McMenamins Kris Kringle 2015

With perfect timing for release day, a bottle of McMenamins 2015 version of their Traditional Yuletide Ale, Kris Kringle, showed up on my doorstep last Friday, the 13th of November.

Image of McMenamins Kris Kringle Traditional Yuletide Ale label

I also received and reviewed the 2013 release here.

Here is McMenamins description of this beer:

Just in time for the holidays, November 13th marks the release of this year’s McMenamins Traditional Yuletide Ale, Kris Kringle.  The busy-as-elves McMenamins brewers have created another wonderful gift for your taste buds this holiday season.  The 2015 version of Kris Kringle is a hearty and robust ale with a big and bold malt complexity as well as an intense and flavorful hop profile.  This “winter warmer” highlights the rich, toasty, aromatic and chocolaty malt flavors as its very sturdy foundation.  Generous amounts of two different hop varieties were added in five different additions, which delivers a magnificent and massive hop assault.  There’s still some ginger and cinnamon added into the batch but the spices are a little more subdued than in years’ past.  McMenamins brewers hope you enjoy this years’ version of our old Holiday favorite, Kris Kringle.  Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!

Malts: Pale Ale, Munich, Wheat, 15L & 120L Crystal, Chocolate

Hops: Centennial (Bittering, Flavor &Aroma), Cascade (Flavor & Aroma)

OG: 1.068  TG: 1.015  ABV: 6.84%  IBU: 76  SRM: 15

Buzz Words: Robust, Hoppy, Festive

I popped open this very fresh “winter warmer” on Monday and quite enjoyed it. More on that in a moment.

Photo of bottle, glass of beer, and postcard for 2015 release of McMenamins Kris Kringle

Shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest a couple years ago I looked forward to trying different winter warmer beers. I have gotten over them as quickly as I have pumpkin beers. Actually, I like some pumpkin (and yam) beers. What I pretty much despise are pie beers. Use the freaking pumpkin to flavor your beer. Keep the f’ing spices out of pumpkin beers though. I guess if you like Creme Brulee Stout and its ilk then have at it. But I think pie beer sucks.

Many, if not most (I’m betting), winter warmers are the equivalent of pie beers. Full of spices that are good for a sip or two but become gagging if I have to contemplate more than a couple ounces of said beer. Can’t stand beer like that.

This is NOT one of those winter warmers. McMenamins is claiming that there is still some ginger and cinnamon in this and I believe them. But the level of spicing is perfect! I had to keep asking myself whether it was spiced or not. Subtlety is the operant word. Never once did I think of this as a spice beer but only as a tasty beer that might have a small amount of almost undetectable spicing. As it should be.

In the aroma I got a medium caramel, very light cocoa and light herbal earthiness when cold. As it warmed, a very light woodiness, light nuttiness and very light vanilla notes came through.

While I did not have a strong light source at hand and the sun had set, I’d say the color was a dark copper-orange with a creamy off-white head.

The beer was creamy and medium bodied, with medium-light caramel notes, and a very light sweetness until the finish when a mild bitterness came along and cleaned up any lingering sweetness.

If this is what a winter warmer can be then I may have to reconsider my stance. But then most pumpkin beers are pie beers and I fear most winter warmers are, in my opinion, spice bombs also. No thanks.

I’ll be picking a couple bottles of this up and you should to. Only available until Christmas Day.

I also tasted our local McMenamins (Old St. Francis School) version on the previous Saturday while there for their birthday. The primary difference I noted was less carbonation and a thinner body but still tasty.

FYI: FTC. And all that: This bottle was provided to me by McMenamins.

The Session 105: British Beer and TV

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session: What is it?

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.”

In other words, it is a beer blogging carnival.

My previous posts for the session:

Session #105

This is Session #105 and the topic is Double Features, hosted by Mark at Kaedrin Beer Blog.

“For this installment, I’d like to revisit that glorious time of beer drinking when I was just starting to realize what I was getting into. One of my favorite ways to learn about beer was to do comparative tastings. Drink two beers (usually of the same style) with a critical eye, compare and contrast. Because I’m also a movie nerd, this would often be accompanied by a film pairing. It was fun, and I still enjoy doing such things to this day!

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to drink two beers, compare and contrast. No need for slavish tasting notes, but if you want to, that’s fine too. The important part is to highlight how the two beers interact with one another during your session (pun intended!) For extra credit, pair your beers with two films to make your own Double Feature. Now, I’m a big tent kinda guy, so feel free to stretch this premise to its breaking point.”

On Sunday, 01 November 2015, I watched the last two episodes of Doctor Who Series 2 [reboot, David Tennant] and drank two organic beers from Samuel Smith, one per episode. Both episodes constitute story 177 (according to Wikipedia) and consist of “Army of Ghosts” (ep 12) and “Doomsday” (ep 13) and were written by Russell T. Davies.

Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale and Organic Chocolate Stout

Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale and Organic Chocolate Stout

I didn’t know what my theme was going in (other than British beer & TV) but it turned out to be “Old beer and old episodes.”

Beginning with “Army of Ghosts” I drank a Samuel Smith’s Organic Pale Ale.  Pale seems to be a natural fit for ghosts.


Aroma: kind of like a dubbel; sweet, light nuttiness & light burnt caramel. Color: dark amber; almost no head. Taste: Strange. Wonder how fresh? Not bad but should it taste like this?

A lot of blue-on-blue lately—3rd episode at least where the Tardis is placed near other blue objects which mostly fill the frame. I’m kind of blue about this beer. Going to need to check out those date codes later.

Torchwood building.

Freema Agyeman. 1st appearance on Doctor Who? Not as Martha, though. Yes! I was right.

“Who you gonna call?” Ghostbusters riff by Doctor & Rose. Just a tad cheesy but good pop culture reference.

“Why are you always reducing it to science? Why can’t it be real?” Jackie Tyler to The Doctor.

Must be some diacetyl; which I had been thinking for a while.

A “Void ship” : “a vessel to exist outside time and space.”

From the teaser for the next episode: “Cybermen and Daleks. Together we could upgrade the universe.” Upgrading (I hope) my beer.

Moving on to “Doomsday” I had a Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout.


A: chocolate syrup (coffee, fakey kind). C: black; short lasting tan head. Fakey chocolate syrup.

“I did my duty. I did my duty. Oh God. I did my duty.” Yvonne Hartman, Director of Torchwood ::Shudder:: I understand the horror of duty all too well. Sadly, I know many who understand it even it even more. My heart breaks.

The Cult of Skaro

“I did my bit for Queen and Country.” Yvonne as a Cyberman; black tears from her eyes.

Bad Wolf Bay

Woman in a wedding dress (Donna), who it turns out is only visiting and not coming back as a companion until next season even though she will be the companion for the first episode of season 3. Freema as Martha will be back as Martha very shortly for the rest of this season.

Well, this exercise taught me (reminded me blatantly, is more like it) that I need to be very careful with which beers I get at one of our local bottle shops. The next day (Monday) I researched Sam Smith date codes and this is what I found: My Pale Ale is SI13N1 = 13 Sep 2014 and the Stout is SC13N1 = 13 Mar 2014. Both are way too old for these beers. ::sigh::

So the moral, I guess, is old TV shows are OK to visit for either the first time or to revisit, as the case may be, but other than the beers-that-can-be-aged most beers should not be. Also, more importantly, learn to read obscure date codes and do so before buying. And advocate for legible and & comprehensible date codes on all packaged beer.

I apologize for how unfocused this all was. We had a different plan for this Session and that fell through for assorted reasons and I had to punt. Sadly, I bought beers that I knew I had enjoyed previously at the wrong place. And I am fully at fault for not checking/understanding the date codes. I do not fault Samuel Smith in any way and do not expect to have “fresh” beer from Europe but … most have not been so evidently off.

Session #105 Double Feature: Flirting with Coffee

This is the 2nd guest post from my wife, @esquetee  Her first was “Librarians in the Beer Tents” in July 2014.

I’m finally writing a post for a Session! This month’s theme:

“…highlight how the two beers interact with one another during your session (pun intended!) For extra credit, pair your beers with two films to make your own Double Feature.”


 The chosen beers:

  • Péché Mortel from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel – aged 2 years at home
  • Big Bad Baptist (release #24) from Epic – aged 1.5 years at home

The common factor here: imperial stouts with coffee.  

Pour and color: the Baptist had very little head but beautiful caramel-colored lacing lingered on the surface for quite some time. The Péché had a bit more for a moment in the same color but it smoothed out very quickly. The Péché also had a touch of mahogany red in the body while the Baptist was consistently dark brown.

Left: Big Bad Baptist; Right: Péché Mortel

Left: Big Bad Baptist; Right: Péché Mortel

Aroma: Very different! The Péché has a soft fruit note underneath the light espresso scent, whereas the Baptist is a punch in the face of bitter raw coffee bean. Mark described it as “rancid” and I have to admit it was a bit off-putting at first.

Flavor:  The Péché is lovely – almost wine-like in the layers and complexity. The coffee is present without overpowering, which leaves room on the palate for vanilla and chocolate to whisper in. The body is soft as a rose petal, making it very drinkable without even hinting at the 9% ABV underneath. A seductive, dangerous siren of a beer.

Before we get to the Baptist, let me just preface by saying there is a blessing and a curse to cellaring these big dark beauties. The blessings come when you open an aged favorite that has gone from delightful to divine. The curses take a fine beer and turn it into something thin and flavorless … if you’re lucky. Fortunately, we’ve had far more blessings than curses in our cellaring experiments.  

The Baptist #24 is about 6 months past its prime, I would say. Not a bad beer at all, but not up to its full potential. Having just had a fresh batch of Baptist on tap the night before, I definitely prefer the beer with some age on it – even a little too much age like this one. The sharp bitterness of a fresh batch has calmed down some – despite the aroma – and the body has balanced out into a wonderful texture. If I didn’t have the Péché to compare it against, I might even enjoy the Baptist far more than I am at the moment. But the Péché takes the idea of coffee imperial stout to another level here, which leaves the Baptist with a consolation prize of “pretty good.” Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoy both of them.

Now … the other half of this Session called for pairing the paired beers with some kind of media — movies, TV shows, music, what have you.

When I thought about what to pair with coffee stouts, the first thing that came to mind was the memory of some old coffee commercial in the 1980s? 1990s? that went on like a soap opera series about two neighbors who kept flirting over their borrowed coffees. Best commercials ever. Why don’t they make ‘em like that anymore? Anyway …

So I went to YouTube in search of these coffee commercials. At first I thought they might have been from Folger’s, but that only brought up Peter’s Christmas homecoming. With a bit more digging I found them! The Taster’s Choice Gold Blend saga. And to make it even better — they starred my favorite screen librarian of all time – Giles from Buffy! Otherwise known as Anthony Head.

What in the world do these dusty old ads have to do with delicious coffee stouts?

Flirting! Oh yes, the flirting. The screen chemistry between those two was enough to rival Moonlighting. And flirting is exactly what a good stout should do with you. So dark, you can’t be certain of its intentions. So complex, you know there are innuendos you must be missing even as some of the innuendos make you blush. As the beer warms up and opens up more flavors, you become even better acquainted until … at last … well, stay tuned for the next episode.

Bostwick and Rymill – Beer Craft

Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill

Date read: 23 October – 01 November 2015
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Paperback, 176 pages
Published 2011 by Rodale
Source: Deschutes Public Library


  • Authors’ Note
  • Beer History
  • 1 Learn: The Brewing Steps; The Ingredients
  • 2 Make: The Great Recipes; Bonus Steps
  • 3 Drink: Tasting and Troubleshooting
  • 4 Design: Branding Your Brewery
  • 5 Repeat: Outfit Your Brewery; Log Your Brews
  • Glossary
  • Resources
  • Index
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Craft Brewers of America (spread throughout; short interviews with Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Bret & Eric Kuhnhenn (Kuhnhenn), John Maier (Rogue), Greg Koch (Stone), Ron Jeffries (Jolly Pumpkin), Lauren Salazar (New Belgium), and Shane C. Welch (Sixpoint).


This book focuses on making small batches of beer: “We brew on a budget, in a tiny apartment kitchen, without any fancy equipment. We brew from scratch, with all-natural whole grains instead of canned extracts. We like inventing our own recipes. And we brew in small, one-gallon batches—they’re quick, easy to experiment with, and they actually fit on our stovetop” (7).

The book is heavily illustrated and almost all of them work well. It is a small book being 7” h x 6” w and just over 0.5” thick.

All-in-all, if you are interested in brewing smaller bathes then this book might work well for you. If not, it still has some relevance but this is not the only book on homebrewing, nor does it aim (or claim) to be. I’m still undecided on my batch sizes but am considering going smaller so this was a very useful book for me. For basic brewing I would turn to other books first, and they do list a couple of great ones in the Resources section.

I am not really sure why a small book on brewing needs a section on beer history but we get 14 page of it; well, a few of those are large infographics but still. Roughly 8% of this book on brewing is essentially wasted on general beer history.

Chapter 1 Learn covers sanitization, the six brewing steps, and the ingredients. There is a “Field Guide” for malt, hops, and yeast, along with practical tips on all of these ingredients. There is also another handy infographic which shows the basic grain bill for the ten styles of beer that they cover.

Chapter 2 Make consists of The Great Recipes, which has recipes for 10 styles: pale ale, brown ale, porter, stout, Scottish ale, wheat beer, saison, abbey ale, Pilsner and barleywine. The Bonus Steps section looks at specialty grains, spices & herbs, extra hops (techniques such as first wort hopping, using a hopback, …), sugars, fruits, barrel-aging, and sour beers.

Chapter 3 Drink: Tasting and Troubleshooting discusses pouring beer, tasting, troubleshooting problems, flavor identification, and beer and food pairings. For each of the ten styles a cheese plate and dinner menu is provided; well, barleywine gets a dessert menu instead. Glassware is the last thing covered.

Chapter 4 Design: Branding Your Brewery provides ideas for label design, labeling, and bottle caps. At first I thought this was a waste (and it still gets a tad too much room perhaps) but one of the authors is a designer and editor. According to the About the Authors, Jessi Rymill “collects labels and bottle cap and wonders why the beers with the weirdest designs usually taste the best” (inside back flap). With that in mind it makes perfectly good sense.

Chapter 5 Repeat. Outfit Your Brewery covers equipment, while Log Your Brews provides sheets for recording the information about your brews and one for tasting notes.

The Resources page is short but contains some great references. It is broken down into Beer Craft (their websites & Twitter), Supplies, Organizations, Magazines, Books (broken into Recipes, Advanced Techniques, Tasting and Pairing, History, and Design), Websites (broken into Tasting and Rating Beer; Beer Sample Testing; and Labels, Caps, and Breweriana).

To get a feel for the design of the book visit the book’s page at They also have a blog.

Recommended for a look if you are interested in brewing small batches of beer or if you are interested in designing labels and/or bottle caps and have no idea where to begin.

DigiWriMo 2015 Huh?

Over at my other blog, habitually probing generalist, I wrote about my participating in Digital Writing Month, DigiWriMo, this year.

What does that mean for this blog? Well, since I am hoping to write a fair bit this month, some of it will most likely end up here. I intend to write a post for The Session #105. In fact, as soon as I am done here I need to prep my double feature. Taking a British twist. More on Friday.

I am also, finally, working my way into homebrewing here at home. Toward that end, I helped someone brew the other day and I will be helping him bottle several beers in a couple weeks, I am designing recipes to brew at two other friend’s houses, been reading brewing books and making lists of equipment and processes that I can use in my situation here, and even signed up for an all-grain homebrewing class through the community college that I work at part-time. I took it two years ago with the same instructor, Tim Koester. It was a great class and I learned a lot but now I have specific questions and want to go through the steps in a more formal classroom setting again. I need to do but I also need structure in my education.

I know I am way behind on book reviews here, and as I said have been reading plenty—brewing and otherwise—and hope to get a few of those addressed too.

Anyway, hopefully DigiWriMo will give me the motivation to move forward with some of these things in this space. If there is something you would like me to address feel free to make a suggestion. I am not making any promises but if I find your prompt interesting I may well run with it. Cheers!

Beechum and Conn – Experimental Homebrewing

Experimental Homebrewing: Mad Science in the Pursuit of Great Beer by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn
Date read: 01-18 October 2015
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Experimental Homebrewing by Beechum and Conn

Paperback, 240 pages
Published 2014 by Voyageur Press (an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group)
Source: Deschutes Public Library

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Basics
  • Chapter 2: Recipe Design
  • Chapter 3: Splitting Batches
  • Chapter 4: Equipment Nerdery
  • Chapter 5: Off-the-Wall Techniques
  • Chapter 6: Favorite Experimental Styles
  • Chapter 7: Conventional Brewing Ingredients
  • Chapter 8: Experimental Ingredients
  • Chapter 9: Evaluating Your Experiments
  • Chapter 10: The Experiments
  • Acknowledgments
  • Resources
  • Works Cited
  • About the Authors
  • Index

I definitely enjoyed this book and will be getting myself a copy once I start brewing. And let me say, this book has me seriously considering how to make that happen, soon.

Even if you do not want to go down some of the more experimental roads in this book it is great placing the entire context of the brew day (and more) into an experimental framework. The book can teach you a lot whether or not you ever get near an alternative ingredient.

Highly recommended; even if you don’t enjoy every bit or it isn’t entirely relevant to you I bet you’ll find something to really make you think about your brewing.

As a beer blogger, the almost inevitable question people have when they hear this is “Do you brew your own beer?” I’m kind of tired of hearing it. Is that, honestly, the most interesting question most people can think of when hearing “beer blogger”? ::sigh:: [This is in no way a negative comment re homebrewing but this “direct” link between writing about beer and brewing your own seems mighty tenuous to me. There are far more beer drinkers than beer brewers.]

That said, I am doing something about the not brewing. I have taken an all-grain brewing class (Tim Koester through COCC; great) and have helped a couple friends once or twice. I have been meaning to help them more and they have offered up brewing days but, for assorted reasons, I have not made them.

I believe I have finally figured out a system that will work for me; or, at least, part of the system. Now I am trying to find out all the answers I need to get the correct equipment the first time. Fermentation temperature control is still a mostly open question but it is ultimately solvable and I have a good idea what that’ll take.

To show how serious I am, I joined the American Homebrewers Association yesterday. I (we, really) have been members of our local homebrew club COHO for a couple years. This Thursday I am going to help a guy brew on a system much like I’m considering to a) help and get experience and b) pester him with questions and acquire observation(s) of his process.

So, back to the book.

“Close your eyes for a moment …” (7).
Contains an short intro; About Our Process which lays out the scientific method [Question, Hypothesis, Prediction, Test, Review and analysis] and how to apply it to brewing, What We’ll Discover shows that there are questions homebrewers have that aren’t those of any ongoing research, and Keeping the Experiment Alive where they bring up the accompanying website and their community of IGORs “(independent group of researchers)” (9). That is, you are encouraged to join the experimental team.

Chapter 1: The Basics
Lays out their basic assumptions and a minimalist guide to all-grain brewing and one for extract brewing, including equipment lists; Small Batch Brewing (One Gallon B.I.A.B.) which is the bit that really got me thinking; A Brew Day with the Experimentalists runs through a brew day but, in essence, since they live 844 miles apart you get two views on Preparation, Mashing, Sparging, and Boil. The chapter ends with the “Most Important Tips” from both of them.

Chapter 2: Recipe Design
Before they teach you how to play with recipes they strip things down to “the bare essentials” (23). The authors show us “a tasty beer that lacks focus and is needlessly complicated, like its creator” (25). It’s a DIPA using 6 malts and 8 hop editions of 7 different hops. So, we get a SMaSH blonde, Pils and barleywine. If you’ll allow the stretching of a SMaSH by the addition of Belgian candi syrup then you even get a Belgian quad. With a little more purposeful expanding from beyond our minimalist constraints we get an oat beer, and a simplification of that troublesome DIPA. There’s The Recipe Roadmap with Denny which discusses thought processes and just getting on with trying the thing you’re thinking; experimentally, of course. Unless you are lucky enough to create a perfect recipe the first time and have your processes nailed you need to run experiments. A several page section Chris Colby on Recipe Design [former editor of Brew Your Own magazine] follows. After a little discussion on fooling your nose and mouth we get a white stout recipe.

Chapter 3: Splitting Batches
This chapter is all about the various ways and reasons to split a batch of beer. That simple; yet, quite helpful.

Chapter 4: Equipment Nerdery
Both authors list their “Basic Build-out” equipment list under the headings Planing the Brew, Yeast Management, Brew Day, and Fermenting and Packaging. Toolbox suggestions and storage ideas follow with tools for cleaning and sanitation, temperature checks and “science” coming next. Instructions for a “Cheap ’N’ Easy Mash Tun” and for a “Cheap ’N’ Easy Fermentation Temperature Control,” along with making a draft hopback (Randall), and thoughts on RIMS and HERMS and playing with a Raspberry Pi are included. Tips on chilling are also included.

Chapter 5: Off-the-Wall Techniques
Adding flavor via teas and tinctures, using that hopback, canning starters in advance, brewer’s invert sugar recipe, Eisbeer technique, dry hopping, Brett, blending beers, soda pop and more, along with a few more relevant recipes, constitute this chapter.

Chapter 6: Favorite Experimental Styles
Wheats, IPAs, tripels, sessions, porter, and saisons are the star of this show with a couple experimental variations on each presented.

Chapter 7: Conventional Brewing Ingredients
Thirty-two pages covering the four basic ingredients of beer, along with a section on Sugars, and information on assorted techniques as applicable.

Chapter 8: Experimental Ingredients
Here we get information on produce, spices, coffee, vanilla, chocolate, caffeine, mushrooms, meat, peanut butter and candy and how to use them.

Chapter 9: Evaluating Your Experiments
Tasting beer, some science of tasting, finding tasters, types of tests and an example of running a tasting comprise this chapter.

Chapter 10: The Experiments
Experiments for the mash, the boil, fermenters (materials & shapes), yeast, wort prep, fermentation, pre-packaging, packaging, aging, and serving are all included.

An example of a mash experiment is “No or low sparge: Can you skip the sparge step altogether? Or sparge less? Some brewers swear by no sparging to make beautifully smooth beer for a few dollars more malt” (213). This one is of intense interest to me as I am considering going mostly the no sparge route.

First wort hopping and hot side aeration are a couple of the boil experiments, with aeration being an example from wort preparation. Most of these experiments have a code number so it can be found in the IGOR section of the book’s website. This allows you to run the experiment and to join in the discussion of how it worked (or not), of what difference you found. Collaborative science in action. All in the name of beer.


Lists some useful looking websites and a couple books with those being mostly standards.

My final comments

Recommended. I enjoyed the book and although I doubt I’ll ever be putting a pepper near a kettle or fermenter there are a lot of great ideas and good info on how to implement them. Try your public library first if you want to have a gander at it before buying. That’s where I found it.

Is it over? (The Session #104)

The Session is now #104 but is on life support. Alan McLeod at a good beer blog stepped in at the last minute to save this one but is wondering how long the patient can last.

“…: if we just “take the philosophical approach, that the Session has run its course” aren’t we really admitting that beer blogging is a massive failure? [Inner quote is of Stan Heironymous.]

I have seen a couple of responses so far and the two by Oliver Gray “The Session #104 – Blog to Write” and Carla Jean Lauter “The Session #104 – Don’t Stop The Music” both speak to me.

While my situation is not the same as theirs—other than I also have a “beer blog”—I find myself in agreement with most of their points.

Oliver Gray
Life events have kept me from much in the past year. Have some drafts that just didn’t coalesce. Blogging is, or can be, a form of education. Truth and Meaning. [my synopsis & agreements]

“I’d submit that most people who write about beer (myself included) only do so because we’ve seen some fundamental truth about human nature either in the science of the kettle, or the behavior behind the bartop. I think all writers write to discover some meaning; beer bloggers (and writers) just use a medium that’s a tad more esoteric than usual.”

Carla Jean Lauter
Community niche. [my synopsis and agreement]

“… still refreshing to find a chunk of dedicated bloggers actually talking about things beyond the clickbait and the listicles.”

My simple answer is that no, even if The Session goes away that that is only a commentary on beer blogging, and of only a small subset of current beer bloggers anyway. It may speak to some (small) truth, but it is only one part of the story of beer blogging currently, or past and future.

I have participated 3 times in the past [see below] and have wanted to other times. For some of those, see “life events” up above and sometimes the topics were narrowly in an area I wasn’t at all inspired on at that time.

I have also been intending to host for over a year now but, again, see “life events.” I have also managed to lose the 2-3 topics I had hoped to use during my future hosting. My wife has given me one–which she vehemently assures me she WILL write on–but I’m not overly enthused about that (kind of narrow) topic at this time, even though it is also something that ‘chaps my hide.”

I was just looking at the emptiness of the schedule and was thinking it might be timeI might be well enoughto host. Ergo, need a topic.

The Session, also known generically as a blog carnival, may have run its course. They all do. I have been involved in a few and have hosted varying amounts of times in each. Some went several years and some didn’t.

I hope The Session hasn’t as I would like to become more of a member of this community. But life has kept me wanting a lot, from a fairly basic level, for a bit now. Lots of time, mental (and otherwise) effort, and motivational focus is on simply getting well. Nonetheless, I still dream of attempting to write intelligently on the topic(s) of beer.

The Session continuing in some form would greatly facilitate that by providing inspiration and a venue for community, whether small or not. And, yes, I realize this commits me to hosting in the near future.

Previous posts for The Session here


McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2015

This year’s version (2015) of McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale is out. It was released Friday, 18 September at all locations. Get it while you can!

This year’s was made with fresh Simcoe hops from Sodbuster Farms. For those keeping track at home, I was given this growler for free, as I was last year and the year before.

I shared it with six or so friends the day after it was given to me. I did behave and leave the growler sealed, although I was tempted Friday eve to dip in early.

I found it quite tasty and apologize for having little to say about this year’s batch. Aroma of light citrus and very light caramel. Color: Not entirely clear orange. “Bright” with a nice generic base bitterness.

I definitely enjoyed it—one of the best fresh hop beers I’ve had so far in 2015; which would be four different ones so far—but I did like last year’s a lot more. That has nothing to do with the quality of the beer but with my hop preferences.

From McMenamins website:

McMenamins staffers headed to Sodbuster Farms on the outskirts of Salem, Oregon, to collect this year’s hop harvest of Simcoe hops-a first for us! We delivered the Simcoes to 20 McMenamins Breweries all over Washington and Oregon, henceforth known as “The Running of the Brewers.” Each batch of Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale is brewed within hours of the hops being picked off of the vine. This is a daunting task but one that the McMenamins Brewers feel is well worth the monumental coordination involved. The resulting beer is an absolute fresh hop showcase, marked this year with pine and citrus characteristics from the Simcoes. Thundercone is on tap at all locations-while it lasts!

Malts: Canada Malting Superior Pilsen Malt, Franco Belges Caramel Munich 40
Hops: Simcoe
OG: 1.061 TG: 1.013 ABV: 6.19% IBU: 56 SRM: 7

Give it try before it is all gone. It may well be at the Sisters 5th Annual Fresh Hop Fest this Saturday, September 26th. Hope to see you there!

Taste the High Desert: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend

The culmination of Beers Made By Walking Bend 2015 is upon us. On 16 September 2015 at Broken Top Bottle Shop 6-9 pm, the beers inspired by this year’s hikes with Crux, Worthy, and Deschutes will be on tap. I hope to see you there!


Wow! It looks like my last post, which was back in May, was announcing these hikes. I did manage to go on all three of them and had a wonderful time in some beautiful regions of Central Oregon. I guess I best get a post written on them along with some pictures. [I have really been slacking but then I am having some health issues.]

I want to sincerely thank Beers Made By Walking, the Oregon Natural Desert Association, and the three breweries for doing these hikes. I also want to thank my good friends at Broken Top Bottle Shop for again hosting this tasting and fundraiser for ONDA.

Below is the press release on this event:

Join Beers Made By Walking (BMBW), the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), and some of Bend’s best local breweries, to sample unique, new beers inspired by Oregon’s high desert.  September 16th from 6-9pm at the Broken Top Bottle Shop meet the brewers, taste three hike inspired beers, and learn about the awe-inspiring landscapes ONDA works to protect.

Early this summer, Beers Made By Walking (BMBW) invited local brewers to go on nature hikes and create new beers inspired by the plants identified on the trails. This season, BMBW collaborated with the Oregon Natural Desert Association to host three public hikes. ONDA experts led brewers from Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, and Worthy Brewing Co. through current and proposed wilderness areas and including the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Scout Camp at the confluence of the Deschutes River and Whychus Creek, and Black Canyon at Sutton Mountain. The beers that come out of this collaboration are inspired by the surrounding high-desert.

For the event Worthy Brewing brewed “Walk on the Wild Side,” which was inspired by the Badlands, just east of the brewery. Their beer is with buckwheat, sage, local honey, and yarrow. After a hike at Scout Camp, Crux Fermentation Project brewed “Redbarn Farm,” a red Saison ale with rye, rosehips, and fermented with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast strain. Fresh off the hike at Black Mountain, Deschutes brewer, and BMBW veteran, Veronica Vega was leaning toward making an IPA with yarrow and black currant and is putting finishing touches on the recipe.

Entrance is free; beers may be purchased in sample or pint sizes. All proceeds benefit the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Bend Beers Made By Walking Tapping Event

September 16th, 6-9pm

Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend, OR 97701

Find the event on Facebook

Contributing Breweries:

Crux Fermentation Project

Deschutes Brewery

Worthy Brewing

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About Beers Made By Walking

Beers Made By Walking is a program that invites brewers to make beer inspired by nature hikes and urban walks. Since 2011, BMBW has worked with over 100 breweries in six states to create place-based beers that support local, environmental organizations and causes.

About Oregon Natural Desert Association

The Oregon Natural Desert Association is a Bend-based nonprofit organization that has worked to protect, defend and restore Oregon’s high desert for more than 25 years. We’re actively working to protect stunning, ecologically significant areas in the Central Oregon Backcountry, John Day River Basin, Greater Hart-Sheldon Region and Owyhee Canyonlands. Learn more at

Beers Made By Walking Bend 2015

Beers Made By Walking is making a return to Bend and Central Oregon in 2015. Three hikes with Crux, Worthy and Deschutes (one each, that is).

Last year I had the privilege of going on the hike with Deschutes. I am signed up for the hikes with Crux and Worthy so far and hope to be on the Deschutes hike this year too.

Here’s my pitch. You get to go on a lovely hike in Central Oregon in some of the loveliest areas we have. You are accompanied by someone from ONDA and Eric Steen of Beers Made By Walking; so folks interested in the local flora, amongst other things. You also get a brewer and perhaps some other folks from one of our local breweries. The brewer not only connects with their local region but is inspired by it to make a beer based on the hike. Later this summer you get to drink those beers at a benefit for ONDA. Everybody wins all around. [See last year’s post (linked above) for some about the Scout Camp hike with Deschutes and the benefit later at BTBS.]

Beers Made Walking logo

Beers Made By Walking Announces

2015 Hikes with Breweries in Bend

Beers Made By Walking, the program that invites brewers go on nature hikes and make beer inspired by plants found on the trail, has partnered with the Oregon Natural Desert Association for a series of three hikes with brewers in the high desert of Central Oregon. Hikers will be accompanied by a local brewer. Hikes are free and open to the public, but space is limited.

Brewers attending hikes are challenged to create a unique beer that serves as a drinkable, landscape portrait of the trails that are walked. The resulting beers will be served at a special event in the late summer, in Bend, and proceeds from the beer will benefit the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

The first hike is on May 20 with Crux Fermentation Project and registration is now open. Registration for the next two hikes begins one month from the hike date. The remaining hikes are on June 12 with Worthy Brewing and July 24 with Deschutes Brewery. Hikes take place in past and present ONDA wilderness proposal areas. [Note this means registration IS open for the Worthy hike in June.]

Hike Dates and Info

May 20, 9am-2pm – Scout Camp – Register Here

Breweries: Crux Fermentation Project

Description: Take a hike with Oregon Natural Desert Association and Crux Fermentation Project on the Scout Camp Trail. The trail is a 3 mile loop that is very steep in some places, and includes a short scramble over a rock shelf. Trekking poles are recommended if you have them! Also bring sturdy shoes, lunch, and plenty of water.

June 12, 9am-2pm – Badlands – Register Here

Breweries: Worthy Brewing

Description: Explore the Badlands with Oregon Natural Desert Association and Worthy Brewing. Wind through inflated lava and old-growth juniper forests. Take in views of impressive rock formations, and opportunities to scramble to view points of the Cascade mountains. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, pack a lunch and plenty of water.

July 24, 8am – 5pm – Black Canyon – Register Here

Breweries: Deschutes Brewery

Description: Hike Sutton Mountain’s Black Canyon with Oregon Natural Desert Association and Deschutes Brewery. Part of the John Day River Basin, this out and back hike will have some rocky terrain and slight elevation gain. Prepare for warm weather, pack a lunch and extra food, snacks, plenty of water, and sun-protection.

About Oregon Natural Desert Association:

Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) exists to protect, defend and restore Oregon’s high desert. Our vision is to see millions of acres of beautiful and ecologically vital public land permanently protected, home to diverse populations of wildlife, and available for people to enjoy forever. Working in partnership with more than 4,000 members and supporters, ONDA is the only group dedicated exclusively to the conservation of Oregon’s high desert rivers and landscapes.

About Beers Made By Walking:

Beers Made By Walking is a program that invites people to step outside and see the place they live in a new light. We invite brewers to take nature walks and make beer inspired by the plants identified on the trail. Since 2011, we have worked with over 90 breweries in Oregon, Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington. Our hiking and tasting events act as educational and fundraising programs for environmental organizations in the regions we serve.

BMBW website /// BMBW Facebook /// BMBW Twitter

I hope to see some of you on these hikes! I know I’ll see the Moody’s on one of them.