OPA The Good and The Bad? Or Different Beers?

February 10th, 2010

So I logged on tonight to do a quick review of OPA. I drank my original bottle last week, but didn’t take notes and felt it was worth buying another to get something detailed. However tonights bottle was an entirely different story. Either this bottle is so very bad, or this brewery is having trouble. So to be fair I did a from memory review of the first bottle, and a while I torture myself review of this second purchase. Both bottles were bought at the same store within a short time of each other, so I’m eliminating that as a factor. If you’ve had the OPA mutiple times, please tell me beer 2 is not it.

Bottle 1


Some biscuity/bready aromas, hay


Copper color, just the slightest haze. Decent head


I remember lot’s of bready malts, some grassyness.Almost no bitterness. Slight citrus note if I remember right.


A good beer, and very drinkable. The phrase pale ale has little to no place in the name though. Neither enough hop flavors nor enough bitterness to tip the scales away from the malt flavors. Would buy it again.

Bottle 2


buttery, caramel, leather


Very dark amber color. Slightly opaque, no head, very little carbonation.


I’m afraid to try it, but here goes. Sharp bite up front, but not from bitterness. Not sure how exactly to describe it. Sickly sweet, with little malt flavor. Fruity finish with a light lingering bitterness. Medium mouthfeel.


Get it away from me! Never going neer this beer with a 10 ft pole. Thought it’d be worth stocking again, but one bad bottle is enough. Still might stock their stout.

Cell Phone Tasting Notes

February 9th, 2010

I finally found a use for that notes function on my cell phone. Turns out it works much better then writing beer reviews on bar napkins.

Recently I tried Ommegang Adoration. I was directed towards this beer by Jack. Apparently Nick Lopez, the new man behind Venti’s Bar, decided to stock this one off beer. Venti’s is charging $15 a bottle for it, so I kinda wish I had a friend with me to share the bottle, and the tab. I had Hooper rinse out the snifter that my Old Crustacean was poured in and used that for tasting. After trying it I can’t see why this Beer only has a B+ on Beeradvocate. So much for Jeff defending them. I know people have different tastes, but this beer should have preformed much better then it did.


I always do aroma first so I can catch the scents stirred up from the pour, I always sniff the bottle opening too. Aroma is plum, very spicy. Smells very malty. Fairly complex blend of aromas. Some orange peel as well.


Mahogany color. Large off white head, very effervescent. Needs to be poured slowly. Big bubbles. More of a pillowy head


Orange peel hit first followed by dark fruits, spices, and some tartness. Definitely get a little funk. Possibly Brett? Wouldn’t surprise me. Maltier then I thought it would be. Definite dark malts. The spices might be a little much, but I like their strong presence.


Great beer. Complex with alot going on, but neither too much that it muddies it, or any flavor so strong it drowns the others. I know this goes contrary to my comment about the spices strong presence, but I think it compliments the beer rather then subjugate it. Out of all the Belgian Winter Ales I’ve tried this winter this one takes first.

Laptop Down

February 2nd, 2010

My laptops power cord has ceased functioning again which means that a review of OPA is on hold. I will however try to get some stuff done in the mean time.

Fire Mountain Steam Powered

January 28th, 2010

I’d never heard of Fire Mountain Brewery until…. 11 hours and 40 min ago. Apparently Roth’s in North Salem now carries both their Steam Powered Stout and Oregon Pale Ale. Apparently these are also the only t2o beers they produce as I can’t find any info on others. Their bottles though say they make lagers. I poured their Steam Powered slightly warm. As it’s date night and I’m already making Rachel wait while I write this I’ll review OPA at a later date.


Lots of roasted grain but no burnt/black patent aroma Nothing to distinct on aroma.


Black with dark head. Definitely stoutish. Opaque


Good lord that’s not what I was expecting. Strong hop bitterness followed by roasted grain flavors and a slightly sweet medium body. Was expecting a Guinness, instead I got something much more substantial and extremely palatable. It doesn’t stick to your mouth like other medium bodied stouts. Clean and good.


While not the best stout I’ve had it’s definitely one I would stock and serve. Good flavors, even if it’s a bit one dimensional. I’m hoping their OPA blows me away. Definitely not what I expected for a stout from a small unknown brewery. In fact I may have to visit Carlton someday. Sometimes a good, clean, well executed beer can be more impressive then something unique.

25 Best Beers in America??

January 25th, 2010

I was just given a copy of the February issue of Maxim magazine yesterday. The person who handed it to me told me there was an article I needed to see. The Article? The 25 Best Beers In America. The verdict? Fail.

In order to understand the fail you need to know the 25 best. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Porkslap Pale Ale
2. Drifter Pale Ale
3. Hass Rye Lager
4. Hoptober Golden Ale
5. Haywire Hefeweisen
6. Helios Ale Saison
7. Ten Fiddy Imperial Stout
8. Samual Adams Nobel Pils
9. Sierra Nevada Torpedo
10. März Hon Märzen
11. Brew Free Or Die IPA
12. Indian Brown Brown Ale
13. Old Stock Ale
14. Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
15. Green Lakes Organic Ale
16. Upslope Pale Ale
17. Blue Ball Porter
18. Calico Amber Ale
19.Fat Squirrel Brown Ale
20. Local 1 Pale Ale
21. Tumble Off Pale Ale
22. UFO White Wheat
23. Union Jack IPA
24. Phoenix Pale Ale
25. Bud Light Wheat

First off, Haywire and  Bud Light wheat as 2 of the best 25??  And if you needed more proof that the writer has no clue about beer 8/25 are pale ales. Also of the 25 beers only three are from Oregon, where as five are from CA and we CO has four. So much for Oregon being lightyears ahead in the beer scene. Looks like if we go bye numbers alone CA is Beervana…. Hmmm Maybe the Doc was right. Wait, scratch that. According to Maxim Philidalphia has stolen the best beer city crown. Oh look, only two beers on the list come from the city of brotherly love, and one of them is called intercourse. Wonder if it made it in the mag because of the name.

Anyways, who buys into these beer lists that mens magazines are constantly putting out? Let’s see if we can do better?? It shouldn’t be hard after all. So together let’s come up with 25 regularly available beers that one could find distributed at least regionaly. Up for the challenge?

Corks Are Evil!

January 20th, 2010

I know the Doc doesn’t like these diary style posts, but I’m tired, cranky, and hating my new bottle corker.

Back in August I made a wine from all the extra summer squash in the garden. The final recipe looked something like this.

21 lbs of squash
10lbs of sugar
1/4 cup peppercorns
1 can of Grape Concentrate
2 tbl black tea leaves
And alot of orange and lemon slices

The resulting wine is interesting to say the least, and tonight was the night I bottled this interesting concoction.

Thinking I’d try to make my wine look nice I decided to bottle most of it in 750ml Champagne bottles and 12oz green bottles and cork all of them. Doug at Homebrew Heaven store made corking sound easy after all. “The synthetic corks slide into the bottle fairly easy,” he said. Well here I am 1.5 hours later smelling like a Frenchman.

I easily spilt a 12oz bottle worth of wine on myself, sweated like a pig, and my hands are killing me. All in all though I’m happy with the final product. Now I just have to rack these bottles for awhile to let the wine mellow. That pepper flavor is a bit intense.

Bah Humbug!

January 18th, 2010

I know there’s alot of reviews lately. Especially for a guy who didn’t want his blog to be about reviews right? To be honest I’m having alot of work and family issues at the same time and finding a hard time balancing. This means ending the night with a new beer has become a high point in my life. Hence no research, and more reviews. Up now is Old Humbug from Southern Oregon Brewing.


Nose consists of some coffee, dark malts, but still has a sweet smell. Sniffers down tonight so it’s hard to get subtle notes.


Pours like a flat bottle of rootbeer. Looks about the same too. Rootbeer might be a little thicker and darker on the pour. Not looking up for a big winter beer. No head retention.


Wow, there’s alot more going on then I expected. Sweet toffee like flavor followed with lot’s of heat. Definite Caramel flavor,some licorice and molasses like flavors, but not distinctly either. A great spicy note that plays well with the heat. Coffee like bitterness on the finish. Sweetness holds out till the very end, but is subtle and not overpowering.


Not a bad beer, and for tonight it hit the spot. I’m sad this wasn’t one of the bottles opened at Saturdays tasting as it would have preformed well. I’d give it an A for no other particular reason then this beer ended up being just what I wanted tonight. not even the ’08 Old Rasputin or the W ’10 could satisfy my palate today. The complexity and variety of flavors combined with the heat just hit the spot. Really though this beer should score a little lower simply for appearance. I’d say it should be marked down for aroma as well, but my sniffer isn’t up to snuff. So reality is a B – B+ beer that is enjoyable. The heavens won’t open up and you won’t feel the hand of God when you drink it, but if you drink it at the right moment it’ll leave an impression.

Blue Pepper

January 14th, 2010


When I started this whole idea of listing Salem’s best beer places I never thought it would be this hard. I figured I’d put out feelers, especially to the bar hoppers, and just review the results. The problem was everyone submitted the same results. Every single time I got a combination of Venti’s, Browns Towne, F-Stop, and Capitol Market for purchasing beer. Normally I would have decided I was wrong about Salem’s beer selection and givin up, but consistantly La Capitale was missing, and I know Browns Towne sucks (a rotation of Widmer and Ninkasi only doesn’t equal a true rotating tap). With this knowledge I was certain there were more places hidden away outside the scope of Salem’s art crowd (Salem’s art crowd makes up a large chunk of it’s beer crowd).

This was confirmed when Rachel and I swung by the Blue Pepper for coffee last week. I’d known the Blue Pepper had a bar, but had always assumed they served wine and a traditional import beer selection. This idea fit with the vibe of the place and the fact that their bar isn’t open that late. However this day the comfy seats up front were taken so we decided to go goof off in the computer chairs while we drank our coffee. While we were back there I decided to check out the bar.

To my surprise they had a decent bottle selection with some variety to it. There were some imports, but also some decent domestics. Granted they only had beer in the bottle, but still, this got me excited. A new beer place to visit in the evenings I thought. I was all set to go try it one of these nights and then rant and rave. I called up the Blue Pepper to get the bars hours and was stopped cold in my plans. The bar is open from 6am-3pm on weekdays only. What the heck???

So while Blue Pepper may have a decent bottled beer selection it’s a fail on the best beer in Salem list. What place seriously keeps those hours?

My 2 Cents On W ’10

January 13th, 2010


A big deal seems to be being made of Widmers ’10 Brewmaster Series release Pitch Black IPA. Personaly I’ve never been a fan of black IPA’s as I’ve always thought they were more poorly executed novelty then a distinct style. Anyway, here goes.


Imagine that, lots of hops. Very floral with some herbal and pine notes. Not really getting much in the way of malt aromas.


Looks black in the class but is a deep maroon color when held up to the light. Somewhat translucent for a beer that looks this black in the glass. Khaki head. I love the color of this beer when you pass light through it.


Lots of piney and herbal hops but not as overpowering as I expected. Widmer was fairly restrained with this one.distinct bitterness up front that shifts slowly to a charred grain flavor. Finishes with biscuity and grainy malt flavors.

Overall this wasn’t what I expected. I was thinking this beer would be a dark colored IPA that was a hop bomb like Widmer’s other Northwest IPA’s. This beer wasn’t. The hops and the biscuity malt flavors went well together. The charred malt flavors didn’t quite fit and felt out of place, but they didn’t hurt the beers drinkability at all. The IBU’s and ABV are restrained for a northwest IPA coming in at 62 IBU’s and 6.5% ABV. Even though I enjoyed this it’s not a beer I’d keep stocked. My personal rating would be a B. I don’t have alot of experience with this style though. This is only my third black IPA and all of them seemed to be blending beer flavors that just don’t harmonize. I will admit out of the three I’ve tried I liked this one the most which is why it got a B. Also this beer had alot of elements I liked. It was just the dis chord between the dark malts and the rest of the beer that ruined it for me.

’09 Bourbon County

January 10th, 2010


I’ve been torn over whether to crack a bottle of ’09 now or wait till at least 2011. Based off the title you can guess if I waited. Luckily I have a couple more bottles stashed. Just keep in mind this beer is young.


This thing smells like a bourbon barrel through and through. Tons of toffee aroma, bourbon, and charred wood. The aroma seems a bit sweet, which makes me dread the flavor.


Pours a thick muddy black brown. Very thick, with a toffee colored head. Completely opaque.


Boy that’s alot of bourbon. I love my whiskey, but bourbon isn’t my favorite style. Flavor is slightly charred. Fairly one dimensional. Very thick and malty with some roasted malt flavor. Sweet bourbon finish. Not as dry as I’d like, but it all blends together well.


As of today not really worth another purchase. As it ages though this beer tastes like it would improve greatly. The bourbon is possibly too much for some, but I like it. This is deffinatly a whiskey drinkers stout as it tastes pretty much like a boiler maker in a bottle. As a beer it’d be a B+, possibly an A in my book. As for stylistically?

A barrel aged beer should have both elements of wood flavors from the barrel and alcohol flavors from what was stored in it previously. These flavors though are there to support and harmonize with the base beer, not bowl it over. All incarnations of Bourbon County I’ve tried lack that subtle support of the base flavor. Instead the whiskey overpowers and over runs. Also Bourbon County is a bit hot in it’s younger form which is off style as well. Stylistically this would be a B beer.