Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Portland Beer Photo Contest championed by Matt Wiater, one of the most awesome people in Oregon, hosts a beer related contest every month.  April's contest is a photo contest in which you can win a $20 gift certificate to Belmont Station.  The rules are simple...

  • You must live in Portland, or be able to pick up your prize in town.
  • Post a photo to our Facebook wall. You can either post the actual photo file or a link to the photo from an online service like Flickr, Picasa, etc. When linking to an online photo service, Facebook should create the thumbnail of the image for you in your wall post.
  • The photo must be related to Portland beer: a photo of beer, brewery, taplist, etc. Get creative, but make sure it’s related to beer in Portland!
  • The photo with the most Likes at the end of day on March 31st is the winner! The Likes are only counted on the original photo post on our wall, not any of the comments attached to the photo.
  • You can post as many photos as you want, but one great photo with 20 Likes is better than 20 average photos with 1 Like!
You can link to everything that you need on  It is a great way to get exposure for yourself or your photography.  Amateurs are encouraged to submit photos.  If you would like feedback on how to improve your photography skills, Matt, an accomplished photographer will be happy to provide feedback.  While you are looking at ways to enter the competition, check out the great resources has to offer.  Arguably the longest running beer blog in Portland, beer fests are listed, blog entries regarding upcoming releases are there and many other resources including maps that will assist you in your Oregon craft beer journey.

On the personal side, Matt recently earned an honorary doctorate it Glassware Technology.  He earned the esteemed award by consistently promoting proper use of the many forms beer can be poured into.  Congratulate him the next time that you seem him out and about in Portland.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hoops and Hops at the Rose Garden

Hoops and Hops is an event that promotes local craft breweries prior to Trailblazer games.  A bar and restaurant called, The Game is a large room across from the main Rose Garden entrance.  It occurs about every other month during the regular season.  A few hours before the basketball starts to bounce, you will find beers from Laurelwood, Pyramid and Widmer since they are Blazer sponsors.  However, there are four rotating taps that feature local beers and generally the brewers attend in order to answer questions about their operations and ingredients. 

The last Hoops and Hops night of the 2011-2012 season featured, Mt. Tabor Brewing (Vancouver, WA), Two Kilts Brewing (Sherwood, OR), Migration Brewing (Portland, OR) and Heathen Brewing (Vancouver, WA).   Since people will travel far for the beloved Blazers, it was great to see people enjoying beer that they can get again either near their home or a short distance away.  Most people were congregating at the smaller breweries taps.  Some people had purchased a package in which you get a game ticket and beer tickets, while others wandered in because they heard there was beer available.  Although, Mt. Tabor, Two Kilts and Migration are not that new, they were new to many drinkers that don’t seek out new beer.  Regular customers from some of the breweries came just to support their neighborhood pub.

Ovations Event Manager Casey Mishima is very excited to provide a public service for basketball fans.  In reference to the event he said, “they are well attended, but could be better.”  There are several reasons that Hoops and Hops might not be drawing in thousands of people at once.  The first would be that it isn’t well advertised.  Even if you think that you can not promote an event more than you already have and there is not a giant crowd, then you need to try something else.  Beer media isn’t going to cover it too much as it is a regular event, but non-beer media could cover it more, which means that the event planners could hold a media event at the beginning of the season to get the word out early.  The brewers can’t be the only ones promoting it.  Another challenge is on-site marketing.  Since thousands of people attend games, there is a great opportunity to get people in prior to the game even if they didn’t buy the package.  Tickets can be purchased individually, so anyone can walk in prior to tip-off.  Below is a lonely copy of a flyer taped to a random pole.

There is a chance to market the event as a happy hour place.  Since there is food available, a person can leave work, go straight to the game, eat and drink and then go to the arena.  A lot of people don’t show up until right before the game starts and the pouring stops at game time. 

Regardless of the lack of press or understanding it is still a mini beer fest and Meet the Brewer event.  As with many brewers who are working hard to get their creations out there, they enter in a new market by giving people access that do not normally seek out their beer or are simply unaware of the extensive craft beer market.  Alex from Two Kilts seemed to be in heaven talking about his use of Scottish 1728 yeast, while Eric Surface from Mt. Tabor chatted with people who live in Vancouver, drive into Portland for the game, but did not know there is a new tap room in their neighborhood. 

Eric, Sunny, McKean, Eric
The event was well attended, but I can see it being bigger and give more people an introduction to craft beer.  There is some miscommunication, because I have had some brewers wonder how they get into Hops and Hoops and I have had people associated with the event indicate that they had difficulty getting breweries involved.  That means there is some connection missing.

Pints Brewing Company Ready to Debut New Beers

Zach Beckwith (formerly of New Old Lompoc) is debuting his own lineup of beers at Pints Brewing Company THIS FRIDAY. Pints has been flying under the radar as a small scale Northwest beer bar for a while, and is sure to gain attention now with the unveiling of hand-crafted "old school Northwest and British-inspired ales". After struggling for a half hour with NW Portland parking problems, I had a chance to preview the initial draft line-up and tour the brewery. I'm not sure what I expected from someone adamant about brewing "beers readily recognizable as beers, not tinctures", but my feelings were overall mixed.

Did the beers showcase an expert level of craftsmanship? Yes. Beckwith offered up an ESB, a pale ale, a stout, and an IPA. All were solid and drinkable, showcasing the fruity/earthy contrast of American and English ale yeast strains. The ESB and stout had the most rounded flavors, while the IPA tried too hard to be bitter and the rye fell short of showcasing the spiciness of its star ingredient. My favorite beer of the night was the collaboration Witbier made with Lompoc, a sessionable flavor bomb which featured a pleasant, balancing spicy-sweetness from the inclusion of candied ginger. The problem for me is that I don't think this type of beer will be the norm at Pints. Expert, yes.. did the beers speak to my personal tastes? No.

After speaking with Beckwith for a short period, I understand that he's going to be filling a necessary hole in the Portland beer scene. Traditional flagship beers, finely-tuned, with a seasonal beer to round out the lineup (these include a red ale and a session IPA, for example). Pints is the anti-Breakside. If you are the guy who is frustrated with the oversaturation of experimental beers at your local brewpub, this will be the place for you.

Additionally, Pints brew space is a very interesting one and worth checking out. It is reminiscent of Block 15's labyrinthian basement brewery, with files, computers, and workspaces integrated amongst grain sacks and other brewing miscellany. The 3.5 barrel batches will ensure fresh beer and the busy neighborhood will ensure h turnover. Beckwith's passion is evident, although hearing from the "Real Estate Development Company" guy who runs the joint was a little spirit-crushing. I suppose that's the real world, though, and breweries would not exist if they weren't making someone money.

Financial issues aside, Pints has some nicely crafted beer, and I recommend you give it a whirl on Friday.. Especially if you're the guy who's constantly complaining about the latest Hoppy Hoppy Nano Beer.

Pints Brewing Company
412 NW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Widmer, I am back!

Widmer Bros. Brewing might be best know for the, "hef," but I like to think of them as a brewery of gateway beers.  A gateway or transition beer is a beverage that either gets people to notice craft beer or enhances the current enjoyment of beer and makes people want to get to the next level of beer knowledge.

It is difficult to balance being a beer geek and a craft beer promoter.  As a beer geek, it is easy to claim beers or breweries are overrated.  See Sam Calagione's (the Dogfish Head guy) perfect description of this conundrum here.  What happens is some beer geeks confuse overrated with limitless access.  Because beer(s) are readily available, they become ordinary and not something that you have to chase.  People get used to regular line ups on the shelf, which is why breweries have year around beer line ups.  Some beer geeks, also known as tickers are just out to score the latest releases or get a little bit of limited, small batch brews. I am guilty of this and I have no shame about it.  I want to try as many beers as possible, but for the right reasons.  I love to see how brewers incorporate nontraditional ingredients and I want to see how struggling brewers improve their skills.  While I am busy doing this, excellent craft beer that is always available gets skipped.  Widmer ends up being one of the producers that gets missed

This is not fair to Widmer staff as they work hard and it undervalues the impact that they have had on craft beer.  I am not the only beer geek that fails at supporting the people that made it possible for us to be where we are today.  I can recall dozens of people who have told me that they do not drink Widmer beer because it is overrated.  The beer isn't overrated, it is just accessible.

The beer that has brought me back and made me reflect on my flaws is the Oatmeal Porter.  Widmer recently started the 924 series, 924 is the address of the brewpub in Portland, OR.  The series is meant to be on-offs and experimental beers, but they are made on a large scale because Widmer has the production capacity.  Once again, just because something is accessible doesn't make it overrated.  The Oatmeal Porter, which you can read reviews here, here and here and here and here (I stole that from Alworth) is an amazing example of hard working brewers and people who care about the product they put out.  It is my favorite Widmer beer and it has changed my life.  It made me realize that I have been missing out on other well crafted beers for years.  I have let no less than four years go by without drinking a beer from Widmer's regular line up.  I put a stop to that!  In the past few weeks, I have revisited every mainstay beer from the brewery that brothers Kurt and Rob turned into an empire.  My beer geek palate didn't enjoy all of them, but my unbiased judging palate scored most of them high when judging based on style guidelines.  I have a stock of beers that I recommend to people getting their feet wet in the world of craft beer and I have dismissed Widmer.  That has stopped too!

If you are a beer geek, get back to your roots and try a Widmer beer.  PB&M [ED: Nicole] officially endorses the Oatmeal Porter as a beer that will make you believe again.  If you need a gateway beer back to the generation that paved the way for craft beer, get the 924 series porter.  It won't be around much longer as the next 924 series will be coming soon, a Marionberry Hibiscus Gose.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apex Announces Arrival of Credit Card Machine

Jesse McCann, proprietor/owner of SE Portland's popular craft beer bar Apex, just tweeted this morning that as of their 11am opening today, credit and debit cards will finally be accepted. "It just makes sense, it's the twenty-first century!" stated McCann. In typical Apex fashion, however, only American Express will be accepted. UPDATE: The AmEx information is inaccurate, as it was first reported erroneously by Ezra at The New School.

Congratulations, Jesse and crew!

Original Photo by Angelo DeIeso, lifted from

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blend Play? Four Love?

A Portland Beer and Music fan e-mailed this to me today, and it was too funny not to share. Enjoy!

Would you drink this beer?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yes for the Barleywines!

This weekend is one of the most anticipated events in Portland, OR.  The Big Beer & Barleywine Fest is an annual event sponsored by Lucky Lab Brewing.  Going on for over a decade and taking place at the Lucky Lab Beer Hall on NW Quimby since its opening in 2006, the lineup is comprised of some high alcohol beers, mostly barleywines, and from many breweries, local and internationally known.

The fest is led by brewer Ben Flerchinger and he puts hours and hours of effort in during the year to select cellared beers as well as fresh barleywines so we can have smalls tastes of a collection that can't be found anywhere else.

Ben puts together verticals (the same beer from different years) so we can see the development over time.  Barleywines are an amazing mix of hoppiness and sweetness when brewed in the American style, more rich and subdued in the English style.  Since it takes a lot of ingredients to get it right, brewers have reduced the amount of barleywines that they brew.  Every year barleywines become less a part of regular lineups and more of a specialty one-off brew.  The Big Beer and Barleywine Fest hopes to stop that trend and prove how great the art of the barleywine can be.

Here are a few reviews from people that tested the potentials for this year.

It's Pub Night  (Lindsey is one of the nicest guys that you will ever meet)
The New School (Gordon has an amazing palate)

I agree with their assessments and I am excited to try many more beers.  Anything in the Old Yeller series is my highest recommendation!  I am most looking forward to casually spending time with friends in the amazing space that houses the beer hall.  Besides large communal tables inside, they have one of the best patios in Portland for festival goers to enjoy.  Families are welcome, so you can also bring the kids while you enjoy some BIG BEERS & BARLEYWINES.

Lucky Lab Beer Hall
1945 NW Quimby
Portland OR
Friday and Saturday 3/2 and 3/3/12

Click here for 2011 action.