Archive for the ‘Good Beers’ Category

Around The Corner

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

from theweeklybrew

Oktoberfest lagers and fall theamed ales are already on the shelves signaling my favorite season for beer isn’t far away. Already I’m counting down the days till winter seasonals are released. In fact I got so excited the other day I sent out a text to a non-drinking friend that said “stout seasons almost here.” Needless to say they were confused.

Seriously though, winter seasonals always excite me. I always look forward to big stouts, winter warmers, and this years batch of barlywines. Can you tell I like big beers? The funny part is that by the end of winter I will be longing for a variety of sessionable summer ales. Despite this fact though winter is still the only seasonal I get excited about.

I know there are geeks that read this blog and probably have their favorite fall/winter seasonals picked out, but there’s also non-beer geeks that read this. I know this because they give me a hard time on some of my geekier posts. So here’s a list of beers I watch out for.

Pumpkin Ales– Not the biggest fan of these, but I still find an enjoyable one occasionally. Homebrewed pumpkin beers tend to have better flavors then commercial ones. I prefer a full flavored amber or brown ale as a base. Some of the commercial ones use a lighter base to highlight the spices, but a good pumpkin beer needs a strong malt profile to work with the spices in my opinion.

Milk Stouts– Some Imperial Stouts, Chocolate Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, and Coffee Stouts are available year around now so I don’t group them as winter beers anymore, even if there is a better selection in winter. Sweet stouts a.k.a. Milk Stouts generally tend to be restricted to winter though. My big addiction last year was Oatis from Ninkasi. Yes I’m aware it’s listed as an oatmeal stout, but it is still a fairly sweet, malty stout. Snow Plow also come to mind though as a good winter stout. I know Widhook haters will love I tossed that one out.

Winter Warmers– You can’t really peg this category solidly in my opinion. The only unifying characteristic seems to be higher alcohol. I like this style though because you find alot more experimenting with herbs, spices, and things like raisins in these beers. It can be hit and miss though since there is so much diversity.

Spruce Ales – Spruce tips seem to be more common in winter beers. I’m not sure why, but they are. Personally I like a well constructed spruce ale.

Of ZZ Hop and Chili Stout

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

Last night I managed to make it to both Venti’s where I had the Chocolate Chili Stout, and the Ram where I had a couple pints of ZZ Hop. While I recommend both beers I definitely prefered the Chili Stout.

Chili Stout

This beer was the best of both worlds for me. I love a nice warming chili beer, and I ♥ stouts. Definitely was my favorite beer of the evening. I wanted to shoot some vid of Venti’s basement, but Bobby wasn’t bartending so I didn’t know the person behind the beers. Filming in a small beer, without permission, and with a strange bartender is daunting.

ZZ Hop

A really great fresh hop ale. Tastes floral and green with noticeable, but mild hops, and some yeast flavors that I noticed more on my second pint. Definitely enjoyable, but not life altering good. but

The one thing I learned from last night was I need a new drinking buddy now that Kaylie has a boyfriend…. Call me strange, but it just feels weird to ask a girl if she wants to go to the pub when she has a boyfriend, so I don’t. Haven’t gone drinking with Kaylie since before her like 2 month hiatus. Time to start lookin for a new one.

If you want I have a time lapse video of me drinking the fresh hop and an choppy video from Summer In The City I never posted that I thought I’d toss up. Also you may notice these aren’t true beer reviews. That’s because I personally believe beer drinkers need to try a beer for themselves rather then read a review. If you want to know what the beers were like then try get out there and have a pint.

ZZ Hop Time Lapse from 72mm Blogs on Vimeo.

Untitled from 72mm Blogs on Vimeo.

ZZ Hop Tapping At The Ram

Monday, August 24th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

My opinion of the Ram has changed dramatically over the course of this year. For a long time it had a reputation of shelling out mediocre beers. When I finally was old enough to belly up to the bar all I knew about the place was what I’d been told. Turns out I liked their beers, but just  haven’t been back much. Mike is definitely shelling out some quality beers though. ThursdayI got the chance to chat with Mike while sampling their lineup of the 10 beers that were on tap. I enjoyed the beers, and the conversation. Mike even sent me some pics for todays post.

1246982883Tis the season for fresh hop ales, and Mike at the Ram is tapping his on Wednesday at 3:00 pm. ZZ Hop was brewed in honor of Jim Quilter who passed away in June. He was the Seattle locations head brewer. Jim was known for his ZZTop style beard, hence the name ZZ Hop. Wednesday would have been Jim’s 53rd birthday.

ZZ Hop is a fresh hop ale meaning the hops are taken straight from the vine and added to the beer. No kilning involved. Mike uses 150 pounds of Perle hops that he helped harvest himself in Brooks right before brewing. Sorry for the small picture sizes, but they came like that in the email and resizing distorts them.

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Beat The Heat

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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from theweeklybrew

Well it’s still triple digits here, and I really wanted to do a post on styles of beer for beating the heat. Turns out though I’m not the only one who thought of it. Alworth over at Beervana has a good post on summer styles with some links to other posts on summer beers.

Beating the heat with beer though can be difficult. When your sitting outside in 100° weather it can be hard to find a beer that hits the spot. In fact over the last few days I’ve been experimenting with the beers in my fridge in order to figure out the most quaffable summer ale. One of the big problems is that alcohol decreases your bodies ability to thermoregulate itself. So the more beer you drink the less it helps. Not only that, but it’s common knowledge that alcohol dehydrates you. This is because alcohol is a diuretic. This means that while those imperials still sound tasty they probably won’t be the beer of choice for most people. In fact as this years Fourth of July sales showed lite beers can be favored more in warmer weather. How many of us want to quaff Busch Lite though? Well my grandparents, but not to many other people I know. So after some experimentation I’ve decided on my two favorite hot weather beers.

Small Beers –I love low alcohol summer beers. They get some flack for lack of strong malt flavors, and for being a little watered down, but to me this is their saving grace. When I’m out doing yard work, or taking a break on a bike ride I generally don’t want something over 3% abv. One of my favorite beers of summer is Anchor Small Beer. Small beers aren’t difficult to brew either. With modern brewing it’s just a matter of cutting the wort with boiled water until you get the proper OG. Although it may not be wise I’d group O’Douls in this category. I know many people don’t like the near beers, but I really don’t think they taste that bad.

Sour Beers –I’m not the biggest fruit fan, and for the most part not a lambic fan either, but not all sour beers are lambics, and not all lambics are bad. The truth is though sour beers are some of the most refreshing beers out there. Part of the reason for this is that sour beers cause you to salivate. I cracked open a bottle of my Witches Brew Sour Ale which is an Irish Red flavored with herbs instead of hops, and soured. Honestly this beer takes first for most refreshing beer in my fridge.

Venti’s 1 Year

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

vtweetSo today is Venti’s one year anniversary, and I’m sitting herewith Bill having lunch. Sadly I will miss the tapping of Damnation. Turns out they won’t tap the keg until 4:00 pm. They do have Ninkasi’s Radient summer ale in bottles, as well as Rogues Sesquicentennial ale. Total lunch was only $15 for two people. Not bad with the bomber of Ninkasi. Not many people seemed to realize it was the anniversary. There is also Venti family everywhere. In fact once Venti’s updates their blog I got a photo of me sitting and typing, with JR, Leslie, and Dino posing with me. I feel so lazy when I think about the fact I’m the only one sitting in that photo.

I’m excited that it’s one year for Venti’s at their new location, and that they’re doing well. I’ve known Conrad since highschool, so even though I’m not family I’m still excited for their continued success. I think part of this is also because Venti’s is personal and cares about their customers. Not only that, but as I’ve discovered over the last year they have great beer. Boy do they have great beer.

I hope you guys stop by and enjoy the offerings Venti has for what is a special day for them. I know I enjoyed myself even if Damnation wasn’t tapped yet 🙂 It was great seeing Leslie, Dino, and JR, and we really enjoyed our lunch.

Ask And Recieve

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

vtweetWednesday I let you guys all know some of the details about Venti’s 1 year anniversary at their new location (why do we still call it the new location after a year?) When I posted the details I somewhat jokingly had said that I had been hoping for

some great tap prices, or an extra special keg

Turns out Leslie read this line as I got a Facebook message letting me know that the event was still evolving, yet there were no plans for a special keg, but all drinks would be happy hour prices from 4-11. Cool I thought. There is always great beer on tap so happy hour prices sounds great. Then I got another email.

Here is where the ask and ye shall receive part comes in. Leslie had asked for my email address, and not to long after giving it to her this showed up

Happy hour prices on pints $3 all day, but happy hour on mixed drinks only after 4 when lounge opens

Gettin a keg of Rogue Sesquicentennial Ale

Talk about awesome. Venti’s has definitely gone above and beyond. Not only that but because of that email I now feel all powerful. What a nice feeling.

So now that Venti’s has gone out of their way to make this celebration worthy of being listed in the craft beer month event list we must do our part. Get the word out there. Three dollar pints is an unusual thing to see for beer of the caliber that Venti’s serves. So not only will you get an awesome price on a pint, but you will be supporting a great local restaurant. See you all on July 7th hopefully.

Pale Horse Brewery

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

 pale_horse_logo

Hmmm where do I start with Pale Horse?

Maybe I should start with the fact that it’s only miles from my house. Really, who knew it was this close? I went from kinda excited to major excited when I found out. Sadly Pale horse doesn’t keep their beers on tap though. So it’s not as exciting as it would be if Seven Brides was only miles from my house. I did get to try a pale ale though straight from the fermentor…. More on that in a sec though.

Pale Horse is brewed by Dennis. I didn’t get a last name though. Was just told his name was Dennis. Dennis is not only the brewer of Pale Horse, but also the only brewer in the group. He runs it along with his nephew (the seller) and I think his brother, but I could be wrong. Dennis is a homebrewer of something like seven years and has been operating commercially since January of this year. As CapitolTaps said (and I later learned first hand) his style leans towards less hoppy and less bitter beers. This is both a blessing and a bad thing (curse is an ugly term). Their Hillbilly Blonde is amazing. Their IPA…. Not bad.

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Pale Horse runs their business by providing the general public, not beer snobs, with what they like. Many breweries in Oregon have pale ales as their flagship and breakout beers. For Pale Horse it’s a blond in an unassuming bottle. Overnight it seems Pale Horse is on tap in almost every bar, and from what I was told will be in Bi-Mart as well as Roth’s IGA where it seems to be doing well. Dennis’ nephew is the one responsible for this amazing event. His job is to travel around to bars raising the profile of their beer. So far they’re in many taverns and bars around Salem. With the job he’s doing their current brewing capacity won’t be able to keep up.

As to this no tours nonsense. Perhaps it was the time when many people asked, perhaps not. When I first called I got the we don’t do tours line also. After informing them that I had a blog and wanted to educate people on their business they were much more open to letting me come… alone. When you show up though you kinda get why they don’t do tours. There really isn’t alot of room. I think if you told them you were a brewer and were curious to see there operation they might be more open.

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Apparently though the person I talked to on the phone didn’t remember me calling as when I showed up they didn’t seem to excited. Again I played the blog angle. Dennis came out of the office and we had a chat next to the grains. After talking for a bit Dennis offered me a taste of the pale ale he’s trying out. I’m really torn on this one. I was told that the pressure was being put on for the pale ale by a Drifter fan…. Anyway, I loved the malt flavor of this beer. My only issue was that there was a strong distinct bitter taste, but no real hop flavors. This pale ale has great potential if he can increase the hop juice without increasing the bitterness.

Over all the people at pale horse are great guys. Dennis is especially friendly. They remind me of the group of guys my dad and I go fishing with. They do their research for what sells in Salem, and they are eager. I hope they stay in Salem for a time yet. Look for them at the Summer Solstice Festival, the Oregon State Fair, and The Bite in Salem. Also they will have their pale ale out for sure soon and hope to have 5 beers by this time next year. Sorry bout the porter though for those who were excited. After researching they’ve decided a porter isn’t where they want to go quite yet.

The Seven Brides Brewery

Saturday, May 16th, 2009
Sorry for the quality, my camera stopped working and I had to use my camera phone.

Sorry for the quality, my camera stopped working and I had to use my camera phone.

As I said earlier, I’ve been in Mt Angel all week training. Every afternoon on the ride home I would reach Bethany, and then an internal debate would begin. Should I go east and visit Seven Brides Brewing? Or should I go west and head home. Without fail I chose west every time. Then Friday came and the weather became beautiful. The sun was shining, the wind had died down, and the stars alligned. Friday I went east.

First a bit about my experience with Seven Brides. The first time I’d heard of Seven Brides was when their stout (Ellie Oatmeal) ended up at Ventis. Curious about the new beer I decided that I needed to get out and try it, the idea never got off the ground until after the stout had been depleated though. The next time I had a chance to sample a beer from Seven Brides was at the Cherry City Music festival. The beer was their Lil’s Pils, and wether the beer wasn’t stored well or whatever the reason It wasn’t the greatest beer, or at least that’s what I thought at the time. Later in April I finally managed to try their Ellie Oatmeal. Ellie wasn’t a bad beer, but not what I expected of an oatmeal. Turns out it was in the style of an Irish stout. No wonder it didn’t taste like a typical oatmeal, it wasn’t bad.

Anyway, So Friday I went east. Turns out though that Seven Brides is hard to find. After looking around for it I finally stopped for directions and found out they’d moved. Once I got the new address, 303 S James st (If you have no idea where that is then good luck finding it) I passed it at least 5 times before I stopped at the photography studio at 301. Turns out the brewery was right behind it.

Walking in to the brewery you immediatly realize that when people call it a small local brewery that they aren’t kidding. This place really is small. In fact Jeff told me that if they pushed their equipment they might be able to do 20 bbl. I happened to come on the right day though since they were brewing a batch of Lil’s Pils, and three of the five guys were there. Jeff poured me a beer (their Ember) and we started chatting about beer, homebrew, and how their business got going. One thing that stood out is that these guys are just normal guys who happen to brew good beer.  They aren’t the rock stars that seem to be cropping up much more nowadays. Their Ember was awesome, and they made sure I also tried their porter (Black Cat). Both beers were rockin’. Even if they didn’t make good beer Jeff would have made me an instant fan. The guys were friendly, and who can say no to an oppurtunity to have a pint with brewers.

Inspired by the beers I’d tried, and with a greater fondness of Seven Brides I decided to give Lil’s a second chance. Turns out when the keg is stored and poured right the beer is pretty darn good. Heck it took second place in the peoples choice for Oregon Gardens Brewfest, and who am I to dissagree with the people? If you haven’t tried Seven Brides then I recomend you do. Their website has an on tap list for local places, and you’ll be able to find them at the Mission Mill beer festival if it gets off the ground.

Seven Brides, Three Dad’s, And Two Uncles

Friday, May 15th, 2009

seven_brides_logo_smI’ve spent all evening agonizing over how to start this post. After all how do you describe an experience like the one I had today at Seven Brides Brewery? Well how about we start at the beginning? Not the beginning of my adventure though, at the beginning of theirs. Tomorrow I’ll speak of my adventures, and if it doesn’t convince you to try a Seven Brides beer then…. Well hopefully you will, because if anyone deserves to get credit where it’s due it’s Seven Brides.

Seven brides is proudly founded by three dads and two uncles with a history rooted in beer, and not just any beer, but homebrew. The brewery started in a garage around home made beer, not in a pub,  it was founded by a family, It supports the local brewing community in Oregon, and perhaps most heartwarming of all it was named after the seven girls belonging to three of the breweries owners. These are the five men behind Seven Brides.

Josiah Kelley – President and so much more
Phill Knoll – Head Brewer
Karl Knoll – Assistant Brewer and Plant Manager
Ken DeSantis – Head of Accounting
Jeff DeSantis – Sales and Marketing Director

Also here is a list of their signature brews, most named after one of their daughters.

Lauren’s Pale Ale
Emily’s Ember
Oatmeal Ellie
Maggie’s Marzen
Abbey’s Apple Ale
Lil’s Pils
Weezin-ator

As a side note Jeff is also co-founder of Hops2You. Together him and John Annen supply the hops that make it into your local beers including ones from Seven Brides, Calapooia, Lauralwood, and others. Also Hops2You supplies hops to homebrewing stores in Oregon, so next time you pick up a bag of Fuggles from Doug you can thank Jeff. In fact I’m thinking about brewing an all Fuggle hopped beer now thanks to Jeff.

Remember this picture? Turns out the hops in this field belong to Annen, and may just end up in a local beer near you

click for larger

click for larger

Loosing A Great Recipe

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

summer_beerSo today was B day for my small beer “Summer Steam”. The good news is the beer is awesome, and I fully plan on going into detail on why. The bad news though is that I have none of my information on it. My recipe, original gravity, all that stuff is gone. When I made the recipe it was mostly just some guess work on grains, leftover hops from my freezer, and guesswork on amounts and times. So rather then having a made out shopping list for ingredients I just entered it all in a recipe calculator, and added OG and hopping schedule in the notes. Then my battery died and I lost it all. The chances of me brewing this beer the same way again are so low that it’s somewhat depressing.

Why My Summer Steam Rules

This beer has to be one of my favorite light beers ever. My inspiration for it came while drinking a bottle of Anchor Small Beer. Was just sitting there thinking about how nice it was to have a beer that was so refreshing and low in alcohol. Then the cogs started turning. Next time I was in the homebrew store I was on a mission. My goal was to pack as much flavor as possible in as small of a beer as possible.

I used amber malt extract, rye malt, and crystal malt for my base. When it came to selecting hops though I knew I wanted to use the hops in the freezer, but I had no recollection at that moment what was in the freezer, nor can I recollect now. Lastly I had to pick a yeast. This part was tuff since I wanted to stay away from using Nottingham like I usually do. Quickly I hit on the idea of making a steam beer. Doug recommended a California lager yeast that fit the bill perfectly.

When I pitched the lager though it didn’t take off immediately and I re pitched Nottingham. After I pitched the ale yest though the lager bounced back, so I had both a lager and an ale yeast fermenting my beer at the same time. For the first 24 hours the ale yeast dominated. The Krausen was a dirty color and not very dense. After that though the krausen had changed to a denser whiter head and fermentation slowed, but chugged steadily for 6 more days. It was the most unique experience I’ve had in brewing

So to recap here are all the things I had never done before I made this beer

•I never had made a beer under 4% alcohol
•All my previous beers had been made with Nottingham Ale Yeast
•None of my previous beers were lagers
•I had never used rye
•This was my first beer made using two seperate yeasts

Needless to say there were alot of variables to this beer for me. The end result was worth the nervousness though. The beer is fairly dry, and according to my original guesstimates it should be around 2.5% alcohol. However since I have no OG reading I can’t say for sure. Although the beer is dry since it’s so light it still manages to be very refreshing. It’s crisp, clean, and flavorful. The bitterness is really distinct, but not overpowering, and the 5 gal I dryhopped are amazing with that light hop aroma. The best part of this beer though is that it comes in under 130 cal per a bottle. This is deffinatly a beer I want to brew again…. That is if I could.