OBF 2015: the 2015-inging.

Once again, for your lively entertainment and this time before the festival is over, I present the (mildly edited) notes I took during the 2015 OBF.

I was fortunate enough to have my friend Fuz with me so you’ll see him referenced occasionally. I even took a few parenthetical notes about beers he had and let me try. Now let’s go!

Fuz snaps pictures while I go for the Maximius Brouwerij Salvator IPL (pictured). The nose on it is very nice, light, little chocolate malt, little hop character-touch of citrus, I think. However, the finish on this beer is nasty. Like green veggie bitterness and I do not enjoy this beer.

Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta is second and this is a better experience. Made with Earl Gray tea additions, the nose is prominent with that scent. Slight undercurrent of citrus hop but nothing to overwhelm the tea. The beer avoids a tea bitterness on the finish, wisely letting the hops do the work and the middle isn’t thick but strings the nose to the finish nicely enough. Fuz agrees; nice beer.

(Fuz beer: Lost Abby Witches Wit. Stinky, sulfury nose apropos to saison; flavors very good though.)

Anderson Valley: the Kimmie, the Yink, & the Holy Gose. This beer….tart, lemony tart. Lemon is actually a great reference here. On a hot day, a small glass of this for me would be quite refreshing. I don’t think I could do many glasses but having a nice puckery lightness, I could definitely do one. After all that, I notice a little bit of a wheat flavor, something bready to wink at ya before you go.

Breakside Rainbows & Unicorns (because Collaborator had a line. Fuck lines). I like the nose. Little bit of resin, little melon, nothing too strong. The bitterness shows up later, a long glance as you leave but the beer itself is light has a present but not demanding grapefruit flavor, and tastes fairly pleasant. Would go well with some salt & vinegar chips.

There’s a dude in a wild pink, teal & blue outfit, like Miami by the way of “gah, no” carrying a beatbox, looking to sell his hip hop cds. Ah, Portland.

(Fuz beer: Ft George stout, aged on peaches. He sniffs it 3x before taking a sip and looks unimpressed. “There wasn’t a peach grown within 100 miles of that beer”).

Laurelwood Hipster Sunburn-saison. This is just a nice little beer. Slight funk on the nose with a whiff of vanilla and then the beer is pleasantly sweet with a bright finish. I wish I had more to tell you but I like it and I hope people give it a shot. It’s pleasantly drinkable and should be tasted.

(Fuz: get a picture of me yelling at this beer. There’s this big part in the middle that doesn’t do anything and it’s like creamed corn. It’s the Payette and the nose is AWFUL, like chimera farts)

Melvin Hamber, hoppy amber. While I don’t give them much on the name of the beer, I didn’t think much of the name of the brewery either. But the beer? Forward piney nose, solid middle, pine finish and I like it. I would go back for another without questioning it for a second.

Sprecher Abbey Triple; I picked this up because the description mentioned a two hour boil. Two hours! But, this is smooth, sweetly fruity, nicely chewy, quite drinkable and at 8%+, it falls into that danger zone of “let’s have more-oops, too much”. Have some. Be careful.

Oh god. Oh, god. We are going to have to endure a jam band. You know how you can tell just from the way the bass player is doing his warmup/mic check, that you are going to have to listen to a shitty, shitty jam band? That ‘brwap-bap-bap-bap-brawp brap’ noise that they make doing some scale? Fuck everything about that.

Dunedin Mango Makrut Paradisio (pic). Front end is flowery and the middle is chocolate and then it all gets dirty and tastes like ass. No.

Tuatara Sauvinova-“International style pale ale”. What the hell does “international style” mean? Words should have meanings and in this case, the meaning is “this beer tastes like onions”. Avoid.

Boundary Bay Double dry hopped sorachi ace pale ale. It started well enough but the finish was dirty, dirty. Sigh. I suppose I’m going out how I arrived.

Saturday Will Be Big

I know I usually have content posted on Fridays but this Friday I expect to be at the Oregon Brewer’s Fest! So I am going to have a post on Saturday, reviewing what I’ve had so people can use those notes if they haven’t gone yet.

Saturday itself, I plan on being at Bailey’s Taproom for their 8th anniversary event and, in a change of pace (and because Bailey’s has wifi), I thought I’d live-Tweet the experience.  If that interests you, the Twitter feed is here.

With all that celebration, I think I’ll be taking the week of the 27th off though! That’s a lot of beer to get through in two days, so I think I’ve earned a break.

A Beer Voyage

Full disclosure, this project is something I’m connected to in a friend-of-a-friend way.

Still: check it out. This guy wants to go around the state of New York and talk to brewers about their stories. Not just their beer, which matters of course, and is always a fine place to start a conversation. But beer and food at large is always a good starting point for the stories that we can tell.

It’s a neat project and I’d like to give it a little exposure.

On The Rail: Panic Room: Caution High Volume

Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red greets me at the end of a long weekend and what has been the end of a long weekday. If this keeps up, I’m taking the rest of my life off.

The nose is very fruity, and while there isn’t much malt there, the beer is just sweet enough that when goes into the bitterness, I don’t mind. It’s still too hoppy for an actual red but as a beer, it’s solid.

The full name of this bar is Panic Room: Caution High Volume which is approximately three more words than the name of any bar should have. Or really, anything that doesn’t include the words: “the” or “of”. So there’s that. There’s also the biggest goddamn tv I have seen outside a sports bar. It’s like seeing a monkey with a boner. Even if you can look at the other attractions in the zoo, that TV is somehow omnipresent in your brain.

The couches look comfy though, and the food brought from the kitchen looks good. There’s a discreetly placed screen that shows what’s on the Pandora radio station playing in the bar, so if I hear something good that I don’t recognize I can just read the screen. That’s pretty damn handy, I have to say.

I’ve come here to hide out. It’s a good time to be here for this: almost nobody is inside, and it’s the kind of place where even those inside are going to step outside to smoke.

The length of my days has me feeling a little sore and resolutions have been on my mind even since I found out that the father of a friend of mine died a few days ago. He was a lively, funny dude, an electrician in Michigan when that meant you could sustain a proper family. And when Michigan wasn’t FUBAR’d.

A few weeks ago, the cat of another friend died. The cat had cancer and was clearly miserable. I was honored to drive them to the vet and to witness his passing. The cat died surrounded by someone who loved him. I hope that my friend’s dad could say the same.

I wonder how often we have the luxury of a pet, our resolutions and our deaths coming in the presence of someone who loves us. I hope that happens more often than not. I hope the fingerprints I have left on people allow them to feel settled, where I can. But, we don’t always get what we want. These days, I feel like I understand that better than I used to.

Tall fella comes in, complaining about the heat. Walking two blocks to the store apparently was too much. God knows how he got here. The bartender replies, “Dude, there’s a reason both my jobs, my house and my car have AC.”

My beer is nearly done. I am going to dive home with the windows down, wind blowing, Corrosion of Conformity’s blaring. I may need to hunker down just a little longer.

Common Ales: Sam Adams Lager

Lagers are always challenging to evaluate, especially since I have not spent a lot of time drinking them. The Pacific Northwest has IPAs, man.

That said; it’s not terribly difficult to say whether or not I like this beer: I do. While it has the nose of your standard lager (which I’ve always found to be a pleasing kind of funky sour), there’s just enough body in there to leave some caramel tastes on my tongue. Secondary sniffs provide more malt and there’s definitely a bready aftertaste on this beer, which finishes pretty cleanly otherwise.

In other words, this is one of those great “gateway” beers. Something that someone who has been drinking one brand of American lager all his or her life might try and discover that ‘hey, I like this’ and perhaps branch into other flavors of beer. Or maybe they’ll just appreciate that there’s no perfect beer, only perfect beers.

At the same time, this beer is totally drinkable from the perspective of someone like me, who has been wading through many, many flavors of beer for over fifteen years. It’s light enough to stay drinkable and dense enough to have some flavor to it. In other words, it’s a pretty good beer.

OBF 2015

It’s that time of year again: the Oregon Brewer’s Fest is coming up and they have once again been suckered-er, I mean, convinced– to give me a press pass.

This year’s festival is going to truly be international, with breweries returning from the Netherlands and new breweries coming from New Zealand! That is pretty damn cool to me, because it guarantees that there will be beer that I have never, ever had before.

It looks like there may be more than 90 beers, so there is no way I can try all of them and still stay healthy enough to do this again next year. I can say, though, that I’ve been advised to try Anderson Valley’s gose, Widmer’s Collaborator vanilla pale sounds interesting, Kaapse Brouwers Rye ale looks appealing-lagered and then fermented? OK.

Laurelwood’s Hipster Sunburn might have my favorite name, Melvin might have the dullest but the website presentation earns it some points and while I don’t know what Tuatara, Uiltje, or the Yeastie Boys are doing, exactly (their beers are listed but the websites don’t link) I do know that they ain’t from ’round here, so I’m in.

All in all it looks like another fine spread of ales, although, as always, I could use a touch more variety and a little less IPA.

On The Rail: Bailey’s (Caldera Edition)

I’ve snuck in a visit to Bailey’s now, because I won’t want to come here for a few weeks. Their 8th (eighth!) anniversary event is coming up soon and I’ve already bought tickets for that. Plus, my friend Fuz is coming down to join me for the event so it should be an excellent day of beers & discussion.

Which is why I’m going to go anywhere else until then. I don’t want to get tired of being here. Also, after the Moon & Sixpence post, I am reminded that I am not exploring as much as I would like. It’s time to, sigh, do some research! Find some unknown spots and see what happens. But man, do I hate research.

After a brief discussion with the bartender, I pick Caldera’s Red Sea ale.

It’s warm, chocolaty, with a nose like hot fudge on a sundae, this beer is luscious and tasty. I do sense a dollop of spiciness on the finish and that’s a nice way to go.

I can’t get over this beer. It’s so good. It really does work like a sundae without the banana influence-there’s vanilla and chocolate notes in the nose and the mouthfeel is so creamy. It’s absolutely fantastic.

I went back for seconds and the beer was gone. Damn.

Common Ales: Bridgeport IPA

The fine people at Bridgeport told me their best selling beer year ’round was their IPA (with Hop Czar occasionally jockeying for first as well). I haven’t seen the Hop Czar yet but the IPA is, of course, all over. So let’s get cracking!

Pine in the nose but nothing too strong. The beer itself reads a bit like this too; the hops have a nose slightly reminiscent of what I’d get from a commercial lager, in addition to the pine. Familiar but not.

There isn’t too much malt on the tongue but despite that, the bitterness is fairly restrained. This ale isn’t flavorless by any means but it’s not very adventuresome either. Now, I have to admit that this isn’t a bad thing. If someone didn’t know what else to buy and bought this, I don’t think they’d be sad about it.

I just wonder if they’d be interested after that.

To it’s credit, the IPA holds up nicely over the course of the drink. The nose doesn’t falter, the head remains steady throughout and a little more malt arrives as the beer warms up. Overall, I have to say this is a solid beer, the kind that might just lure someone who IS interested in craft beer into trying something else Bridgeport does but the limitations of needing to appeal to such a broad audience means that I am not feeling the hook.

Under Your Tongue

The timing for this beer could have been a little better.  Don’t get me wrong; when it’s hot out, cold beer is still cold and that’s hard to argue with. It’s not the most refreshing style or accomplishment on my part, though and when there is no such thing as air conditioning, that can be a little troublesome.

This red ale has a floral nose–but not a strong one. The bite on the finish is pretty solid though. Not citrus and not resin either. Woody, I suppose? Good word for it.

Woody is a good word for this beer all around. There’s a solidity to it. This may also come from what feels like a  higher alcohol content. It sits on my tongue a bit, even after the effervescence is gone, a bit of bitterness there to linger. Looking at the numbers, this beer shouldn’t be heavy but it doesn’t feel that way so I’m wondering if I made a mistake recording the numbers.

It possible but it doesn’t negate the quality of the beer; it’s still pretty solid! Just something I may want to pay more attention to next time.

Brew Date: 3.29.15

Steeping grains
2 lb C60
1 lb Medium Brit Crystal
1 lb 2 row
1.5 lb Carapils Dex

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Summit @ 60
1 oz Nelson Sauvin@60
.5 oz Summit & .5 oz Nelson@30
.5 oz Summit & .5 oz Nelson@5

Yeast: Windsor dry yeast, with starter made

OG: 1.069

FG: 1.028

Bottled 4.26

ABV 5.55%

On the Rail: Moon & Sixpence

It has been a long, long time since I’ve been to the Moon & Sixpence and that’s a shame. The rail here is warm; pleasantly lit and wood of various shades and shine. It’s also flat, so it’s easy to rest my arms on and lean in to talk to a friend or whisper to the bartender.

I should try an get into northern Portland more often. Breakside, Columbia and Laurelwood have brewpubs here, just to name a few. I can’t think of places in southeast Portland that have a similar representation. Yet somehow, the bars I want to attend are in that location. Or Bailey’s, but nobody can argue with going to Bailey’s.

There’s a whole city out there to appreciate and the Moon & Sixpence is reminding me that I should get out and see more of it.

I get the Lucifer belgian golden ale because of the name. How can I not? The brewery is unknown and I don’t have it in me to research it, in part because of how it tastes. It has a fruity boozy nose with feeling of warmth and flavors of banana like going down. There’s a white wine element too and I’m not sure how to identify it. Floral in some respect, that’s for sure. My friend says ‘This tastes like antibiotic cream and honey’ and I’m not inclined to dispute her.

So, the Lucifer isn’t a drink I can recommend. Unbalanced and not very rich in flavor; I’m about as displeased with this beer as I am pleased to be at this bar. The susurration of conversation is steady and lacks the boisterousness that might be present at another bar. Right now, it’s a good thing.

I’m still recovering a bit from the PCBF. Long day, heat, beer means that going somewhere that would be intensely lively just doesn’t suit my mood. If it wasn’t for the Decemberists playing in this bar, I’d say that there’s practically zero hipster presence here. But I can get over the “we play accordion because Portland” songs for a night.