Category Archives: commercial beers

Portland 2018 pt 3

And a final dash of beers I got to wrap up this series, at least for now. I had fun going into what I could find in Portland, so this won’t be the last time.

Gilgamesh Hildalgo wild aleGilgamesh– Hidalgo American wild ale: it’s got a hit of tartness in the nose, like someone broke a sweet tart in front of me.

That’s a fairly good description for the where the flavors begin, but then there’s a sweetness to take the edge off. The end gets queerly bitter, as if it was hopped for such bitterness. That bitterness lingers a long time, too, and it isn’t pleasant. This contrast is so odd that I’m wondering if this is a result of my general disinclination towards sour ales, or if there’s something actually screwed up going on. But the finish on this gets vegetal and dirty and I really can’t get behind it.

Pints– Brett IPA: The nose on this is strange- fruit candy like; fake orange, almost. The flavors though take a hard left away from this, giving me a grainy flavor that rapidly goes into watermelon, then starts to come back towards a grainy quality again. I’m not sure what the heck this beer is and I’m not sure it knows what it wants to be, either.

Santiam-1859 Maibock lager: There isn’t much nose here but what I get is a bit of malt, likely two row. This maibock is a little sweet but not too much, and finishes pretty clean. It’s a pleasantly drinkable beer which I suppose is the point for a lager. Good stuff.

Public Coast-American Brown: the chocolate malts are strong in the nose, and is a strong ribbon through the entire beer. The feel of it is soft though; more like something I would expect out of an english style ale, due to their water. It’s easy to drink and has a slightly dry finish, which I find interesting. As the ale warms up, more roasted flavors coming through which I appreciate. This helps give the beer more depth than it would have otherwise. I like this beer and I’d like another.

Vanguard pale aleVanguard– pale: Nice nose; resiny and puts me in mind of more forest oriented smells. The strength of that nose makes me think it might be dry hopped. The midrange of the beer is sweeter, and there’s enough viscosity on my tongue to get the malt weight but it doesn’t last long and slides right into the bitterness. Which is a little strong for me, given that it’s a pale. The head on the beer doesn’t last very long, either, and this means that the scents dissipate and I’m only about one-third down in my glass. If it had said IPA I’d be more forgiving. Now, I don’t want to suggest that this is a bad beer: I think it’s pretty solid! With the nose diminishing, a little more sweetness seems to come out in the malt. It’s growing on me, and rather quickly. Nice.

Deluxe-Wild Beaver amber lager: no nose to speak of for me. The flavors though are mild and the caramel malt is allowed to shine, the finish is pretty crisp. It hits a pleasant sweet spot between the lightness of your average lager and the more robust qualities that might come with an amber. I’d have some more of this.

Kaiser Brewing Co-Dirty Blonde Saison: I get some belgian sweetness in the nose and…yeah, that’s what the flavor is too. I expect my saisons to be a little bit more on the spicy side, so this feels off. It’s almost pushing that cloying belgian sweetness. But it also has a dry finish, which feels a bit strange, too. Curiouser; as it warms up, a sour element starts to thread itself into the finish. I don’t know what is happening. I’m not going to tell you that this is a bad beer but I am not encouraged to drink another one.

The Spoiled

This observation from Jeff Alworth is an interesting take on a problem I find myself dealing with in Portland fairly often.

I have a lot of options, when it comes to potables. Even dive bars now carry some form of craft beer in Portland, most likely made by a brewery in Oregon.

I can get anything and often find myself stuck for a few minutes at the store, staring at my options.

Truth be told, I think options are great. People who don’t like American light lagers should have the choice to get something that aren’t light lagers- or, hell, even purchase light lagers that aren’t made by ABInBev!

The price of that is that it’s going to be challenging for businesses to find customers, something I really hadn’t considered before Jeff brought it up. How will Deschutes or Gigantic or Hopworks have a thriving business if they cannot find customers? Do they all need new customers to stay in business?

I don’t have answers to this but I recognize it’s something I hadn’t considered before and that makes it worth thinking about.

Portland 2018 pt 2

More quickie reviews: let’s get to it!

North Jetty-North Head IPA: This feels a little like a throwback! The nose isn’t too potent, just a pleasant blend of grass and citrus. The beer has a little sweetness to it, some caramel for sure but it’s just there to counterbalance the bitterness. That bitterness isn’t too intense either, so there’s a pretty drinkable ale on my hands here. It isn’t cloudy, it doesn’t taste like a mouthful of grapefruit: it just tastes like an IPA. I’m pretty happy with that.

24861624977_299c03461d_cGarage Project-Pernicious Weed IIPA: what a great nose-fresh hop greenery like newly cut grass. Pretty decent beer, too: this tastes like great fresh hop beers ought to-green and lovely and not very harsh at all. The brewery kept a pleasant sweet flavor in the middle, too. This weed feels less intense than it is. Good beer, but definitely sneaks up on me.

North Jetty/Heathen Brewing collab-Graveyard of the Pacific: Imperial Red ale. A strong vein of caramel malt runs through this, which I’m good with. The finish isn’t very harsh, which I appreciate, but it does have enough bitterness to clear everything out. Good stuff.

Beer Valley-Owyhee Amber Ale: By the numbers, and I mean it in a good way. Sweet caramel malt nose, with just a trace of the yeast-that raw dough scent. I like it, myself. It’s a easily drinkable, pleasant ale that might get knocked for not being “special” but I appreciate a good ale well done. This is one of those. This is a surprisingly drinkable beer and it has a lot to do with a finish that isn’t too gnarly.

24861626747_d877225d1a_cMonkless-Shepplekofeggan Belgian wit ale: it’s got that Belgian funk nose, but the resulting beer tastes rather sweet. It’s remarkably clear-some of that funk on the nose reminds me of a lager, actually. And there is just a light touch of bread dough on the end. It’s pretty yeast-dominant though, as beers go; citrus and coriander flavors aren’t really showing up for me. Might have to give this brewery another shot, see what’s going on.

The OBAs

I was a steward for the judging portion of the Oregon Beer Awards last weekend, which was a great time and a very well run event. I can’t post many pictures because we were asked to keep any identifying information off social media until after the awards are given at the end of February.

empty cardboard boxesStill, as part of a team that helped serve 1,029 different beers over 36 hours, I can tell you that we went through a lot of beer. Those empty boxes? Not even an eighth of what we dealt with.

Still, I got to see a lot of bottles, not just a few cans and more crowlers than I think we’d really like.

(From a pouring vantage, crowlers cause the most spillage, and wax topped bottles are the biggest pain in the butt to open, especially when you’re under a deadline.)

I also got to try some delicious beer and some questionable ones, though most relevantly, I got to meet some cool people. That’s really what it’s all about.

Well. That and the spoils.

Cases of beer
Twelve cases of beer isn’t a bad haul!

Portland 2018 pt 1

Whenever I travel, I buy a bunch of beer that I haven’t seen before and review it. It’s a lot of fun and a way to get a sense of what’s out there. But it struck me that I don’t do this for Portland. I just go to bars and see what there is but I don’t investigate the stores very often. And something is weird about never exploring the place you live in, don’t you agree?

So off to a few bottleshops in Portland (Imperial and Beermongers, specifically) to get some beer for…well, the usual kinds of posts! Also to see what’s available now, what are we getting that I didn’t know about before? The biggest difference is that I didn’t look for beers brewed specifically in Oregon. Here we go.

Ruse-Deep Sleeper barrel aged imperial stout. There’s a lot of maple in the nose of this one and it’s almost enough to cover up the whiskey flavor but not quite. Put together, it’s not exactly off putting but it is almost cloyingly sweet, which is a strange thing to say.

The alcohol heat is also readily apparent; I get a slight burning sensation on the back of my tongue that last far beyond the beer. It’s not very well balanced and as it warms up, it becomes less so. Fans of whiskey might enjoy this but I’m less inclined towards it. The barrel ageing has just made this beer a little to harsh, even as a sipping beverage.

39731003921_a6e9e9dd0f_cFalling Sky-Dreadnut Stout: not much nose. Some coffee roast but faint. The beer is…well, it’s a stout. It isn’t very dense and I like mine to have a little more weight on the tongue but it tastes very much in style. Lots of roast malt, a very dry finish but this isn’t a thirst quencher. It’s a palate cleanser. That kind of roast malt gives it some robustness to stand up to food. I suppose I’d put this at better than average. Good, but not necessarily great.

Stormbreaker-Lumber Lager: bready/biscuit nose! Which I dig. Those flavors aren’t present in the taste. That seems a little odd but it is more to style I suppose. It’s a nice beer, emphasizing the malt character a LOT. I don’t want to say there are zero hops in this beer but they’re really down low in the mix. Maybe just enough to give a little bitterness on the finish, so the sweetness doesn’t leave that tacky sensation in my mouth. I do appreciate that; it gives this beer a more drinkable quality than most. Like most good lagers, this beer needs nachos. But that’s a pretty reasonable fault. Sure, I could just have it after I mowed the lawn but c’mon. Nachos!

24861554167_254c38d5aa_cSmog City-Saber Toothed Squirrel American Amber: this has a potent citrus nose, which feels weird for the style. The more I sip it, the more I think this is a grapefruit IPA, not an amber. Now, on the merits of an IPA, it’s actually pretty good. It’s nicely balanced, with some sweetness to keep the finishing bitterness at bay, and the effervescence pops nicely to clear the palate.

So, when things get this unusual, it’s worth checking the BJCP guidelines. Turns out, American Ambers¬†can¬†be aggressively hopped and so long as they mine the citrus flavors, it’s well within reason. Huh! Knowing that, I’m inclined to recommend this beer: It’s pretty dang tasty. But you definitely want to know what you’re getting.

Woodland Empire-City of Trees IPA: the nose smells piney and grassy. I like it; It’s not too intense but it’s still pretty solid. Unfortunately, those scents fade quickly and just a couple sips in, I can’t smell it anymore. There’s very little active head on this beer and that’s a drawback, because the bitterness on the end is a scraping intensity on the roof of my mouth. Just. Gah. Some balance would be nice. There’s practically nothing in the middle, though, and what there is tastes a little like butterscotch, which…is just no. I don’t think I want to finish this beer, so I won’t.

Elk Horn-Stagg Moose, barrel aged imperial stout: Boy…this cost me $26 and it tastes so rough. The nose has a strong whiskey thing and it’s offputting. There’s also a raw cocoa flavor, coupled with a bunch of bourbon and it just isn’t very smooth at all. There’s almost a woodiness to it.

As it warms up, a lot of those negatives mellow out. The nose diminishes, the whiskey note hits more in my belly, warming there instead of on my tongue and it allows for more chocolate to appear. There’s still a little burn, but it’s not bad. The finish is still pretty rough though and it doesn’t help the beer. It’s almost chalky.

Common Ales: Bridgeport Ebenezer Ale

Continuing with the review of the winter ales: Bridgeport’s Ebenezer Ale. Sweet nose, very subtle brown sugar note happe27238611539_c91d754dde_cning. Again, another beautiful deep red color with some near translucence when I hold it up to the light.

The flavors aren’t too bold: there’s a little cinnamon finish, but there’s also a little bit of a red wine in the mouth with some drying effects. It doesn’t feel heavy or dense, but I get the sensation that there are more flavors that I am just missing: there’s a definite warmth coming from this beer that I’m trying to pinpoint. I almost get a hint of cherry coming from this beer; it’s got some nice flavors going on and I think I like this beer a bit more than Deschutes’ Jubelale.

Common Ales: Deschutes Jubleale

38299974104_2a63dc620a_cWith winter fast approaching and having recently made a winter warmer, I thought it would be good to try some of the winter seasonals. We start with Deschutes’ Jubelale winter ale. This has a faint molasses note to it in the nose, right behind the roasted quality. A near burnt caramel scent is what that roast reminds me of. The label says toffee and that’s probably a better word. As it warms up though, a new scent comes out, almost like chocolate frosting. Surprisingly sweet.

It’s a damn pretty beer, deep amber color that’s almost but not quite see through.

The flavors are an interesting blend of touches of chocolate and molasses, all overpowered by a more intense and a little burnt roast malt. I do get minute dark fruit- dates, I think, but it’s quiet and in the background. It’s not bad but I’m just not sure I’m all about this. Again, as the beer warms up, the roasted qualities soften and the beer gets a bit sweeter, in a banana-ish way. There’s a little spiciness too-the beer gets more complex as it warms I’m still not quite convinced here but I can totally see someone else loving it.