Beer & Brewing Resolutions for 2017

These are my beer and brewing resolutions for this year, which I got from Beer Simple.

Pint of Oblivion beer on a wooden table top

1. Brew at home!

This has been my goal for two years now and I really hope this is the year I can pull it off. I need to get my kettle modified and acquire a few more pieces of equipment and also nail down my processes that I want to use. But I either need to do this or give it up.

2. Revisit (one of my) least favorite breweries and drink at least 4 of their beers

There are several local breweries who I almost never think about–we are that blessed here in Bend, Oregon thankfully–but perhaps they have improved. It is only fair to give them another chance. Perhaps I’ll find a new favorite beer or at least be able to give more up-to-date info to others regarding them.

I also hope to be making a trip to Salem, Oregon this spring and let me just say I trashed every post I started to write after my trip to Salem two years ago. I am not a “If you can’t say anything nice” kind of guy but had to keep deciding that was best in this case. I am looking forward to giving pretty much all Salem breweries another chance.

I want to do this locally too, though, as there are several new(er) breweries in town I have never even visited, although I have had some of their beer. Ergo, no visit previously.

3. Read at least 3 new-to-me beer or brewing books

This one should be extremely easy but it is still important. I am already well into Beer, In So Many Words.

4. Attend a new-to-me festival

I would really like it to be something like the Oregon Garden Brewfest (June 16-18, 2017) or the Hood River Fresh Hops Fest (September 23, 2017) but I will take any new one that interests me.

5. Find a new appreciation for a passé or overlooked beer style

Bock or malt liquor perhaps, although it will be tough to find many of either.

6. Write a letter to a brewery making one of my favorite beers and thank them

Do it!

7. Learn one scientific lesson that will improve my brewing

Water profiles, perhaps?

8. Attend a homebrew club meeting other than my own (COHO)

Cascade Fermentation Association in Redmond I expect.

9. Participate in at least 2 group brews

I definitely need more experience and watching and/or helping others and seeing other systems and processes in action is a great way to get it.

10. Re-take BJCP tasting exam

This is scheduled for July and I am hoping to get a 70 or above. I got a 68 last year on my first go, which was better than I expected, but I want to be eligible to take the written exam even if I never do.

There are other things I hope to do but I need a better formed idea in the first place for one, or more ideas to expand on another, or simply to remember/realize some things for others.

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017 in your beer drinking, writing, appreciation, etc. and/or in your brewing? Cheers and Happy New Year!

Beer midlife crisis (The Session #111)

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

From Oliver Gray at Literature and Libation who is hosting this month’s Session on Surviving a Beer Midlife Crisis:

I think that’s true about a lot of bloggers and beer writers. Some may work directly for breweries or distributors or behind the till in a beer store, but a lot of us toil in vocational worlds apart, spending our free time and free dollars on what can only (by definition) be called a “hobby.”

Recently, I’ve found my interest in said hobby waning. The brilliant luster of new beers and new breweries looks now, a few pounds heavier and a bunch of dollars lighter, more like dull aluminum oxide.

The thing I have embraced so fully and spent so much time getting to know and love, suddenly seems generally, unequivocally: meh. It’s like I’ve been living a lie, and everything I’ve done is for not. I’m having a beer mid-life crisis, yo.

Maybe it’s the politics of purchasing or selling. Maybe the subculture has peaked. Maybe this is the natural progression of a hobby that has no real tie to the industry behind it.

Maybe I’m way off the mark, and this whole thing is just a figment of my imagination.

But I’m willing to bet it’s not. All that talk of beer bubbles might prove true, but instead of a dramatic *pop* we’ll might see a slow deflation followed by a farting noise as some of the air leaks out and the hobbyist move on the spend their time and dollars elsewhere. It’s impossible to see the future, but if my fall from rabid beer fanboy to dude-who-drinks-beer-and-sort-of-wants-to-be-left-alone is indicative of a trend, I’ve got some signs to make a doomsaying to do.

What say you?

This topic really spoke to me when I first saw it shortly after it was announced.

I have been feeling something is ‘off’ in my beer drinking and the culture around that for a while now. One might say something has been troubling me but I had no real idea what that was.

I reread the prompt before heading out on a road trip to a beer fest last weekend and just let it gestate way in the back somewhere. I read it again Monday morning so I could do the same on a shorter timeframe as I was heading out to do some weeding. All of a sudden I was writing down some good thoughts before I even got out the door.

A large part of my problem has been, and still is, a matter of reconciling what I want my beer drinking world to look like and what it actually does; limited storage, limited funds, very few occasions our drinking friends and us can get together, and other real world (and, admittedly, first world) problems. Major improvements have been made in attitude and some expectations have been adjusted, yet some of the core issues remain, especially limited time to drink with friends (and we all have a lot of beer that needs drank). Nonetheless, some peace has been made.

Still. Some things are nibbling at the back of my mind. Perhaps I have identified one of them. Here’s my current thoughts on my beerlife crisis, with a bit of a setup.

Since August 2012 I have lived in a beer heaven, Bend, Oregon. There is almost too much availability; certainly more than enough choice. Except for the large number of things not distributed here; including lots of other Oregon beer. 😉

I live in a town of 80,000+ and we have over 20 breweries with a total of 28 in the immediate Central Oregon region, with more on the way. I can not think about most of them on a routine basis and just mainly concentrate on the top five or six that I prefer. Life is that good here [see sidebar of Jon’s blog for a list]. I am not trying to brag but to simply express how freaking blessed we are here.

I started using Untappd on moving here. I currently have 2169 unique check-ins. Once I hit 2500 I’m not sure I’ll continue using it to track them. I may though as it the best, at-hand, tool I have to see if I had a beer previously and what I thought of it. That is a big part of trying to engineer my tasting experience towards only drinking better-than-average beers.

Besides the above issues, which seem perennial, I have come to realize that the issue  is that I’m pretty much over tasting different beers simply for their own sake, and perhaps seeing that number of ‘uniques’ go up. And now, while I’m still happy with a very wide variety of beers, new or not, I want good all of the time; my definition of “good,” not yours. 😉 I don’t want just different. That was never a major motivator but it certainly did play a role for a while.

Button from 20th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival

Button from the 20th Annual Legendary Booneville Beer Festival

As I mentioned, I went to a beer fest last weekend, the 20th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival put on by Anderson Valley Brewing Co. I went for the adventure and because I love some of Anderson Valley’s stuff and at the brewery I could get mostly stuff I haven’t had as it is not distributed, or certainly not up here. But that’s not enough anymore for my limited time and travel/fest budget and there are still several other fests we would love to attend.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company taplist

Anderson Valley Brewing Company taplist

03Tent

Home for my friend and me for two nights. [Windy when I took this photo.]

06FirePit

Someone’s extremely cool beer fire pit during an evening camp walkabout, which we did both Friday and Saturday evenings. Bahl hornin’!

08CampMtn

A small part of camp and the surrounding mountains.

09Fest

One small corner of the fest.

There were lots of beers, scores from breweries I had never even heard of. But it was almost all normal production/“standard” beer. Some were tasty; few needed to be poured out. But mostly meh. I did, though, drink several exquisite beers back at camp with the other five guys I was with.

Firestone Walker Anniversary XIII-XVI. Filled a big space in my love of FW anniversaries. [Friday]

Firestone Walker Anniversary XIII-XVI. Filled a big space in my love of FW anniversaries. [Friday]

Three amazing New Glarus fruit beers. Simply incredible! [Friday]

Three amazing New Glarus fruit beers. Simply incredible! [Friday]

The Rare Barrel No Salt [Saturday]

The Rare Barrel No Salt [Saturday]

Libertine Pepe Le Pluot [Saturday]

Libertine Pepe Le Pluot [Saturday]

12Libertine2

The back side of the Libertine. An absolutely gorgeous presentation on both sides. [Saturday]

13FarmhouseNoir

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Farmhouse Noir (Batch 3) [Saturday]

Our own Bend Brewfest has been like that for me since our second year here. Just an awful lot of decent stuff. Meh. I am very glad that I went to Boonville, though. Despite the mostly mediocre quality of beer at the fest—that was only four hours—there were excellent beers and people throughout the weekend. And I got to see large parts of my country that I had never seen. So beer fests are fraught in their own way but we will continue to be selective as we refine what we want out of them.

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta, California

Redwoods

Redwoods

Map of a small portion of our trip

Map of a small portion of our trip

Northern California coast

Northern California coast

Paul Bunyan and Babe and his big blues ... Oh. Wait.

Paul Bunyan and Babe and his big blues … Oh. Wait.At Trees of Mystery, Klamath, California

On the flip-side of any ‘crisis,’ I am extremely excited about new hop profiles that are emerging, whether based on new hops or on brewers learning to use hops differently than the recent past where it was mostly about bittering. I am here referring to mostly hop-forward beers like pale ales, IPAs, etc. But then, some of these hops and associated techniques can probably help create some amazing hop profiles in many non-hop-forward beers too. This is probably the thing I am most excited about in the beer world right now.

Thee beer world is all business and that can take its toll sometimes. Then again, so can movements. I am going to drink mostly local and mostly craft but you better believe I bought a 6-pack of 10 Barrel Cucumber Crush in cans because I could. I might never buy one again but I couldn’t let the absurdity of the availably of that beer in that way pass me by. I may well, though, buy it a can at a time in the future [six was too many to keep fresh]. The wife absolutely loves, and I appreciate, Goose Island Bourbon County beers and we will drink some of those in the future, especially as we have a fair few in our cellars.

The main point is my beer world is still evolving, as it has since I took my first sip four decades plus ago, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not everything is perfect but I am working to accept some things that simply are, and to shift focus and priorities in other directions to keep me interested.

Whether or not I have something like BJCP certification to work towards I will continue to read about beer history, the making of beer, the consumption and packaging of beer, and so on. I am also beginning to home brew; ok, still collecting equipment and I need to help my friends more often but that’s about as fraught an issue as getting together to drink so …. I certainly hope to be brewing by late summer here. Still need to acquire a few pieces and get my kettle modified.

To wrap up this rambling: things are evolving as they always have, I have amazing beer close at hand, I am beginning to brew myself, attitudes are being adjusted, realities are being accepted, I see emerging trends in beers that I am excited about, and, most importantly, I am still learning. I ain’t got no stinkin’ crisis.

Yaeger – Oregon Breweries

Oregon Breweries by Brian Yaeger

Date read: 08 February – 19 March 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover of Yaeger's Oregon Breweries book

Paperback, xx, 396 pages

Published 1 December 2014 by Stackpole Books

Source: Own (Amazon 3 December 2014) [According to WorldCat neither Deschutes Public Library or COCC’s Barber Library have it.]

Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Portland
    • Northwest Portland
    • Southwest Portland
    • Southeast Portland
    • Northeast Portland
    • Portland Metro
  • Coastal
  • The Gorge-Eastern
  • Willamette Valley
  • Bend and Central
  • Southern
  • Beer Festivals
  • Bottle shops and Taprooms
  • Breweries to Come
  • Cheesemakers
  • Cideries
  • Portland Coffee Roasters

Commentary:

Let me state right up front that I enjoyed this book. More importantly, I find it valuable. For me, the factual data—the listing of so many of Oregon’s breweries in one place along with information on them—is what matters. The individual “story” of every brewery, or at least as told by the author, is not my main focus by any stretch, even though some are quite interesting.

I also appreciate how amazingly difficult it would be to write so many entries of basically the same information for all these breweries all the while trying to make them sound different. I would not relish that task. That said, the strain shows on occasion. And sometimes I imagine others might appreciate the author’s humor more than me.

Some “factual” and other issues first:

Full Sail is included in the Coastal group when it should be in The Gorge-Eastern, while Oregon Trail is included in Southern instead of Willamette Valley.

There are two listings of the breweries. The first is in the table of contents where they are separated into areas/regions (such as, Northwest Portland or Bend and Central) and then listed alphabetically. The second is the Brewery Locations map which lists them all alphabetically and then gives each a number that corresponds to, basically, the county it is in. That means all of the Portland breweries have one number (2) on the map.

A separate map of Portland, divided by quadrants, would be most useful!

I also realize that alpha order is easy but that doesn’t make it the right organizational tool, especially if you have multiple tools available. Some of the areas/regions would be harder than others but Coastal could go north to south or vice versa and The Gorge-Eastern could also easily go east to west, etc. That would make “small,” regional visit planning easier. This is not everybody’s use case though so not sure this is an entirely fair critique.

Each section has an intro that gives a quick overview of the region, along with a nice listing of non-beer-related places to visit. Each brewery entry generally consists of the following sections of info: Name and address, contact info, logo; textual entry; Beers brewed; The Pick; and a listing of other info like hours. Each full entry is from one to three plus pages and a few do not have The Pick and a few also do not have Beers brewed.

In the textual entry we get Yaeger’s impressions, perhaps an origin story or some other hook, and other facts or interesting tidbits. Beers brewed is what it purports to be, while The Pick is Yaeger’s pick from his visit. May not be available when you visit, of course.

The textual entry makes up most of the space in a brewery’s entry once past one page, so it is kind if interesting to see who gets more pages and who doesn’t (see, e.g., Ale Apothecary and Barley Brown’s). The final bit of info contains: Opened (year), Owner(s), Brewer(s), System, Annual production, Distribution, Hours, Tours, Takeout beer, Gift shop, Food, Extras. Some have less info at the end but most contain the same bits of data.

As I said up top, the strain of writing so many similar, yet hopefully different, entries took its toll once in a while. I certainly am not going to point out all of the minor distractions but I do want to point out a few.

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales

“In the mid-eighties, Logsdon cofounded neighboring Full Sail Brewery, then colaunched yeast industry giant Wyeast Labs, so naturally the beers he and partner Chuck Porter make are yeast-forward saisons” (207).

Um, no, that doesn’t follow. “Yeast-forward” follows, perhaps. But “saison” most certainly does not. Full Sail is not particularly known for saisons and Wyeast has quite a few strains of yeast.

BricktownE Brewing Co.

“BricktownE’s location was built in the 1890s, according to owner and craft beer crusader Craig McPheeters, and a brothel used to operate upstairs. You could call their Workin’ Gal BrownE Ale, which busts a nutty flavor and mouthfeel, an homage.” (344).

Um. OK. He really did go there.

Caldera Brewing Co.

“Another amazing treat from my last visit was intended to be a replica of Red Sea, just like Mills brewed in Kona, but they accidentally left Mogli’s bourbon, chocolaty oak spirals in the fermentation tank. The resulting warming vanilla …” (347).

Wait. I’m supposed to drink beer from a brewery that can’t even begin to clean a fermentation vessel properly? If they leave physical items in their tanks accidentally, deity only knows what else is “left.” I think the story is probably something else and worded poorly. At least I hope so.

Draper Brewing

“He has experience at some small-by-most standards breweries including Lost Coast and Mad River, both in Humboldt County, which makes sense since he’s originally from Northern California. Mad River happens to be one of my favorite breweries from that area, so it stands to reason that he has folded some of the tricks he picked up there into his own operation” (350).

Not the way causation, or grammar, works. The last clause follows from the first clause of the first sentence but not from the clause it follows. The author’s liking of Mad River has nothing to do with any of the other clauses. Stackpole’s editors seem to be nodding off once in a while.

Walkabout Brewing Co.

“Nearly as popular is Jabberwocky, perhaps with the implication that each 22-ounce bottle implores you, in its best Lewis Carroll voice, to “drink me” (374).

Wrong character in a completely different work. Easy cultural references and allusions aren’t always good ones. And,, yes, I know that most people won’t get the difference, or care. But literature matters. Literary allusion matters.

Again, this had to be a very tough job and the author has done a fine job with a limited amount of space for each entry on the many, many breweries we have in Oregon. I’m not trying to nitpick by pointing out the above but show that there are some small issues; reasons for which I only rated it 4-stars.

Breweries to Come

[Keep in mind this book was released 1 December 2014; that is, is quite new]

This is a two-page listing of the breweries in the process of becoming operational; that is, in planning and/or outfitting.

Of the two mentioned for Bend, one (North Rim) has been open a while now and at least one other not listed (Monkless Belgian Ales) is also already open.

Also not listed, Craft Kitchen and Brewery is replacing Old Mill Brew Wërks, which is out of business.

Immersion Brewing has been announced.

Redmond’s scene is definitely growing. See the bottom of Jon’s post here for some new ones.

The problem with these sorts of books is that they are out-of-date as soon as they are published. For a place like Oregon even before publication. Remember, release date was not even four months ago.

I would really love to see this sort of thing as a wiki, with accompanying map(s), and various ways to slice and dice the data. Perhaps the Oregon Brewers Guild should do such a thing (just do it well!) and you could get access with SNOB membership. Wouldn’t help out-of-state visitors or the simply inquisitive and not-yet-converted.

Honestly, I just want it open and available. But who will maintain it? A definite early-21st century issue. This is not a dig on Yaeger’s book but on the entire class of book like this. His has superseded, at least partly, two other books. Neither of which is that old. His will be too. Soon.

Anyway, for the most up-to-date listing of Central Oregon breweries (and their order of operation) just look in Jon’s sidebar at the Brew Site.

Again, I think this is a darn fine book of its type. For me it will serve as a reference book (I did purchase a copy after all). I have already used it extensively in making plans for our trip this week to Portland.

This post is cross-posted at my other blog, habitually probing generalist, for purposes of the below reading challenge.

This is the 17th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

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.”

“Virginia” beer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dominion Wine & Beer BCBS Release Tasting

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

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

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

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

Dogfish Head Alehouse, Falls Church, VA

Dogfish Head Alehouse of Falls Church, VA

Dogfish Head Alehouse of Falls Church, VA

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

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

Heavenly snifter of draft Palo Santo Marron

Heavenly snifter of draft Palo Santo Marron

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

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

Beers consumed

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

26 Nov

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

Yuengling Traditional Lager

Dark Horse Too Cream Stout

Dark Horse Too Cream Stout

Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout

Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout

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

27 Nov

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

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

04Bells 044

Bells Two Hearted Ale

d'Achouffe McChouffe

d’Achouffe McChouffe

Dogfish Head Beer Thousand

Dogfish Head Beer Thousand

07EvilTwin 047

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail

Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine

Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine

Tröegs Brothers Troegenator

Tröegs Brothers Troegenator

28 Nov

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

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

Hardywood Virginia Blackberry (Reserve Series)

Hardywood Virginia Blackberry (Reserve Series)

Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock

Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock

29 Nov

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

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

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2013

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2013

Southern Tier Choklat

Southern Tier Choklat

30 Nov

Dogfish Head Alehouse

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

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

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

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

1 Dec

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

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

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

ALLTECH Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

ALLTECH Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA

Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA

2 Dec

None – travel day

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

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

Recap

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

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

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

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

Lompoc Pamplemousse Citrus IPA package

Lompoc Pamplemousse Citrus IPA package

Bend’s “Healthy Beer Culture”

NB: This post is my entry in this quarter’s #beerylongreads, hosted by Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog.

NB2: This post is a response to “SIGNS OF A HEALTHY BEER CULTURE?” at Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog. That post is over a year old now but for some reason the other day I was attracted to exploring that question locally. How well does Bend and Central Oregon’s “healthy beer culture” meet their criteria?

Preliminaries

A couple of weeks ago (12 Nov), Boak and Bailey tweeted a link to an earlier post on healthy beer culture in response to The Beer Father’s “provocative post,” “Which Side Are You On?”

[One should check out both of those posts and their lengthy comments. There is some carping but there are a lot of valuable thoughts too.]

Here are the tweets for reference:

That last archive retrieval prompted by @TheBeerFather’s provocative post: http://t.co/iRIv8ObcJu

From the archive (October 2013): signs of a healthy beer culture http://t.co/ZENKHDnq2F

I saw a great reply to the “Which side are you on?” question. I thought it was good because it helped me formulate my thoughts, and more eloquently expressed them: that I’m not choosing a side and that I hope to avoid anyone who has chosen any side. Perhaps it was in one of those comments; I don’t remember.

I do place myself along a spectrum, one that is most likely multidimensional, and give myself permission to move around that space. Historically, my beer drinking shows that change happens in which beers I consume. I also recognize that people choose, and often even like, different things than me and that that is, and should be, beyond questioning.

This post though is to address how Bend does on this heuristic, or at least my little spot in Bend. Which means, your walkability and public transit options may well be different than mine or you may live farther from downtown.

First, their caveat:

“Perhaps inevitably, there’s an obvious UK-bias in the way we’ve approached this, and in how we’ve worded the list, although we did our best to avoid it. We’ve also used lots of deliberately vague terms — don’t ask us to define ‘decent’! (Or ‘beer culture’…)”

Bend and Central Oregon

Bend is a town of ~82,000 in the so-called High Desert of Oregon. Being in the eastern foothills of the Cascades we are in the rain shadow and thus get little precipitation. We do, though, have a couple beautiful rivers, including the Deschutes River which runs right through town. We have world-famous rock climbing formations nearby and many other outdoor recreational opportunities.

Bend started as a way point, then gained a few ranches, and then spent many decades with two huge lumber mills. That ended a couple decades ago and tourism, primarily outdoor tourism, has been king since. Currently, beer tourism is a significant and growing portion of local tourism dollars. Beer goes with everything that goes on here, indoors or out. We also host several international sporting events, mostly of various kinds of bicycle racing, but also skiing and so on. There are times of year when we have less visitors but we always have plenty of them.

This list of the region’s breweries [found in the sidebar] is the most accurate and up-to-date. You’ll see we’re pretty well set. [Note: those are breweries, most of which have a taproom also because … most are brewpubs.][If you are particularly interested in the history of brewing in this region, then notice also in the sidebar the book, Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon, recently written by Jon Abernathy and the compiler of that most helpful list.]

Of that list, and in my opinion:

One is not really in business and I’m not convinced it ever was although the wife and I poured two of their beers at our 1st Bend Brew Fest.  OK, they have a license and every once in a while one or two is available somewhere, either at a local homebrew club meeting or a fest. But there is nowhere one can go and get any of this brewery’s beer on a normal basis. I’ve heard rumor a brewery is being built. So I’ll back off and give them the status “brewery.” I’m just saying it doesn’t really meet my definition of an “active” brewery, let’s say. I’m good with it not meeting my own minimum requirement for what a brewery is but it does get listed most places, so be it. Hopefully they’ll get a better chance soon to show us what they can do.

Another should be self-respecting and admit it gave up on beer. That’s fine really, they do have pretty good food and they’ve always had guest taps. But if they were all guest taps they’d have to come off of the Bend Ale Trail and I do not believe they’d want that for business.

I learned on Veterans/Remembrance Day that Bend has a new one coming this month, Monkless Belgian Ales. Read about it at Jon’s blog [In fact, you can read that post and see the listing of Central Oregon breweries from the same link.]

Depending on who asks and who replies and why, this puts Bend at the top, or certainly in the top, of breweries per capita in Oregon. Which puts it up there, in the world. And it is all craft beer. Well, until recently perhaps. See #3 below.

Boak and Bailey’s Heuristic Answered, by me, for Central Oregon, and my spot in it

The numbered bold statements are Boak and Bailey’s with my answers beneath the respective “criteria.”

By the way, if you are asking who the heck are Boak & Bailey, they are a British beer blogging & tweeting, book authoring, couple whom I follow in those venues. I own the print book but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

1. There is a drinking establishment within walking distance of where you live where you like to spend time, and which serves decent beer

Definitely! Several. Deschutes Bend Public House, Bend Brewing Co., many others.

2. If you are skint, there is an acceptable drinking establishment within walking distance which sells decent beer at ‘bargain’ prices.

Probably. JC’s, D and D, …

[Note: To better answer this question for myself, I am undertaking a (minimal) form of Jeff Alworth’s Dive Bar Challenge. I started compiling a list of Bend dive bars, but may also need to look a tad further around Central Oregon. Thanks, friends, for all the suggestions so far.]

I think the real concern for us here is the acceptability of establishments (to us)  and not the quality or availability of good beer cheap. This is not to say these are seedy or dangerous or anything; simply not our style of establishment. But we could.

Decided to poke Boak and Bailey on Twitter and asked for their opinion on prices for a pint out:

.@BoakandBailey Where are the price points for you moving from cheap but acceptable pint to next level to premium? Sorry for Americanisms. https://twitter.com/bythebbl/status/534008041138446338

@bythebbl if we’ve understood your question correctly, we’d consider c.£2.60 to be cheap, £3.40 to be standard, £4+ to be a bit pricey. https://twitter.com/BoakandBailey/status/534009373664608256

@bythebbl that’s for standard bitter in the pub. We’d expect (and be reasonably happy) to pay more for 330ml of interesting bottled beer. https://twitter.com/BoakandBailey/status/534009651973869569

[Can I just go on record and say how I would love to taste a proper “standard bitter” in a British pub.]

Based on Google Currency Converter 16 Nov 2014, c.£2.60 (cheap), £3.40 (standard), £4+ (bit pricey) equates to $4.07 / $5.33 / $6.27 for a pint at a pub. That cheap price is tough but doable on most nights of the week. The standard price is close to ours. I’d agree the “bit pricey” is getting up there, although I often pay it or more for a 10, 12 or 14 oz snifter of “something interesting,” bottles or otherwise.

I can definitely find a pint of good (if not great) beer at that standard price ($5.33) in most of the places in town. There will also be beer above that point in most of those places. That price does not always include tip though. [Sadly, our pint glasses are only 16 Imp. oz. and not proper pints.]

But based on all of the locals nights at the many brewpubs and bars you can make that lower price point somewhere most any night of the week. And you can definitely make it in places we just don’t want to frequent. Not bad places; just not our style. But the beer is almost guaranteed to be better than “decent.”

Also have not mentioned beer in growlers. For that see #9 below. That can often be quite inexpensive.

I could always go by Deschutes brewery and get 4 5-oz samples. Every day it is open. For free. I hope I don’t get that skint though. I enjoy driving past it in the roundabout and knowing that I could go taste some great beer for free. That knowledge just makes the world shine a little brighter.

So, this gets a definite yes.

3. If you fancy something special, there is a pub or bar within reach on public transport (WRPT) which sells imports and ‘craft beer’.

I still don’t understand the difference between “craft beer” in America versus in Britain, but in Bend it is all craft, which is a good thing here.

Alright, that claim can now possibly be challenged as 10 Barrel is about to be bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev and according to the Brewers Association they will no longer qualify as a “craft brewery.” But that is a trade organization definition versus what the people think. Time will tell.

As for imports, yes to both walking and public transit: The Brew Shop, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café, Newport Avenue Market, The Wine Shop & Tasting Bar (downtown) along with a few more I imagine, Whole Foods, and several others.

For both of these, also see #9 below regarding growler fills.

Definite yes.

4. The nearest town/city centre has a range of pubs serving different demographics, and offering between them a range of locally-produced beers alongside national brands.

Definitely. At least you can find national brands in a few places.

[Opinion: By the way, there are not too many “national brands” in the US anymore, as the ones most would think of belong to international conglomerates. People might call Budweiser a U.S. national brand but that’s crazy. The ones that come the closest are still, by Craft Brewers Association criteria, craft breweries; Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada, and a few others. A few like Stone and Deschutes are rapidly getting there.]

5. There is a well-established family/regional brewery.

Deschutes Brewery. Something like 6th largest craft brewery in US and 11th largest brewery in the US. Pretty well-established; since 1988. [#s vary depending on when/who you ask/how you look.]

6. There are several breweries founded since 1975.

Every last one of the 27 or so in our little region are from after 1975; the first, Deschutes, was in 1988.

I am unsure whether this  lack of older breweries is supposed to count against us regarding our “healthy beer culture.” I certainly don’t think so. This region had no breweries between 1906 and 1988; at least as current history stands. Some of my big questions in life lately center around this. Why no brewery in region before 1905? Why none between 1906 and 1916 when the state went to Prohibition? Why none after until 1988? That last one is the easiest but still.

I am not in any way against older breweries, we just don’t have any and I’m not holding it against us. [In fact, I respect old breweries. When they deserve/d it. Just like with a newer brewery.]

7. There is at least one brewery founded since 2005.

Since 2005? Well over half of them; or, more specifically, #6 through #21, and the one that has closed. Almost 3/4 of them have been founded since 2005.

8. There is a regional speciality — a beer people ‘must drink’ when they visit.

Perhaps not one, but Boneyard RPM IPA [Beer Advocate / ratebeer], Deschutes Black Butte Porter [Beer Advocate / ratebeer], at the very least. This one may not be a big plus for us but either I’m treating “specialty” far too narrowly, or few regions have such a thing. If the first clause is correct then I’d add The Abyss, Black Butte Porter Reserve, one of Tonya Cornett’s Crush beers, and so many more.

9. There is an independent off licence (‘bottle shop’) WRPT.

Looked up “off licence” but not exactly sure about the “independent” part. We have several [most of the places mentioned in 3 above] and one (beer, cider) bottle shop within walking distance. We also have a liquor store within walking distance. Been there once to get the wife some whiskey for her sore throat hot toddy. I would consider most of them independent.

Growlers, which were mentioned a couple times above, serve a big role in our beer ecosystem. Witness the plethora—which only continues to swell—for new forms/shapes/materials that they come in. Commonly 64 oz (1/2 gal) and 1.5 l, they come in other sizes also, which seems to perhaps depend somewhat on region of the US. We also have growlettes here, which are generally 32 oz or 2 pints. Great beers the equivalent of a “standard bitter” can be had for $8 a growler. Yes, some are more but many are close to this price point. That’s four (US) pints at $2 each. If we only consider proper 20 oz pints as would be served in England then we would get 3 1/8 pints out of it. That gives us a $2.56/20 oz pint cost.

We have at least eight growler fill stations, probably 1.5-2x that, in Bend and Central Oregon. If you add in all of the breweries/brewpubs that fill them your choices to purchase great beer affordably are greatly multiplied.

I put them here since they are for take-away. Of course, here there is little to no assumption that you are taking them home; you may be taking them to a party (anywhere), on the Cycle Pub, camping, hiking, or whatever.

10. There is a shop selling home brewing supplies WRPT.

The Brew Shop, which is a combined homebrew supply store and bottle shop, along with The Platypus Pub in the basement, is easily within walking distance. We have to cross one of the worst intersections in town but it’s a 5-minute walk.

11. There is at least one beer festival in the region.

We have several beer festivals in the region. The biggest is the Bend Brewfest in August every year, then probably The Little Woody Barrel and Wood-Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest at the end of Sep/beg of Oct. We also have the Sisters Fresh Hop Fest, and there have been several other smaller beer fests that may or may not be recurring. But there will be more.

Then there is Central Oregon Beer Week—in its 3rd year this year—which is 9-days in May given over to the region to celebrate its own beer. We, indeed, have much to celebrate.

Some additions that point to a healthy beer culture here:

Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization (COHO): We have a large and fairly active, local homebrewing club. The wife and I are members, although so far I have only helped a friend brew once or twice. I also took a class on all-grain brewing from one of COHO’s officers at which we brewed, of course. And I have been a judge this year and the last at the annual BJCP homebrew competition they hold.

Boak & Bailey asked about homebrew shops in #10 so I assume homebrewing is important. Since not everyone joins an organization—I have several friends who are big homebrewers who aren’t members—this seems a reasonable indicator that the homebrewing culture is healthy here; or, at least, tending that way.

Central Oregon Beer Angels (COBA): This is also a reasonable indicator of the health of our beer culture, I would argue. An organization of over 300 local women “who love all things beer.” My wife and several of our friends are members. I know quite a few of their board members. And I have poured beer for them at an annual party. Biased? Anyway.

Large groups of women enjoying beer sounds like a healthy culture to me.

There are other groups, both organized and not, that do tastings and bottle shares; e.g., a couple through MeetUp.

Access to our brewers: We have incredible access to some amazing brewers. I have seen them, met them, talked to them at breweries, festivals, tastings, beer dinners, educational events, pairings, and so on. I have even gone on a hike with one of my favorites. I met Darin & Meghann Butschy of Oblivion Brewery at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café on the day they sold their 1st keg because I was hanging out in my local of an afternoon.

We know, or can fairly easily come to know, the folks who brew our beer in this town. That should count for something. Perhaps it isn’t required but it matters.

Wrap-up:

So, I think the answers pretty much tilt in our favor as to having a healthy beer culture. Certainly by this heuristic.

I know there were several posts, at least, in response to Boak & Bailey’s post but this is the one I found and read: a specific reply to Bailey by Leigh Linley at The Good Stuff, as applied to Leeds, England.

No doubt somebody would quibble about my not penalizing Bend for not having a brewery prior to 1975, and someone could argue we have no regional specialty, and so on. How much does that mark us down? Are we going to start rating places by this (It is not a scale). I hope not. And I imagine Boak & Bailey would be horrified if people did.

But I think it provides a great springboard to consider your own regional “healthy beer culture.” Or other regions, but only for benevolent purposes. 😉

Let’s start a conversation about “healthy beer culture” in Central Oregon

So Bendites, Bend lovers, Bend visitors: What do you think? Do we have a “healthy beer culture” in Bend? What’s missing? What is “unbalanced” in your opinion? Did I just completely mess it up? Do we have a regional specialty?

Please comment here or write your own blog post or Facebook post or what have you and link back here. Then please comment with a link to whatever you wrote. If you prefer not to make it public, then feel free to email me or otherwise. If you know me you can find me.

I have some views. We have some flaws and weaknesses in our beer culture. All-in-all, though, it is simply amazing. That leaves an awful lot to discuss, including what both of those refer to.

I would love to see a larger conversation about our beer culture in Bend and Central Oregon. [I just worry that I am not the one to be the driver at this time as only my close friends know I am having some still undiagnosed health issues. No one should worry but it affects my productivity, my focus and thinking, and I must “keep calm and carry on” or things get painful quickly in my head.]

Nonetheless, let’s take this where we may Central Oregonians. And of course, anyone else is welcome to join in regarding any larger points not specific to our region. For example, should we be penalized for not having older breweries and, if so, why?

Brown – Three Sheets to the Wind

Three Sheets to the Wind Three Sheets to the Wind: one man’s quest for the meaning of beerPete Brown; Pan Books 2007WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Read 20 Aug – 15 Sep

My review from goodreads:

I really enjoyed this. I just wish they didn’t plaster “The beer drinker’s Bill Bryson” (TLS) all over his books. I almost didn’t buy it because of that. I can see the comparison but I do not find Bryson funny generally and his humor ventures into almost being cruel in his poking fun at times. I find Pete Brown downright funny and even if he manages to enter potential cruel territory he pulls it off with a certain British charm. May not make it any better—not claiming it does–but it is far more gentle and, dare I say it, unintended. Sorry to my friends who are Bryson fans. We’ll just have to disagree about him. 5 stars.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • One: ‘Just the one’
  • Two: ‘Los Borrachos’
  • Three: ‘Where you find beer, there you find good life’
  • Four: ‘A hundred thousand welcomes’
  • Five: ‘The smell of freshly poured beer is the smell of my country’
  • Six: ‘Beervana’
  • Seven: ‘Mate, are you right?’
  • Eight: ‘Toriaezu birru’
  • Nine: ‘Countless thousands of fattened creatures…’
  • Ten: ‘… making themselves objects of derision…’
  • Eleven: ‘Wi’aht it, he’s miserable’
  • Appendix: Where to buy
  • Further reading

Three Sheets to the Wind is a travelogue that attempts to fulfill the expanded cover-subtitle: “300 bars in 13 countries: one man’s quest for the meaning of beer.”

‘Just the one’ sets us up to how this all started for Pete. Locations are London and Prague. ‘Los Borrachos’ sees him in Barcelona and Madrid. The Czech Republic is the primary setting of ‘Where you find beer, there you find good life,’ including trips to Plzen* and Ceske Budjejovice*. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, the chapter titles are all things said in each respective area.

‘A hundred thousand welcomes’ has Pete traversing Ireland. ‘The smell of freshly poured beer is the smell of my country’ represents Belgium, and having lived there I’m not disagreeing. ‘Beervana’ “represents” the US (as well as any other set of 3-5 cities elsewhere) by hitting  Milwaukee, New York, and Portland, Oregon. Australia asks of him, ‘Mate, are you right?’ ‘Toriaezu birru’ covers Asia (Tokyo, Shanghai). The Oktoberfest (or Die Wies’n) is covered in ‘Countless thousands of fattened creatures…’. Scandinavia smirks at those ‘… making themselves objects of derision…’. England gets a bit of post-trip letdown coverage in ‘Wi’aht it, he’s miserable’.

I did really enjoy this but I took no notes. It’s also been a while since I read it. It reads much like a novel, though, so a leisurely reading is probably best for this type of book.

I got my copy at Powell’s in Portland while there for the Oregon Brewers Festival earlier this year; new $15.95 pbk.

Highly recommended.

Yaeger – Red, White, and Brew

Red, white, and brew Red, white, and brew: an American beer odysseyBrian Yaeger; St. Martin’s Press 2008WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Brian Yaeger’s Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey, while now six-years-old, is still a timely trip across America and its craft beer scene. Some of it seems so fresh and some of it really made me go, “Wow! This was only six or seven years ago?”

I read the book October 13 – November 9, 2014. I did not take any notes and just took it a bit at a time. This is, though, a book a reader could tear through. Heck, that might even make it seem even a bit more like you were there with him on his often hectic schedule.

It is certainly a timepiece. But I believe those to be of considerable potential value and this is one of those kind.

I got my copy used at The Book Bin in Corvallis, Oregon for $8.25. You can get it for Kindle for $9.99 and this would probably actually be a great book as an ebook. Not quite as simple a layout as a standard work of fiction but close. New at amazon would set you back $13.45. Used copies all over. And many public libraries still have it, including some as an ebook.

Starting in New England and heading counterclockwise around the country, more-or-less, Yaeger visits 37 breweries/brewpubs in roughly 14 areas of the country. His visits range from tiny Electric Brewing (Bisbee, AZ) to the likes of Widmer Brothers or Sierra Nevada.

There are probably no lessons here; nor do there need to be. This meandering odyssey of a cross-country ramble does remind us that beer is indeed a social lubricant. It also captures, as best a small slice of time can, a valuable snapshot of the diversity of the American craft beer scene around 2005 and 2006.

So pick yourself up a copy, pop open a beer, and sit down for an enjoyable read.

The Session #93 Beer Travel

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

 This post is my participation in this month’s The Session, #93, which is on beer travel. It is hosted by Brian Devine at The Roaming Pint, who asks:

“So I ask you fellow bloggers and beer lovers, why is it important for us to visit the place the where our beers are made? Why does drinking from source always seem like a better and more valuable experience? Is it simply a matter of getting the beer at it’s freshest or is it more akin to pilgrimage to pay respect and understand the circumstances of the beer better?”

The host states that visiting where our beer comes from—and drinking it there—is “a better and more valuable experience” than just sucking it down some other place. The reasons he posits seem to be Freshness < == > Respect / Understanding.

There is an awful lot in between, including the capability to better determine whether one ought “pay respect.” I certainly do not have all of the answers or reasons but I hope to lay a few down.

Note: I apologize that this is fairly superficial; I had truly hoped to go a bit deeper. There has been a death in my close family and I am struggling with an as yet undiagnosed illness.

1. Personal connection; meeting/talking with folks who make it and the difference that can make in your appreciation.

For instance, once in Hood River we were at Pfriem Family Brewery for lunch. We had a taster tray and I got to the Mosaic Pale and it was nothing like any other Mosaic single-hopped beer I had yet had. While there was a punch bowl fruitiness in the aroma and a bit in the taste, there was actual bitterness and quite a bit of it. Josh Pfriem, head brewer, was hosing down the brewery floor on the other side of a wooden fence at table height. I was able to wave him over and asked him about his Mosaic hopping rate/regimen. Turns out he used them throughout but mostly up front in the boil so that they were primarily used for bittering. While I still prefer my Mosaic single-hopped beers to be mostly/entirely late-hopped I was better able to understand what was happening in Josh’s beer and to my senses and, thus, to better appreciate, and understand, my experience but also to appreciate what the brewer was going for.

While that does not change the beer or make it “better” somehow, it does provide that real, human connection that, as humans, we are always looking for. I would rather I get that from the brewers and brewery workers/owners I visit, whether or not it is “real,” than from some actor in a television commercial. Which is never real.

2. Try beers not distributed (at all) or not distributed to your area. This one is dead simple. And while it may involve freshness and gaining respect or understanding, it may also just be about trying beers you may never get to try again.

Take a local example, both in the brewery and the distance to visit: Deschutes. Most pub beers, whether here in Bend or Portland, never see the outside of their respective brewpubs. [Except in growlers here and there, but it’s not packaged or distributed.] Why would I ever want to deprive myself of Veronica Vega or Ben Kehs beers? I truly like almost every beer I have had by either one. But to get them I have to go to the pubs; it matters not that Deschutes is a behemoth in the craft beer world. These beers are not that. I have to go to the source.

To take another local example, Crux Fermentation Project. I can get a lot of their beers in bottles around town but they also have pub beers that will probably never see distribution. Good beers. Now here’s my thing with Crux—I stress it is my thing as no else I have mentioned it to has this issue. But the bottom line is that I do not like Crux beers from bottles. Nor do I like them on tap elsewhere. They don’t taste the same to me. I really like Crux beer, by the way. But if I want the Crux flavors, aromas and tastes that I know and love I have to go to the brewery/brewpub. Thankfully we are fairly close.

3. Of course, in the real sense of travel, all of the above and more apply. Some of the beers won’t be distributed outside of the brewery, or the beer simply is not distributed to your area/state/country, the beer is probably fresher, you may learn whether or not you appreciate the brewery based on what you learn visiting, you may appreciate them more based on a positive visit with people you relate to.

These, and no doubt many other reasons I look forward to reading from others, make traveling to the source an often pleasant experience.

Prosit!