soured gose? This could be the best GF beer ever...or not. We'll let you know.
  10. pFriem Guava Saison - pFriem has been hitting high notes with us lately so we'll take a chance on a base beer (not so much our thing) with guava (more of our thing).
  11. Three Creeks Dry Hopped Apricot Stonefly Session Ale - Both apricots and peaches often lend mild, smooth fruit flavors to beers and we hope that's the case with this "golden, light bodied ale."
  12. Hopworks Kiwi Sparkle & Pop - Combining both elements of this category, it's a tart wheat beer, kettle soured beer with a dose of kiwi, a fruit that is innately tart on its own.
  13. McMenamins Tropic Heat - McMenamins one-off beers tend to be great and a kettle soured ale brewed with pink guava puree, coconut and habanero peppers will hopefully find the perfect balance among its components.
  14. Goodlife Secret Stash #004 - The sour beer path takes a turn here with a kettle soured IPA. As for more details, those are secret.
  15. Baerlic Dropping Acid Psychedelic Sour IPA - Another kettle soured IPA, this one with El Dorado hops in the boil and dry hopped with Comet and Amarillo.
  16. Ordnance Raspberry SIPA - A SIPA? That would be a kettle soured, blended IPA with an infusion of raspberry flavor.

The Rest: A catch-all category of beers that caught our eye because of their ingredients and/or because of the brewery that made them.
  1. 54 40' Art AllAzaccas - We love Bolt and the 54 40' crew but rarely make it up to Washington to visit them. Plus we quite enjoy Azaccas hops, the only hop used in this 6.1% IPA.
  2. Boneyard Enzymatic IPA - Because we know we're going to need a good IPA to throw into the mix and Boneyard knows what they're doing with hops.
  3. Double Mountain A River Runs Through It - An IPA made in collaboration with Fort George with lactose added in the boil, will this be the sleeper IPA hit of the fest?
  4. Burnside Cannonball! - An 8.3% strong ale is a bit of a daunting thought for beer festing but it sounds pretty damn interesting. C'mon, a triple hop-dosed beer aged in red wine barrels with tart cherries and pineapple, how can you pass that up?
  5. Widmer Collaborator Kentucky Kolsch - Kolsches aren't a particular love of ours but they're a good summer style and we're fans of the whole Collaborator idea. Increasing our interest level is the fact that homebrewer Charles Macaluso used dehydrated strawberries at the end of the fermentation process.
  6. New Holland Dragon's Milk: Thai Curry - An 11% bourbon barrel aged stout is the exact opposite of a summer drinker but a unique-to-the-fest Michigan beer seems like a must-try.
  7. Upright Heirloom Saison - Saisons aren't our favorite but this blend of a vintage strong Saison aged in barrels for 18+ months and a carbonic chardonnay cask version of Saison Vert (a black lime wheat-based brew) will probably be fantastic based on Upright's superior blending talents.

Oregon Brewers Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
July 26 - 30 open at Noon daily
$7 souvenir tasting mug, $1 wooden tokens

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: July 3 - 16

Nope, we didn't make a mistake on the date range in the title and you didn't read it wrong. This is a special, we-got-really-busy-moving-into-a-new-house double edition of Best Things. We only moved about a mile away from our previous house but whether one is moving a mile or a few thousand miles away the drill is the same and it keeps one really, really busy. So while we were still enjoying the hop juice, our writing about it got pushed to the back burner.

Fire on the Mountain Shocks of Sheba - The day we took possession of the new house we took our new house keys out to our favorite restaurant in town, Fire on the Mountain (Burnside), and celebrated the only way we know how - beer, wings and fries! This was one of the first beers Fire on the Mountain made when they started brewing and if we recall correctly, it has evolved with the current recipe now quite readily holding its own in the land of PacNW IPAs.

Culmination Obscured By Clouds - After a busy week and finally feeling more settled than not into the new place we headed out for a relaxing end to the week with beers and dinner at Culmination. Part of the current hazy IPA trend that we're fans of, this beer was citrusy and bright but also smooth. If you're a hazy IPA fan as well, make sure to try this before it's gone.

With only two beers living up to Best Things standards last week we wanted to reward you for your patience with our lapse so here's a rewind to the previous week, July 3 - 9, before we kicked into high gear on the moving front.

North Coast Passionfruit-Peach Berliner Weisse - This is the second Berliner Weisse that we've had from North Coast and while we were skeptical with the first one from a brewery that we tend to associate with stouts, we were excited to see another arrive on the shelf. This beer, with its peach Scratch 'n Sniff aroma and mildly tart but full-of-fruit flavor, solidifies their Berliner Weisse chops with us and has us looking forward to the next one.

Coalition Herbs of A Feather - The second beer in their Two Flowers Series of beers that are infused with CBD, it's lemony and super yummy. The basil is subdued and fills a supporting, complimentary role in this summery, lightly sour beer. Consume out of doors on a sunny day for maximum enjoyment.

We're big fans of Ruse Brewing, both the beers Shaun is making and Shaun himself. We're also super excited for and about the opening of their own space in SE PDX near the Max Orange Line later this year. Two of their beers conclude this week's list, one we'd had before and one that is new to us.

Papyrus Iris - Another hazy IPA that hits the mark, our friend Warren
nailed it with his description that this is a lighter, fruiter version of the current, ever-so-delicious version of Fort George's 3-Way.

Multibeast - We tried this beer for the first time over a year ago and loved its burgundy barrel-aged farmhouse, conditioned with Brett flavor from the get-go. Subsequent drinking of it has continued to confirm that they've got a solid winner in this beer.

We hope you're enjoying the summer, now at an approximate midway point, along with plenty of delicious beer. Cheers to our friends, near and far!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: June 26 - July 2

On this Independence Day we hope you have the pleasure of enjoying an extra day of independence from the regular work grind. And perhaps you'll indulge in some day (morning?) enjoyment of delicious beer. Not sure of where to start? Lucky you, we have some suggestions to make today great.

Whether you're starting off with morning drinking or looking at a long, lazy session for today, starting out on the lower end of the ABV spectrum might be the way to go (but hey, if a barley wine is calling your name first thing who are we to disagree?).
Off Color Spots - Our exploration of Off Color beers hailing from Chicago has produced very delicious results, including this great Berliner Weisse. The passion fruit flavor is balanced by the grapefruit and it has a killer label to boot. At 3.8% it's closer to juice than beer and a perfect way to being the day.

Evil Twin Tropical 'Itch - Another Berliner Weisse, found in wonderfully portable 12oz can form, starts us climbing up the ABV ladder ever so slightly. 4.5% and with a similar passion fruit profile, it showcases the great tartness and light, drinkable characteristics that make it great for morning/all day/warm weather enjoyment.

Baerlic Test Flight - Transitioning out of the realm of mild sours, because for most of us there is a limit to how much (delicious) acid we can take, the new world hops used give this beer a pleasant blend of Pacific Northwest flavor and tropical flare. A session IPA clocking in at a mere 5% helps bridge the gap to our favorite style - IPA.

Fort George 3-Way IPA - We're seriously digging this most recent iteration of 3-Way, which in case you've been living in a cave, is a collaboration with Great Notion and Reuben's Brews. At 7% (that's sessionable, right?) the combination of fruit-forward Azacca, X331, Mosaic and Citra hops drinks refreshing and easy. Supplies are dwindling but you're likely still able to find some on tap or in cans around town.

Stillwater Artisanal Wavvy Batch 1 - Technically a double IPA, it's double-hopped with Nelson, Simcoe and Centennial hops to create a beer that is juicy but still plenty hoppy. 8% won't do you in right away but remember, water is your friend (and not just the water contained within this lovely yellow and green 16oz can).

Whatever you're drinking, raise your glass to great American craft beer!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Double Edition of The Best Things We Drank

We were out of town a good chunk of last week getting a little R&R on a family fishing trip in northern Minnesota but now we're back and ready to catch up with a double edition of Best Things. Grab a beverage and settle in!

June 19 - 25
Being back in the Midwest we couldn't help but seek out some old favorites but also took the opportunity to try beer from some of the newer places that have sprung up since we left seven years ago. The former was rewarding, the latter was hit and miss.
Bell's Kalamazoo Stout - Bell's, which has seen some exposure in the Portland market, is extremely skilled when it comes to stouts and this beer is a Bell's classic. Roasty and smooth, this 6% stout is one that can be enjoyed year round.

Summit Saga IPA - Summit is similar to Widmer in that it has been around since the early days of craft beer in its respective state and like Widmer, has its standard lineup but has also managed to remain relevant with new offerings. Saga is newer (in the last five years) and is hoppy enough for NW IPA lovers to enjoy, a profile that comes from the combination of hops, both in the brewing and dry-hopping stages.

Fargo 1.21 Gigahops (2017) - This is the first beer that we've had from Fargo Brewing Company and although a bit sweet, it is appropriately so considering that it's an imperial IPA clocking in at 9.5%. The 12oz can size is just right for enjoying one. Interestingly, the founders and the brewers they hired have been influenced by the Pacific Northwest (give their history a read if you're so inclined).

Rewinding to the week before we headed out to Minnesota, it is a bit interesting to see that our top two beers actually hailed from that state. Those beers were enjoyed when we were invited to join in a bottle share with friends of a friend who were visiting Portland.

June 12 - 18
Lift Bridge Commander Bona Fide Barleywine - We've enjoyed Commander on numerous previous occasions and are proud to call the Lift Bridge guys friends. This, however, was the first time we'd had a "bone fide" version wherein the 12.5% beer is aged in Heaven Hill barrels. So smooth without any trace of heat, this is one to savor with friends.

Indeed Wooden Soul Cherry Dust - Indeed is one of the older of the newer breweries in MN and while we've had some good things from them, we haven't been 100% sold. This sour beer definitely improves our view of them and makes us hope they continue to produce sour beers. At a sessionable 5.4% the wild yeasts, tart cherries and wood aging mingle to produce a beer we'd happily drink a full 22oz bottle all on our own.

The rest of the beers that hit high notes for us that week hailed from Portland and California.

Great Notion Double Dry Hop Hop Dry Double - One of the beers at Eclicptic's Masters of IPA event during PDX Beer Week, we'd heard in advance that this was a good'en. They call it an "imperial session IPA" that is "a verbal assault on your palate." We call it juicy and drinkable. Now only if we had more of it to drink!

Montavilla I-205-PA IPA - Fans of Montavilla in general, on our most recent visit, this was the beer that really spoke to us with the combination of Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. As much as other styles try too woo us, the hops always lure us back to IPAs.

Fire on the Mountain Galena Goodnight - We go to Fire on the Mountain for their wings (the best in town we say!) and have been pleased to find that their beer has continued to improve as the brewery has come out of its infancy. Labeled as a CDA the mouthfeel is more like a porter or stout with a deliciously roasty flavor.

Modern Times Oneida - We might sound like a broken record with the consistency that Modern Times has been making the Best Things list but dang it, the hits just keep coming. A complex pale ale, the flavor shares some characteristics with Fortunate Islands, another one we quite like although it is more aggressively bitter, which speaks to our hop-loving taste buds.

Lagunitas Dark Swan (2017) - Found in the sour section of The BeerMongers cooler, this 8.5% sour ale was a steal at $2.90 for a 12oz bottle. Lightly sour, the wine-ish flavor (with gorgeous grape color to back it up) drank more like grape juice. Adult juice box anyone?

Now a few days back in the Portland saddle we're finally feeling caught up from being gone and looking forward to what July, Oregon Beer Month, will bring.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: June 5 - 11

Four of the best things we drank this week come from a PDX Beer Week event that we hadn't even planned to attend. Big thanks to Larry and Kate for inviting us to join them at Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom's 4th Annual Weird Beer Bonanza!
54ยบ 40' Vita-Beer Shandy - Who remembers Sunny-D? Yes, you can still buy it but for those of similar age to us you may remember when it came on the market. Around our house that was considered a treat so there are good memories linked to it. This beer brought back those memories right from the start with its aroma. The flavor continued to take us down memory lane, although it is lighter and less sweet than the juice drink. And while its 4.8% is a sessionable ABV it drinks like there's no alcohol in it at all and we suspect it would make great beermosa.

Baerlic Fancy Umbrella Drink - In addition to making an appearance at Imperial, this was also Baerlic's entry for the Portland Fruit Beer Festival and available in their taproom starting last weekend. With a great guava aroma and nice tartness (although minimal/no salt) it certainly lives up to its tagline: "Toes in the water, ass in the sand, a smile on your face and a Fancy Umbrella Drink in your hand."

Trinity Sour Cherry Threads - Tied with the Wolf Tree entry for highest ABV of the fest at 12% and similar in the use of cherries, this one hit much higher notes for us. Both have tons of cherry on the nose, but where that one goes down the Belgian road, this oak barrel aged lactic beer displays the lovely horse blanket funk that we love along with cherries. It was most certainly worth the additional tasting ticket!

Nectar Creek Raspberry Chocolate Mole Mead - This mead definitely lives up to its "weird" billing when one considers the gorgeous, rich berry color that the eyes behold but the disconnect as one takes in the aroma of mole. But it works. It's super fun and tasty, with the smoke and spice from the ancho and chipotle peppers being balanced by the chocolate, raspberries and wildflower honey. Being the other two ticket offering at the event, it, too was worthy.

As our time at Imperial wound down Larry and Kate mentioned that they would be heading over to The Commons as they had heard that Biere Royale was on tap. A beer we enjoyed multiple times in 2013, we were just as pleased with it now as we were back then. And the color...can't get enough of its beauty!

The remaining three to make this week's list all came our visits to The BeerMongers, shared by and with our frequent drinking buddy, Chris.
Alesong Touch of Brett: Mosaic - A dry, French-style Saison, the Brett it was fermented with is just slightly more prevelant than the Mosaic hops that provide ripe pineapple, mango and grapefruit flavors. Both components are favorites and this one masterfully blends the two.

Modern Times Monsters' Park Aged in Bourbon Barrels (Mexican Hot Chocolate 2017) - Modern Times has been a frequent flyer on our list and this 14.6% barrel-aged imperial stout is simply fabulous, especially after it sits for an hour and the full flavor profile - cinnamon, cocoa nibs, chilies and vanilla - blooms.

Fremont The Rusty Nail - Fremont makes good beers but where they really shine are with their aged, high ABV beers. This one begins with an oatmeal stout base, brewer's licorice, smoked barley and pale malt aged on cinnamon bark. That beer, called The First Nail, begins its second life after spending 15 months in 12-year old bourbon barrels, the result of which is an amazing dark, sour and smooth creation whose 13.2% is an afterthought.

PDX Beer Week continues through Sunday, offering plenty of options for great, unique beers and events. And even if one isn't attending "something special" there always seems to be special things waiting on the shelves and taps of our favorite places. Here's hoping you're finding some gems!