Digital Writing Month 2014

As I mentioned on my other blog, habitually probing generalist, I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. If you are at all interested in what it is please check out the post I mentioned.

What does it mean for here? Well, hopefully some more posts. Some book reviews would be nice [many books have been read], maybe some more essay-like thoughts. I intend to participate in The Session #93 on beer travel.

You may see #digiwrimo in my tweets if you follow me on Twitter. But I’m guessing most of my beer tweets won’t.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

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.]

Brew Wërks Sunday Conversation Series

Pint of Brew Wërks Neurotic Blonde Ale at Brew Wërks Sunday Conversation Series

Pint of Brew Wërks Neurotic Blonde Ale at Brew Wërks Sunday Conversation Series

Last night we went to the inaugural edition of Brew Wërks Brewing Company’s Sunday Conversation Series with Brewmaster Michael McMahon. I would expect it to grow, but we had a lovely time as it was only 6 of us (3 couples) which made it easy to converse sitting around a table.

The conversation(s) was great and included beer trends and styles, whether the drinking public or brewer(ie)s drive the trends, recipes, assorted processes in beer/cider/mead making, water quality and other testing issues, food, Mexico, reasons for coming to Bend—all of us are fairly recent arrivals—places we’ve lived and worked before, and on and on. It began at 6 pm and we left a little around 8:45 and the others were still at it.

There were food and drink specials—although I never knew what they actually were, nor did I ask. In the end, we got 20% taken off our bill though so it didn’t really matter what the specifics were.

Brew Wërks Pub features 6 taps of Brew Wërk beers and 6 guest taps and an assortment of great food.

Mike hopes to do this every week and would like to get more people to come and chat. It really was laid back and inviting. I even got a business card and invite to come by the brewery and check things out, with the pleasant caveat that I might be put to work. Sounds fair to me.

So if you are a home brewer or not (I’m not. Yet.), beer aficionado or simply interested in chatting about beer and other topics over good beer and food on a Sunday evening then do check out Brew Wërks Brewing Company’s Sunday Conversation Series at the Old Mill Brew Wërks Pub, 6 pm to ….

Hope to see you there soon!

[ This post, Brew Wërks Sunday Conversation Series, originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 26 November 2012.]

The Abyss 2012 Release Party, 15 November 2012

We did manage to get to The Abyss 2012 Release Party yesterday in time to get a flight of 2008-2012 The Abyss as I was mentioning in my Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event post. Our friend who was most interested said she could go after 12 noon so we packed up and headed down to the brew pub for lunch.

Placard for The Abyss at The Abyss 2012 Release Party

The Abyss 2008-12 tasters and quote from “Ten beers that will make you a man — if they don’t kill you first” at Denver Westword http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2011/04/ten-beers-that-will-make-you-a-man.php?page=2

Before I get into my short tasting notes I want to give you the info they provided us for The Abyss 2012, which is the seventh release (2006-2012):

  • ABV: 11.0%  IBUs: 70
  • Malt: Pale, Black, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Wheat
  • Hops: Millennium, Nugget, Styrian, Northern Brewer
  • Brewed with: Blackstrap Molasses & Brewer’s Licorice
  • Dry-Hopped with: Vanilla Beans & Cherry Bark
  • Barrel-Aging: (28%) 6 months in Bourbon, Oregon Oak, and Pinot Noir
  • Tasting Notes: Best served at 50-55 degrees. Vanilla, Chocolate, Dark Fruit, Caramel, Toffe, and Espresso
  • Cellaring Notes: Store at 45 degrees in a dark place. Constant temperature is key to proper cellaring. Drink within 5 to 7 years.
  • Beer Advocate Rating: A+ World Class
  • Rate Beer Rating: 100 Overall
  • 2012 World Beer Awards: World’s Best Stout & Porter

[See http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/the-abyss for more awards]

A flight of The Abyss 2008-2012 at The Abyss 2012 Release Party

A flight of The Abyss 2008-2012 and a truffle

In the pictures: Back row – left 2008, mid 2009, right 2010; front row – left 2011, mid 2012, right truffle

  • 2008 Thick. Caramel. Roasted malt. Little change after truffle. Excellent!
  • 2009 thick. Tobacco and leather. Slight bourbon. After truffle a bit darker. Amazing!
  • 2010 Little aroma. Slight bourbon, strong wine flavor. After truffle a tad smoother.
  • 2011 Smells slightly smoky. Definite bourbon taste.
  • 2012 Thick.

As you can see, my words sometimes escape me. That is the order we tasted them in, oldest to youngest. By the time I got to the newer ones and having had some truffle already it made no sense to do “after truffle” tastings on them as I had truffle permeating my mouth. The only palate cleanser I had was water.

2008 and 2009 were my favorites by far. 2011 was also very good. 2010 was also very drinkable and given another year or three may become something very special. 2012 needs to age a few years. Don’t get me wrong, it is a tasty beer. Is it the best stout or porter in the world? Nope. Not at all.

I have revised my opinion of The Abyss upward a bit from the other night but I’m still going on record with the claim that Black Butte XXIV—also ‘fresh’ this year—is better and that Midnight Sun’s Berserker Imperial Stout is what The Abyss 2010 dreams of becoming in a few more years.

I did get myself a hoodie sweathshirt and two bombers for the Cellar. Our friend also took two bottles home.

One last thing. I want to give props to Deschutes Brewery and their social media coordinator, Gina. There was some confusion over the officially published times for the availability of the limited number of flights. We had made plans with assorted friends to try and make it together and then the time changed. Sara and I both tweeted Deschutes to ask what was up with the time and to register a bit of disappointment. We got a quick response apologizing for the confusion and contact info in case we were unable to get the flights we were hoping for. Yesterday, after our plans changed and we made it, I emailed Gina to thank her and let her know we had been successful. She again apologized for the confusion and offered me a token. I turned it down as it was never about getting something from a situation that can too easily arise in our busy and complex lives. I think Deschutes does a great job with their social media presence and website and we generally know when things are happening. So, just wanted to give a shout out to Gina and Deschutes. Thank you!

 

[This post, The Abyss 2012 Release Party, 15 November 2012, originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 16 November 2012.]

Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event

On 6 Nov. we attended the Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event with 6 of ours friends. We got there a little early and Sara was able to grab a table so all 8 of us could sit together. The room was pretty full so I assume they had sold all 25 seats.

We tasted 8 different barrel-aged beers; four were from Deschutes, one was a collaboration between Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, and three were from other breweries. Hors d’oeuvres were served about midway through the beer sampling.

We also got a presentation from Jacob Harper, the barrel master at Deschutes. The beers were arranged in the order he figured was lightest to heaviest, but was slightly complicated by the fact that four were sours so they were placed at the back half.

We began with the Calabaza Blanca from Jolly Pumpkin (Traverse City, Ann Arbor and Dexter, Michigan). It is a light wheat/white ale hybrid that was slightly sweet and slightly sour. I thought it was fairly tasty but would not want to drink it in quantity or frequently. ~5% ABV. I gave it 4 stars.

Next was Ale D’or Fort from Deschutes, which I had never heard of. Turns out it was brewed for a special Oregon beer festival (missed the name) last year where all the brewers took a particular Brettanomyces yeast strain from Unibroue and competed with what they produced from it. It was light, almost wine-like, a strong gold which had been aged in French Pinot barrels. No carbonation. It tasted a lot like Ashton’s Fresh Hop London Strong Gold without the fresh hops, which is to say, amazing. 9%+ ABV. 5 stars.

Third was Deschutes’ Black Butte XXIV, which we have had a fair bit of and of which neither of us would tire of ever having. I have three bottles in the Cellar. It is an Imperial porter with dates, figs, chicory and other bits for flavor. 20% was aged in bourbon barrels. We were told that next year they plan on aging 50% of the batch in bourbon barrels, which will up the ABV a few %. I think everyone present let out a loud and appreciative “Oooohhh” at that. 10.8% ABV. 5 stars+

Fourth, and the last non-sour, was Deschutes’ The Abyss (2011). I have been really wanting to try this as this year’s version is being released today. It is an Imperial stout that used licorice and molasses in the kettle. It was 28% barrel-aged (11% Pinot noir, 15% bourbon, 2% raw Oregon oak barrels). It is relatively the same each year. My first reaction was a thoughtful “Hmmm.” I didn’t want to be hasty but I was definitely underwhelmed. It has a chocolate taste late in the mouth. It is tasty but I have to say it is no Black Butte Porter XXIV. 11% ABV. I gave it 4 stars and am hopeful for this year’s batch. It won World’s Best Stout & Porter at the 2012 World Beer Awards, which in my humble opinion it does not deserve. A damn fine beer it is but Black Butte XXIV Porter is better and Midnight Suns’ Berserker Imperial Stout blows them both away.

With any luck we will be one of the lucky few at the release party today to get in on the vertical tasting of 2008-2012 batches of The Abyss. Perhaps I’ll revise my opinion then. [Turns out they have moved up the time when the limited flights will be available and it isn’t looking good. We both questioned this on Twitter—mostly as to what time they really were being served—and got an interesting reply back so we’ll see.]

Fifth, and the first sour, was Tart of Darkness from The Bruery (Orange County, California). It was a sour stout made with cherries and aged in oak barrels. It tasted much lighter than it looked. 5.6% ABV. 4 stars.

Next was The Dissident from Deschutes, which we have also had recently and of which I have 2 bottles in the Cellar. It is made every other year and uses a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces. Currently made in batches of 200 barrels they are aiming to begin producing it every year. 11.4% ABV. 5 stars. This won World’s Best Oud Bruin and Americas Best Oud Bruin at the 2012 World Beer Awards. World’s Best? I don’t know but it is certainly one of the finest sours produced outside of Belgium.

Next to last was Sang Noir from Cascade Brewing (Portland). Pretty darn sour. Light and thin but very sour. Cherries. Aged in French oak and bourbon barrels. 9.5% ABV. I gave it 4/3 stars. For me it was a 3 but I wondered if I were judging it too harshly since it had pushed past my acceptability for sourness.

Last was The Collage, also from Deschutes. We have also tasted this since being here and have a bottle in the Cellar. It comes from a collaboration with Hair of the Dog (Portland) and is a blend of Deschutes’ The Dissident (but unsoured) and The Stoic (a quad we are still waiting to try) and Hair of the Dog’s Fred  (10% ABV Golden Strong ale) and Adam (10% ABV; their 1st beer). It is 100% barrel-aged in 6 different types of barrels. Hair of the Dog uses a peat malt. It is tasty, no doubt, but it seems all the work is over much for the end result. 11.6% ABV. 4 stars.

I must say, though, that I am definitely looking forward to tasting Fred and Adam and other Hair of the Dog beers some day.

After the tasting we were still hungry so we moved downstairs for some dinner. Sara and I shared an Ashton’s Fresh Hop Strong London Gold which was excellent but perhaps not the best idea after all those other strong beers. And I had even been finishing a couple of Sara’s that she did not. I really felt it the next day!

It was, of course, election night and some of those at our table had been (::grumble:: understandably ::grumble::) refreshing their phones all evening as returns came in. During dinner we learned of a couple states’ equal marriage bills passing, Colorado’s passing of their marijuana bill, and of the reelection of Obama. Many people in the pub seemed genuinely happy at much of this but there were definitely groups of assorted sizes who were not. “Sorry if our reasonably joyous celebrations were disturbing you.” No, honestly, I’m not. Deschutes County is a lot more red than I ever might have imagined before moving here. I can see it now but I still find it hard to believe.

All in all, it was a tasty and enjoyable evening.

One of my favorite lines from Barrel Master Jacob Harper was one of the reasons why one might want to barrel-age a beer: “To add mystique to an already good beer.” I’ll raise my glass to a little mystique!

 

[This post, Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event, originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 15 November 2012.]

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.]

Welcome to By the barrel

Welcome to “By the barrel,” or the “Bend Beer Librarian.” My name is Mark Lindner and I am a librarian, Army retiree, a beer aficionado, and a long-time blogger at habitually probing generalist. My wife, Sara, and I moved to Bend, Oregon in August 2012 so she could be the librarian for OSU-Cascades. I recently started working as a part-time reference librarian at Central Oregon Community College (COCC). Please see my About page for more information about me.

This blog is intended as a chronicle of my entry into taking craft beer more seriously. I have been drinking beer for about 40 years. Much of that time, thanks to two tours in Germany and one in Belgium, has been quite serious but I have only been getting into the American craft beer scene for a short couple of years. Moving to Bend greatly amplified that trend.

The main topics of the blog, at least at the early stages, will be how I go about educating myself, the pursuit of various certifications, learning to brew my own beer, attending assorted beer-related events, and what have you. As a librarian, one of my main focuses will be to alert readers to various resources–books, websites, other bloggers, etc. The blog will include reviews and/or commentary on beers, on assorted resources such as books, websites and videos, and of events we attend. I also hope to include some news of different beer-related themes, although that will not be my focus, and to include some guest posts from friends and soon-to-be friends.

[Public Service Announcement: Do not forget your local public library or academic library, if you have access to one, when looking for beer-related resources.

In the Bend area, both the Deschutes Public Library and the COCC Barber Library have a fairly decent collection between them. Keep in mind that as an Oregon resident you can get a Community Patron card to use the college library.

DPL also has quite a few online resources available to you. In particular, the Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure Collection and the Culinary Arts Collection have quite a bit about beer and the beer industry.

The colleges will also have many online resources available to affiliated patrons. Community patrons will have to use the computers in the library to access these materials, though.]

I know that there are hundreds, perhaps a thousand or more, beer blogs out there. I have no intentions, or even hopes, of replacing any of them. This is simply a chronicle of my journey, along with the input of those who accompany me via dialogue, into the world of craft beer, primarily, and of beer in Bend, secondarily.

Please join me if you wish! If you use Twitter, feel free to follow me at @bythebbl.