Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mark Your Calendar for Coalition's CBD Beer Fest Friday

"Patio weather" seems to have been in shorter supply than usual so far this year but the forecast looks more yea than nay for the rest of the week. We especially have our fingers crossed for Mother Nature to cooperate on Friday when Coalition Brewing will be hosting their Two Flowers CBD Beer Fest starting at 3 pm.

Two Flowers was the first CBD beer Coalition, and in fact any brewery in Oregon, produced. Debuting in January 2017, we have enjoyed it multiple times since then and we are looking forward to trying the other CBD beers that will be pouring at this event. Ensemble, a NW Pale Ale with OG Kush terpenes will also available; it is their latest project with True Terpenes, Portland makers of organic, food grade terpenes. 

Besides just enjoying the beer during the course of the 7-hour event there will be:
- 4:20 pm special toast 
- live music
- The Jamaica House food cart
- terpene sensory station by True Terpenes
- games
- giveaways 
- 6:00 pm panel discussion featuring a hemp lobbyist, hemp community advocate, CBD educator and hemp clothier 

Coalition's gorgeous new patio has been open since March (along with new, open daily hours) so if you haven't checked out this Friday's event is the perfect excuse to do so. 

Coalition Brewing
Two Flowers CBD Beer Fest
Friday, April 2oth 3 - 10pm
2705 SE Ankeny St

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Salty Snacks Pairing - Doritos Edition

Last July we broke off from our beer and Girl Scout Cookies pairing, venturing down a Kettle chips-guided salty road. Since then we'd been toying around with the idea of another chip pairing and last weekend we did the first, of which there may be whole series of, additional chip and/or salty snack pairings. 

Chris arrived at our local with four of the who-knows-how-many flavors of Doritos
- Sweet Spicy Chili
- Salsa Verde
- Chile Limon
- Tapatio
In addition, Dave happened upon our pairing party and contributed a bag of Lundberg Sesame Seaweed Rice Chips.

The chip that turned out to be most pair-able was Sweet Spicy Chili, working well with:
- StormBreaker Good...Not Great imperial red ale
- de Garde Imperial Peach Bu Berliner Weisse
- Culmination 4 & 20 imperial CDA
- New Holland Cabin Fever brown ale
- Anchor Porter
The sweet-spiciness of the chips married well with the maltiness of the StormBreaker, New Holland and Anchor while the darkness of the Culmination provided a nice compliment. Perhaps most surprising was how well the de Garde fruit sour worked, resulting in a sweet heat flavor reminiscent of Burnside's Sweet Heat beer.

Chile Limon, the spiciest of the chips and the one that made the most mess of one's hands with its heavily saturated dusting, was the second most pair-able, finding friends in:
- Zoiglhaus Zoigl-Pils
- Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Ale
- New Holland Cabin Fever brown ale
Not surprisingly the maltiness of the Oskar Blues and New Holland beers offset the heat of the chips. With the Old Chub the pairing took on a spicy tomato flavor and the Cabin Fever highlighted the lime flavor in the chips. Somewhat surprising was that the Pils was able to stand up to the assertive chip.

Tapatio, using one of our favorite readily available hot sauces, was best with: 
- Level Ready Player One Saison 
- New Holland Cabin Fever brown ale
- Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish ale
In the case of the Saison, the hot sauce flavor transformed the beer into more of a lager profile. With the brown ale and Scottish ale, similar to the pairing with Chile Limon, the maltiness of the beers complimented the chip's spiciness.

Salsa Verde, the most mildly flavored of the Doritos, turned out to be one of the most difficult to pair with. Level's Ready Player One dry-hopped Saison overpowered it and the peppers were unpleasantly brought to prominence with Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Ale. Only de Garde Imperial Peach Bu really worked, with the flavor combination being similar to a fruit salsa one might find on a fish taco. 

Although we weren't previously familiar with Lundberg Sesame Seaweed Rice Chips the chips on their own had a pleasant flavor and hearty feeling in the mouth. They made for a three-way tie to be second most pair-able with beers that had paired well with other chips. 
- Zoiglhaus Zoigl-Pils
- Level Ready Player One Saison
- Culmination 4 & 20 imperial CDA
The lightness of the Pils and Saison seemed obvious pairings while Culmination's imperial CDA was quite a surprise. On the surface we assumed that the beer would easily overpower the rice chips however putting more thought into it, the sesame may have been the key ingredient that made it work. Tahini, the highly flavorful paste made from ground sesame seeds, is what gives hummus its distinct flavor and may have been what allowed the chips to stand up to the CDA.

As our salt-saturated adventure wound down we pondered how to proceed. With the vastness of salty snacks available we decided there would need to be categories/installments since like Doritos, each group has many flavors available. Those might end up looking like:
- Old school potato chips (i.e. BBQ, sour cream & onion, including Cheetos)
- Fritos
- Pringles
- Triscuits
- Wheat Thins
- Veggie crisps (including Funyuns because onions are veggies)
- Croutons
- Random Asian store chip aisle
- Pringles

For now, however, we'll continue recovering from our salt hangovers. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

What's Ahead for Widmer?

Earlier this week we took part in a 52-person tasting panel at Widmer's recently remodeled pub. Alerted to it by a Facebook posting, "Become a Widmer Brothers Taste Tester!" it was billed an an opportunity to give their innovation brewmasters feedback on unreleased beers they're working on for next year. Following the link we found an application that was a bit different than we had expected. In addition to asking the reasons applicants felt they were qualified to participate, it asked which breweries applicants bought beer from and/or visited on a regular basis. Not a strange question but instead of a list there was a text box to type in the answer. While the format may have been somewhat random we thought it was an interesting approach to it; we put more thought into it than if we were simply checking the boxes next to a given list. 

Whatever they were looking for we apparently met their criteria and were notified we'd been chosen. On our way there we pondered what styles of beers we might be tasting. Would their be a hazy offering? Would we be trying things that would be broadly marketable with the intent to be bottled? Would they be pub-only offerings? 

Arriving, noticing the differences that had been made during the remodel, we grabbed seats next to a couple of familiar faces. The bones of the space have remained the same but the overall feel is more nightclub-esque with a stage and colored lights shining on the brewing tanks that are visible through glass windows. The biggest change however may be that they have ditched the kitchen. With the exception of a few snack offerings - chips and salsa and the like - patrons are invited to bring their own food in. This includes grabbing something from the food truck parked across the street, which on that night was the Chicagoland deep dish pizza truck. 

But back to the reason we were there - to try the beer. A small group of marketing and innovation brewery representatives got things rolling, introducing the first beer, a pale ale named Hashburst. The pale ales that tend to tickle our palate the most are of the hoppy variety that come closer to being IPAs. This one didn't quite get there but the presence of the hops late palate and in the aftertaste were enough that we would consider drinking this if it ended up making the cut.

Next up was actually a trio of beers that featured hibiscus and other ingredients on a Berliner Weiss base. 
Hibiscus Orange - The huge orange aroma and flavor overpowered the dry-finishing beer.
Hibiscus Grapefruit - As with the orange, the grapefruit flavor dominated the beer but then, oddly, all flavor completely fell off at the end.
Hibiscus Azacca - Finally the hibiscus got to take the lead with this beer but at the expense of a complete lack of hop character and like the grapefruit version, zero flavor in the finish. 
Our impression was that all three of these were "training wheels" sour beers, ones that might play well enough in markets that are not familiar with sour beers on the whole. In a mature market like Portland it would be difficult to imagine them doing well in their current form.

The final beers were a pair of terpene-dosed beers. Terpenes are essential oils and in this case essential oils of hops' cousin, marijuana.
Dreifecta Pilsner - Huge weed aroma with a cedar backbone, the flavor had more pilsner characteristics with the cedar continuing its presence.
Hospitality IPA - A more balanced aroma, the flavor was consistent with that of an IPA with lingering pine-grapefruit notes.
Of the two beers the aggressively-dosed Pilsner seemed least successful with its cedar flavor being something that is unlikely to be appealing to the majority of consumers. The IPA had more commercial potential but we were left wondering "why terpenes?" on the whole. Perhaps Widmer is looking to ride the wave of weed's popularity (and legality) without incurring the cost of CBD oil. Who knows, perhaps it will be the next big thing once the hazy craze loses its shine.

Overall the evening was an interesting experience and we'll be interested to see:
A. If any of these beers make it to market.
B. If Widmer does future tasting panels.
C. If we'll be invited back.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Von Ebert Brewing Opens

Today Von Ebert Brewing, which occupies the former Fat Head's brewpub in the Pearl District, opens its doors to the public. We were thrilled to be asked and able to accept an invitation to attend the soft opening over the weekend. We couldn't try all of the beer and food so this isn't an extensive review but we hope our sneak peek will encourage you to visit them for yourself. 

Closed for a mere eight days for the transition, minor aesthetic changes have been made to the original design of the large interior, a set up that maximizes the space while distinguishing three seating areas: bar seating, the table seating in the bar area and the booth-dominated seating that is more conducive to families or larger groups. Another component that appears to have been tweaked rather than overhauled is the staff. Even though we were not Fat Head's regulars we saw plenty of familiar faces on staff from our visits, something that speaks not only to the quality of the staff but also to the ownership's ability to understand the value of good employees. 

The beer and food offerings, not surprisingly, reflect the deepest changes. About half of the full line up of beers was available during the soft opening, which was still more than sufficient. Remaining IPA-heavy as had been the case with Fat Head's, fans of The Commons Brewery will feel the influence brewer Sean Burke has brought with him in Silent Acidity, a Lacto and Sacchro beer, and the Saison/farmhouse ale, Flat Nose Shovel. We loved the complexity and mouthfeel of the rye IPA (Road With No End), the tropical flavors in Spot Buy IPA and found the Pilsner and Kolsch to be well-crafted German-style beers.

The food menu offers familiar brewpub categories - appetizers, salads, pizzas, wings, sandwiches and burgers - with two noticeable changes. The first is that those delicious pierogies are no longer available. The second is the addition of three charcuterie and cheese boards, each featuring three cheeses, three cured meats and accompaniments. Cheese is one of our favorite foods, especially when it is served along with beer, and this take on it is something that would feed two people for a light meal or could be shared by many more for a starter. In fact all of the food we tried and saw delivered to nearby tables appeared to be Fat Head's sized. Instead of worrying about going hungry, the greater danger is you'll find your table laden with enough food to feed twice the number in your party. We call that a good problem to have.

We're excited for Sean and the whole Von Ebert Crew and are looking forward to returning!

Von Ebert Brewing
131 NW 13th Avenue
Open daily at 11:30 am

Thursday, March 1, 2018

4th Annual SheBrew Beer Festival

As 2018 rolls on and the frequency of beer festivals picks up, don't miss your chance to attend one of the newer, somewhat smaller, but definitely worthy festivals in Portland. SheBrew is now in its fourth year, offering beer, cider and mead from female Pro Brewers and Home Brewers. Unlike the WW Pro/AM (which we love as well), at this festival the pros and the home brewers don't team up to brew a beer/cider/mead but instead offer their creations as two components of a festival that is also a fundraiser for HRC. (The organization works with lawmakers and other groups to achieve equality for LGBTQ people in Oregon and across the US.)

For the second year the festival will take place inside Buckman Coffee Factory, a female-owned roaster located in inner SE. In addition to the 30+ beer/cider/mead offerings from the Pro Brewers and Home Brewers there will be music throughout the festival, comedians starting at 6:30pm and Spotlight food cart set up. For an added bit of fun attendees will be able to vote (until 6pm) for their favorite home brewed beverage in the People's Choice competition, with the winner being announced at the conclusion of the festival.

While being named People's Choice is an honor, a pre-festival American Homebrewers Association sanctioned competition took place that included submissions from across the country. 121 entries competed in 17 categories with the category winners selected by a team of judges and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners being awarded medals. The overall winner, Best of Show, will have the honor of collaborating on a beer with Natalie Baldwin, R&D brewer at Breakside Brewery. The Best of Show winner will be announced at 6pm.

The $20 general admission fee includes festival tasting glass, 10 tasting tokens and punch card to sample and vote on all the homebrew beverages. (The festival-standard option of purchasing more tokens for $1 each applies.) For those wanting to get a jump on the general admission entry, $40 VIP tickets are available. In addition to glass, tokens and punch card, VIP ticket holders get early entry (11am), t-shirt and 10 raffle tickets. 

We plan to be there when the doors open and hope to see you!

Saturday, March 3 12 - 8pm
1105 SE Main St.
Purchase tickets in advance or at the door

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Beer & Girl Scout Cookies Pairing Year 5

Our annual sugar fest in which we support the Girl Scouts and use as an excuse to play with beer happened Sunday. Last year we split the event into two separate days since we were able to get our hands on some out-of-state offerings and while that was fun, what we have access to here is more than enough to put us into sugar shock.

Here was our lineup:
- Do-Si-Dos (aka Peanut Butter Sandwich)
- Samoas (aka Caramel De-Lites)
- Savannah Smiles
- Shortbreads (aka Trefoils)
- S'mores (the non-vegan graham cracker sandwich version)
- Tagalongs (aka Peanut Butter Patties)
- Thin Mints
- Toffee-Tastic (gluten-free)

Per our usual we gathered at our favorite watering hole (which by the way was just named as Oregon's favorite beer bar by's readers), opened all the boxes and started hitting the coolers to pull out beers to pair with the cookies.

First up was Chris' pick of Berried at Sea from Pelican, their Tsunami Stout that was aged in oak barrels with blackberries and currants to re-ferment. Along the lines of a sour stout, the acidic profile somewhat distracted from the overall profile of the beer. Nonetheless, it found a peanut butter partner to its "jelliness" in the Do-Si-Dos and Tagalongs. Going a lighter route it created an acid-expected berry lemonade flavor with the Savannah Smiles, which we've agreed is The Best Beer Cookie (more on that below).

Another beer that made fast friends with the two peanut butter cookies was Fort George From Astoria with Love, the Russian Imperial Stout is the base beer for all of Fort George's Matryoshka variants. Mag was impressed by Do-Si-Do's ability to hold its own against the 9.4% beer while Kris would be happy to sit down with a box and a few cans to fully indulge in the rich pairing. Speaking of decadent pairings, Left Hand Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout made for a great one with the other peanut butter cookie, Tagalongs. For a more complimentary pairing to the Do-Si-Do's, reach for Crooked Stave St. Bretta. Now available in 12oz cans, the beer pleasantly lightened the richness of the cookie while the cookie brought to the forefront more of the dryness in this Saison.

Samoas, historically a difficult cookie to pair due to the coconut and over the top sweetness, found many beer friends this time around.
- Falling Sky Juniper Rye became more malty, in a very pleasant way
- Boulevard Rye on Rye, a rye-heavy beer on its own, was moderated and made more enjoyable
- Baerlic What the Fluff NE-style IPA accentuated the saltiness of the cookie while toning down its sugar forwardness
- Evil Twin B is for Blueberry brought the chocolate component in the cookie to prominence
- Left Hand Nitro Bittersweet found its only cookie buddy here

Falling Sky Juniper Rye, Boulevard Rye on Rye and Baerlic What The Fluff also paired well with the S'mores graham cracker sandwich cookies. So, too, did pFriem Cognac barrel-aged Belgian Style Dark Ale. The 10.3% beer was well balanced between its booziness and its Belgian characteristics.

Toffee-Tastic, the Girl Scout's gluten-free offering, is a cookie that has surprised us from day one both with its flavor and texture as well as its ability to pair well with beer. This year our favorite beer we paired it with was pFriem Cognac which accentuated the rich butteryness of the cookie. For those who prefer to have that buttery quality tempered, we suggest going with Crooked Stave St. Bretta.

Thin Mints, one of the staples of the Girl Scout cookie line up, have typically been most successfully paired with stouts and that trend continued this year when paired with Left Hand Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout. The boozy beer balanced nicely with the cookie's minty profile. Shortbreads were another cookie we'd paired often enough that we didn't dive too deep into that well but found Pelican Berried at Sea, especially once it had warmed, made for a nice companion.

Thanks to our Sunday Monger, David, for keeping an eye on us.
Saving the best for last, our picks for the top beers to pair with The Best Beer Cookie, the lemony, powdered sugar coated, crescent shaped Savannah Smiles.
- Pelican Berried at Sea, as mentioned above
- Evil Twin B is for Blueberry for a lighter version of the Berried at Sea pairing
- Little Beast Tree Spirit for a trip down the cherry lemonade path
- Baerlic What the Fluff's hoppiness for a pairing that brings out the lemon even further in the cookies
- Crooked Stave St. Bretta for the cookie to accentuate the lemon-citrus notes of the beer
- Falling Sky Juniper Rye for a surprising pairing where the cookie brought out the malty qualities in the beer and increased its drinkability (for our group)

Beer is tasty, beer is fun, beer is better with friends. We're already brainstorming on our next beer and [something] pairing. If you have ideas for what you'd like us to play with, leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

21 Breweries + 20 Distilleries = Brewstillery 4 Festival

Now in its fourth year StormBreaker's beer and spirit pairing event, Brewstillery, returns this Saturday. For the uninitiated the festival brings together local breweries and distilleries to create perfect pairings - 4oz of beer and 1/4oz of the selected spirit. While we'd encourage you to try at least a couple of them paired, if spirits just aren't your thing or perhaps you'd prefer to try out a bunch of spirits, no problem. Each tasting ticket is good for either a beer pour or spirit taste. How you spend your tickets is completely up to you. 

We recently had the opportunity to try a handful of this year's pairings and are pleased to report that they brought a smile to our beer-loving mouths. So that you can get an idea of what will be offered, here's a recap of what we tried.

Noble's Big Triple: StormBreaker Big Bottom barrel-aged Triple XL IIIPA & Big Bottom Bourbon finished in port casks
Triple IPAs can be hit or miss with us. Too sweet, too hot, there are many ways to screw them up however StormBreaker nailed this 10.5% version. When paired with Big Bottom's 91 proof Bourbon, it tastes closer to 5% and the two are well balanced with the port characteristics in the Bourbon contributing to the smooth finish of the beer.

Nocino Vlad: Cascade Orange Vlad & Stone Barn Nocino
Nocino, a liqueur made from unripe walnuts picked in late June, is one of the few spirits we enjoy outside of a pairing situation. This 60 proof spirit presents with a spicy aroma and finds a wonderful partner in Cascade's 12% Belgian quad that was aged in bourbon barrels with orange peel and coriander. Less sour than many of Cascade's beers, the heavy orange characteristics of the beer make the pairing feel cocktail-like.

Gin Beast: Little Beast Bes tart wheat ale & Rose City Distilling Cricket Club Gin
Gin is our go-to spirit so we were expecting a lot from this pairing and it didn't disappoint. Cricket Club's flavor profile is lemongrass-heavy (but not overly so) which combines pleasantly with the chamomile component of Bes. We agree with Little Beast owner Chuck Porter that this pairing is "a refreshing change to [some of the] heavy beers and liquors" you'll find. 

To Peach Their Own: Ecliptic Carina peach sour ale & Townshend's Bluebird Alpine Liqueur
Bluebird is distilled from spiced apple kombucha, a process which transforms 35-45 gallons of kombucha into 750ml of Bluebird. The result is delightfully herbal, especially when it's made into a cocktail with lemon juice and IPA wort, then topped with Carina. In our opinion, the cocktail is far superior to the sum of its parts.

We hope your interest has been peaked and that you're ready to hit the "buy" button to a festival in which you'll almost never have to wait in line due to the nature of the sampling. If so there are two options available.
#1 VIP
- 11 AM entry
- festival beer glass AND festival whiskey snifter
- 15 tasting tickets
- $45 (buy online by 10 AM on the 24th for $5 off with code brewstillery5OFF)

#2 General Admission
- 12 PM entry
- festival beer tasting glass
- 10 tasting tickets
- $25 (buy online by 10 AM on the 24th for $5 off with code stormbreaker5)

StormBreaker Brewstillery 4 Festival
Saturday, February 24th
823 N Beech Street
11 AM/12 PM - 8 PM

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Salad and a Saison

Photo credit: Chris Kleiv Crabb

What's the best way to eat a salad? With a beer of course!

This week we made our TV debut on KGW's afternoon show, Portland Today, demoing a winter salad that features a new apple variety, Pazazz. We were contacted by the Pazazz people a few weeks ago, found multiple ways to enjoy this relative-to-Honeycrisp apple and got to be the local face for their apple on an installment of the show's In the Kitchen segment. Watch us in action!

We couldn't pass up the opportunity to find a beer to pair with this salad and after taking under advisement the suggestions of many of our fellow beer and foodie friends we found one. That beer is Ready Player One, a dry-hopped Saison from Level Beer. The fruity, flavorful beer compliments the mild sweetness of the salad yet remains restrained enough to let all of its flavors come through. 

Many thanks to the Pazazz people! This was a great experience and it's likely this easy, tasty salad will be a return visitor at our table.

Crunchy Winter Salad with Pazazz Apple
Recipe courtesy of Pazazz

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped red cabbage
1 Pazazz apple, chopped
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (the red, edible "seeds")

Toss together romaine lettuce, red cabbage and Pazazz apple. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar and honey and drizzle over salad. Toss to distribute the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Top with pomegranate arils.

- Pazazz apples can be found in Portland at Sheridan's in SE and QFC. Don't peel 'em! Not only does the skin add color to the salad but there are nutrients in there.
- Any honey can be used but our honey of choice is The Barreled Bee barrel-aged honey.
- Pomegranates are a bit fussy but containers of just the "seeds" can be found in most produce sections.
- Make the salad more hearty by adding a protein of choice (i.e. shredded chicken) or grated mozzarella cheese.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Brunchin' at Burnside

Brunch is a big thing in this town. If you're thinking "duh" or "really" just keep in mind that this comes from the perspective of a non-native Portlander, who although feels this place has become home, still has a bit of outsider's perspective. 

We don't go out to brunch often, usually only when we have visitors in town, and when we do we typically avoid the popular/high visibility places. Waiting, hungry and in need of coffee, is not a way to start the day especially when there are tons of great places to brunch. Depending who we're brunching with determines if we're looking for a place with great [insert favorite dish of our visitors], a place with stellar bloody marys/mimosas or some other factor. If we were going out on our own a deciding factor might be a place that has a great morning beer on tap that pairs well with food. In that case, enter Burnside Brewing.

Burnside opens at 11am daily, including on the weekends when the brunch menu is available. We recently had the opportunity to try out some of Chef Richard Watt's brunch items, one of which we really dug with a new offering from the brewery side of Burnside, Wau, Nessie! 

First seen at the NW Coffee Beer Invitational 2018 at Goose Hollow Inn, and now available at their pub, it is the second collaboration beer in Groundwork Coffee's 'Brewers Series'. The Coffee Wee Heavy Ale features Groundwork's organic single origin Papua New Guinea roast, a medium roast coffee, from the Wau Co-Op. It  was one of our favorite beers at the festival and is overall, one of the best Scottish ales we've had. Malty and caramelly as one would expect from the style, the coffee further balances the beer so that instead of being cloying it whispers, " like coffee in the morning...come drink this in the morning."

Going back to the brunch item that we found to pair particularly well with it is the Smoked Trout Hash. What it's lacking in visual appeal it more than makes up for with smoky flavor. Not a fan of smoked fish? Then perhaps you'll dig on their Chilaquiles, a pile of loaded tortilla chips served in a cast iron pan (think nachos that are better eaten with a fork), or the simply seasoned, carb-o-licious Crispy Potatoes. 

If you're more of a sweet-for-breakfast person then the Donut Bread Pudding is for you. It's usually listed on the specials chalkboard near the door but even if it isn't, ask your server. Created from buttermilk and blueberry (usually) donuts from their neighbors down the street, Delicious Donuts, this cinnamony treat somehow manages to avoid being overly sweet and retains the airiness familiar to most donuts. The "icing" on this "cake" is a super dense whipped cream that looks and tastes closer to ice cream than the whipped cream we're used to. 

While we hope you enjoy the Wau, Nessie! as much as we did, if you are there for brunch and hope to get anything else done for the day you may want to have just one. It goes down far easier than many 10% beers, a quality that speaks to the skills of the Burnside Brewing team. 

Through February 7th $1 from each Wau, Nessie! sold will be donated to the Cafe Femenino Foundation, an independent non-profit organization that funds community betterment grant requests proposed and managed by women in coffee-producing regions around the world.

One last note, perhaps as you rearrange your weekend plans to fit in brunch at Burnside, is that all day Sundays IPAs are a mere $3. So whether you go for the beer, go for the food or go for the killer Sunday price on IPAs, consider Burnside the next time you're heading out for brunch.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

First Festival (for us) of the Year

A favorite beer? No. A favorite style of beer? Maybe. A favorite brewery? Not one, but there are a few that hold a special place in our hearts. A favorite beer festival? Possibly and it would be this one, the NW Coffee Beer Invitational

Let us count the ways/reasons we love this fest:
#1 Dave Fleming is a great guy and without fanfare, has carved out a day in the depths of winter to hold this festival. He also seems to employ some wizardry to allow the day, which for more years than not, has been blessed by the winter sun.
#2 Coffee and beer are our two favorite beverages. We get giddy when they come together and love to see the creativity expressed by the brewers at this festival.
#3 The festival tends to contain breweries that are often not present at other festivals. In that group is Chetco, which this year is joined by "new kid" Allegory, the Labrewatory, Yachats and more.
#4 Last but not least, this festival is often the first one of the new year that we attend. There's just something about putting the crush of the holidays behind and resetting for another year of festival fun. 

In this fifth year of the festival, organizers Dave and Jean Fleming wanted to do something special so they invited festival-favorite breweries from the past four years to collaborate on a beer. Brewed at Buoy with Ristretto Roasters coffee, the raspberry mocha brown beer will be available only at the festival and at the participating breweries' locations.

The festival remains at its original location, the parking lot of the Goose Hollow Inn. The support of and partnership with the restaurant "has been key" to the festival according to Dave. For attendees, holding the festival in the same location year after year means they know what to expect, including what works best for them to get there (and back home safely). The inner SW location is in close proximity to downtown and has a Max Station that is basically at their doorstep, serviced by the blue and red lines. It also serves a full menu on festival day, including "The Best Reuben on the Planet."

As for the price, this year's incremental increase to $20 for a festival glass, 10 taster tickets and access to 22 total offerings (19 breweries, 1 cidery, 1 meadery and the special collaboration beer) remains reasonable. For those keeping track:
2017 - $15 admission with 8 tickets and 16 participating breweries
2016 - $15 admission with 8 tickets and 15 participating breweries
2015 - $15 admission with 8 tickets and 15 participating breweries
2014 - $12 admission with 6 tickets and 12 participating breweries

Additional tasting tickets will be available for $1. Dave let on that there will be a few barrel-aged beers this year that will cost two tickets so you may need a few depending on your approach to the festival. We'll be pairing up, sharing the samples, and depending on what really tickles our fancy, may need to get some tickets to go back for seconds. 

Starting today the festival will be posting the name and description of a few of the beers coming to the festival each day on their Facebook event. Check out today's post for details on the three below that have beer names attached. To make sure you get the latest, indicate that you're "interested" or "going" to the festival receive update notifications. 

Brewery line-up:
Allegory Brewing - Starless Sky Coffee Stout
Ancestry Brewing
Burnside Brewing Co
Chetco Brewing Company
Coalition Brewing
Deschutes Brewery
Fire On The Mountain Brewing
Fremont Brewing
Hopworks Urban Brewery
McMenamins Breweries
Migration Brewing Company
Nectar Creek - Top Bar
Oregon City Brewing Company - Creamy & Dreamy
PINTS Brewing Company
Portland Cider Co.
Stormbreaker Brewing
Sunriver Brewing Co.
Three Creeks Brewing Company
Wayfinder Beer
Yachats Brewing + Farmstore

NW Coffee Beer Invitational 2018
Saturday, January 27 12-7pm
Goose Hollow Inn, 1927 SW Jefferson
Tickets: $20 (available at the door only; cash and credit card accepted)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We've Got Pazazz

We were recently contacted by the marketing team for a new apple variety called Pazazz, the "wow right now" apple. Not being ones to say no to samples, especially for such a versatile fruit, we took them up on their offer and a box soon arrived with six apples. Similar to Honeycrisp apples in texture although less sweet, they have been created to offer "just-picked freshness heading into the winter months." 

Our first use of the apples was the most simple - as part of a cheese plate put out at our New Year's Eve gathering. Their crispness complimented the creamy cheeses and sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor found a partner with multiple beers enjoyed that night, especially Ohio's Lager Heads Brewing Co. oak aged Flanders Red.

With more apples to use, along with some avocados, we searched the interwebs for something to take to a New Year's Day gathering. The "winning" recipe was a modified version of Chef Julie Yoon's Apple and Avocado Chicken Salad that we put into won ton cups for an easy finger food appetizer. 

As the recipe had told us to expect, we had more of the dressing than was needed for the salad. A tasty dressing but due to avocados being a primary component we knew it would have a short shelf life before the beautiful green color turned ugly, worse than Cinderella's coach turning into a pumpkin after midnight. 

Taking a leftover baguette, we sliced it, slathered on the dressing, added a slice of apple and topped it with double cream Gouda. Into the oven to melt the cheese and what came out was a delicious combination of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy. The apples held up admirably to the cooking and the snack got two thumbs up from our friends at our favorite watering hole.

Building on what we'd learned so far, we included apple slices along with carrot and celery as dippers for a delicata squash dip based on this hard squash hummus recipe. Reminiscent of hummus, although sweeter from the roasted squash, the apples were a nice alternative to the veggies. Chalk up another win!

As we reached the end of our apple box we went back to the delicata squash well, spreading it on the remaining lefse (a gift from our Midwest family) and topping it with minced apples and crumbled Cotija cheese. Rolled up just as one would with a tortilla spread with cream cheese, the simple appetizer went along to a pot luck and was gobbled up.

Big thanks to the apple folks for getting in touch with us and giving us a jumping off point to try out some new recipes. We'll definitely keep our eyes out for Pazazz the next time we need apples.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Our Most Consumed Beer of 2017

According to our memory (aided by Untappd) the beer we drank the most often in 2017 was Fort George 3-Way IPA. Not only did we drink it often, it was one of the best beers to fill our glass and possibly the most delicious iteration of this collaboration series yet. Using the always tasty Mosaic and Citra hops, along with Azacca and X331, the talented triumvirate of Fort George, Great Notion and Reuben's hit the mark with this 7% hazy IPA.

We enjoyed it out and about.

We enjoyed it on our patio when the weather was still patio-appropriate.

We enjoyed it inside with our furry family. 

And sometimes all by our lonesome.