Archive for the ‘Good Beers’ Category

The Mirror Is Here

Sunday, May 10th, 2009
Last night on my way home from work I had to stop by the store to pick up ingrediants for veg curry. As usuall I decided to go down the beer isle on the off chance that they had any new beers. Before I even got on the isle though I could see the object of my desires at the end. The Mirror Mirror Barleywine.

I was so excited I ended up getting two bottles which I have set aside in a quiet out of the way place to age. Without further ado here’s some beer pron of the bottles.

 

When Seasonals Should Be Standards

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Yesterday Greg Koch stopped by my blog and it has fried my brain in terms of writing. For those who don’t know me I like to poke, but abhore confrontation. So yesterday was a tense day. Not only that, but many blogs that I posted comments on in the morning were visited by him and his followers also. So even my comments that weren’t anti Greg Koch began to look like it to me. So while I’d like to write a reaction to yesterday, I’m going to refrain. I’m picking a nice safe topic that can’t get me in trouble.

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Last night I picked up a bottle of seasonal beer from Ninkasi which is fast becoming my favorite seasonal brewer. Sadly though it looks like my love for them will never move beyond their seasonals. Their main lineup consists of a couple Northwest IPAs and a double red. As a person who isn’t to big into overhopped beers it’s understandable that I’m less then thrilled with their main line. Their Spring Reign, Oatis, and Sleigh’R though are all awesome beers, and count for around half of their lineup.

Why is it that these amazing beers must be relegated to only a few months of the year?

I’ve noticed somewhat of a theme in some Oregon breweries (if it’s only occasionaly is it still a theme?) Breweries will have a few excellent beers available, and then round out their line with multiple over the top IPAs because that’s what sells here. That leaves those of us who don’t like IPAs much up Bitch Creek (joke for Northwestern drinkers). Instead I’m stuck buying Rogue, Deschutes, Widmer, and Anchor to round out the beer fridge and give me a break from homebrew. I guess I could just go out and buy a case of Spring Reign, and I guess I could do the same with Oatis. But doesn’t a case seem over the top for a great beers that on their own could carry your main line?

Mirror Mirror, Wherefor Art Thou?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

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I have been hitting all the local specialty beer sellers alot lately looking for one particular bottle of beer. The 22oz Deschutes Reserve Series Mirror Mirror Barleywine (as a side effect of searching my consumption of 22oz bombers has gone up). On April 22nd the bottles were sealed with wax, and as of the 29th (the kickoff party) the beer has been released. Here’s the problem though. It has been a week, and still no Mirror Mirror.

I know a week isn’t a lot of time to get the beers to the stores, but darn it all. Not only is Mirror Mirror taking a long time to hit the shelves, but I’m still waiting for the day I can pick up a bottle of Red Chair, and longing for a sixer of Twilight. Come on Deschutes, get on the ball.

So why am I longing so much for this beer? Well there are multiple reasons.

♥ First off, Mirror Mirror is a barleywine. While I’m not normally a big fan of imperials, or other big beers, there’s something nice about a glass of a nicely balanced barleywine after dinner that makes it a treat.

♥ Secondly, Mirror Mirror promises to be that balanced barleywine. It comes in at 30 IBU’s which isn’t too bad, and at 11% ABV. Also Deschuttes didn’t loose touch with itself and kept up with their creative dry hopping when they made this. This means Mirror Mirror will have some great hop complexity. Also as an added touch this batch is going to have a nice oak aged finish to it.

♥ And lastly, the bottle will look darned good on my wall with all my other bottles from northwest breweries.

I recommend picking up a few bottles of these if you can. Their suggested retail is around$12 which means it’ll probably cost around $13 a bottle, but multiple bottles are necessary. Barlywines are made to be aged, andMirror Mirror is no exception. In fact the bottle says best if drank after 2010 on it! With the wax dipping that Deschutes gave their bottles I get the feeling these can age for awhile longer and the multiple bottles would be necessary for this reason. You have to have a bottle or two to drink while that one sits in the cellar for a couple years after all.

For a fun drinking game  have a glass of barleywine every time you read Mirror Mirror.

Capitol Brewers

Monday, May 4th, 2009

capitol_kh_725061Saturday night I went to my first meeting of the Capitol Brewers, and I wish I had had a camera with me. Capitol Brewers is a homebrew club in Salem. So why would I want a camera? Were the people there so attractive that I’d like to take a picture? Well here’s some perspective on why I needed a camera.

For awhile I’d been flirting with the idea of attending a meeting and had finally broke down and got the address from Doug Faynor at Homebrew Heaven. Doug had told me the meetings are potluck style, and people usually bring some beer also, but not to worry since I wasn’t a member and was just checking it out. I thought I’d be cool though and bring my new CPB stout for people to try… See what I did wrong there? I thought I’d be cool…. Anyway I showed up with a sixer and was told the meeting was downstairs and that the beer went around the corner. Well once I got around the corner my jaw dropped.

Capitol Brewers were the ones who put on the Homebrew Classic at the Oregon Gardens Brew Fest. They did the prizes, handled the bottles and storage, did the administrative work for it, and provided several judges for the event. As they were the ones in charge of storing the bottles before the competition they were also in charge of storing the leftover full bottles afterwords. So when I walked around that corner with my measly sixer there were like 7 or 8 good size coolers full to the tops with beer. So much for bringing beer for people to try eh? Not only did they have the coolers though, but when I turned around I noticed a bar at the opposite end every square inch taken up with beer bottles.

Now tell me, is there a greater form of nirvana for a beer lover then entering a room full of homebrew, in like 26 different categories and like 150 styles mind you, and being told to feel free to sample and drink all you’d like? I mean it was like being a kid in a candy shop. I just read and reread the category list trying to decide what style I wanted first. After I’d decided I bounced around and sampled three different styles, only filling my glass full once (with my own Bombay CPB). Then there was the meeting, bla bla bla, and then more beer!

So what was the general impression of the club, other then they had alot of beer at that meeting? The club didn’t seem very organized or structured. In fact it mostly just seemed like a hangout for brewers. This could be because with all the samples people kept drifting out of the room for more beer though. I had a good time discussing brewing, and relearned an important thing about brewing. You’ll never find someone who knows everything, and even then, just cause it works for them doesn’t make it right for you. In fact I couldn’t find anyone with experience in the kind of funky beers I like to brew. The people were knowledgeable and friendly though, and I had alot of fun sharing a few beers with them. At $24 dollars a year in dues I may just end up joining for the camaraderie.

Since I forgot my camera, please enjoy this video of beer bottle dominoes

Oh yeah,

In case my mother or someone reads this post I did stay sober. After all I was on a bike, and drinking too much would have been bad news with only two wheels to balance.

Spring Time For Beer

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

1781_potapp_flexiblemetal_spring_bigI can’t believe we have made it so far into spring and I haven’t even touched on the seasonals. Even though spring tends to be a free for all in terms of seasonal releases there are two traditional spring beers worth looking for.

Bock

Bock is German for male goat. Sounds appetising huh? Bocks are traditionally malty wheat beers without much in the way of hop flavors. They originated in the area of Einbeck, Germany. Specifically the traditional spring seasonal of bocks is the maibock (pronounced my-bock). Maibocks are usually lager style beers, with a good body, and sweet malt flavors. The color tends to be on the lighter side for a bock. Although you will find bocks as seasonal beers in spring a good maibock is worth a try. Here in Salem The Ram is famous locally for their maibock. Other then that though I’ve been having a hard time locating some good ones that are out now to list for you. If you know of a good maibock on the shelves let me know in the comments.

Irish Stouts

Really stouts are more traditional as a fall or winter beer. But with St Patty’s falling in march there’s a brief space where they become a spring seasonal. In my International Spotlight Ireland post I mentioned that hops were late in making their way to the Emerald Isle. Because of this Irish Stouts tend to have a much roastier grain profile with the bitterness coming from the grain primarily instead of the hops. This style is also known as a dry stout. Although we’ve cleared the seasonal time for these beers there are still some out there. Since Guinness dominates the bottled stout market here in spring the only place you’ll really find American brewed Irish stouts is your local pubs. For Oregon I recommend McMennamins if they are still running theirs.

Three Creeks Brewpub

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

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I can’t say for certain if Three Creeks will stand the test of time in Sisters with the economy the way it is, but I hope it does. As a kid our family used to spend summers at a relatives place in Camp Sherman so visiting this pub brought back all sorts of memories. The pub is made to look like an old west livery stable, complete with the western swinging doors.

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We ordered three beers with our food. The Anvil Amber, Stonefly Rye, and the Firestorm Red. Out of the three the amber was probably the best balanced beer loaded with malty goodness. The Stonefly was my first ever rye beer, and hopefully not my last. If there ever was a beer I would think of as representing Sisters it would be Stonefly. The flavor was amazing, and it went perfect with my burger. The food was a little pretentious for pub grub in my opinion, but then again it’s Sisters. Where in Sisters does unpretentious food exist?

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The prices aren’t bad when compared to other restaurants in the area, but will still set you back more then you might want. A burger will run you around $10 here with a pint costing around $4 if I recall. If rye’s, red’s, and amber’s aren’t your thing Three Creeks also has several pale ales on tap and a beer called knotty blonde that sounds somewhat akin to a cream ale. All their beers are between 4%-6% so having a pint won’t be overdoing it. Give em a try.

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Touring The Deschutes Brewery

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’ve always been a fan of beer made by Deschutes Brewery. So when I was visiting family in La Pine and my dad asked if I wanted to tour the brewery with him I jumped at the chance.

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The Deschutes Brewery is surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery. Not far away the Deschutes winds it’s way through Bend, and the snowy mountains in the distance just add to the beauty of the place. If I could choose any place to live out the rest of my life it would be in the high desert of Central Oregon. If I’d been thinking at the time I would have gotten a picture of how lovely it was, but my mind was on beer at the moment.

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The first stop on the tour is the tasting room and gift shop to await the moment of the next tour. While your there though you are allowed up to 4 free tastings of the beer on tap. Whoever chose the music that we were listening to gets props form me. Flogging Molly just seems to go well with beer tasting. Since we came in right at the spring transition time they had both their spring seasonal Buzzsaw and their Jubelale on tap, as well as Oregon 150. The only beer available that I hadn’t tried was their Oregon 150, and it was the first sample I ordered. The 150 is a fruit beer brewed with marion berries. This beer was doomed to fall flat for me since I dislike fruity beers, but overall it wasn’t that bad.

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After we’d finished our first two samples we were directed out of the tasting room and into the actual brewery. At first I was amazed at the production capacity of their plant since all I saw were two boiling kettles and a handful of fermentors. After the guide gave a very basic rundown of the brewing process, and the Reinheitsgebot he took us to a small hop storage area where he explained how hops worked and passed out whole cascade hop cones for us to examine.

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When all the usual “our brewery is better because” mumbo jumbo was finished we went back into the newer brewing area. I was right to think that the initial area we saw was to small. Sadly the kettles weren’t in use that day so while it was pretty it lacked the aroma that I love breweries for. After hearing about their shiny new kettles we walked into a warehouse full of fermentation tanks. Is there a prettier sight then a room full of big stainless steel fermentors?

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After viewing the fermentors and hearing about the fermenting process and some more “why we’re better” crap we walked through to the bottling line. This was definitely my favorite part of the tour. I’m always fascinated these kinds of machines. After a few minutes in this room we entered the Jubelale hall of fame. Basically it’s a hallway full of all the original paintings that were used for the Jubelale labels, as well as a copy of the labels themselves. A flight of stairs later and we were back in the tasting room and the tour was over. We drank our last few samples, bought a sixer, and went to meet the girls so we could head to the Three Creeks Brewpub for lunch. More on that tomorrow though.

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Organic Beers

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

sealus1When I first turned 21 I wouldn’t have dreamed of giving organic beer shelf space in the fridge. Don’t get me wrong, I’d tried organic beer shortly after I began drinking, but even if they were green they tasted crappy and cost much more then a normal beer. The reason for this is that organic barleys reacted different to the malting and roasting process. And since you don’t have the chemical concerns with beer like you do fruit they simply weren’t worth even thinking about drinking. It’s 2009 now though and the market for organic beer has grown, and along with it so have the flavorful brews available. The acceptance of some of the more selectively bred crops and the increase in organic material available has helped boost the ability of brewers to produce a high quality organic beer that can compete with non organics.

Deschutes – Deschutes recently released Green Lakes ale. This is the beer that changed my opinion of organics. It’s a very flavorful American Amber, but was brewed with a limited release, so get it while you can.

Fish Ale – Fish Ale are the makers of Fish Tale ale. This is probably the most common organic I see on Oregons beer isles. The flavors aren’t bad, and it’s a very drinkable beer.

Bison Brewing – Bison goes the extra mile and as far as I can tell makes all their beers organic. The varieties available and the flavors of their brews make Bison the top organic brewer in my opinion.

Roots – Roots gets a mention because their fairly local and have heather ale. They are located in Portland Oregon and offer about five or so types of beer.

Otter Creek– Otter Creek is located in Vermont and is known for their organic IPA called Wolaver’s.

Butte Creek – Another California company with a line of organic beers.

Eel River– Eel River gets a mention since they apparently were the first organic brewer to receive the USDA certified label. This doesn’t mean other brewers weren’t organic, it just means they were the first ones to get approval when the USDA passed the label rules.

Laurelwood Brewing – Another Portland, Oregon company that has a few organics available.

Newport Part Deux

Monday, March 9th, 2009

newport-007  After an amazing lunch at Nana’s, and some tasting at Beir One we crossed the bridge, and landed ourselves at the Rogue Brewery. This was the stop I had been looking forward to all week since this was to be my first time visiting it since my 18th birthday. First thing I noticed when we pulled up was the new paint job that gave everything a fresh look that contrasts with Newport’s other famous buildings which have that rundown feel to them.

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As one would expect the inside of the brewery smells like beer. The shining kettles and the smell of malts are enough to make any brewer or beer lover grin like a giddy school kid.

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There was no brewery tour going on when we arrived, so we headed on up to the bar and tasting room. We sat down and straight off ordered two tasting trays, and shortly after the first two we ordered a third, and a shot of their pink gin for sampling.

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Here’s the rundown of the beers we sampled, with hearts next to our favorites.

• Paul’s Black Lager ♥
• Frog Stout
• Smoke Ale ♥
• Oak Aged Quad Frog
• Mogul Madness
• Charlie 1981
• Sesquicentinial  ♥
• October Fest  ♥
• Hazelnut Brown  ♥
• Manage a Frog
• Oregon Golden  ♥
• Shakespeare Stout  ♥

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After we put away three pints worth of beer between the two of us we sat around talking, and decided to visit their new distillery while we were there. We arrived at the distillery in time for a tour this time. We were guided through their distilling process, and treated to samples of both their gins, their Dead Guy Whiskey, and also got to taste their hazelnut infused rum. Over all their spirits were pretty good, but not as smooth as I’d have thought. The most interesting bits of information from this tour though were that they were aging a batch of their Dead Guy Ale in their Dead Guy Whiskey barrels, and that about once a month they do a sort of beer yard sale with mismatched bottles from their previous production line. I am definitely gonna do some research on this yard sale as it would be awesome to get some cheap Rogue. Also I really want to get my hands on a bottle of the Dead Guy experiment when it’s released.

Today’s Post

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

venti_extI know the names not very creative today, but I decided to let my friend Dan choose the title today. In fact that’s not the only thing that went different then planned today. I was supposed to be updating today from Venti’s Bento in downtown Salem, but apparently all 15 wireless networks downtown are locked now. Even with the inability to get online though Venti’s is definitely a great place to go for a meal and an awesome beer. Venti’s is unique in the fact that the owner doesn’t drink, yet they always have a really good and unique selection of beers both on tap, and in 22oz bombers. The reason for this is that customers and employees get to recommend the beer. This makes it difficult to say what will be tap or in bottle from week to week. Right now they may have tricerihops on tap, but next week it could be the newest seasonal release from Bison Brewing. I asked Dino how often they run a tap and he told me it can be a run of anywhere from one to three kegs, and occasionally more. Not only does this keep things fresh in terms of selection, but it means that the tap lines are cleaned out fairly often. That’s a great thing in terms of selection since not all places clean their tap lines as often then they need to. Today I purchased their lunch special and a bomber of Winter Warmer from Bison Brewing, and it cost me less then $10, which is pretty good for a micro brew from a downtown restaurant. Although Venti’s will remain an occaisional treat for me, rather then a daily thing, it is definitely a must for beer lovers. After all, whats better then a business that lets you choose what you drink? For more info check out their website at VintisCafe and their blog. Also Conrad Venti will occasionally post stuff about the place on his blog at conradventi. I’ll see if Conrad or Dino can send me updates about what their serving week to week so I can let you guys know.

Just a side note. beware of ordering a bomber here as they tend to be stronger then what’s on tap, as I discovered today. My Winter Warmer ended up being 9% apv