Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fancy or Simple, Say Cheese This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and whether that means attending gatherings, hosting gatherings or doing some of each, having some, quick, easy go-to foods at hand can help reduce some of the inevitable stress. ‘Round here we are partial to things that pair well with beer and cheese, most any kind of cheese, tops that list. Cheese plates are great, a simple baguette with soft cheese can be divine and we've recently found out about a “looks fancy but is super easy” product - Baked Brie en Croute from Marin French Cheese.

In existence since 1865, Marin French is the longest continually operating cheese company in America, located in Petaluma, CA. Wrapping their traditional Brie in a croissant-style pastry crust takes the cheese to another level in both flavor and presentation. Just 25 minutes in the oven creates a crust that is golden and flaky, encasing an ooey, gooey center. Its easily transportable size recently accompanied us to our favorite watering hole where we found it to be delicious with a glass of beer.

Nearly as easy as popping a Baked Brie en Croute in the oven is grabbing a baguette and a soft cheese or two from the store. Plain goat cheese is an obvious choice for something that spreads easily but there are plenty of flavored soft cheeses as well. We quite enjoy mushrooms so Laura Chenel’s Marinated Black Truffle Cabecou was right up our alley for a savory option; blue cheese is always another winner. Flavorings can also go a sweet route, either by topping a schmear of cheese with a dollop of preserves or picking up one like Cranberry & Cinnamon. A bit skeptical as we opened up the round of cheese, we were soon won over by the incredibly balanced flavor that we found to pair well with Ruse Strand, a West Coast IPA.

If you’re in the mood for a bit more cheese plates are another sure fire winner and can be as simple or as complex, as munchable or as meal-able, as you’d like to make them. Marin French offers a straightforward guide on putting one together and the cheese counter at your favorite store can help guide your selections further if desired.

Disclaimer: We were provided with samples for review.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pressing Matters Brings Cider and Cask Beer Together

We’re not sure how Pressing Matters Proper Cider and Real Ale Festival missed our radar last year but we’re pleased to see it hit the radar of enough others for it to make it back to Cider Riot! for a second year. The festival, taking place Saturday, November 17th, brings together the work of 15 cideries and and seven breweries from around Cascadia. The ciders range from those made bittersweet apples to those from bittersharp apples, combining innovations from America with fermentation traditions from England and France. And the all-cask ale lineup offers a greater selection of this traditional style than one is likely to find without a visit to the TSA.

Upon reviewing the cider and beer line up we see many familiar names although we have not had many ciders and we've only had one of the beers, albeit in non-cask form. The three year vertical of Cider Riot!’s 1763 is intriguing and we’ll be interested to see if the same recipe was used each year and if so, how it has aged. In addition, since we drink a comparably small amount of cider this will be a good opportunity to try more.

On the beer side, Baerlic’s New Noise IPA is the only one we’ve previously had an while we quite enjoyed it, the cask version could be considerably different. Both Gigantic and Machine House are bringing styles that lend themselves to cask, English Pale Ale and Bitter respectively, and while Marzen is not a style we find ourselves drawn toward, the Brewers Union offering should showcase well in a cask and alongside ciders.

If you’re as intrigued as we are, then we’ll see you there. Otherwise you shall have to hear about it after the fact, perhaps while kicking yourself for not taking advantage of one of the more unique festivals to grace Portland this year.

Pressing Matters Proper Cider and Real Ale Festival
Saturday, November 17th 1 - 8pm
Cider Riot!
807 NE Couch
Tickets in advance and at the door, $20 - $40

Disclaimer: We have been offered a media pass to attend the festival.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Beer Cocktails: Rum Edition

For our second installment of beer cocktails we chose the general category of rum to work with, leaving ourselves plenty of options by having light rum, dark rum, spiced rum and even Malibu coconut rum (which likely conjures up very specific memories for anyone). With such a wide array of liquor flavor profiles the beers we opted not to limit ourselves to a beer style and selected ones were equally wide ranging. Like any experiment there were some great ones and some “work in progress” (to be revisited and refined in the future) ones, the former of which are below.

Fell into a Pile of Leaves
- Whaler’s Rare Reserve Dark Rum
- Reuben’s Autumn Harvest Imperial Pumpkin Ale
- club soda
- coconut sugar
- candied jalapeno simple syrup
- white sugar rim
- candied jalapeno and roasted delicata squash garnish

Dry and mild with a distinctive “fall” taste. The pumpkin ale is one of the better ones we’ve had, providing a full aroma, yet restrained in the level of pumpkin pie spices found in the flavor with a well balanced body. In the candid words of Lee, “Ah, shit, that’s divine!”

Spicy Jungle Rum-tini
- Whaler’s Rare Reserve Dark Rum
- Evil Twin You’re in the Jungle
- Natian Cease & Desist stout (2018)
- cacao juice
- coconut sugar rim

One of the later creations from this session, a time when we were venturing further afiled, we used two beers in this cocktail - the stout to provide both body for the cocktail and as a balance to the heat of the Evil Twin, a habanero peppers-containing beer. Much deeper and darker than the previous cocktail using the same rum, it tastes like what comes after fall - the holidays.

Santa’s Dirty Little Secret
- Havana Club Puerto Rican Rum (aƱjeo blanco)
- Natian Cease & Desist stout (2018)
- homemade Kahlua
- heavy cream

This fairly straightforward cocktail was loosely based on the flavors of a White Russian and it was pleasing to find that each of the ingredients we choose stood up to the others. Cascading and combing over our palate, the multiple layers of flavor change with each sip. We think Santa would be quite pleased to find this “dirty milk” in place of the standard glass of white alongside his cookies. Speaking of cookies, we happened to have some coffee crunch cookies, a take on chocolate chip cookies, on hand that provided yet another layer of flavor. If you’re good little boys and girls we might share our recipe for these crunchy, coffee-forward delights.

You Put the Lime in the Coconut
- Malibu Coconut Rum
- Crooked Stave Sour Rose
- club soda
- cranberry juice
- sugar rim
- lime garnish

Just the aroma out of the freshly cracked bottle of Malibu made us want to find a beach, slather on some back-in-the-day tanning oil and relax. Instead we put our heads to work, coming up with a combination of sour/tart beer and cranberry juice to offset the overwhelming coconut profile of the rum, taking this from a 20-something drink to that a 35+ crowd wouldn’t be embarrassed to drink. The use of club soda boosted the carbonation provided by the beer for a cocktail that screams “lawn chair STAT and keep my glass filled!” regardless of the time of year.

Dark & Stormy Natian
- The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
- Natian Cease & Desist stout (2018)
- Cock'n Bull ginger beer

Once again taking inspiration from a traditional cocktail, this time a Dark & Stormy, we put a beer spin onto it, betting the stout would compliment the “dark” characteristics of the rum in this sipper. Keeping the cocktail from being overly dark was the ginger provided by the Cock'n Bull and the next time we make this we'll expand on that with a candied ginger garnish.

With two editions of beer cocktails behind us (here's the first one in case you missed it), we're looking forward to continuing to use our creative juices to bridge the gap between a pint of beer and a cocktail.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Beer Cocktails: Oktoberfest & Vodka Edition

This year we've been getting more exposure to liquor and the experiences have opened our eyes and palates. We're not afraid to admit that the hard stuff has been intimitating, probably not too dissimilar to when we started drinking craft beer. What is actually good? What is worth the cost? What do we enjoy?

One of our partners on this exploration has been Annebelle, who has a great palate, a taste for cocktails and an eye for presentation. We came up with the idea to try our hand at making beer cocktails, getting together on a monthly basis to test out various combinations of a designated liquor and a style of beer each time. And while having more cooks in the kitchen isn't the best of plans, having another set of taste buds for our experimenting seemed prudent. Insert Lee who has a wealth of experience with tipples - being a mead maker, brewer and distiller - and is just as adventurous as we are.

Since fall is here it felt fitting to use Oktoberfests for the beer style and being our first go around, we chose one of the easier liquors to mix - vodka. What we came up with were a handful of cocktails, that may be subject to a bit more refining in the future, but we quite enjoyed and felt were worth sharing.

Fest-bier-tini
- Occidental Festbier
- Olde York Farm micro batch ramp vodka from Hudson, NY
- pickle brine
- lemon juice
- togarishi, salt, sugar, cayenne rim
- lemon slice and pickle garnish
All of the splashiness of a cocktail visually, this creation used a special vodka Lee hand carried back from a trip out east and a house-made version of togarishi in the rimming mixture. Reminiscent of a Bloody Mary in flavor without the heaviness from tomato juice.

Red Oktobier
- StormBreaker Stomtoberfest
- Belvedere vodka
- Apeol
- orange bitters
- lime garnish
Light and bright were the first words that came to mind upon trying this negroni-inspired beer cocktail. Using Apeol, similar to Campari but with a lower ABV, and beer made for a less bracing cocktail and the bitters filled in for Vermouth. 


Hipster Beerlini
- StormBreaker Stormtoberfest
- New Deal vodka
- peach juice
- peach slice garnish
A bellini can be a simple cocktail, just sparkling wine and peach juice or schnapps, and it's that simplistic take that we used to create our cocktail. Drawing on the beer for the carbonation sparkling wine would contribute we balanced the sweetness of the juice with just enough vodka to keep it feeling cocktail-ish. Using a perfectly ripe peach slice as garnish conjured up the aroma of being in the orchard at the height of harvest. 

Passion of the Beerlini
- StormBreaker Stormtoberfest
- New Deal vodka
- Amoretti passion fruit puree
- La Croix passionfruit
- lime
- muddled red raspberries
Taking the inspiration of a bellini further afield, we switched from peach to passion fruit for the juice component and added to the carbonation with flavored sparkling water. Muddling red raspberries gave it a rich color, with the lime providing a citrus brightness.

Although we had decided to make our concoctions with Oktoberfest beers and vodka after a few attempts with Spaten's beer we agreed whiskey was the way to go with it. Thus the final cocktail to come out of this installment uses a local whiskey and a majority local ingredients.
Go Westward, Spaten
- Spaten Oktoberfest
- House Spirits Westward whiskey
- Raft Botanicals smoked tea vanilla
- orange bitters
- The Barreled Bee whiskey barrel-aged honey rim
- orange peel

Stay tuned for the next installment!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

House Spirits Distillery - Rooted in Craft Beer

"It takes a lot of beer to make whiskey." We're not sure who first said it but up until recently we took it to mean that distillers drink a lot of beer. While we'll leave them to say yea or nay, we've also learned that it literally takes a lot of beer, albeit without hops, to distill down into whiskey. So much that House Spirits in SE Portland utilizes 15 tons of malted barley per WEEK. Read on for a look at why they feel their beer brewing roots are integral to the whiskey they make.

Christian Krogstad and John Foyston
Founder Christian Krogstad, a Seattle native who attended the Siebel Institute and said his early years were greatly influenced by Redhook, moved to Portland in 1991. Right out of the gate he signed on with McMenamins Edgefield, which had just opened its brewery onsite. He spent quite a few years in the craft brewing world before he made the decision to apply his combination of education and experience brewing beer to distilling spirits, malt whiskey in particular. Those years instilled in him a deep understanding of the innovation that started the craft brewing movement in the Northwest and it was that innovative mindset, not Scottish tradition as one might suspect, that House Spirits is based on.

The self-funded enterprise began in 2004 in a modest facility adjacent to Roots Brewing (which closed in 2010) in SE Portland. Roots was the first, followed by many other local breweries, that allowed House Spirits to use their brewing system to make the basis for their whiskey, what is know as a wash. For those unfamiliar with the whiskey making process, a wash is similar to beer but what distinguishes a wash from beer is the time it takes to make it (far shorter) and that no hops are added. As mentioned before, however, they use plenty of grain in the fermentation of the approximately 8% ABV wash, 15,000 gallons of which is produced weekly. 

Christian's brewing background led to his choice to use all Northwest 2 Row Pale Ale malt as well as his choice of yeast. Instead of a standard distiller's yeast, the House Spirits wash is made with an ale yeast that he feels imparts a better flavor in the final productIn addition to drawing on his brewing background to choose ingredients, he has also assembled a team of distillers that, save one, worked for a brewery before signing on with House Spirits. The brewing knowledge that each member of the team brings with them is part of their lineage, linking them in a very concrete way to their brewing roots.


In 2015 House Spirits moved from their original SE facility to a much more roomy facility, intentionally selected to keep them in SE. The facility boasts a 30bbl brewing system and four 100bbl fermenters and is 10x larger than the original space. While no longer bursting at the seams and having a greater need to use the brewing set ups at local breweries like when they were making washes at Roots Brewing, Christian continues to partner with local breweries. Alameda, Breakside, Fort George, Migration and Green Dragon have all worked with House Spirits. In fact when Breakside opened their Milwaukie location they wanted to get plenty of practice on their new, larger brewing system. It wasn't beer that was first made however, it was a House Spirits wash. 


Christian pulling whiskey samples from the Frankie Claus barrel
Another ongoing relationship involves Migration's Frankie Claus, an imperial Belgian chocolate stout. Initially Migration got a whiskey barrel from House spirits and aged a run of Frankie Claus in it. Once the beer was emptied out of the barrel it went back to House Spirits where they decided to fill it with three year old Westward whiskey. After sitting in the barrel for a year the whiskey was pulled out and House Spirits released a stout whiskey. With both parties deeming it successful, this cycle has continued with the same barrel, now on the fifth filling of it. 

Just as we've found ourselves entranced listening to brewers talk about their history, their beer, their projects for the future, so, too were we entranced listening to Christian talk about House Spirits. If the brief picture we've provided you from our visit has whet your whistle for more then it's time for you to experience it yourself. Tours are available daily, public classes covering a variety of different topics occur every week or two and private classes/events are available.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

2nd Annual Radler Fest

Dude. It's HOT. And while we're happy to quench our heat-induced thirst with refreshing, delicious craft beer the radler line up for Saturday's 2nd Annual Radler Fest at StormBreaker Brewing sounds even better.

The event will feature radlers from 20+ breweries/cideries that range from 2.4% to 5.5%. We recently had the opportunity to try a handful of the radlers from this sessionable lineup, three featuring beer, two featuring a new canned wine and both of the offerings from Steigl, sponsors of the event. We can't count how many times we've enjoyed Steigl Grapefruit, available almost anywhere, but it's the Zitrone (lemon) that is our favorite from these folks that started it all. Now onto some new ways radlers are being imagined.

We'll start with the wine radlers - Picnic Sparkling Wine Cocktails, a new product from the owners of Bull Run Distillery. Available in 12oz cans with a chardonnay base both the Berry (acai, pomegranite, blueberry) and Citrus (pineapple, lemon, tangerine, peach) versions are a bit on the sweet side for our beer-loving palates but are worth a try, especially for non-beer lovers.

The beer radlers we sampled came from 54° 40', Pono and event host, StormBreaker. 
54° 40' Ginger Lemonade Radler - Starting off with the aroma from the kolsch base, the flavor is a great blend of lemonade and the hand grated ginger that was used.
Pono Purple Stuff - We can't overlook that this is one of the best names, embracing the rad days of years past, and offers a flavor was more complex than the aroma - think Welch's grape juice - suggested. To make their entry for the event, Pono blended Brown Bag Vintage, a beer made with wheat and chocolate rye, Division Wines' Nebbiolo Must and a late addition of Pacific Gem hops, with grape soda. 
StormBreaker Passionately Pineapple - Total ReKolsch is refreshing on its own and finds a perfect partner with passion fruit and pineapple juices for a radler that is reminiscent of a mimosa. 

If your interest has been peaked and you're up for more creative, playful creations like those we tried, put this atop your To Do list for Saturday and get your tickets now!

2nd Annual Radler Fest
Saturday, August 11th 12 - 6pm
StormBreaker Brewing
Tickets: $18 in advance (festival mug and 10 tickets) or $20 at the door (festival mug and 8 tickets)
Additional tasting tickets will be for sale at the event
Kid, dog and designated driver friendly

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Picks for OBF 2018

The 31st Annual Oregon Brewers Festival kicks off on Thursday at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. For those paying close attention, you'll notice that it's one day later than in recent years. The festival has scaled back from a five-day event to a four-day event for multiple reasons but has added a couple wine and cider options. 

A perusal of the beer list shows plenty of IPAs and a fair number of fruited beers that are made with guava. It's going to be a warm OBF so those lighter beers took on a particular shine as we compiled our hit list. Taking into consideration the number of beers we anticipate being able to consume during one visit, we divided our list of 45 beers (of the total 80+) into Tier 1 and Tier 2 (and further divided them by South and North tents). Our plan is to make it through as many of the Tier 1 beers we can and count ourselves lucky if we are able to return for a second day to take on Tier 2.


Tier 1 - South Tent
Backwoods Brewing Dreamsicle Kolsch - beer debuts at OBF, oranges and vanilla, 5%
Breakside Brewery Limon Pepino - lager conditioned on lime zest and 225lbs of cucumber, 4.9%
Heathen Brewing Raspberry Rhubarb Sour Ale - the description is all in the name, 5.7%
Zoiglhaus Brewing Company Elderberry Berliner Weisse - again, the description is all in the name, 2.8%
Caldera Brewing Company Coco-Nutty Blonde - golden ale brewed with toasted coconut chips and rolled oats for body, 5.6% 
Boneyard Beer Pinot Pulp - pale ale inoculated with Brettanomyces and aged six months in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, 7%
Oregon City Brewing Company Guavador Dali IPA - NE-style IPA with pink guava, 7%
RiverBend Brewing We Found Barb in the Strawberry Field - imperial milkshake IPA with lactose, vanilla and strawberry and rhubarb purees, 8% 
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project Do You Even Zest?! - limited release imperial IPA with freshly zested citrus, 7.5%
Gigantic Brewing Magnificent 527 - IPA with Experimental Hop 527 that displays pineapple, mango, lemon and subtle strawberry aromas and flavors, 6.3%
Fort George Brewery It Takes Two to Mango - NE-style mango IPA, 7.5%
Everybody's Brewing Guango Deep - imperial hazy IPA with guava, mango and fruity hop flavors, 9.3%

Tier 1 - North Tent
Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro Currantly Hip Sour - American-style kettle-soured ale with a house blend of Lactobacillus and flavor of black currants and other forest fruit, 4.9%
Freebridge Brewing Summertime Radness - kettle-soured Berliner Weisse infused with rose of Merlot grapes, 4.3%
Fremont Brewing Limeshine - Pilsner with German malts, Yakima hops and lime, 5.5%
Fortside Brewing Company The Real Slim Hazy - hazy IPA, 5.5%
Natian Brewery 1306 - milkshake IPA with citrus backbone and juicy hop profile, made specifically for OBF, 6.8%

Tier 2 - South Tent
Insurgente Juan Cordero - Baja Calfornia, Mexico brewery made Pale Ale, 5.5%
Ecliptic Brewing Flamingo Planet Guava Blonde Ale - 100% pale malt, lightly hopped Blonde brewed with guava, 4.7%
Pelican Brewing Company To Peach Their Own! - lager infused with 500lbs of Oregon peach puree, 6%
Upright Brewing Berliner Weisse - soured with Lactobacillus in the fermenter and finished with Brettanomycs, brewed in February to allow the beer to develop, 3.6%
Portland Brewing Tart Me Up! - Berliner Weisse with grapefruit, mango and pineapple purees, 4.4%
Kells Brewery Mezcal-a-Gose - fruity, salty and smoky kettle-soured Gose inspired by the Mezcal cocktail, 5.5%
Ninkasi Brewing Company Fruited Gose - traditional unfiltered wheat ale with raspberries and lime, 4.2%
Widmer Brothers Brewing Lemonic Possession - imperial IPA brewed with lemon-nuanced hops and lemon zest, 8.8%
GoodLife Brewing Company Long Acronym - dry-hopped wine barrel-aged mixed fermentation blended Brettanomyces India Pale Lager, 7.8% 
Old Market Pub & Brewery Punchy Peach - imperial wheat ale aged for seven months in French oak Pinot barrels topped off with 250lbs of Oregon tart peaches, 7.8%
Cascade Brewing Belmont Street Bramble - blended Northwest-style sour ale aged in oak wine barrels with red raspberries and tangerine peel, 6.5%


Tier 2 - North Tent
Perennial Artisan Ales Bridge of the Gods - dry-hopped Grisette, 4.7%
Rogue Ales Pinch - imperial Gose, brewed specifically for OBF, 7%
Sasquatch Brewing Company American Aquarium Drinker - Gose brewed with squid ink and seaweed, 4.5%
Agua Mala Sirena - Baja California, Mexico brewery made Pilsner, 5.2%
Great Northern Brewing Company Big Mountain Tea - Pale Ale with subtle notes of Earl Grey tea, 5.2%
Silver Falls Brewery Wisp - raspberry wheat beer with raspberries added to the end of fermentation, 5.5%
Thunder Island Brewing Company Fuzzy Wit - Wit with generous mid-fermentation additions of Oregon peaches, 5.5%
Gilgamesh Brewing CBD Pale Ale - generously hoped Pale Ale with 5mg CBDs per 12oz serving, 5.6%
Transpeninsular Cerveceria Playitas Cali Pale Ale - Baja California, Mexico brewery made "double session IPA," 5.4%
Wendlandt Cerveceria Perro del Mar - Baja California, Mexico brewery made West Coast-style IPA, 7% 
Deschutes Brewery Fruit Fight - NE-style IPA brewed with six hop varieties, 6.7%
pFriem Family Brewers Mango Milkshake IPA - hazy and juicy IPA base with lactose, vanilla beans and mango puree, 7.9%
Oproer Refuse//Resist - Netherlands brewery made fruity double IPA, 8.5%
Border Psycho Brewery Pervesa - Baja California, Mexico brewery made imperial IPA, 9.3%
McMenamins Edgefield Brewery The Jester's Nightcap - imperial stout, 9%
New Holland Brewing Company I Like Pretzel Day - stout made with soft pretzels in the mash, bourbon barrel-aged for three months and balanced with extra salt and caramel, 8%
Heretic Brewing Company Goo - imperial milk stout, 12%

For ease of checking in when we're at the festival we've created a wish list in Untappd. Following our check ins and comments there will be the quickest way to see what rings our bell. We will also try to get a quick post up here or on Facebook after our first visit. No promises though because, well, you know how attending a beer festival can reduce one's motivation. 

Oregon Brewers Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Thursday, July 26 - Sunday, July 29
Opens at Noon daily, closes at 9 pm Thursday - Saturday, 7 pm Sunday

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

West Coast Grocery Company Opens

Nope, we haven't started covering the opening of new places to do your grocery shopping. West Coast Grocery Company is in fact a brewery located in the heart of inner SE across Stark Street from Beer and Meat Cheese Bread and kitty corner from Revolution Hall. The name speaks to times past when the heart of the neighborhood was the corner grocery and in fact the owners' family has a history in the Northwest wholesale grocery business dating back to 1891.

Occupying the corner space of the building, the brewery features a sunken brewing floor that is open to the main level of seating, accessed by entering from street level. The bright space is made up by a combination of tables and bar rails on the perimeter. Go up a short flight of stairs from there and one reaches the second seating area where the bar is located. In addition to more tables there is a cozy living room like seating space as well as a shuffle board table.

WCGco has brewed a handful of beers with local breweries - Laurelwood, Breakside, Level, Baerlic and Victor 23 - that they will be pouring with guest beers from their 12 taps. As it turned out we had already tried the collaboration with Level, a Norwegian take on a Grisette, while at Level. An easy drinking 4.3% and exactly what we would expect from the style, it's great for warm weather drinking or the start of any session. As good as that was, we opted to try a couple of others that we had not yet tasted, starting with the hazy IPA collaboration with Victor 23. Fuzzy Balls Hazy IPA clocks in at a moderate 6% and features a pleasant hop presence. The other IPA available during our visit was Bo-De-Ga, a collaboration with Breakside. As expected from such an IPA powerhouse, this is a solid IPA that fans of Breakside's beers should enjoy. While they were out of the Laurelwood collaboration (a pale ale) and we didn't get around to the Baerlic (a pilsner), this initial line up offers a well rounded representation of styles.

To accompany the liquid libations their kitchen offers a small but something-for-everyone menu of snacks, salads, sandwiches, wings and burgers. At the preview we attended we were able to try a slider sized version of their burger, wings (both garlic soy and sweet & spicy), fries with Portland ketchup and spicy feta dip, potato salad, won ton chips, pork cracklings and jalapeno nacho cheese. All were well made with our favorites being the burgers and anything coated with the addictive jalapeno nacho cheese.

The soft opening takes place today, July 24 5 - 10 pm, with the grand opening scheduled for Thursday, July 26. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook for the latest updates on both events.

West Coast Grocery Company
1403 SE Stark Street

Monday, July 16, 2018

Von Ebert Opens Second Location


Today is the grand opening for Von Ebert's second location, located next to the Pro Shop of the Glendoveer Golf Course at NE 140th and Glisan. The space housed the RingSide Grill up until last August and has been re-imagined by Von Ebert with lodge-style decor. The large bar dominates the main room inside, with additional seating in a second room and on two patios for a total of nearly 250 seats.

We had a chance to check it out over the weekend and even with as warm at it was, sitting on the covered patio with a view of the 10th hole the golf course was very pleasant. For those that have been to the downtown location the food menu will look very similar, with a couple of location-exclusive additions. The beer menu is currently similar as well, but will become more distinctive once brewing starts on the JVNW built 3.5bbl system this fall. The plan is to focus on German lagers, Saisons, Belgian-inspired beers and spontaneous, mixed culture and sour beers. Utilizing space that isn't available at the downtown location they will be able to have multiple foudres, wine puncheons, a coolship and barrels also.

Having enjoyed the food downtown previously, this time we made sure to choose items we hadn't tried before. In an effort not to avoid over order, we went with the sausage and peppers pizza and an order of onion rings. As it turned out we would have had plenty if we had only ordered the onion rings, a huge basket containing some of the largest onion rings we've seen. Perfectly cooked with a breading that didn't flake off, accompanied by a chipotle BBQ sauce and ranch, and in no way greasy, this is the standard all future onion rings will be judged against. The thin crust pizza popped with color from the peppers and got a hearty flavor from the sausage. Enough for two people to split, or one hungry person on their own, it makes for a great combo with the beer.

On the beer side, we also tried to order new-to-us beers although we did end up with one we'd tried before. The 12 beers available ranged from Pilsner to IPAs, all the way to an imperial barrel aged stout. Das Dom, the "repeat beer," is a Kolsch-style, session beer that starts with a bit of a sweet aroma but drinks less so and tasted particularly fine on the patio. We were split on which beer was our favorite with the tie being between Sabrage and Chapter 3. Sabrage is a Brut IPA, a style that seems to be popping up all over as a bit of a correction from the [over] abundance of hazy IPAs that have recently come into favor. The light aroma was followed by a juicy and refreshing flavor and clocked in at a moderate 6.1% ABV. Chapter 3, a West Coast IPA, showcased the deliciousness of Simcoe, Mosaic and Azacca hops, again with a moderate ABV of 6.4%. Had we not been so full from the food we may well have enjoyed an extended patio session alternating between these two.

While this new location is a bit further out, for those who tend to focus on inner Portland, the trade off is a relaxed golf course setting that can be enjoyed year round with ample, free parking. Plus, once the brewing system cranks up later this year, they'll be putting out sour and mixed culture beers. With head brewer Sean Burke's background at The Commons we expect to see some outstanding beers being produced and are excited for many return visits.

Von Ebert Brewing (East)
14021 NE Glisan
11 am - 11 pm Monday - Thursday
11 am - midnight Friday & Saturday
11 am - 1o pm Sunday
Family friendly

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Picks for Cider Summit 2018

The 2018 Cider Summit kicks off Friday at 3pm (2pm if you spring for the VIP entry) at The Fields Park. With over 200 ciders from more than 60 cideries some hard choice are going to be made because even if you attend the full 10 hours of the festival spanning Friday and Saturday afternoons, in order to try all of the ciders you'd have to maintain a pace of one sample every three minutes. That doesn't even leave time for bathroom breaks or eating! 

We've compiled a short list of ciders we're most excited about, some of which we were introduced to for the first time last week. Some of those made our short list and overall we're giving preference to Oregon cideries even though the Washington, California, New Hampshire, New York, Canada, England, France and Spain cideries that will be there will likely have some things we would love. Tough choices. 

The top eight cideries we'll scouring the festival grounds for:
^5 Cider - 4 ciders and although most of what we've tried from them has gone a little overboard with the sour/tartness they made a cider for the Fruit Cider Challenge called Pineapple & Oak that sounds tasty and interesting.
Apple Outlaw - 4 ciders, including one in the Fruit Cider Challenge. We have very little experience with this cidery but the Pura Vida Pineapple has gotten pretty good ratings on Untappd and we do enjoy pineapples in our cider. Since the Challenge cider wasn't listed in advance that might be a game time decision.
Baird & Dewar - 4 ciders, including Peach Fuzz as their Fruit Cider Challenge entry. Having had three of their ciders before, including a previous version of Constitution and a peach/apricot blend, we were pleased to find leather or barnyard funk in all of them. That bodes well for these four and we might have to try all of them.
Blue Mountain - 3 ciders, all "Limely." We've only had one of theirs to date but were impressed by the fruit profile in the raspberry so we'll have to try at least one of these.
Bull Run - 4 ciders, of which we have had the Bramble Berry, and including Pineapple Perry for the Fruit Cider Challenge. The Bramble along with the Cranberry Perry we had both exhibited the barnyardy characteristic that never fails to hook us. Perhaps we'll have to do a back-to-back-to-back with their pineapple, ^5 and Apple Outlaw.
New West (the cider arm of Sasquatch Brewery) - 4 ciders, including a cherry one in the Fruit Cider Challenge. Of the four they are pouring we've had two, one we loved, one that was meh. It's likely we'll have at least one of the other two.
WildCraft - 3 ciders, one of which we had at the preview and two others, one barrel-aged and one a farmhouse. Yep, we'll be giving those a try!
Bandon Rain - 3 ciders, of which Don't Burn Grose sounds intriguing. Read on to see why.

Although we tried all of the 1859 Cider Co. from Salem at the preview, they were delicious and we HIGHLY encourage you to try them, too.

Perhaps we'll see you there tomorrow (and say hi if you see us first!).

2018 Cider Summit
The Fields Park, 1099 NW Overton
3 - 8pm Friday, 12 - 5pm Saturday
$35 general admission tickets at the door include tasting glass and 12 tickets, additional tasting tickets $2 each

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Oregon Cider Week 2018

The door has barely closed on PDX Beer Week and now it's time for Oregon Cider Week. Kicking off today, June 21st, and running through Sunday, July 1st the the number and variety of official events is as impressive as Beer Week. We know we won't be able to make it to them all, nor preview them all, but what we can do is give you our take on some of the ciders and cideries.

Earlier this week we were given a preview of 20 of the cideries that will be taking part in Oregon Cider Week. Some, like Finnriver and Cider Riot!, were familiar while others, like 1859 Cider Co. and Art+Science, we hadn't even heard of before. It kind of took us back to the days when we were discovering craft breweries, somewhat overwhelming but in a wonderful, exciting way.


Before we talk about the ciders that hit the highest notes for us at the preview, we have to tell you about the special Oregon Cider Week donut that Blue Star has created. The brioche donut is frosted with a beautiful and delicious combination of Finnriver Lavender Black Currant cider, black currant puree and Bee Local Hot Honey. Available for the duration of Oregon Cider week at all of their locations, it is worth seeking out, whether it's enjoyed on its own or enjoyed with Finnriver's cider.

As we back away from the donuts, it's time to talk about the ciders that most impressed us.

Finnriver Lavender Black Currant - Staring out with a spectacular color and wine-like aroma, the berry/floral flavor is followed by a pleasant wine aftertaste.

1859 Strawberry - Both the aroma and flavor of this cider are exactly like that of fresh strawberries, with no alcohol flavor at all.

Alter Ego Guardian Angel - This combination of blueberries and pomegranates are juice, juice, all juice baby.

WildCraft Elderberry Perry - Oregon elderberries are fermented whole in a red Bartlett perry and aged for three months, resulting in a juicy brew with mild alcohol flavor. 


WildCraft Trinity Pome Blend - Lovely, funky tastiness!

1859 Green Dragon - This represents the perfect balance of sweet and dry. As a bonus, it pairs wonderfully with prosciutto.

While we would be happy to belly up at one location and drink any kegs of the above ciders dry, to fully experience Oregon ciders, we recommend checking out one of the festivals or other events that feature multiple ciders and cideries. Here's a brief list with the full event list and details found here.
June 23
Oregon Cider Week Saturday Sampling
Tasting event featuring Baird & Dewar, Carlton Cyderworks and WildCraft Ciderworks
2 - 4 pm
McMenamins 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop 2290 NW Thurman Street, Portland

June 23
Happy Cider Day
11 ciders, including the 1859 Strawberry we are so enamored with
6 - 9 pm
The Westside Taphouse & Growler Fill 1594 Edgewater Street NW, SALEM


June 23 & 24 
3rd Annual Fruit Cider Invitational
24 Oregon-made fruit ciders from Cider Riot! and others
2 - 8 pm
Cider Riot! 807 NE Couch Street, Portland

June 24
Dog wash at Bushwacker Cider
Charity dog wash benefitting Clackamas County Dog Control with 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Seattle Cider Co. and Bushwacker Cider, 21+
12 - 3 pm
Bushwacker Cider, 1212-D SE Powell Blvd, Portland

June 25
PDX Cideries Nite
Event features cideries located in the city of Portland
6 - 10 pm
Portland Cider House, 3638 SE Hawthorne, Portland


June 26
Oregon Cider Celebration
Draft and bottled offerings from Oregon cider companies
4 - 7 pm
Tin Bucket 3520 N Williams Avenue, Portland

June 27
OMSI After Dark: Ciderfest
Featuring 17 cideries, this 21+ event includes science demonstrations, $30 tickets 
7 - 10 pm
OMSI 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland

June 29 & June 30
Cider Summit Portland
Nearly 200 ciders from across the nation, general admission tickets $30 in advance, $35 at the door
3 - 8 pm Friday, 12 - 5 pm Saturday
The Fields 1099 NW Overton, Portland

July 1
Cider + Donuts
Donuts from Blue Star, NOLA and Delicious paired with NW ciders
11 am - 10 pm
Portland Cider House 3638 SE Hawthorne, Portland


July 1
Oregon Cider Week Pairing Menu
Curated 3-course menu pairing Baird & Dewar, WildCraft and OR/WA Cider Co-Op ciders with food, $45
5 - 9:30 pm
Ned Ludd 3925 NE MLK Jr., Portland 

In addition to places to drink cider, there are a couple of retailers offering discounts on packaged ciders. To start off the week, New Seasons Market will offer 20% off all hard ciders June 22 - 24 (Friday - Sunday). Picking up the discounts a couple days later is People's Food Co-Op, with 10% off the purchase of any six ciders June 26 - July 1 (Tuesday - Sunday).

For those looking to get some education along with their cider check out:
June 21 
Cider Appreciation Class
Explore 20+ ciders, many of Nat's favorite cideries from around the world and the history of the craft, $50 tickets 
7 - 9:30 pm
Rev. Nat's Cidery & Taproom 1813 NE 2nd Avenue, Portland

June 25 
History & Science of Cider
Enjoy 9 ciders from around the world with cider makers from Cider Riot! and Portland Cider company leading an educational class, $25 tickets 
7 -10 pm
Cider Riot! 807 NE Couch, Portland

*Please note that we did not try all of the ciders at the preview, nor does this represent all of the ciders that will be at Oregon Cider Week Events. We do what we can but even we have our limits.