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.

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.

27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival: Recap recap

Recap of my first Oregon Brewers Festival

Overall, Oregon Brewers Festival was great. I found it well run and everyone was upbeat. This was my 1st year attending and I was able to attend in the first couple of hours each day Wed.-Fri. So it was mostly relatively quiet for me.

Gripes for OBF

I have only two gripes overall. One of them, smoking, I addressed in my previous post. Probably not much can be done about it for a good while.

Drinking water is my second. There was plenty of rinse water at the fest, although all except the rinse station at the Specialty Tent had crappy water pressure/flow. Bottled water was available from assorted vendors and I bought mine from Rogue each day for $2/each. But honestly, $2 for a bottle of water is too much of a markup when every possible means to get people to also consume water should be the goal. Moreso if it is sunny and hot out. There is probably some agreement between the fest and vendors but perhaps the fest ought vend the water at $0.50 or even a dollar. That should make them a decent profit. I am truly grateful for the $2 bottles of water being available; I bought one every day I attended. I am particularly glad they weren’t priced like at the movie theater! But it is still a ridiculous markup when water consumption should be heavily encouraged.

Some may dismiss these gripes as small. I admit in ways they are. I doubt anything will or can be done easily in either case. It’s all good. I’m trying to spend a good bit of space and a lot of time to talk about my experience so I get a couple small gripes.

Props to OBF

At each of the trash / recycling areas the fest had volunteer Trash Talkers. I sadly got no good pictures; their shirts proudly proclaimed them to be from that rare breed the “Trash Talker:” people who help you by taking your assorted refuse and/or help you get it in the right bins. Some were willing to help educate and some just got the job done. I appreciated it and want to say “Kudos” to the Oregon Brewers Festival folks. Well-implemented.

More props to the Oregon Brewers Festival crew: 10 out of my 33 beers were rated highly by me. That is a 30% “success rate” (for my palate) for beers they brought to the fest. And it gets even better. Darn good job! [More info below.]

Stats, various, from my OBF 27 visit to Portland

  • Total # tried: 33 at fest (1 was a repeat from an earlier occasion); 5+ not at fest [fest: 14 day 1; 10 day 2; 9 day 3]
  • Int’l beers (at fest): 8 Netherlands; 1 Germany. (Out and about 3): 1 “Ireland”; 1 Germany; 1 Austrian Trappist
  • Special beers: 4; 1 of which was Canadian
  • Beers rated 4.5-5: 10. 30% “success rate.”

Top Beers

Top Beers (4.5+) = 10
It turns out there were ten beers which I gave a 4.5+ in Untappd so I will declare them my “top beers” (or “favorites,” if you insist) of OBF 27. There were two 5s and 8 4.5s. Of these 10, only one was a special beer and two were international. That means 70% of my top rated beers at OBF 27 were a single token each. That’s pretty good.

  • Dogfish Head Oak Aged Strong Ale (posing as “Shelter Pale Ale”) 5 “Amazing! My kind of old ale.”
  • Mazama El Duque do Porto 5 “Their Grand Cru from port barrels.” $
  • Sprecher Abbey Triple 4.5 “A tad sweet but otherwise amazing! Exceeded expectations and hopes. Aroma = heavenly.”
  • Deschutes Ester the Farmhouse Maiden 4.5 “Excellent.”
  • Bear Republic Grand Am APA 4.5 “Tasty.”
  • ‘T IJ Ijwit (Netherlands) missed checking in ? 4.5 “Damned tasty. Could use a tad more CO2. Very lightly spiced.” $
  • Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Mosaic Pale Ale 4.5 “A: pine and a lt fruitiness. C: sl hazy orange. Oh yeah.”
  • Logsdon Straffe Drieling (tripel) 4.5 “A: lovely. Lt pear & some acidity. C: med hazy med yellow. I like this.”
  • Full Sail 26th Anniversary Cascade Pilsner 4.5 “I was skeptical of a NW Pilsner but damn fine job, Full Sail! Happy anniversary!”
  • Cigar City Hunaphu Imperial Stout 4.5 “A: cherry over roast malt. Vanilla w/hint of bourbon. Sweet finish w/choc/cocoa & cherry. Not as good as hoped.” $

Sara asked me on the drive home if I enjoyed it enough to make it a regular trip—we’re still trying to find and program in the fests we like—and I had to say no. If it worked out like this time where we were in Portland anyway, and relatively cheaply, and I could attend the same time of day. Sure! Otherwise not so much. I did say I would like to do the brunch and parade some year, but again I’d want all the other stipulations too. So maybe won’t happen any time soon. I did truly enjoy myself and can only imagine what it was like for those who couldn’t get there until the weekend. For me, it worked well.

Thanks, to the Oregon Brewers Festival crew and all volunteers, breweries, distributors, vendors and so on. Also, a big thanks to Art Larrance for bringing the Dutch and German brewers and their beer to the fest. Massive thanks to Chris Crabb and Jon Abernathy for getting me hooked up to go.

I have decided there will be one more post on Oregon Brewers Festival. It will consists mainly of a baker’s dozen or so pictures.

[Full disclosure: Oregon Brewers Festival provided me with a festival glass and 12 tokens for free. Thus I got in for free and had a couple free beers. Take that for what you will.]

27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival: Recap day 3

Day 3: Fri, 25 July

I started this day feeling much better than the one before. Again, I had plenty of time to wander around. Having learned the evening before that I was only a dozen or less blocks from the heart of the Pearl district I headed down there. I tweeted to see what there was to do. [I full well know about Powell’s and was trying to avoid it.]

Got to Deschutes eventually. Not open.

A Twitter friend recommended Lovejoy Bakers so I found it and had 2nd breakfast there. It was indeed quite tasty and affordable.

Got the expected Powell’s response.


Being well fed I wandered around seeing assorted sights in the Pearl District with almost no one around. Kind of liberating. But also interesting things not yet open. Tried to avoid Powell’s while exploring a few streets / further than other times. Ended up there anyway. 

I headed straight to the beer / brewing section and had four books in my hand at one point but slowly narrowed it down to one, while chatting with a couple of guys. After getting in line I took the book I had chosen and put it back (is brand-new and was pricey) and settled on another. I ended up getting Pete Brown’s Three Sheets to the Wind based on one of the guys recommendations; plus, he’s a beer writer I am aware of but unfamiliar with.

Three Sheets to the Wind Three Sheets to the WindPete Brown; Pan Books 2007WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

After Powell’s I went back to Deschutes a couple minutes before opening. A crowd was beginning to form; lots of folks needing to kill an hour before OBF opened. I followed a guy in to the bar on opening and he asked me to join him. Nice guy; I liked him. We chatted a good bit. Wanting a pub beer, I had a small glass of Altnomah Falls. It was tasty enough. I gave it 3.5 stars. Also glad I had my Ester the Farmhouse Maiden at OBF as, at least at opening on Friday at the pub, it was no longer on tap. After ours beers, my new friend and I walked together to the fest. I left him at the glass & tokens tent and went after my first OBF beer of the day.

1st OBF beer of day: Duits & Lauret Kiem Helles Bock.

Duits & Lauret Kiem Helles Bock. 1st OBF beer of day 3 for me.

Duits & Lauret Kiem Helles Bock. 1st OBF beer of day 3 for me.

Untappd data issues. I have been experiencing more and more things with bad/incomplete data. Much of it is “geographic”: Oregon breweries not in list of Oregon breweries; boats listed as such in FourSquare and Untappd not counting as such. There have been a few others lately too that I can’t think of currently.


Smoking on fest grounds?

I got an email that I got a response but I never saw (or could later find) the tweet in my timeline. Weird. Hmm. I think maybe it was pulled. I have the tweet text in the email but the gist is that “although we rent out the park it is still for the public.” I understand (legally). But I don’t want to.

Recreational usage.


Crowd navigation.

Humoring myself regarding Cigar City Hunaphu Imperial Stout.


Last tokens.

After the fest I met Sara to visit the Portland Art Museum which was free that evening. Turns out it was still $5 each to see the special Tuileries exhibit but we willingly paid that and saw some interesting things throughout the museum.

Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent, 1824.

Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent, 1824.

Plaque for Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent, 1824.

Plaque for Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent, 1824.

We headed downtown as Sara was after good beer choices. We tried to go to Bailey’s Taproom but it was stupid busy. We ended up around the corner and above them at their offshoot, The Upper Lip. I got a Maisel Weisse Original .3l and Sara got a very generous 4 oz pour each of Pelican Stormwatcher’s Winterfest and Stift Engelszell Benno Trappistenbier, which caused some serious confusion with identifying it. Turns out they had the right name but the wrong style listed. I wasn’t impressed with anything, although I think I definitely liked the Stormwatcher’s Winterfest more than I do Mother of All Storms. I was pretty burnt out on beer at that point.

Sitting at the Upper Lip this is what we saw out the window. I tweeted a snarky tweet regarding the “brewery fresh” light being off. Sara decided she was hungry and we should try going there. We got in right at the end of happy hour (6:59 pm) and after a taste or two we ordered the brown they had. We left 80% at the table when we were done eating. Guess I got repaid for being snarky. Or, I should have listened to myself. Food was pretty tasty, though.

Tugboat Anchor Tug (American brown)

Tugboat Anchor Tug (American brown)

While we were finishing up at Tugboat Sara was keeping an eye on Bailey’s Taproom. She finally saw an open table and ran across the street while I gathered up our stuff and came across more leisurely. She had a Mazama Nightside Eclipse. I had a few sips but I was basically done. I can now say I’ve been to Bailey’s Taproom but that was not my scene; at least not on a Friday evening, of OBF. I never even saw the tap list. Maybe I can drop by during a weekday next trip. [I see they open at noon. Thank you!]

Day 3 beers: Deschutes

  • Altnomah Falls 3.5

OBF

  • Duits & Lauret Kiem Helles Bock 3.5 $
  • Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Mosaic Pale Ale 4.5 “A: pine and a lt fruitiness. C: sl hazy orange. Oh yeah.”
  • Logsdon Straffe Drieling (tripel) 4.5 “A: lovely. Lt pear & some acidity. C: med hazy med yellow. I like this.”
  • Fort George The Optimist [2nd checkin – bad can] 4 “Nice. I could go for a bit more flowery/fruitiness but nice.”
  • Maximus Imperial Saison (Netherlands) 3.5 “Ok. Was hoping for more.” $
  • Full Sail 26th Anniversary Cascade Pilsner 4.5 “I was skeptical of a NW Pilsner but damn fine job, Full Sail! Happy anniversary!”
  • Cigar City Hunaphu Imperial Stout 4.5 “A: cherry over roast malt. Vanilla w/hint of bourbon. Sweet finish w/choc/cocoa & cherry. Not as good as hoped.” $
  • Central City (Surrey, BC) Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter [not checked in] “A: bourbon; vanilla. C: Mostly opaque pomegrante-black. A tad thin.“$
  • De Molen Bommen & Granaten English Barleywine (Netherlands) 3.5 “A: Oh. My. C: dk amber. Sweet. Ok. Def malty but needs a tad more hops.”$

Upper Lip (Bailey’s Taproom)

  • Maisel Weisse Original 3
  • Stift Engelszell Benno Trappistenbier [Saison] 2.5

Tugboat

  • Anchor Tug (American brown) 2.5 [photo – left most]

Best beers of the day:

  • Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Mosaic Pale Ale
  • Logsdon Straffe Drieling (tripel)
  • Full Sail 26th Anniversary Cascade Pilsner
  • Cigar City Hunaphu Imperial Stout

Day 3 ended fairly well. The next day we’d head home.

My next and last post in this series will cover my top-rated beers and one more small(?) gripe about the fest. See smoking above but realistically nothing can probably be done about that any time soon. There truly were not very many people smoking while I was there but then I went during the “quiet” times.

Mazama Brewing visit

As I mentioned here a couple of days ago, we went to Corvallis the back half of last week. One of the highlights was our visit to Mazama Brewing on Wednesday evening. They are a brand-new brewery having only opened on 31 May and still pouring from their first batches.

Mazama Brewing tasting room

One view of the Mazama Brewing tasting room

We got there around 4 in the afternoon and there was only one other patron there. We were warmly greeted by the Taproom Manager, Gillian, who continued to take great care of us.

Mazama Brewing menu

Mazama Brewing menu

We started with a flight of their current 5 beers, almost all Belgian-inspired. They are from left to right in the photo below, Belgian Style Blond, Belgian Style Dubbel, Grand Cru, Saison d’Etre, and Hop Eruption IPA.

Taster tray at Mazama Brewing

Taster tray at Mazama Brewing

All of these beers were keepers! I gave the blond 4.5 stars out of 5, the dubbel 4, the Grand Cru 4.25, the saison 4 and the IPA 4.5. These values take into account my liking for them as individuals but also as to whether they are in style, which explains the dubbel and saison having lower scores. We ended up getting a glass of the dubbel after our tasters. We were leaning towards the Grand Cru but knew we were going to dinner with some friends later at another very beery place so decided to steer clear of its 10% ABV and got the dubbel which we truly enjoyed. One of friends had two of Mazama’s Grand Cru at dinner and greatly enjoyed them.

Mazama Brewing Belgian Style Dubbel

Mazama Brewing Belgian Style Dubbel and a different of the taproom

I had just submitted my first column for a local/regional beer publication the day before and I needed a decent headshot for the byline so I had Sara take a few photos while there. This is not the one I used but it does show me enjoying the nice aromas of the dubbel. [What’s that? I haven’t mentioned this yet? No. I haven’t. Time constraints would be first and foremost the reason. Also, I’ll kind of believe it myself when I see it in print next month.

Sticking my nose in the dubbel

Sticking my nose in the dubbel

Mazama Brewing was very welcoming and I truly enjoyed every one of their beers. They are also working on a porter. Considering that these were first batch beers, consistency is going to be crucial to their success. They are also a bit out of town proper on Hwy 34 but they are next door to 2 Towns Ciderhouse and Nectar Creek Honeywine meadery, so perhaps that will help bring traffic.

They are also currently on tap in over 20 locations in Corvallis and Albany and reaching other locations in Eugene and such with tap takeovers. Canning is also in their future. I have talked them up to my favorite local watering hole, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café, so perhaps we’ll see some of their beers over here in Bend soon.

If you get to Corvallis please do visit them. In my humble opinion, they are one of the better breweries in that area; by far. Of course, liking Belgian-style beers will help. Also. Can they nail the consistency?

I truly wish them the very best!

Mazama Brewing coasters, both sides

Mazama Brewing coasters, both sides

My “8 Ways To Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month”

A few days ago The New School tweeted a link to an article at Gadling.com (travel blog), “8 Ways to Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month,” by Anna Brones on 6 July 2013. Since I was on my way to Corvallis for a few days I found its timing serendipitous, especially suggestion #2. Thus, I thought I would use it to build a post around.

I had never heard of the Gadling travel blog before or of the article’s author, Anna Brones. Poking the site and especially her byline link, I must say I am slightly confused. It states that,”Anna Brones is a food and travel writer based in Paris, France. In her spare time, she heads up Foodie Underground.” Most of her articles are about Europe, although I did see one about train travel in the Pacific Northwest so perhaps she gets out here once in a while. Not a complaint at all. Just seems a bit random to me but then, hey, I’ll take folks talking up Oregon Craft Beer Month on a wider basis.

On to the article and what I am already doing that fits her suggestions:

1. Go to a festival

While not making it to the big one this year (Oregon Brewer’s Festival), we did attend the Whole Foods Summer Brewfest on Saturday, 6 July, which benefitted the Humane Society of Central Oregon. We tasted all of the following beers and one mead from Nectar of the Gods:

  • Deschutes Belgian Baroness
  • Stone Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard
  • Fort George 3-Way
  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere
  • Crux Castor Weizen
  • Hop Valley Vanilla Infused Porter
  • Full Sail Bohemian Pilsner

It was small but included these breweries and around four to six more. It was a tough choice for which beers to try and several we would have liked to sample we had to pass on since we were going to a movie afterwards.

2. Plan a road trip that involves at least five breweries

While I hadn’t actually “planned” out a road trip, per se, it is always my intention to visit the breweries when I go to Corvallis. And this trip was going to include one brand-new brewery, Mazama Brewing, and one new to me, the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery, where I had scheduled a visit for a tour and tasting. The following is a list of the breweries I visited in the order I got to them this time:

  • Mazama (brand-new; soft opened 31 May)
  • Block 15
  • Flat Tail
  • OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery (new to me)
  • McMenamins Corvallis Pub (new to me)
  • Oregon Trail

I intend to write a post each about my visit to Mazama and the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery.

3. Buy beer and other assorted goods

The Fourth of July is mentioned so I will mention the 4th of July Coming Out Stouts party we had with 7 of our friends. Its name, which had a couple different variants, was in celebration of the Supreme Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 rulings and of my recovery from my recent surgery. We sampled 12 stouts and one porter while enjoying food, conversation and companionship on our back porch. Most of the stouts were already present although I did pick up another Cavatica Stout from Fort George (it comes in 16 oz cans and not 22 oz bombers like the others) and a Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout to pair with the other oatmeal stout I already had.

On 2 July I picked up bottles #7-12 of Black Butte Porter XXV from Broken Top Bottle Shop to round out my case. While I couple of days later I bought a Deschutes Teku goblet at the brewery to compliment the BBPs and other big dark beers from Deschutes.

No doubt other beers have and will be bought over the remainder of the month. As for other beer gear, yesterday I ordered a new Danby 11 cu ft DAR1102WE fridge to replace my much smaller Danby DAR440W as The Cellar. It won’t be delivered for two more weeks but I got an amazing price from Standard TV & Appliance who has it for 15% off through this Monday. Even without the sale it would have been much cheaper then Amazon or Home Depot.

4. Plan a weekend of “research”

The suggested “research” is browsing this Portland monthly article, “50 Best Oregon Beers,” to see which you can get if you live elsewhere. Since I do live in Oregon, I thought I’d see how many I have had so far. It looks like I have had 18 of the 50 so far, although I am fairly certain I have tasted 2-3 more of them.

As for research, especially if you put scare quotes around it, well, that’s what I do. Each week I have scheduled a minimum of one hour/day for four days of beer studying and research. I read beer books and magazines and websites and blog posts and so on. I try to review some of them and hope/intend to review more.

While in Corvallis I got 3 books from OSU Valley Library and bought 2 books and a magazine at The Book Bin. I am currently reading Bamforth, Charles W, ed. 2006. Brewing: New Technologies. Woodhead Publishing in Food Science, Technology, and Nutrition. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Pub. and I am re-reading Bamforth, Charles W. 2009. Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing. 3rd ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. I intend to write reviews of both.

Numbers 5 and 6 are run and drink, and bike and drink but due to my surgery I can neither run nor bike currently.

7. Try a new style of beer

This one is in theory harder to pull off than any of the others but succeed I did. At Block 15 in Corvallis I was able to try their IMP, a Belgian enkel or single. While touring the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery I was able to taste their Standard American industry lager and a Nordic Farmhouse Rye. That’s three new styles.

One could argue that I have drank plenty of standard American industry lager, which would be true, but I haven’t in a decade or two and I certainly  haven’t since I started seriously drinking craft beer. I still think I need to give the ubiquitous PBR a try soon but I can in reasonably good faith consider myself to have tried Bud/Miller/etc. and even a variant made with 016 hops instead of Willamettes.

8. Learn to homebrew

I tried this myself once back in the mid 80s while in Belgium with a British homebrew kit. It did not turn out well. I did help a friend on brew day with a Russian River Blind Pig clone back in June but I doubt I will get a chance to do so again this month. The books and magazine that I bought at The Book Bin are all on homebrewing, though, and one of the books from Valley Library is, so in essence the attempt is there.

No doubt I have missed something or the other but there’s my list of things done to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month as bounced off of some list of ideas.

The most important thing, though, is missing from the list. That is simply to experience and (responsibly) enjoy some tasty Oregon craft beer this month. Along with every other month of the year!

What are you doing to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month?