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