Central Oregon Beer Week Recap

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The 2nd annual Central Oregon Beer Week (COBW)—our first—was, in my humble opinion, a booming success. It was definitely a busy week and involved one or more beers most days but since that is often the case it kind of goes without saying.

I don’t even remember everything we did or every beer I tasted. My daily journal is missing a few details, as usual, and not every beer got recorded in either my paper beer notebook or in Untappd. So be it. Nonetheless, I will attempt something of a recap.

Monday, 20 May, began for us with my event, Beer & Books at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café at 4 pm. We got there a little early and had some food and got set up. The time slot wasn’t the greatest so in the end there were seven people in the audience but I feel—and have heard—that it went well. Here’s the link for the bibliography for my talk.

Me giving my Beer & Books Talk at Broken Top for Central Oregon Beer Week

Me giving my Beer & Books Talk at Broken Top for Central Oregon Beer Week

I wouldn’t mind reprising it again on other occasions and also moving into other topics and informational resources related to beer resources. I definitely want to do it or something like it again next year. Maybe another venue and time a bit later in the evening would work better. We absolutely love Broken Top and they treat/treated us great but they have their Brews & Bands theme and activities already which takes up all of the prime hours of 5 – 9 pm. If I find other occasions to reprise the talk, though, I would definitely want to do it at Broken Top.

During my talk I had a pint of Vertigo’s Schwindel Alt which was quite tasty and refreshing. Afterwards I was talking with one of the audience and mentioned how much I loved hefeweizen so Dean of Below Grade, who was setting up for the free tasting, brought me some of his Volksvitzen South German Weissbock. I have had it before and it is quite tasty. Solstice Brewing from Prineville was also there and I tasted a couple of theirs including the Prinetucky Pale Ale.

After a short while we caught the Get-It Shuttle over to Worthy Brewing for the Beer Week Kick-Off Celebration. There we had 5 different SMaSH beers (single malt and single hop) from Worthy, Bend Brewing, McMenamins, Phat Matt’s and Deschutes. I thought BBCs, McMenamins and Deschutes were the best, and all quite tasty, with Deschutes getting my vote for overall best as it had the most complex taste. It had more going on, if you will.

As we left we picked up our commemorative COBW glasses—which are quite nice, and large—and caught the Get-It Shuttle back to Broken Top before heading up the hill to home.

On Tuesday we had dinner at Broken Top and I had a glass of Deschutes The Stoic from 2011. Freaking exquisite beer! Sara had a glass of Caldera’s Toasted Chocolate Coconut Porter which was also pretty tasty. Caldera and Deschutes were pouring for the Brews part of Brews & Bands so we sampled a few other things. Abe, from Deschutes, opened some bottles of Conflux No. 1: The Collage which is aging nicely. I have a bottle in The Cellar and plan on leaving it at least another six months or perhaps a year which I believe will continue to improve it.

Wednesday, we had been planning on going to Deschutes Beer-lesque at The Summit Saloon but we decided we weren’t in the mood for a crowd so we opted for the Brewers Reserve Night at Silver Moon and it was a great choice. We tasted five different and very special beers, several of which were barrel-aged. Actually, we sampled a couple more because our friend, Miles, was with us and we didn’t get the same five from the list of seven that he did.

Brewers Reserve Night Beer List at Silver Moon

Brewers Reserve Night Beer List at Silver Moon

Sara and I started with the Alpha Project #5: Uncle Jim’s Maui Wowie Double IPA which we both really loved. You won’t hear me often saying either of us love a DIPA but we both did and I gave it 5 stars.

Next, we had the Oak-aged Conquistador spiced Mexican brown ale, which is their Apocalypto “End of Days strong ale” aged in rum barrels for six months. Then we had the La Vengeance du Sorcier Belgian strong dark ale. Except it wasn’t. They had accidentally brought out a pitcher of their La Travail du Sorcier Belgian strong golden which we had had a week or so prior. It got straightened out and we got a glass of the Vengeance. Next up was the barrel-aged Demolition Man, a Northwest strong ale, which was very barley wine-like and aged in bourbon barrels for eleven months. Lastly, we had the Purgatory’s Oak Shadow, which is their Purgatory’s Shadow Belgian strong aged 6 months in Volcano Vineyards French white oak Shiraz barrels. It was darn tasty.

Thursday began with an early post-lunch stop at GoodLife to try their daily Bourbon & Barrel-Aged Tap of the day, the JAM!, which is a light pale aged with Oregon marionberries in a Syrah oak barrel.

In the afternoon we helped one of the organizers hang the COBW banner at Crow’s Feet Commons for the Ale Apothecary Sahati Bottle Release event that was taking place that evening.

That evening I had the first session of my Beer Sensory Analysis class through COCC with Amanda from Deschutes. Afterwards I met Sara and some friends at Broken Top and had another wonderful glass of The Stoic 2011. Thank you so much Broken Top for storing that keg since early 2011!

Friday, after work, we started at Crows Feet Commons for the Weekend Kick-Off Fire Pit Party but when I mentioned a CDA throw down at Platypus Pub to our friend it was decided we were in the wrong place. So off we went to the Platypus Pub for the Friday Fight Night between Boneyard and 10 Barrel. For $4 we each got a 4 oz taster of both of their CDAs and a ticket to vote on which was the best. After tasting these and voting I got myself a pint of Rat Hole’s–Bend’s newest brewery–Hazelnut Brown Ale.

Crux Bottle Release Party

Crux Bottle Release Party

Saturday morning we headed to Crux Fermentation Project early for their Bottle Release Party where we picked up three bottles of Tough Love Banished Imperial Stout 2013 and two of the Impasse Saison. I had hoped to have burritos for breakfast there and then get a small snifter of the Tough Love but after getting our bottles the burrito line was pretty long. Due to picking up Sara’s bike from REI and having the Cake concert in the evening we chose not to do any more beer events on Saturday.

Tough Love Banished Stout 2013 and Impasse Saison (4th bottle for Miles)

Tough Love Banished Stout 2013 and Impasse Saison (4th bottle for Miles)

Sunday we went out to Sunriver for the First Annual Sunriver Resort Brewfest which was the capstone event for COBW. We stopped at The Mountain Jug beforehand and grabbed a few things to bring home. At the brewfest we were able to taste a few things from Sunriver Brewing (our 1st from them), Full Sail, and GoodLife. Sadly, all of the breweries ran out of beer fairly quickly. Otherwise, it was a pretty good event but they’ll need more beer next year, or need to charge a small fee to hopefully rein in the suds suckers, and they could use another food tent in a different location on the grounds. On the way home we all—Miles was with us—stopped at Broken Top and continued our great conversations and had some more tasty beer.

1st Annual Sunriver Resort Brewfest

1st Annual Sunriver Resort Brewfest

Monday, the 8th and final day of COBW, found us at the Deschutes Pub in the evening for their Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter Tasting Party. Let me just say that Deschutes does it up right! They had tasters available of their Smoked Bruin, Pub Smoked Porter and the Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter. They also had plenty of tasty food. And all of it was FREE! We liked the Smoked Bruin, which bordered on being a dessert beer, and the Class of ’88 the best. We will certainly be picking up a couple of bottles of the Class of ’88 to cellar.

Thanks Deschutes for another classy party! We heard lots of great comments regarding your spread and hospitality from folks who were visiting you for the first time. Bravely done!

Deschutes Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter

Deschutes Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter

We also stopped by the new Brew Wërks location twice for lunch and beers during COBW. It is hopefully going to be a better space for them. I kind of liked the previous space but it was NOT a good location for them at all. Mike made a very tasty mashup of his Audacious Amber by using a saison yeast that he called Amber Saison. It may sound weird but it was quite good.

In summary, I would say Central Oregon Beer Week was a great time for us. I participated as an official sponsor and held an event, which I would like to continue next year. I must say the organizers of COBW took great care of me—as a sponsor and as an attendee at numerous events—and I hope to be on that side of the fence going forward. Sara and I had a grand time attending many events, often facing hard choices of what to do versus what to skip, and we had quite a few very tasty beers and a goodly number of quite drinkable beers.

Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event

On 6 Nov. we attended the Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event with 6 of ours friends. We got there a little early and Sara was able to grab a table so all 8 of us could sit together. The room was pretty full so I assume they had sold all 25 seats.

We tasted 8 different barrel-aged beers; four were from Deschutes, one was a collaboration between Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, and three were from other breweries. Hors d’oeuvres were served about midway through the beer sampling.

We also got a presentation from Jacob Harper, the barrel master at Deschutes. The beers were arranged in the order he figured was lightest to heaviest, but was slightly complicated by the fact that four were sours so they were placed at the back half.

We began with the Calabaza Blanca from Jolly Pumpkin (Traverse City, Ann Arbor and Dexter, Michigan). It is a light wheat/white ale hybrid that was slightly sweet and slightly sour. I thought it was fairly tasty but would not want to drink it in quantity or frequently. ~5% ABV. I gave it 4 stars.

Next was Ale D’or Fort from Deschutes, which I had never heard of. Turns out it was brewed for a special Oregon beer festival (missed the name) last year where all the brewers took a particular Brettanomyces yeast strain from Unibroue and competed with what they produced from it. It was light, almost wine-like, a strong gold which had been aged in French Pinot barrels. No carbonation. It tasted a lot like Ashton’s Fresh Hop London Strong Gold without the fresh hops, which is to say, amazing. 9%+ ABV. 5 stars.

Third was Deschutes’ Black Butte XXIV, which we have had a fair bit of and of which neither of us would tire of ever having. I have three bottles in the Cellar. It is an Imperial porter with dates, figs, chicory and other bits for flavor. 20% was aged in bourbon barrels. We were told that next year they plan on aging 50% of the batch in bourbon barrels, which will up the ABV a few %. I think everyone present let out a loud and appreciative “Oooohhh” at that. 10.8% ABV. 5 stars+

Fourth, and the last non-sour, was Deschutes’ The Abyss (2011). I have been really wanting to try this as this year’s version is being released today. It is an Imperial stout that used licorice and molasses in the kettle. It was 28% barrel-aged (11% Pinot noir, 15% bourbon, 2% raw Oregon oak barrels). It is relatively the same each year. My first reaction was a thoughtful “Hmmm.” I didn’t want to be hasty but I was definitely underwhelmed. It has a chocolate taste late in the mouth. It is tasty but I have to say it is no Black Butte Porter XXIV. 11% ABV. I gave it 4 stars and am hopeful for this year’s batch. It won World’s Best Stout & Porter at the 2012 World Beer Awards, which in my humble opinion it does not deserve. A damn fine beer it is but Black Butte XXIV Porter is better and Midnight Suns’ Berserker Imperial Stout blows them both away.

With any luck we will be one of the lucky few at the release party today to get in on the vertical tasting of 2008-2012 batches of The Abyss. Perhaps I’ll revise my opinion then. [Turns out they have moved up the time when the limited flights will be available and it isn’t looking good. We both questioned this on Twitter—mostly as to what time they really were being served—and got an interesting reply back so we’ll see.]

Fifth, and the first sour, was Tart of Darkness from The Bruery (Orange County, California). It was a sour stout made with cherries and aged in oak barrels. It tasted much lighter than it looked. 5.6% ABV. 4 stars.

Next was The Dissident from Deschutes, which we have also had recently and of which I have 2 bottles in the Cellar. It is made every other year and uses a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces. Currently made in batches of 200 barrels they are aiming to begin producing it every year. 11.4% ABV. 5 stars. This won World’s Best Oud Bruin and Americas Best Oud Bruin at the 2012 World Beer Awards. World’s Best? I don’t know but it is certainly one of the finest sours produced outside of Belgium.

Next to last was Sang Noir from Cascade Brewing (Portland). Pretty darn sour. Light and thin but very sour. Cherries. Aged in French oak and bourbon barrels. 9.5% ABV. I gave it 4/3 stars. For me it was a 3 but I wondered if I were judging it too harshly since it had pushed past my acceptability for sourness.

Last was The Collage, also from Deschutes. We have also tasted this since being here and have a bottle in the Cellar. It comes from a collaboration with Hair of the Dog (Portland) and is a blend of Deschutes’ The Dissident (but unsoured) and The Stoic (a quad we are still waiting to try) and Hair of the Dog’s Fred  (10% ABV Golden Strong ale) and Adam (10% ABV; their 1st beer). It is 100% barrel-aged in 6 different types of barrels. Hair of the Dog uses a peat malt. It is tasty, no doubt, but it seems all the work is over much for the end result. 11.6% ABV. 4 stars.

I must say, though, that I am definitely looking forward to tasting Fred and Adam and other Hair of the Dog beers some day.

After the tasting we were still hungry so we moved downstairs for some dinner. Sara and I shared an Ashton’s Fresh Hop Strong London Gold which was excellent but perhaps not the best idea after all those other strong beers. And I had even been finishing a couple of Sara’s that she did not. I really felt it the next day!

It was, of course, election night and some of those at our table had been (::grumble:: understandably ::grumble::) refreshing their phones all evening as returns came in. During dinner we learned of a couple states’ equal marriage bills passing, Colorado’s passing of their marijuana bill, and of the reelection of Obama. Many people in the pub seemed genuinely happy at much of this but there were definitely groups of assorted sizes who were not. “Sorry if our reasonably joyous celebrations were disturbing you.” No, honestly, I’m not. Deschutes County is a lot more red than I ever might have imagined before moving here. I can see it now but I still find it hard to believe.

All in all, it was a tasty and enjoyable evening.

One of my favorite lines from Barrel Master Jacob Harper was one of the reasons why one might want to barrel-age a beer: “To add mystique to an already good beer.” I’ll raise my glass to a little mystique!

 

[This post, Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event, originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 15 November 2012.]