Oregon Beer News, Week of 4/28/2014

Oregon BeerWelcome to another week of Oregon beer news, wrapping up April and kicking off May! I will be periodically updating this post with the latest news in Oregon beer throughout the week, organized by general news first and then by day. If you have news to share please contact me and I can get that updated as well.

Standing Stone Brewing (Ashland) has a new specialty beer on tap now: Dear Abbey. “This Belgian Trappist-style ale is reddish-brown in color and has an enticing bubblegum aroma. A mildly dry finish follows the light mouthfeel and up-front fruitiness. 6.3% abv, 15 IBU”

Over in Salem this weekend, starting Friday, the third annual Cinco de Micro Brewfest is taking place at the Salem Convention Center! It takes place from 4 to 10pm on Friday the 2nd and from noon to 10pm on Saturday the 3rd, with $10 entry fee which gets you 2 tasting tokens and the mug. They have some 52 breweries, with what looks like at least two beers per brewery, not to mention cider, mead, and spirits. This looks like it could be a fun fest and it’s nice to see Salem representing!

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OGBF ’14 Weekend (part 1)

Being the first in a short series of posts about this year’s Oregon Garden Brewfest.

Oregon Garden Brewfest kickoffOur Garden Brewfest weekend began Thursday evening with the Brewer’s Tasting Dinner that takes place each year at the Oregon Garden Resort. This was the third year they’ve hosted this dinner, and this year’s was the biggest (they increased the attendance by something like 60 people) and best, offering six courses paired with a range of beer styles from mostly-Oregon breweries (Stone Brewing from California was the dessert pairing).

(Full disclosure: once again, they offered a number of dinner passes and a free night’s stay at the Resort to a number of media reps (and I would imagine brewery reps as well); I was included on that list, so my dinner was comped along with the one night (we purchased a dinner ticket for my wife as well as a second night) as well as attendance for one day of the Fest.)

In previous years the seating was arranged with round tables, eight to a table; this year, with the added attendance they switched to rectangular tables that could seat 12 and had them packed in a bit more. But it didn’t feel crowded.

OGBF Brewer's Tasting Dinner setting OGBF Brewer's Tasting Dinner setting

Here’s the menu they presented:

Oregon Garden Brewfest Brewer's Tasting Dinner menuI’ve got a picture and comments for each course below, but overall I have to say I think the Resort knocked it out of the park this year; for me all six courses were excellent and the beers were great pairings as well, and good all around. Not everyone shared my opinion, of course; several tablemates though the first course (goat cheese fritters) should have had a cream sauce to accompany it, for instance, and others thought the linguini pasta (fourth course) was bland. My wife didn’t care for the dandelion greens (the salad). Personally I enjoyed each course and really have no criticisms this year.

OGBF Brewer's Tasting Dinner 1st course

First course: Hazelnut crusted goat cheese fritters garnished with micro greens and a lemon tarragon vinaigrette. Beer: Golden Valley Brewery Pinot Noir Barrel-aged Geistbock. The beer had a nice Pinot character coming through and paired well with the tangy goat cheese.

OGBF Brewer's Dinner 2nd course

Second course: Smoked sausage potato cake topped with a garlic and stone ground mustard aioli. Beer: Rusty Truck Brewing Simcoe CDA. The potato cake was well done and I really liked the stone ground mustard. The beer itself was one of the best I’ve had from Rusty Truck, a well-balanced Cascadian Dark Ale (and I’m usually picky about CDAs).

OGBF Brewer's Dinner 3rd course

Third course: Red baby dandelion leaves tossed with boursin cheese, shaved pickled red onion, candied walnuts and dressed with a ginger/sesame vinaigrette. Beer: BridgePort Brewing Mettle & Mash Ginger Hibiscus Saison. The dandelion greens were nicely bitter and the beer cut through that well. It was a nice saison with a touch of tart.

OGBF Brewer's Dinner 4th course

Fourth course: Linguini pasta tossed with sautéed garlic, shrimp, laurel and juniper berries in a white wine butter sauce. Beer: Salem Ale Works Juniperus IPA. I really liked this beer, juniper can be a tough spice to work with (you can go from “gin” to “turpentine” really easily) but it was handled beautifully in this IPA. The pasta and shrimp were good as well, the juniper dialed back a bit but still present.

OGBF Brewer's Dinner 5th course

Fifth course: Pork confit inside half an artichoke topped with a honey, ginger, sake sauce. Beer: Cascade Brewing Honey Ginger Lime. This dish was OMG-mazing. The pork was tender and succulent, the sauce incredible, and the artichoke was just as succulent as well. This was simply fantastic. The beer was a good match as well, a sweet-sour-ish ginger beer with a bit of lime tartness; it cut through the pork and sauce and cleansed the palate for the next bite.

OGBF Brewer's Dinner 6th course

Sixth (and final) course: Chocolate turtle tort with hazelnut and sea salt crust. Beer: Stone Brewing 2014 Old Guardian Barleywine. This is the dessert version of the previous course, just amazing, very possibly the best dessert I have ever had. The sea salt was unbelievable. I didn’t even finish! And it was incredibly, incredibly sweet and rich; you’re looking at diabetes on a plate right there. The beer pairing was perfect for it, malty, rich, luscious.

It was a great, lively crowd, and dinners like this are always a good chance to meet new people in the industry: I ended up sitting next to Jamie and Eric “Howie” Howard, owners of Albany, Oregon’s newest brewery, Deluxe Brewing (just opened this past September). What makes Deluxe stand out among Oregon brewers is that they are an all-lager brewery, plus they are also distilling (as “Sinister Distilling”). Their regular line-up includes a Pre-Prohibition Pilsner, Amber Lager, and Schwarzbier (the Pils and Schwarz were pouring at the Fest), and had just brewed a Maibock which would be available soon. They have a 15-barrel production brewhouse and I think will be one to watch.

BrewDad Mike Besser digs into his pork confitOthers at our table included BrewDad Mike Besser and Gail Oberst, publisher of the Oregon Beer Growler. It was a fun table—but then, every table had a fun group!

After the dinner the party moved to the Resort’s Lounge, where there was live music playing and more beer to be had. We stayed for a bit but honestly at that point, full from dinner and plenty of beer (in addition to the copious beer available with each course, I had enjoyed a pint of Double Mountain Vaporizer just prior to dinner (not to mention the two beers I’d had at the Gallon House in Silverton not too many hours before), we were pretty full so headed out shortly after.

All in all, a great dinner and start to the Brewfest weekend. If you get the chance to participate in the Brewer’s Tasting Dinner next year, it’s well worth it and I would highly encourage you to do so!

OGBF dinner crowd

Oregon Garden Brewfest continues today; some beers to look for

Beers at the Oregon Garden BrewfestWe spent a good day at the Oregon Garden Brewfest yesterday, and it’s going on for two more days! They just opened up at noon so if you’re planning to head down there (you should), here are some preliminary beers and breweries to be looking out for.

If there is an underlying theme this year, it may well be “new breweries” as I’d probably count at least 13 of the 65 as “new” for only being a couple of years old at most, and those were the one I was most looking forward to trying.

Of course the other theme of the fest would have to be “IPA” (isn’t it always?) as I counted 39 IPA of various categories listed (regular, American, Black, Double, Imperial, Session, etc.). But to balance that out, there are a good selection of sessionable beers as well (some of those of course being in that “Session IPA” pseudo-category).

Oregon Garden Brewfest - Crux

I will have a longer review/write-up later, but for today if you’re looking for some good picks to sample here are some suggestions:

  • Fort George Suicide Squeeze IPA – Yes this is a “session” IPA with a nice juicy hop character squeezed into 4.5% abv. One of the best of these new session IPAs that I’ve tasted.
  • Deluxe Pure Sin Schwarzbier – We met the owners of the brand-new Deluxe Brewing out of Albany (sat with them at dinner the night before and visited a bit yesterday) and they are notable because they are brewing all lagers. Their Schwarzbier is really good, 4.7% abv, nicely mellow and rich. I liked their Resurrection Pre-Prohibition Pilsner too, but the Pure Sin edged it out. (Of course you can and should try both!)
  • Salem Ale Works Hootenanny Honey Basil – 4.2% and really, really nice, the basil is subtle but fresh and adds a surprisingly delicious savory-sweet character. I actually picked this one for me “people’s choice” ballot.
  • Falling Sky Dreadnut Foreign Export Stout – if you want something darker and stronger, this is a good choice. 7.2% with a good sweet roast character and a surprisingly tropical/coconut character.
  • Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison with Mandarins & Peppercorns – A big Belgian styled Saison done right. 7.5% and a nice sipping beer, a welcome variation from big and hoppy.

Of course I sampled a lot more (23 in all) but those are some highlights and well worth checking out.

They changed up the layout a bit this year, particularly in the tent, and I think it works better: the beers being poured are wrapped around the inside of one end, the stage is on the middle wall, and the other end is the “porch” with propane heaters and picnic table seating and just seems to flow better than previous years. Here’s from the “porch” end early on yesterday, when it was still pretty empty:

Inside the tent at Oregon Garden Brewfest

The main Pavilion is set up the same as previous years, beers and vendors at each end with the main music stage and standing tables in the central area. One thing I noticed was the older, more established breweries tended to be located in the Pavilion while the newer ones were out in the tent. Thus, since I was interested in the newer beers, we spent more time out there I think. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, a nice little getting-close-to-sunset shot:

Oregon Garden Brewfest at twilight

With a setting like the Oregon Garden, you can’t really go wrong. I’ll have my extended write-up with more photos later, there is more than plenty of time to visit today (it goes until 11pm) and tomorrow (noon to 5pm). Make sure you get out there!

Oregon Garden Brewfest beers & breweries

Oregon Garden BrewfestAs promised, here’s the current beer list that will be pouring at this year’s Oregon Garden Brewfest. I have to say I think this is a particularly good list, and instead of making general recommendations—I don’t think you will go too wrong if you know the styles of beer you like—I am putting in bold beers and/or breweries that I am planning to seek out (mostly because they are new and I haven’t tried them yet, or in a few cases are very good and I haven’t had them in far too long). Your mileage may vary, but take a look.

10 Barrel Brewing (Bend, OR)

  • Project Failed Red (5.7%)
  • Pub Beer (German-style Pilsner, 5%)

2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis, OR)

  • Cherry Bl’awesome (Hard Sour Cherry Cider, 6%)
  • Serious Scrump (Dry English Cider, 11%)

21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, CA)

  • Hell or High Watermelon Wheat (4.9%)
  • Brew Free or Die IPA (7%)

7 Devils Brewing (Coos Bay, OR)

  • Blacklock Oat Porter (Robust Porter, 5.6%)
  • Lighthouse Session Ale (Blonde Ale, 4.2%)

Alameda Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA (8.2%)
  • P-Town Pilsner (German-style Pilsner, 4%)

Amnesia Brewing (Washougal, WA)

  • Damnesia IPA (6.7%)
  • Crystal Red (6%)

Ballast Point Brewing (San Diego, CA)

  • Sculpin IPA (7%)
  • Calico Amber (5.5%)

Base Camp Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Ripstop Rye Pils (Rye Pilsner, 5.7%)
  • Lost Meridian Wit (Dry-hopped Witbier, 5%)

Blue Moon Brewing (Golden, CO)

  • Blue Moon Belgian-Style White Ale (5.4%)
  • Blue Moon Valencia Amber Ale (5.9%)

Boring Brewing (Boring, OR)

  • Big Yawn IPA (7.2%)
  • Hot Scotch (Strong Scottish with peppers, 8%)

BridgePort Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Trilogy 1 Dry-Hopped Pale Ale (5.2%)
  • Mettle and Mash series TBA (9%)

Cascade Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Oblique Black and White Coffee Stout (6.2%)
  • Raspberry Wheat (4.5%)

Coronado Brewing (San Diego, CA)

  • Islander IPA (7%)
  • Orange Avenue Wit (California Wit, 5.2%)

Crispin Cider (Colfax, CA)

  • Crispin Cider (Apple Cider, 5%)
  • Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear (Blackberry Pear Cider, 5%)

Crux Fermentation Project (Bend, OR)

  • Outcast IPA (8%)
  • Half Hitch Mosaic Imperial IPA (10%)

Deluxe Brewing (Albany, OR)

  • Deluxe Resurrection (Pre-Prohibition Pilsner, 5.5%)
  • Pure Sin Schwarzbier (4.7%)

Double Mountain Brewery (Hood River, OR)

  • Kolsch (5.2%)
  • Hop Lava IPA (7%)

Eel River Brewing (Fortuna, CA)

  • California Blonde (5.8%)
  • Organic IPA (English Style IPA, 7.2%)

Elysian Brewing (Seattle, WA)

  • Super Fuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale (5.4%)
  • Immortal IPA (6.3%)

Falling Sky Brewing (Eugene, OR)

  • Beers TBD

Feckin Irish Brewing (Oregon City, OR)

  • Feckin Stoned IPA (6.2%)
  • Irish Oatmeal Porter (5.8%)

Firestone Walker Brewing (Paso Robles, CA)

  • Beers TBD

Fish Brewing (Olympia, WA)

  • Organic Amber Ale (5%)
  • Hodgson’s Bitter End IPA (6.5%)

Flat Tail Brewing (Corvallis, OR)

  • Tailgater (Kölsch Style Ale, 5%)
  • 6 am Stout (American Coffee Stout, 6.5%)

Fort George Brewery (Astoria, OR)

  • Suicide Squeeze IPA (Session IPA, 4.5%)
  • Divinity Fruit Beer (5.1%)

Georgetown Brewing (Seattle, WA)

  • Manny’s Pale Ale (5.2%)
  • Lucille IPA (6.8%)

Gigantic Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Gigantic IPA (7.3%)
  • Firebird (Smoked Hefeweizen, 5.9%)

Gilgamesh Brewing (Salem, OR)

  • Mamba (specialty tea-infused ale, 6.5%)
  • Oedipus IPA (5.9%)

Golden Valley Brewery (McMinnville, OR)

  • Geist Bock (German style Helles, 6.5%)
  • Bald Peak IPA (6.5%)

GoodLife Brewing (Bend, OR)

  • Comatose Imperial IPA (9.5%)
  • Sweet As Pacific Ale (6%)

Goose Island Brewing (Chicago, IL)

  • 312 Urban wheat Ale (4.4%)
  • Goose Island IPA (5.9%)

Hop Valley Brewing (Springfield, OR)

  • Citrus Mistress IPA (6.5%)
  • Hop Valley Pale Ale (5.4%)

Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR)

  • Beers TBD

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing (Chippewa Falls, WI)

  • Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy (4.2%)
  • Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy Imperial IPA (8.2%)

Kell’s (Portland, OR)

  • Kell’s Irish Style Red (4.6%)
  • Miley Citrus India Session Lager (dry hopped lager, 4.2%)

Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA)

  • Lagunitas IPA (6.2%)
  • Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale (Imperial Mild Ale, 9.8%)

Laurelwood Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Laurelweizen Bavarian Hefeweizen (4.9%)
  • Free Range Red (6.1%)

Logsdon Organic Farm Brewery (Hood River, OR)

  • Beers TBD

Mazama Brewing (Corvallis, OR)

  • Beers TBD

Nectar Creek Honeywine (Corvallis, OR)

  • Ginger Session Mead (6.2%)
  • Raspberry Session Mead (6.2%)

New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO)

  • Snap Shot Sour Wheat (5%)
  • Spring Blond (Belgian Blond ale, 6%)

Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene, OR)

  • Sping Reign American Pale (6%)
  • Pravda Bohemian Pilsner (5%)

Oakshire Brewing (Eugene, OR)

  • Watershed IPA (6.7%)
  • Smokin Hell (Smoked HellsBier, 5.1%)

Old Town Brewing (Portland, OR)

  • Beers TBD

Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, CO)

  • Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5%)
  • G’Knight Imperial Red IPA (8.7%)

Pelican Brewing Company (Pacific City, OR)

  • The Governor Maibock (7%)
  • Beer TBD

Plank Town Brewing (Springfield, OR)

  • Reggie English IPA (5.5%)
  • Odd Fellow Wit (3.6%)

Portland Cider Company (Portland, OR)

  • Kinda Dry Cider (7%)
  • Sorta Sweet Cider (4.5%)

RAM Brewery (Salem, OR)

  • Jimmy Hoppa’s IPA (7.1%)
  • Big Horn Hefeweizen (5.2%)

Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland, OR)

  • Hallelujah Hopricot Cider (6.9%)
  • Revelation Newtown Pippin Cider (6.9%)

Rusty Truck Brewing (Lincoln City, OR)

  • Cherry Chocoholic Baltic Porter
  • Pedal to the Metal Double IPA

Salem Ale Works (Salem, OR)

  • Misery Whip IPA (6.1%)
  • Hootenanny Honey Basil Delicious (4.2%)

Santiam Brewing (Salem, OR)

  • Pirate Stout Rum Barrel Aged Stout (7.9%)
  • Spitfire Extra Special English Pale Ale (6.2%)

Sasquatch Brewery (Portland, OR)

  • Oregon Session Ale (Cream Ale, 4.7%)
  • Celilo CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale, 8.5%)

Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton, OR)

  • Beers TBD

Shock Top (St. Louis, MO)

  • Shock Top Belgian White (5.2%)
  • Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat (5.5%)

Sierra Nevada Brewing (Chico, CA)

  • Hoptimum Imperial IPA (10%)
  • Ovila Saison with Mandarins and Peppercorns Belgian Style Saison (7.5%)

Silver Moon Brewing (Bend, OR)

  • Voodoo Dog ISR India Session Red (5.5%)
  • Nelson The Spacefish IPA (Rye India Pale Ale, 7.8%)

Stella Artois (~Belgium)

  • Stella Artois Belgian Lager (5%)
  • Stella Artois Cidre European cider (4.5%)

Stone Brewing (Escondido, CA)

  • Beers TBD

Twisted Snout Brewery (Toledo, OR)

  • Razorback RyePA (Rye IPA, 6%)
  • Raspberry Truffle (Meritage, 5.8%)

Uptown Market Brewery (Portland, OR)

  • Uptown Session Ale (Indian Session Ale, 4.5%)
  • Stop Work Stout Irish Dry Stout (5%)

Vagabond Brewing (Salem, OR)

  • Wild Ride IPA (6.3%)
  • Down and Out Stout (7.2%)

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Salem, OR)

  • Anthem hops
  • Anthem Cherry

Woodchuck Hard Cider Company (Middlebury, VT)

  • Woodchuck Hard Cider Amber (5%)
  • Woodchuck Hard Cider Raspberry (5%)

The next Session: Brewery history

The Session for May has been announced, and to be more specific than my title, it’s actually on local brewery history. Our host, Reuben Gray of The Tale of the Ale, writes:

In Session 87, I want you to give your readers a history lesson about a local brewery. That’s a physical brewery and not brewing company by the way. The brewery doesn’t need to still exist today, perhaps you had a local brewery that closed down before you were even born. Or you could pick one that has been producing beer on the same site for centuries.

The only thing I ask is that the brewery existed for at least 20 years so don’t pick the local craft brewery that opened two or three years ago. This will exclude most small craft breweries but not all. The reason? There’s not much history in a brewery that has only existed for a few years.

Also, when I say local, I mean within about 8 hours’ drive from where you live. That should cover most bases for the average blogger and in many, allow you to pick one further away if you don’t want to talk about a closer one.

For someone (like me!) who happens to be writing a book about beer and brewing history, with specifics covering certain breweries, this would seem to be a no-brainer. However, obviously I don’t want to write about one of the breweries that will be in the book—I have to keep something for the book, after all—plus the fact that Reuben wants the brewery to have existed for at least 20 years puts a damper on that somewhat. There are only two breweries in Central Oregon that qualify—and they’re going into the book.

But, we have the “within eight hours’ drive limit.” That’s actually kind of silly to me because I wouldn’t consider anywhere I can drive to in eight hours as “local.” For perspective, from Bend (Oregon) that would cover all of Oregon, pretty much all of Washington, most of Idaho, and much of Northern California and Nevada. So, pretty much all of the Pacific Northwest and then some. Though I suppose it could be fair to say “local” to the PNW…

Anyway, write up your local history on Friday, May 2 and post a link to Reuben’s Session post that day, or shoot him an email.