Oregon Beer News, 09/28/2015

Oregon BeerHappy post-Supermoon Monday! Here’s the news in Oregon beer to kick off our week, going into the first days of October in a few (already?). As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news as I find it, so check back often. And if you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that posted as well.

Deschutes Brewery (Bend): Today at their Bend Public House, Deschutes is holding their annual Jubelale celebration and poster signing from 5 to 8pm, with this year’s featured label artist Taylor Rose. She will be on hand signing (free!) Jubelale posters, which you should definitely want, and of course this year’s Jubelale is on tap. A pint of Jubel and a free signed poster? Yes please.

Fresh hop festivals aren’t over yet—this weekend, October 2 and 3, the 12 annual Portland Fresh Hop Fest is taking place at Oaks Amusement Park. There will be plenty of fresh hop beers to sample (though I don’t have a specific list of breweries), and admission is free—you’ll need to purchase a glass and tokens, of course, packages which range from $15 to $40 depending. Don’t miss out!

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Oregon Breweries bring home 19 GABF medals

Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival was going on this past week, culminating in the big awards ceremony yesterday for the competition portion of the festival, with 275 coveted medals awards among 242 breweries. The numbers were impressive this year (“Winners were chosen from 6,647 competition entries (20 percent more than in 2014) from 1,552 breweries hailing from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.”) and required the largest judging panel ever (242 judges).

It’s always fun to see the medal spread, with a lot of small breweries-you’ve-never-heard-of bringing home hardware, and of course every beer blogger/writer/media person loves to highlight the winner from their home state. I am no exception! The Oregon Brewers Guild issued the press release yesterday containing the list of winners and stats:

Oregon Breweries brought home 7 gold medals, 7 silver medals and 5 bronzes. The Portland Metro area brought back 7 medals, Central Oregon won 4 medals, the Willamette Valley won 3, Eastern Oregon and the Coast won 2 medals and Mt. Hood/The Gorge won one medal.

Brewery Medal Category Beer Name
10 Barrel Brewing Co.
American-Style Stout
10 Barrel Brewing Co.
German-Style Sour Ale
Cucumber Crush
Barley Brown’s Beer
American-Style Strong Pale Ale
Ratchet Strap IPA
Barley Brown’s Brewpub
American-Style Stout
Disorder Stout
Bend Brewing Co.
American-Style Dark Lager
Black Diamond
Bend Brewing Co.
German-Style Sour Ale
Block 15 Brewing
Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale
Turbulent Consequence, Peche
Fat Head’s Brewery
Rye Beer
Blitzkrieg Bock
Gigantic Brewing Co.
Old Ale or Strong Ale
Golden Valley Brewery & Pub
English-Style Summer Ale
Beaverton Blonde
Ground Breaker Brewing
Gluten-Free Beer
IPA No. 5
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
Imperial India Pale Ale
Eazy Duz It IIPA
Lompoc Brewing – The 5th Quadrant
American-Style Amber/Red Ale
Proletariat Red
Mazama Brewing Co.
American-Style Fruit Beer
Old Town Brewing Co.
English-Style India Pale Ale
Shanghai’d IPA
Pelican Pub & Brewery
Scotch Ale
MacPelican’s Wee Heavy Ale
pFriem Family Brewers
German-Style Pilsener
Rogue Ales
Specialty Beer
Hazelnut Brown Nectar
The Commons Brewery
Belgian- and French-Style Ale
Petite Classique

Big congratulations to all the Oregon winners! Time to seek out some of this beer!

Oregon Beer News, 09/25/2015

Oregon BeerHappy Friday! It’s a fresh hop kind of weekend and there’s plenty of stuff going on even with the GABF in full swing! Here’s the news for the weekend of the 25th; as usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news, so check back often. If you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that posted as well.

Astoria’s 14th annual Pacific Northwest Brew Cup kicks off today, running through the weekend, bringing a great Oktoberfest-vibe-y festival featuring over 40 breweries to the Astoria waterfront—the place to be if you’re on the coast this weekend! Free admission, $9 souvenir mug and $1 per tasting token to drink, it’s family friendly with food (of course), live music (naturally), and even growler fills. If you’re not drinking fresh hop beers somewhere, you should be here!

And Saturday sees two of the popular fresh hop festivals the predominate the season: the Hood River Hops Fest and the Sisters Fresh Hops Festival. The Hood River Fest is the biggest of the two (of them all, I believe), with at least 41 breweries pouring many fresh hop beers, but the Sisters fest is no slouch either, with 22 breweries representing. Both festivals run from noon to 8pm; check each site for respective details on cost and such. Fresh hops—the best time of the year! (Or at least one of the best times!)

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Oregon Beer News, 09/24/2015

Oregon BeerHere’s the Oregon beer news for Thursday, September 24. The Great American Beer Festival starts today, so with half the beer community in Denver it might be a bit slow, but we’ll soldier on! 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.

McMenamins on Broadway (Portland) has a special beer tasting tonight starting at 5pm, featuring School Daze Altbier. I don’t have further details on the beer, likely brewed at the Edgefield (or perhaps Kennedy School) but I do know the Alt is a tasty style (a favorite of mine).

The Bier Stein (Eugene) welcomes Eugene’s Claim 52 Brewing for a Belgian-style beer tasting and cheese flight event tonight starting at 5pm: “Eugene’s own Claim 52 has taken their brewing program on a ride through the Belgian beer-scape, and you can taste a handful of them at this event. In addition, our beer stewards have chosen four cheeses to pair with the flight of four beers, and will be offering bites of each cheese alongside the flight at an affordable price (check back for more details as the date closes in). We hope you will take the trip!” You can check out the beer list on the events page here.

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Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles

Golden Road Brewing

Over the Labor Day holiday weekend earlier this month we were in Burbank, California visiting family, and while it ostensibly wasn’t a beer trip, we always seem to find some time to slip in a visit to a new brewery or locale to sample the local brew. This time around we had a free couple of hours one afternoon so sought out the nearest brewery to my brother’s place, which turned out to be Golden Road Brewing, only three and a half or so miles away.

Yes, that Golden Road Brewing, of which the news broke today that giant Anheuser-Busch is in the process of buying. It was founded in 2011 by Tony Yanow and Meg Gill, with the idea to “bring fresh beer to the local market in the most sustainable way possible.” Even before today’s buyout news, that seems to have translated into growth and popularity, as over the past four years they exploded into the LA (and SoCal) beer scene (at least, from what I could tell from afar) and are on track to brew 45,000 barrels this year.

That size and growth becomes apparent when you drive up to the brewery—which takes up much of the block in an industrial area, next to railroad tracks. The first thing you see is the big blue warehouse, but that’s not where you go; a sign directs you down the block to the yellow building, also warehouse-like, fronted by a parking lot. However, this is valet parking; Golden Road is so popular that they had to enact a valet system to try to keep it manageable. Good luck parking on the road, if you can find a spot; after driving up and down the block a couple of times I elected to pay the $5 to park.

Golden Road Brewing blue warehouse

Golden Road Brewing valet parking

There is outdoor seating, shaded by Golden Road umbrellas, but we didn’t feel like sitting out in the heat of the day so elected to sit at the bar inside. It was moderately busy and filled up more during the visit. It’s all very casual, taking cues I suppose from the warehouse structure and ambiance, with the cavernous interior adorned simply with white walls and ceiling and vintage beer signs and breweriana. There are self-serve water stations dropped throughout.

Golden Road brewpub exterior

Golden Road brewpub interior

The bar, by contrast, had a polished, trendy, commercial vibe to it: shiny growlers are prominently on display; the board itself denotes the beers on tap largely through magnetic (I’m guessing) beer signs, generous with information about each beer; “Brewed 551 Feet Away,” proclaims text in orange script above the beers, “Inquire about brewery tours” and “Book your party here!” they offer. It works, and the bartenders fill glasses with beer from the many taps as well as cans (apparently some are only canned; another had blown on the tap and cans were all they had available).

Golden Road Brewing bar

I opted to try both of their available sampler flights: the Core Flight and the IPA Flight, containing four beers each.

Golden Road Brewing core flight

Here are my checkins and notes from Untappd for the Core Flight:

Golden Road Brewing IPA Flight

And for the IPA Flight:

  • Point the Way IPA: Already noted
  • The Works IPA: Nice! Pale yellow, nettles-y hops, prickly resin
  • Heal the Bay IPA: Earthy hops with a bit of those nettles
  • Wolf Among Weeds: Clean, newer tropical hops, a bit of strong San Diego character

We also picked up a growlette (half-growler) of Hudson Porter, an Imperial Rye Porter, and a regular growler of Citra Bend, a hoppy wheat, to take back to my brother’s place.

Not terribly hungry and looking for a full meal, we opted for a couple of appetizers: the fried avocado tacos and the baked mac ‘n cheese. Let me just say—they were both delicious. The mac ‘n cheese in particular—“Penne pasta with four cheese sauce topped with bacon and bread crumbs”—and it comes in a pretzel bread bowl. Both highly recommended.

Golden Road fried avocado tacos

Golden Road baked mac 'n cheese

We left happy with the visit, even having to pay for valet parking (you waver between, “Who pays for valet parking at a brewery?” with, “Man, $5 is so not worth the hassle of parking!”), and duly impressed with the size of the operation as we drove back out (remember, they take up much of that whole block).

I found the beers overall to be good and reasonably well-brewed; of the IPAs I believe I liked The Works the best of the bunch, and I was happy with both the Lager and Brown in the core group. Cans of Point the Way IPA are ubiquitous where we were, encountered everywhere from Costco to Ralph’s to BevMo in quantity.

Will those beers change with the Anheuser-Busch buyout? Will the brewpub, the food? Probably not, at least at first. I don’t really know how the LA beer scene will treat the buyout, if there will be a drop in business from angry fans, or if it will be business as usual. One thing that does seem to stand out to me, in retrospect, is the impression that Golden Road was well-positioned for some sort of move like this, from the fast-paced growth to the trendy, polished bar to the slick, generic-to-LA packaging. If selling was an end goal, then it paid off.

Golden Road Brewing... smart car?