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

Session #105 Double Feature: Flirting with Coffee

This is the 2nd guest post from my wife, @esquetee  Her first was “Librarians in the Beer Tents” in July 2014.

I’m finally writing a post for a Session! This month’s theme:

“…highlight how the two beers interact with one another during your session (pun intended!) For extra credit, pair your beers with two films to make your own Double Feature.”

Session105SQT01

 The chosen beers:

  • Péché Mortel from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel – aged 2 years at home
  • Big Bad Baptist (release #24) from Epic – aged 1.5 years at home

The common factor here: imperial stouts with coffee.  

Pour and color: the Baptist had very little head but beautiful caramel-colored lacing lingered on the surface for quite some time. The Péché had a bit more for a moment in the same color but it smoothed out very quickly. The Péché also had a touch of mahogany red in the body while the Baptist was consistently dark brown.

Left: Big Bad Baptist; Right: Péché Mortel

Left: Big Bad Baptist; Right: Péché Mortel

Aroma: Very different! The Péché has a soft fruit note underneath the light espresso scent, whereas the Baptist is a punch in the face of bitter raw coffee bean. Mark described it as “rancid” and I have to admit it was a bit off-putting at first.

Flavor:  The Péché is lovely – almost wine-like in the layers and complexity. The coffee is present without overpowering, which leaves room on the palate for vanilla and chocolate to whisper in. The body is soft as a rose petal, making it very drinkable without even hinting at the 9% ABV underneath. A seductive, dangerous siren of a beer.

Before we get to the Baptist, let me just preface by saying there is a blessing and a curse to cellaring these big dark beauties. The blessings come when you open an aged favorite that has gone from delightful to divine. The curses take a fine beer and turn it into something thin and flavorless … if you’re lucky. Fortunately, we’ve had far more blessings than curses in our cellaring experiments.  

The Baptist #24 is about 6 months past its prime, I would say. Not a bad beer at all, but not up to its full potential. Having just had a fresh batch of Baptist on tap the night before, I definitely prefer the beer with some age on it – even a little too much age like this one. The sharp bitterness of a fresh batch has calmed down some – despite the aroma – and the body has balanced out into a wonderful texture. If I didn’t have the Péché to compare it against, I might even enjoy the Baptist far more than I am at the moment. But the Péché takes the idea of coffee imperial stout to another level here, which leaves the Baptist with a consolation prize of “pretty good.” Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoy both of them.

Now … the other half of this Session called for pairing the paired beers with some kind of media — movies, TV shows, music, what have you.

When I thought about what to pair with coffee stouts, the first thing that came to mind was the memory of some old coffee commercial in the 1980s? 1990s? that went on like a soap opera series about two neighbors who kept flirting over their borrowed coffees. Best commercials ever. Why don’t they make ‘em like that anymore? Anyway …

So I went to YouTube in search of these coffee commercials. At first I thought they might have been from Folger’s, but that only brought up Peter’s Christmas homecoming. With a bit more digging I found them! The Taster’s Choice Gold Blend saga. And to make it even better — they starred my favorite screen librarian of all time – Giles from Buffy! Otherwise known as Anthony Head.

What in the world do these dusty old ads have to do with delicious coffee stouts?

Flirting! Oh yes, the flirting. The screen chemistry between those two was enough to rival Moonlighting. And flirting is exactly what a good stout should do with you. So dark, you can’t be certain of its intentions. So complex, you know there are innuendos you must be missing even as some of the innuendos make you blush. As the beer warms up and opens up more flavors, you become even better acquainted until … at last … well, stay tuned for the next episode.

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

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.

Happy International Stout Day, 8 November 2012

I was informed by Untapped via twitter (@Untappd) a day or two ago, that today is International Stout Day. (@StoutDay)

Now that’s a holiday made-to-order for Bend!

OK, our stout scene is a little weak here in the Pacific Northwest what with the overemphasis (thankfully, tapering I believe) on IPAs. But. Weak or not, we do have some amazing stouts around. Most are special issues and more seasonal issues but there are a few very good stouts available year-round.

I will most definitely be participating this evening by: 1) enjoying a delicious stout (or two), and 2) checking into Untappd to get my Stout Day badge, and 3) writing this post.

Which stout(s) will I drink? Let me check my cellar and fridge.

I could always have an Obsidian Stout from Deschutes but I only have it in 12 oz. bottles and, honestly, even though I really like Obsidian it tastes like crap out of a 12 oz. bottle. I also have bombers (22 oz. bottles) of the following: Widmer Bros. Series 924 Milk Stout, Elysian Dragonstooth Stout, Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout, and HUB (Hopworks Urban Brewery)Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout. I have previously had both the Dragonstooth and the Overcast and they are pretty good in my opinion. I have yet to taste the Widmer Bros. or the HUB.

I think I’ll go with the Survival 7-Grain seeing as tomorrow I’m participating in Twitter vs. Zombies for DigiWriMo. Seems like fueling up on some serious grains might be useful. 😉

I truly wish we had a Midnight Sun Berserker Imperial Stout. We had it off tap at Broken Top Bottle Shop, down the street from us, and it is better than any beer has a right to be! Seriously. We are trying to get our hands on a bottle or three and we are hoping Broken Top will get it again, and they are trying. Even Sara wants to give the Berserker 6 or more stars on a 5 star rating. It truly is that damn good on draft. Then again, I simply could not drink beer that amazing (or strong 12.7%) on a routine basis.

I have now mentioned Untappd and Broken Top Bottle Shop and I want to talk about them some more.

Untappd: Drink Socially is a website and an app (multiple platforms. I believe) that my friend Jenny turned me onto a couple months back. You can use it for keeping track of the beers you drink, keep a wish list, follows breweries, check into the locations you drink at, rate & describe the beers, upload photos of your beers, friend people, and so on. Of course, one earns badges for assorted beer drinking activities. I like it.

Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café is our neighborhood drinking and eating establishment. It is the closest to us at the other end of our street; a nice healthy ~20 min. hilly walk each way. They have excellent vegan and vegetarian food (says the meat eater in the family) and lots of tasty meat-based food, also. They have 10-12 taps from all over which rotate frequently and they have hundreds of beers and a good handful of ciders in bottles that you can consume there or take home. Sadly, their bottles seem to be way overpriced, unlike the rest of their offerings, but they usually have at least one tasty to very tasty thing on tap. They also have wine. They host events and have lots of live music and often these things are free. It is a great and friendly place and we go there more than anywhere else.

Back on October 13th we got ourselves a Trumer Pils. When I checked this beer in on Untappd I got a Trumer Bike & Beer badge and a notification that I was entered to win a Trumer branded beach cruiser bike.

On 3 Nov. I got an email from the CEO of Untappd saying I was the winner! I emailed him back my contact info and am now waiting on Trumer’s marketing folks to contact me. Hard to tell from the picture but it looks like I will soon have a decent bike for around town here. And I needed a bike, too, to become a proper Bendite. What better than a beer branded bike?

So a big thanks to Jenny, Untappd, Broken Top Bottle Shop and Trumer! Social drinking pays off!

I decided to go with the HUB Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout, which has cold-pressed Stumptown Organic Holler Mountain coffee in it. It is pretty tasty but kind of medium bodied for a stout. The coffee is mild in both the nose and flavor.

HUB Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout bottle and glass, which I had for International Stout Day, 8 November 2012

HUB Survival 7-Grain Stout for International Stout Day 2012

Checking this beer into Untappd I, of course, got the International Stout Day (2012) badge but I also got a New Brew Thursday (Level 2) badge for drinking a new beer on three Thursdays in a 30 day period.

I raise my glass to all my readers and wish you a very Happy International Stout Day 2012.

[This post originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 8 November 2012.]