Who you gonna invite? (The Session #118)

Stan Hieronymus of appellation beer, author of Brewing Local and For the Love of Hops, and the founder of The Session is hosting the 118th Session: He asks “If you could invite four people dead or alive to a beer dinner who would they be? What four beers would you serve?

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

This can go so many directions as there are very many scenarios I can imagine, so I am going to put forth a couple different ones here, seeing as they are all fantasy anyway.

As much as I was inspired by this, I also seriously struggled with writing it. Not sure what’s going on, but here it is, as it is.

Beer & Brewing #1

Jessica Boak – co-beer blogger extraordinaire at Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog and co-author of Brew Britannia: the strange rebirth of British beer and Gambrinus waltz: German Lager beer in Victorian and Edwardian London

Ray Bailey – the other half of the dynamic B&B duo; see Jessica above

Jon Abernathy – friend and another extremely long-term beer blogger at The Brew Site and author of Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon

Peter Kopp – author of Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

I have been reading Boak & Bailey for a couple years now [blog, books, & newsletter] and interact with them a tad bit on Twitter too. They seem like good folks and ones I would love to actually have a chance to sit with in a pub and talk, so they are natural fits.

Seeing as they are somewhat fairly-to-heavily focused on the recent history of beer in Britain, I thought my friend, Jon Abernathy, would be an excellent choice due to his same focus on our local region.

A fourth here was tougher but I went with Peter Kopp as another historian of an aspect of beer production.

So I guess my theme here, if there is one, is authors of recent historically-focused books on beer.

The beers I would serve—I’m sure I could be swayed as my creativity here got exhausted quickly—are the following:

A lovely British cask bitter in perfect nick. Because. I have never had such a thing and I need the experience. What is all the fuss [SPBW, CAMRA, real ale, …] about?

Heineken (Dutch) c1984. While I was stationed in Belgium in the mid-80s one of my fellow soldiers—a Dutch airman—would bring me this by the case. I also drank Rodenbach—in 33 cl bottles—and a couple others by the case. This was so very different than the stuff imported in green bottles that I had been drinking 5 years earlier just before joining the Army and leaving for Europe. I would really love to taste this and see if it was as good as I remember it.

1842 Pilsner Urquell. Why would you not want to try the first—and only—Pilsner? What was this thing that so changed the world?

Thrales 18th century Russian Imperial Stout. The wife and I adore big Imperial stouts, so again I would love to try one of the early exemplars and possible eponym.

Women in Beer

I definitely would love to do my part for the many great women in and around great beer and there are so very many inspiring choices here. Sadly, my creativity was restrained here as there are no doubt many more amazing and interesting women in this field that I am not aware of.

Women in Beer #1

Tanya Cornett – R&D Brewer at 10 Barrel, former brewmaster at Bend Brewing

Tanya is a great brewer—I don’t care about your feeling re AB InBev here—and someone I’d love to get to know. One of my beer heroes  in my newly adopted hometown.

Carla Jean Lauter – “the beer babe,” beer writer, blogger, twitterer

Carla is always interesting on the Twitters and her longer form writing—when I get a chance to see it—is also. Another person from my corner of the interwebz that seems like a really cool person to hang with over some beers

Mirella Amato – beer educator, author of Beerology: everything you need to know to enjoy beer…even more and one of the first Master Cicerones

Again, another really cool seeming person whose passion is focused on beer education, something near and dear to my heart.

Annie Johnson – 2013 AHA Homebrewer of the Year

I read an article—somewhere—about Annie in the last couple years and maybe even saw a short video and she just seemed so interesting and enthusiastic.

So I have award-winning brewers, both professional and homebrewer, and a beer writer and a beer educator/author.

For the women in beer dinner I would want the ladies to each bring their own selection. This would (hopefully) be a dinner in which I, the host, would mostly sit in and listen. Keep my mouth shut as much as possible and allow them to discuss what they want, how they want.

Women in Beer (Science)

Veronica Vega – R&D Brewer for Deschutes Brewery

Karen Fortmann – senior research scientist at White Labs

Nicole Garneau – geneticist & curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science; coauthor of the Beer Flavor Map [see above link] [This is a bit breathless, to say the least, but gives an idea. Am immensely interested in discussing this with the coauthors.]

Lindsay Barr – sensory specialist at New Belgium; currently serves as chair of the ASBC Sensory Subcommittee; coauthor of the Beer flavor Map.

Veronica is one of my favorite people and another definite local hero of mine. I also know, for a fact, that she is an amazing person with a wide variety of interests and experience. I have been on a couple hikes with her—beer-related—and see her now and again at the pub or around town. I always get a hug. But please don’t let any of that distract you from her brewing chops—she has a much larger role now and well deserves it—but she was the Deschutes Bend Pub brewer when we moved here and is a major force in why I adore those pub beers so very much. I have drank quite a bit of her beer.

I read about Karen Fortmann in that Beer Advocate article and her work sounds absolutely intriguing.

The other two scientists, also mentioned in that article, came to my attention a few months back due to their work on the Beer Flavor Map. I have read Meilgaard’s work and others on the flavor wheel and find this [set of] topic[s] incredibly interesting. I would love to get a first-hand account of that work and the resultant product.

One professional brewer with a science background and three brewing scientists. This one would be extremely hard for me to be quiet so I would not hold myself to that here. Beer science. Got to learn. Got to ask questions of the researchers when you get a chance. Still, hopefully, not being a typical guy and letting the ladies have at it.

I would leave the beers up to the professionals, as above.

Growers / Researchers

Seth Klann – barley and rye grower, maltster Mecca Grade Estate Malt

Pat Hayes – OSU barley breeder

Gail Goschie – hop grower, Goschie Farms

Al Haunold – USDA hop breeder. Took over the hop breeding program in Corvallis (USDA-ARS) in 1965:  Nugget, Willamette, Cascade and several other hops are credited to him.

These people and their roles are critical to great beer! We need farmers–especially ones like Seth and Gail whose families have been farming in Oregon for over 100 years each. We also need our agricultural researchers and these two–at least in my world–are rock stars.

I do know Seth and Pat personally and they are both great people. I have had the privilege of attending OSU Barley Days with Pat playing host and another huge privilege of hanging on the Klann family farm for a a day during a homebrew club group brew and seeing the mechanical floor malter and the storage silos and so learning about all they do to bring us great malt. I have also heard both men present on barley a couple of times.

I do not know Gail personally but she seems like great people from all I have seen and heard. I never had the privilege of meeting Al Haunold either but in our little part of the world he is legendary.

For these folks I would love some vibrant, yet simple, SmaSH beers made with Mecca Grade malt [Full Pint, thanks Pat!] and Goschie Farms’ Haunold-developed hops.

Others

I had a couple other scenarios lined up but due to struggling with writing they need to be left out—there were plenty more women in beer, more growers and researchers, more beer writers, a foursome or three of library folks, homebrewing folks, beer education folks, and so on.

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?

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!

Bend Beer (book) official launch party

I already mentioned the book, Bend Beer, on my blog a couple weeks ago, and I want to mention it again as the official launch party is this Friday night at the Des Chutes Historical Museum.

Bend Beer official launch party at Des Chutes Historical Museum Fri Nov 7

Bend Beer official launch party at Des Chutes Historical Museum Fri Nov 7

It starts at 6:30 pm. According to Jon Abernathy, the author:

It will be an open format event, where I’ll be signing books and answering questions and will have a short, informal talk around 7 to 7:30. The Museum is generously opening up their doors for us for the evening to allow folks to explore the exhibits and the history of the region.

Deschutes Brewery has graciously agreed to join us for the evening, which I’m very excited about because it’s a great combination of Bend’s history with Bend’s first brewery! They will be pouring a keg of their pub specialty Botanical Ale. And Chef Rudy of Smokin’ Dan Brew & Q will be there as well serving up delicious food to pair with the beer.

Here’s the Facebook event page for the evening.

Jon says there is also a signing party event this Thursday at 5pm at Silver Moon Brewing as well.

I can attest that the Deschutes beer they are graciously providing is quite tasty. This is Veronica Vega’s Beers Made By Walking beer.

I have also heard rumor of an informal pub crawl after Friday’s signing event but you’ll have to be “present to win” on that one.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Disclaimer: Both my wife and I provided some proofreading of the manuscript and are mentioned in the Acknowledgments. I might not be unbiased.

Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend

Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, Oregon, on October 15th

What: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, OR
When: October 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend
Cost: Pay per pint or per sample

This post covers two events: the hike I went on and the unique tasting event at BTBS on 15 October. See below for more details of the both the tasting event at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café and of the hike.

Middle Deschutes River and Deschutes River Canyon. Beers Made By Walking, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Deschutes Brewery Hike on 22 May 2014. [Photo courtesy of BMBW.]

Middle Deschutes River and Deschutes River Canyon. Beers Made By Walking, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Deschutes Brewery Hike on 22 May 2014. That’s me in the brown hat and blue backpack up front. [Photo courtesy of BMBW.]

On 22 May of this year I went on a hike with to the Middle Deschutes River with Deschutes Brewery, Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and Eric Steen of Beers Made By Walking. We hiked the Scout Camp trail down into the Deschutes River Canyon and saw the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River, among other natural beauties.

Confluence of Whychus Creek (on right) and Middle Deschutes (on left) "on the ground," so to speak.

Confluence of Whychus Creek (on right) and Middle Deschutes (on left) “on the ground,” so to speak.
My entire Flickr set here.

More commentary and photos follow the info on the upcoming tasting at Broken Top Bottle Shop.

Beers Made By Walking (BMBW) is a program that invites brewers to go on nature hikes and make new beer inspired by plants that are identified on the trail. Each hike is unique and each beer that is produced is a drinkable landscape portrait of the trail we hiked. On October 15th, from 6-9pm at Broken Top Bottle Shop, beer lovers will have the opportunity to try new beers inspired by hikes around the Bend Region.

These hike-inspired beers were produced through a collaboration between BMBW and the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) through a series of public hikes with brewers throughout the summer.

Participating local brewers that joined in on the hikes include Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, and Worthy Brewing.

Each brewer will serve their new beer on October 15th. Additionally, Laurelwood Brewing (Portland), and Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton) will also tap special beers based off hikes in their region.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the brewers, learn about the various hikes that inspired the beers, and learn about some of ONDA and BMBW’s recent work. Beers will be sold by the pint and in sample sizes until they run out. 100% of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

What: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, OR
When: October 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend
Cost: Pay per pint or per sample

Tap list and details available as of this moment:

Crux River Trail Sour
ABV 9.0. IBU 15. Special ingredients are, choke cherries, and mint. Also fermented with a mixed culture from Crooked Stave out of Colorado. This is a blend of our Saison and a barrel aged golden sour. There is crisp light tartness to it that blends very smoothly with the dry fruity flavors of the saison. There is also a slight pink color from the choke cherries, and a very slight mint flavor in the finish.

Worthy Walk on the Wild Side (Badlands Indigenous Ale).
6.5% ABV. 14 IBUs. Beer brewed with Juniper tips, juniper berries, Indian Rice grass, Desert Sage, wheatgrass, and fescue.

Deschutes Botanic Ale – A light and crisp beer with rye, wild sage, and meadowsweet, rose and Stella hops, inspired by a wildflower hike on the Middle Deschutes River.

Laurelwood Saison de Walkle – Saison with rose hips and elderberries. 5.5%, 12 IBU

Seven Brides Pseudo Tsuga IPA – Light bodied IPA with a piney aroma and resiny flavor from the addition of Douglas Fir needle tea. 5.4%, 60 IBU

I fully intend to be at this tasting and I hope you will be too.

xxxx

Eric Steen (BMBW), left. ONDA tour guide, middle. Veronica Vega (Deschutes), right.

There were a total of six people on the Deschutes hike: Veronica Vega (Deschutes Pub Brewer extraordinaire), Gina Schauland (Deschutes Social Media Coordinator & Event Promotions), our trail guide from ONDA, another young woman, Eric of BMBW, and me.

[Let me go on record and say that I am an ass regarding names. I sincerely apologize to the two young ladies whose names I don’t know. I guarantee you that I remember your faces, and, with any luck, the context from which I recognize you.] [Nikki! (no idea of spelling. The other young lady is Nikki. I think/believe.]

I was going to put about a dozen photos from our hike here but then I realized that there are 100s from the Canon and not just iPhone photos. Instead, I am uploading them and will link there here shortly. All of them. Unretouched.

Still. One more.

This is also the confluence of the Whychus and Deschutes. That spear coming in from the left ... Deschutes to the left, Whychus from the right.

This is also the confluence of the Whychus and Deschutes. That spear coming in from the left … Deschutes to the left, Whychus from the right. You can actually see water from both in this photo also.

I had the Deschutes Botanic Ale on 5 September when late one evening Sara and I wandered into the pub for a nightcap and it was on tap. The pub manager bought us our beer when she heard I had gone on the hike. I do not think it was supposed to be on and may have been so accidentally. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed it and am looking forward to having it again at 5 or so weeks older. Which is only about difference; not “better.” With botanicals they can change quite rapidly.

I do not know where the rest of the Bend beer geeks were on these hikes; I heard there were low turnouts on the other two hikes also. Anyway, this was an amazing honor along with being an amazing adventure. Ok. I know the rest of you up here do hikes like these for breakfast but this made me work a bit. That’s neither here nor there.

The beauty was everywhere. From the tiny little flora to the grandeur of the rugged, sweeping views capped off by a perfectly blue sky with wispy clouds. Since we carpooled, I rode up to the hike area with Veronica and Gina and gained a little insight into my favorite big brewery. On the way back, Eric joined us and to be privy to the discussion between Veronica and Eric was, indeed, a privilege.

There was discussion of sourcing ingredients, which ingredients were inspiring Veronica and why, when in the process the various botanicals might be used and how, and so on. It was quite fascinating.

If you get a chance to go on a Beers Made By Walking hike do so. Just go.

Deschutes Mirror Mirror 2014 release

Today is release day for Deschutes much-anticipated Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve barrel-aged barley wine. It has been 5 years since it was last released. This past Dec 20th I had some of the 2009 Mirror Mirror at a Solstice Barley Wine Night party we had at our place and it was quite tasty so I was definitely looking forward to this release.

Mirror Mirror 2014 Release barley wine at Deschutes Brewery barrel works

Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve barley wine at Deschutes Brewery barrel works

The same friend who brought the 2009 Mirror Mirror to our barley wine party, the ever personable Jon Abernathy, invited me as his +1 to an invitation-only media event held yesterday at Deschutes barrel works, celebrating the release of the Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve. We got to chat with founder Gary Fish and barrel master and brewer Ryan [sorry, failed to catch his last name].

Deschutes founder, Gary Fish, and barrel master/brewer Ryan, talking to us about the Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve barley wine

Deschutes founder, Gary Fish, and barrel master/brewer Ryan, talking to us about the Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve barley wine

They talked about Mirror Mirror, the Reserve Series, the new Pub Reserve Series, the barrel works, upcoming plans for beers, and answered questions while we sampled the new 2014 Mirror Mirror. Next we tried some of the first Pub Reserve Series beer Big Red. And finally we got to try some future Not the Stoic right out of the rye barrel it is aging in. It was a grand time, the beers were all world class, and I learned a lot. Thanks, Deschutes and Jon!

Deschutes Brewery barrel works, cold side

Deschutes Brewery barrel works, cold side

Deschutes Brewery barrel works, warm side for sours and those beauties needing warmer temps of 70 degrees

Deschutes Brewery barrel works, warm side for sours and those beauties needing warmer temps of 70 degrees

Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve Barley Wine was the first of the Deschutes Reserve Series and was previously released in 2005 & 2009. It was “born of a double batch of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, [and] is an inspired barley wine ale layered with intriguing nuances. Explore the latest incarnation and enjoy its delicious complexity in every sip.” It is 11/2% ABV and has 53 IBUs. It is brewed with English malts and Cascade and Millennium hops. Fifty percent was aged for 10 months in oak barrels that once held Oregon Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Malbec wines. [All info from the one-sheet they provided.]

Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve barley wine

Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve barley wine

I hope to get about 5-6 bottles of this and sit on them for 6-months, 1 year, 2 years through to 4-5 years. I expect quite delicious things to develop. I suggest you get to one of the pubs and try this fresh on draft and then put aside a bottle or two for at least 6 months. Keep in mind that even Deschutes recommends waiting a year as the bottles have a “Best After” 24 February 2015 date on them. I’m willing to “sacrifice” a bottle at 6-months to see how it is developing but my main interest in this vintage is in the 1 to 5-year-old range.

The Pub Reserve Series was quietly released at the end of last year. These bottles are only available at both of the pubs and the breweries’ tasting room. “It’s no secret that our brewers love to experiment in the pub brewhouses, and this new series celebrates that passion with some never-seen-before, single-batch brews. First up is Big Red, a double Cinder Cone Red, aged in Cabernet and Syrah barrels. The next pub Reserve beer will be Planète Rouge, a blended sour red ale – releasing March 24, 2014.” [All info from the one-sheet they provided.]

The Big Red, an Imperial Red Ale, is shaping up quite nicely already. We had a sample at the Deschutes Pub on 31 December when it was released and picked up a bottle for some light aging. It has a “best by” 1 Dec 2014 date and based on how it has already matured I think I’ll give it another 3-4 months. If you are interested in this you had best grab it soon at either of Deschutes pubs in Bend or Portland or at the tasting room at the brewery.

After they discussed the Pub Reserve Series, I asked Gary and Ryan if the Portland Pub beers would be available at the tasting room. They clarified that these beers are brewed in both pubs, in this case barrel-aged, and then shipped to the brewery where they are blended and then bottled for sale. So they truly are a collaboration between the two pub brewers. I know I need to learn more about the Portland pub brewer but we adore Veronica Vega and her Bend pub beers!

The Not the Stoic will be a barrel-aged, Belgian-style quad, due in April if I remember correctly. It is aging in several different barrels and we got ours straight out of a rye barrel. I hope once it’s blended some of those rye notes remain, along with whatever other intriguing notes they get from the other barrels.

Not the Stoic straight out of the rye barrel

Not the Stoic straight out of the rye barrel

Again, thanks so much Deschutes Brewery and Jon for including me.

Oh yeah. We each got to bring a bottle home.

And as final photo teasers here are some true beauties to salivate over in your dreams while we wait for some future release:

The Abyss Imperial Stout. But is this 2014 or 2015?

The Abyss Imperial Stout. But is this 2014 or 2015?

 

Pub Imperial Bitter sitting in a spanish sherry cask. OMG! Please let me find this at the Bend pub whenever it is released.

Pub Imperial Bitter sitting in a spanish sherry cask. OMG! Please let me find this at the Bend pub whenever it is released.

 

 

The Abyss 2013 Release

Thursday was release day for The Abyss 2013—Deschutes’ imperial stout—at both the Bend and Portland pubs. That meant one thing. I was there. Just like I was there last year. Just like I hope to be there for years into the future.

A few others and I were there when they opened the Bend pub doors at 11. I settled in at a table in the bar area as my friend Miles was going to be joining me in a bit for lunch. I ordered my taster flight which came with 5 oz pours of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2013 on nitro along with one of Deschutes’ heavenly chocolate truffles.

Tasters of The Abyss Imperial Stout on Release Day. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2013 ntiro

Tasters of The Abyss Imperial Stout on Release Day. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2013 ntiro

[Please, please, please Deschutes—if you are listening—put the truffles back on the every day menu!]

Slowly over the next two hours I sampled my way through those small glasses of heaven. Miles wasn’t able to finish all of his before having to head back to work so I inherited varying amounts. He did finish the 2010 and the 2013 non-nitro though.

Since the better half had to work she was unable to visit until very late afternoon. I met her and then we headed to the pub. She had the flight and I ordered a snifter of the 2009. Pub brewer Veronica Vega came by at some point with a tray of bottled 2009 samples and we snagged one. By the time we had to leave for the Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett show at the Tower the pub was really hopping.

Snifter of The Abyss Imperial Stout 2009

Snifter of The Abyss Imperial Stout 2009

We had seen several friends and were able to leave some of all vintages for our friend Jon to taste.

On my first visit earlier in the day I also picked up one bottle each of 2007 and 2008 (very limited, one/person) and two of 2013. The 2007 and 2008 were quite dear and I have now upped my per ounce cost and total cost per bottle even beyond when I got the Westvleteren XII this past spring. As far as I am concerned, The Abyss is every bit as good as Westvleteren XII and 2007 is the only year I have yet to taste. I am stoked.

The Abyss Imperial Stout bottles. 2007, 2008, 2013, 2013

The Abyss Imperial Stout bottles. 2007, 2008, 2013, 2013

If you get a chance, try The Abyss. Doesn’t matter if it’s this years or some other going back to 2006. Just try it. Try as many of the vintages as you can. If you like big stouts you will most likely be pleased.

For me, The Abyss is heaven in a glass. I won’t say it’s “the best beer in the world” because that is just silly. But it is one of my very favorites of what is arguably my favorite style. Thank you, Deschutes!

DB CO-OP Firkin-A

Last night Deschutes Brewery put on another outstanding event, Firkin’-A: Traditional Ales, at their Bend Public House.

Flyer for the DB CO-OP Firkin'-A event

Flyer for the DB CO-OP Firkin’-A event

This was the 2nd in their DB CO-OP series so far, which focuses on educating the community on local beer and local food, and which benefits assorted local causes via rallycause. The first two quarterly events were part of the Brewer Cooperative, while the last two will be part of the Central Oregon Culinary Cooperative.

Firkin’-A: Traditional Ales featured brewers from McMenamins, 10 Barrel, Brewers Union Local 180 and Deschutes. They all brought cask ales to share and Deschutes provided great traditional English bites to accompany them. Worthy was advertised as being there but I either missed them entirely somehow or they didn’t make it.

I began with McMenamins Note Taker IPA, followed by Brewers Union Local 180 Wotcha a la Challenger Bitter. Deschutes Pub Bitter came next and then I had 10 Barrels S1nist0r Black Ale which had been krausened with their Berliner Weisse (which I am assuming was German Sparkle Party). All of the beers were quite tasty and I had second sample of all of them.

Brewers Union Local 180 Wotcha ala Challenger Bitter

Brewers Union Local 180 Wotcha ala Challenger Bitter (Sorry about the bad photo)

The food, which consisted of an assortment of cheeses and sausages, bread and crackers, and some pickled vegetables, was quite tasty also.

Firkin tools and implements on display

Firkin tools and implements on display

Deschutes Brewer Veronica Vega, and others, put on an excellent party. Did I mention it was FREE? Big thanks to Deschutes and all of the other breweries and brewers in attendance for bringing their beers and spending their time with us. An especially big thanks goes to Brewers Union Local 180 for making the trek from Oakridge. I am really looking forward to visiting them someday soon. They come highly recommended from some serious beer drinkers that I trust.

The gentleman from Brewers Union Local 180 pouring traditional cask ale

The gentleman from Brewers Union Local 180 pouring traditional cask ale

The next two DB CO-OP events are:

By the way, I think the wristband idea is dead in the water and that you can just show up. It wasn’t needed for yesterday’s event. Feel free to ask on Facebook or via Twitter nearer these events as Deschutes social media folks are amazingly responsive.