Throwing an Over-the-Top Shindig

September 7th, 2011

So you’ve been dreaming of crafting the perfect party, a shindig of sorts where everyone comes with the highest of expectations and everyone still leaves impressed. It’s not an easy feat to pull off, but it’s certainly not impossible either. The key is in creating a party environment that plays to a lot of different tastes, but pulls them all together in an artful display that makes everyone feel like they’re enjoying the same party (even if different moods are being catered to). Below, we’ll focus on creating a high-class shindig at a low budget, so you can feel on top of the earth even if your wallet doesn’t make that the case.

Focus on the Small Touches

A classy party doesn’t really take much. You won’t need thousands of dollars worth of decorations, or some giant, fancy hot tub placed front and center to make it look like your party has unconventional swagger. Everything boils down to the small touches, the finer things that people think they’re being swift for noticing but which were intentionally placed all the same. For appetizers, try caviar, for instance. Caviar creates a notion of wealth and grandeur because of its origins, so even if you still offer generic crackers and a vegetable platter, people will remember the caviar.

Push the Beer

Any classy party can be filled with lots of good wine, but if you want to stand out, you can’t go the traditional route on anything. Need a suggestion? Try beer. And we’re not talking about basic, domestic beers that cost a few bucks at the local gas station. Go for high-end, award-worthy beers, the kind that are just enough under the radar that they aren’t popularly known yet, but have just enough general awareness that a few key people at the party will be impressed by the display. Once they get talking, your party will soon have a unique, hipster vibe, and you’ll seem like you’re in-the-know off the bat.

Don’t Forget the Party Favors

Everyone likes free stuff, and that holds true for the richest and poorest among us. If you want to make sure everyone who leaves walks away with a positive image of your party, seal the deal with a party favor or two. Our suggestion: keep it simple, and keep it ‘big idea.’ Simple is just for sanity’s sake, as trying to create gift bags for everyone sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. The ‘big idea’ suggestion, however, is essential. The gift itself doesn’t have to be all that spectacular; rather, it’s what the gift suggests that counts. If you decide go gift everyone some comfy bathrobes, everyone thinks they just got some swank goods, considering they just ate caviar and drank unusual, expensive beer at your party. And now you even want them to continue with the good time. It doesn’t matter if the bathrobes are from the local department store or even a website; so long as the gift fits with the image you want to get out there, your party favors will be an end of the night success.


September 14th, 2010

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here and I owe everyone who still checks it an apology.

I was promoted shortly after my last post to lead staff at the group home I work at and it took a serious chunk of time out of my weekday. This prompted a discussion with Rachel and we both agreed that I needed to limit the amount of stuff I was doing. It came down to a choice between brewing or writing about beer and well…. brewing beer won out. Since my last post one of my herbal beers took sencond runner up for best in show at the hombrewers classic and that just helped further cement my decicion(herbals don’t usually place that high). Brewing is something I am passionate about doing. Drinking beer and writing about it is something I enjoy.

As of now I don’t have alot of future plans for this blog. This means it will probably sink into obscurity unless I can find a new writer for it. (something I’ve been slacking on).

So for now just know I miss writing and talking with you guys over the comments section. Hopefully I can find someone to take over so it doesn’t die. If I can’t, then have fun over at Beervana 😉

A Great Tasting

June 9th, 2010

Lately my evenings have been filled with bombers of heavy winter brews thanks to the weather. After all, a long, wet, cold bike ride should not end with a small beer. Cold wet weather calls for something big. Saturday however the clouds parted and enough sun was able to peak through for a beer tasting.

Small was the name of the game as I sent out invites at the beginning of the week. It was a success overall as everything from big winter seasonals to light summer lagers were sampled. Sadly only one pic was taken and tasting notes and a beer casualty list were not kept. The only fact I know is that Scaldis Noel is one amazing beer. I wish I could drink that stuff every day.

Hating on the OLCC

May 21st, 2010

There’s been an email floating around started by a conversation with Fearless Brewing about a homebrew competition they were (are?) involved with. Someone emailed in telling them that their competition was illegal. Fearless brewing’s response apparently was to start emailing everyone that they were told essentially that it would be illegal to hold a homebrew competition on their premises. Here are the emails.

This became a subject of discussion regarding a recent inquiry from another part of the state, thought you should know about it in advance. This will impact your yearly event that you had recently.
Home brewers are not permitted under ORS 471.403 to provide tastings of their beer (or wine) outside of the home without having a manufacturing license. In order to qualify under the home brewer (or winemaker) exception in 471.403 from the general licensing requirement, all of the requirements in the statute must be met – which means that the beer or wine must be both for home consumption and not for sale. Since this product is not being consumed in the home, the home brewers would not qualify under the home brewer exemption and would be brewing without a license. Sorry to be the bearer of this news, but better now than the day before the event.

Thanks, Leslie

The Leslie in the email is Leslie Kleinkopf, an OLCC inspector. Keep in mind that ORS401.473 doesn’t specifically say this. In fact it says that ORS401.473 doesn’t apply to beer brewed or kept for home consumption and not for sale. The law does not define home consumption. Here’s the law if you want to see it for yourself.

No person shall brew, ferment, distill, blend or rectify any alcoholic liquor unless licensed so to do by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. However, the Liquor Control Act does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.

Now here’s the email from Strange Brew Homebrew Club after Fearless “clarified” the OLCC’s stance. Keep in mind all fearless brewing did was forward them their conversation with Leslie.

To keep their working relationship with the OLCC, Fearless brewing and most other brewers that we have held competitions at let their OLCC contact know what is going on. This is what Bennet did again this year. In their true governmental efficiency, they did not get back to Bennet till just recently. It appears that the statute allows the home production of beer, wine etc was amended in 2007. What it does not touch on is the transport of the home made beverages. From a strict interpretation of the statute, we can not even transport a homebrew to another house. I agree with Randy, we need to get an adjustment just like the Washington guys did. We need to get a united front of beer clubs, supply stores and breweries to fix the transport issue. Anyone know a legislator?


Notice how Ted completly changes it from being an issue of providing tastings to transporting those tastings? Anyone else not see transportation not mentioned in Leslies original email? Here’s another on the subject from Ted.


Look at the following email thread, the OLCC does not want us to transport beer to beer club meetings or competitions. As a home brew community we need to get the Oregon Statues revised. We need a united front of home brewers, beer clubs, supply stores and breweries to fix the transport issue. Please pass this to your club president and put it on your next meeting agenda! It is a time for action, I am looking for people to help support the battle, are you willing to help or do you have club members that are willing to help?


 Interestingly the transportation of liquor is governed by ORS471.405 which says

No person shall peddle or deliver alcoholic beverages to or at any place, where, without a license, alcoholic beverages are sold or offered for sale. No licensee shall sell or offer for sale any alcoholic beverage in a manner, or to a person, other than the license permits the licensee to sell

Unofficial interview with Nick, and tasting Black Mamba

April 14th, 2010

Whew, long title.

So I forgot that tonight was the Gilgamesh Brewing tasting at Venti’s. It would have done me no good if I’d remembered since I had a seat belt diversion class for a traffic ticket. However I was hungry and figured I’d swing by Venti’s. It was unusually full for a Wednesday, and they had both the black mamba and IPA from Gilgamesh on tap. I thought I was in luck. I ordered  the veggie thai peanut bowl and a Black Mamba and grabbed a seat next to some familiar looking people without thinking. Turns out it was Nick from Gilgamesh brewing and some of his friends.

Now I never use a conversation with a brewery rep against them when they’re out drinking, and have no clue I’m a blogger. It’s mean. However since Gilgamesh is a buzz brewery at the moment I’ll post the jist of it.

According to Nick his family has been homebrewing for awhile. I believe he said 14 years…. Anyway, Nick had been told by friends who drank their homebrew that he should open a brewery. One day Nick, certain he was going to be fired, called his brother and the two agreed to start a brewery. Gilgamesh was born.

Nick and I talked a bit about the Portland beer market. Nick feels that the IPA is on the decline. He said this is why they had made their flagship an “experimental” herbal beer. Nick has high hopes for it because of it’s reception by Oregon beer drinkers. He also has high hopes for their scotch ale. Apparently I missed free samples of this and their cranberry wheat.

We talked some more about beer before he stepped out for a cigarette, and I stepped out to head home.

Black Mamba

Here are my tasting notes from my cell phone.


Muddy light brown, very opaque. Distinctly muddy to the point where Nick could tell from across the room what I was drinking.


Sweet aroma with strong scents of citrus zest and a muddy herbal aroma. Not unpleasant, but indistinct.


Once again indistinct and muddied (I’m seeing a theme). Cloying sweetness paired with heavy oily citrus flavors. Strong spicy finish that brings a little heat to the party. Nick says the heat is the alcohol and the spiciness is the Belgian yeast. Heats at the wrong point to be alcohol induced though. The spiciness, if caused by the yeast, is overwhelming. It kills the other flavors on your tongue. It’s almost like two different beers. The cloyingly sweet citrusy muddy mess, and the spicy funky beer that finishes warm.


I’m a big fan of herbal beers, and to be honest it wasn’t my favorite. I can see why people like this though. Big bold flavors seem to be what tickles the northwest palate rather then complexity and subtlety. Not the best impression out of the gate, but a decent offering for what is often an under appreciated and under brewed style.

Not Dead Yet

April 9th, 2010

I was on track to start blogging more. I had a series of posts planned all waiting on research and interviews. I was going to step up and get serious about this blog again. About 2 weeks ago though one of my clients went into crises and life has just been gridlocked since. The good news is that by next month I may start having more free time again and plan on writing once I do. Also, the nature of this blog is going to change. I still want to get some brew knowledge posts out. After all, nothing is more boring then a blog that does just beer reviews and fluff articles on breweries. I want this blog though to be about change. Salem is on the cusp of getting more great beer, but no one is pushing or leading the movement. I’m hoping that I can get some locals who are fans of great beer to participate and possibly we could change Salem’s ways. We’ll see.

Anyway felt bad for not posting in awhile so figured I’d toss up a meaningless update.

Lil’s From The Bottle

March 18th, 2010

Picture taken from Seven Brides Website

After defending Lil’s Pils from Seven Brides and recieving some negative comments I figured it was time I man up and retry it.


Very cloudy with minimal head. Straw color. Deffinatly not a pilsner in appearance.


Some banana and cloves. Lots of herbal and earthy smell. A little skunked, but not off putting.


Lots of banana and some cloves. Dirty and muddled, makes it hard to peg any distinct malt flavors.


I think I once described this beer as not a pilsner. Tasting this I have no choice but to stand by that. I still enjoy this beer, but it’s not what it’s called. It’s a bit muddied and could use a more appropriate name.

The Changing Consumer

March 16th, 2010

6 days ago World Class Beverages made an interesting post on their blog about some craft brewers esentially claiming the market is too over saturated. It’s an interesting post and worth a read. In fact, the replies are more interesting then the article. As usual Greg Koch and his fanboys rode in on their high horse blaiming everyone for their problems and pushing their ideoligies. I remember when he did that to my blog. This time though it seems to have backfired on Greg as the majority aren’t taking his side. Have people wised up? This isn’t what I wanted to talk about though. I want to talk about a comment on the post by JJ.

“I find it odd that the new breed of brewers feel the need to establish nationwide distribution. Isn’t that what led us down the path to begin with? The rally cry of the Craft Brewer’s Association used to be “Support Your Local Brewery.” Somewhere along the line, either the message changed, or someone missed the original memo.”

His comment seems to be right along the lines of something that has begun bothering me recently. Breweries are changing, but so are their customers. Doing research on the history of brewing you get a general idea of what customer base drank what beer. Before the early days of craft brewing anyone who thought they knew anything about good beer drank imported beer. Even in the 50’s there were people with low opinions of American beer. Back during the hippie movement there was a big rise in the artisinal movement as well. People, especially on the west coast, began doing things themselves that corporations had done for them in the 40’s. This movement saw home brewing move from a moonshine style business to a more artisinal aproach.

These early artisinal homebrewers were also the early craft beer drinkers. They started a movement that focosed on drinking local beer produced by people you knew. Slowly though artisinal has become craft, and the customers are no longer just the local homebrewers. There has been alot of talk about the wineification of beer, but less attention has been paid to the fact that as craft beer proliferates the customer base has become more diverse. Now your seeing what the Doc calls beer cheerleaders. People who drink craft beer because it’s craft beer. You have the beeradvocate crowd, wandering from release to release. You have beer snobs purchasing only the best. As brewers try to reach all these people at once how will it change the market? We seem to be moving more towards a model of limited releases and large lineups rather then the old model of a flagship and 4 or 5 year to year seasonals. Is this a direction we want to go?

Seven Brides In Bottles

March 3rd, 2010

I haven’t heard much blog talk about Seven Brides these days, and I’m wondering how often their beers see taps in the Portland area. That’s neither here nor there though. On my way to work today I swung by Roth’s and saw that Seven Brides finally has their main line up in bottles. Roth’s in North Salem had the LPA, Oatmeal Ellie, Lils Pills, Emily’s Ember, and Black Cat Porter. The bottles labels are simple with the same photo used for each bottle with a different color. This though seems to make the bottles more beautiful.

I know in the past I’ve had a love hate relationship with Seven Brides. My first experience involved Lil’s Pills out of a picnic setup at the Cherry City Music Fest. The beer I tried tasted horrible and I swore off Seven Brides forever I thought. Then, somewhere about May, I began training for a group home opening in Salem. The company opening it was located in Mt Angel, and during my trainings there I heard several people rave about Seven Brides beers. Thinking they deserved a second chance I swung by the brewery one day after work. Jeff was friendly and between him and their Ember he won me over as a fan. Over the year I’ve had a few interactions with Jeff DeSantis, and have grown fond of Lil’s Pills, Ellies Ember, and if I’m in the mood the Black Cat Porter. I have however found other beers they make no bueno

Anyway if you can’t find ’em on tap give a bottle a try.

Beware The Squeal

February 18th, 2010

A while ago Jeff over at Beervana had a post about a beer brewed with Apricot stone fruits called Everything But The Squeal. Interestingly the beer in question received more criticisms then praise from the readers. That’s because the fruit of apricot pits contains a chemical called amygdalin. This chemical is present in most fruit seeds including apples, and normally passes through your body tucked safely away in the seeds protective coating. However when you boil the seeds, open them up, or eat them this chemical is processed by your body and turned into cyanide. The FDA hasn’t thoroughly researched this chemical though, so the degree to which cooking eliminates amygdalin and the dosage at which it becomes lethal is debated. There’s no doubt though that some people are concerned. With the increasing use of alternative flavorings and herbs in beer though just how much are we exposing ourselves to “bad” or “dangerous” chemicals?

Within the alternative medacine community there seems to be a view that as long as it’s a plant it has to be better then the stuff you get from the pharmacy. What with all those nasty side effects of medicines it has to be true. Sadly many herbs contain similar or same chemicals that are found in some drugs. This means brewers should be paying close attention to interactions between plant chemicals, the way the body processes some chemicals, and the effect boiling in wort can have on the chemicals. Instead though many brewers just toss in the herbs without a lot of regard to this. Luckily for us the side effects of some herbs like sweet gale are over exaggerated and like the amygdalin in Cascades “white port/raspberry/apricot seed beer” are present in low enough levels for the body to process.

Just for fun here are some beer ingrediants that are considered dangerous or have known adverse side effects.

Ginko Biloba – Not very common, but you occasionally hear of one off beers brewed with it.

Ginsing – Oregon Trails Ginsing Porter pops to mind first.

Liquorice root – Common in dark heavy stouts, winter warmers, and sometimes barlywines.

Fruit seeds – Contain amygdalin. Cascade is the only one I’ve heard of actually brewing with seeds.

Sweet Gale – Reported in old brewing texts to be narcotic

Sassafras – traditional flavoring for root beer and some herbal beers. considered a carcinogen