Tuesday Tastings: Two Hearted Ale, Krampus, Silver City Oktoberfest

Another post of Tuesday Tastings for this second week of May, featuring an iconic IPA and a couple of out-of-season reviews.

Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale

Bell's Brewery Two Hearted AleIt probably doesn’t need to be said that Bell’s is one of the oldest and most-respected breweries in the United States, dating the first commercial sale of beer to 1985 (making them 30 years old this year). And of course a number of their beers are iconic even to those who have never tried them before—such as Two Hearted Ale, their signature year-round IPA. It’s not available in Oregon; I’d managed to score a six-pack when in California for last year’s Beer Bloggers Conference. No, I did not save a bottle since then to write about now—the last one was consumed in November.

I always think of Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” with this beer; I’d like to think that was the influence. Bell’s description:

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.

Through some twist of fate I seem to remember taking down notes about this beer but for the life of me I cannot find any. But—working from memory, and (un)reliable as that might be—I really enjoyed this beer and found it to be worthy of the praise I’ve seen others heap on it. Solidly bitter, with a nice dose of finishing hops, and just enough crystal malt in the body to balance it between crisp and thick. With all the talk these days of “West Coast IPA” and “Northwest IPA” and “English Style IPA” what occurred to me with this beer was, it’s a really nice blending of the East Coast/English-style India Pale Ale (in the malt body) with the floral, fruity hopping of the Northwest, without straying too far into either—which made me want to think of it as a “Midwest IPA.” (Because why not throw another IPA variant out there?)

It’s good; very good. If you have access to it, drink a lot of it.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Southern Tier Brewing Krampus

Southern Tier KrampusYes, a Christmas beer! I do rather enjoy the offerings from New York’s Southern Tier Brewing, and after featuring their Krampus in last year’s Advent Beer Calendar, I found a bottle of it locally so of course had to try it.

They bill it as an “Imperial Helles Lager” it’s 9% abv and part of their “Seasonal Imperial” and named after the mythical creature that accompanies St. Nicholas in some German culture traditions.

Brewed with the spirit of Krampus, the fanged, goat-horned bully that is, as European tradition suggests, the evil sidekick of St. Nicholas and enforcer of the list. While St. Nick delivers presents to the good boys and girls, Krampus is there to punish the naughty children. This Christmas season, enjoy a Krampus Imperial Helles Lager and decide whether you are naughty or nice. Finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days, it is the medley of rich, dark malts and aromatic hops that make this a diabolical brew, threatening to warm even the most frigid of hearts.

Appearance: Amber color with orange tints, fine off-white head with good lacing. Clear; the light shines nicely through it.

Smell: Herbal hops with notes of sage and pine, slightly boozy. Clean profile overall, befitting a lager.

Taste: Pine, resin, a wave of that sage-y hoppiness, nicely bitter over a big malt backbone. A warming booziness which lends to the overall bitterness. Interesting, it has more of an herbal presence than I would have guessed after cold conditioning for a month, but finishes cleanly bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with a piney but clean finish.

Overall: Big, almost spicy with hops, not as lager-y as expected because of that herbal presence but still an interesting beer.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Silver City Brewery Oktoberfest

Silver City OktoberfestAnd traveling even farther back in time from Christmas… Oktoberfest! Silver City dates to 1996 and is located in Washington; I picked this beer up while up in the state for last year’s Great Pumpkin Beer Fest. I do love the Oktoberfest style, so I always get a little excited when that time of year rolls around.

It’s 6.25%, though I can’t find any descriptions on the brewery’s own website, so I borrowed the one from RateBeer:

Silver City Oktoberfest is an authentic interpretation of this classic amber lager. Just a few sips of this luscious brew and you are transported to the great beer halls of Bavaria. You will enjoy the rich malty sweetness, and spicy hop character of this popular Silver City seasonal brew.

Appearance: Very clear golden orange, off-white head that’s fluffy and persists nicely.

Smell: Malty with rich notes of (I think) Munich malt and a touch of that steely, slightly roasty character that I like in the style. Touches of noble hops.

Taste: Malty and clean with a slight mineral-y profile. Pretty classic presentation of the style to me, sweet without being cloying, with a grassy hop that’s mellow and mild but balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and finishes nicely clean.

Overall: I like this, I found it to be a good version of the style.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Oregon Beer News, 05/12/2015

Oregon BeerHere’s the Oregon beer news for Tuesday, the 12th of May. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day, so check back often for the latest news. And if you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that posted as well.

McMenamins on Monroe (Corvallis) has a special beer release tonight from 5 to 9pm, featuring Dry Hop Wade’s: “This is a so called double IPA. First wort hopped with Chinook then Columbus for Bittering. Flavored with Chinook and finished with Columbus. Dry hopped with Centennial pellets in the fermenter. Then dry hopped in the keg with Mosaic. This is a beer for serious hop heads. Needless to say our Fearless Leader picked this beer style. Prost!
Malts: Premium Two-Row, Pilsner malt, Midnight Wheat, and Crystal 120L”

Terminal Gravity Brewing (Enterprise) has a new beer out, a Pre-Prohibition style Pilsner named Wallowa Lake Lager, that will be out for late spring and summer. From the press release: “The addition of corn to the malt bill actually provides for a unique flavor profile that mutually benefits an assertive, but not aggressive hop presence. Some have called this style of beer “Uniquely American”. Wallowa Lake Lager is a session-able beer, (4.75 ABV) perfect for a summer patio sit. At 37 IBU’s, Ultra and Crystal hops provide for an unexpected crisp bitterness. It’s named after one of Wallowa County’s most beautiful landmarks, Wallowa Lake. Available in Portland, Eugene, Bend and surrounding Oregon markets; Wallowa Lake Lager will be released in ½ bbl kegs. A release party is set for Thursday May 14th, 2015 at The White Owl Social Club from 5-8 PM.”

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Pictures and notes about Deschutes Brewery’s Street Pub

Deschutes Brewery’s new Street Pub is billed as the first “pop up pub” of its size (that they know of), a behemoth of a mobile bar that they will be touring across the country. As a reminder, here’s their quick recap description of it:

We’re shutting down the streets in cities across the United States this year with our newest traveling event called: Street Pub – Crafted for Community. We’re kicking off a soft opening in the home of brewery, right here in Bend! For the first time in it’s entirety, you’ll see the 400+ foot bar set up creating a pub of epic proportions. The bar is crafted from reclaimed wood and steel from right here in Oregon and the Street Pub is a one stop shop to try lots of our beers – from the coveted Reserve Series rarities (think The Abyss) all the way to year-round favorites like Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

This one of a kind block party is truly, “crafted for community.” Grab your friends and family and come see what it’s all about.

This past Saturday they debuted the Street Pub here in Bend for a soft opening, which of course we attended, and accordingly have some notes and pictures of it all.

Deschutes Brewery Street Pub

There’s no doubt about it—this is an impressive achievement! The amount of work to put this together had to have been incredible, but they’ve done a great job; you can see up close how it breaks down into manageable panels and components, but even then it doesn’t seem like this should be able to all fit into a single 50-foot semi trailer. (Apparently it does.) There are 40 taps arrayed in groups of four on either side, located under each of the roofed areas, plus a station for pouring specialty Reserve Series bottles. However, don’t look for refrigeration, as taps are fed by kegs stored in ice buckets which adds to the mobility.

Saturday’s event was fairly mellow, despite the large number of people that showed up, and from my point of view was a big successful for Deschutes on this test run. Of course, they also had live music and a couple of food trucks present, and in the various city stopping points they’ll have that and more, and I expect it’s going to be even crazier (bigger cities and all). Here in Bend they simply set up in the parking lot of the production brewery; in the cities they will need to close a city block to accommodate this roving fest.

Bird's-eye view of Street PubWhile there, I enjoyed pours of Bachelor Bitter and Horse Ridge IPA (normally these are pub-exclusive specialties), tastes of Reserve Series Black Butte XXVI and The Abyss 2013, and a bit of Not The Stoic. They of course were pouring their standards (Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Deschutes River Ale, Fresh Squeezed IPA, etc.), Bond Street Series (Foray Belgian IPA, Pinedrops IPA and more), and Reserve Series (Mirror Mirror 2014 in addition to the afore-mentioned ones). An impressive lineup.

Street Pub Reserve SeriesThe logistics of getting this thing from city to city are something I’m glad I don’t have to figure out. From Bend, they are heading to the East Coast to kick off a western craft beer tour, bringing this to a number of cities; here’s their planned schedule:

  • Philadelphia, May 30
  • Cleveland, August 1
  • Chicago, August 22
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, September 19
  • Denver, October 17
  • Sacramento, November 14

Now, one thing I want to clarify: it turns out the entire structure is not 400 feet long from end to end; it’s actually around 190 to 200 feet long in that regard. But the pub bar wraps around the entire structure, double-sided and on the ends, with taps on each side, so if you remember your geometry it turns out the perimeter of the rectangle it creates is just over 400 feet. So, yes, there is 400+ feet of bar space to occupy. And I promise, 200-ish feet per side offers up a pretty impressive sense of scale when up close.

Look for Street Pub to be hitting one of (your?) cities listed above in the coming months; those are going to be some fun (if crazy!) events.

Here are more photos we took from Saturday:

Oregon Beer News, 05/11/2015

Oregon BeerHappy Monday! Are you ready for another beer-filled week? (Always?) Here’s the news in Oregon beer for said week. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news as I find it, so check back often. If you have news to share, please let me know and I can get that updated as well.

BridgePort Brewing (Portland): Stumptown Tart is back! This year the fruit BridgePort selected for their eighth edition of this soured ale is northwest raspberries, and BridgePort is planning a May 20 release party at their brewpub. From the press release: “BridgePort will host a ‘Tasting with the Tart’ party Thursday, May 20 from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the BridgePort Brewpub in Portland. Come by to taste this year’s beloved Stumptown Tart. Giveaways will be plentiful, and bottle model Bernie Dexter will be there ready to pose with guests for a Stumptown Selfie and to sign bottles of this new brew.”

Coin Toss Brewing (Oregon City): This Saturday, the 16th, is the release party of their first house brews, taking place at the Trails End Saloon in Oregon City: “Join us for the Oregon City debut of Black Hohl Cascadian Dark Ale, our flagship beer, and George’s Honest Ale, the first in our Heritage Series of historical brews. The historic Trails End Saloon. 1320 Main Street, is hosting us for a fun evening that will feature samples and pints of both beers. Food will be available for purchase, and door prizes will be awarded throughout the evening. Oregon City blues favorite Rae Gordon will perform a special acoustic set. Minors are allowed until 7 p.m.”

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Oregon Beer News, 05/08/2015

Oregon BeerHappy Friday! I hope you have plans for the weekend, but if you’re still deciding check out the beer news to help you figure it out. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news, so check back often. And if you have news to share, please let me know and I can get that updated as well.

Portland’s Cheers to Belgian Beers kicks off today! Hard to believe this event is already in its ninth year, and it’s become of the must-attend fests Portland has to offer every year. “The Belgian-style Beer Festival will feature a single yeast strain, Wyeast Laboratories Yeast Strain: 1762 | Belgian Abbey II™ for the beers entered, with the beers available determined by a dart throw to diversify the color and strength of the beers. The 2015 Cheers to Belgian Beers currently features 60 beers from 57 brewing companies.” It takes place at MCF Craft Brewing Systems from 5 to 9pm today and noon to 8pm tomorrow (Saturday). Admission is free, with $15 for the glass and five tickets (additional tickets are $1). Don’t miss out!

Wild Ride Brewing (Redmond) is celebrating their first anniversary Saturday the 9th, all day long with beer specials (including a special bourbon barrel aged Brain Bucket Imperial IPA!) and live music starting at 5pm. I was lucky enough to attend their official opening last year, and I’m just as impressed with their beer and what they’ve accomplished now as I was then. Big congrats to Wild Ride! One year down and many more to come!

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