Friday, July 29, 2011

Why I Love Brewing Up Cocktails

This Saturday marks the first anniversary of Brewing Up Cocktails. And even though this Saturday is packed with a host of other events, this one is an absolutely must attend! I have personally had the pleasure of attending three of these fascinating events here in Portland, and, in the last year, their popularity has grown to the point that the team of Jacob Grier, Yetta Vorobik, and Ezra Johnson-Greenough has extended its influence and has now held Brewing Up Cocktails sessions in San Francisco, Seattle and British Columbia.

The premiere event last summer was amazing. The Furburger (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Green Chartreuse, and Great Divide Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti) and the Cascadian Revolution (Hop in the Dark, Grand Marnier, Clear Creek Doug Fir Eau de Vie, orange zest, and hop oil) were the standouts, but the spirits, liqueurs, and beers were perfectly balanced in all of the cocktails, and I could feel as well as taste all of the ingredients in each of them. 

With winter came the second round. The Hot Scotchy (with unfermented beer wort) and Lovers’ Quarrel (which featured a brilliant combination of herbal notes, acid, and chili spice) were the best of that go, and it was obvious that the founders had worked hard to use different beers and liquors for the new menu.

The next Portland event, at Spints Alehouse, featured Oakshire beers mixed with eggs to make a variety of flips, storied cocktails that date back hundreds of years. The Brewing Up Cocktails team does its homework.  There was a cocktail for everyone. Scotch lovers could imbibe the peaty scotch drink while their friends enjoyed an apple based cocktail with tangy but sweet notes that coated the mouth. The Heart Shaped Box, Oakshire’s rare Stout, was featured in one of the most powerful cocktails of the evening. 

Because each cocktail is so complex, expect a longer than usual wait after ordering your drinks on Saturday, but expect the wait to be worth it. Bring a friend so you can share each of the drinks that each of you order, and that way you’ll have a better chance of trying everything on the menu.

The first anniversary Brewing Up Cocktails event, complete with a pig roast, will be held at the Hop & Vine on Killingsworth. Parking in the neighborhood is generally ample and the yellow line MAX stop at Killingsworth and Interstate is within walking distance. I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I hope to see you there.

Info from the Press Release:
 "This Saturday July 30th 6-10pm is the Brewing up Cocktails One Year Anniversary Party at The Hop & Vine. We are celebrating Tiki style with a backyard party featuring a Frozen Margarita machine we will be serving beer cocktails from and a menu of drinks featuring sponsor Kona Brewing and other local beers and it's all brought to you by Groupon. There is no admission charge and there will be cocktail and beer specials."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beer Geek Duty for OBF

Use the links below to find out facts, figures, beer recommendations and overall educated opinions on beer at OBF.
The Beer Here
Brewpublic (check out the Buzz Tent)
The Daily Pull
The New School (check out Behind the Pint video from 2010)
The Not So Pro Beer Blog  (check out the different flights for different levels)
An Ear For Beer

What I want you to know is your responsibility as a beer geek.  If you are an educated beer geek in Oregon, you should be telling everybody you know about OBF.  We have specialty events and festivals through the year, but one of the best gateway beer events is OBF.  You are the guide that helps people transition into the craft beer community.  It is your responsibility to encourage people to attend OBF.  Make recommendations for beer; tell them the hours and the best times to go.  Help them design a map to maximize their time and help them use Trimet for transportation.  You should be encouraging your family members, co-workers and complete strangers to go to a festival that puts Portland on the International map as a beer destination.  It is your civic duty to do whatever you can do, to advocate for craft beer in Oregon and to help people who do not drink craft beer find their way.  When you find people that do drink craft beer, you should help them discover more of it, whether it is new breweries or new beer styles.  Every local beer geek is an ambassador starting today and you are responsible for ensuring that more people drink more craft beer and one of the best places to start is to direct visitors and locals to OBF!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Burnside Brewing Launches Grätzer 2.0 Thursday, Teases Upcoming Projects

PB&M contributor Jim Bonomo recently got the chance to preview Burnside Brewing's new seasonal release and dig up some interesting information. Here's the report:

Burnside Brewing will be premiering a new version of their popular Grätzer seasonal this Thursday, both at the tap room and as their official entry to the Oregon Brewers Festival. This uncommon style is a historical one, pulling its roots from traditional Polish brewing. McAdam and company hand-smoke their wheat malt using modified hotel pans in small, labor-intensive batches, limiting the Grätzer’s availability to that of a small-batch seasonal. Despite McAdam’s self-professed dislike of standard rauchbiers, he’s managed to craft one which will please both die-hard smokeheads and the casual beer-pairing foodie.

The biggest technical shift with the summer 2011 version of Burnside’s Grätzer is the addition of Mesquite to the wood bill. The finished beer certainly shares a comforting aromatic sense-memory with a plate of slow-smoked, chargrilled meat. The flavor, however, is gentler; the full-bodied yet refreshing creaminess usually found in a German hefeweizen is there, and the zing of wheat and light fruit from the Kolsch yeast take prominence over the smoke on the palate. This happy confluence creates both a complex and poundable brew, well-suited for mass consumption at a beer geek cookout.

McAdam tweaks the basic historical recipe to facilitate a drinkability, allowing the finished beer to pair well with some of his brewpub’s summery, smoky cuisine. Traditional wheat totality and intense smoke are scaled back to minimize conflict with recommended menu items including bratwurst burgers, duck confit with sous vide duck eggs, and pastrami with apples and mustard.

In addition to the upcoming Grätzer, McAdam and crew have some other interesting projects fermenting away in the deep recesses of their Burnside Avenue location. Chief among them is a bacon bourbon stout, crafted with unique techniques and ballsy ambition. As I understand it, a bacon gas has being created by allowing CO2-preserved bacon to break down and absorb back into the gas. That gas will eventually be used to push a bourbon stout from its keg into your glass, creating a bacon note without the bacon ever touching the beer. This ‘molecular zymurgy’ approach is sure to excite the inner-nerd, and if it works, should open up a world of possibilities for Burnside Brewing and the brewing world in general.

Besides the bacon experiment, McAdam teased an imperial version of Burnside's Sweet Heat, amped up to an 8% "wheat wine" with some brewery bugs added for a complimentary tartness. Fans of the 'Heat' will also be able to sample a Sweet Heat ice cream (complete with candied scotch bonnet peppers) made by the Salt & Straw folks at the Hawthorne Street Fair on August 28th. 22oz bottles of Stock Ale, IPA, and Oatmeal Pale are slated for a fall release, and Burnside is planning 24oz cans to follow the initial bottle release. Exciting things indeed for the future of Burnside Brewing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Touching Ben

BenFest is tonight at Grain & Gristle.  Brewers named Ben have been talking about this for awhile, so I wanted to make sure that it happened for them.  I enlisted the help of beer event planner extraordinaire, Angelo De Ieso from Brewpublic for help.  He has had amazing events such as the Division St. Pub Crawl, Killer Beer Week, IIPA Fest and My Beery Valentine, just to name a few.  Mr. De Ieso is a great communicator and was able to secure space and people with ease.  Alex Ganum owner of Upright Brewing and co-founder of Grain & Gristle was immediately excited about the event and knowing how special the Bens of brewing are, Alex is graciously providing the space for the night. 

These particular Bens are some of the most dynamic brewers in town and nice guys too.  Ben Dobler from Widmer Bros Brewing, Ben Edmunds from Breakside Brewing, Ben Engler from Occidental Brewing, Ben Flerchinger from Lucky Lab Beer Hall and Ben Love from HUB will be present with beer from their respective brewery. 

Since brewers named Ben are outside of the Portland city limits, a special keg was reserved for BenFest from some Ben brewers in Alaska.  Ben Johnson of Midnight Sun and Ben Millstein of Kodiak Island Brewing are sending Midnight Benshine a black imperial stout, aged on oak with bretanomyces.  The beer was brewed with Falconers Flight.  Your duty tonight is to ask the Bens what is special about Falconers Flight. 

T-shirts will be available for $15, so don't miss the chance to have the Bens of Brewing immortalized on your chest.

Photo copyright by Matt Wiater

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Next Few Days

Quick quick!  I have to share this.  Don't be left out of history.  Most people that I know will be at the following events.  I happed to know some very cool and smart people. 

Brewers Feud at Migration Brewing.  Saturday 2:00pm-6:00pm

LOLA/Sarevza Women in Beer Celebration Saturday, all day with special tappings of LOLA brewed Hibiscus IPA and Urthel Saison at 7:00pm

BenFest at Grain & Gristle, starting at 5:00pm

Tap it Tuesday, Live Bourbonic, Cascade Barrel House 6:00pm

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I hope that you are having an excellent July so far.  I hope that you have drank new beer, met the person brewing your favorite beer and made new beer friends.  Below is another event that you must attend or your Oregon Craft Beer Month will not be complete.

I have attended almost every Puckerfest.  I started because the idea of a festival geared toward, "funky beers," now routinely called, "sour beers," in the Portland area, was very unique.  A time when you could taste several different beers from around the world made with a variety of controlled infections and wild yeasts.  Now every night is dedicated to a different local brewery.  Meet the Brewer events are scheduled on most of those nights.  This event has become one of the most popular pastimes during Oregon Craft Beer Month.  If you can only make one night, that will have to do, just don't miss the opportunity to try some funky beers crafted with love by Oregon brewers.

Monday 7/18 Flat Tail Brewing
Tuesday 7/19 Double Mountain
Wednesday 7/20 Upright Brewing
Thursday 7/21 Block 15 Brewery
Saturday 7/23  Big Horse Brewery

Belmont Station
4500 SE Stark St
Portland, OR 97215

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bless Us Portland For We Have Sinned

Portland Beer and Music contributer Jim Bonomo recently got a look into the next wave of Pyramid Brewing in Portland and beyond.

Jim's report for those of us who care on a different level.

Pyramid is dropping the ‘Haywire’ moniker from their award-winning “northwest version” of hefeweizen. That’s the big news. Unfortunately, such matters are more interesting to people who buy beers based on names, labels, imagery, and advertisements. Apparently, the rock climbers portrayed on the most recent incarnation of the Pyramid bottles weren’t sold on what Pyramid brand manager Ryan Daley referred to as a “lifestyle” marketing approach.

What will interest our readers is what Pyramid plans to do going forward, taking a prodigal-son-eats-crow approach which will see a “fundamental shift back to basics”. Words like “heritage” and “legacy” were used in describing the future of both Pyramid’s marketing approach as well as forthcoming label designs (which are still in the test marketing phase).

What does this mean for the craft beer drinker? For starters, we will see more experimental test batches. Currently, 125 bbl is the smallest brewable batch in the Pacific Northwest. This massive number has put limits on the amount of playfulness that the brewers are allowed. In the coming weeks, a 15 bbl pilot system will be revitalized in Seattle, where roving brewer Tom Bleigh will play mad scientist as time permits. A barrel program has been instituted in the Portland location; currently 14 barrels including Ransom Gin, Ransom Whiskey, and Jack Daniels are full of various one-offs and big beers for draft release in local markets. Bleigh plans to add 4 new (as yet unknown) brands to the Pyramid family in coming months, as well as 4 new oak barrels for aging. During a recent press event, Bleigh spoke cryptically about being in the early planning stages of a Pyramid/Magic Hat collaboration beer. As long as it’s not a double apricot, I think we’ll be OK.

Most exciting is the prospect of a “Legacy Series”, which would bring back defunct brands currently in the Pyramid-owned lineup. A new version of MacTarnahan’s Blackwatch Cream Porter was recently brewed under the name Humbug’r, and several other brands were mentioned for potential future inclusion: Benchmark Old Ale, Uncle Otto’s Weiss Beer, Zig-Zag lager, and the late 90’s nerd-staples from Saxer.

If something positive for the craft consumer comes out of a marketing shitstorm, so be it. Lesson learned, it seems, and a renewed dedication to pleasing the local and informed beer shopper can only be a step in the right direction for the oft-ignored NAB conglomerate. Pyramid got my attention earlier this year with their fantastic Outburst Imperial IPA, and they’ve earned my trust. At least for a while.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brewcycle is bar biking, not bar hopping.

Ben Flerchinger and the Lab crew on a trial run

Brewcycle is a new method of bar biking in town.  Andrea Lins and Charlie Riegelman recently moved to Portland and knew how important the beer and bicycles are in the city.  Inspired by a vehicle seen in Europe, they purchased the bicycle from a builder in Savannah, GA.  The bike has a driver seat and six bicycle seats with pedals on either side of the bar area situated in the center of the vehicle.  There is a small bench in the back that seats two adults.

Everyone contributes to the movement of the bike!  The community vehicle is powered by you.  You can get a little workout in between pubs and get to each one faster than on foot.  You don’t have to park your car or even lock your own bike, so this might be the fastest way to move between NW breweries.

"best time you'll ever have on four wheels" is Brewcycle's motto

The owners are working with the city of Portland on routes that don’t interfere will traffic.  Right now they are making the Northwest Portland round between Lucky Lab Beer Hall, New Old Lompoc, Bridgeport Brewing and Rogue Brewing.  Their permit was set to be granted on July 8th.  Brewcycle had to get a new type of permit as there was no vehicle like theirs on the road in Portland.  Similar to the Pedicab permit, the proprietors worked diligently with city officials to write a new code for granting the appropriate permit.

Andrea says, “We love the atmosphere, we love the clientele, these are the people that we want to hang out with,” So call or email Andrea and get your tour booked on the Brewcycle.
Andrea Lins

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mt. Tabor Brewing Update

Initial Mountain

Eric has a coat on, it was still cold outside

Eric Surface relocated Mt. Tabor Brewing to Vancouver, WA earlier this year.  Read about the history of the brewery here.  Once he found a location, the restorations began.  Most commercial rental properties are not brewery ready.  Between tap lines, walk in coolers, tanks and storage areas, Eric has done as much as he can on his own.

This summer, it is looking like a real brewpub.  Eris is excited to get back in the game and most of his licensing has been approved.  Industry pros, like Van Havig have visited the new location and Eric has welcomed all tips and tricks.  Since Beetje Brewing is doing a similar project in SE Portland, Eric and Mike Wright, Beetje brewer/owner chat several times a week so it is a team effort to make the transitions happen.

Coolers come in puzzle pieces

Brewing Equipment, it is starting to look real

Eric already has glassware and a toilet, so there isn’t much more to go.  I first met Eric at a Meet the Brewer event at The Beermongers in July of 2010.  The Asylum Ave IPA had an impressive depth of Amarillo hops and the Calf Stout was a great example of a NW Stout, hoppy and rich, but highly drinkable. The beers were standouts among beers that were available during Oregon Craft Beer Month 2010. 

The official opening date is not set, but you can follow Mt. Tabor Brewing on Facebook and Twitter for updates.  And it will be okay to bring some kids, there will be sidewalk chalk.