Worthy Experimental Hop Taste Test Tour

Worthy Brewing in Bend recently had on a flight of 4 beers made with experimental hops to solicit feedback on some of their potential hops from the Indie Hops and Oregon State University’s Experimental Hop Breeding Program. Roger Worthington, owner of Worthy, is also an owner of Indie Hops.

Photo of 4 taster glasses of Worthy Brewing experimental hop beers.

I participated in this at their Eastside brewery and taproom in Bend. I know what I thought of the new hops–as used in these beers–and now it is your chance as they are taking the beers on a mini-tour to several Portland locations and one in Gresham.

If you are interested in hops and would like just a smidgen of input into the future of potential hops then this is for you.

The press release follows:

WORTHY BREWING’S TOURING OREGON FOR FEEDBACK ON BEERS BREWED WITH EXPERIMENTAL HOPS

BEND, OR — Worthy Brewing will be holding tastings throughout Oregon and Washington on beers brewed with hops produced by Portland-based Indie Hops and Oregon State University’s Experimental Hop Breeding Program.

“We’re looking for the public’s feedback on the aroma and taste to help the Indie Hops/OSU program with future breeding projects,” said Worthy Brewing’s Brewmaster, Dustin Kellner. “It’s a great opportunity for craft beer lovers to help choose up-and-coming hop varieties.”

Worthy’s brewery team brewed up four pale ales using the following experimental varietals:  1007-35, C1002-37, G9-1-374 and  C115L-1.

Worthy Brewing’s team will be at the following venues holding flight tastings:

March 18 at 6-9 pm: Produce Row – 204 SE Oak St, Portland, OR 97214

March 20 6-9pm: Roscoe’s – 8105 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215

March 25 at 2-5 pm: John’s Market – 3535 SW Multnomah Blvd, Portland, OR 97219

March 31 at 6-8 pm: Pacific Growlers – 11427 SW Scholls Ferry Rd, Beaverton, OR 97008

For more information, please contact Shannon Hinderberger at shannon@worthybrewing.com.

Worthy Brewing Company opened its doors in early 2013, delivering remarkably balanced, filtered ales that are hand-crafted using premium ingredients and the pristine water from the Cascade Mountains in Bend, Oregon. Worthy’s campus includes a large outdoor biergarten, full restaurant, and a greenhouse and hop yard onsite for growing estate and experimental hops in conjunction with Oregon State University and Indie Hops. An expansion will be completed in Spring 2017, featuring the “Hopservatory,” with a large telescope, “The Hop Mahal,” a banquet space, “The Beermuda Triangle” expanded indoor seating, and “The Star Bar,” an open air mezzanine bar.

 

McMenamins beer in cans taste-off

As I wrote in my post, “Received: McMenamins cans are here!,” that I would, I did a taste-off between the canned versions of Ruby and Hammerhead from the Edgefield production brewery and those from my local McMenamins Old Saint Francis School brewer, Mike “Curly” White. On the 23rd of August I stopped by OSF and got a growlette (32 oz glass “bottle”) of each.

Picture of coozie, two 16 oz cans of McMenamins beer, a postcard, and a small ornament of Ruby.

On 24 August I compared the two Hammerheads and on 25 August I compared the two Rubys. [First 2 under this link]

Hammerhead Taste-off

“Hammerhead McMenamins Hammerhead label

A classic Northwest Pale Ale and McMenamins Standard. This rich chestnut colored gem is a model of harmony between hops and malted barley. Hammerhead’s signature Cascade Hop nose and intense hopped flavor blend nicely with the caramel tones from the Crystal Malt. This beer has a vocal following; to run out is an unforgivable sin.

Malts: Premium 2-Row, Bairds Crystal 70/80

Hops: Cascade

Original Gravity: 1.056

Terminal Gravity: 1.010

Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%

Calories: 241 per pint”

McMenamins Hammerhead can, 2 snifter glasses and a growler

McMenamins Hammerhead taste-off: Can on left, OSF on right

Old Saint Francis School Hammerhead

Aroma: lightly floral and light melon; caramel and toasted bread crumb.

Color: Slightly opaque golden orange. Light tan head of extra fine bubbles and a couple small fisheyes; decent persistence.

Flavor: “English.” Soft. Fairly complex malt of bread, toast and light caramel for a pale ale. Medium hop flavor which was lightly floral and very light citrus. Medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light chalkiness in finish; finishes semi-dry and then dries out a bit more.

Edgefield Hammerhead

Aroma: very light cattiness when cold; disappeared but then came back, so fleeting cattiness. After warming some: very light tobacco/ashtray and a very light dankness.

Color: Almost clear medium-dark orange. Light tan head of extra fine bubbles and a couple small fisheyes; decent persistence [same head as OSF].

Flavor: almost smoky. Medium hop flavor of very light citrus, pine and some earthiness. Medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel: creamier. Slightly more attenuated. Finishes semi-dry.

More “polished” overall but I think the scales [for me, in this instance] tip to Curly’s version. I like the chalkiness and the malt was more complex. His also did not have some of the odder aromas coming from the canned version.

Ruby Taste-off

“Ruby McMenamins Ruby label

One of our most popular standards, we still make Ruby with the same aims we had when brewing the first batch back in March of 1986: To create an ale light, crisp and refreshingly fruity. Great Western Premium 2-Row and 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberry puree is used to craft every colorful batch. Simple but delicious.

Malts: Premium 2-row, Maltodextrin

Hops: Chinook

Fruit: Raspberry

Original Gravity: 1.039

Terminal Gravity: 1.005

Alcohol by Volume: 4.0%

Calories: 170 per pint”

McMenamins Ruby can, 2 snifter glasses and a growler

McMenamins Ruby taste-off: Can on left, OSF on right

Old Saint Francis School Ruby

Aroma: high fresh raspberry. Lightly bready malt almost hidden under the fruit. No discernible hop aroma. Light corn as warms. Once warm got some ashtray on intake.

Color: opaque pink grapefruit with a just off-white head of extra fine bubbles and varied fisheyes and medium persistence.

Flavor: Light corn with a light corn slickness. Raspberry present more in finish than across palate but still low.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Finishes medium-dry with a medium-low hp bitterness but no discernible hop flavor. Softer than the canned version.

Edgefield Ruby

Aroma: raspberry but more artificial. Very light bread crust. Very light corn in inhale just before sipping.

Color: much clearer than OSF version; almost clear orange-peach with the same head as OSF version.

Flavor: Almost raspberry up front and then a lot in the back.

Mouthfeel: Slightly less body than OSF version. Finishes in middle: kind of semi-dry and semi-sweet at same time.

Raspberry is not my favorite ingredient in beer but I preferred Curly’s version with its much fresher-seeming raspberry aroma and a bit less raspberry flavor. Again, the OSF version was also missing the weird (mostly) phenolic aroma showing up. Those can be fine in an imperial stout, barleywine, old ale, etc. but not in these styles of beer. All in all, it was fairly close but not as close at the Hammerheads were.

After I was done making my notes on the individual Rubys I combined them in a 50/50 mix. The aroma was closer to be fresh raspberry (OSF) than artificial raspberry (can). Color and clarity were in between, of course, and the head was much longer lasting than either version alone (although the mix did get a slightly more vigorous pour). It also had a softer mouthfeel than either. For me, it was the best of both worlds.

Wrap-up

These cans are gorgeous, although I am a bit biased as I adore McMenamins in-house art style. I would say it is fairly close still between Edgefield and Curly here in Bend, although I think Curly’s still got a slight edge where my taste buds are concerned. I do not pretend this is any sort of objective standard or measure. ‘Tis just me.

Thanks again, McMenamins for sending me these beauties!

[Disclaimer: These beers came to me free and unbidden [but appreciated] from McMenamins.]

Deschutes Street Pub

Deschutes Street Pub may be coming to a city near you. Well, seven cities after its test run here in Bend May 9th. Between 30 May and 14 Nov it will visit Philadelphia, Arlington, VA, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and Sacramento.

Deschutes Street Pub logo

“We’re super excited to announce that we’re setting up shop in your town for one day! That’s right, we’re bringing our outdoor pub of epic proportions to each of the cities below for an all out block party. Crafted from reclaimed wood and steel, our Street Pub will be a one-stop-shop to try several of our beers – from the coveted Reserve Series rarities (think The Abyss) all the way to year-round favorites like Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Pair those beers up with culinary creations from our Executive Chef, Jeff Usinowicz, and live local music – and you have a street party that’s truly “crafted for community.”

In each city we’ll partner with a local charity so you’ll be drinking for a good cause. The amount of money raised will be determined by how much beer we sell. So, grab your friends and check out the Street Pub when it rolls through your town.”

A fine companion to Woody but on another level [Woody events]. The Street Pub uses 4296 feet of reclaimed white oak and 10,000 pounds of steel. It has 40 taps, which is quite a bit more than the Bend Pub or the PDX Pub or the brewery. Wow! Other than that—which you can learn from watching the video—there are no details, just a fleeting glimpse.

Let’s just say that they have my attention and I hope to be at the May 9th Bend test run.

Schedule available here.

Deschutes Brewery Blog post, “Street Pub – Crafted for Community.”

Twitter Road to Cicerone #beerchat

Tuesday 15 July, Ray Daniels [see note below if you aren’t familiar with Daniels], held a Twitter #beerchat #RoadtoCicerone. During it he announced their new study program Road to Cicerone®, which was released the next morning. There will be 7 courses available in the Road to Cicerone® Self-paced Instruction for Certified Cicerone® Candidates but for now only the first is available: German Course.

[Check out Ray Daniels at the bottom of this page under “Who started the Cicerone program?“]

I am immensely interested in the German Course and what you get for $99 as I am currently setting up a beer styles study group for a small band of friends. While $99 is kind of pricey so is my time identifying and sourcing beers, researching history of the styles, and so on.

Daniels also took questions regarding studying and other forms of preparation for the Certified Cicerone exam.

Here are some of the things from the #beerchat that I found of importance and/or that I want to comment on [note: these are mostly in order from earliest to latest, but I re-arranged a few where it made sense]:

Steven Ward asks who should take exam and Daniels replies:

Daniel Hartis asks about beer writers:  

Daniel Hartis concedes the point and Ray tells us he started as beer writer:

Douglas Smiley asks about bloggers but I did not, nor could, find a reply.

Beer Styles:

Study partners:  

It sounds like they are trying to make Cicerone.org more of a community, with multiple ways to support each other and, of course, pay for more education. Sounds promising to me. All forms of support are needed in serious studying. This is serious.

How to manage so many styles:

Food and beer pairing:  

Notice the best and worst pairings comment. Why do some pairings not work?

Time required to study:

Someone questioned the “new to beer” comment and Daniels clarified that he truly meant new. I’m not sure why someone that “new” to beer would be jumping into taking the Certified Cicerone but it is possible.

Road to Cicerone courses: As I said above, the Road to Cicerone courses were announced during the Twitter chat.

Certified Cicerone considered “mature professional”:

So it appears based on this and above that Certified Cicerone is considered a professional certification for a “mature beer professional,” which includes exactly … what? Working in the “beer industry” or being a beer writer. Blogger; not sure. Distributor? Why?  On learning beer chemistry:

The bible for draft systems:

Great resource for learning draft systems (not cheap):

— —   After chat:   A while after the chat I retweeted the following and then a tweet of my own commenting on new pricing which led to a short chart with Cicerone (not Ray, but the Cicerone Certification Program account):

That morning someone with Cicerone tweeted that the cost for the Certified Cicerone is going up to $395, which is what my comment above was based on. I cannot find that tweet but here is the relevant section from the Certified Cicerone page:

Exam Cost – Initial test: $345; Retake Tasting: $75; Retake Written: $150.

**Please Note: Effective 9/1/14, the Certified Cicerone exam will be priced at $395. Retake Written $175, and Retake Tasting $100.

I fully understand the cost of professional certifications and have paid for acquiring them, along with having paid dues to professional organizations for decades. I also know no one has to use the Road to Cicerone courses. But if they did? That is 7 x $99 (at pricing for 1st; last not due to 4th qtr 2015) + $395. Or, $1088.00. But you also need the Oxford Companion to Beer. Let’s say a round $1100.

You still have to supply all of the beer.

Do not mistake me. I am not judging. This will be great for many people. Some of the rest of us have the time, knowledge and inclination to do a lot of the research on our own. As I said above, I am immensely interested in what is in the German Course as I am currently designing a beer styles study group using the Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone syllabuses, the BJCP style guidelines, the Oxford Companion to Beer, etc. And, lo and behold, German’s are first. Very interested and will probably spring for it as soon as I can afford it.

By the way, after my “after chat” I paid the Cicerone Certification Program $69 and took my Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server exam and passed it. I am not against Cicerone nor giving them money. I do not resent them their fees and I also find them appropriate as compared to other professional organizations. My point is simply that it is a lot (and here I am only speaking of the $395) for someone not in “the industry.”

I also maintain that the Certified Cicerone certification is highly relevant to beer writers, possibly some bloggers, also to serious beer enthusiasts, and to many in the “beer industry” but certainly not all.

Besides myself, I know of several people who are serious beer geeks but are not currently working in “the industry.” Some of us have assorted aspirations along those lines and some don’t. The point is we are highly interested in this certification.

I hope to participate in next week’s follow-up #RoadtoCicerone chat on Tuesday. I intend to ask about the new draft BJCP style guidelines. The changes do effect Cicerone but possibly (probably?) not that much. I am analyzing that info now. There are a couple small areas needing cleared up but that would be easy. I hope to know more by next Tuesday. Before the chat so I can ask intelligent questions during and then hopefully after based on response. [There was a recent press releases from the Cicerone Certification Program stating that they were working with the BJCP regarding style guidelines changes but this was before the release of the draft and had no specifics.]

I am now a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server

[Updated title and first line on 17 July 2014 based on Titles, Trademarks & Proper Use page at Cicreone.org]

Today 16 July 2014 I passed my Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server (CBS) exam.

My Cicerone Certified Beer Server certificate

My Cicerone Certified Beer Server certificate

My profile at the Cicerone Certification Program site.

I have been studying on and off for this for a while and I simply got tired of it and took the test today. I may go on to take the Certified Cicerone exam at some point but am no longer committed to it. I am continuing my beer education, of course, and the CC syllabus is as good a starting point as any other.

I hope to write a couple posts in a small series on the Cicerone Certification Program and changes they just made and are facing, what they recommend for studying for the CBS and what I did for studying, some thoughts on their recommendations for studying for the Certified Cicerone test, some extractions from yesterday’s #RoadtoCicerone #beerchat on Twitter and, finally, what I have been planning for studying beer styles with friends.

The Abyss vertical tasting

On the 11th of January of this year the wife and I were invited along with about 16 other people to Jon & Sherri Abernathy’s home for one of the most epic tastings ever: Deschutes The Abyss Imperial Stout full vertical tasting, 2006 – 2013.

Epic is the correct word. Certainly there are similar tastings of equally exquisite beers, but bring in all 8 years beginning with the first vintage (2006) and they become very rare, and often epic, events.

The first order of business is a big thanks to Jon & Sherri for collecting, saving, hoarding, storing and, finally, sharing all of those bottles of The Abyss. Bless you Jon for starting discussions of carrying it forward in 8 or more year flights into the future (next year 2007-2014 unless some saintly benefactor shows up with some 2006).

Jon's menu for The Abyss 2006-2013 Vertical Tasting

Jon’s menu for The Abyss 2006-2013 Vertical Tasting

The guests were Jon’s work buddies, local beer geeks and local beer industry folks including Gina and Jason, great people and Deschutes’ social media team. There is of course some overlap between various groups. There were three folks who were not having beer.

We drank the vintages sequentially starting at the beginning with 2006 and ending with 2013, although a few people had already dropped off or were about to by the time we got to 2013. 😉

Deschutes The Abyss 2006 - its 1st vintage

Deschutes The Abyss 2006 – its 1st vintage

We had shared a bottle of 2006 The Abyss back in summer with some of these same folks at the 2013 End of Summer Beer Extravaganza. Jon’s bottle was a bit better aged than that one, which wasn’t bad in the first place. He only had two 22 oz bottles of 2006 so we were getting about 2 oz each. It was an exquisite beer.

I knew trying to keep notes on the nuances between vintages was beyond ridiculous and I wanted to focus on the beer. I was planning on checking them all in on Untapped but only made a few notes on the first few. 2007 was going to be the only vintage I had not yet tasted* and I wanted a few notes on it. Here’s what I said:

  • 2006: A: heavenly. Dry must, cedar. Choc, tobacco, vanilla. Amazing! [notebook and Untappd]
  • 2007: A: tar, tobacco. OMG Beergasm! Slightly more tobacco, slightly spicier in mid-finish [notebook only]
  • 2008: little sweeter; smoother [notebook only]
  • 2009: slight Brett “infection” After that I just checked them in with a five-star rating and got back to enjoying them.
Deschutes The Abyss 2007

Deschutes The Abyss 2007

Every single one of the vintages was exquisite despite its differences from its siblings. Perhaps it is also due to those differences. Drinking 2 pints of The Abyss is not something one undertakes lightly. Experiencing all of those one after the other over a few hours was priceless.

In 2009 Deschutes had a problem with some of their batches getting infected with Brettanomyces. I have had Mirror Mirror and now The Abyss from 2009 (all previous 2009 The Abyss i have had was not infected.) that were both “infected” and let me tell you that they were still exquisite beers—despite and because. For many fans of Mirror Mirror and The Abyss the 2009 infected bottles are their favorites.

After the 2013 there were still some bottles of assorted vintages that weren’t empty. I had another ~1.5 oz of 2006 and then the same of 2010. In all, I had had ~2 pints of The Abyss.

My favorites so far are 2006, 2007 and 2010. I believe 2009 has amazing potential and 2011 isn’t far behind it. 2012 and 2013 are, of course, tasty but are still young.

We have a bottle each of 2007 and 2008, which I got at the Deschutes Bend Pub on release day this year. That bottle of 2007 is the priciest beer per oz. that I have bought so far. We also have 2 bottles of 2012 and 12 of this past year’s vintage. Sadly, it will be several years before we can host a vertical of The Abyss ourselves.

Thanks so very much to Jon and Sherri for hosting this wonderful tasting and for sharing all of this The Abyss with us.

Orange bottle cap from Deschutes The Abyss 2006 [see Jon's post linked below for more info]

Orange bottle cap from Deschutes The Abyss 2006 [see Jon’s post linked below for more info]

Here is Jon’s recap of the evening at his own blog: Abyss tasting Some of his tweets:

 

Deschutes Brewery tweets:

 

* We moved to Bend in time for the 2012 release of The Abyss and had a flight of 2008-12 at the pub on release day, and this past year we had 2009-13, again at the pub on release day.

In which I admit my slackardly tendencies once again run amok …

I have been particularly remiss for a while now about a couple of posts that need doing. And, now, of course, what with the holidays and such, they are holding up even more more-recent posts that need writing.

OSU Fermentation Sciences Pilot Brewery visit

Back in July, I got a personal tour of the Oregon State University Fermentation Sciences Pilot Brewery by its faculty manager, Jeff Clawson. It was a great visit and I have been meaning to post about it since then. I hope to do so soon.

Oregon Hops and Brewing Archive

We were in Corvallis again, on 23 August, for my lovely wife to attend a Valley Library in-service day, where she gave a small presentation on tasting beer. A couple of the Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC) archivists chatted with her during lunch and then attended her talk. Was she married to the Bend Beer Librarian and we’re starting up the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archive (OHBA) at SCARC was the gist of some of the conversation.

An email introduction later and we were making potential plans for us to help OHBA in whatever way we could: point person in Bend, general consumer view, whatever. On October 24th we dashed over to Corvallis (and back) so that I could meet with the lead archivist for OHBA, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, and it just happened to be Taste of the Chives 2013 so we got to attend a little open house beer food event, too. After the lunch event in the library, Tiah, Sara and I went to a nearby coffee shop and talked for a couple hours. Since then we have been in contact via email.

This I have also failed to even mention here. I have tried to give OHBA a little love on Twitter but I am still overly remiss in not bringing this great new Oregon hops and brewing resource and its enthusiastic and dedicated archivist to your attention.

Events, of late

We have also attended several events of varying size and significance lately.

Last Saturday, the 14th, was the 1st Annual Winter Beer Fest, sponsored by Growler Guys, and hosted at GoodLife.

That evening, our friend Miles, held his first event as Exploring Beer, a barrel-aged beer tasting with 10 selections of barrel-aged beers across different styles. This was an excellent first event. It was well attended and I believe everyone had a good time. I helped a little with the education portion and with serving the beer.

Tonight we are hosting a Solstice Barley Wine Night at our place with about 10 folks, which will be crowded accommodations here. We will be sharing 13 or more barley wines, which range from all 3 of the Class of ’88s from Deschutes, Rogue and North Coast, a 2009 Deschutes Mirror Mirror to a McAuslan St. Ambroise Vintage 20th Anniversary (2009) and an AleSmith Old Numbskull, along with several others.

Reviews

There are a couple of great sites, like Good Beer Hunting, that I have been wanting to ensure you know about, also. And, of course, I am behind on book reviews.

Well, I guess I cannot complain about not having anything to write about going into the new year.

Halloween 666

Pre-Halloween

Monday, 28 October, my wife noticed that I was only a few unique beer check ins away from 666 on Untapped. She said, “I should try to reach 666 on Halloween and wouldn’t it be fun if it was something a little devilish.” I replied that “That would be easy seeing as we have bottles of Duvel and of Midnight Sun Fallen Angel to drink.”

Halloween

Here we are today at Halloween and I now am at 663 uniques, although I swear it should have been 664. Not sure what happened there. Nonetheless, the goal is to have the Duvel as unique check in 666 on Halloween and the Fallen Angel as unique check in 667 on All Saints Day.
[all of above written on Halloween.]

Bottle and glass of Duvel. Unique check in #666 on Halloween

Bottle and glass of Duvel. Unique check in #666 on Halloween

Post-Halloween wrap-up:

We met our friend Miles and his parents at The Platypus Pub on Halloween for
dinner and drinks. I was still at 664 so I had a taster of Bridge 99 Bull Trout Stout. Bridge 99 was there doing a tasting of four of their beers. Then the wife and I shared a glass of Bend Brewing’s Big Bad Russian Imperial Stout. Miles had brought a couple things he wanted to share so, despite a bottle of Duvel sitting at home in the fridge, I went upstairs to The Brew Shop and grabbed a bottle of Duvel to share around the table. Unique check in 666 on Halloween.

For those who aren’t aware, “duvel” is devil in a Flemish dialect. The standard Flemish is “duivel.” [See Wikipedia for some details. If Google Translate is to be believed, I find it interesting that: “duivel” means “devil,” “demon,” “fiend,” etc. while “Duivel” means “Satan,” “Lucifer,” “Belial,” Jericho,” “the Tempter,” “Old Nick,” and “Old Scratch.” I find it interesting that there is a difference. We do do something almost similar with “devil” vs “the Devil.” I wonder, though, if there is a definite article present also in Flemish. There’s still the difference between “the devil” and a specific singularly named referent. Or is it simply the lowercase vs uppercase “d” doing all the work? Anyone know enough Flemish?]

Fallen Angel I had hoped to make 667 but it slipped to 671. Nonetheless, I did have it on All Saints Day so I’m claiming some version of the original plan was met. Miles had a small group bottle share on the 1st and we consumed, amongst other things, a Midnight Sun Monk’s Mistress as my unique #675, also on All Saints Day.

Maybe that as a connection is reaching but I prefer to think of a monk’s mistress as an angel—fallen or otherwise—and as perhaps a saint. That is, if I were going to believe in either.

Midnight Sun’s description of this wonderful beer:

ABV: 11.5%
IBU: 22

The inspiration for this beer’s name—previously, La Maitresse du Moine—is the beer itself. Its deep, intense flavors inspired the concept of a monk that seeks solace and satisfaction from the sensory pleasure and mind-provoking effects of this liquid temptress.

Mesmerizing Monk’s Mistress seduces your senses at first sip. Its daunting beauty and intriguing flavor fully captivate your attention. Belgian yeast adds character and complexity. We invite you to give in to this little bit of “heaven on earth”.

While Monk’s Mistress Special Dark Ale accompanies a wide variety of dishes, it is also a lovely and engaging beer to keep you company.

Submit. Surrender. Succumb.

Fallen Angel description:

ABV: 8.0%
IBU: 35

Fallen Angel Golden Ale, first brewed on 6-6-6 [JUN 6, 2006], is named in the tradition of Belgian golden strong ales–after the devil himself. We call this beer our “original sin” because it spawned our 2007 Deadly Sin beer series.

Midnight Sun’s Fallen Angel Golden Ale is a traditional Belgian-style golden strong ale–deep gold in color with tiny, conniving bubbles forming a very thick, meticulous head. Effervescent and crisp, this delicious ale tempts the palate with apple, pear and a little earthy mustiness. Its beauty and brightness is angel-like in appearance but the devil in is its strength.

With its introduction in 2006 and its immediate cult following, Fallen Angel was brewed and released about once a year. Beginning in JAN 2012, Fallen Angel was added to our year-round line-up.

How far will you fall?

Based on that description maybe I should have made the Fallen Angel unique 666 but then I would have had to left my friends to go home since there is none available at the Brew Shop.

McMenamins Black Widow Porter

Short review: Both the Black Widow Porter in 22 oz bottle (via production brewery in Troutdale) and the Old Saint Francis School version from Mike White are darn fine tasty porters. Get yourself some and drink them!

Do it soon as it won’t be available for long!

A few weeks ago I got a bomber of Black Widow Porter along with an embossed pint glass and a sticker from McMenamins via FedEx. On thanking @captainneon on Twitter, he suggested I do a horizontal tasting of it along with our local version. I thought this was a grand idea so I waited until I could get a growler of Mike “Curly” White’s version from McMenamins Old Saint Francis School.

I finally made it over this past Monday where it was also the growler fill of the week so I got it at a little discount. A few hours later I got out four 5 oz. taster glasses, opened the bomber and the growler after letting them warm up about 20 minutes, and poured the wife and I each a glass of both.

McMenamins Black Widow Porter - bomber from Troutdale, pint glass filled from growler, growler of local Old St. Francis School version

McMenamins Black Widow Porter – bomber from Troutdale, pint glass filled from growler, growler of local Old St. Francis School version

Production batch (22 oz. bomber)

Aroma: light chocolate, barest hint of rye, biscuit

Color: Almost black

Taste, etc.: Coffee and the barest hint of rye spiciness also makes it into the flavor [note: there doesn’t seem to be any rye in the recipe]. This is a fairly traditional porter. Almonds brought out more of the chocolate in the finish, and a little Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate was quite nice with it.

Old St. Francis School batch (growler)

Aroma: Hint of licorice, dark fruit (plum/grape)

Color: Far less head (see carbonation below); more deep mahogany tints among the almost black.

Taste, etc.: Sweeter and fruitier than the bottled version. Slightly boozy in a grape must way. For some reason this was under-carbonated. The growler was sealed well and we drank it just 3-4 hours after filling … so ? This was not a bad beer but it was not what we expected nor was it a traditional porter, by any means.

I then switched to a pint glass for a couple reasons. What does it actually taste like in a more proper serving size? I wanted a picture of the beer in the glass McMenamins sent along with the bottle. This was the local version from the growler though. Aroma was pretty much the same. It had a slightly better mouthfeel (towards style) but was still under-carbonated. Was also still quite fruity along the plum/dark grape spectrum.

The next night I had about half a pint from the growler and it was now a little thinner but far less fruity and less sweet. It tasted a bit more like a traditional porter.

Clearly there seemed to be something wrong with the growler or the beer it was filled with. So Wednesday I went to McMenamins and tried the local version on site by the pint.

Old St. Francis School version at McMenamins

Aroma: Coffee and chocolate

C: Black with a nice dark tan head. I had to verify that it wasn’t on nitro as it was so beautiful looking in the glass with tiny creamy bubbles.

Taste, etc.: Creamy, medium-plus-bodied. Chocolate, hint of coffee, hint of vanilla. Quite tasty!

This was an exquisite traditional porter. Just to verify my perceptions I had a second pint. Yep. Damn fine job, Curly! Thankfully I got a chance to tell him while I was sitting there. We also discussed the growler issue but neither of us came to any real conclusions. I would have stayed and had a third pint—I rarely come across a traditional porter that good and that inexpensive (was happy hour)—but I had to meet the wife.

Bottom line: Curly at McMenamins Old Saint Francis School outdid the production brewery for this year’s batch of Black Widow Porter in a not entirely fair match up. [That is, Curly’s brew got a second chance and I did not taste the Edgefield version at the pub on draft but from a bottle and only in a taster glass.]

Either way, both beers were quite tasty! Thank you, McMenamins.

By the way, this Wednesday at O’Kanes at Old Saint Francis School there will be a firkin of Whiskey Widow tapped at 5 pm as part of O’Kanes Cask Series Release. This is Curly’s version of Black Widow Porter aged on oak spirals soaked in Hogshead Whiskey. Get over there on Wednesday if you are interested. I plan on being there!

Oblivion Brewing Co. debut

Saturday night Oblivion Brewing Co. made its debut at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in Bend. And what a debut it was!

Darin and Meghann of Oblivion had done a little extra decorating to set the scene and had some friends helping out with the pouring and selling Oblivion merchandise. It started at 5 pm and lasted to just past 7 pm. We got there a few minutes early and it was already beginning to hop. As time went on, it got truly crowded. That was one of the busiest brewery tastings I have seen at Broken Top.

Not a great photo but a shot of part of the room and the tasting station.

Not a great photo but a shot of part of the room and the tasting station to give some idea of the crowd.

They started with three beers: Polar Star Pale Ale, Backside Oblivion IPA, and Knock Out Stout (if I recorded the names correctly, and from different sources). I began with the pale. Sara said she was going straight for the stout but upon having a sip of my pale she grabbed one of those to start. From there I moved to the IPA.

I asked Jason of BTBS if I had a current tap list as I didn’t see any Oblivions on the list. He checked in with Darin and they quickly had the pale on tap so I grabbed a pint of that to have with dinner.

Somewhere in there I grabbed the stout as did Sara. By this point our friend Miles had arrived and we proceeded to compare notes.

Keep in mind, except for my pint of pale, all of my tastes were from taster glasses, although I did have a couple of the stout.

Polar Star Pale Ale is an unfiltered pale which gives it a bit more body. It had a slightly dank hop aroma that tasted far mellower than the aroma suggested. It was a damn fine pale ale in my opinion and one of the best that I have had in a long time. I could easily drink a few pints of Polar Star Pale.

Backside Oblivion IPA had, to me, a slight floral and fruity aroma. I suspect it is also unfiltered, although it was a fair bit more clear than the pale and a bit more toward the orange end of yellow in color. It was quite creamy with a medium-low bitter finish. This was an exceptional IPA, at least if one is a fan of the more English-style than the bold-and-in-your-face PNW kind. I like a big bold Pliny the Elder on occasion but if I am going to consider an IPA as a general drinking beer then I want one just like the Backside Oblivion.

Knock Out Stout had a nice roasty aroma and was dark brown with a nice tan head. It too was nicely creamy. This is an excellent every day drinking stout. I don’t have the ABV on it (or its siblings) but I am betting this would be quite sessionable, even if it may perhaps sit a bit above the top end of the session range. I truly enjoyed my pint of the pale but Sara and I are both anticipating when we can actually savor a pint (or two) of this stout to truly get a feel for how it works as a beer.

I have to say that I was truly impressed with these first beers from Oblivion Brewing. Great job, Darin and Meghann! You are off to a amazing start!

But that’s not all. As a couple kegs each of the above beers began to blow Darin brought out his Darin’s Special Bitter (DSB) which I failed to take even minimal notes on (except name and rating). But let me say that it is another keeper. I have a growing affinity for, and interest in, the range of bitters and this is a darn fine one. I had a couple tasters of it too.

Then we got served a special version of the stout—for which I don’t even have a name, other than Darin called it a NW stout. It is basically the Knock Out but using a different yeast than the standard Irish Stout yeast used in Knock Out, and it is dry hopped with Cascades hops. This was very much like a thick, roasty Cascadian Dark. In other words, it was delicious! A couple of tasters of this too confirmed that opinion.

I checked the first three beers into Untappd as someone else had added them before I tried. I am glad they did as I would not have since I had so little info to add. If I don’t have the bare minimum of name, brewery, ABV (and hopefully IBU) then I won’t add a beer. The last two did not get checked in.

Darin and Meghann, I know you folks are busy but please consider claiming your brewery on Untappd and then claiming your beers so they display with your logo and not simply some generic one. If you would like a hand getting that done I’d be happy to help.

Folks, be sure to check out Oblivion Brewing Co.’s offerings wherever you can find them. Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café is a distinct probability [daily tap list here – pdf][Today’s BTBS list shows Darin’s ESB on right now!], and I understand some of the other early possibilities are Growler Guys [tap lists], Brother Jon’s and I’m blanking on anyone else. Darin or Meghann, feel free to comment and let us know where your beer can be purchased.

These are damn fine drinking beers, people. I am impressed!