Monday, July 29, 2019

Coasters: Cool or Kitschy?

Are drink coasters fuddy-duddy? We don't think so but if "yes" was what first thing that popped into your mind, just remember that glass rings and pizza box-induced heat damage are why we can't have nice things. 

Seriously though, coasters can be cool and the modern looking Great Ace Coasters from Groovy Groomsmen Gifts most certainly are not your grandma's coasters (or if they are, please, introduce us to her. We'd like to invite her to hang out with us because she sounds cool). 

The 4-pack of coasters and optional, handy wooden storage box, can be personalized with up to three letters. We're simple folk so for the sample we accepted we requested a single letter. Maybe the two or three letter version jives better with your personal aesthetic; to each their own.

The box, if you choose to order it, can be used as intended or for the storage of an incalculable number of small items measuring less than four inches while the coasters hang out in the (included) stainless steel holder awaiting use. Either way, when it's time to step into the adult world where we can have nice things, consider ordering these for yourself or that friend who just acquired a table that really ties the room together.

Groovy Groomsmen Gifts
Great Ace Coasters
 $34.99 base price/$39.99 with box

Beer Musings PDX was supplied with a sample product for review.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

I Scream, You Scream for Ice Cream (and Beer?)

Do you remember the first time you had a root beer float? Cool, creamy ice cream bathed in effervescent sugary liquid...the collision of two things you could probably never get enough of. We rarely drink soda/pop/root beer these days, instead preferring a pint of hop soda but decided to make a compromise, keeping the hop soda and adding ice cream. Could we be successful in balancing our inner child and our adult preferences?

The first order of business was to browse through the store freezers, which turned out to be packed with a lot more flavors than they were back when we were kids, and pick up some flavor standards as well as other things that just sounded good. Gathering at our favorite haunt, filled with plenty of beers to select from, we sat down for a sticky good time of pairing. While some pairings were no-brainers - stouts, light or heavy, with both chocolate and vanilla ice cream - we also came up with some more creative and interesting pairings that we quite enjoyed. Take a gander.

The two most successful "ice creams" were actually sorbets - Open Nature lemon and raspberry - with the raspberry slightly edging out the lemon as Best Pairing with Beer. From the light Saison Dupont to the hoppy Georgetown Lucille IPA to the big, boozy Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) Bourbon Barrel Aged Chocolate Coffee Stout, these sorbets were a hit with the widest spectrum of beers. 

Talenti Sicilian Pistachio Gelato 
Pistachio ice cream surely existed when we were kids although it doesn't stand out as a top pick. Gelato is similar to ice cream and in this case the creaminess is complimented by the texture the pistachios. Whether the solid bits at the bottom of the glass are a bonus or a detraction is a personal matter. Intrigued by the possibility that this would be a flavor that wouldn't work well with any beer we found that in fact its nuttiness meshed well the hop profile of Georgetown Lucille IPA. So, too, did Culmination's take on a KBS-style beer, MCS (Multnomah County Stout).

Haagen-Dazs White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle
As the name implies, this is a rich, very sweet ice cream. Both Saison Dupont, a beer that we'd found to be a great pairing with Girl Scout cookies, and Wild Ride Tarty to the Party Peach Raspberry Sour helped to balance that sweetness. In addition, the subtle lemon in the Saison Dupont was enhanced when paired with the ice cream.

Tillamook Marionberry Cheesecake
Wild Ride Tarty to the Party Peach Raspberry Sour also paired well with this ice cream, with its tartness coming out at the beginning, the cream mellowing it mid-palate and the graham cracker crust bits adding a buttery finish to the experience. Founders big, bold KBS was our optimal dark beer with this ice cream.

Colombian Cold Brew Caramel
An intensely coffee flavored ice cream, it paired nicely with Pelican Tsunami Export Stout. The 7% stout is not of the sweet variety, instead being roasty. Paired with this ice cream, a slight, pleasant saltiness presents itself on the finish.

This type of pairing might not be for everyone but if you're feeling a bit adventurous, grab a pint from the freezer and a pint from the fridge, find a warm sunny place and indulge.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Crushable, Light and Fruity - Two Beers for Summer

We were recently gifted two beers to try, one a lager and one a fruited wheat beer, and we're pleased to say that we'd be happy to stock our fridge with either or find them as we dig into a cooler at a summer gathering. If that's all you need to seek some out yourself, great! Head out and grab some Zoiglhaus/Zupan's Farm-to-Market German-style Lager and Public Coast Farm Stand Series Blueberry Wheat Ale. Want a few more details first? Read on.

Zoiglhaus/Zupan's Farm-to-Market German-style Lager
This lager is the ninth beer in Zupan's Farm-to-Market series, one that began in 2015 and has produced collaborations with Coalition Brewing, Buoy Beer Company, Hopworks Urban Brewery, pFriem Family Brewers, The Commons Brewery and now Zoiglhaus takes its turn. This is the first beer in the series that has been presented in can format - 12oz cans for sale at all Zupan's Markets in 6-packs for $10.50.

Those familiar with Zoiglhaus won't be surprised to see that this beer is solidly in their German-style beer wheelhouse. Nor should one be surprised that it is very well done. Crisp and clear in appearance with a characteristic Pilsner aroma it drinks easy and finishes clean. At 4.7% ABV it goes down as gently as a summer breeze. In addition to being enjoyed on its own, we feel it would pair very nicely with a wide variety of foods.

Public Coast Farm Blueberry Wheat Ale
Our first visit to Public Coast Brewery in Cannon Beach was two and a half years ago and since then we were able to enjoy their Black Jack Bumbleberry Sour Stout at Festival of the Dark Arts in February. Having found that one to our liking, it was not surprising to find this beer to be equally well made. Pouring a stunning berry shade with the slightest hint of haze that adds to the depth of color, there is a slight acidic fruitiness up front. The mild blueberry flavor carries through, without being sweet, and a moderate level of carbonation enhances the flavor.

The beer features blueberries from Public Coast Farm, situated on 40 acres in Banks, OR. This is the first foray between the brewery and the farm but both parties are hoping that it will be the start of something ongoing. If the fat, fresh, beautiful berries that came along with the beer sample we received are any indication, things are off to a great start.

We give both of these beers two thumbs up for appealing to a broad range of palates and being packed with flavor while remaining low in ABV. Dare you to disagree. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Beer Cocktails: Gin Edition

"I love Gin
Ginny Ginny Gin
mmmmm Gin
I love Gin"
- Ron Burgundy, Anchorman

We agree with Ron that Gin is a lovely thing. It is also one of the staples of any liquor cabinet or cocktail list and the varieties range from subtle to highly botanical. For infusions, like the ones we made for this Craft Beer Concoctions Test Kitchen, we chose subtle New Amsterdam to allow the flavor we were infusing to take center stage. 

Here are our most successful concoctions, ones that we'll likely be refining in the future.

Gin & Jam
Laurelwood Lost in Happy Mountain Saison
Lavender infused Gin
Rhubarb lemonade
Marionberry jam
The beer is a collaboration between Laurelwood Brewing and Happy Mountain Kombucha and caught our eye while we were shopping for beer for this installment of the Test Kitchen. Not something we'd normally pick up to drink on its own, the subtle flavors of the beer were accentuated by the infused Gin, the lemonade added a touch of tartness and the jam gave it just the right amount of sweetness, leading us to comment, "that just goes down easy."

Arnold Gin & Juice Bomb
Matchless Brewing Juice Bomb Units
Hendrick's Gin
Rhubarb lemonade
Pearl Soda Company Blue Mountain Sunshine bitters
This alcoholic take on an Arnold Palmer gets its lemonade flavor components from both the Matchless Brewing hazy IPA and the lemonade while the Pearl bitters contributed a tea-like quality that gave the cocktail added depth.

Rosemary's Baby Mama
Wild Ride Tarty to the Party Sugar Plum
Lavender infused Gin
Rosemary sprig
A simple cocktail, the fruity sourness of the beer (yet another in Wild Ride's great Tarty to the Party series), the floral-boosted gin and a savory balance contributed by the rosemary played remarkably well with one another.

Peachy Gin Fizz
Tieton Cider Works Bourbon Barrel Peach Cider
Rolling River Gin
Luxardo Marschino Liqueur
Torani Amaretto syrup
Egg white
Pearl Soda Company Blue Mountain Sunshine Bitters
Our first try at this cocktail was sans the egg white and while it doesn't contribute any flavor to the sour and sweet flavor profile, it did give the cocktail the missing body component. Besides a frothy top makes for an eye pleasing drink.

Mas Nap
Founders Brewing Mas Agave Gose
Prairie Artisan Ales Lil Nap 
Ginger infused Gin
Luxardo Maraschino Liquor
Squeeze of lime
Gose style beers are usually low on the ABV meter, however this version from Founders went well out of the typical ballpark clocking in at a robust 10%. Instead, Lil Nap, a blackberry and lime sour, filled the low ABV slot while being highly flavorful. Looking at the other components of this cocktail one might think there is a little too much going on but thankfully we were able to find the right ratios to create a cohesive, summery, pre-nap cocktail.

The Crooked Cucumber
Crooked Stave Sour Rose
Cucumber infused Gin
Marionberry jam
Inspired by the refreshing flavor of cucumber water, we infused Gin with cucumbers and here, paired it with the effervescent and slightly fruity wild ale from Crooked Stave. The jam added a touch more sweetness and helped amplify the pink color from the beer for a cocktail worthy of a fluted glass.

Tea Cream Shandy (aka Sweet Creams Are Made of These)
Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle IPA
Jasmine tea infused Gin
Sparkling water
The Bitter Housewife orange bitters
Orange squeeze
Equal parts of orange and tea flavors keep this lower ABV cocktail light in flavor, light enough that we decided it should be served in a pint glass. If it makes the cut to be refined we may look at getting some shaved ice to serve it with for a playful cocktail.

With each Test Kitchen we're learning more about the basic components we'd want to have in our beer cocktail kit. Some things are nice to have and fun to play with while some are quickly becoming essential. 

Thanks again for sticking with us as we explore beer-related pursuits. If we've inspired you to venture out on some of your own, or have suggestions for the future, leave us a comment.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Oregon Cider Week 2019

Oregon Cider Week starts today, and just as Portland Beer Week was, this "week" is an 11-day long celebration that encompasses two weekends. We were fortunate to be able to attend a preview event earlier this week that featured 20 local cidermakers and over 60 ciders. Try as we might, we didn't make it through all of them but of the ones that we had those that rose to the top of the barrel were:

Tieton Cider Works Single Varietal Harrison - Tieton cans some of their cider but the Single Varietal series is in bottles. Speaking to them we learned that they grow all of their own fruit in Yakima and that the Harrison apple was a variety that nearly went extinct shortly after Prohibition. Not an eating apple as much as what one would consider a baking apple, it hit the mark for us as a cider apple.

Square Mile Cider Hopped Cider - First off, yes, Square Mile is a Widmer Brothers "sibling" - make of it what you will. As for this Galaxy dry-hopped cider what really impressed us was that not only did the dry-hopping impart a beer-like aroma, it provided plenty of beer-like flavor to the still-a-cider base. It's certainly not for some people but should we run across someone who was gluten-free and craving hoppiness, we'd recommend checking this cider out.

2 Towns Ciderhouse Camp Clementine - We've been impressed by 2 Towns ciders again and again so it wasn't a surprise that this passionfruit and clementine cider was one of our favorites. Passionfruit can sometimes be a bit too sweet but the clementines nicely restrained the sweetness here. Bonus points for a "sunny" and thoroughly summer looking label.

WildCraft Cider Works Willamette Heritage - There are a ton of American ciders we love but the key to our heart really is a funky, barnyard French cider and this offering from WildCraft is one of the closest we've had to something from across the ocean. If you like a bit of barnyard in your cider, too, seek this out.

AVID Cider Dragonfruit - While the aroma was a bit muddled, the flavor combination from the dragonfruit and raspberries used was quite nicely tart. The can sports an eye-catching label and we also loved it paired with the Blue Star donut* featured at the event. 

AVID Cider Watermelon Rhubarb - Would you expect a cider that smells like a Jolly Rancher to actually taste good? Of course not. You'd expect it to be gimmicky and over the top sweet. Not so in this case. Yes, it smells like a watermelon Jolly Rancher but the actual flavor is far less sweet and somehow the rhubarb manages to provide a rind-like flavor to the cider. It might possibly be black magic.

We won't re-list the information about all the Week's events here, but direct you to their website and Facebook page. One event, however, that we enjoyed last year and if we were able to attend again would be the Oregon Cider Summit. It takes place at The Fields Park Friday and Saturday and like the preview we attended, is a great way to try many ciders in one place. If you buy your ticket online today it is $30 (+ $2.85 fees) for a glass and 12 tasting tickets. At the door, if tickets remain, they will be $35.

*Vanilla cake donut with a glaze made from Bauman's Loganberry Cider, fresh raspberries and juicy blackberries. Topped with a salted crumble made with olive oil and lemon, vegan to boot. Available at all Blue Star locations throughout the Week.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Beer Cocktails: Tequila Edition

Our first three forays into creating beer cocktails found us testing our hand with whiskey, vodka and rum. This time around we went for a slightly more challenging spirit - tequila. While not our spirit of choice in general we have enjoyed some professionally made tequila-based cocktails. Gathering up some traditional cocktail recipes to use as our basis of inspiration we met up at Gateway Brewing with an assortment of fruit juices and other mix-ins, bitters, rimming ingredients and a few other select beers to round out our tequila cocktail-making bar. 

Joel and Karen Sheley, owners of Gateway, not only fully opened their brewery up to us but also their inviting and perfect-for-entertaining back yard on what turned out to be a gorgeous early May evening. That full access allowed us to sample and select from Gateway Pilsner, Exit 7 IPA, Wood Hill Stout, Jet Coffee Stout, Ventura Red Ale and Mahogany Dark Lager to match with the Reposado (oak aged) and Silver tequilas. Here are the best of this session's creations.

Gateway Mule
- Reposado tequila
- Gateway Ventura Red Ale
- Cock'n Bull ginger beer
- Jalapeno simple syrup
- Lime juice

As fans of the ginger beer based "mule" we couldn't resist creating our own version, using the Ventura to provide a more complex backbone.

Spicy Pineapple Margarita
- Silver tequila
Gateway Pilsner
- Pineapple juice
- Jalapeno simple syrup
- Lemon wedge
- Salt rim

We are not fans of the overly sugary versions of a margarita that one might find at a national chain restaurant and in making our beer cocktail version we opted for just a splash of fruit juice.

Nice & Easy
- Silver tequila
- Baerlic Nice & Easy
- Triple Sec
- Salt rim

Just like the Baerlic gose we used for this beer cocktail, the name seemed fitting for this easy to drink cocktail.

Night Falls
- Silver tequila
- Homemade Kahlua
Prairie Artisan Bomb (imperial stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chile peppers)

Transitioning from a sunny day of patio drinking to gathering around a fire, this three ingredient cocktail was inspired by the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate.

Muffin Maiden
- Great Notion Blueberry Muffin
- Silver tequila
- Limeade
- Lemon sugar rim
- Lime wedge

Great Notion Brewing's beers can be polarizing - either you like them or you don't. We happen to appreciate their unique contribution to the Portland beer scene and found that one of their beers made a very nice contribution to our cocktail creating.

Huge thanks go out to our hosts, Joel and Karen, along with our merry band of taste testers! 

Follow our adventures in picture form on our newly created Instagram account just for our cocktails, Craft Beer Concoctions.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Opening Day at Assembly Brewing

Today marks the official opening of the latest addition to the Portland Brewing scene, Assembly Brewing. Located on busy SE Foster in what had been a grocery store since 1948, the new charcoal and orange paint job makes it hard to miss from any direction. With plans to be open from 11am - 2am daily making time to stop in to check them out shouldn't be too hard.

We had a chance to check out the beer and food earlier this week and hear from owners Adam Dixon and George Johnson. The beer, according to George, is intended to be "flavorful, balanced and drinkable" with the goal that one can have a few pints and remain upright. The beers will be brewed in the 5.5% - 6.5% range and from the ones that we sampled, we agree that they do hearken back to the days before hop bombs and aggressive ABV beers became so common. The SMaSH, using 2 Row malt and Ekuanot hops, hit a high note for us with its bright, light hoppiness and easy drinking quality. In addition to their seven beers, they're also offering two Cider Riot! ciders and a handful of cocktails.

On the food side, the focus of the menu is on their Detroit style pizza which George makes from a proprietary dough recipe. Apparently the style started in a speakeasy and as one may have noticed, has been growing in popularity in recent years. Ex Novo, Ranch and East Glisan all offer their own versions of the square pies, with Assembly's sticking to similar parameters but putting their own touch on it, including the ability to order a veggie or vegan pie. If one isn't in the mood for pizza, they also offer sandwiches, salads and a handful of appetizers.

The space itself is big enough for a crowd, offering a mixture of high top and standard tables. An extensive mural dominates two of the walls and is worth taking the time to fully appreciate. There is also outdoor seating between the building and the 12-space parking lot. With spring just around the corner it will no doubt see plenty of use. As pinball fans we were thrilled to spy three machines - Ghost Busters, Hurricane and Theatre of Magic - that will need some of our attention next time we're in.

Adam, on the right, said that they hope "Assembly Brewing will become a cornerstone of the Foster-Powell neighborhood." It's a neighborhood that is changing and one that had been devoid of a brewery, with the closest ones being Hopworks west on Powell, Double Mountain south in Woodstock and Zoiglhaus to the east.

The grand opening, next Saturday, March 29th, will include live entertainment and some of the local artists that contributed to the aesthetics. Check out all of the details on their Facebook event.

Assembly Brewing   
6112 SE Foster Rd
Open 11am - 2am daily

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Portland Passport on Tap

A few weeks ago we were contacted by the folks over at Portland Passport on Tap about the app that they describe as “Portland’s first self-guided beer & cider tasting experience.” Initially launched in Montreal, Portland is their second market and there are plans to add Vancouver, BC and Seattle later this year. Basically it is a discounted way to experience pints or taster trays at local breweries and cideries. For $40 one selects 12 locations from the 21 currently available, conveniently listed in the app by geographical location. At each location the Passport user will receive either a pint or a three-glass taster set. 

The first location we visited after installing the app was Coalition Brewing. It’s a favorite of ours and we were pleased to find that when we ordered, the beertender was very familiar with the app. After we clicked to use Coalition and selected the beer (Circus Hour fruited CBD sour), we handed our phone to the beertender and she signed off on it. Easy-peasy. The app provided a welcome reminder that a tip was not included and after taking care of that we sat down and thoroughly enjoyed our beer.

The second location we visited with the app was Ex Novo. This beertender seemed a little less sure about the process but knew the basics and once again we were able to use it with absolute ease. The app notes that locations may place restrictions on what can be ordered, however as with the our visit to Coalition, no restrictions were conveyed when we ordered a Stereophonic hazy IPA at Ex Novo.

From the date of purchase users have one year to drink through the 12 locations they select. We appreciate that one does not have to select all 12 locations immediately and even once selected, they can be removed if they have yet to be used. Most of the 21 locations available are ones that we like and are happy to have yet another reason to visit (so many good places in Portland, so little time, right?). Also appreciated is that there is an online chat option within the app should any questions arise. Our inquiry was answered right away and as an extra bit of follow up we found a transcript of the chat in our inbox.

One caveat with this app is that it can only be used once at each location. Of course this is part of the goal of the app - to get users to make their way to multiple locations to taste [at least part] of what the Portland brewing scene has to offer. Whether it is more useful for locals or visitors is up for debate however what isn’t debatable is that it is a straightforward and user friendly addition to the encouragements-to-drink app market. Plus, at $40 for 12 pints, that's less than $3.50 a pint (+ tip).

We’ll be interested to see if they take off in this market, how often new locations in Portland are added and what other cities they pop up in. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Personalized Beer Mugs & More

We were recently contacted by Joe Debicella, Right Hand Man, at Groovy Guy Gifts with the offer to test out one of their products. To benefit the greater good we took him up on the offer, selecting the Gunmetal Glugger from their offerings and shortly thereafter it arrived at our door.

Before we get to the Glugger, a bit about GGG. The company was started to be “a site offering several unique personalized gifts for men” and while guys might be their target market our perusal of the items they offer - all with the ability to be personalized - would be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of what’s in their pants. The four person GGG team also has one female on the staff who “adds a woman's touch to a site run by and for men.” Now onto the mug.

The Gunmetal Glugger appears at first glance to be made of metal but is in fact a heavy duty glass mug (think in terms of the glass mug a bartender would heft out of the cooler to fill with a macro lager). Since we’re not big fans of drinking out of metal this suits us just fine, especially when one considers the cool see through bottom (see ----------->>>>).

Like all of the gifts on the GGG site, the mug can be personalized. There is space for up to 15 characters on each of two lines with an additional option of adding "best man", "groom", "groomsman", or "usher" to the banner below it. If none of these are fitting for the person you're buying it for, it can be kept plain.

Even if a mug doesn’t seem to be “the thing” for the person you have in mind, GGG has plenty of other options: travel bags, coolers, flasks, knives, cuff links, watches, wallets, decanters, bottle openers and lighters. Turn around time is pretty quick, as soon as 3-4 business days if you pay for the “Super Fast Shipping.” If you’ve planned ahead and don't need to rush it Standard Shipping is free for orders over $50.

Whether your looking for a gift for a sibling, spouse, parent or friend wander over to Groovy Guy Gifts and at least scroll through what they offer. Maybe you'll find the perfect thing for that person...or yourself.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Girl Scout Cookies & Beer - Year Six

It’s that time of year again and if you haven’t seen them hawking their sugary treats around town or been asked by a friend or relative to buy them then clearly you’ve been living under a rock. Since Chris’ niece was once again selling them, he was once again buying a box of each variety available. Apparently the beer gods looked favorably upon us because we were able to sit down for our annual pairing foray less than a week after the cookies arrived. 

In advance of gathering at our local we perused past years’ pairing posts to see what beers had worked with what cookies, keeping a particular eye out for the unexpected pairs like Do-Si-Dos (peanut butter sandwich cookies) and Bell’s Winter White (Belgian style) or Samoas (coconuty) with Baerlic What the Fluff (hazy IPA). Referencing that information aided some of our decision making while the rest was left to our palates’ preferences and what shiny new things were available this year.

Block 15 Breakfast with Woodford
Our friend Paul brought this treat from his collection and overall the big, boozy stout brewed with maple syrup was a hit both on its own and with many of the cookies. With Toffee-tastic, the gluten free cookie that we were quite happy to see return this year, the pairing took on the flavor profile of French toast. The cookie provided a brioche-like base with its toffee bits playing off the maple syrup notes in the beer. Not surprisingly the rich coconuty Samoas made for a very decadent pairing. Thin Mints, for all of their perceived easy pairing with big, dark beers, have often not been as compatible as we had hoped however here the beer brought the mint to the forefront, making it pop in a deliciously sharp way.

Stone Xocoveza 
A favorite beer of Caren’s, this imperial stout was brewed to have a flavor profile similar to that of Mexican hot chocolate - deep with a balanced spiciness. As with the Block 15, it worked well with many of the cookies but particularly well with S’mores. This sandwich cookie not only does a great job of smelling like a s’more but also tasting like it and when paired with this beer the marshmallow flavor became enhanced to the point of almost reaching coconut.

Trap Door Mango Lassi
We’ve been impressed with Trap Door’s beers in general however none of us were particularly enamored by this sour/gose, that is until we had some cookie in our mouth at the same time. A tropical take on the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich resulted from pairing it with the Do-Si-Dos and the bright fruit helped to lighten up the chocolate covered peanut butter goodness of the Tagalongs. That light fruitiness also worked well to balance the overt sweetness of the S’mores cookie.

Tieton Cider Works Apricot
While we have primarily stuck to beer pairings, we have occasionally cracked open a cider and often found a compatible cookie for it. This year we tried out an apricot cider, agreeing that it was enjoyable on its own, and found its best mate in the tried and true Trefoils (aka Shortbread). The cookie’s butteriness held strong with a pleasant contribution of bright fruit from the cider. For a lighter pairing, the Savannah Smiles lemon cookie hit the mark.

Great Divide Orabelle
This Belgian-style ale “with spices” is in the same family as the Bell’s Winter White we mentioned previously. Similar to it, it’s not a beer we find particularly enjoyable on its own but we did find a pairing that redeemed the beer - the super sweet Samoas. The beer did its part to balance the cookie’s sweetness while the cookie transformed the beer into something that we quite enjoyed. 

Ex Novo Wooden Teeth
Another big, dark beer, this 13.4% ABV whiskey barrel-aged wee heavy ale also found a friend in the Samoas, here being decadent instead of being lightened. For being a "controversial" cookie (depending on your feeling about coconut) this year it turned out to be one of the most versatile and successfully paired cookies.

Thanks to all the friends that joined us, our local and the beertender on staff for making this another fun and palate-informing outing! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

5th Annual Brewstillery Festival

Brewstillery, the beer and spirits pairing festival from StormBreaker Brewing, kicks off its fifth year this Saturday, February 23 offering 22 beer and spirits pairings to attendees. The festival is something founders Dan and Rob had in mind from the beginning with Dan saying that they wanted to provide “an opportunity for people to try things they wouldn’t usually try.” We’ve certainly found that to be true every time we have attended and again recently when we had a chance to preview some of the pairings.

Both the beer and spirits lineups are diverse and wide ranging. From sours to IPAs to porters on the beer side and rums to whiskeys to liqueurs on the spirits side, it’s likely that even the most seasoned drinkers will come away from the festival having tried something new to their palate.

We don’t want to give away all the festival’s secrets but here are a few of the pairings that hit the mark with us.

Amigos e Amigas (Pono Three Amigos + Engenho Bruiti Dona Branca)
Three Amigos is a Mexican-style Lager made with a touch of agave to bring out the slight sweetness in this cane spirit from Brazil. We loved the overall light, simplicity of this pairing and highly recommend it as one of, if not the first, pairing festival goers try.

The Filbert in the Rye (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar + Rogue Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey)
Back in the day Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown was one of our favorite beers. Since then our palates have matured and we are generally far less enamored with it than in the past. In this pairing, with Rogue’s spirit arm of the company providing Rye Malt Whiskey, the beer returns to some of its old glory.

Brewstillatron (StormBreaker Peter Hazel-rial Brewstillery 5 IPA + Rose City Citrus Vodka)
It’s no secret that we’re fans of IPAs and their sub-group hazy IPAs. While we enjoyed this beer on its own, the vodka trumped it in terms of citrus goodness. Together the two play off one another with the combination being slightly botanical and definitely delicious.

Wild Basin (Wild Ride Laughing Face Imperial Coconut Porter + New Basin Light Strong Whiskey)
This pairing is best described as “vacation in a glass” and not surprisingly with the use of an imperial coconut porter, is dessert-like. One of the few pairings we preferred boilermaker-style, save this until towards the end of the festival to sip upon and savor.

In addition to offering imbibers a unique pairing experience, the event benefits Dollar For Portland, an organization that assists those with financial burdens due to medical and hospital debt, and Sierra Nevada’s Resilience IPA, with StormBreaker’s one-of-a-kind Westward Whiskey barrel-aged version.

Tickets for the one-day event are available online until 10 am the day of the festival and for you, dear readers, at a price of $20 when you use the code “beerandwhiskey5” for general admission; $40 for VIP when you use the code “brewstileryVIP5”.

General admission: festival beer tasting glass and 10 tickets with Noon entry
VIP: festival beer tasting glass, festival whiskey snifter, 15 tickets and 11 am entry to mingle with brewers/distillers

5th Annual Brewstillery Festival
Saturday, February 23 Noon - 8pm

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Cheesy Start to February

We kicked off the "month of love" feeding our love of cheese with another installment of pairing it with beer, assisted by numerous, like-minded friends. Our usual crew picked up cheeses from Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer and Grocery Outlet (we’d heard they often have some good deals on good cheese), trying to select ones we hadn’t used in previous pairings. One friend, with family in Wisconsin, brought back three blocks of dairy goodness from his holiday visit. Other friends contributed their pairing skills helping to select beer and cider. From this fine time we found the following eleven pairings, in no particular order, to be our favorites.

Westminster Aged Cheddar with Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Helles Marzen
At 12 months old this cheese remains creamy, balancing the thin sharpness of this smoky beer.

Trader Joe’s Ghost Pepper Cheddar and Heretic Make America Juicy Again IPA
The cheese wasn’t overly spicy but did have a late palate heat that when combined with the juicy IPA was reminiscent of Burnside Brewing’s Sweet Heat. Since that beer is unlikely to be available again, if it’s something you enjoy, try out this beer and cheese pairing.

Trader Joe’s Ghost Pepper Cheddar with La Chouffe Blond
Going in a completely different route with this beer, the effervescence of the Belgian Strong Golden Ale complimented the cheese’s heat nicely. 

Roth Surchoix Grand Cru Alpine-Style Cheese with 2 Towns Riverwood Cider
Somehow this nutty cheese from Monroe, WI managed display both soft and hard characteristics at the same time, becoming more earthy when paired with the effervescent cider

Guinness Cheddar with Deschutes The Dissident with Marionberries
The oddest looking cheese of this installment, it looks and even tastes a bit like root a good way. When eaten with this tanic beer it goes from root beer to chocolate. Hard to describe but trust us on this one.

Guinness Cheddar with Sam Smith’s Nut Brown
Less decadent than the previous pairing with The Dissident, it still goes the dessert route, reminding us of eating chocolate cake.

Mullins 12 Year Super Sharp White Cheddar with Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
The sharpness of the Mosinee, WI cheese was brought out by this coffee beer and in return the cheese pulled the coffee flavor forward out of the sweetness of the beer. After a few bite, sip, bite, sip back and forths the combination was rich and dessert-like.

Murray’s Stilton with Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
As with other stout/blue cheese pairings we've tested out before, this one was a hit. A hunk of this delicious blue cheese and a bottle of this stout and bye, bye we’ll go off in a corner by ourselves, stopping only when the both of them have vanished.

Trader Joe’s Cheddar & Gruyere Melange Cheese with Fremont 2018 B-Bomb
The intensely flavorful beer combined with the first-time-we’ve-seen-it blended cheese to create a deliciously unexpected chocolate bar flavor profile.

Murray’s Stilton with Deschutes The Dissident with Marionberries
Along the same vein of the pairing with Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, the creamy blue cheese found a fast friend in this Flanders Oud Bruin that was aged for nine months on Oregon Marionberry puree.

Castello Vintage Havarti with Saison Dupont 
A big selling point on this 24 month aged cheese was the crystalline texture. The crunchy bits found in some aged cheeses are the result from the unraveling of protein chains, adding what we believe to be a very desirable texture to the cheese. Saison Dupont has proven to be a very pair-able beer for us in the past and in this pairing it amplified the flavor of the aged cheese further still, much to our delight.

Big thanks to everyone that joined in the fun with us! The more palates and minds we have contributing, the better as far as we're concerned. And even bigger thanks to The BeerMongers for indulging our pairing forays.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Pairing with Pringles

Photo courtesy of John Foyston
At some point, probably while perusing the chip aisle, we realized that there were a multitude of Pringles flavors. Obviously pairing them with beer was a task we should undertake, for the greater good.

Through the combined efforts of our group we assembled 16 flavors* of Pringles and while we may have jumped the shark with our latest [hair-brained] pairing idea, what is done is done. Therefore we present to you, dear readers, our findings.

Lesson #1
A moderate amount of Pringles is acceptable. Consuming large quantities of Pringles is a recipe for a salt hangover. Heed this warning should you choose to replicate such an endeavor.

Lesson #2
Just because a group comes to a consensus, such as “the Honey Mustard Pringles are unpleasant,” doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to find some beers that actually pair quite well with them. One such beer is Coalition King Kitty Red and another is Breakside Kids These Hazy IPA. Very different beers but each managed to mitigate whatever flavor components of Honey Mustard we disliked, transforming them into something that with the right liquid partner, we wouldn't object to snacking on.

Lesson #3
A German smoked beer lager worked really well with quite a few Pringles flavors. On its own, Brauerei Heller Bamberg Helles Lagerbier not something we would enjoy drinking more than a few ounces of but like Lesson #2, we quite enjoyed it with multiple Pringles flavors, including Jalapeno, Flame Grilled Steak, Cheddar Cheese and Loud Salsa Fiesta. For those who have not had the beer, perhaps a description that came out of our group will help: beer jerky.

As we undertake our next pairing, in which we return to cheese, lovely cheese, this beer will be making a return to our pairing table. Check back soon to read about that!

*16 flavors of Pringles: Loud Salsa Fiesta, Honey Mustard, Cheddar Cheese, Salt & Vinegar, Extra Hot Chili & Lime, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Sour Cream & Onion, Ranch, Jalapeno, Loaded Baked Potato, BBQ, Buffalo Ranch, Flame Grilled Steak, Ketchup and Dill Pickle.