Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Throwing an Over-the-Top Shindig

Wednesday, 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.

Venti’s Is 14

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

vtweetVenti’s is now turning 14. I know what your wondering, “If their 14 then why did you right a 1st anniversary post?” Ok, maybe you aren’t wondering that. Venti’s is now 14 years old, and in ’09 celebrated their 1st anniversary in their new location. Venti’s has some of the best beer rotation in the valley considering they only have 8 taps. Thaine does an amazing job. That’s why they have my loyalty and support.

In honor of turning 14 Venti’s is asking their fans to leave comments on their blog of your favorite memories and will pick their favorite and give the commenter a $20 gift certificate. Here is what I wrote.

Venti’s is special to me not because of the fries or food, but because of the people involved with it. I’ve known Conrad and Bobby since highschool, and there always seems to be old friends and acquaintances there. This makes it hard to pick a favorite memory so I’ll go with two.

1. Venti’s 1 year anniversary at the new location occured shortly after I started my beer blog. For awhile I’d been trying to catch Dino at Venti’s when he wasn’t busy working so I could do a interview about the tap selection. About this time Leslie sent me an email about me possibly writing a small piece for my blog on the 1 year anniversary. I grabbed my friend Bill, my laptop, and we headed in on our way to a football game that day. Of course everyone was busy as usual so we grabbed some food and headed to the basement to eat. I figured I’d just make something up since it looked to busy to talk to anyone. Next thing I know Leslie and Jack are at the table with us. We had a great time talking and Dino even managed to snag some free time for a bit before they all went to another table to eat with family. Since then Jack and I have emailed and commented back and forth about beer as he continues what he calls his beer education. That short chat in Venti’s basement snagged me not only a loyal reader, but I met an awesome guy who I enjoy discussing beer with.

2. After a stressful day at work I headed into Venti’s for a pint to help me wind down. I’m used to only having enough time to order one pint on work days because I’m off at 10pm, and by the time I get to Venti’s it’s usually last call. This day however Thane was bar tending, and it was busy enough he was keeping it open a little later. In between his serving drinks Thane and I spent what felt like hours discussing great beer. In reality it was probably only an hour. Thane is one of the most knowledgeable people in Salem when it comes to beer, and is more knowledgeable then probably 95% of the Portland crowd. It was great to talk with the man behind Venti’s great beer taps.

Notice my 2 favorite memories involve geeking out over beer??? 🙂

The Final Day of HAF

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I knew going into the Holiday Ale Fest that I couldn’t make it till Sunday, and that many beers I wanted could be tapped out. Even though things were tapped out alot of my first choices were still around. The problem is they were disappointing and my backups were tapped out. I still used my 10 tickets, but stopped at 10 since I had only found one beer worth drinking. 1 in 10 is bad odds.

Ok, start off reviewing the fest itself.

What else is there to say other then what’s usually said? No rinse stations, servers who aren’t knowledgeable, beers too cold. You know, the usual. One thing that surprised me was the number of drunks. When we showed up around 3:30 pm at least half the people had had a few to many. I couldn’t believe the number of people getting full pours at every station. Maybe Portland’s beer drinkers are more amatuer alcoholics then connoisseurs like Docs been saying. The other thing is the amount of room and tables available. I’d brought a notebook so I’d have room to write detailed reviews of the beers, but there was no surface to write on and it’s hard to hold a beer and write at the same time. If the fest is going to be so full maybe they should think about a change in location. One more thing, the random cheering is fine, but every 15 min??? Really??

And the Beers……

Listed in alphabetical order by brewery

Papa Noel’s

I know this is available in bottles, but by the time I’d gotten down to the last four tickets I didn’t care. I thought since it said special reserve that it might be a vintage pouring and I was in the mood for some complex flavors. Turns out it wasn’t vintage. It was hoppy and green. Not fair to review a beer before its prime.

Oaked St Nick

Another one not on my list of beers to try, but I had just two tickets left and was next to the line for this one. Turned out that this was my favorite beer of the evening, and the one I didn’t take notes on. I remember that my first sip tasted slightly off, but then smoothed out alot and finished nicely. I wish I could say more, but I was tired of the fest by this time and had already put my notes away. Normally I don’t like “oaky” beers, but this one did really well trying to win me over. Amazing how much better oak aged beers taste when they don’t have that woody flavor to them.

Sang Noir

I tried this after drinking some La Foile. That turned out to be a mistake because the beers ended up getting compared and Sang Noirlost. So much acidity that it overpowers the malts. This is sour for the sake of sour with no complexity. There was a nice cherry note, but it was drowned by the pucker power. No barnyard, no muskiness. Where are the typical sour off flavors? Smell was hard to get out of all the beers, but this one was especially hard. Sinus issues and ice cold beer don’t work well for tastings. I still find it amazing so many people seemed to like this one. Give me more La Foile any day.

North III

Not what I expected. With the sugar plums I was hoping for something slightly fruity and alcoholic. While not watery, this beer didn’t taste as alcoholic or heavy as I would have liked, and I got almost no plum flavor. Flavors were fairly muddied in the 3 or 4 sips I had (we were sharing beers earlier on). Had a nice bread like almost nutty finish. Other then the finish this beer didnt have a ton going for it.

Jim 2009

I was reading Dr Worts reviews before I headed up today to get an idea of what I was getting into. When I tired this beer I was eagerly expecting some heavy cascade/citrusy hop flavors. Instead I got pinesol and pine. To be fair to Doc he did mention the pinesol. I think I got a hint of some malt in there somewhere, but this was just one big piney hop bomb to me. My notes just say the word pinesol though followed by multiple exclamation points.


Reading reviews I thought picking Kronan as my baltic porter was a mistake that I would rectify. When we arrived though Eel River and Lauralwood were tapped out. Resigning myself to what lay ahead I got in line for Kronan. All I can say is watery, bitter, and burnt. There was absolutely no redeeming qualities in this one. Maybe if the beer was served at the proper temp some malts would have showed up to balance things, but that bitter burnt grain taste overan my palate.

La Foile

My second favorite beer, and only number 2 because I knew I’d enjoy it going in so it lacked that pleasant surprise factor. First beer where the smell upped my expectations. very musty, sour odor. I loved this beer at first smell. This beer is much more balanced in terms of sourness then I remember. Just sour enough to temporarily overun your palate and give you a mild pucker. After that it finishes slightly sweet. All those great complex bacterial off flavors are there. The other great part is it doesn’t leave you straining to un contort your face after you drink it like the Sang Noir did. I love sour beers, I just want them more balanced is all. If I just wanted to pucker without flavor I’d suck on a lemon.


I had high hopes for this one, but those hopes were dashed. A fairly generic stout though perhaps a little heavy on the burnt grain flavor. The herbs were pretty much undetectable in my opinion as well. There were some muddied flavors that I’d periodically catch on to, but not enough to say I tasted the herbs, let alone call this an herbal beer. Not as overhopped as I’d thought after reading some reviews. If they’d put more effort into making this a good stout and had some lavender aromatics I would have loved it. I’d put it in the not quite there yet but good try category.


I wish I’d kept up the note taking, but by the time I got to drunkel I was just about ready to bail. All I wrote for this one was not what I expected and I didn’t like what I got. I know, lame review.

For my 10thticket I went and got a 1oz pour of wildflower mead to clean my palate and end on a positive note. This was my dad’s first time at a beer festival withme and I think that experience alone saved the day. My dad really enjoyed himself, and I think we may be going to another beer fest together in the near future. If next years is like this years though I may pass. I’d much rather drop $50 at the bottle shop and taste some great beers at home with my friends and family then drive up to Portland for something of this caliber. Heck, the $40 for my dad and I alone could’ve gotten us several bottles of great world class beers.

Winter Ale Tasting

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I just realized as I was writing this that Rachel has the cable for my digital camera, so as soon as I can get that I’ll toss up some pictures from this event.


Last night was Salem Beer and Wines “Winter Ale Tasting”. Basically we were all supposed to get a six pack of our favorite winter ale and bring it for everyone to try. Despite the fact that there were 12 people we had only one repeat. Since I have avowed not to become another beer review blog I figured I’d just do a write up on the initial impressions others got. We started lowest alcohol first, rather then lightest flavor because we weren’t all familiar with the beers present. Also I think Dr Worts “tired palate” theory reared it’s head last night. People in the Northwest really are tired of the same pedestrian styles. Not to the extant the Dr asserts, but still.

Here’s the lineup we had (not in the order we drank them)

Monkey Face Porter, Pikes Place Auld Acquaintance, Blue Moon (not sure how it’s a winter ale still), Deschutes Jubelale, Alaska Winter, Samuel Smiths Winter Celebration, MacTarnahan’s Humbug’r, Fish Tale Winter Fish, Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale, Overcast Espresso Stout, Delirium Noel, and I managed to sneak in some homebrew just to get some initial reactions from unbiased sources. While I understand this isn’t a list of impressive winter beers we stuck with what is available in bottles locally at this point.

Monkey Face

This beer was well received by most people there. The wine drinkers of the group smelt soy sauce and tasted burnt toast. Personally it tasted like a porter that needed more body to me.

Auld Acquaintance

This one also found me at odds with most of the group. While I wasn’t a fan I appreciated some of the flavors going on. Most of the group felt there wasn’t much flavor or aroma and gave it a thumbs down. We all agreed that with some more body behind it we would have gotten a better sense of the beer.

Blue Moon

I’m not sure how this one got in. Maybe it was the wintery picture on the label, who knows. Most of the group like blue moon since it’s a cheap drinkable beer. Even if I’m not a huge Blue Moon fan I have to say that when it came out it was the most well balanced beer of the group to that point, and I even enjoyed it.


The first, and one of only two beers, that had a noticeably strong hop flavor. Well received beer as it usually is in the northwest. The hops kinda woke everyone up from the tediousness of malty beer after malty beer.

Alaska Winter

I’m not a huge fan of Alaskas lineup of beers, but this one always finds it’s way into my fridge in the winter. It’s the only Alaska I drink. Not one person seemed to dislike this beer. Everyone loved the cherry notes and the people who had it for their first time all said that they would drink more of it.

Winter Celebration

I really wanted to like this beer. No matter how hard I tried though it went in the don’t buy again category. I think everyone else put it there too.


This is the one where “tired palate” showed up. The group seemed split on wether we liked it. The general concensus seemed to be that it was a fairly generic porter and nothing special.

Winter Fish

This beer was dumped by several people. It was a big piney mess and some people were reminded of the smell of cat urine when they had this. Personally I think it was a poor choice of hops. I got the piney scent and taste, as well as some earthyness, but there was some underlying quality from the hops that managed to kill it. They went for a big, piney, bitter, in your face beer and struck out. Alan I think enjoyed this one.

Winter Solstice

This beer generated the most conversation. Anderson Valley says it’s supposed to remind you of a warm fire, snowflakes, and the like. Most of us were reminded of Easter though because this beer tasted dead on like malt balls. If everyone hadn’t agreed I would have thought that my tongue was playing tricks on me. Moe did an awesome job choosing her sixpack to bring.

Pumpkin Ale

This beer was better then I remember it tasting. The last time I had this there was an overwhelming taste of bananas that killed the beer for me. This time though it tasted like pumpkin pie spices throughout. Well received by everyone, but most people felt they couldn’t drink alot of it.


This beer was well received by most of the group for the same reason it was well received on the beervana blog, it tastes like espresso through and through. I did find another person who was willing to join me in dissent. Thanks Brian for refusing the kool aid.


This was the highest alcohol and therefore the last beer opened. I think because it was saved till last it had gained almost a mythic feel when we opened it. The nose was wonderful, and people seemed to like it, but it fell short of our expectations.

The Homebrew Experiment

As I was packing up the beer I was bringing for the tasting I decided to sneak in a 4 pack of my heather and yarrow beer. After drinking so much of this stuff I’ve started to dislike it again. Also with mixed reviews from family and friends I had started to think that maybe this beer was a flop and I was just refusing to see that. Curious what some fresher palates would think I brought it along. It didn’t flop however and actually seemed to steal the show last night, and the 2 bottles that were unopened were quickly claimed when the night was over.

A Great Brewers Dinner

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

Sadly I couldn’t make the Fort George Brewers Dinner at Venti’s, but I’ll see if I can get a review of it from Conrad (who helped out) or Jack (who hopefully got to go).

Instead I went to the Capitol Brewers “Brewers Dinner” where we honor the clubs best homebrewers and invite the local brewers to enjoy a meal with us. It ended up being a great night despite the foreboding weather. When I pulled up to Annette’s the sky had turned dark with clouds and the wind had picked up. But it’s Oregon, and rain is a fact of life. At least we were indoors and the rain decided not to pour like it did during that mornings schoolyard football game. Anyway the beer was awesome, and that’s the point of this post.

In total there were 6 or 7 kegs I believe, not to mention the sheer variety of bottles. There were several bottles of cider, Dick Blankenship brought his peach lambic that won him AHA Homebrewer of the Year this year (most amazing peach lambic I’ve had… Heck my favorite lambic yet for that matter), not to mention a keg or two and even an 8 year old Old Ale that we cracked open. Josh brought a keg of his stout, someone brought a blond, and I think there were two IPA’s and a pilsner as well. Jesse brought his chocolate stout, and these are just the beers I tried. There were many more that were probably note worthy though.

The professionals that showed up were Dennis (Brewer at Pale Horse) with a case or two of his new IPA Hop Dog. Jeff from Seven Brides and Hops2You was there. Also Mike from RAM brought several growlers including ZZHop and their oktoberfest, and Jen from Thompsons brought the winter warmer “Wookie” that she brewed with Scott, who also was a runner up for best homebrewer in the club award thing. The beer was enough to last several days, but everyone helped attempt to finish it all. Also another note is that there were a garbage bag each of tettenanger and perle hops for anyone to take what they wanted. Nothing better then hops, good beer, and some great conversations about beer.

Overall it was an awesome dinner and it showed that even if Salems brewers aren’t considered the worlds best that they are generous and love a good time.

Browns Towne Mini Fest

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

Is it bad that the only picture online of browns towne has a glass of BMC?

Is it bad that the only picture online of browns towne has a glass of BMC?

I know I’m late on this. Eat Salem and Capitol Taps have both reported on it. With everything going on though I never got around to write anything on it. Not to mention the people who plan Salem’s events are horrible about playing to the markets that would be interested in them. Most downtown events are marketed using a banner over by the Phoenix Inn, word of mouth, fliers in downtown restaurants and that’s it. If the people in charge of this were to have contacted the few beer blogs, Salem’s beer and wine group, and Capitol Brewers they would have generated much more interest in the event outside of the big downtown circle jerk. I long ago came to the conclusion though that many of these events aren’t really aimed at Salem as a whole, but for a particular mold.

Ok, rant over. Apparently Browns Towne Lounge is hosting Salem’s first Brewers Bash on the 10th at 4:00 pm. The brewers bash is supposed to have six local brewers dishing out samples of their beer. By local they mean only two that are located in Salem, the RAM, and McMenimans. Both chain breweries. Seven Brides from Silverton will be there, as well as Calapooia from Albany, Ninkasi, and Oakshire. Local eh?

Still the event may be worth going to. Entrance looks to be free, but no word on the cost of samples. Also no list on what these breweries are pouring. Another sign of poor planning and poor promotion. If you have nothing better to do swing by for some live music and beer.

I’ll be working, so let me know how it goes.

Everyone Has Guinness On The Brain

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

from theweeklybrew


I spent my morning getting drug tested and buying brewing supplies, so I am just now getting to posting. Luckily my boss lets me do stuff like this 🙂

Anyway, Guinness is had a worldwide toast today to their 250th year brewing (although according to an Irish blogger the true date of the lease signing is 9 weeks away). The thing is though everyone is posting about this. So what’s the point in me giving the history? Why should you read my thoughts when Jeff has a great post about how Guinness was brewing back when Americans were trading slaves and before we were mean to the poor helpless Indians. Or why try to hold your attention when Sara is giving away her Guinness 250 care package she received to the 25th commenter?

Anyway as you can see it’s pointless to talk about Guinness when everyone else is. The only unique thing I could bring to the table is posting about how mediocre it is, but even that niche has been filled. Instead here are some links to Guinness 250 articles.

Sarah is giving away a Guinness 250 care package here

Jeff works in a few guilty America comments here

Reuters has an article that sounds like you could substitute Guinness for Bud and black stuff for pale stuff and it would then be about Bud

Anti ArthurPost from Beernut, a blogger from Dublin I believe.

Another anti Guiness bit this time from a letter sent to The Irish Times

Or you could always head to Guinness to get the official press

Brewers Dinner In Salem

Monday, September 21st, 2009

from theweeklybrew

vtweetUsually I don’t get to excited about brewers dinners. They’re usually way overblown affairs where you eat courses made with beer as an ingredient, and served that beer as a beverage to accompany the course. Not an unusual idea. Heck, go to a Packers game and they’ll serve you the same BMC as the sausage was boiled in. It’ll also be cheaper at a Packers game. The fare is usually top notch, unlike tailgate food, but for the prices charged I’d rather stay at home and dine with family and friends.

All that to say Venti’s is hosting a brewers dinner on October 18. The brewery is Ft George, and the price is $40. If your interested here’s what’s being dished up.

  • Appetizer: Braised tornado of lamb and grilled salmon mousseline, paired with Vortex IPA
  • Salad: Frisee, radicchio, watercress, & arugula, tomato with salt pork lardons and fresh croutons with a Divinity Ale vinagrette, paired with Divinity Ale
  • Entree: Duck Fat braised short ribs with a lamb and stout beer demi & celery root puree, paired with Cavatica Stout
  • Dessert: Chocolate Torte paired with Coffee Girl Espresso Stout

There are only 40 spots available, so if you want in call Venti’s or stop by. Ticket sales for it start September 23

325 Court St NE
Salem, OR
tel. 503-399-8733

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.


Lamer Then Lame

Monday, August 17th, 2009

from theweeklybrew


Uncool in every single way. I think that best sums up Summer in the City this year. Many of the shops weren’t having sidewalk sales, other then the wine pavilion there was little in the way of businesses or people, and lastly they charged admit.

I ended up getting Sunday off so I could head on down. I showed up, payed my $7.50, got my free commermative wine glass and went strait into the beer pavilion. The place was deserted. Granted it was only noon and the festival had just opened, but many of the food booths still hadn’t even gotten going. I looked around and didn’t see Venti’s beer tent so I went to Straight From New York’s booth and got a slice of Pizza and a glass of Ember from Seven Brides. Not a bad way to start a festival. After I’d finished my beer 20 min later I left for the tequila themed tent. The band in the beer tent had been setting up for almost 30 min and I wanted to hear some music. I would have left sooner, but you weren’t allowed to take alcohol from pavilion to pavilion. Lame.

I found the Venti’s tent in the Garden of Agave pavilion and bought myself a Root’s Heather Ale. Maybe I’d built this beer up in my mind, because I was disappointed. Not nearly as floral as I’d wanted, and a not altogether unpleasant straw taste. In the Agave garden the one mic was not working, so none of the bands had vocals. That, and every band seemed to stop mid performance to try and fix that fact. Wandering around I realized that even at 3pm this event was still dead. The wine tent at least had people. I even saw Jeremy and Kory ( I know I spelt those names wrong ) who I’d met at Club 6 the night before. Also I saw Leslie outside Napoleons.

So to sum up the festival, Lame. I spent to much money on average wines and a poor selection of beer. The bands took to long to get going. The best part of the afternoon was grabbing fish tacos from La Perla before heading home.

Anyone have a different reaction?