Posts Tagged ‘Venti’s’

Unofficial interview with Nick, and tasting Black Mamba

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Whew, long title.

So I forgot that tonight was the Gilgamesh Brewing tasting at Venti’s. It would have done me no good if I’d remembered since I had a seat belt diversion class for a traffic ticket. However I was hungry and figured I’d swing by Venti’s. It was unusually full for a Wednesday, and they had both the black mamba and IPA from Gilgamesh on tap. I thought I was in luck. I ordered  the veggie thai peanut bowl and a Black Mamba and grabbed a seat next to some familiar looking people without thinking. Turns out it was Nick from Gilgamesh brewing and some of his friends.

Now I never use a conversation with a brewery rep against them when they’re out drinking, and have no clue I’m a blogger. It’s mean. However since Gilgamesh is a buzz brewery at the moment I’ll post the jist of it.

According to Nick his family has been homebrewing for awhile. I believe he said 14 years…. Anyway, Nick had been told by friends who drank their homebrew that he should open a brewery. One day Nick, certain he was going to be fired, called his brother and the two agreed to start a brewery. Gilgamesh was born.

Nick and I talked a bit about the Portland beer market. Nick feels that the IPA is on the decline. He said this is why they had made their flagship an “experimental” herbal beer. Nick has high hopes for it because of it’s reception by Oregon beer drinkers. He also has high hopes for their scotch ale. Apparently I missed free samples of this and their cranberry wheat.

We talked some more about beer before he stepped out for a cigarette, and I stepped out to head home.

Black Mamba

Here are my tasting notes from my cell phone.


Muddy light brown, very opaque. Distinctly muddy to the point where Nick could tell from across the room what I was drinking.


Sweet aroma with strong scents of citrus zest and a muddy herbal aroma. Not unpleasant, but indistinct.


Once again indistinct and muddied (I’m seeing a theme). Cloying sweetness paired with heavy oily citrus flavors. Strong spicy finish that brings a little heat to the party. Nick says the heat is the alcohol and the spiciness is the Belgian yeast. Heats at the wrong point to be alcohol induced though. The spiciness, if caused by the yeast, is overwhelming. It kills the other flavors on your tongue. It’s almost like two different beers. The cloyingly sweet citrusy muddy mess, and the spicy funky beer that finishes warm.


I’m a big fan of herbal beers, and to be honest it wasn’t my favorite. I can see why people like this though. Big bold flavors seem to be what tickles the northwest palate rather then complexity and subtlety. Not the best impression out of the gate, but a decent offering for what is often an under appreciated and under brewed style.

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??? 🙂

Honost Pints In Salem

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Yesterday I received an email from both Jack Box and Leslie Venti letting me know that Venti’snow serves bona fide honest pints. Venti’s blog says the following.

From Friday, 27 November 2009, Venti’s are serving beer in 20 ounce glassware with the cartoon rooster’s pointing index finger marking the 16 ounce volume level. A ‘True Pint’ pour line. A documenting image has been sent to the administrators so that Venti’s Cafe & Basement Bar will be certified as a Purveyor of an Honest Pint and appear on website’s list and map

Apparently Venti’s has always had 16 oz glassware (who knew?) but a true pint pour depended on your server and left no room for some head. While I don’t really care to much about glassware and all it’s still kinda neat to think Venti’s will make Beervana’s page. Interestingly enough Venti’s was a little slower in getting honest pours then ƒ/stop. From the get go Kirk has been serving up imperial pints for the same price as Venti’spints. Granted ƒ/stop doesn’t have the selection, and I’m pretty sure none of us purveyors of Kirks pub care to get it certified.

Congrats to Dino, Thane, Leslie, JR and the entire Venti’s crew on the new glassware.


A Most Competent Thane

Friday, November 13th, 2009

vtweetLast night I finally got around to doing some footwork on the best beer in Salem project. I got off work, ran by the store, and then it was off to La Capitale to check out their beer selection. Upon arriving though I found out their bar closes at 9:30 on weeknights. I got a chance to talk with the bartender (can’t remember his name right now as last nights bar hopping washed it from my memory)  and discuss how he goes about choosing his taps. Overall the selection wasn’t Venti’s, but he does keep imports and some decent American beers on tap. In fact there was a saison that I wanted to try. Alas they were closed though so I figured it was time to start checking out other bars.

The next stop on my list was Browns Town where I was hoping to talk with whoever chooses their beers. On the way there though I passed Venti’s and figured I’d stop in for a pint before continuing. This was the undoing of my plan. Turns out Thane was bartending, and although we’ve met before I haven’t really had a chance to talk with him. I ordered a Russian River Damnation thinking this was going to be my one beer I had and Thane and I started chatting about beer. Next thing I knew it was last call and I’d added a pint of Collaborator Brown and Cascade Defroster to the pint of Damnation. Sadly I think drinking the Damnation first was a mistake. Damnation is a great beer and set the bar high for the other two, and despite their best efforts they failed to impress me.

Thane however did. It’s a rare thing to find a competent bartender (beer wise) in this state, let alone one who knows so much about beer. It was refreshing to talk with someone who shared some of my views on beer, brewers, and the like. He was also extremely helpful. We discussed what beers he could get in if he was so inclined, what beers he did have that were awaiting taps, and his selection process. However last call comes early on a Salem week night so I had to go.

By the time I left almost all bars in Salem were closing down, or closed. I’ve always thought Salems general last call of 11 is too early. Figuring the night was over I hopped on my bike and headed towards home. As I was passing  ƒ/stop though I saw their open sign was still in the window and cars were still in the parking lot. One thing I love about ƒ/stop is that as long as Kirks still hanging around the bars still open. Nothing like a good pint with good company to end the day and start the next.

Future Brewery??

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

So in case you haven’t heard (really not many have) Venti’s is going to be in a movie. Very few people who saw this picture of the following beer on Leslies Facebook though knew of the movie.


JR has a whole post on the movie at Venti’s, although if you read it you may walk away wondering if Venti’s really is a brewery.

Leslie assured me when she first let me in on this that Venti’s doesn’t have a secret brewery, but that it’s a possibility in the future (the brewery, not the secret part). This is why I’ve been asking those questions about what people in Salem are looking for in a brewery.

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

Are Styles Relevant?

Friday, September 4th, 2009

from theweeklybrew


Last night I was reminded again how much we rely on styles to tell us if we will or wont like a beer. The Salem Beer and Wine group had their get together at Venti’s last night. One of the ladies in the group ordered a pils. It fit the style perfectly. By the time she was ready for the second one though the keg was gone and a new pils from a different brewery was in it’s place. The second pils was cloudy and opaque, over hopped, and had an almost banana/fruity yeast flavor to it. This, according to everyone at the table (myself included) was not a pils. We even talked to the bartender who pointed to the label that sure enough said pilsner.

Now was the second pilsner a bad beer? Absolutely not. Was it a bad pilsner? Heck yes. So the question is where should style come into play?

As a homebrewer I can guarantee that most of my beers are off style. My pale ale was out of the alcohol range it was supposed to be in. My Roggenbier is not even close to what a Roggenbier should be. My herbal saison? You guessed it, off style. This is because I happen to like these beers a different way then the guidelines say they should be. When your homebrewing though it’s not a major deal. Alot of commercial brews though seem to be going the same way. Brew what tastes good and slap it into the category it fits best in. The problem with this though is you get a situation like last nights. Someone orders a pilsner and gets something they didn’t expect, or necessarily want.

So where does that leave styles? For competitions styles are important. They set a benchmark for the beers. For many commercial brewers though styles aren’t benchmarks so much as loose guidelines. This makes it so the average Joe doesn’t know what he’s getting at times. Is it time to phase out style guidlines for commercial brewing? Or should brewers make more of a good faith effort to meet style expectations?

Given the fact that styles have only become truly defined in the last 30ish years I’m not sure how I feel on this issue. All I know is that beer wasn’t a true pils.

Of ZZ Hop and Chili Stout

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

Last night I managed to make it to both Venti’s where I had the Chocolate Chili Stout, and the Ram where I had a couple pints of ZZ Hop. While I recommend both beers I definitely prefered the Chili Stout.

Chili Stout

This beer was the best of both worlds for me. I love a nice warming chili beer, and I ♥ stouts. Definitely was my favorite beer of the evening. I wanted to shoot some vid of Venti’s basement, but Bobby wasn’t bartending so I didn’t know the person behind the beers. Filming in a small beer, without permission, and with a strange bartender is daunting.

ZZ Hop

A really great fresh hop ale. Tastes floral and green with noticeable, but mild hops, and some yeast flavors that I noticed more on my second pint. Definitely enjoyable, but not life altering good. but

The one thing I learned from last night was I need a new drinking buddy now that Kaylie has a boyfriend…. Call me strange, but it just feels weird to ask a girl if she wants to go to the pub when she has a boyfriend, so I don’t. Haven’t gone drinking with Kaylie since before her like 2 month hiatus. Time to start lookin for a new one.

If you want I have a time lapse video of me drinking the fresh hop and an choppy video from Summer In The City I never posted that I thought I’d toss up. Also you may notice these aren’t true beer reviews. That’s because I personally believe beer drinkers need to try a beer for themselves rather then read a review. If you want to know what the beers were like then try get out there and have a pint.

ZZ Hop Time Lapse from 72mm Blogs on Vimeo.

Untitled from 72mm Blogs on Vimeo.

Venti’s Update, Chili Stout Edition

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

vtweetWhen I first started this blog I planned on dedicating a post a week to tap updates at the Ram, Boones, and Venti’s. I realized after 2 random updates that I don’t enjoy typing out what’s on tap. I think I’ve come to a solution though. Instead of doing a couple posts a week to keep up with what’s going on at Venti’s I just wait for an email and then use copy/paste.

Fort George-Spank’s Chili Stout is on in the Venti’s basement.
Further, Thane, interrupted the Caldera Pilsener to reload the Captured by Porches Amber Ale that was left over from SITC.
Caldera Pilsener is be back shortly.


I’m gonna need to swing by Venti’s tonight or tomorrow night if that chili stout is still on tap. Here’s a bit on it from Jacks mini book on Chili beers over at the Venti’s blog. (BTW, thanks for the correction JR)

The Spank Stout used 30 pounds of Pasilla Habanero, Jalapeno and Anaheim peppers and starts as a mellow full bodied slightly chocolaty stout and slowly grows to a spicy finish that leaves the palate warm and wanting more.

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?