Oregon Beer News, 05/18/2016

Oregon BeerHere is the news in Oregon beer for this sunny Wednesday, May 18. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news, so check back often for updates. And if you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that updated as well.

McMenamins Kennedy School (Portland) is hosting the Oregon Brewshed® Brewfest today from 5:30 to 9:30pm: “See the forest for the beer… The Oregon Brewshed® Brewfest is a celebration of fantastic Oregon craft beer and the wild watersheds that make it possible, featuring the breweries and other businesses committed to watershed protection through their partnership in the Oregon Brewshed Alliance. Hosted by Brewshed® Partner McMenamins Pubs, Breweries & Historic Hotels at the Kennedy School, up to 20 local Oregon breweries will be pouring a special beer of their choosing for craft beer lovers to try. Your ticket gets you 10 tastes, a special tasting glass, a Brewshed® Brewfest Passport, one raffle ticket and entry. Additional tastes and raffle tickets will be available for $1 each. McMenamins pub fare will be available for purchase. $25 per ticket online ($20 in advance with special promo code THINKWILD16). Tickets will be sold for $30 at the door by cash or card.” It’s for a good cause and it’s always great to see McMenamins hosting other breweries for these types of events.

Over in the Columbia River Gorge and the town of Cascade Locks, Thunder Island Brewing is helping to co-host a “Green Drinks season” event starting at 6pm: “Join us in Cascade Locks to kick off the 2016 Green Drinks season! Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Thunder Island Brewing Company, and Port of Cascade Locks are teaming up with Gorge Owned and Gorge Current to help you plan your summer’s hiking and biking adventures. Learn about the Trails to Ales outings, Gorge Towns to Trails, public transportation options to trailheads and network with other outdoor enthusiasts while you sample local beer and cuisine.”

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Tuesday Tastings: Cousin Eddie’s RV, Stumptown Tart, Salted Caramel Brownie

This week I’ve got a few holiday season or limited-release throwback reviews for Tuesday Tastings—and interestingly enough, two of these three are brown ales, which you don’t find too often these days. Let’s get to it.

Fish Brewing Cousin Eddie’s RV Imperial Brown

Fish Brewing Cousin Eddie's RVOlympia, Washington’s Fish Brewing has been dabbling in licensed-movie themed beers of late; you may remember they had a line of “The Hobbit” beers, and this particular one, Cousin Eddie’s RV, is from their National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation series. It was 7.5% alcohol by volume and fortunately RateBeer has the description:

A warming Imperial Brown Ale loaded with complex malt flavors and balanced to style with subtle hop additions rounding out the brew. Sure to convince Cousin Eddie that this is better than Ellen’s eggnog.

Appearance: Clear brown color with amber highlights. Ample tan head that’s finely bubbled.

Smell: Nutty malts with a hint of roast. A bit of bread and some sweetness that’s maltose/grainy rather than caramel or sugar.

Taste: Pretty classic brown ale, malty and rich, little to no hops, and maybe a touch of alcohol heat. Gets a bit roastier as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium- to medium-full bodied, with a somewhat dry finish.

Overall: Nice brown, not particularly “Imperial” but competently brewed.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

BridgePort Brewing Stumptown Tart with Marionberries

BridgePort Stumptown Tart with MarionberriesThis was BridgePort’s second Stumptown Tart release for 2015, in their annual tart Belgian-styled ale with fruit series that’s been released every year for some time now. This version was brewed with Oregon marionberries and was 7.7% alcohol by volume. Untappd has the description for this version:

This limited edition Belgian Style Ale is brewed with juicy Marionberries from Marion County, Oregon, where they were first grown, and stands up to its name with a tart, earthy flavor and a trace of sweetness.

Appearance: Reddish color, light berry juice; very minimal head that disappeared quickly.

Smell: Tart berry, sweet with a lactic acid note (crushed aspirin). Hint of bubblegum. Does remind me of fresh tart blackberries.

Taste: Earthy profile reminding me of a strong Belgian golden, with stone fruit, grainy sweetness but really not tart to me. Sticks with that Belgian strong profile as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a bit of an earthy finish.

Overall: Drinks fine, but I would like to taste more fruit.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer (they don’t have the Marionberry version)

New Belgium Brewing Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale

New Belgium Salted Caramel BrownieNew Belgium teamed up with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to produce this collaboration beer late in 2015, and they came up with a brown ale for the base of this concept beer—a good idea, because a good brown could complement this idea of ice cream well. It was 6.25% abv and they say:

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream beer. Our newest collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s brings together two different types of pint-makers for one common goal: To help Protect Our Winters combat climate change. When two foodie B Corps join forces for good, delicious ideas are created. Our Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale scoops the lip-smacking fun of dessert from a bowl right into your pint glass. Brewed with specialty ingredients and a healthy sweet tooth, this beer’s rich chocolaty, salted-caramel, vanilla goodness is worth savoring to the last drop. Reward yourself, and dig in!

Appearance: Deep brown color with ruby highlights. Creamy, fine light tan-colored head with nice legs.

Smell: Chocolate malts, coffee roastiness, a touch of brown sugar and molasses. Bittersweet dark chocolate. Pretty straightforward, brown ale profile.

Taste: Really quite nice brown ale, and while I get hints of cocoa, it’s not the “salted caramel brownie” experience you would expect. Malty, a touch of umami, a touch of roast, coffee sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, well attenuated, finishes with a hint a roasty sweetness.

Overall: A good brown which is rare, but not ice cream-y.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Oregon Beer News, 05/17/2016

Oregon BeerIt’s Voting Day here in Oregon—did you get your ballots turned in? Here’s the Oregon beer news for this Tuesday, May 17. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day, so check back often for the latest news. If you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that updated as well.

BridgePort Brewing (Portland) announced a new year-round beer added to their lineup—BridgePort Cream Ale. Suprisingly, it’s their first of the style. From the press release: “Our brewers started off with Great Western 2-row Pale Ale malt and then added generous amounts of malted wheat and flaked oats, yielding a pale gold brew. Cream Ale comes in at a sessionable 4.8% alcohol by volume, low bitterness, and finishes with slightly sweet fruit notes and a creamy mouthfeel from the added specialty malt, Carafoam. BridgePort Brewing released Cream Ale in February as a test brew, available exclusively at the Portland-based BrewPub and select locations in Oregon. The local response was extremely positive and now, BridgePort’s Cream Ale will be available in 6-packs, 22 oz. bottles and on draft where BridgePort Brewing is sold.”

Cascade Brewing (Portland): Tonight’s Tap It Tuesday at the Barrel House at 6pm is featuring Bump N’ Rind: “our first watermelon sour beer, spearheaded by brewer Mike Mathis. This sour wheat was aged for 18 months in oak with more than 100 pounds of watermelon added in the last month. Bright watermelon character dominates the nose and palate with a light oak flavor on the finish. You know we don’t see nothing wrong with a little Bump N’ Rind. 6.8%”

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Oregon Beer News, 05/16/2016

Oregon BeerHappy Monday—today is the first day of American Craft Beer Week, the nationwide celebration organized by the Brewers Association. Keep an eye out for ACBW specials from your favorites breweries. Here’s the news in Oregon beer as well for this May 16; 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.

Hillsboro’s Vertigo Brewing is celebrating ACBW all this week: “Everyday we are going to have a $10.00 growler fill special. Each day we will have a different beer on special. To launch we are starting with our Friar Gone Wild Imperial IPA. That’s right 64 oz of our 9.5% ABV beer for only ten bucks.” View that full post to see the week’s lineup of specials.

Crux Fermentation Project (Bend): Tonight’s weekly BEER’ducation Series tasting pits their Park & Play IPA up against Sugar Daddy Strong Pale. Park & Play is billed as a “lower alcohol IPA” with Mosaic, Citra, and Centennial hops, whereas Sugar Daddy is stronger by a percentage point tipping towards the sweet side of the palate (with Citra hops). If you’re interesting in checking them out, be there between 4 and 9pm tonight.

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Widmer Hefeweizen at 30

Today in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Widmer Brothers Brewing threw a big party for their flagship beer which turns 30 this year: Widmer Hefeweizen. The City also declared May 15 “Hefe Day” to commemorate the occasion, and this year for the first time Widmer released Hefe in cans (for which they sent me a couple along with an insulated stainless steel koozie sleeve).

Received: Cans of Widmer Hefeweizen

30 years! That’s a phenomenal stretch for a beer movement that’s barely older than that especially in light of today’s fickle and short attention span tastes. Jeff “The Beer Bible” Alworth has a terrific post about Hefe, as well as a great oral history, and over the years I’ve written about the beer myself—how it was my own “gateway” beer to craft (or micros, or whatever you want to call them way back when), and I believe I first reviewed it way back in 2006. And that particular review came from a Widmer Hefe press kit the brewery sent me—one of the first such packages I’d ever received as a blogger.

First Widmer press kit package

Yes, I am a fan, and will continue to be. So while I’m not sure I have much more to contribute on the tasting front for Hefe, I figured what I would do is put this vacuum-insulated steel koozie to the test: how well does it keep your canned beer cold?

Wider Hefeweizen at 30, snug in a koozie

Here was my methodology: both cans were stored in the same refrigerator at the same constant temperature. Because I was testing how well the insulator worked, this necessitate drinking both beers from the can—not optimal, but at least provides the apples-to-apples comparison I needed. The rest was simple: open the can, take the initial temperature, drink over the course of a half hour or more and record the temperature every 10 minutes to assess the change. Simple!

Here are the results:

Can with no sleeve:

  • Temp @ opening: 42°F
  • Temp @ 10 min: 45°F
  • Temp @ 20 min: 49°F
  • Temp @ 30 min: 53°F

Net change: 11 degrees.

Can with insulating sleeve:

  • Temp @ opening: 43°F
  • Temp @ 10 min: 43°F
  • Temp @ 20 min: 44°F
  • Temp @ 30 min: 46°F

Net change: 3 degrees. Definitely an improvement, and the beer was noticeably colder, longer.

In general I prefer to pour beer into a glass, but this insulated koozie performs as advertised, so if there are situations where I would be drinking straight from the can much of the time—camping, for instance—then this fills a slot nicely.

Cans and koozies aside, I can’t help but be impressed with the longevity of Hefeweizen, and yes, it still tastes good to me today. Cheers to 30, Widmer!