We go international again for today’s Advent beer pick, visiting one of the great beer countries of the world: Belgium! The Brasserie Fantôme was founded in 1988 in Wallonia by Dany Prignon and focuses on Saisons, and accordingly has a variety of special seasonals offered up in small-batch 750ml cork-finished bottles. Befitting the season naturally today’s beer is their Spéciale Noël, a 10% abv dark spiced Saison. Here’s what Fantôme says of this beer (loosely translated):
Dark brown, very caramelized, roaty malts, and rather strong! (10% alcohol.) A beer for a cold winter, and perfect for gifting!
Here in the U.S. Shelton Brothers imports the Fantôme line, and has this to say about Spéciale De Noël:
A very dark and entirely unique holiday seasonal beer, at a whopping 10% alc. by volume. Reportedly spiced with honey, caramel, coriander, black pepper, and other secret ingredients.
Special Christmas, indeed!
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It’s the first Friday of December and the last first Friday of the year, and for beer bloggers it’s time for another round of The Session! This month’s Session is hosted by Steve Lamond of Beers I’ve Known, and for the topic he’s selected an open-ended one: Beery Yarns.
The nights are drawing in, there may even be snow, what better way to enjoy a beer than in front of a log fire. Turn that TV off and talk to your drinking compatriots. Maybe you’re just at home with some friends or maybe in a decent local boozer chatting to complete strangers. This month I’m going to give you plenty of scope for originality by setting a wide-open theme. I want to hear your beery tall tales, yarns, recollections (in a Grandpa Simpson stylee) or otherwise, delivered in the manner that you befits sitting around a log fire, favourite beer in hand. Only proviso is that it has to involve beer in some way, whether that be a particular beer jogging your memory of a previous event or beer taking a bigger role in the recollected tale. Its up to you. Interjections, corrections, addendums can all be contributed the assembled masses in your comments section.
Tonight the night has drawn in, and there is snow—inches of it, still coming down, and the temperature is in the single digits as Oregon is in the grip of this early-winter cold front—and it’s not hard to imagine that log fireplace roaring and crackling away. It’s on those cold, snowy nights around a fire that a snifter of something strong and warming would hit the spot nicely, and when I think of “yarns” in this context for some reason I think about homebrewing-gone-awry stories.
One immediately comes to mind, and I’ve written about it before but it’s been years so I thought I’d trot out that old story again. I’d first written about this way back in 2005—the exploding geyser of beer:
It was in Spokane, Washington, in the 90′s, and the beer was a fermenting batch of Toad Spit Stout (from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing). I had cooked up the batch of Toad Spit on a Saturday. It was destined to be a crazy batch: there was a bad boilover that coated a good portion of the stove surface and for some reason I stupidly didn’t get around to cleaning it up until the next day.
So the next morning, I’m in the kitchen, scrubbing away at the baked-on wort on the stovetop, and the Toad Spit is in the carboy bubbling away like crazy. I had fashioned a blowoff tube by attaching a regular 3/8-inch siphoning hose to the top of an airlock and thought all would be well (little did I know). While I was scrubbing, I heard a loud “POP!” and turned around in time to see the airlock-blowoff tube falling and dark brown liquid geysering out of the carboy! Literally a geyser; there was half-fermented beer on the walls, the shelves, the nine-foot ceiling. And the floor.
Let me tell you a little bit about this house we were renting: It was a crackerbox. Pretty much a dump, but it sufficed. For some reason, the entire kitchen area was carpeted—yes, carpeted with this scraggly, low blue scruff covering that of course was the perfect canvas for geysering stout. It took me hours just to do a decent preliminary cleanup, and days more getting the stickiness out of it. It was pretty bad.
All in all, I lost about half of the beer of a five-gallon batch. Obviously, what happened was the blowoff tube I devised got clogged with foam and gunk, and the pressure built up til it blew. The guys at the local homebrew shop said I was lucky: they’d known carboys to shatter under similar conditions.
As lucky as I was, I’ll never forget that site of dark brown proto-beer erupting out of the top of that carboy. It was pretty amazing!
Happy St. Nicholas Day! This Friday is shaping up to be a chill, snowy one in Oregon (there’s even snow on the coast!) so be sure to stay warm. Here’s the news in Oregon beer for Friday, December 6, and the weekend. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day, so check back often. And if you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that updated as well.
The Holiday Ale Festival continues in Portland this weekend downtown at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and on Sunday there is also an exclusive Sunday Beer Brunch from 11am to 1pm that still has tickets available for $65.
Three Creeks Brewing (Sisters): Tomorrow, Saturday the 7th, is their 3rd annual Rudolph’s Imperial Red Vertical Tasting taking place at 3pm. Featuring a barrel-aged version of 2010, as well as 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions, the tasting costs $25 and will also offer up appetizers to accompany the beers, each year paired with a specific dish. Call (541) 549-1963 for details and to sign up.
Continue reading “Oregon Beer News, 12/06/2013” »
For today’s Advent beer pick we come back out to the West Coast to find a brewery that hasn’t yet made an appearance on the Beer Advent Calendar until now: Gordon Biersch Brewing. With a focus on German-styled beers, Gordon Biersch was opened in 1988 in Palo Alto, California, and has since gone on to open a large number of brewery/restaurants all across the country.
Accordingly today’s pick is Gordon Biersch’s WinterBock, a malty 7.5% abv lager.
WinterBock is a strong, dark beer that was used by eleventh century Bavarian monks to help sustain themselves during winter fasts. These creamy bocks ensured that the monks would fast frequently. Gordon Biersch WinterBock is a classic dark double bock featuring 4 different types of malt: Munich malt, pilsner malt, dark roasted caramel malt, and black malt. This is a big beer with a lot of body, and is available seasonally from November through January.
Disregarding the, er, loose interpretation of Bock history, this is a hefty beer to help sustain you get through the chilly days of December, perhaps with a hot and hearty bowl of beef stew. Prost!
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Last Saturday we decided to check out a couple of the new breweries here in Bend with our friends Paul and Sandi: Bridge 99 at Wubba’s BBQ Shack (see my write-up here) and the newest, RiverBend Brewing. Since we started with lunch and beers at Wubba’s, we only opted in for the samplers at RiverBend so I don’t have an in-depth review, but at least some first impressions.
You can read initial details I’d posted here. Located in what was formerly Rivals Sports Bar, it still maintains the sports bar feel and atmosphere: lots of TVs with various games on, memorabilia all over, lots of space and sports fans. The brewery itself is located in a building directly across the parking lot (next to the driveway as you enter the lot) and they currently offer five beers on tap right now:
- Blonde Ale, 4.2% abv
- IPA, 6.56% abv
- Red, 5% abv
- Stout, 4.86% abv
- Imperial IPA, 8.6% abv
The IPA and Stout were the favorites, and tasted the most polished. And having five beers on tap already after having recently opened is impressive (the Imperial IPA in particular is very new, having gone on tap just before Thanksgiving).
We didn’t get any food but the menu looked like standard sports pub fare and it looked like a good happy hour as well—something to try at some point and get to know those beers better.
It will be interesting to watch how RiverBend develops, and see which beers settle in for the long haul and what else will appear on the 10 barrel brewing system. In the meantime, RiverBend is one to watch.