Portland Brewing Oregon Honey Beer

Portland Brewing Oregon Honey BeerI received two bottles of Portland Brewing’s Oregon Honey Beer a little while back (a 12-ounce and a 22-ounce), their summer seasonal that had not been brewed for the past five years or so. At 4.8% abv it’s a nice-drinking summer ale, and though the website indicates it’s only available through the 15th of this month, I’d wager you’ll be able to find it on the shelves for a bit afterwards. And going into the dog days of August it’s worth checking out.

The brewery’s own description is pretty straightforward:

Brewed with Oregon-sourced white clover honey and Willamette hops, Oregon Honey Beer is crisp and refreshing with just a hint of sweetness.

Appearance: Clear, yellow-gold in color, with a white head that thins out quickly. The head is fizzy, not fluffy.

Smell: Sweet grain aroma with a touch of corn and sweet pale malts. Slight grassy, very clean.

Taste: Light, clean, a hint of sweet corn and a touch of grass hops (as promised by the aroma). Easy drinking, with a fizzy effervescence. The corn character has a nice presence and it presents with a lagered character.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp, finishes a touch sweet and very clean.

Overall: This is a clean, easy drinking summer beer. Nothing flashy but nice for hot weather.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate: 66/100. RateBeer: 2.45/5, 12th overall percentile.

The Session #90: Beer Fight Club

The SessionYesterday was the first Friday of the month, which means it was time for another day of The Session, the monthly collective writing of beer bloggers centered around a suggested theme. This month’s host is Hipster Brewfus, who has suggested a topic that could easily spin into the controversial: Beer Fight Club.

Have you ever drank a beer that became a battle, more than an enjoyable experience? Maybe a beer that was far bigger than you had anticipated? Something you felt determined to drink, just so you can say you conquered that son of a bitch, and you are all that is powerful. Or perhaps it is something that is just so bad, all you want to do is slap it around a bit. Or maybe you were on the verge of passing out, but you just wanted that one last beer, and the valiant struggle between taste bud fulfillment and the velvety embrace of sleep that ensued.

You picking up what I’m putting down?

It’s time put down whatever praise you were about to dole out, and serve up a nice can of ass whupping.

If ever there was a class of beer more akin to battle than experience, it’s probably chili beers. And I actually like chili beers, but more often than not, they are just studies in abuse because the brewery didn’t know how to handle chili peppers in a beer (more likely) or because they actually thought it would be a good idea to over-heat the beer to create a liquid lava. A few get it right, and strike the right balance between malt and heat, or even better, end up with an unlikely recipe that becomes sublime. In the latter category, Portland’s Burnside Brewing gets it absolutely right with their Sweet Heat, an apricot wheat beer seasoned with Scotch Bonnet peppers.

In the former category, however, there are just too many examples of liquid pain that simply strips the enjoyment out of drinking the beer. I’ve actually avoided Stone Brewing‘s two beers, Crime and Punishment, because of reviews I’ve read indicating they are abusingly hot and I’ll just pass, thanks. That, and the high cost of those beers; I simply cannot fathom paying a large amount of money for a beer I will actively not enjoy.

There have been others over the years that hit all the wrong notes for me too. Cave Creek Chili Beer, the novelty beer with the jalapeno pepper floating in the bottle, many years ago—my first chili beer (I think someone gave it to me) that was something like putting cayenne pepper in Corona. Or Calapooia Brewing’s Chili Beer, a 22-ounce bottle of which I bought which tasted like liquid capsaicin and took me something like three hours to finish. Closer to home, 10 Barrel Brewing once did a chili version of their Sinistor Black Ale, I think it was, on their X-tap that I tried a sample of… nope! Too hot.

Look: if you can’t balance the peppers and heat into the rest of the beer, you shouldn’t be making a chili beer. And if you’re doing it simply for the heat, well, that’s just stunt brewing which is a whole different rant.

I actually like chili beers—when they’re well-made. More often than not though, they’re… not. Which is fine if you’re a masochist, I suppose. Otherwise: no.

10 Barrel issues Swill recall

10 Barrel Brewing is issuing a recall on this year’s batch of Swill, their American Radler. They just posted the full explanation on Facebook a few minutes ago:

We Are Voluntarily Recalling Swill

To our retailers and consumer friends,

10 Barrel Brewing Company is conducting a voluntary recall of Swill in all 12 and 22 ounce bottles. It has come to our attention that some of this product may be experiencing secondary fermentation in the bottle, causing over carbonation. This consistency issue does not meet 10 Barrel Brewing’s quality standards and, as a precaution, we are removing all inventory of Swill from our wholesalers and retail shelves and we are asking that consumers immediately dispose of any Swill already purchased. Swill is brewed with a completely different process than any of our other beers, isolating this issue to only Swill. This recall does not affect any of 10 Barrel Brewing’s other products.

Consumers: if you have any Swill in your home, please do not open it, attempt to transport it, or return it to your retail store. Dispose of the product by following these steps: (i) Before disposing of any bottles of Swill, please put on protective gloves and eye wear; (ii) Place all remaining Swill bottles in a closed box and place immediately in a secured dumpster or trash container outside.

We take the utmost pride in producing an extremely high quality product and continuously striving for new and innovative beers to send to the consumer. Unfortunately in this instance, despite a rigorous testing and brewing quality-check process, we didn’t hit the mark. We have an amazing new beer coming out in a few weeks to replace it so keep an eye out for something new in stores.

If you have any questions regarding this voluntary recall, please call 10 Barrel Brewing at (541) 678-5427 or send an email to swill@10barrel.com. If you have any of the potentially affected product and would like a refund, you can use the same phone number or email address.

My guess is, the lactobacillus used in the Berliner Weisse base is eating through the sugars added by the soda component of the radler. Which could definitely lead to bottle bombs if the added pressure gets high enough. I once had a homebrewed brown ale with the same type of issue, and actually saw a bottle explode—the bottom of the bottle broke and the top part rocketed up into the air a couple of feet. So don’t mess around, these bottles could potentially be damaging.

Portland’s BenFest returns this Thursday

For some reason, Portland, Oregon has a preponderance of brewers named Ben, and for the last several years folks have been celebrating with BenFest, quite possibly the niche-iest beer fest around. BenFest features beers brewed by the various Bens and the Bens themselves, and this year it’s taking place at Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom on Thursday, July 31.

Here’s the description and taplist:

Close out Oregon Craft Beer Month in style with the many Bens who brew delicious beer in Portland! For the 4th Annual BenFest, we’ll be raffling away exciting prizes and pouring special beers from:

Breakside Brewery’s Ben Edmunds
– BourBEN Barrel-Aged Ansatz Smoked Doppelbock

Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House’s Ben Kehs
– Smoky Mountain Schwarzbier

Gigantic Brewing Company’s Ben Love
– Citrus Ginormous Imperial IPA

Occidental Brewing Company’s Ben Engler
– Roggenwiezen

Widmer Brothers Brewing’s Ben Dobler
– Gentlemen’s Club aged in Brandy Barrels

Lucky Labrador Brew Pub’s Ben Flerchinger
– Blonde Am-Bention

Baerlic Brewing Co.’s Ben Parsons
– Rad Summer Radler

We’ll be offering a special 7-Ben Sampler Tray for your drinking pleasure.

It’s taking place from 6 to 9pm, and yes that’s a lot of Bens. What’s up with that?

Beer & Cocktails = fun night at Bendistillery

When the Beer Angels sent out an email with upcoming events for July, I knew I had to attend the “Craft Beer Cocktails with Bendistillery” event last week. I am a HUGE fan of Bendistillery’s  Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka.

After paying the Beer Angel’s small event fee, I was on my way to the Bendistillery’s tasting room, a short drive just outside of Bend just above the hill outside of Tumalo. I made my way into the front door of the tasting room and was warmly greeted by the Beer Angels. It was a very warm day and some ladies took advantage of arriving through the new misters on the back patio.

We were greeted by Jennah and her husband James.  If our raffle ticket ended in an odd number, we were to take the tour first, but I had an even number, so tasting 4 cocktails first it was!

Beer cocktail: ShandyThe first was a Pale Ginger Shandy with Crater Lake Sweet Ginger Vodka. The cocktail was refreshing at first (hot day), but then it got me with the pale ale a few more sips down and then I wonder why my palate does not like the wheaty or hoppy characters. I have tasted the Ginger Vodka on its own and it’s quite gingery and I liked it paired with something instead of just a taste on its own. It was quite refreshing on a 90+ degree day. I sipped and sipped and mostly finished before the next cocktail was served.

Beer cocktail: SangriaThe next cocktail was a Beer Sangria with Crater Lake Vodka. I picked up a glass with apples instead of oranges. I’m glad I did because I really liked this one while it was very cold and was also eating the apples and grapes. As the first, it was quite refreshing with a very cold beverage on a hot day and I was surprised I liked this because yes, the wheat beer, but also because I am not a huge fan of sangrias (maybe one or two in the past).   I’d make this again at home with the recipe provided and perhaps a sour that I will drink. :D

Beer cocktail: MicheladaI figured the next cocktail, I would not like and I was right. It was explained that if you like Bloody Marys, this is right up your alley.  My palate is not with spicy drinks and one sip and I was done. It was good and tasted exactly like a bloody, but very much not my palate. I tried to give my drink away at the table, but everyone was fine on their own and the next drink came quickly. Later, someone that really liked it, asked what happened to mine and would have drank it.  This is the one vodka on its own I’ve never tried because I’m not a huge pepper fan.

Beer cocktail: Coffee stoutThe next drink came out quickly because the tour group was completing their tour. Pitch Dark Coffee Stout with Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka. I wasn’t sure if I would like this because of the Stout beer used, but I liked it. At first, it was quite sweet and I stirred and was quite full from drinking so many cocktails in a short time. I decided to take this on the tour with me. As the ice melted, it was less sweet (or able to be more mixed) and it was quite good.

A small bite feast from Hola was provided.  Tasty pork and chicken empanadas, ceviche, chips, green and red salsa, and guacamole rounded out the small bites that were consumed under the misters of the back patio with the setting sun against the mountains as our view.

Bendistillery stillNext, we set out on our tour with James. I encourage you all to go out to Bendistillery tasting room and get a free tour and tasting. While the BA got a more behind the scenes tour, the growth that (I believe) Bend’s original distillery is experiencing is well worth the five minute drive outside of Bend. They are expanding their current four spirits to include estate spirits (a vodka, gin and rye whiskey) and also private labels. I hear there is also a special collaboration between Deschutes Brewery and the Crater Lake Brand.

I also encourage you to visit their drink recipe page as it is a vast plethora of recipes, including some with beer to make at home.

Bendistillery field at sunset