Tag Archives: hopworks

Whatever You Say #20

One bonus about a holiday is that I get a chance to go to places that are otherwise a touch too crowded to adequately visit otherwise. Such is the case for my visit to Hopworks.

Now, make no mistake; I don’t begrudge the success of the HUB; rather, I think it’s a great thing. Despite my adoration of places that aren’t too successful, {admittedly so I can have the space to get a beer whenever I want} I think that rewarding good people who do good work and have an ethic that wants to look at success long term, ought to be rewarded. It just means that when I decide to visit for a blog post, I need to pick a time of day that makes my writing possible. On the upside, it means that my girlfriend can join me and I am absolved of having to approach a stranger. All in all, a pretty cool situation.

porterShe’s having a Kronak the Bourbarian, a bourbon barrel aged porter which means so am I. Truly, this is what it means to suffer, right?

This beer has a bourbon strand running through it like a big carmel colored thread moving through a quilt. In the nose, in the finish but softer in the mouth, the caramel flavor of bourbon waves hello like a neighbor you’re always happy to see. On top of that, it’s light and complex without feeling thin. Quite an accomplishment.

In short; it’s good. Very good and if you like the style, have some.

The girlfriend and I chat. There is a deliberate attempt to keep things light, because we have been making moves toward purchase of a house. It hasn’t been all serious business but it’s been a bit more intense than usual and I think that anyone who’s been in a relationship for awhile understands that if things are intense for long enough, sometimes you just have to go out, have a few beers and some chicken strips and laugh. Burning the candles for too long just leads you to ash, you know.


I’m finishing off my porter, she’s still got about a third left when the announcement comes from a redheaded woman with long, poofy hair and olive green waders that HUB is putting a new beer on tap: a Helles Bock. And everyone is invited to try a pint for free.

So not only am I having Whatever You Say, I’m having Whatever They Say. That is pretty awesomesauce, I have to say..

Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the Helles.  I want to be, understand. I like Hopworks and I know they do good work-especially in the pilsner arena. On top of that, it’s free. Complaining about a free thing feels very much like a dick move.

That said; for me, this beer was just a bit too effervescent and had a hint of metallic taste to it. I didn’t get much malty, bready flavors and I couldn’t pick up much in the nose either. I tried to pick up those notes and everything just got washed out by the carbonation. It’s possible that this brew just isn’t for me or that those initial pours just weren’t quite ready yet. My girlfriend couldn’t detect any problems so I’m willing to concede that I might be missing the qualities of the style that make it great. But this sample did not encourage me to try another.

I have no complaints though. After an intense weekend a proper beer was deserved and HUB is a great place to get one.

The Glories of Open Source

There was a statement running around MtG circles for awhile that insisted ‘information wants to be free’. Read it for at least a year at Star City Games in one column after another a few years ago. The basic idea was; people want to share information and after that, it’s up to you to execute the plays needed to win. The internet is kind of the mega-extension of this idea; the info is out there, now all you have to do is the work.

So in that spirit, I was thrilled to see Hopwork’s Gigabit IPA be open source. Sure, I get recipes all the time from books or the local store but how often to I get a crack at one vetted by pros? (This is not to cast any discouragement on my fellow homebrewers, many of whom work a hell of a lot longer and harder than I do to get interesting beers made but I can’t think of any reason to pass up ideas from professionals when they’re offered.) Thus, I made it-or at least, as best I could approximate given my finances and available resources. Recipe follows:


Steeping: .5 lb Munich
.25 lb C15
.25 lb C40
.25 lb C60

Fermentables: 3 lb Amber malt, powder
7 lb LME

Handful of Golding @ 60
Magnum .25 oz @ 60
.5 oz Rainier, Simcoe @ 15
.75 oz Rainier, Simcoe @ 5

IG: 1.065

TG: 1.01

Gigabit closeSo this beer was at about 7.21% ABV-which is one of the higher-alcohol brews I’ve made. And let me tell you, it’s fantastic. The end notes aren’t too bitter like many NW IPAs tend to be, there’s a nice head on the beer (as you can see from the pic) so the citrus elements can be smelled when you pour, plus it’s carbonated like it ought to be, the malts aren’t overpowering. I mean; despite not being able to exactly re-create the original, I was able to make a pretty drinkable ale and so full credit to the Hopworks guys for coming up with and sharing the recipe.

And a little pat on the back for myself for adapting their recipe and pulling off a pretty good beer. What the hell, I deserve it. If there’s a drawback to this one, it’s that it’s so drinkable that I’ve gone through it way too quickly!

And Don’t Forget the Joker

ace of spades brewI have no way of knowing if the brewers at Hopworks meant to evoke Motorhead when they made the Ace of Spades but because I love heavy metal I’m going to pretend. (As it turns out, they did! YAAAY!)

The fact is; this beers has a serious hopiness to it. They say they added hops at every point they could to this beer-but it doesn’t show. That’s a compliment though; the malts in this beer hold their own in a losing battle. Just enough to keep this from being a liquid hop cone but not nearly enough to call this beer balanced.

It’s possible the alcohol content helps the malt hold the line; at 9.5% this beer is a heater. The relevant point, I suppose, is that this beer comes at you hard and strong and while it finishes loud, when it’s over, it’s over.

So I dig it.

I don’t know if the man himself would like it-he’s a Jack Daniels fan from all reports but I have a feeling he’d be hard pressed to resist a pint of this. Hell, add it to the JD and have a hell of a Boilermaker. Cheers.

52 Weeks 48: Hopworks Diabilto

In a rare moment, I have deliberately chosen a photo. Or perhaps better said; deliberately set up my photo. I didn’t quite get the star shaped light coming from behind my hat that I was hoping for but it still seemed more interesting than my typical photos. 

Fuz has come down to visit, and he’s reading a play by a man I’ve never heard of while I write. There’s a man behind him saying that he ought to take it easy tonight, because he has a presentation to give tomorrow but when his companion suggests no more drinks, he says “Are you kidding? I’m a fuckin’ professor of this shit. Another beer.”

Then he starts to sing Puff the Magic Dragon. 

Over my shoulder is a man in solid neu-hiking regalia; beaten baseball cap, REI raincoat, backpack, glasses. He’s all set for a hike in the woods. And he’s sleeping, chin to breast, slumped over crashed out. At 9 p.m. 

So it’s one of those nights. The day sucked in beer-related ways and I’ll be detailing that for everyone on Wednesday, but for now I have company and so things aren’t so bad.

The Diabilto (which I’ll just confess I got because of two parts name, one part lineage) is a bit doughy on the nose and then a thin, sweeter beer after that. It’s not bad but it’s very far away from the beer I feel like having. This is too fizzy, it’s thin in a way that I am not approving of. I’m wanting to act like Pac-Man, wakka-wakka-wakka-ing through my ales and this beer is not a power pellet. No monsters to turn blue here, just an ale I’m trying to drink to get through to the next one. 

Again; it’s not a bad beer but it has met me on the wrong night. 

Last week, I mentioned to Sparky that the end of this project was coming up. He and I began to talk about about going to pubs and our particular motivation to do so. He suggested that I should write about why I drink and while I’ll admit that it’s a tempting topic I’m wary of making some kind of definitive statement about such a topic. 

Humanity has been drinking for a long, long time and the subject is one that invites big, sweeping statements that should have wedges of human insight. Or are just the ramblings of a drunk and I don’t feel like doing either, so perhaps this is the kind of subject that requires a bit of pondering. 

Instead, I think I’m going to finish up this post and play some cards with my friend. While I’m all for asking questions, I am almost old enough to understand that questions don’t always need answers.

Lager done right

I understand that most people who try to drink beers that aren’t produced by macrobreweries have issues with not just the ‘weight’ of the beer (density, mouthfeel, how they settle in the stomach) but also with the intensity of the flavors.  Sweet, bitter, floral, clove–these can put someone off who isn’t welcoming of it. Unfortunately, most microbreweries (and home brewers) avoid the lagers that are the popular American style for two reasons: 1) the market is pretty much cornered by the big brewers, and 2) lagers are hard to brew. As a result, most people only ever get to try a lager that has been watered down for the masses, instead of a truly refreshing drink, ideal for a hot day and pub grub, and beer lovers never get a chance to try a really well done lager. Thankfully, that’s changing.
3 beersThe Hopworks Urban Brewery won silver at the World Beer Cup 2008 for their lager, and deservedly so. There is a slightly bitter flower nose from the hops (I’m told they’re Saaz), but the body of this beer is all malt. 

You might be able to tell from the picture, but this lager is a few shades darker than your standard mass-produced lager. I’d assume that’s because ‘leeching’ agents to make the beer more ‘acceptable’, like corn or rice, haven’t been added. The malt flavors aren’t muted and hidden, they’re right up front with a  a really nice balance of sweet and roasted qualities, so this beer is very, very drinkable. 

Like any lager, as I reached the end of my glass, there was an ever so slight skunking of the beer–but this is to be expected from the warmth and the (thankful) light. That’s right; I’m drinking this lager as summer has started to push it’s way into Portland, and HUB’s lager is perfect for this time of year. It’s really refreshing, able to wash down not just the standard pub fair, but those spicy calzones they offer as well. (The red sauce at HUB is truly excellent)