Cantwell & Bouckaert – Wood & Beer

Wood & Beer: A Brewer’s Guide by Dick Cantrell and Peter Bouckaert

Date read: 17 July – 19 September 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Cover image of Cantwell & Bouckaert's Wood & Beer book

Paperback, xxiv, 228 pages
Published 2016 by Brewers Publications
Source: Own

This was an excellent book, particularly for the pro brewer, but also for the homebrewer with the cash and fortitude to undertake fermenting and/or conditioning/aging in barrels. Of course, other ways to get wood into beer—spirals, chips, powder, etc.—are also covered.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword by Frank Book
  • Foreword by Wayne Wambles
  • Introduction
  • 1. The History of the Barrel, or There and Back Again
  • 2. Cooperage
  • 3. Wood & Wooden Vessels
  • 4. Wood Maintenance
  • 5. Flavors from Wood
  • 6. Flavors in Wood
  • 7. Blending and Culture
  • Appendix A: Techniques for Wood- and Barrel-Aging for Homebrewers
  • Appendix B: Wood Primer for Homebrewers
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I utterly recommend this book if you are considering barrel/wood-aging at any level. It can get quite deep at times —but always fascinating—but you only need to absorb small bits as a homebrewer. All in all, a lot of great stuff to be aware of even if you never stick any beer in wood or vice versa. This book will help you gain an even better appreciation of the art of cooperage and that of the barrel-aging of beer.

The bottom line: Every individual barrel [or piece of wood] is its own special snowflake. That is the starting point. Good luck!

This is the 22nd book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Foster – Brewing Porters & Stouts

Brewing Porters & Stouts: Origins, History, and 60 Recipes for Brewing Them at Home Today by Terry Foster

Date read: 31 January – 04 February 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Cover image of Foster's Brewing Porters & Stouts

Paperback, 211 pages
Published 2014 by Skyhorse
Source: Own

I loved this book! It was everything I was hoping it would be as an update to the author’s 1992 entry in the Brewers Association Classic Beer Styles Series, 5, Porter, which I reviewed here.

There is more history, a great update on the proliferation of ingredients available to the homebrewer, far more recipes, and I love the inclusion of the stouts. There are also more opinions and they are awesome. Dr. Foster is full of opinions and he tells you why and then it is up to you to choose where you stand. Most are well-reasoned and I generally agree with him.

Highly recommended!

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: How It All Began…And Nearly Ended
  • Chapter 2: Porter and Stout Definitions
  • Chapter 3: Porter and Stout Raw Materials
  • Chapter 4: The Other Ingredients
  • Chapter 5: Brewing Porters and Stouts—Recipes
  • Selected Bibliography

Introduction

“I started brewing my own beer in Britain, just as the craft of homebrewing was beginning to be revived, then moved to the United States just as homebrewing was legalized here. I have therefore lived through two homebrewing revolutions, and of course through the great craft brewing revolution here. The quality of beer I can now produce at home, and that of those craft beers I can buy, has improved dramatically. Proudly numbered among all these new beers are many porters, stouts, and their sub-styles, and new variations on these are appearing almost daily. Therefore, it seemed that this was a good time to review those styles, their histories, and their brewing methodologies” (2).

Chapter 1: How It All Began…And Nearly Ended

“Since this book is essentially about brewing porters and stouts, I needed to condense this history, and have chosen to do so in a fairly loose chronological manner. That means there may be some omissions of material that other brewing historians consider to be significant enough to be included. I have limited the number of references in the text for reasons of brevity, and have instead appended a list of some of my sources. Note that some of the points I make are purely of my opinion, although I have endeavored to base them on as much fact and general brewing knowledge as possible. I make no apology for this; rather, I hope I might stimulate some intriguing debates on them!” (7-8).

The history of porter and stout is broken into sections by century, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first.

There are a couple times here and elsewhere, and I have seen it in other books, where he writes something like, “And in 1875, Whitbread, for the first time, brewed more ale than porter or stout” (33). What?! They are ales. Were they not thought of that way earlier? And I do believe this sort of thing crops up historically or when writing about beer history so perhaps so. Or is this simply an ‘ales other than stouts and porters’ thing? I believe I got the point in this case and often do when this kind of reference crops up but it seems disconcerting. If it is the case that they were definitely not considered ales in, say, the eighteenth century I think making that explicit would go a long way towards educating the reader. Very small point, I concede.

Chapter 2: Porter and Stout Definitions

This section discusses the style parameters, from the perspective of the Brewers Association, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), and his own. He discusses where they overlap and where they disagree. For instance, he does not consider smoked porter to be its own substyle but merely a variant (53). From this he narrows down the styles/substyles he will be discussing in the rest of the book and providing recipes for.

“I am therefore going to stick to considering the nine designations of brown, robust, and Baltic porters, along with dry, sweet, oatmeal, foreign extra, American, and Imperial stouts. Since most of them have demonstrable historical pedigrees (even the American stout), these categories are useful as a way of looking at these beers. However, they do not include every variety of porter available commercially (let alone those brewed at home)” (53).

From this he goes on to provide sections on each of these nine, plus a couple page discussion of flavored porters and stouts.

Chapter 3: Porter and Stout Raw Materials

This chapter covers malt (and other grist products) primarily, with a small diversion into a few flavorings (lactose, licorice, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and ‘barrels’). Hops, water and yeast are covered in the next chapter.

The ‘malts’ covered go from the general to the very specific, while he covers how much of what to use in all of the assorted styles he is discussing. They include: base malts (including Vienna and Munich), malt extract, specialty malts (caramel/crystal, Special B, two particular biscuit malts, Special roast malt, Melanoidin, amber, brown, chocolate, black, roasted barley, flaked barley, oat malt/flakes, rye malt, and smoked malts. Foster also includes a section on making your own amber and brown malt.

Chapter 4: The Other Ingredients

Hops, yeast, water, and finings get the Foster treatment here.

Chapter 5: Brewing Porters and Stouts—Recipes

For many this will be the gist of the book and I do look forward to making use of it but, so far, I believe I have and will get the most value from his thoughts in chapter 3 on malts and other grist ingredients.

For each style/substyle he discusses he has included several recipes. These include a couple of all-grain ones and a couple extract and extract plus partial mash recipes per style. After that is a section he entitles, “My Ten Most Interesting Recipes.” Five of these are historical recreations (as best as possible) and the other five he says “are based on modern craft-brewed beers” (189).

At the end of this chapter is his addendum to recipes where he discusses carbonation, kegging, bottling, and stout dispense and nitrogen gas.

One thing not included, unlike in his previous work, are recipes for one-barrel batches. Craft brewers (and homebrewers wanting more than 5-gallon batches) would be on their own to scale up the recipes. Personally, I find that a fair tradeoff for all of the new and updated information, the additional recipes, and the inclusions of the stouts. Recipe scaling information can be found elsewhere.    

Selected Bibliography

This bibliography is much more extensive than the one in the Classic Beer Styles Series from 1992 but he also cites a fair few works in the text that are not listed in the back. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, nor does he intend it to be. Nonetheless, it is several times longer than the one in the 1992 work.

Final comments

Again, I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the brewing of stouts and porters. I will be visiting and revisiting it, no doubt.

This is my favorite book of 2015 so far. It may seem a tad early to make this claim but I did write “so far.” I have also completed 25 books so far this year so not a completely absurd statement.

This is the 6th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

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.

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.

“Virginia” beer

The wife and I spent a week recently in the Falls Church, Virginia area enjoying lots of beers; only some of these were from Virginia so I put “Virginia” in double quotes. We went for a memorial service for my niece who recently passed and with so much family together again we also celebrated Thanksgiving and my brother-in-law’s birthday on Dec. 1st. With so many relatives in one house, along with the stress of saying goodbye to a loved one, and multiple receptions, and … a lot of beer (and wine) was consumed.

My daughter and son-in-law picked us up at the airport Wednesday evening. We stopped at Dominion Wine & Beer @DominionWB in Falls Church, VA on the way to my sister’s house. Great selection and friendly people. They told us about a free tasting of big beers on Black Friday for the Bourbon County Brand Stout release and even had the bottles on the counter.

Black Friday BCBS Release Tasting at Dominion Wine & Beer, Falls Church, VA. Consumed from left to right.

Black Friday BCBS Release Tasting at Dominion Wine & Beer, Falls Church, VA. Consumed from left to right.

We made sure to add it to our calendars.  The real beauty: it is about a 5-minute walk away from my sister’s place. We will definitely be visiting them whenever we make it back there. In fact, we visited 3 or 4 times in the week we were there.

Before we left Bend, Sara discovered that there is a Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church so that was high on our list and we made it there Sun evening (30th). We also wanted to get to Spacebar, a specialty grilled cheese and tater tots craft beer bar, which we did Monday night.

I failed to checkin every beer in Untappd. I even failed to record/list every (unique) beer and also to take a picture of every one. Of course, some were duplicates and I didn’t want to check them in. Some I just missed.

This post is in 3 parts: commentary on the tasting at Dominion Wine & Beer; our 1st visit to a Dogfish Head Alehouse; and a list of the beers that I know I had, by day, as best as possible.

Dominion Wine & Beer BCBS Release Tasting

On Friday, my kids, their spouses, and Sara and I attended a tasting in conjunction with the Goose Island BCBS release at Dominion Wine & Beer. We got there a few minutes early and the place was packed and the tasting had already started. The gentleman pouring made sure to get us started at the beginning though. It was packed to the gills but everyone jostled along good-naturedly. I overheard the guy at the checkout telling someone that this is their biggest tasting by far; that most are far more manageable. Good to know. 😉

Let me just say that any tasting that begins with Epic’s Big Bad Baptist is something to not only behold but to be at. Seeing as we were going so big I only tried to grab an overall impression and didn’t write any tasting notes. These are the beers in the order we had them.

  • Epic Big Bad Baptist (Batch 40) [no checkin]
  • North Coast bbl-aged Old Rasputin 4.5
  • Stone Southern Charred 4.5
  • 3 Brothers Resolute 4.0
  • Avery Tweak 4.5
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2014 4.5

As you can see I liked most of them well enough. 😉

Dogfish Head Alehouse, Falls Church, VA

Dogfish Head Alehouse of Falls Church, VA

Dogfish Head Alehouse of Falls Church, VA

Sunday evening found 9 of us heading to the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church (Mom, kids and spouses, sister and spouse, Sara and me). Sara and I were practically giddy. Overall our visit was excellent.

There were some issues with getting the correct beers in both of the premium flights ordered (Max and Sara) and the onion rings on two orders were cold. Our waitress, Marian, was most excellent. She got fresh hot onion rings for both and she tried to get the beer issues straightened out. Whoever was pouring was not on their game, that’s for sure. Possibly the wrong beer was on the wrong tap. Sara & Max both got 4-beer flights with one beer overlapping. That beer was different in both cases and was not the beer asked for. They were both replaced but the beers were still different (color, taste). Then Sara discovered her Palo Santo Marron was Chicory Stout. She doesn’t care for it and it is a standard beer compared to the premiumly-priced Palo Santo. Marian was horrified and was going to replace it but since I had a snifter of the Palo Santo we decided to just share that. We certainly had enough beer between us.

Heavenly snifter of draft Palo Santo Marron

Heavenly snifter of draft Palo Santo Marron

I did pull Marian aside and tell her that she was awesome as far as were were concerned. In the end, I also talked to the manager. I started by telling him Marian was “grace under pressure” and that we appreciated her. I also calmly let him know we had been having beer issues and that he might want to keep an eye on the bar tending. He was already on it since Marian had alerted him. He was grateful for the information and apologetic. My son grabbed the entire bill so I have no idea if either did anything with the bill. Nonetheless, everyone got at least as much (or more) beer as they ordered and everyone had plenty of tasty food.

I would be happy to go back as everyone we interacted with acted professionally and sometimes stuff just happens.

Beers consumed

[Note: except for 1-2 already at the house and those at Dogfish Head and at Spacebar, all beers were acquired from Dominion Wine & Beer. The ones already at the house may also have come from Dominion.]

26 Nov

  • Yuengling Traditional Lager 4.0
  • Dark Horse Too Cream Stout 4.0
  • Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout Unrated [late checkin]
Yuengling Traditional Lager

Yuengling Traditional Lager

Dark Horse Too Cream Stout

Dark Horse Too Cream Stout

Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout

Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout

The Yuengling surprised me with how good it was. I would gladly drink several in the proper setting. The two Dark Horse stouts were fairly tasty.

27 Nov

  • Saison Dupont 5.0
  • The Duck Rabbit Milk Stout 4.5
  • Great Lakes Blackout Stout 4.0
  • Bells Two Hearted Ale 4.5
  • Brasserie d’Achouffe McChouffe 4.5
  • Dogfish Head Beer Thousand  4.5
  • Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail 4.0
  • Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine 4.0
  • Tröegs Troegenator 4.0 [late checkin]

Had a classic, Saison Dupont, as an opener and during my stint as a sous chef for others. Ended up drinking most of the bottle myself. I tried to share. Their loss.

04Bells 044

Bells Two Hearted Ale

d'Achouffe McChouffe

d’Achouffe McChouffe

Dogfish Head Beer Thousand

Dogfish Head Beer Thousand

07EvilTwin 047

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail

Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine

Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine

Tröegs Brothers Troegenator

Tröegs Brothers Troegenator

28 Nov

  • Tröegs Troegenator [probably]
  • Epic Big Bad Baptist Batch 40 – seems no checkin [DominionWB tasting – see section above]
  • North Coast bbl-aged Old Rasputin 4.5 [DominionWB]
  • Stone Southern Charred 4.5 [DominionWB]
  • 3 Brothers Resolute 4.0 [DominionWB]
  • Avery Tweak 4.5 [DominionWB]
  • Goose Island Bourbon County 2014 4.5 [DominionWB]
  • Hardywood Virginia Blackberry 4.0
  • Sam Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock 2.5
Black Friday BCBS Release Tasting at Dominion Wine & Beer, Falls Church, VA. Consumed from left to right.

Black Friday BCBS Release Tasting at Dominion Wine & Beer, Falls Church, VA. Consumed from left to right.

Hardywood Virginia Blackberry (Reserve Series)

Hardywood Virginia Blackberry (Reserve Series)

Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock

Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock

29 Nov

  • Schlafly Imp Stout, bourbon barrel-aged 4.5
  • Southern Tier Choklat – no checkin

Personally, I do not care for Choklat. At all. The wife does and bought this one. I think maybe she’s outgrowing her fondness for it. I hope.

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2013

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2013

Southern Tier Choklat

Southern Tier Choklat

30 Nov

Dogfish Head Alehouse

Dogfish Head Alehouse, Falls Church beer menu on 30 November 2014

Dogfish Head Alehouse, Falls Church beer menu on 30 November 2014

I had a small taste of both Firefly and American Beauty but wasn’t impressed enough to want a whole glass. So many other good choices. Went with the Palo Santo Marron, my first on draft. It was exquisite, of course.

FYI: The Core Beer Sampler is 6 4-oz pours of 60 Minute through Chicory Stout; the Premium Sampler is 4 4-oz pours of any four premium beers. The pours are quite generous and easily 5-oz each. I went for the snifter as I am a bit unhappy at the 50% increase in price along with a decrease of 33% in the amount of beer. That is quite significant and way beyond “premium.”

1 Dec

  • Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout – Tad thin but OK  3.0
  • Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA 4.5 [late checkin]
  • Peak Organic Winter Session Ale ME 5% 4.5 [Spacebar]
  • Terrapin Wake n Bake [Spacebar -Sara]
  • Blue Mountain Long Winters Nap Maibock VA 10% 4.0 [Spacebar -Sara]
  • Smuttynose Smuttonator Doppelbock NH 9.5% 4.0 [Spacebar -Sara]

I wish I had recognized that the KBBS was the one Brian Yaeger wrote about in Red, White, and Brew. Neither Sara or I were fans either way; it was pretty meh. I enjoyed the Face Plant.

It was too dark at Spacebar for photos. My Peak Organics Winter Session was quite tasty. I also enjoyed trying Sara’s Blue Mountain and Smuttynose. My son and his wife both got Deschutes Black Butte Porter.

ALLTECH Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

ALLTECH Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA

Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA

2 Dec

None – travel day

Actually, I tried to get a beer in the Portland (OR) airport before our flight home to Redmond. Our little terminal even had a Laurelwood pub. But since the waitress could not answer what I considered a most basic question about a beer I left. I wanted to know whether the stout had coffee in it. She was apologetic that she didn’t know but that is irrelevant; it is polite but of no actual informational value. She also didn’t volunteer to check with anyone else.

I don’t know if those folks are airport concessionaires or actual Laurelwood employees but they were wearing Laurelwood attire. Protip: Educate your employees or people acting as employees. She lost you the sale of a pint and food. She also lost you the good will of a tired, pissed off traveler who came to you for respite and replenishment.

Recap

A lot of good beer was drunk, along with a bit of mediocre stuff. That’s the deal when being adventurous though.

We sent my daughter and son-in-law back home (they drove) with a 2013 The Abyss and a Black Butte Porter Reserve XXVI which I had checked on the way. They also took the small bottle of BCBS we bought at the tasting and a couple other things. We also left a few tasties for my sister and brother-in-law.

Thanks, northern Virginia (especially Dominion Wine & Beer) and thanks to the Virginia brewers/breweries for the actual VA beers we did have.

Upon arriving home just before midnight on Tuesday, we found a very wet box on the front doorstep. Pulling it inside and unwrapping it found–bedraggled but not frozen– two Lompoc Pamplemousse Citrus IPA bombers, a grapefruit, USB key and pint glass. It must have been delivered late in the day and, for once, everyone’s timing was good (except for the beautiful presentation which was a bit disturbed).

Lompoc Pamplemousse Citrus IPA package

Lompoc Pamplemousse Citrus IPA package

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.

Fort George Festival of the Dark Arts

This weekend Sara and I made a ‘quick’ (~7 hours each way) trip to Astoria, Oregon to attend the Fort George Brewery Festival of the Dark Arts, “A Carnival of Stout.”

Fort George, along with other breweries, has declared February as Stout Month. Seeing as February is my Birthday Month I consider this a wonderful declaration! They have many of their own stouts on tap all month along with having quite a few guest taps. But it all comes to an orgiastic head during Zwickelmania when Fort George hosts the Festival of the Dark Arts. Forty-seven stouts (47!) all housed in one brewery campus! They had 14 of their own stouts and the rest were guests. There was also lots of arts and artists present, tarot card reading, tattooing, blacksmithing, music, fire dancing, music and other diversions.

The Fort George Public House during the Festival of the Dark Arts

The Fort George Public House during the Festival of the Dark Arts

Art on the Taproom wall at Fort George

Art on the Taproom wall at Fort George Brewery

The event was hosted across Fort George’s brewery and public house and went from 2 – 10 pm on Saturday. We got up early on Saturday morning—well, not really as we always get up early, but we did get moving and left the house early and drove up to Astoria. We left around 7 am and arrived about 2 pm. We checked into our Air BnB and got our stuff together and walked the 12 blocks—mostly downhill—to Fort George.

Our Festival of the Dark Arts glasses

Our Festival of the Dark Arts glasses

Entrance was free but a cool glass mug for drinking from was $8 so we each dropped a $20 bill on a mug and 12 tokens. Some of the stronger and usually the barrel-aged stouts were 2 tokens per 3 oz. pour but most were only 1 token.

Fort George Brewery Festival of the Dark Arts token, both sides

Fort George Brewery Festival of the Dark Arts token, both sides

Sadly, we seem to have lost our Festival map which had descriptions of all of the stouts. The webpage announcing the lineup does at least profile the Fort George beers. I do know which ones we had and in what order as I was writing them down. Some people thought that was too organized but they also usually thought I was making tasting notes. I knew better than that! I simply recorded the names.

Almost all were good but there were one or two I wasn’t overly fond of, and there were a couple of the bourbon barrel-aged ones which tasted more like someone had poured a shot of bourbon in a stout; not all, just some.

Barrels at Fort George Brewery

Barrels at Fort George Brewery

The following list comprises the 21 (out of 47 available) stouts that we sampled, all in 3 oz. pours:

  • Bison Organic Chocolate Stout
  • Fort George Squashed Stout
  • HUB Army of Darkness (bourbon bbl-aged)
  • Fort George Kentucky Girl
  • Fort George Viva La Stout
  • Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Imperial Stout
  • Block 15 Super Nebula
  • Fort George Meeker’s Mark Stout
  • Fort George Polish’s Black Walnut Stout
  • Astoria’s Bad Ass Stout
  • Laurelwood Bbl-aged Moose & Squirrel Stout
  • Boneyard Bbl-Aged Suge Knight
  • Elysian Omen
  • Fort George Three Wisemen
  • Stone 2008 Imperial Russian Stout aged in bourbon barrels
  • Burnside Red Light District Stout
  • Lucky Lab Pavlov’s Russian Imperial Stout
  • Fort George Bourbon Bbl-Aged Cavatica
  • Fort George Coffee Girl
  • McMenamin’s Whiskey Bbl-Aged Terminator
  • The Abyss

I liked the Bison and I quite enjoyed the Fort George (FG) Squashed. It had a sort of “bright” taste to it the I liked. The FG Viva La Stout was a Mexican chocolate stout with cinnamon, vanilla and almond. If you had told me it was a milk stout with almonds I may well have said, “This is interesting.” All I could taste was sweet almond and stout and perhaps a hint of vanilla; no chocolate or cinnamon. It really needed those flavors to give it some balance. The Block 15 Super Nebula we had last year at The Little Woody and were disappointed when it was recently released but not sent to Bend (I emailed Block 15 to enquire) because we both thought it was the best beer at The Little Woody. Thus, we were happy to get to try it again. Sara still thought it was amazing; I thought it was excellent but have since had 2 to 3 better stouts in the intervening months.

Fermenters at Fort George Brewery

Fermenters at Fort George Brewery

Astoria’s Bad Ass Stout was quite drinkable but I wanted more from it with a name like that. The Laurelwood Bbl-aged Moose & Squirrel was quite tasty. The Boneyard Bbl-Aged Suge Knight wasn’t hitting the right notes for me this weekend. I have tasted this version in a small taster before and enjoyed it a bit more and I have spent a (very) recent evening nursing a non-barrel aged Suge Knight in a large snifter, which was exquisite. [And what is with the name of this beer? I have seen it spelled in probably 6-8 different ways, including a couple of different ways from the brewery.]

Tap Handle for a Fort George stout

Tap Handle for a Fort George stout

I would say that the Elysian Omen let me down but that’s only partly true. I generally like Elysian beers and I find their Dragonstooth to be quite toothsome. But the Omen is one of their 12 Beers of the Apocalypse from last year (2012) and I have had 3 of those so far and have not been impressed by any of them. The Omen is a Belgian raspberry stout. I am not a big raspberry fan but I have had a couple raspberry stouts that I found incredible. I am also a huge Belgian beer fan, having lived there for over 3 years. This just did not work for me, though. I do have a sad over the whole 12 Beers of the Apocalypse as if you’re going to go all out and have a line with that name then they best be incredible beers. The Stone 2008 IRS was incredible! The Burnside Red Light district, a strawberry stout, was quite drinkable but definitely a once in a while taste. The Abyss was, well, The Abyss; appropriately named.

Fort George Brewery courtyard at night with blacksmithing and fire dancers

Fort George Brewery courtyard at night with blacksmithing and fire dancers

Fort George descriptions:

  • Squash Stout, — 6.7% butternut and acorn squashes
  • Kentucky Girl — Coffee Girl on bourbon barrels, ONE KEG LEFT; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/occasionals/kentucky-girl/
  • Viva La Stout — 7.6%, mexican chocolate stout, cinnamon, vanilla, almond
  • Meekers Mark — 8.0%, oatmeal stout on Maker’s Mark barrels
  • Polish’s Black Walnut Stout — 6.4%, 6 lbs of walnuts – nutty, toasty
  • 3 Wisemen — 9.9%, whiskey, rum, and tequila barrels Oatmeal Stout; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/occasionals/three-wisemen/
  • Bourbon Bbl. Cavatica — 2 months on Makers Mark barrels
  • Coffee Girl — “strong malty chocolate profile” oats, malts, molasses; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/seasonal/coffee-girl/

These are the Fort George ones we did not try:

  • Campout Stout — 7.0%, dark chocolate, caramel, marshmallows
  • Rye Whiskey Bbl. Cavatica Stout — 9.2%, barrels for 6 months, special for festival
  • Long Dark Winter — 5.8%, milk stout with oatmeal
  • Murky Pearl — fermented with oysters, salty ocean; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/occasionals/murky-pearl/
  • Cavatica — 8.8%,
  • Spank Stout — honey malts and 30 lbs of roasted peppers – Spicy!

We had a grand time, met some folks, got our tarot cards read, got some brewery/festival clothing, and brought home a four pack of the 2013 Barrel Aged Cavatica Stout which has been aged in Heaven Hills Rye Whiskey Barrels, some of which will be cellared.

Fort George Cavatica Stout aged in Heaven Hills rye barrels

Fort George Cavatica Stout aged in Heaven Hills rye whiskey barrels

We are hoping to make this an annual tradition for us—weather depending, it is a 7-hour drive in February—although we hope to extend it a few days for a more leisurely pace and to allow for more sightseeing and experiencing of the local culture(s) along the way. We also are thinking of trying to volunteer at the Festival next year.

One of the many volunteers hard at work

One of the many volunteers hard at work

And on that note a big “Thank you” to Fort George and their staff and another even bigger one to all of the awesome volunteers who made this thing work so smoothly!

A few more photos follow. FYI: photos are not in the order taken.

A very important sign in the courtyard the next morning

A very important sign in the courtyard the next morning

The Fort George Brewery courtyard the morning after the Festival of the Dark Arts

The Fort George Brewery courtyard the morning after the Festival of the Dark Arts

The Fort George Public House façade and the Blue Scorcher bakery

The Fort George Public House façade and the Blue Scorcher bakery

The Fort George building, 1924, home of the Fort George Public House and the Blue Scorcher bakery

The Fort George building, 1924, home of the Fort George Public House and the Blue Scorcher bakery

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.

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.

DBU: Winter beer and cheese

Tuesday night, along with some friends, we attended Deschutes Brewery University (DBU): Winter Beer and Cheese Pairing, which was a joint production of Deschutes Brewery and Tumalo Farms. Our hosts were brewer John Abraham and cheesemaker Flavio DeCastilhos.

Title slide for Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Title slide for Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

They paired 6+ winter beers with 6 cheeses from Tumalo Farms and then told us a bit about each of the beers and cheeses as we sampled them and then chose to sample whichever cheeses (and other small nibbles) with the beers as we saw fit. The reason I said 6+ is that they could only find 3 bottles of the Fantôme de Noël which meant only a half pour each so they added a 7th beer, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and gave us a pour of that too. These two were beer(s) 2A and 2B in the list.

Menu for Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Menu for Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

The beers in order were:

  • 1 Hub Abominable from Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon
  • 2A Fantôme de Noël from Brasserie Fantôme in Soy-Erezee, Belgium
  • 2B Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, West Flanders, Belgium
  • 3 St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus in Watou, Belgium.
  • 4 Delirium Noël from Brouwerij Huyghe in Melle, Belgium
  • 5 Super Jubel from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon
  • 6 The Abyss (2012) from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon

The cheeses, all from Tumalo Farms, in order (clockwise starting at 12) were:

Cheese plate at Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Cheese plate at Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

During the intro, John or Flavio (sorry, can’t remember which one), said my newest favorite phrase, “favorably contradictory,” when talking about some of the things we might look for as we made our own pairings of beers and cheeses. “Favorably contradictory.” So many potential uses in taste sensations but hopefully even some broader uses. 😉

And as John said, “Beer and cheese. It’s not rocket science.”

Why Beer and Cheese? slide at Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Why Beer and Cheese? slide at Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Since my notes on the cheeses are so poor, let me say upfront that every one of these cheeses is exquisite! I will certainly be looking for Tumalo Farms cheeses more actively in the future [and I did link them all above].

Abominable and Pondhopper:

7.3% ABV, 70 IBUs. Grapefruit, pepper, light caramel.
Goat’s milk and Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale.
The Pondhopper really brings out the hops in the Abominable, which also paired nicely with the Rimrocker. The Nocciola really brought out the grapefruit in the Abominable.

Fantôme de Noël and Jewell:

10% ABV, barrel-aged, assorted spices. Grapefruit smell.
Failed to make any notes about the Jewell, which should not reflect on its taste.

Duchesse de Bourgogne and Jewell:

Aged in rum barrels. Cherry, vanilla, oak, green apple, rum. Tastes a fair bit like a green Jolly Rancher.
Tastes quite good with dried apricot.

They had us take a small bite of the pickled ginger at this point to clear our palates. Ugh!

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and Rimrocker:

10% ABV, Belgian strong ale. Boozy dark fruits, clove, cinnamon, oak.
Again, failed on cheese notes.
The St. Bernardus was really mellowed by the Jewell. Was quite good with several of the cheeses (think I tried it with 4), although most, except the Jewell, didn’t affect the taste of the beer much.

Delirium Noël and Classico Reserve:

10% ABV, Belgian strong ale. Berries, plum, figs, raisins.
100% goat’s cheese, cave-aged for one year. Very nutty.
The Classico Reserve really mellowed out the Fantôme de Noël in a very good way and was also good with the Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Super Jubel and Nocciola:

10% ABV., 100% pinot barrel-aged for 6 months. Well-balanced hops & malts.
Oregon hazelnuts.
A really good pairing, sweetens the beer.
Super Jubel also quite good with the cracker with figs.

The Abyss and Fenacho:

11% ABV, 70 IBUs, Italian brewer’s licorice, blackstrap molasses, dry hopped with vanilla beans and cherry bark.
Fenugreek seeds. Hints of butterscotch at the finish.
The Abyss and the candied walnuts = O.M.F.G.

I apologize that my notes are so poor for both the cheeses and the beers. I am new to this level of studied appreciation and lack some of the vocabulary and still have a fairly undeveloped palate; all of which I am trying to remedy quickly. It is also quite hard to pay full attention to whoever is providing you info and taste beers and cheeses (or whatever food) in assorted combinations and keep up with it all. Also, after a while, several small glasses of strong beers begin to take their toll. My first goal in all of this is to pay as full attention to the experience of tastes and aromas as I can, and only secondly to worry about notes.

I will say that all of the beers and cheeses were quite good, as were the pairings set up by John and Flavio. I gave the first 5+ beers all 4 stars and based on some of the cheese and other foods paired with The Abyss (2012) I gave it a 5 star rating for the first time. I am still a long way from considering it the Best Stout or Porter in the world but it is still an amazing beer with lots more potential than I suspected [see my previous notes on The Abyss here and here]. I’m telling you, The Abyss and candied walnuts!

We would like to extend a definite “Thank you!” to John and Flavio who did an excellent job hosting this event. Feel free to do some other pairings in the future for us!

This was Sara’s and my 3rd DBU and we are looking forward to many more! See you there!

[This post, DBU: Winter beer and cheese, originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 6 December 2012.]