Thursday, February 23, 2017

2 Days, 10 Events (at least)

We have a busy beer weekend coming up with at least 10 beer events taking place, all of which we'd be at if we could clone ourselves. Alas, science still has a long way to go in that area. Thankfully the science of brewing fantastic beer is well developed so make your plans and enjoy!

Friday
Cascade Brewing Sour Fruit Fest - This festival actually kicked off on Wednesday and will run through Sunday, at both the SE Belmont location and the SW Raccoon Lodge. There will be 50 exclusive Cascade fruit sour beers rotating through the festival, 25 daily at Belmont and 10 daily at the Raccoon Lodge. Noon - close daily through Sunday.

Roscoe's Stout Summit - As with all their summits, this one will start Friday and run through the weekend or until the kegs blow. A full tap list is pending but the preliminary list includes some that were at last weekend's Festival of the Dark Arts and others that weren't. Taster trays available. 2pm - Sunday 8pm.

Montavilla Brew Works beer release - Conveniently located just blocks from Roscoe's, the folks at Montavilla are combining the release of their Dark Cherry Porter with the 28th anniversary of Johnny Cash's San Quentin Prison performance. Beer at 3pm, concert showing at 5:30pm.

Three Magnets/Logsdon Tap Takeover at Beer Belly - We'll be honest, we were involved in setting up this event and we want to have great turn out. Beyond that Three Magnets and Logsdon make great beer and this is an opportunity to try over a dozen of beers, many which are difficult to find elsewhere. 4pm - close.

Saturday
Hillsdale Brewfest (aka Battle for the Belt) - This long running festival, now in its 24th year, has been a great time every time we've attended. Yes, it's a McMenamins-only beer festival but this is where you'll see the best of what the brewers at each of the 22 McMenamins locations that are participating can turn out. It's a sample-style format, available by the tray (each tray containing 11 beers) and not only does the winner get bragging rights but also the championship belt. 11am - close.

Zwicklemania beyond Portland - The zwickling continues this weekend, the first time for the Oregon Brewers Guild to have expanded the open house-style event to two weekends. Breweries outside of the Portland metro will be open so if you're in the mood to hop in the car there are plenty of options to choose from. Pick a direction and go. 11am - 4pm

StormBreaker 3rd Annual Brewstillery Festival - We talked about this in detail on Tuesday and you can read that here but the short of it is that there will be 21 beer + spirit pairings. Noon - 8pm (VIP entry at 11am).

Lompoc Black Out Beer Festival - In the 5th edition of this event there will be 25 dark beers - porters, stouts, coffee beers and black IPAs - inside Sidebar and in the heated tent in the adjacent parking lot of Fifth Quadrant. Noon - 10pm.

Triple IPA Fest at N.W.I.P.A. - If big, hoppy beers are your thing, this is the place to be. And if trying all of them is your thing, you're in luck. Beers will be poured in 2oz sizes, up to six at a time. 2pm - midnight.

PDX Bottle Share - Open to anyone, this rotating-location bottle share takes place this time at John's Marketplace in Multnomah Village. The standard "entry fee" is one bottle (typically a 22oz/750ml) and it's a great opportunity to try a variety of beers the generous folks in the beer community have acquired. 2pm

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: February 13-19

This past week involved attending a beer festival - Fort George's Festival of the Dark Arts - and while the majority of the best things we drank came during our time in Astoria, most were consumed outside of the festival.

Surly/Lervig 1349 Black Ale - The one beer from the Festival of the Dark Arts that made this list it was an interesting one that we heard overall mixed reviews on. Listed as a Strong American Ale, this 13.49% collaboration beer drank like a sweet but yummy imperial or even triple CDA (if there was such a thing).

Reach Break Amoeba Session IPA - Reach Break is the newest brewery in Astoria and thanks to them deciding to open for a few hours Friday night we were able to visit them while in town. Although they had three stouts on tap when we visited we heard from others that their IPAs are great and based on this hazy, juicy session IPA we believe it. They packed far more flavor into a mere 5.1% than one would expect.

Buoy German Chocolate Stout - In an effort to knock some of the festival beers of the list in advance (and because we needed dinner) we stopped into Buoy where we found they had a six stout sampler tray - perfect! This beer offered all the flavors of German chocolate cake, although light on the coconut notes and without the sugary sweetness.

Buoy Spanish Coffee Stout - Another beer on that sampler tray it is exactly what it says - a beer version of the booze bomb that finishes slightly sweet without being cloying.

Hondo's Hellhound Imperial Mocha Stout - The unassuming brewery and home brew shop on the east side of Astoria makes some great beer with this being the favorite of what we tried. Dry hopped with cocoa nibs, keg-aged for six months and served on nitro it is a delightful dessert in a glass.

Great Notion Blueberry Stack/Blueberry Pancakes - The only "drank in Portland" beer to make this week's list, it is a blend of Blueberry Muffin, a sour beer, and Double Stack, an imperial breakfast stout brewed with Clutch coffee and Vermont maple syrup. Drooling yet? It's an off-menu beer but definitely worth asking for!

This is probably the darkest Best Things post there will be although there may be a little carry over into next week's post. Come back to see whose Strong Ale we drank yesterday, assuming it ends up making the cut.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

3rd Annual Brewstillery Festival

On Saturday StormBreaker Brewing will host the third edition of their Brewstillery Festival which will feature 21 total pairings from 19 breweries and 19 distilleries. The beers range from sessionable 4% offerings all the way to big boys approaching nearly 12%. We attended a preview of the event last week, sampling six of the 21 pairings and have some suggestions.

#1 Start off with the Coalition/New Basin pairing. Take a sip of each - the Loving Cup Maple Porter and the "Strong" American light whiskey - if you'd like but then combine the two. The result is a very drinkable "beer cocktail" with the vanilla, caramel and oak flavors of the whiskey fortifying the maple notes of the beer.

#2 Follow that pairing up with Great Notion/Bull Run. One whiff of Great Notion's Double Stack and you'll think you've walked into a diner that specializes in pancakes drenched in syrup. Add to that the warmth of the straight bourbon whiskey and you've got a dream adult breakfast drink.

#3 Try some other pairings, then towards the end make sure to have Migration/House Spirits. The pairing features 2015 Frankie Claus aged in a House Spirits' Westward single malt cask and Straight Malt Whiskey finished for 8 months in the same cask once the beer was emptied out. The French cocoa powder used in the beer pairs superbly with the whiskey and if we were to decide to get into whiskey, a pairing like this would definitely be our gateway.

While the event is designed for the pairings to be consumed together, it's completely up to attendees to decide if that's what they want to do. The beer and spirit samples are purchased separately (most being 1 ticket each) so if spirits just aren't your thing, go and drink only beer. Or if there's one of the pairings where the beer or spirit doesn't speak to you, just order the one that does. Choose Your Own Adventure.

Tickets to the festival are $20 for regular admission in advance/$25 at the door and include the beer tasting glass pictured on the left and 10 tickets. For the VIP experience it's $40 in advance/$45 at the door and include the whiskey snifter seen on the right, early entry (11am) and 15 tickets. As is standard with ticketed festivals, additional drink tickets will be available for purchase, $1 each.

In a town where beer festivals abound this is perhaps the most unique, the Most Portland Festival. Not only do we have laws that allow such a festival but we have a culture of collaboration among crafters, especially those who craft lovely libations.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: Beer Love Edition

We may not have love for made up holidays but we do have plenty of love for beer. And of course the best beer is that which is made with love. Here are the beers that made us swoon last week.

Caldera Old Growth Imperial Stout - Not a brewery we drink a ton of beer from although as this beer shows, there's no reason not to. An 8.8% double stout, it is perfectly balanced and roasty, a great example of a style that can easily be "too" one way or the other.

Founders Lizard of Koz - Founders beers were plastered across town last week as they made their debut in this market and while being from the Midwest we'd had plenty previously, this was a new one. To this palate it tasted exactly like a mixed drink called Tootsie Roll, which, yes, tastes like that candy. Very sweet and at 10.5%, one doesn't need much of it but wooza!

Arizona Wilderness Tart Sunshine - Another new-to-the-market brewery, this sour beer started with a lightly tart aroma, followed with a tart-er flavor and finished with enough dryness to keep us coming back for more. Big thanks to beer buddy, Chris, for sharing (and for the pic)!

Deschutes Pilsner Pie - This is one of two bottles that we picked up at the brewery during our visit to Bend a couple weeks ago and it was as delicious as we were hoping. The beer, an oak aged Pilsner with key lime, does in fact taste like key lime pie. Starting with a tart aroma it is not super sweet but the citrus flavors are there, just as a key lime pie isn't as sweet as its other pie cousins.

Upright Four Play - One of the local breweries that has as many hits as misses for us, this tried and true favorite was as delicious, tart and fruity as remembered. Hitting the brewery before taking in a Winterhawks game, it was fun to revisit a place we don't often make it to.

Ex Novo Do You Even Sour, Bro? - Ex Novo always has something (or multiple) interesting things on when we visit and last Friday was no exception. A deviation from many sours, this one uses 20% wheat and is dry-hopped, producing a mid-range sour beer. At 5.1% it's a great beer to start, or drink for an entire, session.

The tally for this week is three pairs - two darks, two sours and two fruity beers - and that seems about right. Or, you know, two threesomes. We don't judge.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: Bridging the January-February Gap

This week was full of fruit, tartness and stankiness...thankfully not all in one beer because as much as we love each of those things that might be weird to say the least. Then again there are highly inventive and talented brewers producing things that we wouldn't think would work. Until we find one of those, here are the beers that hit the highest notes for us last week.

Culmination Kriek Mythology - From the moment reading the label on this bottle at The BeerMongers, between the style and the brewery, it was nearly a sure bet this would be delicious. Drinking it confirmed that this Lambic-inspired sour red brewed with cherries was indeed solidly in our strike zone. A SweeTart-style of sour this complex beer finishes less tart than it starts, inviting one to have more...more...more.

Block 15 The Demon's Farm (2015) - On tap, also at The BeerMongers, this beer was a deeper, darker variation of the Culmination Kriek (although enjoyed on separate visits). This dark farmhouse ale also uses cherries and is a blend of beers aged in American oak bourbon barrels and French oak Pinot Noir barrels.

Burnside Morticia - It takes great crafting to produce a pale ale that hits enough hoppy notes for serious hop heads but Burnside succeeds here using Hull Melon, Vic Secret and Mosaic (a favorite!!) hops. The great, stanky aroma and sticky-stanky flavor belies its "crushable" 4.9% ABV.

pFriem Citrus IPA - Just as their Mosaic IPA spoke to the hoppy side of us, so too did this beer. The combination of grapefruit and tangelo zest and citrus-forward hops produce a beer that is full of stanky, citrus goodness.

Widmer Berry White - Did we surprise you with this last one? Well, it surprised us, too. Enjoyed at a private event this was a preview batch with full production coming and wide availability slated for June. We'll definitely be looking forward to this combination of berries and lime that avoids being gimmicky and packs considerable flavor into 4.1% ABV.

What's been tickling your taste buds recently?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: January 23-29

Getting back on track, here are the best beers we drank last week. The first two come from Celebrating the Craft, an event held at Migration Brewing last week that was also a fundraiser for the National Brain Tumor Foundation. Not only was there a lineup of great beers at the event but it was impressive how many brewers and brewery representatives turned out from the nine participants.

Breakside Carte Blanche - As a sucker for anything Breakside puts in gin barrels, this blended beer hit all the right notes. Described as "gin meets Brett meets hops" the beers in the blend range from 16 to 26 months.

The Commons Viognier Grissette - The Commons holds a special place in our hearts as Mike started it (then called Beetje) at the same time we were relocating to Portland and their first commercial space was a place we frequented. Their farmhouse beers are both every day drinking beers and impressive creations at once. This one, a buckwheat-based table beer with Brettanomyces and viognier wine juice added, is no exception. Light and funky, this is a great beer one could drink all day.

The following day we headed to Bend for the weekend, a trip whose primary purpose was for Kris to judge at the Best of Craft Beer Awards. Getting into town early we checked out a couple breweries where the found a great beer that took us by surprise.

Deschutes Obsidian Nitro Stout - Deschutes may be one of Oregon's larger breweries and their beers familiar but we were in town and hadn't visited before so we stopped into the tasting room at their production facility. Used primarily as a waiting area for those going on tours, anyone is welcome to four samples of their choosing (yep, anything they have on tap including when we were there, Abyss 2016). This was one of the beers Mag chose and what an unexpected treat! After just one creamy, roasty sip it was clear that Obsidian should never be served in any other way than on nitro.

The remainder of the trip Kris put her taste buds and liver to the test consuming 80 beers over the course of the day and a half of judging. The beers ranged from ok to great but being only marked with entry numbers it's unknown what the great ones were; otherwise we'd share them with you. Meanwhile Mag explored more of Bend's breweries, including Silver Moon and Bridge 99. With plenty more to explore we'll have to head back for a proper Bend beering trip.