The Session #88: Traditional Beer Mixes

The SessionThe first Friday of the month means it’s time again for beer bloggers to participate in The Session, a monthly group exercise where everyone writes about a common theme or topic. This month our theme comes from Boak and Bailey who provide us a most interesting suggestion: Traditional Beer Mixes.

The topic we’ve chosen is traditional beer mixes.

In his 1976 book Beer and Skittles early beer writer Richard Boston lists several:

  • Lightplater – bitter and light ale.
  • Mother-in-law — old and bitter.
  • Granny — old and mild.
  • Boilermaker — brown and mild.
  • Blacksmith –stout and barley wine.
  • Half-and-half – bitter and stout, or bitter and mild.

We’d like you to drink one or more from that list and write about it on Friday 6 June… and that’s it.

We’re deliberately aiming for something broad and accessible, but there is one rule — no ‘beer cocktails’! It’s been done, for starters. So, mix two beers, not four; and steer clear of syrups, spirits, flavourings and crushed ice.

I don’t even have anything pithy or topical to write; I’m familiar with beer mixes—the simplest being the Black and Tan, of course—but frankly it’s not something I’ve bothered with much. I remember once at Kelly’s Olympian in Portland many, many years ago I had a variation of the B&T featuring Guinness and Pyramid Apricot Ale which wasn’t bad at all.

Kentucky Cooper - mix of Kentucky Kolsch and Coopers Best StoutSo I looked at what I had on hand, and decided to mix up equal parts of Kentucky Kölsch (from Alltech’s Lexington Brewing) and Coopers Best Extra Stout. Each beer is a good beer on its own, but mixing the two I decided to dub the result a Kentucky Cooper. Here are my notes about it:

Light bodied, sparkling dry roast that’s pretty much exactly what I’d expect such a blend to yield. It’s easy to drink and feels almost sessionable. Actually, the more I drink and think about it, it reminds me of a Schwarzbier, light, roasty and super drinkable. Not quite the actual lager experience of course—there’s too much “ale” here with the ale characteristics to go full Schwarz. This is definitely something one could drink as a session black ale.

I definitely enjoyed the experiment and the drink. The only problem really was, since it wasn’t a mix I could make on tap… I ended up drinking two beers. Not the worst problem in the world!

Review: 4 beers from Portland Brewing

I haven’t done many beer reviews of late, partially because of the book and partially because I’ve simply fallen behind and haven’t written as many straight-up reviews as I used to. So, I’m killing four birds with one stone here, offering up my notes on the beers that come in the Portland Brewing four-pack (and which they had sent to me awhile back). Two of these are year-round, and two are seasonals (I believe I’ve still seen the four-pack box on shelves too).

Portland Brewing IPAIPA: 6.5% abv, 70 IBUs. They write:

With a darker golden color and some of the most popular citrusy IPA hops as well as Sterling for a bit of spiciness in the finish, our IPA is hoppy like a Northwest IPA should be. Five different hops and a soft malt backing make for one great, easy-drinking ale.

Appearance: Amber-orange, with a creamy dense  head.

Smell: Nice American hop aroma profile, bright, with biscuity malt notes. Earthy bittering hops come out at the back.

Taste: Malty caramel notes, earthy bitterness up front that lingers on the tongue. A touch of roast balances well with the hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a dry, bitter, lingering finish.

Overall: Nice IPA, malty and drinkable in the “old” Pacific Northwest style. (Is there such a thing as the “old” Pacific Northwest style? Discuss.)

MacTarnahan's Amber AleMacTarnahan’s Amber Ale: 5.1% abv, 32 IBUs. Their flagship beer and best-known brand. They write:

MacTarnahan’s is a deep copper-hued Amber Ale dry-hopped with Cascade hops from the great Northwest. That’s what gives Mac’s its crisp, complex flavor. One taste of our Mac’s Amber Ale and you’ll experience the tradition of a true Portland original. It’s damn good beer.

Appearance: Two fingers of off-white or light tan head over a clear amber body, a bit lighter than brown bottle glass. It looks great.

Smell: Nice subtle hop spiciness punctuates a caramel brown malt base. Mellow and well-balanced. A touch of catty hops?

Taste: Bracing, spicy play of hops over a very clean malt backbone that speaks more to bready, roasty malts than crystal. Dry and clean. A hint of sweeter malts at the back.

Mouthfeel: A bit light of medium-bodied, very clean finish.

Overall: A nice beer with a pleasant hop kick, very drinkable, though perhaps I might say it’s a bit too polished? (Perhaps don’t filter it so much?)

BlackWatch Cream PorterBlackWatch Cream Porter: 5.3% abv, 27 IBUs. Seasonal. They write:

BlackWatch is an honorably smooth Cream Porter brewed with an infantry of malts to battle subpar porters.

“Honorably smooth”? Hmm.

Appearance: Pours dark brown to opaque in the glass, with a nice pile of whipped tan  head.

Smell: Dusty dark grains with a bit of coffee—like a sweet iced coffee. Nice mellow roastiness, nothing too big; clean.

Taste: Sweetly malty with a light body that leads to the iced coffee impression I get in the nose. Touch of roast, hint of astringency off of that. Creamy body and mellow, with a sweetish aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: A bit light of medium-bodied, creamy-clean finish.

Overall: Nice drinker, well brewed if a little tame.

Royal Anne Cherry StoutRoyal Anne Cherry Stout: 7.8% abv, 50 IBUs. A limited release but one that I see pop up from time to time. They write:

An underlying sweetness from the addition of Oregon-grown cherries, including the Royal Anne variety, balances the roasty notes of chocolate and coffee in this deep, dark stout.

Appearance: Opaque near-black color with ruby cola highlights, and two fingers of mocha head.

Smell: Creamy fruit notes over a mellow dark roast body. Cherry pits. Some more roast/black patent as it warms.

Taste: Nice representation of a sweet stout, roasty with a slightly creamy sweetness happening (yes, I just turned “sweetness” into a verb); some stone fruit but not nearly as pronounced as you’d expect. A bit more tart cherry comes through at the back, a touch tannic and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a lighter presence. Starts sweet and finishes dry and roasty.

Overall: Nice stout, though I’d like more cherry in it.

The Portland Fruit Beer Festival is this weekend

Portland Fruit Beer FestThis Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8, the Portland Fruit Beer Festival is again taking place in the parking lot of Burnside Brewing, and is featuring an amazing taplist of fruit beers of all stripes. You can buy tickets in advance here, and this year they’ve also added a Friday VIP session from 4 to 9pm (though sadly tickets for that are already sold out). Here’s the pricing breakdown:

General Admission includes a 16oz branded glassware and 12 drink tickets, each ticket good for 3oz of beer with some exceptions on more expensive beers costing 2-3. 4 drink tickets for a full 16oz fill on 1 ticket beers.

In addition to the main lineup, there’s a special rotating taplist of rare fruit beers that will be variously available as well:

  • 10 Barrel: Cucumber Crush – Cucumber Berliner-Weisse created for the 2013 Fruit Beer Fest. Gold Medal Winner at the 2014 World Beer Cup.
  • Breakside: Brett Rouge
  • Breakside: Beaujolais avec Brett – Strong sour ale fermented with wild yeasts and Oregon­ grown Gamay grapes.
  • Breakside: Apollo & Dionysus – Cellar Reserve Beer; Not Usually Available to the Public. Gin Barrel-Aged Sour Saison w Sichuan Peppercorn
  • Burnside Brewing: Coconut/Lime Kolsch – Lime Kolsch blended with Thai Coconut water
  • Burnside Brewing: Cartel Michelada – Cartel Vienna Lager blended with salt, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, secret ingredient and black pepper (Tapping 11am Saturday 6/7)
  • Burnside Brewing: 2012 Red Light District – Imperial Stout with Belgian Chocolate, Strawberries and aged in local Rum barrels.
  • De Garde: Blueberry Bu Weisse (Tapping 4pm Friday VIP session)
  • De Garde: Blackberry Bu Weisse
  • Deschutes: Abbey Framboise – Raspberry infused belgian-style Abbey ale.
  • Double Mountain: Lyle Ryder – Bloody Mary/Red Beer! (Tapping 11am Sunday 6/8)
  • Elysian: Squeeze Box Berry Imperial IPA – 8.1% Abv Double IPA with 42lbs each of raspberry, boysenberry, and blackberry purée. (Tapping 4pm Friday VIP session)
  • Elysian: Yuzu Belgian-Style Golden – Belgian Golden with citrusy sweet Yuzu juice.
  • Flat Tail: Habanero Apricot Wild
  • Hopworks: Raspberry/Chocolate Army of Darkness – Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout with Organic Raspberries and Cacao
  • Hopworks: Raspberry Triple – Belgian-style Tripel with Raspberries added.
  • Lompoc: Cherry Christmas – Barrel-Aged winter ale with Cherries.
  • McMenamins: Pavol’s Bublanina – Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter Aged on Cherries (Edgefield Brewery) ABV: 7.61
  • New Belgium: Guava Nectarine La Folie – one-off single 5 gallon oak firkin.
  • New Belgium: Cascara Quad – An ale brewed with Date, Coffee and cherries added
  • New Belgium: Dieu Du Ciel – An ale brewed with Feijoa and Hibiscus
  • Oakshire: Hermanne 1882 – Belgian-style ale with Muller Thurgau grapes aged in Pinot Barrels with Brettanomyces.
  • Thai Me Up Brewing: Chchchchc-Cherry Bomb – Silver Medal Winner at 2012 GABF and 2014 World Beer Cup from Wyoming. (Tapping 4pm Friday VIP session)
  • Upright/Bushwhacker: Ebony & Ivory – Upright Brewing’s Gose infused with white truffles blended with a cider from Bushwhacker infused with black truffles. (Tapping 4pm Friday VIP session)

Cask/Pins:

  • Alameda: Blackberry Black Bear XX Stout – Award winning Export stout with Blackberries added in the cask.
  • Cider Riot: Hedgerow Fruits – Special for the fruit beer fest (a nod to one of Michael Jacksons favourite beer descriptors). It will be a dry cider made with blackcurrants and Italian plums. (Tapped at 3pm Saturday 6/7 by the brewer)

It’s going to be a fantastic fest and one I will attend someday (sadly, I have not yet made it to Portland when it takes place. Someday!). Pete Dunlop has a good writeup of why you should attend to help whet your whistle and convince any fence-sitters.

Portland. Burnside Brewing. Fruit Beer Fest. This weekend. Be there!

First look at Wild Ride Brewing

This past Saturday for their official opening, we headed over to Redmond, Oregon’s new Wild Ride Brewing Company to check out the scene and try some beers. They had nine of their first ten beers on tap, and a handsome brewery and tasting room that looks really good. No kitchen, but two food trucks were parked outside. Here’s a first look in pictures, and some notes.

Wild Ride Brewing, Redmond

That barreled-off area is their outdoor seating patio. Incidentally, they do allow minors.

Wild Ride Brewing

It is definitely a nice looking brewery, with a nice big space available to them since they took over the former Parr Lumber building.

Wild Ride

Wild Ride firepit

Cool custom-fabricated firepit on their patio, gas fired.

Wild Ride lit firepit

Wild Ride beer board

Wild Ride beers

Because it is all about the beers, of course. From left to right: Cole’s Trickle Lager, Big Booty Golden Ale, Whoopty Whoop Wheat, Fly.P.A., 3 Sisters Red Ale, Hopperhead IPA, Mount Up Maple Brown, and Stand Up and Shout Stout. I have to say, all of these beers are really well-brewed and excellent first-batch beers—not something you see every day from a brand-new brewery.

The Lager was really well done, super clean and drinkable, both IPAs were nice (I preferred the Hopperhead, which will be a big seller), that particular stout was brewed with coffee and vanilla and was on nitro. Good beers across the board.

Wild Ride label posters

Wild Ride tasting room

Wild Ride beer menu

Wild Ride beer menu

Wild Ride brewery

Wild Ride brewery

It’s a 20-barrel brewhouse, with 40-barrel fermenting tanks. There is a ton of room for expansion and brewer Paul Bergeman has made sure they can do so in a logical manner, and has tried to be as forward-thinking as possible when designing this brewery.

One of the things that impressed me is that they are pre-treating their wastewater from the start, before it even hits the Redmond sewer system.

Wild Ride barrels

Yes, those barrels are filled already, with stout and their Maple Brown.

Wild Ride kegs

Reclaimed wood

I like the reclaimed wood: this is on the wall fronting the restrooms, just outside of the tasting room.

Wild Ride Brewing

One last shot on our way out.

Overall, I was really impressed: well-planned and though-out brewery, plenty of space to expand into, solid, clean beers from the start, head brewer with the history and the chops to crank out good beers, great tasting room and plenty of parking. This is a great addition to the Central Oregon brewing scene, and it’s going to be a huge hit in Redmond in particular. I’ll enjoy visiting when I get the chance.

They are located at 332 SW 5th Street in downtown Redmond, right on the main drag going north once you get off the parkway.

Putting the news on hiatus as deadlines approach

A little while back I switched from blogging daily Oregon beer news posts to weekly in large part because of the book I’m writing. And now I’ve got about two months on the final deadline and I’m finding I need to scale back those posts again to focus on that project even more. I will of course continue to post stuff here—I couldn’t not even if I tried, I think—but the weekly/daily updates need to be dialed back. At least until sometime in July, then I will re-assess.