Snowed In (The Session #108)

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

From Jon Abernathy at The Brew Site who is hosting this month’s Session:

“The theme is “Snowed In,” and I want it to be open-ended. It’s the first week of February—we are solidly in the grip of the winter, which means hunkering down from the cold and, depending on where you live, waiting for warmer days to thaw out the ice and snow. But perhaps it’s one of those winters, where the snow starts falling… and falling… and falling some more, and the next thing you know, schools are closed, there’s four or more feet of snow on the ground—and you are effectively snowed in and not going anywhere.

So what’s next? That is what I want you to write about—as it pertains to beer, of course! …

My birthday is 2/3rd of the way solidly into winter, late in February. People can complain about winter weather all they like—as do I on occasion—but my birthday is during that hell of sleet, rain, ice, snow, freezing winds and everything else that comes with being in the Midwest or Central Oregon in the dead of winter. I used to despise it but now I embrace it. I want it all. And I want all the winter types in February! Now I’m not sadistic; I am perfectly pleased with a day or two of each of the bad kinds of winter weather or even a good gobsmacking by two or three all in one day. Then it can go away. It can, of course, be as nice as it wants; although, admittedly, I’d be a bit freaked out by temps over 60F/15C.

All of that to say, I am fully down with Jon’s topic. And while perhaps not as prepared as I would like “knowing the snow’s coming” we are not unprepared either. Both contingencies will be addressed, as will most of the ideas Jon proposed.

Cold weather beer styles

My cold weather beer styles are pretty much my normal beer styles, although a few specific beers creep in during the colder temps. Imperial stouts and barley wines, barrel-aged or not, are our go-to beers, all year-long. I am not a fan overall of the winter warmer category but a few like Deschutes’ Jubelale and Anchor’s Our Special Ale/Christmas Ale do get put into the winter line-up, at least a couple of each. It also means trying more of them to hopefully find others that can do spicing the way I prefer; not many do. There are also other winter seasonals, such as Deschutes’ Red Chair, that also need a few or more imbibed.

Dip into cellar? Something special?

Here is where we are already prepared. Our cellar is two smaller fridges—4.4 and 11 cubic feet—which are temperature controlled, for which we have a by shelf inventory (spreadsheet). We also—as we buy more beer than we can actually cellar—have several boxes full, all of which is also accurately inventoried. Then there’s the general drinking beer which we do not bother (anymore) to put into the spreadsheet. “General drinking beer” may still be an Impy stout or a barley wine but we simply had no intention of cellaring them when we acquired them; we simply meant to drink them “soon.” We were buying mostly cellar beer for a good while. Had to get that (somewhat) under control. We also used to put every beer into the spreadsheet. We were young. Or something.

So … “snowed in and not going anywhere”? We do have projected dates for most of the cellared beers but we adjust some of the longer, more hopeful, dates based on drinking as we go. Some have definitely moved up across time. We also realized we needed to drink a lot more of them sooner rather than later based on incoming amounts so we are “suffering” our way through that. 😉

I am going to assume this is around my birthday in a couple weeks; thus, as of now anyway, first up would be my last Firestone Walker Double DBA Proprietor’s Reserve Series No. 001 (2012). I drank the previous one February 28th last year and it was freaking ridiculous. It was simply one of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of tasting and we had a whole 22 oz. bottle to the two of us. I got four of these from our friends at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in late 2013 and they have been amazing all along but the improvement along the way has been off the charts! So I have chosen this as this year’s birthday beer. Could change my mind but not thinking I will.

Next up for consideration:

Some of the tasties we are already scheduled to drink soon: 2013 editions of Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel, Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout and Crux’s Tough Love. There are far more coffee stouts than the Péché, like a 2013 BCBS Coffee, a Stone 2013 IRS Espresso and a Founders’ Breakfast Stout. among a few others.

We might finally get on with our Fort George Cavatica Stout tasting. We have 16 oz cans of regular Cavatica Stout from 2014, along with the barrel-aged versions from the last few years: 2013 Rye, 2014 Rum (also 16 oz cans) and 2015 Bourbon (22 oz bottle). Should make for a fun excursion.

I spy a 2014 Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin slotted for sometime in 2016. Snowed in seems like as fine an occasion as any for it.

Perhaps one evening as we’re winding down, we could sip on a Westvleteren XII (2012) and contemplate our moments of good fortune. I still have three of these that I got in the “fix the roof” six-pack.

Like I said, there are others, listed in the spreadsheet or not, but these are some of the more intriguing and, in a few especial cases, better—fully world class—beers that would fit the extended snowbound occasion.

Stock up on go-to beer

Depending on the timing, I would want a case of Deschutes’ Jubelale. This year’s (2015) is my favorite so far. Every time I drank it I wanted another. Sometimes I chose not to but the “but I want another” was strong for me in this year’s Jubelale. The thing is … I only drink this fresh. Same as with Red Chair. And I do mean fresh. If I can’t verify this is only a month old or less I generally won’t touch it. My choice, I know. Saw a 12-pack at Haggen’s (supermarket) the other day (first week of January) for a reasonable price and I had a tough time rationalizing my way into following my own principles. I adore both of these beers but can only drink them for a few weeks each year as if it isn’t fresh it is not the same to me. I am not so much on this level of freshness with any other beers. Not at all. Don’t get me wrong I like fresh beer (and appropriately aged beers, no doubt) but this is some kind of hyperfreshness fetish. But, to me, when definitely fresh, these are both world class beers of the highest order but when not quite fresh anymore they rapidly start to approach “Meh. There’s better beer available in this town/bar/pub.” I don’t want to be there with either of these beers. So I self-limit in an odd way.

Picked up a case of Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy Imperial Stout end of January. This is currently the wife’s go-to beer whenever I am drinking one of the many things I have around that she isn’t into. I also quite like it and generally leave it to her but with a case I can have a few. We’d been buying it by the 4-packs but realized I should just ask “my guy” for a case. Making that request a couple weeks ago reminded me I have no Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in the house either. Went through several cases of that the last couple winters especially as that was my go-to beer. Might need to grab a 6-pack or two and see how it’s tasting. Could need to talk to my guy about that again too.

I have been drinking a boatload of Pelican’s Umbrella Single-Hop IPA with Ella hops from New Zealand as my go-to beer lately. I’ve been loving the heck out of that! Also a bit strange as there are only a few IPAs—of any kind or color—that get me excited. And never one I have bought by the 6-pack! I was so excited when Umbrella was put in 12 oz 6-ers and made year-round. Crazy but there it is. Seems I need a good hop bite with none of that “Is it the roast malts, or the bitterness from the hops/coffee/chocolate/ … WTF is that bitterness?” that we get frequently in many of the beers we love.

Even more lately, I have been drinking Fremont’s Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout in 12 oz cans. Fremont has just recently begun distributing in Bend but I have had several of theirs previously thanks to a local friend, Ryan, who is a big fan of them. In fact, he gave me one of these for my birthday last year. I gave it 5-stars (of 5) and wrote “Very creamy. Fruity. Nice. I like this a lot.” I left out the ridiculous roastiness, the massive mouthfeel during and long after, and the lingering complexity. This is big and chewy and at 8% seems even bigger.

Whoa! just checked Fremont’s website and they say this beer is only available January 1st to February 29th. Oh. Hell. No. Just shot my guy a message. Got a case on its way. This is stocking up on go-to beer, right?

Too late for more Jubelale for me this year but maybe if I truly knew the big one was coming I’d break my prohibition as it would still be a tasty beer, to say the least. I would want a case of at least one of the stouts but preferably the Ten Fidy as we need something Sara is happy to consume without investing lots of thought. Going with the Fremont for now but would not a couple 6-packs of the Barney Flats for something more sessionable and also of Umbrella. Need a little variety in your drinking beer, I do.

Homebrewer

I am a fledgling home brewer so do not yet even have all of the equipment and certainly not any ingredients for brewing up something on the spot—well, that’s a lie as I have a good 3/4 lb or so of Cascade pellet hops in the freezer that were given to me.

I have also not brewed in the snow yet but look forward to it. If I can find a way to make it possible.

I think a nice roasty, toasty porter or stout would be a good match for the weather and goes along with many of my other choices in this post.

“Desert island beer” but colder – snowed in for all of winter

Well … this depends. Is this something available and affordable to me? Is it something I choose for myself or for the wife and I both or something we choose together? Those questions will all influence the answer.

Considering that if it isn’t available to me (for whatever reason) or I cannot afford it (one of those reasons) then I’m not going to get it so we will just forget that blissful group of beers and move on.

I think, as of now, the easy answer is Barney Flats if only I’m choosing and Ten Fidy if I am for both of us, and possibly if we both choose one between us. I would go with the almost sessionable Barney Flats over the not-at-all-sessionable Ten Fidy myself as it would have a bit more range.

If I could somehow get fresh deliveries but only of the same beer I might for go this year’s Jubelale but that’s not really possible over Winter anyway since by then Red Chair has replaced it as a seasonal.

Beer book(s) paired with which beer

Well, there’s the easy answer of the appropriate style with each book in the Classic Beer Styles series from Brewers Publications, for instance Pale Ale with one’s favorite pale. I’m not sure what my favorite pale is although I know I like a few. Poking UnTappd I’m going to have to say either Deschutes Hop Trip, Block 15 Print Master’s Pale, Mazama Oregon SMASH, or Crux The Pale Ale.

I own Pale Ale (Foster), Porter (Foster), Stout (Lewis), and Barley Wine (Allen & Cantwell) (all of which I’ve read) and Vienna, Marzën, Oktoberfest (Fix & Fix) which I have not.

Probably couldn’t get very far at a time with Barley Wine unless sipping very slowly. I’ll leave it to you to choose appropriate beers for these and the following.

Might I suggest some possible combinations for your own consideration:

Boak and Bailey  Brew Britannia with the best approximation [if not in the UK] of English beer, preferably a sessionable one, that you can achieve in your location. Actual British beer would be preferable, with something from one of the upstarts even better. Perhaps you ought sit in your local and enjoy your beer there while you read it. That would be my choice. [Learned to read in bars in college & grad school, basically across my 40s. “Retired” from the Army and started college full-time to finish undergrad degree and eventually grad school.]

Patrick Dawson – Vintage Beer with anything cellared for over three years.

Sam Calagione – Extreme Brewing with some Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, or one of their other off-centered beers [same issue as Barley Wine above, though].

Terry Foster – Brewing Porters & Stouts with tasty porters or stouts or an assortment of the various sub-styles if your tastes are eclectic enough. Mine are. I can appreciate a well-made porter or stout of any origin.

There’s also the Brewing Elements series from Brewer Publications:

Stan Hieronymous – For the Love of Hops with a nicely hopped (whatever that is for you), hop-forward beer, with either your favorite hops or some of the newer German varieties or anything from New Zealand.

John Mallett – Malt with tasty malt-forward beers.

Chris White & Jamil Zainasheff – Yeast with tasty yeast-driven beers. [not yet read]

John Palmer & Colin Kaminski – Water with, well, not sure what a water-forward beer would be, but tasty beers where the style is heavily-dependent on the water profile seems a good start. [not yet read]

Then there are potentialities like working your way style-by-style through some of these:

Mirella Amato – Beerology [read, not yet reviewed]

Garrett Oliver – The Brewmaster’s Table

Jeff Alworth – The Beer Bible [read, not yet reviewed]

Randy Mosher – Tasting Beer

Brian Yaeger – Oregon Breweries (or your own state/region) with a selection of Oregon (or other “district” as appropriate)  beers

Jon Abernathy – Bend Beer [still need to do a proper review of this]

Pete Dunlop – Portland Beer (or your city)

Joshua Bernstein – The Complete Beer Course [not yet read]

Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium with as many of the great beers of Belgium you can (easily) get to hand. [not yet read]

Leaving the easy to come by—self-evident—beer-related pairings:

Anne Brontë – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with some “home-brewed ale.”

“‘Sine as ye brew, my maiden fair,
Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill.’*”

“From ‘Country Lassie’, a song by Robert Burns (1792). ‘Sine’: then; ‘maun’: must; ‘yill’: ale (Scots dialect). Cf. the proverb, ‘As they brew so let them drink’ (ODEP, 85).” 227/433

If you are still reading, thanks. Sorry for going on so long but I was inspired by Jon’s topic, even if it was mostly meaningful to me.

My “8 Ways To Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month”

A few days ago The New School tweeted a link to an article at Gadling.com (travel blog), “8 Ways to Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month,” by Anna Brones on 6 July 2013. Since I was on my way to Corvallis for a few days I found its timing serendipitous, especially suggestion #2. Thus, I thought I would use it to build a post around.

I had never heard of the Gadling travel blog before or of the article’s author, Anna Brones. Poking the site and especially her byline link, I must say I am slightly confused. It states that,”Anna Brones is a food and travel writer based in Paris, France. In her spare time, she heads up Foodie Underground.” Most of her articles are about Europe, although I did see one about train travel in the Pacific Northwest so perhaps she gets out here once in a while. Not a complaint at all. Just seems a bit random to me but then, hey, I’ll take folks talking up Oregon Craft Beer Month on a wider basis.

On to the article and what I am already doing that fits her suggestions:

1. Go to a festival

While not making it to the big one this year (Oregon Brewer’s Festival), we did attend the Whole Foods Summer Brewfest on Saturday, 6 July, which benefitted the Humane Society of Central Oregon. We tasted all of the following beers and one mead from Nectar of the Gods:

  • Deschutes Belgian Baroness
  • Stone Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard
  • Fort George 3-Way
  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere
  • Crux Castor Weizen
  • Hop Valley Vanilla Infused Porter
  • Full Sail Bohemian Pilsner

It was small but included these breweries and around four to six more. It was a tough choice for which beers to try and several we would have liked to sample we had to pass on since we were going to a movie afterwards.

2. Plan a road trip that involves at least five breweries

While I hadn’t actually “planned” out a road trip, per se, it is always my intention to visit the breweries when I go to Corvallis. And this trip was going to include one brand-new brewery, Mazama Brewing, and one new to me, the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery, where I had scheduled a visit for a tour and tasting. The following is a list of the breweries I visited in the order I got to them this time:

  • Mazama (brand-new; soft opened 31 May)
  • Block 15
  • Flat Tail
  • OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery (new to me)
  • McMenamins Corvallis Pub (new to me)
  • Oregon Trail

I intend to write a post each about my visit to Mazama and the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery.

3. Buy beer and other assorted goods

The Fourth of July is mentioned so I will mention the 4th of July Coming Out Stouts party we had with 7 of our friends. Its name, which had a couple different variants, was in celebration of the Supreme Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 rulings and of my recovery from my recent surgery. We sampled 12 stouts and one porter while enjoying food, conversation and companionship on our back porch. Most of the stouts were already present although I did pick up another Cavatica Stout from Fort George (it comes in 16 oz cans and not 22 oz bombers like the others) and a Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout to pair with the other oatmeal stout I already had.

On 2 July I picked up bottles #7-12 of Black Butte Porter XXV from Broken Top Bottle Shop to round out my case. While I couple of days later I bought a Deschutes Teku goblet at the brewery to compliment the BBPs and other big dark beers from Deschutes.

No doubt other beers have and will be bought over the remainder of the month. As for other beer gear, yesterday I ordered a new Danby 11 cu ft DAR1102WE fridge to replace my much smaller Danby DAR440W as The Cellar. It won’t be delivered for two more weeks but I got an amazing price from Standard TV & Appliance who has it for 15% off through this Monday. Even without the sale it would have been much cheaper then Amazon or Home Depot.

4. Plan a weekend of “research”

The suggested “research” is browsing this Portland monthly article, “50 Best Oregon Beers,” to see which you can get if you live elsewhere. Since I do live in Oregon, I thought I’d see how many I have had so far. It looks like I have had 18 of the 50 so far, although I am fairly certain I have tasted 2-3 more of them.

As for research, especially if you put scare quotes around it, well, that’s what I do. Each week I have scheduled a minimum of one hour/day for four days of beer studying and research. I read beer books and magazines and websites and blog posts and so on. I try to review some of them and hope/intend to review more.

While in Corvallis I got 3 books from OSU Valley Library and bought 2 books and a magazine at The Book Bin. I am currently reading Bamforth, Charles W, ed. 2006. Brewing: New Technologies. Woodhead Publishing in Food Science, Technology, and Nutrition. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Pub. and I am re-reading Bamforth, Charles W. 2009. Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing. 3rd ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. I intend to write reviews of both.

Numbers 5 and 6 are run and drink, and bike and drink but due to my surgery I can neither run nor bike currently.

7. Try a new style of beer

This one is in theory harder to pull off than any of the others but succeed I did. At Block 15 in Corvallis I was able to try their IMP, a Belgian enkel or single. While touring the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery I was able to taste their Standard American industry lager and a Nordic Farmhouse Rye. That’s three new styles.

One could argue that I have drank plenty of standard American industry lager, which would be true, but I haven’t in a decade or two and I certainly  haven’t since I started seriously drinking craft beer. I still think I need to give the ubiquitous PBR a try soon but I can in reasonably good faith consider myself to have tried Bud/Miller/etc. and even a variant made with 016 hops instead of Willamettes.

8. Learn to homebrew

I tried this myself once back in the mid 80s while in Belgium with a British homebrew kit. It did not turn out well. I did help a friend on brew day with a Russian River Blind Pig clone back in June but I doubt I will get a chance to do so again this month. The books and magazine that I bought at The Book Bin are all on homebrewing, though, and one of the books from Valley Library is, so in essence the attempt is there.

No doubt I have missed something or the other but there’s my list of things done to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month as bounced off of some list of ideas.

The most important thing, though, is missing from the list. That is simply to experience and (responsibly) enjoy some tasty Oregon craft beer this month. Along with every other month of the year!

What are you doing to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month?

Compulsion (The Session #76)

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

Compulsion is the topic for The Session #76 hosted at beer is your friend. The topic of “compulsion” led to the wife and I discussing language. That may be a whole other topic but if we really want to talk compulsions then there’s that.

We sat at the Deschutes Bend Pub having dinner, waiting for their new Gose release to start so we could taste it, meet the brewer Veronica Vega and the Oregon artisanal salt maker, Ben Jacobsen, whose salt was used to make the Gose, and buy some salt. We discussed the relationships and differences between “urge,” “need,” “want,” compulsion,” “desire,” “addiction” and so on. We checked definitions of “compulsion” in apps and online via our iPhones. Sara asked the Twitters to rank “urge,” “need,” and “compulsion” and she learned that, for some unknown reason, “compulsion” carries less force for her than for many others, including me. We find these discussions of ours fascinating and they may well be a compulsion for us both.

This all started for me as I wanted to participate in this month’s round of The Session but I was not really feeling it. Do I truly have a compulsion around beer? That is, not an urge or a desire or an impulse, but a compulsion, one (or more) with the full freight of that word? I am not sure but I don’t think so.

Do I have more beer than I can reasonably drink in a week or two (disregarding The Cellar)? Sure I do. Do I keep buying more when there is no real room for it in the fridge? Yes. Is it starting to spill over into boxes and dark corners that aren’t perhaps the best for storage? Uh huh.

Do we go to lots of beer events (tastings, sensory classes, releases, pairings)? Of course. Have we planned a vacation around beer or breweries? It wasn’t truly a vacation, but we raced up to Astoria (7 hours each way) in February for the Festival of the Dark Arts at Fort George Brewery and raced back the next day. It was so awesome we plan to make it an annual event, and a true vacation next time. So, yeah.

Are we constantly trying new beers, new styles, new breweries? Indeed. But we are recent immigrants to the heaven of beer that is Bend, Oregon and the larger Pacific Northwest. And the place we lived before was a true wasteland of beer. We have definitely identified some few favorites but every one of them is in some way hard to get regularly as they are special releases, seasonals, or annuals. So tasting new things makes sense.

Am I a beer ticker? I had to look that up, although I had a good idea what it meant. This was the most helpful site that I found. At least based on this site, I think what makes beer ticking a potential obsession is the obsession many have with their hobby, compulsion or whatever else you want to label it, itself.

I do use Untappd and I greatly enjoy marking off new-to-me beers but I will not try something simply because I have never had it and I will definitely drink something I know I love instead of having something new if none of the other things are appealing enough. During (and after) Central Oregon Beer Week I had Deschutes The Stoic (2011) four different times when I could easily have had something I had never had because they simply did not appeal to me in the presence of what is simply (one of) the nectar(s) of the gods.

Before I started this post I looked up “compulsion” in the OED. This is what I found:

1. a. The action, or an act, of compelling, or the condition of being compelled; constraint, obligation, coercion.

1869 E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (1876) III. xii. 247 Such an oath could have been taken only under compulsion.
1875 B. Jowett tr. Plato Dialogues (ed. 2) I. 141 If he likes he pays my price, but there is no compulsion.

2. Psychol. An insistent impulse to behave in a certain way, contrary to one’s conscious intentions or standards.

1965 A. D. Weisman Existential Core of Psychoanal. vii. 205 In contrast to compulsion, choice is essential to responsible acts.

Merriam-Webster Online has this to say:

1 a : an act of compelling : the state of being compelled

   b : a force that compels

2 : an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act (as excessive hand washing); also : the act itself

And check out those synonyms and related words. Those synonyms [arm-twistingcoercionforceconstraintduresspressure] can certainly be a part of any act of coercion but none of that is going on in my beer drinking, buying, research, or any other activity relating to beer in my life.

Do I have a compulsion, then, in regards to beer?

I don’t think so.

Central Oregon Beer Week Recap

COBW-Logo-Banner-Med

The 2nd annual Central Oregon Beer Week (COBW)—our first—was, in my humble opinion, a booming success. It was definitely a busy week and involved one or more beers most days but since that is often the case it kind of goes without saying.

I don’t even remember everything we did or every beer I tasted. My daily journal is missing a few details, as usual, and not every beer got recorded in either my paper beer notebook or in Untappd. So be it. Nonetheless, I will attempt something of a recap.

Monday, 20 May, began for us with my event, Beer & Books at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café at 4 pm. We got there a little early and had some food and got set up. The time slot wasn’t the greatest so in the end there were seven people in the audience but I feel—and have heard—that it went well. Here’s the link for the bibliography for my talk.

Me giving my Beer & Books Talk at Broken Top for Central Oregon Beer Week

Me giving my Beer & Books Talk at Broken Top for Central Oregon Beer Week

I wouldn’t mind reprising it again on other occasions and also moving into other topics and informational resources related to beer resources. I definitely want to do it or something like it again next year. Maybe another venue and time a bit later in the evening would work better. We absolutely love Broken Top and they treat/treated us great but they have their Brews & Bands theme and activities already which takes up all of the prime hours of 5 – 9 pm. If I find other occasions to reprise the talk, though, I would definitely want to do it at Broken Top.

During my talk I had a pint of Vertigo’s Schwindel Alt which was quite tasty and refreshing. Afterwards I was talking with one of the audience and mentioned how much I loved hefeweizen so Dean of Below Grade, who was setting up for the free tasting, brought me some of his Volksvitzen South German Weissbock. I have had it before and it is quite tasty. Solstice Brewing from Prineville was also there and I tasted a couple of theirs including the Prinetucky Pale Ale.

After a short while we caught the Get-It Shuttle over to Worthy Brewing for the Beer Week Kick-Off Celebration. There we had 5 different SMaSH beers (single malt and single hop) from Worthy, Bend Brewing, McMenamins, Phat Matt’s and Deschutes. I thought BBCs, McMenamins and Deschutes were the best, and all quite tasty, with Deschutes getting my vote for overall best as it had the most complex taste. It had more going on, if you will.

As we left we picked up our commemorative COBW glasses—which are quite nice, and large—and caught the Get-It Shuttle back to Broken Top before heading up the hill to home.

On Tuesday we had dinner at Broken Top and I had a glass of Deschutes The Stoic from 2011. Freaking exquisite beer! Sara had a glass of Caldera’s Toasted Chocolate Coconut Porter which was also pretty tasty. Caldera and Deschutes were pouring for the Brews part of Brews & Bands so we sampled a few other things. Abe, from Deschutes, opened some bottles of Conflux No. 1: The Collage which is aging nicely. I have a bottle in The Cellar and plan on leaving it at least another six months or perhaps a year which I believe will continue to improve it.

Wednesday, we had been planning on going to Deschutes Beer-lesque at The Summit Saloon but we decided we weren’t in the mood for a crowd so we opted for the Brewers Reserve Night at Silver Moon and it was a great choice. We tasted five different and very special beers, several of which were barrel-aged. Actually, we sampled a couple more because our friend, Miles, was with us and we didn’t get the same five from the list of seven that he did.

Brewers Reserve Night Beer List at Silver Moon

Brewers Reserve Night Beer List at Silver Moon

Sara and I started with the Alpha Project #5: Uncle Jim’s Maui Wowie Double IPA which we both really loved. You won’t hear me often saying either of us love a DIPA but we both did and I gave it 5 stars.

Next, we had the Oak-aged Conquistador spiced Mexican brown ale, which is their Apocalypto “End of Days strong ale” aged in rum barrels for six months. Then we had the La Vengeance du Sorcier Belgian strong dark ale. Except it wasn’t. They had accidentally brought out a pitcher of their La Travail du Sorcier Belgian strong golden which we had had a week or so prior. It got straightened out and we got a glass of the Vengeance. Next up was the barrel-aged Demolition Man, a Northwest strong ale, which was very barley wine-like and aged in bourbon barrels for eleven months. Lastly, we had the Purgatory’s Oak Shadow, which is their Purgatory’s Shadow Belgian strong aged 6 months in Volcano Vineyards French white oak Shiraz barrels. It was darn tasty.

Thursday began with an early post-lunch stop at GoodLife to try their daily Bourbon & Barrel-Aged Tap of the day, the JAM!, which is a light pale aged with Oregon marionberries in a Syrah oak barrel.

In the afternoon we helped one of the organizers hang the COBW banner at Crow’s Feet Commons for the Ale Apothecary Sahati Bottle Release event that was taking place that evening.

That evening I had the first session of my Beer Sensory Analysis class through COCC with Amanda from Deschutes. Afterwards I met Sara and some friends at Broken Top and had another wonderful glass of The Stoic 2011. Thank you so much Broken Top for storing that keg since early 2011!

Friday, after work, we started at Crows Feet Commons for the Weekend Kick-Off Fire Pit Party but when I mentioned a CDA throw down at Platypus Pub to our friend it was decided we were in the wrong place. So off we went to the Platypus Pub for the Friday Fight Night between Boneyard and 10 Barrel. For $4 we each got a 4 oz taster of both of their CDAs and a ticket to vote on which was the best. After tasting these and voting I got myself a pint of Rat Hole’s–Bend’s newest brewery–Hazelnut Brown Ale.

Crux Bottle Release Party

Crux Bottle Release Party

Saturday morning we headed to Crux Fermentation Project early for their Bottle Release Party where we picked up three bottles of Tough Love Banished Imperial Stout 2013 and two of the Impasse Saison. I had hoped to have burritos for breakfast there and then get a small snifter of the Tough Love but after getting our bottles the burrito line was pretty long. Due to picking up Sara’s bike from REI and having the Cake concert in the evening we chose not to do any more beer events on Saturday.

Tough Love Banished Stout 2013 and Impasse Saison (4th bottle for Miles)

Tough Love Banished Stout 2013 and Impasse Saison (4th bottle for Miles)

Sunday we went out to Sunriver for the First Annual Sunriver Resort Brewfest which was the capstone event for COBW. We stopped at The Mountain Jug beforehand and grabbed a few things to bring home. At the brewfest we were able to taste a few things from Sunriver Brewing (our 1st from them), Full Sail, and GoodLife. Sadly, all of the breweries ran out of beer fairly quickly. Otherwise, it was a pretty good event but they’ll need more beer next year, or need to charge a small fee to hopefully rein in the suds suckers, and they could use another food tent in a different location on the grounds. On the way home we all—Miles was with us—stopped at Broken Top and continued our great conversations and had some more tasty beer.

1st Annual Sunriver Resort Brewfest

1st Annual Sunriver Resort Brewfest

Monday, the 8th and final day of COBW, found us at the Deschutes Pub in the evening for their Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter Tasting Party. Let me just say that Deschutes does it up right! They had tasters available of their Smoked Bruin, Pub Smoked Porter and the Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter. They also had plenty of tasty food. And all of it was FREE! We liked the Smoked Bruin, which bordered on being a dessert beer, and the Class of ’88 the best. We will certainly be picking up a couple of bottles of the Class of ’88 to cellar.

Thanks Deschutes for another classy party! We heard lots of great comments regarding your spread and hospitality from folks who were visiting you for the first time. Bravely done!

Deschutes Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter

Deschutes Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter

We also stopped by the new Brew Wërks location twice for lunch and beers during COBW. It is hopefully going to be a better space for them. I kind of liked the previous space but it was NOT a good location for them at all. Mike made a very tasty mashup of his Audacious Amber by using a saison yeast that he called Amber Saison. It may sound weird but it was quite good.

In summary, I would say Central Oregon Beer Week was a great time for us. I participated as an official sponsor and held an event, which I would like to continue next year. I must say the organizers of COBW took great care of me—as a sponsor and as an attendee at numerous events—and I hope to be on that side of the fence going forward. Sara and I had a grand time attending many events, often facing hard choices of what to do versus what to skip, and we had quite a few very tasty beers and a goodly number of quite drinkable beers.

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

How We Love Beer (The Session #72)

 

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session: What is it?

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.”

In other words, it is a beer blogging carnival.

This is my first entry and this month’s topic—to be hosted at montana beer finder —is “How we love beer.”

How I love beer

I have loved beer for a very long time. My love began even before I began drinking beer. As an eleven-year old in St.Louis, I began collecting beer cans. For some reason I was actually encouraged in this hobby. My dad took me to trading sessions and other events of some of the very active chapters of the Beer Can Collectors of America. One was even affiliated with his place of work—McDonald Douglas—so he was able to do a little socializing himself. When I went on trips with my mom she would purchase beer in cans for me with my allowance. In 1977 my Dad and I even attended the BCCA ‘Canvention’ in Kansas City. Shortly after that I entered the US Army. Twenty years later, including three tours in Europe—two in Germany, one in Belgium—I had significantly added to my can collection, which had now blossomed into additional smaller collections of coasters, painted label bottles, openers, etc. I even attended a massive trading event of the Dutch club Blik op Blik while I was stationed in Belgium. Sadly, a plethora of moves since ‘retiring’ from the Army, increased storage costs, and so on has significantly depleted my collection. It has been heartbreaking each time I have had to reduce it. I still have a few cans and other assorted items but they are all in boxes—as most of the collection has been for years—in the garage. With my newfound interest in craft beer, and the possibility that we have finally found where we want to stay, and the hope we may buy a house in the next couple of years, I am looking forward to finally unpacking what is left of the first “how” of my love for beer and properly displaying it. It has been far too long since it has been displayed.

The next “how” of my love of beer is more recent. In June of 2012 we came out to Bend, Oregon—a true nirvana for folks who appreciate great beer—for a job interview for my wife. In our one day in town we visited the Deschutes Bend Public House and were quite impressed with the Obsidian Stout that we had. Two days later we were in Portland after a day in Corvallis for her second interview and we ate at the Deschutes Portland Public House and were even more impressed with the Extinction Stout that we had there. On our trip out to house hunt in July we made it to a few more places but also revisited the Deschutes Bend Public House.

Snifter of Deschutes' Extinction Stout - Portland Public House June 2012

Deschutes’ Extinction Stout – Portland Public House June 2012

Deschutes' beer menu description of their Extinction Stout

Deschutes’ beer menu description of their Extinction Stout

We, and our belongings, ended up in Bend on 6 August 2012 after a five day trip across country from western Iowa. Ten days later we were showing our love for beer by being volunteer pourers at the opening of Bend Brewfest, which we had signed up to do online before we even left Iowa. It was great fun and we hope to be able to do it again next year. We also attended the fest that evening and each of the two days after sampling many good beers.

Attending the Little Woody festival, several Deschutes Brewery University events, vertical tastings and blogging about them on my main blog followed. Completing the Bend Ale Trail over the next couple months was an enjoyable and tasty way to show my appreciation for craft beer. I started using Untappd (website and phone app) on the suggestion of a friend to track my explorations in beer and share with a community, and I did some research and bought the best small fridge I could afford to start cellaring some of the big beers that we so love (“The Cellar”).

I began dreaming of starting a beer blog to do more in the way of chronicling my adventures in beer and sharing them with others, which I have since done: By the barrel, aka Bend Beer Librarian. I have begun a program of reading books, websites, blogs and so on to increase my knowledge of beer. The pursuit of several certifications, such as Cicerone Certified Beer Server and Ale Conner Certified Beer Authority, are being started on. I am also planning a series of tastings for my friends. Thankfully we have met several friends here in Bend who also love beer.

At some point I hope to take the next logical step and begin brewing my own beer. But for now I am having a grand time appreciating all of the many local beers available at the diverse venues we have. Of course, we have some great bottle shops and pubs with guest taps where we can experience quality beer from all over.

These are the actions I am currently taking to show my love of beer, and I look forward to whatever opportunities the future brings that allows me to continue demonstrating my love of beer and to help others in demonstrating theirs.

Thank you for the opportunity to step back and reflect on the “how” of my love for beer and to participate in The Session.

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.]