McMenamins Old St. Francis School 3rd Annual High Gravity Extravaganza

On Saturday, January 16, 2016 we attended the McMenamins Old St. Francis School 3rd Annual High Gravity Extravaganza with 22 breweries & 4 cideries present. [updated beers drank 29 January 2016]

“Go Big or Go Home” is the motto.

For McMenamins passport fans there is an event stamp.

We got there pretty much at opening at 1 pm and like last year the weather was (or threatened to be) a bit wet so they had moved large portions into the theater. There were still couches and other seating available when we arrived so we joined some of our friends.

Photo of some of my notes, the program and two fest glasses from the McMenamins 3rd High Gravity Extravaganza

Disclosure:

Let’s just get this out of the way. I got put on the guest list so got a free entry package of tasting glass, 10 tokens, and a koozie. We did pay the $15 entry and got Sara her own glass and tokens though.

I like this festival as it brings together a lot of different McMenamins beers and brewers along with a fairly equal balance of beer from other local Bend breweries. The brewers from the 10 or so represented McMenamins breweries were there from 1-4 pm pouring their beers and I chatted with a couple including our local brewer, Mike “Curly” White. I didn’t get names but also a woman from Thompson (Salem) and a guy from Crystal (Portland) that I actually had conversations with and not just chit chat.

I didn’t bother to take any other pictures except of the names of the beers I was getting. Of course, I didn’t get pictures of the ones I tried via my wife and I didn’t get all of those written down. May well have missed one of the ones I got myself, photo-wise.

Definitely caught a good buzz. We stopped and got a pizza and drank a lot of water before heading home at a still reasonable time.

These are the beers that I tried in as close to the order that I had them (highly accurate):

  • McMenamins Old St. Francis School Midnight Scream Double Black IPA
  • McMenamins High Street (Eugene) 565 Strong Ale
  • Silver Moon Train Rye’d Barleywine
  • McMenamins on Munroe (Corvallis) Ballena Russian Imperial Stout
  • Deschutes The Descendant
  • McMenamins Anderson School (Bothell, WA) Into the Badlands IRA
  • McMenamins Thompson (Salem) Magnuson Strong
  • McMenamins Crystal (Portland) Another Day Malt Liquor *
  • Three Creeks Ten Pine Porter
  • Worthy Dark Muse 2015 Stout
  • McMenamins Edgefield (Troutdale) Edgefield Extra One Year Barleywine *
  • I am missing (at least) one that I had a taste of Sara’s and I believe that is Crux Snow Cave. [Bend Brewing’s Big Bad Russian is definitely missing from here. 29 January 2016]

My favorites were definitely the McMenamins Edgefield (Troutdale) Edgefield Extra One Year Barleywine and, very surprisingly, as 2nd oddest beer out, the McMenamins Crystal (Portland) Another Day Malt Liquor.

For the McMenamins Crystal (Portland) Another Day Malt Liquor I wrote:

“Haha. This shit is like crack. Sara had a sip, her face lit up, & had another before saying anything.”

That is surprising behavior for my wife with any lager-like beer except Samichlaus.

The alcohol wasn’t hidden from you, although it wasn’t exactly prevalent either, but you just wanted one sip after another and we aren’t talking small sips. This was a very dangerously “more-ish” beer and one of the best uses of corn ever in a beer. I was not expecting to like it under the context of the fest but it was exquisite. I got a chance to go back and tell the brewer all this after having it. That’s a feature of this fest, if you can go early.

For the Edgefield Extra One Year Barleywine I wrote:

“2014 barleywine in Hogshead Whiskey. Another (almost) crack beer.

? [unsure]

With palate cleanser cookie is awesomer in the opposite of Helldorado a deep dark chocolate barleywine. Crazy.”

Quite tasty. Not quite a crack beer because easier to tell its 10%+ ABV is present. But amazingly tasty. And far more “appropriate” for the time of the year.

I also enjoyed Deschutes The Descendant but that was the odd beer out for this fest. I don’t believe there were any other sours, and no other fruit beers either, I believe. Quite delicious.

Photo of the description of Deschutes The Descendant at the McMenamins 3rd High Gravity Extravaganza

My friend Jon Abernathy has a much better post and definitely more and better photos at his post, McMenamins High Gravity Extravaganza, thoughts and photos. If you check out Jon’s post you can see that we had pretty much the same thoughts on best beers of the day even though we did not have exactly the same ones.

My pre-post can be found here at McMenamins OSF Third Annual High Gravity Extravaganza 16 January.

If you are in Bend or the nearby area mid-January next year, and like high gravity beer, you ought consider this fest. I cannot comment on how it is in the evening as we insure that we are in and out before then, which is how we try to do fests. But we enjoy this one quite a bit.

Bend Beer (book) official launch party

I already mentioned the book, Bend Beer, on my blog a couple weeks ago, and I want to mention it again as the official launch party is this Friday night at the Des Chutes Historical Museum.

Bend Beer official launch party at Des Chutes Historical Museum Fri Nov 7

Bend Beer official launch party at Des Chutes Historical Museum Fri Nov 7

It starts at 6:30 pm. According to Jon Abernathy, the author:

It will be an open format event, where I’ll be signing books and answering questions and will have a short, informal talk around 7 to 7:30. The Museum is generously opening up their doors for us for the evening to allow folks to explore the exhibits and the history of the region.

Deschutes Brewery has graciously agreed to join us for the evening, which I’m very excited about because it’s a great combination of Bend’s history with Bend’s first brewery! They will be pouring a keg of their pub specialty Botanical Ale. And Chef Rudy of Smokin’ Dan Brew & Q will be there as well serving up delicious food to pair with the beer.

Here’s the Facebook event page for the evening.

Jon says there is also a signing party event this Thursday at 5pm at Silver Moon Brewing as well.

I can attest that the Deschutes beer they are graciously providing is quite tasty. This is Veronica Vega’s Beers Made By Walking beer.

I have also heard rumor of an informal pub crawl after Friday’s signing event but you’ll have to be “present to win” on that one.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Disclaimer: Both my wife and I provided some proofreading of the manuscript and are mentioned in the Acknowledgments. I might not be unbiased.

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.

1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest

Thursday night the resident Beer Angel and I went to the 1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest at the Platypus Pub in Bend. We went early as we knew it would get crowded and loud fast. The event started at 5 pm with representatives from the 15 breweries, in groups of 3, displaying their wares, talking about them and handing out samples beginning at 5:30 with a half hour for each group. There was also going to be raffles for beer stuff throughout the night but we got out before it became a swarm and missed them.

These were the participating breweries: Worthy Brewing, Pyramid, Bend Brewing, Mac & Jack’s, Georgetown, Bridgeport, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Green Flash, Cascade Lakes, Full Sail, Elysian, Stone, New Belgium, Deschutes.

We got there about 4:30 and ordered some food and four 4 oz. samplers. Thankfully, the 15 beers that were the stars of the evening were already on tap.

We had the New Belgium La Folie Sour Brown, the BridgePort Old Knucklehead Barley Wine, the Bend Raven Bourbon Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter, and the Worthy Lights Out Stout.

Our tasters at the 1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest. Back l-to-r: Unknown beer [see update], New Belgium; front l-to-r: BridgePort, Worthy

Our tasters at the 1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest. Back l-to-r: Unknown beer [see update], New Belgium; front l-to-r: BridgePort, Worthy

It turns out that I had had the New Belgium La Folie before. I gave it 3.75 stars (out of 5) and before I had given it 3. The first time I believe it was with some other sours and perhaps it didn’t fare as well. 6% ABV.

Bend’s Raven Baltic Porter is an odd one and there were no notes from the barrel-aging. The odd color was definitely off-putting. I gave it 3 stars. 9.5% ABV. [I almost have to wonder if we got the correct beer brought to us on this one. See below: We did not get the correct beer.]

The BridgePort Old Knucklehead had a nice aroma and tasted a little of caramel with hint of honey in the aftertaste. There were other flavors present but I couldn’t quite put my finger on them. This was more of an English-style barley wine than an American one as the hops were quite mellow. It was quite tasty and garnered 4 stars. This was the favorite of both of us. 9.1% ABV.

The Worthy Lights Out Stout had an almost smoky aroma and taste, and included tobacco notes. It was medium-bodied but a bit thin for a stout, in my book. I thought it was a good first effort (as a stout) from Worthy and hope they take it as a base to improve upon. I gave it 3 stars. 7.7% ABV.

Full Sail was the first brewery to take advantage of the brewer’s table and we sampled their LTD 04 Pale Bock/Lager. This is a single malt, single hop (Willamette) brew that was thin but tasty. 7% ABV. I do think they need to do a better job on their promotional materials because some claim it is a pale lager and some a pale bock. Now, clearly, as a bock it is a lager but the reverse isn’t necessarily so. Sara liked it also. 3.5 stars.

Right before we were leaving I noticed that another brewery’s rep had joined Full Sail at the table so I stopped by and got a taster of Georgetown’s Lucille IPA. I am not the biggest IPA fan but I enjoyed this. I didn’t see any IBU counts for any of the beers but this was not excessively hoppy but was still definitely an IPA. Fruity hop aroma. I gave it 4 stars.

Thanks Platypus Pub for your 1st Annual Brewfest and hosting these brewery reps and their beers.

After leaving the Platypus Pub we stopped by Silver Moon to try a snifter of their barrel-aged Purgatory’s Shadow, a wittily (and aptly) named Belgian strong dark ale. 9.4% ABV, 38 IBUs. Slightly sour aroma. Flavors of currants, figs, raisins and other dark fruits. Well-balanced–both hops and malt but also sour and sweet. Nice body. I gave this 4.5 stars and this was the best beer of the evening, by far, for both of us. I understand there’s a limited amount of this so drop by Silver Moon soon if you like big, strong, dark ales.

Snifter of Silver Moon's barrel-aged Purgatory's Shadow

Snifter of Silver Moon’s barrel-aged Purgatory’s Shadow

Again, thanks Platypus Pub and we’re looking forward to next year’s lineup.

Update:

Saturday we went back to Platypus Pub to get a taster of the Bend Raven Bourbon Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter to see whether we had actually gotten the beer we had ordered on Thursday night. It turns out we most certainly did not. This was most definitely a 9.5% ABV barrel-aged Baltic Porter. Inky black, as a raven should be. Redolent of bourbon, tobacco and figs. Tasting of bourbon and dark malts. It had a very port-like aroma and taste throughout. This was an exquisite beer and garnered 5 stars from both of us.

Two 4 oz. glasses of beer: Bend Raven Baltic Porter on left; Elysian Mortis Sour Persimmon on right.

Bend Raven Baltic Porter on left; Elysian Mortis Sour Persimmon on right.