Tuesday Tastings: Foray IPA, Sticky Hands, Two Kilts IPA

For this week’s edition of Tuesday Tastings I went with an IPA theme and ended up with all Oregon-brewed versions (perhaps not really that surprising!).

Deschutes Brewery Foray Belgian-style IPA

Deschutes Brewery Foray IPAForay is the summer seasonal offering from Deschutes’ Bond Street Series making its return this year, and this bottle was one they sent me recently. It’s a tasty, balanced offering in the “Belgian IPA” style from the brewery, that is 6.5% abv and 60 IBUs. Their description:

Foray is all about the journey. Belgian yeast delivers hints of apple and pear which blend with the citrus hop aroma for a clean even finish. So no matter where you’re heading, this a trip worth taking.

Appearance: golden yellow, lacy white head, very light look to it with a touch of haziness.

Smell: Fruity, with green apple, bright citrus, grapefruit zest, and lemon blossoms, and perhaps some mango and strawberry. Bright, green, with some tannic Belgian yeast funkiness.

Taste: Bitter greens (nettles), citrus juice that goes bitter rather than sweet and sour, orange peel, clean malt, with a well-attenuated herbal dryness. Very herbally bitter but not harsh.

Mouthfeel: Light of medium-bodied, finishes with an herbal aftertaste and slightly dry.

Overall: Another well-built beer from Deschutes, fruitier and more refined than last year’s version if I remember correctly.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Block 15 Brewery Sticky Hands: The Kine

Block 15 Sticky Hands: The KineSticky hands is Block 15’s “hop experience” India Pale Ale, a showcase beer for highlighting a variety of hops, and as such each is a limited-release beer that may or may not come back. (Or that’s how I understand it, I might be off on the details.) This particular edition, The Kine, was one I bought and drank last year so I’d been sitting on these notes for awhile. It was 8.1% abv, and I found a description on the RateBeer page:

Dank, sticky, heady, grassy, green, resinous, herbal nuggets…realistic hop character descriptors or catchy marketing? Hops and cannabis are both in the family cannabinaceae from which primary aromas are due to myrcene, beta-pinene and alpha-humulene. These similar aromatic compounds are also what give both of their buds unique aromas. This version of sticky hands was brewed and double dry hopped with hops high in these aromatic compounds and then balanced with tropical undertones. A dank, sticky, resinous beer brewed with the most kine buds grown in the Pacific Northwest.

Appearance: Deep gold color which turns honey-colored when held up to the light. A nice head, creamy, off-white, with good lacing.

Smell: Super aromatic—green and bright herbal notes blending with cotton candy and tropical fruits. Juicy, resiny, very fresh. (Doesn’t strike me as nearly as dank as the name or description would suggest.)

Taste: Big bold punch of hops up front, lots of resin and yes, sticky. Hop bomb. Yes, here is the “dank.” Big but it’s balanced, the substantial malt backbone providing a good canvas for these hops—they’re big but not overwhelming and finish juicy and herbal.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with a sticky, resiny coating of hop film on the tongue.

Overall: This is a really nice, well-balanced double IPA that highlights the hops amazingly well.

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Two Kilts Brewing IPA

Two Kilts Brewing IPATwo Kilts is one of the newer breweries in Oregon, having opened in 2011 in Sherwood with a six-barrel “Frankensystem” and upgrading in 2014 to a 15-barrel brewery which increased their distribution. They’ve become known for their well-regarded Scottish Ale, but of course they also have an IPA, a 6.5% abv, 75 IBU ale brewed with Meridian hops (according to Untappd). I couldn’t find an official description.

Appearance: Light orange-copper, almost golden in color. Lacy, wispy three fingers of eggshell head.

Smell: Pineapple, lemongrass, fruit juice character that is a hint boozy. Some kind of sweetness that might be malt, or even yeast. Bright.

Taste: So fruity that I get the impression of an overripe, almost rotting fruit. Not terribly bitter, though there’s a bit at the back over a light-ish, pale malt base.

Mouthfeel: Lighter than medium-bodied, with a lingering, almost cloying fruity finish, a touch tart.

Overall: Okay but not a favorite. The aroma promises more that the taste delivers but to be fair it seems to be shooting more for hop-forward (as in, end-of-boil flavor and aroma) rather than bitter-forward.

Untappd, [no BeerAdvocate entry], RateBeer

Oregon Beer News, 06/09/2015

Oregon BeerHere’s the Oregon beer news for Tuesday, June 9. It’s going to be another scorcher, so stay cool while keeping up on the news. 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.

One of Deschutes Brewery‘s signature events of the year, their Barrel Aged Beer Tasting, is taking place this Friday, June 12 at their Mountain Room in Bend. This is a fantastic event for which Deschutes pulls out all the stops: “At our Barrel-Aged Beer Tasting, we will be featuring 8 of our finest handcrafted, barrel-aged brews. Ranging in styles from stouts to sours, each will be paired with a small plate of damn tasty food. Get your tickets to taste these amazing beers and tasty bites before they are gone!” The cost is $45 which is a great deal and a few tickets are still available here. Don’t miss this if you can help it!

The next Beers Made By Walking event is taking place this Friday in Bend, with Worthy Brewing, starting at 9am: “Beers Made By Walking presents a day hike in the Badlands Wilderness with Oregon Natural Desert Association and Worthy Brewing Company. We’ll meet at ONDA’s Bend office and carpool roughly 20 minutes to the trailhead together. Our 3-mile hiking trail in the Badlands is generally flat with some rocky terrain and slight elevation gain– perfect for any level of hiker. Bring sturdy shoes, lunch, plenty of water, a keen eye for flora and an appreciation for micro-brews.” There are still a few slots open and you can register online here.

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Oregon Cider Week and Cider Summit Portland

Cider is the new craft beer, or at least you might think so with the recent boom in cider makers these last few years, a trend which is not only increasing the quantity of cider on the market but also the quality and creativity of it. Here in Bend alone we have four cideries (Red Tank, Atlas, Far Afield, and Rimrock) and there are many more opened or opening in Oregon in Portland, the Willamette Valley, and elsewhere. (I don’t have a count, yet, of how many cideries are in the state, but I’d definitely be curious in those numbers.)

And in fact June is a big month for Oregon cider, as we have two big events taking place this month: Oregon Cider Week, which takes place June 18 through 28; and Cider Summit Portland, taking place June 19 and 20 as a signature event of the Week. These aren’t new events either—I’m just a bit behind the times on cider coverage! In fact it’s the fourth anniversary of Oregon Cider Week and the fifth of Cider Summit Portland.

Oregon Cider Week

There are in fact quite a few events taking place during Oregon Cider Week, and they make it easy to submit your own if you are hosting an event. Most of the events currently listed are taking place in Portland, with a few elsewhere—I’d love to see other events across the state on that page.

For instance, I know McMenamins is planning on celebrating the Week, with specials and a dinner event; their PR folks told me:

For just $5 a glass, McMenamins offers their Edgefield Cider in original apple and seasonal cherry at all locations in Oregon. To kick things off with panache, they’re hosting a Kennedy School Cider Dinner on Thursday, June 18, where guests can enjoy Executive Chef Chris Lawrence’s sumptuous menu paired with ciders, such as a pecan, pear & blue cheese salad with Edgefield Pomegranate Cider. [$75 per person, menu details here.]

Kennedy School is not the only location that will be aptly filled with appleheads, Tavern & Pool recently established a cider bar upstairs, making it Northwest Portland’s only cider bar. With four rotating guest ciders on tap and two Edgefield ciders, Tavern & Pool will give guests $1 off a pint of their choice during Cider Week. To give you a glimpse, here are the guest cider taps: Finnriver Fire Barrel; Foxtail Apfelwein German Cider; Anthem Cherry Cider; and Crispin Pacific Pear Cider. Whichever McMenamins gathering place folks end up in, they’ll be able to get their Oregon Cider Week stamp for their Passport!

Cider Summit Portland

The Cider Summit is the largest cider festival in the region (it moves around from city to city) and this year’s Portland event sound fantastic:

SBS Imports and the Seattle Beer Collective are pleased to announce the return of Cider Summit NW Festival to Portland, OR. The fifth annual event will take placeFriday, June 19 from 2p-8p and Saturday, June 20 from 12n-6p. Cider Summit will be returning to its new home in the Pearl District – The Fields Neighborhood Park at NW 10th/Overton. The event is presented by World FoodsBushwhacker Cider.

This will be the 15th Cider Summit produced by SBSSeattle Beer Collective, having launched the concept in Seattle in September 2010 and expanding to Portland, Chicago, and most recently San Francisco. This year’s event will feature over 150 ciders from producers around the country and around the world including regional favorites and international classics. The owners and cidermakers will be on hand to inform and guide guests through the samplings which will be available in 4-ounce tasting portions in a special 5th anniversary souvenir festival glass.

A brand new feature at the 2015 event will be the Fruit Cider Challenge sponsored by Oregon Fruit Products. Several of our participating cideries will brew pilot batches specifically for the event. Consumers will vote for their favorite during the festival with the winner of the first annual Fruit Cider Challenge announced on Monday, June 22.

I really like the idea of the Fruit Cider Challenge and I’d be very interested in the resulting ciders (there will be 14 of them). And for number in general, the info sheet I’ve seen indicates there are expected to be 190+ ciders from 49 producers, who come from seven states and six countries. (102 are from Oregon, and 37 from Washington.)

Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 (cash only) at the door and are available online as well as a number of sponsoring physical locations a bottle shops (see the page for details where). The admission fee includes gets you a fifth anniversary souvenir tasting glass, eight tasting tickets, and a $1 donation to the event beneficiary (the Cascade Blues Association). You can get additional tasting tickets for $2 per ticket.

Oregon Beer News, 06/08/2015

Oregon BeerStay cool today! It’s going to be ridiculously hot so stay in the shade and enjoy a Pilsner, Kolsch or something similar to keep the heat away. And in the meantime here is the news in Oregon beer for Monday, June 8; 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.

This week both Portland Beer Week and Medford Beer Week kick off, starting on the 11th and 12th, respectively. There will be plenty of things going on in both cities for both Weeks, in particular some of the big, signature events include the Portland Fruit Beer Fest, the Rye Beer Fest, and the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival. I will have some standalone posts about some of these signature events and I’ll try to keep up on the daily events for each Week though there are a lot—be sure to keep track yourself at each event page here and here as well.

Belmont Station (Portland) today has Uinta Brewing in the house from 5 to 7pm for the release of their Birthday Suit: “Utah’s Uinta Brewing celebrates its remarkable 22 year anniversary with it’s annual release of Birthday Suit. This year’s incarnation of the brewery’s anniversary ale is going to be a “sour abbey ale” brewed with plums and an authentic Belgian abbey yeast strain that’s chock full of the bold characteristics that have made Abbey ales famous. It’s described as having a playful combination of sour tanginess and subtle dried fruit esters. As usual, it will be available in 750 ml caged and corked bottles. Come give it a taste, along with a selection of other Uinta beers! Uinta beer? Yes, we are!”

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The Session #100: Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles

The SessionThis first Friday of June 2015 marks the 100th edition of The Session. 100! That’s quite a milestone for having a group of bloggers (many of which have changed over the years, naturally) collaborate each month with their own take on a particular topic. And for number 100 we have a neat theme.

Reuben Gray of The Tale of the Ale has the honor of hosting this month, and he’s wanting us to think about Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles.

I wanted to do an interesting topic for the 100th Session and looking back over the other 99 topics, none have touched on lost or almost lost beer styles. There are many of them that have started to come back in to fashion since in the last 10 years due to the rise of craft beer around the world.

If you have a local beer style that died out and is starting to appear again then please let the world know. Not everyone will so just write about any that you have experienced. Some of the recent style resurrections I have come across in Ireland are Kentucky Common, Grodziskie, Gose and some others. Perhaps it’s a beer you have only come across in homebrew circles and is not even made commercially.

Here in Central Oregon, if you look past the various breweries dabbling in historical styles such as pre-Prohibition lagers, cream ale, Berliner Weisse, the occasional Gose, and so on, the one brewery that stands out in this regard is The Ale Apothecary. Brewmaster Paul Arney set out to bring an historical aspect of brewing into a modern sensibility, brewing mixed-fermentation ales in small batches, with nearly every step of the process (minus the boil in the brew kettle) conducted in wood—wooden mash tun (made from a barrel), open primary fermentation in wood, secondary fermentation and conditioning/aging in barrels. And one of his beers in particular is directly influenced by an historical style that he has brewed as authentically as anyone could ask for: Finnish Sahti.

(I will let others debate whether Sahti should count as a style that “died out” since it technically has been continuously brewed in Scandinavia, though my understanding is that those beers are mostly brewed by home and farmhouse breweries and today there are very few commercial examples available to us, at least here in the States.)

Sahti is an interesting beer in that it is largely flavored with juniper, not only with berries added at the end of the boil, but also in the use of juniper boughs layered on the bottom of the mash/lauter tun to aid as a grain filter; and even more notably, this tun was traditionally carved out of a log to form a wooden trough called a kuurna. Not uncommonly fermented with baker’s yeast, it’s a fairly rustic, regional beer.

Of the few commercial examples out there, I doubt many of the breweries have gone to any length to brew a Sahti as traditionally as Arney has at his Ale Apothecare—because he went so far as to craft his own kuurna:

Ale Apothecary kuurna

His interpretation of this style, which he calls Sahati, is described thusly:

SAHATI is our interpretation of traditional Finnish sahti. Starting with a 200-year old Engelmann spruce tree felled on brewery property, we created our own kuurna (an ancient Scandinavian lauter tun) to separate the wort from the grain during brewing. The bottom of the kuurna is layered with spruce branches; the needles act as a natural filter and impart resinous oils into the wort. The hollowed-out trunk of the tree also contributes spruce essence and structure from the raw wood. The beer is made of barley & rye malts along with a sparing addition of Goschie Farms Cascade hops and is brewed just a few times per year.
 SAHATI is in many ways the very definition of The Ale Apothecary, where complex flavors arrive from the very methods used for production…the result is the process impacts the flavor profile at least as much as the ingredients themselves.

This is my favorite Ale Apothecary beer, albeit one I’ve only had two or maybe three times because of it’s rarity. When (relatively) young it has an amazingly fresh and pungent spruce character that’s sweet and sugary with a resiny sap-like impression, but it’s all balanced with the wild yeasts and bacteria to yield layers of complexity really quite unlike any other beer I’ve had. Last weekend I split a two-year-old original bottle with Brian Yaeger, and it was much drier, with the spruce character subdued quite a bit. Still a fantastic pour.

Yes, Arney’s take on the style uses spruce instead of juniper, probably because he’s surrounded by it in his part of town (actually about 9 miles west of town, towards the mountains). I also like the “New World synergy” of using spruce in this context as spruce was also used in early American ales, so it fits. Despite that I strongly suspect it’s one of the most authentically-brewed American examples of a Sahti, at least being brewed commercially.

And he is, in fact, looking at expanding production of Sahati—which means chopping down and hollowing out a larger tree for a bigger kuurna. More recently the old kuurna was on display at the High Desert Museum‘s Brewing Culture exhibit (now closed). I can’t wait to try that next batch… whenever it comes out.