Homebrewing Conversations (The Session #132)

The Session #132 on Homebrewing Conversations is hosted this month by Jon Abernathy at The Brew Site.

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

So in this spirit of homebrew education and evangelism, I want to open up this Friday’s Session topic to be on homebrewing—the good, the bad, your experiences, ideas, (mis)conceptions, or whatever else suits you, as long as it starts the conversation!

Here are some ideas and questions to get you started:

Do you homebrew, and if so, for how long? How did you get started?
Talk about the best beer you ever brewed at home—and your worst!
Are you a member of a local homebrew club (or even the AHA)? Tell us about your club.
Describe your home set up: do you brew all grain? Extract? Brew in a bag? Unusual mashing/sparging/etc. methods?
Have you ever judged a homebrew competition? Talk about that experience.
Are you a BJCP or other accredited beer judge? Talk about the process of becoming certified/official.
Never homebrewed/not a homebrewer? No problem! Consider these questions:
Do you know any homebrewers?
Have you ever tasted someone’s home brewed beer?
Would you ever be interested in learning how to brew? Why or why not?

I have about 12 pages of draft posts, one started as far back as December 2015, on the topic of homebrewing but I am going to forgo those for now and go with something else I have had in draft since September on judging at homebrew competitions and the massive ask that takes place for judges to consume large amounts of alcohol.

Judging

As of today, I have judged at 6 full-sized homebrew competitions, 2 smaller homebrew comps, 2 commercial craft beer comps, and 3 quarterly club comps for my local homebrew club, COHO.

I started judging before I was BJCP certified and before I started homebrewing. The latter bit puts me in the weird column compared to most judges who start out as homebrewers first.

I have also taken two formal beer sensory analysis classes, one informal, have done a 12-week BJCP Exam Prep class, and have participated in an analysis of the Siebel hop sensory kit, amongst many other smaller sensory learning experiences. I also became certified as an MBAA Beer Steward and as a Certified Beer Server by the Cicerone Certification Program.

There are scores of homebrew comps all over, all the time, and they almost always needs judges. Being certified as a BJCP judge seems to carry—at least for me and the ones who trained me—an ethical commitment. To use your knowledge to serve others, I guess. Perhaps that’s just me (as career military) and a couple of my fellow judge peers/trainers (as career law enforcement).

Competitions need a lot of judges. Logistically this is the case for several reasons. First and foremost though, ought be the realization that you are asking these people—people who are donating their time, energy and bodies—to ingest large amounts of alcohol. Often for more than one consecutive day. That is a big ask.

I have rarely been shy about ingesting large amounts of alcohol over a sustained period of time but I try to be a lot smarter about it than when I was, say, 25. Also, my almost-60-year-old body does not process alcohol as well as it used to do. Most of my judge friends are my age or getting there quickly. No idea how their bodies are doing but I can guess.

Here is an example from the most recent competition I judged:

Friday evening [2 5A, 3 5B, 2 5D] [1 13A, 1 13B, 2 13C]
Saturday [1 2A, 4 4A, 2 4B, 1 4C] [2 17B, 1 17C, 1 17D] [21B 5 Be black, red, black, 2 NEIPA] [30 6 assorted; Eng brown with chocolate, blonde w/basil & honey, Am wheat w/cucumber, Am wheat w/habanero, dark lager w/habanero, Eng BW w/pumpkin & spice] [BOS 33 beers]

To make it more understandable, I had 2 flights on Friday evening. The first was 7 pale Euro beers, the second was 4 brown British beers. Not too bad of an evening quantity-wise.

Saturday began with 8 pale malty Euro Lagers, then lunch after I think. Then 4 strong British ales, followed by 5 specialty IPAs, followed by 6 assorted spice, herb or vegetable beers.

Then it was time for the best of show judging at the end of Saturday. Thirty-three (33) beers to be tasted in rapid succession and whittled down to just the top 3. Thankfully, this doesn’t take near as many sips of each beer as does a full judging of that beer but it is still a lot more alcohol to ingest.

Short recap: Friday night I tasted/judged 11 beers. I felt a bit off Saturday morning but quickly recovered and got to business. We started a bit later than originally planned on Saturday, which we knew in advance, so those both helped. Then I tasted/judged 23 very different beers. And then I had 33 even more varied beers to try.

I was a wreck Sunday and my lips were radically chapped for a couple days after.

Another example:

January 2017, I judged at a commercial craft comp. I had 2 full flights of IPAs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. [~11-13 beers/flight]. This also means the mini-BOS round for IPA is not included in my count of flights as I also judged that. So three large flights of IPAs over the day.

I got up Sunday morning to begin my prep to return for a second full day of judging but was clearly not well. Besides barely being able to, much less wanting to, function–putting another drop of alcohol in my body was both physically and mentally a non-starter of the highest degree. I let the organizers (my friends, which made it worse) know that I was unable to judge as I had committed to do.

All of which is to say, I am going to radically begin considering when/where I judge anymore and will begin curtailing it. I will continue to judge at my local club’s quarterly competitions as they have yet to be an issue since the number of entries is quite manageable usually. I will also probably switch to only committing to one day of judging at both Spring Fling (COHO’s annual large comp) and Best of Craft Beer (commercial comp). I will also consider comps like the Worthy Garden Club fresh hop homebrew comp, and local pro-am comps like BBC, Silver Moon, and Three Creeks have done. For the near-term future, anyway, I think this is my plan. The larger question of how long I can do even that still looms.

Most recent update: I was planning on doing one day of judging and then one day of stewarding at the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards at the end of last month but I ended up doing neither this year, for reasons outlined above.

There are other issues with judging that also have an impact—questions of ethics, objectivity versus subjectivity, styles of judging, attitudes to the process, etc.—but none is an issue as large as the one that is the sheer amount of alcohol one is ingesting.

One of the driving issues is that these competitions are generally put on by a local homebrew club and the competition is usually their biggest money-making event of the year. This drives them to grow and, perhaps, allow more beers to be entered than can be adequately judged by the pool of available judges.

I am not claiming that any particular individual or any particular club is intentionally doing this, just that the money-making angle has the potential to negatively influence competition planning that includes proper care and concern for judges.

I used to enjoy the (potentially deep) philosophical issues, such as the completely inadequate but necessary codification of styles and other issues mentioned above, but the far more immediate dangers and potential health issues–short- or long-term–have taken a much greater share of my attention.

Judging homebrew (and commercial) competitions can be fun and are usually a definite and valuable learning experience. But there are issues.

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.

Know Beer at Deschutes Public Libraries during May

Know Beer at Deschutes Public Library

Know Beer in the Deschutes Public Library Events flyer for April/May 2013

Know Beer in the Deschutes Public Library Events flyer for April/May 2013

The Deschutes Public Library (DPL) brings its long-running Know series to the topic of beer in May. The Know series picks a topic each month and then has several events around said topic. As its name implies it is a good way to get to know more about a topic.

DPL libraries and its partners will be hosting 15 different events with 2 of them taking place two dates in different locations. Pick up one of their Events flyers for April/May 2013 as shown in the picture above or check their Events calendar. [Note: Make it far easier to navigate the calendar by unchecking everything except Adult Program in Event Types and Adult in Age Groups.]

There are 4 brewery tours, 2 brewery open houses, and 3 Talk & Tastings which will be held at the Redmond, downtown Bend and Sunriver libraries, among a few other events. Only 3 of the events require sign-ups.

Brewery tastings at the public library! How much cooler can DPL possibly get?

One of the events is a reprisal of one we attended before, Beer 101 at Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters. Head brewer Zach put on a good show. There are still spots for that event too. [Note re that post: The noise problem mentioned was not present for the March Maltness event we attended later at TCBC so I am presuming they learned. Good folks out there at TCBC!]

Sara and I hope to attend quite a few of these events, although we do have a couple of conflicts. For instance, I have to work during The Ale Apothecary tour, for which I am seriously bummed. [That is one of the one’s requiring sign-up as it is limited to 12 but I see there are still slots left. Amazing!]

Four of the events are even during Central Oregon Beer Week, although as a whole they are spread throughout all of May.

If you don’t generally frequent your local Deschutes Public Library then check out some of these events and reconsider your relationship to beer knowledge. Then come visit my Central Oregon Beer Week beer book talk at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café on Monday May 20th at 4 pm and I will give you even more reasons to use Deschutes Public Library to deepen your knowledge relationship to beer.

As always, no matter where you are, please support your public library. They may be more critical today than they ever have been before.

TCBC Beer 101

Saturday evening Sara and I attended Beer 101 at Three Creeks Brewery in Sisters. All in all, it was an enjoyable time. Zach, the head brewer, gave us a small talk and a handout on beer and brewing. It covered what beer is, the ingredients of beer and some details about those ingredients, the Reinheitsgebot and beyond, and beer styles.

Sign advertising TCBC Beer 101

TCBC Beer 101

We also received a taster tray of all 10 of their beers currently on tap and Zach provided an overview of what went into them, how they differed from each other when similar, and what he was trying to accomplish which each one.

TCBC Tap List on Saturday, 9 February 2013

TCBC Tap List on Saturday, 9 February 2013

We also got a tour of the brewhouse and a description of the brewing process from Zach (see pictures below).

Flight of 10 TCBC Beers

Flight of 10 TCBC Beers – In order as listed below, begins in back row left to right

The ten beers were: Knotty Blonde, Stonefly Rye, Ponderosa Pale, Firestorm Red, Hoodoo Voodoo IPA, Fivepine Chocolate Porter, Big Bad Sisters Coffee Stout, Hodag Cascadian Dark Ale, McKay’s Scottish Ale and Raptor Rye IPA.

Knotty Blonde is Three Creek’s version of the “lure ’em away from fizzy, yellow beer” or, as Zach put it, “an alternative to the big industrials.” It uses all Sterling hops, has a nice biscuit aroma and a thin body. Fairly tasty for its style. 4.0% ABV, 18 IBUs.

Stonefly Rye is a wheat beer but with 20% rye malt. It is an unfiltered, cloudy beer with a slight spice flavor. It might make a good transitional beer for those not yet ready for a full on weizen or wit. But, for me, as a fan of those types, while I appreciated the rye, I found it a bit lacking, primarily in its spiciness. 4.6% ABV, 28 IBUs.

Ponderosa Pale, if I heard correctly, uses Cascade, Crystal and Columbus hops. It has a citrus aroma and a grapefruit taste. 5.3% ABV, 50 IBUs.

Firestorm Red, which is hoppier than their regular amber, has a grapefruit and caramel taste. 5.8% ABV, 65 IBUs.

Hoodoo Voodoo IPA uses Centennial and Liberty hops for flavor and aroma and Columbus for bittering. Zach also said it was dry hopped but I did not catch which hops was used in that stage. Aroma and flavor of grapefruit, hops throughout. 6.2% ABV, 82 IBUs

Fivepine Chocolate Porter has 22 pounds of dark chocolate in each 10 barrel batch. Light cocoa aroma. Coffee taste initially, cocoa after warms. 6.2% ABV, 55 IBUs.

Big Bad Sisters Coffee Stout was previously described in this post and was just as tasty this time around. Sara even managed to swap one of her IPAs for another 101er’s coffee stout. 9.2% ABV, 60 IBUs.

Hodag Cascadian Dark has a malt bill like a typical IPA but then adds a couple of de-bittered dark malts. It uses Crystal, Columbus and Bravo hops and is also dry hopped. It has a grapefruit aroma and taste and I liked it a lot more once it had warmed up. 6.4% ABV, 75 IBUs.

McKay’s Scottish Ale uses a different, fruitier, yeast strain, whereas all of their other ales use the same American yeast strain. It uses Maris Otter malt for an earthy and nutty flavor and malted golden naked oats for a “sweet berry” flavor. It has an aroma of fresh baked bread and is fairly sweet. I found it quite tasty but also wishing it was a bit less sweet. I believe it was Sara’s favorite after the stout. 6.3% ABV, 25 IBUs.

Raptor Rye IPA. Sorry but I don’t have a lot of notes on this one. It was hard to hear at this point (see below), I was busy tasting earlier up the list, and I am not a big IPA fan (anymore). Dry hopped. Grapefruit aroma and taste. 6.2% ABV, 80 IBUs.

Barley mill

Barley Mill

Mash tun with the Kettle peaking out from behind on the right.

Mash tun with the Kettle peaking out from behind on the right.

Head brewer Zach and the mash tun with the kettle in the middle and fermenters in the background.

Head brewer Zach and the mash tun with the kettle in the middle and fermentation tanks in the background.

Heat exchanger used to cool the just boiled wort on its way to the fermenter.

Heat exchanger used to cool the just boiled wort on its way to the fermentation tank.

Fermentation tanks

Fermentation tanks

Fermentation tank close-up

Fermentation tank close-up

Bright tank from which beer is bottled or put into kegs.

Bright tank from which beer is bottled or put into kegs.

As I said above, it was an enjoyable afternoon and early evening. But. There was one problem and it was kind of a big one. Before the event started a large group of people had congregated around the pool table and were clearly having themselves a grand time playing pool and socializing. Lots of loud talking, occasional shouting, and high-fiving. Typical bar behavior. But this made it extremely difficult for many at the event to hear what Zach was saying. There was another brewery employee present who was able to take over the discussion at the table nearest the jolly revelers and Zach talked to the table we were at and another. Nonetheless, it was still difficult to hear much of what was said.

I am not sure that anyone is at fault here and as rude as I want to say that group’s behavior was I do not think they had any idea whatsoever that they were bothering anyone. This is certainly something Three Creeks will have to figure out for any future events, though. Either the events will need to move into the restaurant area somehow or, perhaps, the pool table will need to be put off limits during events such as this.

Sara and I had sat about as close as could be to where Zach was so we probably had the least issue with the noise but we still had some problems hearing. I have no doubt that some of the other folks in attendance were far less pleased with the situation. I am not sure what Three Creeks could have done at the time but it is something they will certainly have to consider for the future.

That said, it was a good event and a definite bargain for $10 each as the beer alone would normally cost much more than that.

Thanks again Three Creeks for another enjoyable event! We’ll be keeping our eyes open for an announcement when Zach pulls out the currently barrel-aging stout to blend with next year’s coffee stout. 😀

1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Yesterday afternoon we drove out to Sisters for Super Secret Date Night (more about that in a moment). Turns out Sara was taking us to the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing Co.

We drove out to Sisters a little early so we could browse at Paulina Springs Books. I picked up a copy of Lisa Morrison’s Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest, published in 2011. I have been eyeing it for a while now and finally snatched it up. I will review it but have no idea how soon as there are several other books in the review queue.

1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing

We got to Three Creeks minutes before the event started and there was plenty of room in the bar area where it was held. Eventually I’d say about thirty people were in attendance. It was clear that they were expecting appreciably more, which was later confirmed by one of our hosts when we signed up for another event in a few weeks. If you RSVP for something folks you really ought to try and make it whether or not you paid in advance as they probably went to a LOT of trouble for your sake. In this case, the chefs did an amazing job making some fairly (and extremely tasty) desserts. “Extra” beer can always be sold but it is much harder for the pub to offload all of those desserts.

This was the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing for Three Creeks and we, and others in attendance, are definitely looking forward to the 2nd. Our hosts for the evening were brewer Zach Butler, chef Mark Perry, and hostess Heidi Hausner, all of whom did a great job.

There were four pairings. The desserts were all full-size portions while the first three beers were ~4 oz. pours in taster glasses, with the last being a good 10 oz. in a snifter.

Menu for the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters

The menu for the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters

First up, the Raptor Rye IPA paired with an apple, pear and pecan strudel accented with cranberry raisins topped in butterscotch whipped cream.

The IPA was 6.2% ABV and 80 IBUs and with the rye it was well-balanced. It had a floral aroma and fruity hops flavor. I found it a tasty IPA and not excessively hoppy. I gave it 4 stars (out of 5). The strudel complemented the ale well but I found it almost mellowed the rye and hops too much. Still, they tasted quite good together.

1st pairing at the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Raptor Rye IPA and apple, pear & pecan strudel

Next up was the Dark Hollow Harvest Ale with a crème caramel, a vanilla bean flavored flan with a light caramel ‘sauce’ and orange slices.

Their take on a late fall/early winter warmer had a slight malt aroma and was a decent version and drinkable. It was 6.5% ABV and 36 IBUs and I gave it 3.5 stars. As a pairing the dessert had almost the opposite flavor this time. The hops in the harvest ale were definitely brought to the forefront and it almost seemed like the rye from the IPA was transferred in. It really was kind of odd. Again, they were tasty together but it was not the effect I was expecting. Sara and I both agreed that the pairing might well have been better if the flan had a graham cracker crust; that is, if it had been treated as more of a cheesecake. We think the graham crackers would have brought out the malts more.

2nd pairing at the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Dark Hollow Harvest Ale and Crème Caramel

Third, was a barrel-aged Crosswalk Imperial Porter. It was a blend of about 60% whiskey barrel-aged (9 months) Crosswalk Imp. Porter, 20% non-aged Crosswalk, and 20% Fivepine Chocolate Porter per Zach. It was 10% ABV and 66 IBUs.

Whiskey notes in the aroma and whiskey, tobacco and chocolate in the taste with a hint of vanilla from the oak. I gave it 4.5 stars and my opinion of Three Creeks beers definitely went up a notch or two. The dessert pairing was a chocolate hazelnut torte filled with strawberry buttercream, covered in a bittersweet chocolate ganache, with slices of fresh strawberry on the side. It seems I failed to make any notes on the pairing as I was enjoying it too much. They were exquisite together! Even the strawberry slices and beer paired wonderfully. This was definitely Sara’s favorite pairing of the day and it was probably mine too. (I’m not good at favorites, particularly when there is more than one good thing around.)

3rd pairing at the 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Barrrel-aged Crosswalk Imperial Porter and chocolate hazelnut torte

Last but certainly not least, was the Imperial Big Bad Sisters Stout. They described it thusly: “This huge imperial stout was brewed with 10 different malts and all Cascade hops, then infused with 7.5 gallons of cold pressed Sumatra coffee from our friends at Sisters Coffee Company.” Zach went on to explain that Sisters Coffee basically cold pressed 5 lbs. of Sumatran beans into 7.5 gallons of coffee which was then added to the bright tanks. Each snifter had the equivalent of about 8 oz. of strong coffee in it!

The stout had a massive aroma of coffee and the taste of coffee was even more massive. But it was good, strong coffee and not burnt at all like so many coffee stouts seem to be, including some with cold pressed coffee. Whatever the brewers and coffee folks did was correct in this case. The ABV was 9.2% and the IBUs 80.

The pairing was an Imperial stout infused chocolate mousse cake using chocolate reclaimed from brewing their Fivepine Chocolate Porter and accented with a bittersweet chocolate covered espresso bean. They were also exquisite together.

4th pairing at 1st Annual Beer & Dessert Pairing at Three Creeks Brewing

Imperial Big Bad Sisters Stout and Imperial stout infused chocolate mousse cake

Zach, the brewer, had reminded folks to let the stout warm up some so the malts and other flavors could come through. Well, we were there for quite a while nursing these massive stouts and although they warmed up plenty it was still mostly coffee in the aroma and taste. But that is not a complaint! This was possibly the best coffee stout I have ever had. Clearly, with this much actual coffee in it it isn’t an everyday coffee stout but it was still a 5 star beer without a doubt.

By the way, this all was only $15 a person. The last beer was easily an $8 (or more) beer. This was, in essence, a steal.

Super Secret Date Night

Back at the start I mentioned Super Secret Date Night. It is something Sara started several years ago when we were still dating. One of us plans a date that we know, or at least highly believe, the other will really enjoy and we put it on the calendar as “Super Secret Date Night” and let the other know it is scheduled. Often the other won’t know until we arrive what the event or outing is; sometimes they learn because of where we’re heading to get there. This time Sara planned the outing. We have gone to concerts and all sorts of things this way. It is really a simple thing but adds just that little extra bit of spice to being out together.

Brewey/Brewpub Events

I have been thinking I go to too many Deschutes events and may be neglecting the other breweries/brewpubs but the truth seems to be that many don’t have these kinds of events very often. Few of them have the kind of space needed for anything large or even to be able to segregate a group of 25 or less. That’s kind of a shame in my opinion. I realize they each have their own niches–e.g., Silver Moon has a lot of live music, Boneyard has no space–and that is a good thing. I just would like to see all of them engaging other parts of the community in more and varied ways. Entice me to your establishments and events, folks; help me drink your beers.

On this note, Sara and I are going back to Three Creeks on Saturday, February 9th (weather cooperating) for TCBC Beer 101. There will be a presentation from brewer Zach Beckwith on the basic ingredients in beer and the brewing process and tour of the brewery. This will be followed by a sensory analysis based on a full flight of the 10 beers currently on tap. The cost is $10/person, which is again a steal as the flight alone would cost you $15.

Zach was saying last night that they hope to have some kind of event like these each month. I say kudos to Three Creeks Brewing. Keep up the good work.