Thursday, October 30, 2008

J.W. Lees Manchester Star Ale

I passed this up the first time I saw it, luckily I ran into Angelo who informed me that this was a joint venture between J.W. Lees and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing. If you don't know Garrett Oliver, go pick up the book "The Brewmaster's Table", one heck of a good read about pairing beer with food. Next go out and trade beers with someone from NY and get a Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout, trust me, you won't forget Garrett Oliver again.

Back to the beer at hand. As you can see in the photo above this thing pours like a bowling ball, pitch black, heavy like old motor oil, with a tall khaki head. The nose on this is filled with molasses and black licorice, bitter bakers chocolate seems to clog up the sinuses. Manchester Star drinks like an anvil, heavy and unrelenting, like a mini La Brea tar pit in your stomach. Burnt chocolate flavors flow into an earthy, roasted malt, almost meaty flavor. I'd like to see what Garrett Oliver would pair this with, maybe a dish of smoked ham or a big charred texas steak. Overall this beer is delicious, allbeit very heavy, don't plan on going running or doing anything productive for that matter, after you drink this just relax for the rest of the evening while catching up on "The Brewmasters Table".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Block 15 Brewery

This weekend we took a drive down to Albany to catch up with some friends. Albany, aka "fun town USA" made a really good excuse to drop into Corvallis and try out Block 15 brewery. After a nice drive down I5 and a quick stop at the corn maze, to appease the fall gods, we arrived at Block 15. From the outside this place looks small, but upon entering quite a difference to say the least. Good amount of seating, more up above the bar, brewery tucked back in the back room. I hadn't had a chance to try any of their beers yet, so I was fricken shocked to see about 15 beers on tap, needless to say I couldn't try them all, so a trip back is in order.

I scrambled through the menu to find the sampler plate, discovering they only do a 5 beer sampler, so I loaded that up with all of the seasonal brews and a few others. Included were a belgian tripel, pumpkin beer, chocolate porter, ipa, and nebula stout. I was really impressed with the quality of brew from this place, excellent spicy citrus ipa, rich roasty smooth stout, the pumpkin beer was delicious without being over-the-top spicy sweet. The belgian tripel was excellent, dry and crisp, with a nice estery spice. The only beer I didn't care for was the chocolate porter, a bit sweet and overdone, kinda like sweet icing added in. After those I had a red and aboriginale that were also quite nice. Overall the beer and food top notch, good atmostphere with an impressive selection of beers. I'll be back for sure.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

201 IPAs

I keep track of most of the beers i've had, and I noticed that sometime last week I broke the 200 mark of different IPAs. Another great reason to love the Pacific Northwest! Now with 201 IPAs behind me I thought it would be fun to look back at my top ten.

Top 10 IPAs i've had:
1. LaConner IPA Bottleworks Edition - ummm... dryhopped in bottle
2. Diamond Knot IPA - so good on tap
3. Bear Republic Racer 5 - always a solid favorite of mine
4. Terminal Gravity IPA
5. Southern Tier IPA
6. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
7. Rogue Integrity IPA
8. Bells Two Hearted Ale
9. Walking Man IPA
10. Alesmith IPA

Sure, I'm bias to the Pacific NW, half are from the PNW, 8/10 are from the west coast, oddly none from Portland though. But... the quantity of IPAs we have available in the PNW is amazing, so we have quite a few samples to pick from, so it may give us an edge.

What are everyone's favorites?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hopworks Fresh Hop Tastival

Portland sees its first full scale fresh hop fest, and well what do you expect, they oversold the hell out of it. I think the organizers grossly underestimated turn out, and if they didn't it was a cruel joke.

Me, being the beer geek I am, always show near opening, so thankfully they had everything still available. Sadly anyone arriving at, well lets say a normal beer drinking hour (maybe you had lunch first and arrived at say 2pm), arrived to empty taps and long arse lines. I just don't understand advertising a beer fest and running out of most of your beers half way through, poor planning? or were they thinking.. the hop heads of Portland probably won't turn out for a hop festival? come on really... I hope they refunded people.

I'm an introvert and don't like crowds, I show up opening day to festivals so my agoraphobic tendencies don't get the best of me, and I could only stand about an hour of this fest, even at opening, people crammed into the front parking lot showing all to well the desperate need for a full on fall beer festival between OBF and the Holiday Ale Festival.

Sure there were some nice beers, most of which I had the Hood River fest, I thought the Laurelwood Fresh Nuggs really stood out and the Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond was very subpar. Overall I just want to see a fall beer festival on the size scale of Holiday Ale or Spring beer... Please?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Heater Allen Bobtoberfest

If you haven't had a chance to stop in to Belmont Station lately don't miss Heater Allen's Bobtoberfest. From what I've gather, Belmont Station is the only place to get their bottles so far, aside from the brewery in McMinnville. I've tried all but one of their brews and been more then impressed so far. Their fall seasonal, Bobtoberfest (5.4% ABV), is a true to form Oktoberfest, big warming toasty malts up front, rich caramel. Finish provides ample balance, even a bit on the bitter and hoppy side for an oktoberfest. Pours a fiery copper, perfect clarity, with a soft off-white head. Overall a delicious brew and one of the best oktoberfests I've had from the Portland market. Drop in to Belmont soon and make sure to grab a few of these before they are gone.

Anyone else have any favorite Oktoberfests in the Portland market?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Green Dragon Meet the Brewer Hopworks 10/14/08

Angelo posted the tap lineup for tonight's meet the brewer at the Green Dragon, and it looks like it should be an exceptional night to stop by and imbibe. The guys from Hopworks will be there with their GABF medal winning IPA. But even more exciting (at least to me) is the other four:
-Bourbon DOA (I saw this sitting in the barrel when they first opened.)
-Evelyn Imperial Sunshine IPA
-Fest of Fury (fresh hop oktoberfest)
-Newbie Baltic Stout

Check out Angelo's site for more info on the event and the beers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Green Dragon taps 10/12/08

As of 4pm here is what is on tap at the Green Dragon. If you are out for a Sunday pint you should drop in.

*Russian River Blind Pig
Diamond Knot XIPA
*New Belgium La Fluer Missuer and Tripel
Fearless Porter
Caldera Porter
Ninkasi Schwag
Great Divide Hibernation
*St. Bernardus 12
Bear Republic Racer 5

*highly recommended

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Brewdog Meet the Brewer

Brewdog (Scottish for we adore our dogs) gave one heck of a meet the brewer today at Belmont Station. Pouring their Punk IPA, Amber, Hardcore IPA, and Paradox line. While we are a bit spoiled in the PNW on the ambers and IPAs, these guys really have their stouts in a delicious niche. Seeing as how the paradox series is all based on the same mother imperial stout, the depth that each gets from the barrels they are aged in is beyond impressive. The Islay being a peaty smoked monster, flashbacks of complex scotch without the bite. The Port barrel, being a soft smooth troubadour, hints of vanilla and plum. In between reside the Spayside and Glen Grant, both showing spiciness and soft sweet flavors. You get the feeling at times that bourbon is... well boring in its additions to a beer.

I'm sure they enjoyed their hoppy stay here in Portland.

Striking up a conversation with the brewers shows their insight, they seek out barrels that compliment their beers best. Knowing a bit about the regions (flavors) of Scotland from college days trying to refine myself, unsuccessfully I may add, it was great to hear them talk about how they seek out specific barrels to build upon their beers.

PS. Word is their are collaborating with Mikkelar on an barleywine this November, to be released in... you guessed it, scotch barrels. I can claim for sure that it will be better then my writing.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hood River WET hop fest 2008

Well Oregonians never stop amazing me. A bitter and wet day in Hood River perfectly set the scene for the 2008 Hood River Hop fest. While some would argue to have this fest set indoors, there is something so perfectly Oregonian about drinking hopped up beers in the rain, all the while I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, laughing at the absurdity of the scene. Like people in all extreme climates you adapt, but it really shows how unique the craft beer scene is when people turn off their NCAA football, dawn their rain gear, and stand in the rain to sample this years hop harvest. The fest, looking like a REI raincoat showcase, went on, bitter beers for bitter weather.

I missed last years event, but two years ago I don't remember the setup being the way it was this year. The beer booths separated from the "family fare". The problem this created was there was this big division in the event, all of the people packed in around the beer booths, taking up 1/3 of the event, leaving most of the area allotted for the event vacant. No tables, only really one small tent in the beer garden area. I'm all for family friendly events, but it is still a beer festival, lets give the beer drinkers at least 2/3rds of the event, then set aside the other booths for the remainder, it felt very crowded, and once the rain started, well, i'll let the next picture speak for itself.
Highlights of this year for me were:
Big Horse Vernon the Rabbit Slayer
Double Mountain Killer Green
Rogue Independence IPA
Port Townsend triple dry-hopped Hop Diggity

Lots of delicious brews and another great year drinking fresh hops in the tempermental Oregon climate.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lack of posts

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, between having family in town and a multi-day trip down the lower Deschutes river (no beer involved), I haven't had time to post much. This weekend I'm headed to the Hood River hops fest, and it looks like it will be a good time of drinking in the rain. If anyone else will be there it would great to meet up for a pint (or sample, or whatever they have).

I'll post after the event with photos and stories.