Snowed In (The Session #108)

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

From Jon Abernathy at The Brew Site who is hosting this month’s Session:

“The theme is “Snowed In,” and I want it to be open-ended. It’s the first week of February—we are solidly in the grip of the winter, which means hunkering down from the cold and, depending on where you live, waiting for warmer days to thaw out the ice and snow. But perhaps it’s one of those winters, where the snow starts falling… and falling… and falling some more, and the next thing you know, schools are closed, there’s four or more feet of snow on the ground—and you are effectively snowed in and not going anywhere.

So what’s next? That is what I want you to write about—as it pertains to beer, of course! …

My birthday is 2/3rd of the way solidly into winter, late in February. People can complain about winter weather all they like—as do I on occasion—but my birthday is during that hell of sleet, rain, ice, snow, freezing winds and everything else that comes with being in the Midwest or Central Oregon in the dead of winter. I used to despise it but now I embrace it. I want it all. And I want all the winter types in February! Now I’m not sadistic; I am perfectly pleased with a day or two of each of the bad kinds of winter weather or even a good gobsmacking by two or three all in one day. Then it can go away. It can, of course, be as nice as it wants; although, admittedly, I’d be a bit freaked out by temps over 60F/15C.

All of that to say, I am fully down with Jon’s topic. And while perhaps not as prepared as I would like “knowing the snow’s coming” we are not unprepared either. Both contingencies will be addressed, as will most of the ideas Jon proposed.

Cold weather beer styles

My cold weather beer styles are pretty much my normal beer styles, although a few specific beers creep in during the colder temps. Imperial stouts and barley wines, barrel-aged or not, are our go-to beers, all year-long. I am not a fan overall of the winter warmer category but a few like Deschutes’ Jubelale and Anchor’s Our Special Ale/Christmas Ale do get put into the winter line-up, at least a couple of each. It also means trying more of them to hopefully find others that can do spicing the way I prefer; not many do. There are also other winter seasonals, such as Deschutes’ Red Chair, that also need a few or more imbibed.

Dip into cellar? Something special?

Here is where we are already prepared. Our cellar is two smaller fridges—4.4 and 11 cubic feet—which are temperature controlled, for which we have a by shelf inventory (spreadsheet). We also—as we buy more beer than we can actually cellar—have several boxes full, all of which is also accurately inventoried. Then there’s the general drinking beer which we do not bother (anymore) to put into the spreadsheet. “General drinking beer” may still be an Impy stout or a barley wine but we simply had no intention of cellaring them when we acquired them; we simply meant to drink them “soon.” We were buying mostly cellar beer for a good while. Had to get that (somewhat) under control. We also used to put every beer into the spreadsheet. We were young. Or something.

So … “snowed in and not going anywhere”? We do have projected dates for most of the cellared beers but we adjust some of the longer, more hopeful, dates based on drinking as we go. Some have definitely moved up across time. We also realized we needed to drink a lot more of them sooner rather than later based on incoming amounts so we are “suffering” our way through that. 😉

I am going to assume this is around my birthday in a couple weeks; thus, as of now anyway, first up would be my last Firestone Walker Double DBA Proprietor’s Reserve Series No. 001 (2012). I drank the previous one February 28th last year and it was freaking ridiculous. It was simply one of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of tasting and we had a whole 22 oz. bottle to the two of us. I got four of these from our friends at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in late 2013 and they have been amazing all along but the improvement along the way has been off the charts! So I have chosen this as this year’s birthday beer. Could change my mind but not thinking I will.

Next up for consideration:

Some of the tasties we are already scheduled to drink soon: 2013 editions of Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel, Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout and Crux’s Tough Love. There are far more coffee stouts than the Péché, like a 2013 BCBS Coffee, a Stone 2013 IRS Espresso and a Founders’ Breakfast Stout. among a few others.

We might finally get on with our Fort George Cavatica Stout tasting. We have 16 oz cans of regular Cavatica Stout from 2014, along with the barrel-aged versions from the last few years: 2013 Rye, 2014 Rum (also 16 oz cans) and 2015 Bourbon (22 oz bottle). Should make for a fun excursion.

I spy a 2014 Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin slotted for sometime in 2016. Snowed in seems like as fine an occasion as any for it.

Perhaps one evening as we’re winding down, we could sip on a Westvleteren XII (2012) and contemplate our moments of good fortune. I still have three of these that I got in the “fix the roof” six-pack.

Like I said, there are others, listed in the spreadsheet or not, but these are some of the more intriguing and, in a few especial cases, better—fully world class—beers that would fit the extended snowbound occasion.

Stock up on go-to beer

Depending on the timing, I would want a case of Deschutes’ Jubelale. This year’s (2015) is my favorite so far. Every time I drank it I wanted another. Sometimes I chose not to but the “but I want another” was strong for me in this year’s Jubelale. The thing is … I only drink this fresh. Same as with Red Chair. And I do mean fresh. If I can’t verify this is only a month old or less I generally won’t touch it. My choice, I know. Saw a 12-pack at Haggen’s (supermarket) the other day (first week of January) for a reasonable price and I had a tough time rationalizing my way into following my own principles. I adore both of these beers but can only drink them for a few weeks each year as if it isn’t fresh it is not the same to me. I am not so much on this level of freshness with any other beers. Not at all. Don’t get me wrong I like fresh beer (and appropriately aged beers, no doubt) but this is some kind of hyperfreshness fetish. But, to me, when definitely fresh, these are both world class beers of the highest order but when not quite fresh anymore they rapidly start to approach “Meh. There’s better beer available in this town/bar/pub.” I don’t want to be there with either of these beers. So I self-limit in an odd way.

Picked up a case of Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy Imperial Stout end of January. This is currently the wife’s go-to beer whenever I am drinking one of the many things I have around that she isn’t into. I also quite like it and generally leave it to her but with a case I can have a few. We’d been buying it by the 4-packs but realized I should just ask “my guy” for a case. Making that request a couple weeks ago reminded me I have no Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in the house either. Went through several cases of that the last couple winters especially as that was my go-to beer. Might need to grab a 6-pack or two and see how it’s tasting. Could need to talk to my guy about that again too.

I have been drinking a boatload of Pelican’s Umbrella Single-Hop IPA with Ella hops from New Zealand as my go-to beer lately. I’ve been loving the heck out of that! Also a bit strange as there are only a few IPAs—of any kind or color—that get me excited. And never one I have bought by the 6-pack! I was so excited when Umbrella was put in 12 oz 6-ers and made year-round. Crazy but there it is. Seems I need a good hop bite with none of that “Is it the roast malts, or the bitterness from the hops/coffee/chocolate/ … WTF is that bitterness?” that we get frequently in many of the beers we love.

Even more lately, I have been drinking Fremont’s Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout in 12 oz cans. Fremont has just recently begun distributing in Bend but I have had several of theirs previously thanks to a local friend, Ryan, who is a big fan of them. In fact, he gave me one of these for my birthday last year. I gave it 5-stars (of 5) and wrote “Very creamy. Fruity. Nice. I like this a lot.” I left out the ridiculous roastiness, the massive mouthfeel during and long after, and the lingering complexity. This is big and chewy and at 8% seems even bigger.

Whoa! just checked Fremont’s website and they say this beer is only available January 1st to February 29th. Oh. Hell. No. Just shot my guy a message. Got a case on its way. This is stocking up on go-to beer, right?

Too late for more Jubelale for me this year but maybe if I truly knew the big one was coming I’d break my prohibition as it would still be a tasty beer, to say the least. I would want a case of at least one of the stouts but preferably the Ten Fidy as we need something Sara is happy to consume without investing lots of thought. Going with the Fremont for now but would not a couple 6-packs of the Barney Flats for something more sessionable and also of Umbrella. Need a little variety in your drinking beer, I do.

Homebrewer

I am a fledgling home brewer so do not yet even have all of the equipment and certainly not any ingredients for brewing up something on the spot—well, that’s a lie as I have a good 3/4 lb or so of Cascade pellet hops in the freezer that were given to me.

I have also not brewed in the snow yet but look forward to it. If I can find a way to make it possible.

I think a nice roasty, toasty porter or stout would be a good match for the weather and goes along with many of my other choices in this post.

“Desert island beer” but colder – snowed in for all of winter

Well … this depends. Is this something available and affordable to me? Is it something I choose for myself or for the wife and I both or something we choose together? Those questions will all influence the answer.

Considering that if it isn’t available to me (for whatever reason) or I cannot afford it (one of those reasons) then I’m not going to get it so we will just forget that blissful group of beers and move on.

I think, as of now, the easy answer is Barney Flats if only I’m choosing and Ten Fidy if I am for both of us, and possibly if we both choose one between us. I would go with the almost sessionable Barney Flats over the not-at-all-sessionable Ten Fidy myself as it would have a bit more range.

If I could somehow get fresh deliveries but only of the same beer I might for go this year’s Jubelale but that’s not really possible over Winter anyway since by then Red Chair has replaced it as a seasonal.

Beer book(s) paired with which beer

Well, there’s the easy answer of the appropriate style with each book in the Classic Beer Styles series from Brewers Publications, for instance Pale Ale with one’s favorite pale. I’m not sure what my favorite pale is although I know I like a few. Poking UnTappd I’m going to have to say either Deschutes Hop Trip, Block 15 Print Master’s Pale, Mazama Oregon SMASH, or Crux The Pale Ale.

I own Pale Ale (Foster), Porter (Foster), Stout (Lewis), and Barley Wine (Allen & Cantwell) (all of which I’ve read) and Vienna, Marzën, Oktoberfest (Fix & Fix) which I have not.

Probably couldn’t get very far at a time with Barley Wine unless sipping very slowly. I’ll leave it to you to choose appropriate beers for these and the following.

Might I suggest some possible combinations for your own consideration:

Boak and Bailey  Brew Britannia with the best approximation [if not in the UK] of English beer, preferably a sessionable one, that you can achieve in your location. Actual British beer would be preferable, with something from one of the upstarts even better. Perhaps you ought sit in your local and enjoy your beer there while you read it. That would be my choice. [Learned to read in bars in college & grad school, basically across my 40s. “Retired” from the Army and started college full-time to finish undergrad degree and eventually grad school.]

Patrick Dawson – Vintage Beer with anything cellared for over three years.

Sam Calagione – Extreme Brewing with some Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, or one of their other off-centered beers [same issue as Barley Wine above, though].

Terry Foster – Brewing Porters & Stouts with tasty porters or stouts or an assortment of the various sub-styles if your tastes are eclectic enough. Mine are. I can appreciate a well-made porter or stout of any origin.

There’s also the Brewing Elements series from Brewer Publications:

Stan Hieronymous – For the Love of Hops with a nicely hopped (whatever that is for you), hop-forward beer, with either your favorite hops or some of the newer German varieties or anything from New Zealand.

John Mallett – Malt with tasty malt-forward beers.

Chris White & Jamil Zainasheff – Yeast with tasty yeast-driven beers. [not yet read]

John Palmer & Colin Kaminski – Water with, well, not sure what a water-forward beer would be, but tasty beers where the style is heavily-dependent on the water profile seems a good start. [not yet read]

Then there are potentialities like working your way style-by-style through some of these:

Mirella Amato – Beerology [read, not yet reviewed]

Garrett Oliver – The Brewmaster’s Table

Jeff Alworth – The Beer Bible [read, not yet reviewed]

Randy Mosher – Tasting Beer

Brian Yaeger – Oregon Breweries (or your own state/region) with a selection of Oregon (or other “district” as appropriate)  beers

Jon Abernathy – Bend Beer [still need to do a proper review of this]

Pete Dunlop – Portland Beer (or your city)

Joshua Bernstein – The Complete Beer Course [not yet read]

Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium with as many of the great beers of Belgium you can (easily) get to hand. [not yet read]

Leaving the easy to come by—self-evident—beer-related pairings:

Anne Brontë – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with some “home-brewed ale.”

“‘Sine as ye brew, my maiden fair,
Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill.’*”

“From ‘Country Lassie’, a song by Robert Burns (1792). ‘Sine’: then; ‘maun’: must; ‘yill’: ale (Scots dialect). Cf. the proverb, ‘As they brew so let them drink’ (ODEP, 85).” 227/433

If you are still reading, thanks. Sorry for going on so long but I was inspired by Jon’s topic, even if it was mostly meaningful to me.

Central Oregon Beer Week Recap

COBW-Logo-Banner-Med

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.