Brown – Three Sheets to the Wind

Three Sheets to the Wind Three Sheets to the Wind: one man’s quest for the meaning of beerPete Brown; Pan Books 2007WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Read 20 Aug – 15 Sep

My review from goodreads:

I really enjoyed this. I just wish they didn’t plaster “The beer drinker’s Bill Bryson” (TLS) all over his books. I almost didn’t buy it because of that. I can see the comparison but I do not find Bryson funny generally and his humor ventures into almost being cruel in his poking fun at times. I find Pete Brown downright funny and even if he manages to enter potential cruel territory he pulls it off with a certain British charm. May not make it any better—not claiming it does–but it is far more gentle and, dare I say it, unintended. Sorry to my friends who are Bryson fans. We’ll just have to disagree about him. 5 stars.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • One: ‘Just the one’
  • Two: ‘Los Borrachos’
  • Three: ‘Where you find beer, there you find good life’
  • Four: ‘A hundred thousand welcomes’
  • Five: ‘The smell of freshly poured beer is the smell of my country’
  • Six: ‘Beervana’
  • Seven: ‘Mate, are you right?’
  • Eight: ‘Toriaezu birru’
  • Nine: ‘Countless thousands of fattened creatures…’
  • Ten: ‘… making themselves objects of derision…’
  • Eleven: ‘Wi’aht it, he’s miserable’
  • Appendix: Where to buy
  • Further reading

Three Sheets to the Wind is a travelogue that attempts to fulfill the expanded cover-subtitle: “300 bars in 13 countries: one man’s quest for the meaning of beer.”

‘Just the one’ sets us up to how this all started for Pete. Locations are London and Prague. ‘Los Borrachos’ sees him in Barcelona and Madrid. The Czech Republic is the primary setting of ‘Where you find beer, there you find good life,’ including trips to Plzen* and Ceske Budjejovice*. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, the chapter titles are all things said in each respective area.

‘A hundred thousand welcomes’ has Pete traversing Ireland. ‘The smell of freshly poured beer is the smell of my country’ represents Belgium, and having lived there I’m not disagreeing. ‘Beervana’ “represents” the US (as well as any other set of 3-5 cities elsewhere) by hitting  Milwaukee, New York, and Portland, Oregon. Australia asks of him, ‘Mate, are you right?’ ‘Toriaezu birru’ covers Asia (Tokyo, Shanghai). The Oktoberfest (or Die Wies’n) is covered in ‘Countless thousands of fattened creatures…’. Scandinavia smirks at those ‘… making themselves objects of derision…’. England gets a bit of post-trip letdown coverage in ‘Wi’aht it, he’s miserable’.

I did really enjoy this but I took no notes. It’s also been a while since I read it. It reads much like a novel, though, so a leisurely reading is probably best for this type of book.

I got my copy at Powell’s in Portland while there for the Oregon Brewers Festival earlier this year; new $15.95 pbk.

Highly recommended.

Beer and Brewing vol. 8

Beer and brewing: National Conference on Quality Beer and Brewing, 1988 transcriptsVirginia Thomas; Brewers Publications 1988WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinderBeer and Brewing vol. 8 is composed of the edited transcripts of the National Conference on Quality Beer and Brewing, held in Denver, CO, June 1988 (ed., Virginia Thomas).

My 4-star goodreads review was short and sweet: A bit dated now but it is interesting to see when/where some ideas arose/evolved.

I’ll try to do a bit better here, although I’m not making any promises other than you get the table of contents and some of my notes.

Read 5-28 October 2014

Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • 1. Ten Years of Homebrewing – Charlie Papazian
  • 2. Sensory Evaluation for Brewers – Jean-Xavier Guinard and Ian Robertson
  • 3. Issues in All-Grain Brewing – Dave Miller
  • 4. Aroma Identification – Charlie Papazian and Gregory Noonan
  • 5. The Excitement Is Brewing – Hans Bilger
  • 6. Improved Record-Keeping – Randy Mosher
  • 7. Bavarian Breweries – Prince Luitpold von Bayern
  • 8. Making Amazing Mead – Leon Havill
  • 9. Brewpubs of Austria – Baron Henrik Bachofen von Echt
  • 10. Beer for Lunch – Michael Jackson
  • 11. Hop Flavor in Beer – Dr. George Fix
  • 12. Beer Formulation – Daniel Carey

Jumping in…

1. Ten Years of Homebrewing – Charlie Papazian

lists his 5 foundational texts for homebrewing [very perfunctorily] 4-5

He published Joy of Brewing in 1976

Mostly a personal recollection of his previous 10+ years in homebrewing and possibilities for the future.

2. Sensory Evaluation for Brewers – Jean-Xavier Guinard and Ian Robertson

Sensory Evaluation as a Research Tool

The Notion of Experimental Design

The Choice of the Proper Sensory Test(s)

     2 main types: analytical-laboratory and consumer tests

         analytical: if there is a difference b/w beers, & nature & magnitude of diff 20

         consumer: acceptance, degree of liking, and preference 20

     Analytical Tests

     Consumer Tests

         “Fortunately, the pioneering work of Meilgaard, Pangborn, Clapperton, Mecredy, Neilson, and others has given an edge in sensory evaluation to the brewing industry and the literature is now virtually error-free.” 24

     Statistics: Friend or Foe?

     Sensory Evaluation as a Quality Control and Trouble-shooting Tool

     Preparation of Reference Standards for Flavor Profiling

Includes a table of flavor descriptor and how to make them cheaply. Also provides proper citations for all of those pioneering works mentioned.

3. Issues in All-Grain Brewing – Dave Miller

Interesting and lots of possibly good advice.

4. Aroma Identification – Charlie Papazian and Gregory Noonan

Provides an introduction to the ASBC Flavor Wheel as developed my Meilgaard, et al., amongst other aroma identification issues and topics.

5. The Excitement Is Brewing – Hans Bilger

Another interesting personal story. This one by a German brewmaster in a tiny brewery in Kentucky.

6. Improved Record-Keeping – Randy Mosher

A report, of sorts, on the book The Brewer’s Workbook, which was being published. 101

Some nice things to keep in mind and other “fudge factors”

7. Bavarian Breweries – Prince Luitpold von Bayern

8. Making Amazing Mead – Leon Havill

9. Brewpubs of [in] Austria – Baron Henrik Bachofen von Echt [TOC and chapter title differ.]

10. Beer for Lunch – Michael Jackson

A lunchtime food and beer pairing led by MJ.

11. Hop Flavor in Beer – Dr. George Fix

Kettle utilization 191

12. Beer Formulation – Daniel Carey

Goes through the formulation of a Maibock.

Final comments:

As you can see, there is a great diversity of topics here. It is worth reading as a snapshot of a time and while there is still much valuable information in it, much of it is dated. For instance, the ASBC Flavor Wheel has been updated since then, I believe. [I have read most of the foundational literature—especially Meilgaard and Meilgaard with others.]

I found my copy used at Browser’s Bookstore, Corvallis, Oregon and paid a total of $3.00 for it. It was a good value at that price. Any more would begin to be questionable; for me, anyway. Updated information is widely available on many of these topics, often from many of these same folks.

Yaeger – Red, White, and Brew

Red, white, and brew Red, white, and brew: an American beer odysseyBrian Yaeger; St. Martin’s Press 2008WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Brian Yaeger’s Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey, while now six-years-old, is still a timely trip across America and its craft beer scene. Some of it seems so fresh and some of it really made me go, “Wow! This was only six or seven years ago?”

I read the book October 13 – November 9, 2014. I did not take any notes and just took it a bit at a time. This is, though, a book a reader could tear through. Heck, that might even make it seem even a bit more like you were there with him on his often hectic schedule.

It is certainly a timepiece. But I believe those to be of considerable potential value and this is one of those kind.

I got my copy used at The Book Bin in Corvallis, Oregon for $8.25. You can get it for Kindle for $9.99 and this would probably actually be a great book as an ebook. Not quite as simple a layout as a standard work of fiction but close. New at amazon would set you back $13.45. Used copies all over. And many public libraries still have it, including some as an ebook.

Starting in New England and heading counterclockwise around the country, more-or-less, Yaeger visits 37 breweries/brewpubs in roughly 14 areas of the country. His visits range from tiny Electric Brewing (Bisbee, AZ) to the likes of Widmer Brothers or Sierra Nevada.

There are probably no lessons here; nor do there need to be. This meandering odyssey of a cross-country ramble does remind us that beer is indeed a social lubricant. It also captures, as best a small slice of time can, a valuable snapshot of the diversity of the American craft beer scene around 2005 and 2006.

So pick yourself up a copy, pop open a beer, and sit down for an enjoyable read.

The Session #93 Beer Travel

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

 This post is my participation in this month’s The Session, #93, which is on beer travel. It is hosted by Brian Devine at The Roaming Pint, who asks:

“So I ask you fellow bloggers and beer lovers, why is it important for us to visit the place the where our beers are made? Why does drinking from source always seem like a better and more valuable experience? Is it simply a matter of getting the beer at it’s freshest or is it more akin to pilgrimage to pay respect and understand the circumstances of the beer better?”

The host states that visiting where our beer comes from—and drinking it there—is “a better and more valuable experience” than just sucking it down some other place. The reasons he posits seem to be Freshness < == > Respect / Understanding.

There is an awful lot in between, including the capability to better determine whether one ought “pay respect.” I certainly do not have all of the answers or reasons but I hope to lay a few down.

Note: I apologize that this is fairly superficial; I had truly hoped to go a bit deeper. There has been a death in my close family and I am struggling with an as yet undiagnosed illness.

1. Personal connection; meeting/talking with folks who make it and the difference that can make in your appreciation.

For instance, once in Hood River we were at Pfriem Family Brewery for lunch. We had a taster tray and I got to the Mosaic Pale and it was nothing like any other Mosaic single-hopped beer I had yet had. While there was a punch bowl fruitiness in the aroma and a bit in the taste, there was actual bitterness and quite a bit of it. Josh Pfriem, head brewer, was hosing down the brewery floor on the other side of a wooden fence at table height. I was able to wave him over and asked him about his Mosaic hopping rate/regimen. Turns out he used them throughout but mostly up front in the boil so that they were primarily used for bittering. While I still prefer my Mosaic single-hopped beers to be mostly/entirely late-hopped I was better able to understand what was happening in Josh’s beer and to my senses and, thus, to better appreciate, and understand, my experience but also to appreciate what the brewer was going for.

While that does not change the beer or make it “better” somehow, it does provide that real, human connection that, as humans, we are always looking for. I would rather I get that from the brewers and brewery workers/owners I visit, whether or not it is “real,” than from some actor in a television commercial. Which is never real.

2. Try beers not distributed (at all) or not distributed to your area. This one is dead simple. And while it may involve freshness and gaining respect or understanding, it may also just be about trying beers you may never get to try again.

Take a local example, both in the brewery and the distance to visit: Deschutes. Most pub beers, whether here in Bend or Portland, never see the outside of their respective brewpubs. [Except in growlers here and there, but it’s not packaged or distributed.] Why would I ever want to deprive myself of Veronica Vega or Ben Kehs beers? I truly like almost every beer I have had by either one. But to get them I have to go to the pubs; it matters not that Deschutes is a behemoth in the craft beer world. These beers are not that. I have to go to the source.

To take another local example, Crux Fermentation Project. I can get a lot of their beers in bottles around town but they also have pub beers that will probably never see distribution. Good beers. Now here’s my thing with Crux—I stress it is my thing as no else I have mentioned it to has this issue. But the bottom line is that I do not like Crux beers from bottles. Nor do I like them on tap elsewhere. They don’t taste the same to me. I really like Crux beer, by the way. But if I want the Crux flavors, aromas and tastes that I know and love I have to go to the brewery/brewpub. Thankfully we are fairly close.

3. Of course, in the real sense of travel, all of the above and more apply. Some of the beers won’t be distributed outside of the brewery, or the beer simply is not distributed to your area/state/country, the beer is probably fresher, you may learn whether or not you appreciate the brewery based on what you learn visiting, you may appreciate them more based on a positive visit with people you relate to.

These, and no doubt many other reasons I look forward to reading from others, make traveling to the source an often pleasant experience.

Prosit!

Bend Beer (book) official launch party

I already mentioned the book, Bend Beer, on my blog a couple weeks ago, and I want to mention it again as the official launch party is this Friday night at the Des Chutes Historical Museum.

Bend Beer official launch party at Des Chutes Historical Museum Fri Nov 7

Bend Beer official launch party at Des Chutes Historical Museum Fri Nov 7

It starts at 6:30 pm. According to Jon Abernathy, the author:

It will be an open format event, where I’ll be signing books and answering questions and will have a short, informal talk around 7 to 7:30. The Museum is generously opening up their doors for us for the evening to allow folks to explore the exhibits and the history of the region.

Deschutes Brewery has graciously agreed to join us for the evening, which I’m very excited about because it’s a great combination of Bend’s history with Bend’s first brewery! They will be pouring a keg of their pub specialty Botanical Ale. And Chef Rudy of Smokin’ Dan Brew & Q will be there as well serving up delicious food to pair with the beer.

Here’s the Facebook event page for the evening.

Jon says there is also a signing party event this Thursday at 5pm at Silver Moon Brewing as well.

I can attest that the Deschutes beer they are graciously providing is quite tasty. This is Veronica Vega’s Beers Made By Walking beer.

I have also heard rumor of an informal pub crawl after Friday’s signing event but you’ll have to be “present to win” on that one.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Disclaimer: Both my wife and I provided some proofreading of the manuscript and are mentioned in the Acknowledgments. I might not be unbiased.

Digital Writing Month 2014

As I mentioned on my other blog, habitually probing generalist, I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. If you are at all interested in what it is please check out the post I mentioned.

What does it mean for here? Well, hopefully some more posts. Some book reviews would be nice [many books have been read], maybe some more essay-like thoughts. I intend to participate in The Session #93 on beer travel.

You may see #digiwrimo in my tweets if you follow me on Twitter. But I’m guessing most of my beer tweets won’t.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon. Get it!

Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon by Jon Abernathy is out today and if you have any interest in Bend and Central Oregon history and, in particular, the region’s history of brewing then you need this book.

It is currently “the definitive” book on brewing in Central Oregon, but I know even Jon wants more answers to some things. There is more he could not fit due to space constraints. Such is book authorship.

I heartily and fully recommend this book.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

That said, and with hopefully more to come, some caveats are in order (whether required by the man or not): Jon Abernathy is my friend. I read the book ~1.5 times while it was being written and finalized. I read the first half through and then, when given the whole, read it over again from the start. Sara read the whole thing also. In fact, for part of our editing sessions I read it out loud and I made notes as either caught something.

This reading was in editing mode. Nonetheless, I saw so many (informationally) juicy bits that answer questions I’ve had and/or provide another angle into several other seriously “itchy” unanswered ones. I am really looking forward to sitting down with our copy and making notes for me instead of for the author. ;) Jon has seriously extended my knowledge. But often better knowledge only leads to better/different questions. [Do not mistake that “juicy” for ‘the book contains “the dirt”‘ on anyone’s favorite brewery. That is not the case; Jon is not a mudslinger.] Also, our copy was given to us. OK, I think that’s all the disclosure needed.

Media and such:

The book’s website which includes author signing events.

Jon’s announcement at his beer blog, The Brew Site, which lists 8 locations in Bend to buy a physical copy, one in Portland, and several online links.

An interview with the author at #pdxbeergeeks.

If Facebook is your thing.

I hope to have more to say/review the book once I have re-read it on my own terms. Seems only fair.

The first couple of chapters give us good insight into the history of the region, including alcohol and Prohibition, and bring us up to Deschutes Brewery’s founding in 1988. There was brewing in Central Oregon well before 1988. It just wasn’t in Bend. Or for long.

I, personally, still have questions, in particular, about beer in Bend (and Central Oregon, generally) prior to Prohibition in 1916 [Even more particularly, before 1907-ish]. Jon has chased down an awful lot of history and done us great service, but I hope to infect him with my questions and perhaps we can both work at chasing down more answers and more interesting questions. :D

Throughout these chapters we learn about the various industries that have driven Bend and its frequent, rapid growth.

In the next few chapters, we learn about Deschutes, the second wave of breweries, and the explosion of breweries and beer tourism. It truly is a heady ride.

Sara and I have only been here in Bend a bit over 2 years but the number of breweries in Central Oregon has more than doubled since we arrived; a good percentage of them in Bend.

Contents:

Foreword, by Gary Fish
Preface
Acknowledgments

1. Beer on the Frontier: Saloons, Isolation and Homesteads on the High Desert
2. Prohibition on the High Desert
3. Timber Town: The Boom Years
4. Recreation and Tourism
5. Laying Foundations: Deschutes Brewery and Other Pioneers
6. The Second Wave
7. The Brewery Explosion and the Rise of Beer Tourism
8. Beer Town, USA

Appendix. Timeline
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

The foreword is by Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewery, and the gorgeous cover photo is by Gina Schauland, of Deschutes Brewery and Central Oregon Beer Angels.

I encourage you to buy a copy but the local libraries ought have copies fairly quickly. I asked our collection development librarian at COCC Barber Library to order a copy or two this morning. I also poked Deschutes Public Library via Twitter. Others should feel free to request their local libraries acquire it. In the meantime, there are lots of places to grab a copy locally and several online.

Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend

Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, Oregon, on October 15th

What: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, OR
When: October 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend
Cost: Pay per pint or per sample

This post covers two events: the hike I went on and the unique tasting event at BTBS on 15 October. See below for more details of the both the tasting event at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café and of the hike.

Middle Deschutes River and Deschutes River Canyon. Beers Made By Walking, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Deschutes Brewery Hike on 22 May 2014. [Photo courtesy of BMBW.]

Middle Deschutes River and Deschutes River Canyon. Beers Made By Walking, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Deschutes Brewery Hike on 22 May 2014. That’s me in the brown hat and blue backpack up front. [Photo courtesy of BMBW.]

On 22 May of this year I went on a hike with to the Middle Deschutes River with Deschutes Brewery, Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and Eric Steen of Beers Made By Walking. We hiked the Scout Camp trail down into the Deschutes River Canyon and saw the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River, among other natural beauties.

Confluence of Whychus Creek (on right) and Middle Deschutes (on left) "on the ground," so to speak.

Confluence of Whychus Creek (on right) and Middle Deschutes (on left) “on the ground,” so to speak.
My entire Flickr set here.

More commentary and photos follow the info on the upcoming tasting at Broken Top Bottle Shop.

Beers Made By Walking (BMBW) is a program that invites brewers to go on nature hikes and make new beer inspired by plants that are identified on the trail. Each hike is unique and each beer that is produced is a drinkable landscape portrait of the trail we hiked. On October 15th, from 6-9pm at Broken Top Bottle Shop, beer lovers will have the opportunity to try new beers inspired by hikes around the Bend Region.

These hike-inspired beers were produced through a collaboration between BMBW and the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) through a series of public hikes with brewers throughout the summer.

Participating local brewers that joined in on the hikes include Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, and Worthy Brewing.

Each brewer will serve their new beer on October 15th. Additionally, Laurelwood Brewing (Portland), and Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton) will also tap special beers based off hikes in their region.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the brewers, learn about the various hikes that inspired the beers, and learn about some of ONDA and BMBW’s recent work. Beers will be sold by the pint and in sample sizes until they run out. 100% of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

What: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, OR
When: October 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend
Cost: Pay per pint or per sample

Tap list and details available as of this moment:

Crux River Trail Sour
ABV 9.0. IBU 15. Special ingredients are, choke cherries, and mint. Also fermented with a mixed culture from Crooked Stave out of Colorado. This is a blend of our Saison and a barrel aged golden sour. There is crisp light tartness to it that blends very smoothly with the dry fruity flavors of the saison. There is also a slight pink color from the choke cherries, and a very slight mint flavor in the finish.

Worthy Walk on the Wild Side (Badlands Indigenous Ale).
6.5% ABV. 14 IBUs. Beer brewed with Juniper tips, juniper berries, Indian Rice grass, Desert Sage, wheatgrass, and fescue.

Deschutes Botanic Ale – A light and crisp beer with rye, wild sage, and meadowsweet, rose and Stella hops, inspired by a wildflower hike on the Middle Deschutes River.

Laurelwood Saison de Walkle – Saison with rose hips and elderberries. 5.5%, 12 IBU

Seven Brides Pseudo Tsuga IPA – Light bodied IPA with a piney aroma and resiny flavor from the addition of Douglas Fir needle tea. 5.4%, 60 IBU

I fully intend to be at this tasting and I hope you will be too.

xxxx

Eric Steen (BMBW), left. ONDA tour guide, middle. Veronica Vega (Deschutes), right.

There were a total of six people on the Deschutes hike: Veronica Vega (Deschutes Pub Brewer extraordinaire), Gina Schauland (Deschutes Social Media Coordinator & Event Promotions), our trail guide from ONDA, another young woman, Eric of BMBW, and me.

[Let me go on record and say that I am an ass regarding names. I sincerely apologize to the two young ladies whose names I don’t know. I guarantee you that I remember your faces, and, with any luck, the context from which I recognize you.] [Nikki! (no idea of spelling. The other young lady is Nikki. I think/believe.]

I was going to put about a dozen photos from our hike here but then I realized that there are 100s from the Canon and not just iPhone photos. Instead, I am uploading them and will link there here shortly. All of them. Unretouched.

Still. One more.

This is also the confluence of the Whychus and Deschutes. That spear coming in from the left ... Deschutes to the left, Whychus from the right.

This is also the confluence of the Whychus and Deschutes. That spear coming in from the left … Deschutes to the left, Whychus from the right. You can actually see water from both in this photo also.

I had the Deschutes Botanic Ale on 5 September when late one evening Sara and I wandered into the pub for a nightcap and it was on tap. The pub manager bought us our beer when she heard I had gone on the hike. I do not think it was supposed to be on and may have been so accidentally. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed it and am looking forward to having it again at 5 or so weeks older. Which is only about difference; not “better.” With botanicals they can change quite rapidly.

I do not know where the rest of the Bend beer geeks were on these hikes; I heard there were low turnouts on the other two hikes also. Anyway, this was an amazing honor along with being an amazing adventure. Ok. I know the rest of you up here do hikes like these for breakfast but this made me work a bit. That’s neither here nor there.

The beauty was everywhere. From the tiny little flora to the grandeur of the rugged, sweeping views capped off by a perfectly blue sky with wispy clouds. Since we carpooled, I rode up to the hike area with Veronica and Gina and gained a little insight into my favorite big brewery. On the way back, Eric joined us and to be privy to the discussion between Veronica and Eric was, indeed, a privilege.

There was discussion of sourcing ingredients, which ingredients were inspiring Veronica and why, when in the process the various botanicals might be used and how, and so on. It was quite fascinating.

If you get a chance to go on a Beers Made By Walking hike do so. Just go.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014

Yesterday morning I picked up a growler of Mike “Curly” White’s 2014 version of McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale, which will be released Friday 19 September.

[Disclaimer: I received this beer for free, if that matters to you.]

I reviewed this beer last year also. Seems I liked it quite a bit but I liked this year’s even more. This year’s (the 5th year) uses fresh Brewer’s Gold (5 lbs / barrel) in three hop additions. There are some dried Chinook used in first wort hopping but they are very minimal in impact. It uses Pilsener malt for the base and some Belgian Caramel malt for color and flavor. See the link in 1st paragraph for more info from the source.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014 - quite tasty

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014 – quite tasty

Aroma-wise I got very light citrus, faintly lemony, and caramel once it began warming a bit. The color is a cloudy orange. I was unable to get much of a head from the growler even with vigorous pouring but presentation isn’t everything. A better head would help with the aroma, too, though. On draft it may have a fine head.

This is a big, chewy, full-bodied ale, resulting from both the malt and unfermented sugars but also full of the earthiness of the fresh Brewers gold hops. Floral, yet softly bitter in the finish. More-ish.

This is a very more-ish beer. It just helps you along to want another sip after each of the previous ones. I drank almost the entirety of a 64 oz. growler by myself. This is not a beer I would want every day but I want it once a year, every year, for the short period it can be available. OK. I want it more than that but this is even more of an agricultural product than beer is normally and I can live in a world with these constraints.

Lots of fresh hop beers are IPAs and if that is your thing fine but try to leave any preconceptions/biases aside and give this a try on Friday or shortly thereafter. Drink a pint and see if it doesn’t jump help you along and leave you wanting another.

Also, for all you Cascade hop fans, which is what was used for the previous years Thundercone, please give this year’s Brewer’s Gold version a try. Provide feedback in whichever way works for you.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale will be released at all 22 McMenamins breweries on Friday, Sep. 19th. I can’t speak for all 22 versions but I loved my local Bend brewer’s version.

By the way, McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend is having an Oktoberfest this Saturday. Great chance to get yourself some Thundercone.

[Disclaimer, in case you missed it the first time: I received this beer for free, if that matters to you.]

Last night’s very buzzed Facebook review:

Hey #inBend go get some of Curly White’s Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale atMcMenamins Old St. Francis School this Friday. Excellent! Very more-ish.

I’ll be writing a post tomorrow but I got a growler of this as-yet-unreleased fresh hop ale today. I drank most of the growler myself this evening. Just couldn’t stop.

It’s got a little early bitterness from some dried Chinook but is really all fresh Brewer’s Gold giving an amazing full, earthiness. Probably the biggest bodied fresh hop beer I have ever had.

Yes. I got this beer for free, But no one drinks a growler of a beer that isn’t good. I don’t anyway.

Last year I linked to Jon’s review at The Brew Site and will do again. See his for a bit more detail, especially in his tasting notes. Again, we both say go forth on Friday and taste this for yourself.

6th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest (2014)

My current favorite beer fest, which thankfully is a local one, the 6th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest arrives in Bend Friday, 29 August and Saturday, 30 August.

The fest opens at 5 pm on Friday evening and noon on Saturday. If you value tasting your beer and smaller crowds then I suggest you get there as close to opening as possible on each day. If you value the party more then come out later on Friday and Saturday. We’ll be there for opening both days.

The fest is 21 and over only and takes place next to the Des Chutes Historical Museum, 129 Northwest Idaho Avenue in downtown Bend.

Basic entry including commemorative glass: $10

Tasting package: $20. Includes glass, entry and 10 tokens

Whiskey tasting: Tokens will apply to both beer and whiskey

Tokens: $1 each and tastes cost 2-5 tokens each

VIP package includes Brewer’s Shirt, Admission, Tasting Glass, and 10 Tasting Tokens for only $40! [That is a nice shirt. I got one at Big Woody.]

Notice those tasting prices. This is not an inexpensive fest. Tokens are $1 each and each pour is 2-5 tokens. I like it that way. Slows down the drunks some. When beer fests are cheap many people go to them primarily to get drunk amongst a crowd. I am not saying it isn’t a legitimate reason. I just prefer not to be around those people.

The website, particularly the beer “list,” could really use some work. Side-scrolling/clicking from brewery to brewery is not cool. I appreciate that each brewery gets a bit more space to tell us about themselves and their beers as I want to know about them before I choose to try them. But the brewery profiles could be pulled out into a single page on the website with links from the beers and a much better layout for the beer information in a much more compact format. Please.

I liked what the Bend Brewfest tried to do with their beer list this year. It could have been really impressive but I feel for anyone who used it as their data was beyond bad. In multiple ways. The wife took all she could get from the website and the booklet and so on and cleaned it up as best as she could and released it into the world as a public Google spreadsheet. Her version was vastly much improved from the official results but it still sometimes was based on conflicting information so had a few problems. I want to give props to Bend Brewfest for going this route but you really need to look at data entry and, before that, standardization of the data. It is not useful if there are so many conflicting forms of data in a field that sorting cannot work in a useful manner. I hope more beer fests look towards something along the line of what Bend Brewfest did with its online tap list this year. Just get the data right. Or do not bother.

I took a look through the beer list and this is what I found that sounds most interesting so far:

These are my top picks:

Mazama La Gaule du Matin – Port Barrel Aged Sour Belgian Blonde :: I love most of Mazama’s beers and they now, barely a year old, have some mighty tasty beers coming out of barrels. This will be a new one for Little Woody according to the owners. One of my favorite beers of both Oregon Brewers Festival and The Bend Brewfest was their El Duque do Porto, which was their Grand Cru from port barrels. It was a “special” beer at both fests and cost 2 tokens in each case. My second taste was because I may well never get it again and it was damned tasty. Even out of plastic.

Deschutes Sour Raspberry Wit (Pub Exclusive) :: Raspberry is not my favorite fruit flavoring (for much of anything) but I love Deschutes pub beers. I also believe raspberry could work well in a Wit.

Below Grade Kiss Me Kate :: We had this at last year’s Little Woody, and then at the Winter Fest at GoodLife in December and we were one of the very few to acquire a bottle which we drank and loved. I have consistently given it 4.5/5 stars. It is a barrel-aged Imperial IPA. I do not intend to miss this beer.

McMenamins OSF Grandma’s Oatmeal Porter Rum Barrel Aged :: Brewed here in town at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School by Michael “Curly” White and Vance Wirtz this is an oatmeal porter which spent four months in McMenamins Three Rocks Rum barrels. 

Bend Brewing ROMANOV, Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout :: BBC has been crafting excellent big beers for a good while now. I am guessing this is an Ian Larkin recipe (but if anyone knows different let me know) and that excites me.

Silver Moon Wild Turkey Barrel Aged Train Wreck Barley Wine :: We have had and liked (me) or loved (her) Train Wreck but not sure we’ve had the barrel-aged version.

HUB Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged Motherland RIS) :: I generally like HUB’s stouts and this is no exception. I gave it 4.25/5 stars but wrote this: “At P&S. A bit thin. Want to like more. Will age help?” I am, by the way, very tough on stouts. The barrel-aging may make this even thinner so keep that in mind. I hope not as taste is most important but an amazingly tasty stout that is thin is getting whacked by me in ratings. This is true but also funny as I kept trying to “defend” (and suggest as a stretch for folk’s palates) the Orlison Brewing Underground Stout (a lager) at Bend Brewfest. Sadly, people weren’t having it and even telling me that stouts cannot be lagers. I just told them to learn some history of brewing in the Baltic States particularly and in particular about porter and stout once Russia imposed to high of fees on British imports. Then I quietly left them alone. 

These are the next group of interest:

Wild Ride Nitro Bourbon Barrel Aged Bitch Stout :: I have had a couple beers from pretty much brand-new Wild Ride out of Redmond but haven’t been overly impressed. I do need to get to the brewery and I am looking forward to seeing if they can do a bourbon barrel-aged stout.

Silver Moon Oregon Spirit Distillers Bourbon Stout ::

Bridge 99 / Platypus Pub Collaboration Red Eye Rye

HUB Pink Drink (barrel-aged Belgian Style Tripel with raspberries) :: Again with the raspberries but it a tripel with raspberries could work.

Stone Arbalest (Belgian Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels)

Hop Valley Oakeroo (Festeroo Winter ale)

21st Amendment Monk’s Blood

Good Life Proprius  (brown naturally soured with Brett in a Volcano Vineyard’s Syrah Barrel for a year)

Deschutes Mirror Mirror :: If you have not yet had this year’s batch of Mirror Mirror then try this now. Then grab a few bottles if you can find any left on shelves and store it away for a couple of years. It is damned tasty now but I guarantee if you treat it even half-decently in storage it’ll be even better in 6-months to a year. We have 7 bottles and are going to keep one for at least 5 years.

Worthy Barrel Aged Dark Muse Imperial Stout :: I have had the base beer, Dark Muse, a couple three times and it is a perfectly respectable stout. I found it a bit thinnish, at least on my first go, so it too could be even thinner from the barrel-aging. I primarily want to see how Worthy are handling barrel-aging at this point.

Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Ale

10 Barrel Dry Fly (huge wheat wine, in Dry Fly rye whiskey barrels for 14 months)

Three Creeks Vanilla Night Ski Oatmeal Stout

Three Creeks Night Moves (blend of stouts aged in Pinot Noir Barrels AND Bourbon Barrels)

McMenamins OSF Brandywine Bridge Red Ale

Closing

I certainly will not get to all of those but they are what I am focusing on for now. Tap lists can change and moods can be very different out on the fest grounds versus sitting at a computer at home a few weeks in advance. Thankfully the cost will help keep down the number I try. The flip side of that is one best hope they like most of their beers. It is an easy choice to throw out a $1 sample but much different at $2-5 each.

Hope to see you at the 6th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest this upcoming weekend, 29-30 August, 2014. Gate open at 5 pm Friday and noon on Saturday.