Gearing up for the Beer Bloggers Conference this weekend

Beer Bloggers Conference 2014The 2014 American Beer Bloggers Conference starts this week, taking place in San Diego, California, and I’m looking forward to attending! We (my wife and I) haven’t been able to attend since Portland in 2011 so I’m really looking forward to the Conference this weekend; they have a great agenda lined up and one thing I will be interested in seeing is how the Conference has progressed and matured since Portland (which was only in its second year at that time).

Here’s that agenda:

Friday, August 22, 2014

  • 12:00 PM - Registration & Opening Lunch hosted by Reyes Beverage Group
  • 1:30 PM - Trade Show
  • 3:00 PM - Conference Opening
  • 3:10 PM - Introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association
  • 3:40 PM - Panel of San Diego Craft Brewers
  • 4:50 PM - Working Together: Bloggers and Beer Brands
  • 6:00 PM - Depart hotel for Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  • 9:00 PM - Evening Party with Lagunitas Brewing Company

Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • 9:30 AM - Breakout Sessions
    • Beer Blog Photography presented by Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine
    • Supercharging your Blogging with WordPress.com
  • 10:40 AM - Breakout Sessions
    • Beer Blog Videography presented by Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine
    • Free Beer and Other Quandaries for Beer Writing Ethics
  • 11:45 PM - Depart for lunch at Yard House (return 1:45 PM)
  • 2:00 PM - Keynote Speech – Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada
  • 2:50 PM - Advanced Social Media Strategies for Bloggers
  • 3:45 PM - Live Beer Blogging
  • 5:00 PM - Depart hotel for Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens (Liberty Station)
  • 8:00 PM - Beer Social – integrate all forms of social media with beer tasting (back at hotel)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • 9:30 AM - Blogger Reports – Five-Minute Reports from Eight Bloggers
  • 10:20 AM - Marketing in the Beer Industry
  • 11:25 AM - Cooperative Blogging Panel
  • 12:20 PM - Wrap-up
  • 12:30 PM - Conference Finish

There is also a Thursday pre-Conference excursion that starts at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles (which we’ll miss), and they have added a Bottle Share event Saturday evening after the Beer Social (which should end by 11pm, at which point the Bottle Share will start).

There will be a lot of beer flowing, of course—it is the Beer Bloggers Conference after all—but there are also some really good and interesting sessions, particularly (for me) the WordPress and Ethics ones.

So, expect this blog, along with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Untappd, and more I’m sure, to be taken over by the BBC for the weekend. We should be reporting on some great topics, not to mention drinking great beers!

Bend Brewfest: Beers to try

This year’s Bend Brewfest has at least 63 breweries pouring beers (starting tomorrow!), with each brewery (and cidery) bringing at least two beers and ciders, and a number of them also bringing a specialty beer for the X-Tap. The posted beer list looks pretty great this year, and as I’ve done for other brewfests, I’m putting together a list of “must-try” beers for this year’s Bend Brewfest. This will actually consist of two lists: a general guide for folks who may not know what to taste first, and my own list of must-trys. I’m not counting the X-Tap beers because their schedule may well preclude when you can attend.

Incidentally, I count three pumpkin ales at this year’s Brewfest—three! Never mind it’s still August, I’m going to have to get them anyway.

General Guide My Picks
*Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cream AleThis is a great cream ale and perfect summer beer
*Atlas Blackberry CiderA favorite that both beer and cider fans will enjoy
*Bend Brewing Ludwig German PilsnerGreat example of the style and perfect for summer drinking
*Burnside Brewing Lime KolschA hidden gem, refreshing, super drinkable with the perfect amount of lime
*Crux Outcast IPAA good example of the style
*Deluxe Brewing ResurrectionPre-Prohibition-style Pilsner, with a nice corn character
*Deschutes Foray Belgian IPAThis Belgian-styled IPA is eye-opening with a terrific herbal hop flavor
*GoodLife Sweet AsOne of the local favorites, you’ll want to see what the fuss is about
*Klamath Basin Backroad Vanilla PorterA slightly sweet porter than should satisfy cravings for dark beer
*Payette Brewing Outlaw IPAA nice American-style IPA from Idaho
*Sunriver Brewing Fuzztail HefeweizenDelicious cloudy hefe (as it should be)
*The Dudes’ Grandma’s Pecan BrownI’ve heard good things about this, and brown ales are tough to get right
*Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Double Latte Coffee Milk StoutA delicious stout that hits all the right marks
*The Commons Urban Farmhouse AleSimply a great example of a Saison
*10 Barrel Cider WeisseThis is a blend of their Berliner weisse with cider, of which I’ve had a taste but I want to revisit
*Ashtown Chardonnay Barrel Aged Blonde AleI haven’t had any Ashtown beers yet and this sounds intriguing
*Burnside Brewing Couch LagerI’m intrigued both by the name and the fact that it’s a lager (we don’t see enough lagers!)
*Burnside Brewing Lime KolschI simply really, really like this beer
*Columbia River Burtonian IPACurious to see if it’s a true Burton-styled beer, which should be almost sulfury with minerals
*Double Mountain Cluster Single Hop IPAVariously known as Clusterf#ck – brewed entirely with one of the older American hop varieties
*Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin AleYes, the first taste of the season of one of the best pumpkin beers out there
*Flat Tail Little GreenThis is a great blend of a “session” IPA and a saison that has no business working as well as it does. Probably my favorite Flat Tail beer
*Juniper Brewing Sippin’ Sauce SaisonI’m pretty curious about this beer from one of Redmond’s newest
*Laurelwood Berliner WeisseAt 3.4% abv, in the true fashion
*North Rim Pumpkin AleA pumpkin ale from Bend’s newest brewery! Of course I have to try it!
*Reverend Nat’s Traditional TepacheA cider-like drink made entirely from pineapple, I’ve been dying to try this since I first read about it

Hopefully this should give you at least a starting point. Enjoy!

Bend Brewfest 2014 – this week!

Bend BrewfestCentral Oregon’s largest beer festival, the Bend Brewfest, returns this week for three full days: Thursday through Saturday, the 14th through 16th. It runs from noon to 11pm each day (the first year it does that—previous years the first day started at 3pm or so), and takes place as always at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

Admission is free, though to drink beer you’ll need to buy the (one-time) mug and five tokens for $15 (which can be reused each day). Tasting tokens are worth $1 apiece and you can more in blocks of 5. They follow standard brewfest pricing: 1 token gets you 1 four-ounce sample, and you can fill your mug for 4 tokens.

Kids are welcome until 7pm each night (from 7 to 11 the fest is 21-and-over only), though parents will need to sign a waiver for them to get in. Dogs are welcome as well, and owners will need to sign a similar waiver for them.

The beer list looks pretty fantastic this year, with 63 breweries and cideries pouring at least two beers each—and some have additional beer pouring on the X-Tap. The X-Tap is located in the Brewtality Tent this year, and in addition to the specialty pours they will also have breweries (or reps) on hand to talk about the particular beer being served.

I’m going to write up a post of must-try beers, both my own personal list and more general recommendations, and if you’re interested in more of a “how-to” with some general brewfest tips, I wrote up a blog post for the Old Mill website on just that subject. Hopefully it’ll help save any beerfest-related headaches—real or otherwise! (Disclosure: I received two mug packages for the Brewfest for writing the guest post for the Old Mill blog.)

Crux Fermentation Project: Half Hitch and Better Off Red

Bend’s Crux Fermentation Project has sent me several beers, several of which have been put away for later consumption (Tough Love, Freakcake), a couple of which I have drank and enjoyed and written up notes for. Crux is one of my favorite Bend breweries right now, though sadly I don’t visit nearly as often as I’d like. (I was there this past Saturday, and enjoyed both the Parkway Pilsner and the French Connection Imperial IPA.)

They have taken to bottling a select few of their beers in 375ml bottles, some capped, some corked and wax-dipped. Of these two I’m reviewing, the Half Hitch was merely capped while the Better Off Red was corked, capped, and wax-dipped, which is how they treat the “[Banished]” series of beers they bottle. (The Banished beers are specially barrel-aged, in which case they are “banished” to an out-of-the-way spot in the brewery to age.

Half Hitch Imperial Mosaic IPA

Crux Fermentation Project Half Hitch Imperial Mosaic IPAThis beer is 10% alcohol by volume, with 80 IBUs. Crux’s description says:

Medium bodied with intense hop flavor and aroma. Complimented by fruity, floral, and citrus American Mosaic Hops. The intention of this beer is to exhibit the fresh and bright character of Mosaic hop.

Appearance: Golden honey-orange in color with an impressive pile of lacy fluffy head.

Smell: Fruity and catty, lots of guava and mango, perhaps green apple as well. Also notes of what I call sweet hop “syrup” that I often find in high alcohol Imperial IPAs—which I’m sure is the interplay between the hops and the alcohol itself.

Taste: Syrupy-sweet bitterness, with a big alcohol sweet characters as well, which takes the beer almost to cloying. Has that “hop burn” with a little bit of fruit at the end, but it’s not as flavorful as the fruitiness of the nose suggests. Perhaps more barleywine in character?

Mouthfeel: Thick and full-bodied with a bitter wash over the tongue; finished sticky and cloying.

Overall: Not bad at all, but maybe too big and doesn’t have that big (non-bitter) hop flavor that I would expect. I think more of a barleywine here as I noted in tasting notes, similar to how Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA comes off to me (which to my estimation is also a barleywine).

Untappd. BeerAdvocate: 92/100. RateBeer: 3.64/5, 97th overall percentile.

Better Off Red Flanders-style Red Ale (“Banished” barrel-aged series)

Crux Fermentation Project [Banished] Better Off RedThis beer is 7% alcohol by volume and only 18 IBUs. The “Banished” version spent time in barrels. Their description of the regular version is this:

Crux’s interpretation of a traditional Belgian-style red ale. Malty sweetness is enhanced by a slight acidity. Hints of spice and fruit entice with each sip. This beer is awesome and is the base recipe for our barrel aged sour ale that will release after 9 to 12 months of aging.

And here’s their notes on the barrel aging:

Flanders Reds may be called the Burgundies of Belgium, but we age our take on this complex, slightly tart style in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels for nearly a year. A fresh batch will present spicier notes while older versions pick up more oak and yield cherry flavors. So we blended them figuring we’re better off presenting this exotic mélange simultaneously.

Appearance: Clear amber bottle glass color with a tan head that was fizzy, but fell to a thin skein fed by tiny beads of bubbles.

Smell: Sour cherries, ascetic tartness, and a touch of Brettanomyces giving it a nice funk. There’s also a bit of sweet hard candy pairing with the cherries.

Taste: It took a few sips to get acclimated to this beer. It has a woody bitterness, like cherry pits, with a funky tart that was nail polish-y at first. It never quite loses that slight acetone note. Not too tart on the tongue, there’s a mellow ascetic acid character and maybe some fruitiness that backs that up, but really the Brett funk blends with that acetone to give it a bitter bite over a sweetly malty body.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium bodied, with a bite from what sour character there is present.

Overall: Interesting but if anything it’s probably not tart or funky enough for my taste when I think of Flanders Reds.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate: 3.72/5, only 8 ratings. RateBeer: 3.34/5, only 8 ratings also.

Happy #IPAday once again!

Today is IPA Day, the global toast and celebration to the staggeringly popular India Pale Ale style. It’s as much a social media movement as it is a celebration of beer, the purpose of which is “to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation.”

To that end, participating is easy: drink an IPA today, and “share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes and thoughts on IPA with the world. Be sure to tag your posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media platforms with the #IPAday hashtag.” That’s it.

As for myself, I may be drinking this monstrosity:

Quart can of Mission Brewery IPA

Yes, that is a quart—full 32 ounces!—of Mission Brewery IPA!

Or perhaps something else, I haven’t fully decided yet. But when I do, I’ll post it online—keep an eye out on Instagram, and/or Twitter, and/or Untappd to see what I drink!

Happy IPA Day—what will you be drinking?