Three Creeks March Maltness 2013

Saturday afternoon Sara and I headed out to Sisters for the Three Creeks Brewing March Maltness 2013 event. This was a takeoff on March Madness, of course, with six beers from six different Oregon breweries in the competition.

Poster for Three Creeks March Maltness 2013

Poster for Three Creeks March Maltness 2013

The beers were presented in full taster glasses and brought out at the same time. Three Creeks provided small handouts with the names of the beers and their breweries, room for our tasting notes and a place to record our top four choices, in order of preference [Sorry. Failed to get a picture of it]. The winner will be announced once the first keg blows (Mon. afternoon it seems; see below), which means they are also selling sampler flights of the six beers to others that came after the actual event.

As we sampled the beers they brought around trays of tasty appetizers. There were Thai peanut chicken spring rolls, pear pesto gorgonzola pizza, Caprese bruschetta, and smoked salmon turnovers. All were quite tasty. The food was the main benefit of coming for the actual event. [The wife says thatI am to stress that the food was quite tasty.]

Placemat with descriptions of the six beers in the competition

Placemat with descriptions of the six beers in the competition

The beers were, in suggested order of tasting:

  • Lompoc (Portland) Brewdolph Belgian Red
  • Coalition (Portland) Off the Wagon Dunkel Rye
  • Three Creeks (Sisters) McKay’s Scottish Ale
  • Crux (Bend) Double Cross Strong Dark Belgian Ale
  • 10 Barrel (Bend) Doppelbock
  • Oakshire (Eugene) Black Moon Rye-Sin American Rye Stout

Most of them were rather tasty. I thought the Oakshire was reasonably good but it had a definite smoky taste not mentioned in the description. Smoked beers are such an acquired taste—I do like a few but must be in the mood—that I feel that it should always be noted in any description.

I believe there was a big problem with the Crux and had hoped to talk with Three Creeks head brewer Zach about it but he never made it over to our table. Keep in mind, as a Belgian-style strong dark ale it was my first pick based on style alone, even before tasting any of them. But sadly, it had an immense aroma and taste of “cleaning fluid” or turpentine or something like that. Now it was 12% ABV but we drink a lot of high ABV beers and this was not simply alcohol badly masked. And even if it was then it was still a problem. I don’t know if it was the beer itself, or simply the keg Three Creeks had, or a bad tap line for just that beer as the others did not have a hint of the problem, or what. It is shame because despite not being able to get past the—to me—highly offensive odor and taste I could tell that there was a darn fine beer behind it. The wife liked it just fine, which still baffles me. But the other two folks at our table didn’t like it at all from the first sip. I kept trying and as it warmed the offensive odor and taste lessened until when it was fully at room temp it was mostly gone. But by then my entire palate was awash in the odor and taste already. Whatever the issue was, it kept this beer out of the running.

[I just got back from a visit to Crux Fermentation Project to pick up some of their freshly released beers in bottles. I had a taste of the DoubleCross and it was perfectly fine. In fact, I grabbed two bottles of it, along with one of their porter. I chatted with the Crux bartender and he thinks perhaps it was my glass the other night. I realized that I never did smell or taste Sara’s or anyone else’s glass of DoubleCross. ::sigh:: I wish I had asked about it from one of the staff or else sampled Sara’s. Oh well. Another lesson, hopefully, learned.]

Here are the final results as posted on Three Creeks Facebook page on Monday afternoon:

Hey “March Maltness” enthusiasts. You voted and the results are in. It was neck and neck! Here’s your “Final Four” :

  1.  “Brewdolph” (Lompoc)
  2.  “Mckay’s Scottish Ale” (Three Creeks)
  3.  “Doppelbock” (10 Barrel)
  4.  “Off the Wagon” (Coalition)

Thank you to all who participated in our very first “March Maltness” and for making the event so fun and successful!

 Interestingly, I nailed it. [Of course, if my Crux had tasted like it is supposed to then my order would have been different.]

All in all, another excellent event from Three Creeks. My hat is again off to them. Thank you, Heidi, Mark, Zach and all involved Three Creeks staff, and all the other breweries who supplied beers for this event!

They are also having something similar in April they are calling IPApril. It isn’t an event per se but over 26-27 April (I believe) they will be having several different IPAs on tap from assorted PNW brewers with a similar kind of ranking system. Keep an eye out on their facebook page for details.