Archive for June, 2009

12th Annual Barley Cup

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

mcmenaminsTo be honest I see why some of the guys at Capitol Brewers weren’t crazy to volunteer to judge this. While it is an event, it’s more Thompson’s oriented and less beer oriented. That being said it was still a beer event.

I’d planned on attending this with a few friends and Salem’s beer and wine meetup group. Both my friends though had to bail, and no matter how hard I looked I didn’t see the meetup group. Granted I didn’t know any of the people from the group that were going, so that didn’t help.

A beer competition doesn’t have to be a big social get together though, and so I headed to the bar. On an evening like this one the bar was the best place to be seated if you didn’t mind the hustle and bustle. With all the servers coming in and out you could order quicker, and the bartender kept your drinks full in between filling tasting trays. I ordered a tasting tray and joined three other guys at the bar. For awhile conversation was fairly dead, but it was no biggie. Conversation isn’t needed when your brooding about the fact that neither of your friends could make it.

I was about halfway through my tasting tray though when I got a nice surprise. Gary Nance from the Eugene location came and had a seat at the bar also. We discussed brewing and the pros and cons of making beer for a company like McMenamins. Gary was a cool guy. The guys at the end of the bar bought him a pint (I wasn’t impolite enough not to offer, but he’d told me he wasn’t drinking anymore) and we all got to talkin. After I finished my tasting tray I followed traditional McMenamins style drinking in Salem and got a compition beer mixed with Ruby. Turns out the Drunken Monkey IPA combined well with it.

Final results were

Restitution Brown – Mike White, Corey Blodgett
Pullman’s Porter – Gary Nance
‘Merican Ale – Graham Brogan

After we had all finished chatting I headed home for some dinner before heading to Venti’s for some heather ale. Bobby informed me when I got there that they’d just drained that keg the previous night. What the crap??? I so wanted to try some. Oh well. I had a couple pints while Bobby and I caught up on what’s been happening since high school. After I finished I headed over to the World Beat and watched some fire dancing.

Here’s a little video of some of it.

Fire Dancing at World Beat from 72mm Blogs on Vimeo.


Monday, June 29th, 2009

This weekend was the North American Organic Brewers Festival (what a mouth full). Instead of going to this I decided to stay in Salem and hit the Barley Cup, and the World Beat Festival. I wish I could say I had an awesome time, but my day, and my attitude got progressively worse as Saturday went on. So until I figure out how to write something positive about Saturday I’ll just link you guys to some of the articles about the NAOBF and embed this vid. It sounds like the event was a success.

The Oregonians video of the festival

Organic beer festival

Hops and Barley has some tasting notes

Bill has a review more of the festival then the beers. Interesting read.


Friday, June 26th, 2009


So right now I’m getting ready to brew my saison as soon as the yarrow arrives and I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve done a style rundown. I find it interesting to look at a style and why it got it’s start, and how it has evolved over the years. Saison is one of those really interesting beers because a years ago it was a nearly extinct style.

Saison literally means season and was a beer brewed by farms in Belgium for workers in the summer. Hence it’s other name, farmhouse ale. Saison isn’t just any ole summer ale though. Saisons are usually considered unique to Belgium although apparently there is a French style too. They were brewed in the winter and cellared till summer. Traditionally Saisons are around 3% abv, but the American revival of this style tends to be around 5% or higher. The reason why it was traditionally brewed at a low abv was that it was brewed for farm hands during the summer and fall. Not only did the workers remain more sober while drinking lower abv beers, but lower alcohol beers are much cheaper to brew. When farm hands were entitled to a certain amount of beer from their employer you better believe the employer was trying to cut costs.

According to the modern thought of craft brewing a lower abv beer should have less flavor. Saisons though managed to pack flavor in a small package. They did this in multiple ways. First off saisons have more hops then their maltier Belgian parents. Also farmers often provided more flavor to their beers by adding fruit, or cutting the beer with lambics. An interesting effect of this process is it gave the beer a tartness that makes it much more refreshing.

While historically saison refers to any number of summer beers brewed in Belgium the definition has become much more standardized in modern times. According to the BJCP a saison should have a aroma dominated by fruity esters. It should poor a pale orange color, and have a light to medium mouth feel. The flavor should be lightly bitter and refreshing with a light malt flavor that supports the other flavors in the beer. A modern saison often times has a tartness to mimic the older version and is usually a dry beer. Most modern saisons are medium to high alcohol content.

Herbal Infusions

Thursday, June 25th, 2009


The North American Organic Brewers Festival is upon us this beer event laden weekend. One thing I’ve noticed looking at the beer list is the number of beers with different herbs in them. The trend in craft brewing right now seems to be towards barrel aging beers, but I’ve noticed a trend towards herbal beers here in the northwest, and to a much lesser extent around the nation. Could herbal beers be the next big thing?

Personally I love  the aroma, and to a much lesser degree the flavor, that herbs other then hops impart to beer. I’ve used both yarrow and bogmyrtle a couple times. So I find myself wondering why the trend?

I think part of it is the novelty value to the consumer, and an interest for the brewer in stretching their horizons. I think it’s one of the reasons oak aging has exploded. To the average non brewing public the idea of barrel aging, boiling with hot rocks, or adding dandelion flowers is something way out there. There is a big draw in trying unique or unusual beers for the beer snob crowd.

As a brewer I’m interested in the techniques from a non novelty stand point. What can these different ingredients and methods do to change the characteristics of my beer? Are they effective? It’s the same curiosity that caused me to dump peanut butter in a stout. It’s also the same curiosity that caused me to develope my recipe for a gooseberry yarrow saison that I’m brewing this weekend.

So am I full of it about these fads and trends? I’d like to know others opinions. I’d especialy like Soseman’s input since she works in marketing.

Roth’s Keizer

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

rothslogoA couple days ago I went to the Keizer Roth’s to get some dinner stuff and noticed their beer isle has been re-done. It used to be that their bombers occupied more shelf space, with the first bit of the isle occupied by imports. Well it looks like most of the imports are gone, and the bombers consolidated to a smaller area. This is good and bad. Many of the beers I enjoyed grabbing on my way home are now absent, but there is a better selection of Northwest beers, including a line up of Pelican beers. My main complaint is still the lack of attention Roth’s (World Market is guilty too) pays to limited releases. In fact I still have yet to find Deschutes seasonal Twilight there.

Another good thing is that there were two carts full of beers on clearance near the back of the store. Most of them weren’t beers I enjoy sadly, but there were some. The average price of these six packs was 5.99 each. That’s not bad. I just wish they’d put those discontinued bombers in the clearance cart.

I picked up a bottle of Firestone Walkers DBA and a bomber of scottish ale from Pelican. I was quite pleased with the Pelican… The DBA…. Not so much. I can’t wait to pick up some more of Pelicans award winning beers though.

So overall reaction to the new selection? Meh. Roth’s will never replace Capitol Market.

Worthwile Reads

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

This is not only a late update, but also one that doesn’t require much work since I’m behind today. I was up late and slept through my alarm so I didn’t even roll out of bed till 11:15. So all that to say I’m now at work and haven’t had time to finish my post. Not wanting to leave today blank I decided to point you guys towards some great posts by other bloggers.

Beer and Nosh has a great post on the educational sessions from the National Homebrewers Conference. The Maltose Falcons and their riddling techniques were apparently there. I find it funny that their techniques are just now coming to the forefront since they’ve been on the web for a bit.

Jeff Alworth at Beervana has a great write up on the Brewers Games. Jeff MC’ed the event.

I’ve held off on linking to Bill’s random beer review generator because I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon of people linking to it. But now that that has slowed I am free to jump on.

For those interested in more info on riddling and the Maltose Falcons here is the link to their site.

Bottle Cap Jewelry

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

One thing it seems I always have alot of is bottle caps. Normally I’m not Captain Planet, but throwing away every cap I use would equal a ton of caps. So when I first decided that was alot of metal to chuck I went to Deanna who writes Green Glancy. Turns out even she couldn’t find much useful info on what to do with used bottle caps. The cool thing is Deanna also writes a blog called Recycled Lovelies. Turns out she’s amazingly crafty. Some of the clothing items she’s made are just awesome.

So after Deanna sent me some links for recycling bottle caps I asked her if she wanted some caps for her crafts. Turns out she did, so I took my less mangled ones and sent them her way. I’m not sure what all she’s made with those caps, but a couple days ago she sent me a link to a website that has bottle cap jewelry. At first I wasn’t much interested. Most bottle cap jewelry I’ve seen are just caps strung onto a necklace or bracelet. This site though showed bottle caps turned into beads. In fact their jewelry looks cool. If only I could figure out how to make my caps into round pieces like those Heine ones.

Picture Borrowed From

Picture Borrowed From

Picture Borrowed From

Picture Borrowed From

Barley Cup

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

mcmenaminsSpecific information on this event may seem lacking, but that’s because there isn’t much out there to go off of. Here is McMenamins info on it.

This Saturday is the 12th Barley Cup at Thompson’s Brewery in south Salem. Every year McMenamins breweries randomly draw a style of beer which they then have to brew for the competition. The winner of the contest then goes on to represent McMenamins at the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland. If you choose to attend though you won’t get to pick the beer that goes on. That honor is reserved for volunteer members of Capitol Brewers. If you do go however you get to choose the peoples choice award.

Interestingly enough I was there when judges volunteered, and if the enthusiasm of the volunteers is a measure of the quality of the Barley Cup then it may not be an event worth going out of your way for. Truth is I don’t know. This is the first year I have heard of the Barley Cup since McMenamins does such a crappy job advertising to Salem that this event is going on.

Hopefully though this will be my first year going. If I can get work off Saturday evening then I plan to attend. Also if I do make it I hope to take some video of this event. Who knows, I may even volunteer as a judge for next years.

Does anyone else in Salem plan to attend?

Venti’s Update

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

I’ve updated the list to reflect what they have more accurately as of June 22

vtweetApparently yesterday was Venti’s solstice celebration and I missed it. Normally I don’t mind missing these things, but lately I’ve been on a tight budget, and apparently your first pint yesterday was $1. $1 pints???? Why on earth did I have to work yesterday?

So as of yesterday here are the taps at Venti’s. Please keep in mind that Venti’s does everything on rotating taps so this could be wrong.


Alpha Dog Imperial IPA
Black Bear XX Stout
Elysian “The Wise” ESB
Fish Tale Organic Amber


Tricerahops Double IPA (this one pops up alot at Venti’s it seems)
Hop Rod Rye IPA
SOB Porter
Hill Billy Blonde (who knew Pale Horse could make it into Venti’s taplist?)

Brew Day IPA Pics

Saturday, June 20th, 2009
One of two boil overs I had
One of two boil overs I had
Same boil over. I got the pot off the burner immediatly after taking this.

Same boil over. I got the pot off the burner immediatly after taking this.

Once I got the flame dialed in

Once I got the flame dialed in

Drinking the Summer Steam while I was brewing

Drinking the Summer Steam while I was brewing