Posts Tagged ‘Chili Beer’

Discovering Albany

Monday, April 27th, 2009
picture of albany from http://www.cityofalbany.net

picture of albany from http://www.cityofalbany.net

This is part two of a post about the events on the 24th that started at Brewfest, one of the best nights I had this month. Part one is here

I’ve spent a good part of my life in the Willamette Valley and never had a high opinion of Albany. Not that there was ever anything wrong with the city, just never was a place I enjoyed spending my time. After all for a teenager who had all his friends and fun things to do with them in Salem, Albany seemed small. In fact we had a little joke back then about Albany. My friends and I had no doubt that Albany had a meth problem. The joke went you could always tell someone from Albany because they had too much free time, and no eyebrows from cooking meth. The joke doesn’t seem so funny now… Anyway, why go on about Albany? Well Calapooia Brewery is in Albany.

After we’d finished up at the Brewfest we started on the drive home. Those that know me know that I’m a flake. A big flake in fact. Kaylie and I had got to talkin and I got to not lookin out for where we were going. Next thing we knew we were almost to Woodburn. What a horrible co-pilot am I.

Once we’d gotten on the right track though things went smoothly. We came down through Brooks, and were just coming up on the Chemawa while talking about what we wanted to do with the evening. The significance of Chemawa is it was the point where we had to officially decide if we wanted the evening to continue, or call it good. This is where Kaylies spontaneity came in. And trust me, she has spontaneity to spare.

I’m not sure what exactly was said that triggered the idea, but next thing I knew Kaylie suggested we head down to Albany and visit Calapooia brewery. Calapooia are the people who brew that amazing Chili Beer we’d had at the festival. Before I get into the adventure of getting to the brewery I just want to describe the Chili Beer. There’s not alot of malt flavor, nor bitterness. In fact there’s not alot of beer flavor at all except at the front. The thing that makes this beer awesome is that at the back is a strong taste of chili peppers and a good warming sensation accompanied by a mild burn. If you like the taste of chili’s then you’ll love it, but even if your not the biggest fan the warmth this beer has to it is just awesome.

Ok, back on topic. Neither Kaylie nor I were familiar with Albany and had called Calapooia ahead of time to get some directions. Problem was multiple phone calls went unanswered and the directions weren’t much help to us out of towners. After driving further then we thought we stopped at a Carl’s Jr for directions. This resulted in an Oh Crap! moment. Even the local couldn’t tell us where the brewery was located. They could however tell us where Hill St was, and that happened to be the street we were looking for. Once we were on Hill St we were lost again. Turning right onto Hill lead to a dead end, and left had street addresses that were to high, and just kept going up. At the top of the hill we stopped, and once again the guy (I’m so proud of myself :P) asked for directions, and once again none of the locals knew they had a brewery. Ok, I take that back, one local knew. The problem was he gave us directions you would give to a local, not the idiot directions I needed. After we’d turned around and found our way to the brewery we parked in a lot full of gravel piles.

The brewery was pretty tight, it had the look of a trendy kinda pub like Boons, but was filled with a wide assortment of locals. In fact there weren’t many people as young as us. Perhaps most entertaining though wasn’t the assortment of people, but the band. There was a person in the band from every decade. There was an older bluegrass looking guy on harmonica, a soul sista on lead vocals, a hippie on base, and Joan Jett on drums.. Or at least her look alike.

Joan Jett

Joan Jett

The beer was awesome, the atmosphere was great, and the people where the kind of fun welcoming crowd you’d find at a local watering hole kinda bar. This place has to be one of the best brewpubs I’ve come across. I’ll see if Kaylie wants to write her take on it. Oh yeah, it turned out that after all that work trying to find the brewery we discovered one of Calapoola’s coasters we got from Brewfest. There was a map on the back…

calapoola

What An Adventure!

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

logo-brewfestsml1Yesterday was the Oregon Gardens Brewfest, and while that was fun it was just the tip of a fun evening. But to tell the story I have to start back in March. At the time I was making plans to go to the Spring Beer and Wine festival up in Portland. Whenever I plan to do a beer thing my first inclination is to invite Kaylie because there’s no one I enjoy having a beer with more. So I told Kaylie about the festival and she mentioned that she thought her meetup group was going. I’d never heard of meetup.com, but within a few minutes I had signed up for the Salem Beer and Wine group. Turns out the group was going to Brewfest, not Spring Beer and Wine. Well due to miscommunication on my part Kaylie ended up not coming along for the Spring one, we did plan on going to brewfest with the meetup group though. So now we come back to the 24th.

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Shwag from the fest. I wish I could say they gave me the hat and beer as part of the entrance fee

The meetup group was supposed to be up there at 5:30, but between my flat tire and Kaylie getting off work at 5 we didn’t show up until well after that time. The festival itself was pretty awesome. We walked around the place first, looking around for what beers we wanted to use our seven tickets on, then got to sampling. Most of the beers were just ok, but a handful really stood out, but I want to gripe about something first.

Close up of the Chili beer from Calapoola

Close up of the Chili beer from Calapooia

One thing I don’t like about beer festivals is that they aren’t really about the brewers, and that annoys me. Rather then having brewers showcase their talents by bringing in something new for the public to try breweries tend to send a flagship and a seasonal/limited release. The reason this irritates me is that this is a perfect opportunity for breweries to show their skill and craft off, but instead they use it as a forum to pimp beer that in many cases I’ve tried already. Gripe number two is that volunteers aren’t properly educated and don’t receive sufficient material on the beers they are serving, or the breweries that make them. Every time I had a question about a beer the answer I received was the description that was printed in the tasters guide. No one could tell me about the differences between the stouts a company made, the availability, or the process or ingredients for the beer. In fact many volunteers couldn’t even tell you where some of these breweries were located. Gripe three is that as craft beer becomes bigger these festivals seem to become geared towards people that aren’t really into the craft, and rather just enjoy the beer. This means that while I’m asking about types of hops and hoping schedules Im getting answers about how hops work and why the hops their brewery is using are so much better then the other guys. Beer festivals should be about celebrating beer first, and about marketing for your brewery second.

I really like schwag

I really like schwag

Okay now that I’m done complaining it’s back to the story. The beers I enjoyed most were the scotish ale from Belfast, and the Chili Beer from Calapooia bewery. In fact we both liked that Chili Beer alot, and it factored into the evening later. After we’d finished our tasting and eating we wandered for a short bit then decided to head back. One thing about beer festivals is that when your done tasting there isn’t a ton else to do.

After we left is when the fun started. I’ll get the rest typed out and up tomorrow.