Here is the latest weekly installment of my Tuesday Tastings series. Like last week, I’ve got notes from a beer from each Pacific Coast state.
De Garde Brewing Petit Desay
This beer, like De Garde’s Bu Weisse that I reviewed previously, is one of the (new-ish) bottle mainstays of the Tillamook, Oregon wild brewer, a tart Farmhouse-styled ale I picked up at Belmont Station for a very reasonable $4.95 (or something like that). It’s 5% alcohol by volume, and according to Ezra at the New School, it’s fermented in foeders (large oak barrels/casks). This one took me a bit longer to enjoy as their Bu Weisse, but ultimately I did.
Appearance: Opened with a hiss but it pours and presents almost completely flat. Orange color, leaning towards light brown like bottle glass.
Smell: Tart, in a lactic way, hints of barnyard (musty wet straw). Pretty mellow overall, funk, grassy, honey notes.
Taste: Super puckery with a big lactic acid kick that’s smooth and not chalky (like aspirin which I find in some lactic beers). Mellows a bit as it warms, getting more rounded, but the tart character is still the most prevalent flavor. Would be a great base for fruits and such.
Mouthfeel: Light-to-medium-bodied, puckeringly tart (dry) with a clean finish.
Overall: A little off-putting at first, but I warmed to it as it warmed up.
Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer
Yakima Craft Brewing 1982 Amber Ale
Yakima Craft Brewing, unsurprisingly located in Washington’s Yakima Valley, was one I had not heard of before finding this beer at 99 Bottles in Federal Way, Washington. I confess it was probably purchased simply because the mixtape label on the can was really kind of clever and awesome. Other than the name 1982, I didn’t really know much else about it so I was delighted to discover it was a throwback American amber ale, a malty style that I actually quite like (when brewed properly—which in this case is to say, to my nostalgic sense of what an “American Amber” should be).
The beer is 5.53% abv and 30 IBUs, and the brewery says:
1982 is our homage to the brewing history of Yakima. A mid-hopped amber ale that is clean, sessionable and easy to enjoy.
Appearance: Clear, textbook amber color, with an off-white/light tan head that’s a bit rough with big bubbles.
Smell: Caramel malts, sweet, grassy hops are mellow. Hints of brown sugar.
Taste: A touch minerally, grassy bitterness from the hops though it’s not overly hoppy, sweetly malty from the crystal malts. Good attenuation, though for an amber I’d like to see more direction toward sweet and fuller (a bit more cloying).
Mouthfeel: Well-attenuated which puts it between light and medium-bodied. I’m looking more for medium—thicker. But this does have a clean finish.
Overall: It’s a nice reproduction of the ambers of the style of yesteryear, that I like, except this one should be sweeter and thicker.
Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer
Stone Brewing Xocoveza Mocha Stout
This most recent of Stone’s collaboration beers came out in September of last year, and Stone teamed up with Mexico’s Cervecería Insurgente and the winner of their AHA Homebrew Competition, Christ Banker, to brew Banker’s winning beer—an 8.1% abv Imperial Milk Stout inspired by Mexican hot chocolate. Here’s what they wrote about it:
This year’s winner of our American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned homebrewing competition, Chris Banker, helped keep us grounded to our homebrewing roots by introducing flavors consistent with our regional palate. His chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, chile pepper and coffee-infused milk stout was built to mimic the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate, a beloved specialty from our neighbors to the south, as our callaborators from Baja California, Cervezería Insurgente, will attest. Layered with tiers of earthiness, spice and roast, this creamy, semisweet blue-ribbon beer confirms that the spirit of the American homebrewer is not only alive and kicking, but thriving at an all-time high.
Appearance: Black, with brown-tinged highlights when held up to the light. Light brown head that reminds me of whipped coffee.
Smell: Spiced bitter dark chocolate, smoky leather (I actually underlined these words in my notes), very comforting. Thickly sweetened coffee. Smoky-spicy.
Taste: Savory spiciness reminiscent of pumpkin pie, with the barest bit of chili, dark chocolate without the bitterness, and that same smoky-leathery impression you get from the aroma. Some rich depth here, warming with a gentle sweetness tempered by savory notes.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a rich, savory, dry finish.
Overall: Very good, lots of depth and very interesting.
Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer
Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29 the third annual Portland Farmhouse and Wild Ale Festival returns to Saraveza, featuring “more than 70 different beers, artisan cheese, charcuterie and pickles” along with an exclusive festival beer and bottle release from Upright Brewing and more. There will be at least 30 beers on tap at any given time between Saraveza’s taps and their Bad Habit Room around the corner, and there are some insanely great debuts taking place including debuts from The Ale Apothecary, Holy Mountain Brewing, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer, Ecliptic Brewing, and more.
Cost of entry is $25 which gets you 10 beer tickets and the commemorative tasting glass, which you can get at the door or buy in advance online here. The hours are 11am to 9pm on Saturday, and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.
There is also a special Farmhouse Fest (FHF) brunch available both mornings:
To kick-off each day of the festival, Bad Habit Room is hosting a Brewer’s Brunch on Saturday, March 28th and Sunday, March 29th.
For $25 you receive a full belly (your choice – order off the menu), a sneak peak of some of the Farmhouse Festival beers from Holy Mountain Brewing on Saturday and Propolis Brewing on Sunday, tip for your server and early entry into the fest. (FHF entries sold separately.)
A brewery or two will be highlighted at each breakfast with a brewer there to discuss their beer and chat with customers.
Breakfast starts at 9:30am. This breakfast is Advanced ticket-only and has limited seating.
This is one of those events that started out small and has been gaining steam these past couple of years, I remember the first year seemed like such a niche theme that it’s fun to see it taking off as it is now. I’m sure being based in Portland contributes in no small part to that success (not even considering the “Portland” in the name of the fest). Hoping I can make it up there for one of these events some year!
Happy first day of Spring! Drink a Bock sometime this weekend. Here’s the news for the weekend of the 20th; as usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news, so check back often. And if you have news to share, please let me know and I can get that updated as well.
(Also, I am taking next week off (spring break!) so there will be some scheduled posts but no daily Oregon beer news.)
Belmont Station (Portland): Tomorrow, Saturday the 21st, they are hosting the bottle release party for their Belmont Black 18th Anniversary CDA brewed by Baker City’s Barley Brown’s Brewpub: “Join Barley Brown’s own Tyler Brown and the Belmont Station gang as we launch our 18th Anniversary beer, called Belmont Black. Tyler describes this special brew as having aromas of citrus, roast malt, and cedar/wood note. Flavor is “similar to Turmoil, but a little bigger. Some of the cedar/wood notes from Experimental Hop 427 comes pleasantly through. Bitterness is clean, and hangs out briefly before melting into a nice malty roast flavor. Lots of complexity!” Come pick up a few of these one-time-only bottles, and make sure to enjoy one on draft while chatting with Tyler!” Make sure to check this out between 2 and 4pm tomorrow.
Also tomorrow, McMenamins is celebrating the 29th “birthday” of their popular Ruby Ale across all of their locations! All day long enjoy: “$3 Pints of Ruby, $8 Growler fills of Ruby, $4.50 Ruby 22-oz. bottles to go, and $12.50 Ruby-Q Chicken Salad. We’ll also have Ruby-influenced food specials. Order a Ruby or the food special to get the just-for-fun Ruby Passport stamp.” And five locations are holding “Ruby’s 29th Birthday Discovery Hunt” to get extra-special passport stamps: “Collect all 5 stamps to get a Ruby’s keepsake and get entered into a drawing for a Ruby’s Spa package!” It’s a good day for Ruby lovers, so be sure to stop by a McMenamins near you and enjoy.
Continue reading “Oregon Beer News, 03/20/2015” »
Among beer destinations in Oregon, my hometown of Bend receives much of the attention in recent years for a variety of reasons (which I’ve written about here at length and, yes, even written a book on it). Bend dominates the Central Oregon beer landscape in much the same way that it dwarfs the other cities in the region, but there are breweries and good beer in those other communities as well. Sisters has Three Creeks Brewing; Prineville has Solstice Brewing; Sunriver has Sunriver Brewing.
And then there’s Redmond, 16 miles north of Bend along Highway 97 and the second-largest city in Central Oregon. And, I believe and alluded to in this month’s writeup for The Session that Redmond is the next up-and-coming beer town for the region. Accordingly it’s time to take a look at what’s happening in the Redmond beer scene.
Cascade Lakes Brewing was established in 1994 by David and Steven Gazeley, who had cobbled together a brewhouse from salvaged equipment, including used dairy tanks from the nearby Eberhard’s Dairy, on a shoestring budget. In 2001 the brewery was purchased by Doug Kutella and Ray Orazetti, who were joined by Chris Justema a year later, and together they revitalized a flagging brand that was suffering from quality issues. Enjoying growth every year but one since, they celebrated their 20th anniversary last year and have been successful releasing a number of new and rebranded beers, including Snow Park Extra Pale Ale, Paddleboard Porter, and Hop Smack IPA. They sold nearly 6000 barrels in Oregon last year according to the OLCC report (PDF), and overall were in the 7200-7500 barrel range for 2014. In Redmond, they currently brew on a 25-barrel system at their original location, and also have the popular 7th Street Brew House.
Smith Rock Brewing was opened in the fall of 2012 and is (still) the region’s smallest (nano)brewery, crafting their beers on a 0.8-barrel (25-gallon) system—for all intents and purposes, a large homebrewing system. The beers are exclusively available at their pub on Northwest 7th Street, where they typically have one or two on tap at any given time. The pub food is excellent, and the pub itself, located in a renovated house, has a homey, intimate feel. They’ve been working on expansion plans for some time now, with no recent developments that I’ve heard.
Juniper Brewing opened last year, 2014, and in fact celebrated their first anniversary just this month. Owners Curtis Endicott and Scott Lesmeister are homebrewers-turned-pro, and currently brew on a two-barrel system—and cannot brew beer fast enough. In order to keep up with demand and sales, they are looking at expansion; initially this will be additional fermenters (they currently have three) and at some point they will seriously need to consider a larger-scale brewhouse. Fortunately the space they currently occupy (industrial, across the road from the Deschutes County Fairgrounds) is ample enough to handle any immediate needs. They have a tasting room at the front where you can find their current lineup. (The tasting room is 21+ only.)
Wild Ride Brewing also opened in 2014, and where Juniper (and Smith Rock) started out small, Wild Ride went big, with a 20-barrel brewhouse, three (I believe) 40-barrel fermenters, and plenty of room to expand into the space formerly occupied by the Parr Lumber warehouse. They opened with a strong lineup of nine beers, solidly-brewed, and big plans: they are already bottling a number of beers and I believe have already added fermenters over the past year (I might be wrong on this). They have a prime location in downtown Redmond on 5th Street with a terrific tasting room and outdoor “patio” area. As Redmond’s second-largest brewery, they sold 897 barrels in Oregon their first year according to the OLCC, and I’m quite sure are on track for much more in 2015.
First things first: Bend-based Silver Moon Brewing is opening a production facility in Redmond. Since being purchased in 2013 by James Watts and Matt Barrett, the brewery’s growth curve has been going up significantly, and they have effectively outgrown their Bend brewery. They are not moving however, and brewing will still take place in Bend at the Greenwood Avenue location; that will continue to be their pub and main outlet, and I imagine once the new system goes online, the “experimental” brewery.
Their new Redmond brewery will be a 30-barrel production brewery (making it the largest in Redmond when it goes online), and is located somewhere behind Juniper Brewing in the same industrial park area. It is currently being built out, but I have no information as to when that might go online. (I will be making some time to visit and document this.)
Rising Dawn Brewing: Curtis over at Juniper Brewing mentioned this to me a little while back, and I’ve confirmed the name is registered with the state. Basically, Ted Waldbillig is a homebrewer looking to go pro at some point, and his schedule is determined by availability of funds. From what Curtis was telling me it sounded like a serious venture, but it’s not going to be here anytime soon, likely (until we hear otherwise). Time will tell.
Other Side Brewery: This one apparently is happening, and relatively soon. It’s a venture by the founders/owners of Nikobrew, a hop merchant (along with a few other goodies found on their online store) who announced at the beginning of the year their plans to open a production brewery in Redmond (location unknown at that time—not sure if it’s been settled as of yet). In February they posted a job for a head brewer to the Probrewer forums, which gives a great overview of what they are doing:
We, the owners of Nikobew (Myself/Niko, and my wife Alexis) are proud to announce we are opening a production brewery with a tasting room in Redmond, Oregon. We are working on securing our exact location and our aim is to be in operation sometime within the next 6-10 months.
We have purchased a 10 BBL system built by Dan Schulte in Cazadero, California. It’s badass and beautiful.
Nikobrew will remain in full operation and the brewery’s name is “Other Side”.
I’ve emailed the owner, Niko, to find out more and will report further when I do.
There are of course several growler fill stations in Redmond, three of which are in a short strip on Highway 97 on the south end of town, including Fin & Fire (a fly fishing and grill shop with a 36-tap growler station inside), Lucky’s Growlers inside the Lucky 7 Deli/Lottery store, and the most prominent of them—Beer Dawgs. They have 32 taps, six of which are devoted to kombucha, and a current peek reveals that all but one of the beers are local—mostly to Central Oregon, several to Portland and elsewhere. (The very non-local is Shock Top.) They also just hosted their 2nd annual Beer Dawgs Brewfest this past Saturday the 14th, advertising 20+ breweries pouring beer—no mean feat all things considered.
Redmond also has a thriving homebrew community, anchored by the Redmond Craft Brewing Supply homebrew (and general fermentation) shop on 6th Street about a block-and-a-half from Wild Ride Brewing. The homebrew shop is also the main meeting location (for now) for the Cascade Fermentation Association, the local homebrew club—separate from Bend’s Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization, though there is crossover with members (like myself) belonging to both.
The shop caters in more to all things fermentation beyond beer and wine, with kits for making cheese for example. Likewise, the CFA club regularly features wines, meads, ciders, and even kombucha for both tastings and educational portions. Both the shop and the club are fairly active within the local beer community (for instance, doing a demonstration homebrew at Beer Dawgs’ fest event last weekend).
Redmond Craft Brewing Supply owner Jesse Sweetman prepping for a homebrew club group brew
They are already starting to outgrow the existing shop space on 6th Street, and are actively looking for a larger location which will ideally allow them to include a bottle shop. No word yet on the timeline for that but I would suspect sooner rather than later this year.
And then moving out beyond the breweries there are a growing number of places offering up wide selections of good beer. My favorite is The Pig and Pound, modeled after an English pub, serving up excellent pub food (with English-styled staples like bangers and mash) and offering 10 or 12 taps of well-curated brews, many local. It’s become a preferred non-brewery stop when we visit Redmond, in part because they have a fantastic, mind-blowing dessert that’s a must-try (stop in and ask for the “Chocolate Pig.” You won’t be sorry) and of course, great beer.
Jersey Boys Pizzeria is not a place I’ve visited in person yet, but they have perhaps the most taps in all of Central Oregon—50! Six of those taps are devoted to non-alcoholic sodas and kombuchas, but that sill leaves 44 taps for beers and ciders, and when you look their beer list, it’s clear they are aiming to have the best draft selection in the region. (Yes, this even despite the macro/industrial beer selections—Redmond is getting there, but there are still plenty of Coors Light and Bud Light drinkers in this part of the state.)
The Lifeline Taphouse is not far behind, offering up a selection of 30 beers and ciders on tap and overall it’s a well thought-out selection, complemented by standard pub fare (burgers, sandwiches, wings, and so on). We’ve visited once so far, this past fall, and I enjoyed my first pint of Deschutes’ Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA of the season at that time. (Lunch was so-so, and we haven’t had a chance to get back.)
And I’m quite sure other restaurants and bars in town are serving up good beer as well, but I don’t have much data on those (yet).
So what’s behind the strong uptick in the Redmond beer scene? In part, simply because the time is right. But also, as I wrote earlier this month for The Session:
And it’s also the business climate in Redmond—the city is actively building jobs and the local economy, and is definitely welcoming breweries and willing to work with them to bring their business to town. Why not Bend? Well, there’s a bit of an open secret that no one is really talking about here: sewer capacity—specifically, the lack of it. Basically, Bend’s sewer system, particularly in the downtown core area, is at its limit, and simply cannot handle another large-ish brewery. (I’ve heard that GoodLife Brewing on the westside was the last one of its size (30 barrels) to squeak in anywhere close to downtown.) So Redmond is more than happy to court any new breweries looking to open up in Central Oregon that simply cannot open in Bend.
So Redmond is one the rise, beerily speaking, actively looking to draw in brewery business and offering a solid foundation of existing breweries that are largely in growth mode. [The City has] been revitalizing the downtown core, giving it a much-needed facelift and drawing in more of the tourist traffic that was passing on through even just a few years ago. And there’s a strong community of homebrewers and enthusiasts experimenting and spreading the word.
Redmond is the city to keep an eye on for beer in the coming months and years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of breweries grow from the current four to six or even seven within the next year or two. And there’s a whole other segment I haven’t even tapped into to talk about: agriculture. Redmond was founded as an agricultural community, and that continues today as well. There are a growing number of hop farms being established in the region, for example, and I would not be surprised to see a lot of that type of beer-related agriculture and more centering on or near the city. But that’s a topic for another post.
Time to visit Redmond—it’s a quick and easy drive from Bend and there’s enough beer to make a day (or several) of it. And if you do, here’s a list of the beer-drenched locations I’ve been writing about:
- Cascade Lakes Brewing, the Brewery: 2141 SW First Street, 541-923-3110, tours by appointment
- Cascade Lakes, 7th Street Brew House: 855 SW 7th Street, 541-923-1795
- Smith Rock Brewing: 546 NW 7th Street, 541-279-7005
- Juniper Brewing: 1950 SW Badger Ave., Suite 103, 541-548-2739
- Wild Ride Brewing: 332 SW 5th Street, 541-516-8544
- Fin & Fire: 1604 S Hwy 97 #12, 541-548-1503
- Lucky’s Growlers: 2392 S Hwy 97, 541-548-1503
- Beer Dawgs: 2498 S Hwy 97, 541-693-4161
- Redmond Craft Brewing Supply: 235 SW 6th Street, 541-504-4229
- The Pig and Pound: 427 SW 8th Street, 541-526-1697
- Jersey Boys Pizzeria: 527 NW Elm Ave., 541-548-5232
- Lifeline Taphouse: 46 NW 6th Street, 541-526-1401
Here’s the news in Oregon brews for Thursday, the 19th of March. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day, so check back often. If you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that posted as well.
McMenamins Kennedy School (Portland) has a limited-edition beer tasting today starting at 5pm, featuring T-1000 Vienna Lager. Paging Arnold Schwarzenegger. “This beer starts with a moderate malty presence and ends with a smooth, hop bitterness in the finish. A clean lager base makes it a crisp, easy drinker for warm spring days. You’ll be back!” It’s 5.55% abv and I kind of wish it was a bock just to play with that tagline…
Belmont Station (Portland) tonight has Hood River’s Full Sail Brewing in the house for a tasting from 5 to 7pm: “Full Sail has been brewing up great beer since 1987! Their new rep, Heath Heiberg, will be here to pour samples of several of their delicious beers. Reacquaint yourself, or find a new favorite!”
Continue reading “Oregon Beer News, 03/19/2015” »