Everything you ever wanted to know about Oyster Stouts

(Upright Brewing's label for their Oyster Stout bottles)

Oysters and stouts are a well-known and appreciated combo. But few people have heard of Oyster Stout. As in, making a stout with the oysters already added.
I first heard of this style about 4 or 5 years ago and have been seeking them out and encouraging people to brew one ever since. Not sure why I have not gotten around to homebrewing one yet.
I was very heartened to learn that both Magnolia Brewing and 21st Ammendment both brewed one in 2008. Later I found out both Dogfish Head and Rogue had done one, but those are long gone.

It was not until Upright Brewing and Jason McAdam (ex-Roots head brewer) decided to make one together at Upright that I learned how many people have never heard of the style and the reluctance people have to try one. As we were making the beer, we sort of live tweeted it from the Upright twitter account. Here are a few of the responses:

"Is this a test to see if we're paying attention?"

"Oysters, as in the mollusc?"

"I am skeptical, but hope for the best re:oysterbeer. If anyone can make_that_palatable......."

and my favorite:

"I'm struggling a little with the oyster beer concept. Maybe you could jump on the coffee porter or coffee stout band-wagon.?"  

Now it seems like this style is seeing a mini resurgence. I think with breweries like Dogfish Head constantly trying unique ingredients, it has opened up peoples' palates and ideas about beers and what they can be. I really hope we continue seeing more of them.

In addition to Upright's, I know of 3 brand new Oyster Stouts: The Murky Pearl from Ft. George just up in Astoria, one from Flying Fish in New Jersey and now one from Harpoon Brewery out of Boston.
(Click here to read more about Upright's oyster stout)

They are not easy to get ahold of, but everyone from Sam Adams, Rogue, Dogfish Head and more has brewed them. 3 Brothers in New Zealand, Marston's from the UK, Iwate Kura Oyster Stout from Japan, Barilla Bay Oyster Stout from Australia are just a few examples of foreign versions. These beers are not as rare as you think!
(Click here to read more about Harpoon's Oyster Stout)

Now that I have this blog and there is a resurgence of the style, it is a perfect excuse for me to really delve into the history and techniques of brewing these beers.

Let's start with late, great beer writer Michael Jackson's notes. He seems to have had the exact same reaction as I -- "Despite my never having sampled the stuff, I shall be taking every opportunity to raise the question of oyster stout during the next few weeks."
MJ also mentions that the entire idea of oysters being brewed into stouts may be a myth originating in the pairing of the two separately. Colchester Brewing Company apparently produced an Oyster Feast Stout to celebrate the annual oyster harvest taking place on the River Coine. This was possibly just a regular stout simply named for the occasion, and possibly started the myth. If not, it is the first Oyster Stout on record. It was still produced when Inde Coope and Allsopp took them over in 1925 and was produced under Romford Brewery until at least 1940, according to Michael Ripley of the Brewers' Society. Regardless, the style became a reality if it was not already. I actually rather like the idea that the whole thing originated from a myth to reality.
Research also suggests that oyster shells were used as finings at one time. This history was not known to me until Jason McAdam suggested it at Upright and MJ's writings confirm it. Fining agents are used by breweries to clarify their beer without filtering; they generally include positively charged agents, which are attracted to and latch onto negatively charged particles in the beer and thus sink them to the bottom of a fermentor at an accelerated pace. Oyster shells are very alkaline and work as an antacid that can counterract the sourness of a beer.
According to Wikipedia, the first known Oyster Stout was produced in 1929 in New Zealand. But they dont back this up with any info, such as the brewery name. There is evidence that there was an oyster extract produced in NZ at this time that was suggested for use in brewing that was said to improve head retention of a beer "without a trace of fishiness". It was experimented with in 1938 at Hammerton Brewery of Stockland, London in their oatmeal stout, adding it at the priming stage of the beer in amounts of 1 or 2%. Apparently because of a bad batch of the extract, this beer never actually made it to the market.

J. J. Young of Portsmouth brewing later took up the task and produced perhaps the second on record. It was continued thereafter by different breweries until probably the 1960s. Marston's Oyster Stout is the most widely produced beer carrying the name. Unfortunately, this beer carries the word 'Oyster' only in name. None are used in the making of this stout.

There seem to be two ways of thinking when it comes to brewing oyster stouts. Either you brew a Sweet Stout or a Dry Irish Stout as the base beer. History seems to suggest either was the base beer. Then, of course, there is the question of how to add the oysters.
Historically, as mentioned above, there was an oyster extract you could use. These days, the oysters are often added in either the mash or the boil. Sometimes just the shell or just the meat, sometimes both.

Magnolia Brewing in San Franciso is a veteran producer of the style, and I recently spoke to head brewer Dave Mclean on brewing the beer:
"We started out using just the shells, like some other brewers do. But, by the second batch we were adding whole oysters to the boil and letting them open, spilling the liquor into the wort and cooking the meat a bit, too.  We were using a bushel (10 dozen) local Hog Island Sweetwaters, but this last batch we upped it to two bushels (though we opened and ate quite a few during the boil, too). I really like the subtle brininess that the oysters add to the stout. As a base, we use a fairly dry stout, around 6% abv."
Ft. George added the oysters to the hopback. It's the first I have heard of doing it that way, and seems like it would add very little. When I tried the beer it tasted like a great dry stout, but I picked up absolutely zero oyster character.
Upright combined many methods of getting the oyster character into the beer. 8 dozen whole oysters were boiled in the kettle, in addition to adding oyster juice at the end of the boil and conditioning it with cleaned oyster shells. Even then, the beer does not have a strong oyster character, but more of a subtle brininess and some added body. I don't think anyone could pick out the oysters if you did not clue them in.
Reportedly, if you boil in the meat of the oysters, they will actually completely dissolve into the wort. There is also a common myth that oysters will kill the head on a beer. Not so in my experience.
I am looking forward to seeing more Oyster Stouts and perhaps more meat beers in general, with the advent of bacon beer experiments. Magnolia is tinkering with a Prosciutto beer, and you may be seeing something from Upright along those lines soon... 

Sources: The Beer Hunter, Upright Brewing blog, The Daily Pull, Beer Advocate

A Few Words On Cascadian Dark Ales: Updated!

 UPDATED 1/26/10

Some commenters have noted that the validity of the name Cascadian Dark Ale or CDC is in question because of brewers making it not in the Cascadian region and because the most common bottled example in Oregon is Laughing Dog: Dogzilla which is from Idaho. As another commenter points out, Idaho is often considered in the Cascadian region so that argument is pretty void. In fact Hopworks new bottles of the Secession CDA or Black IPA features a map of Cascadia with Idaho clearly included.

Let me also point out as far as breweries not in the region making the style, I am not sure how that argues against the term. IPA's made in the US are not called APA's. Most of the styles brewed did not originate here and are different than the originals. We brew them as a tribute. Which is really all the Cascadian Dark Ale name signifies.

Hopworks is sort of middle of the road on the whole thing calling the Secession both a Black IPA and a CDA in the description. In fact the whole bottle design is promoting Cascadia with a map, a cascadia flag, and description. I talked to Ben Love head brewer at HUB about it and he believes they are really promoting the CDA name and that is what they hope people settle on. But in the interim more people know what a Black IPA is. I argue that no one is going to know what a CDA is if you dont start actually calling the beers a CDA. I dont believe you can walk the line. You need to take a stance.

I also just saw a posting from Jamie Floyd, co-owner of Ninkasi and President of the Oregon Brewers Guild on the BrewCrew mailing list on this very subject:

This year's collaboration brew in Eugene for KLCC beer festival is a
Belgian style Cascadian Dark Rye Ale. All of the Eugene brewer's
agreed that it should be Cascadian Dark as well. Besides, if it isn't
established as Cascadian, the guys in San Diego will take credit for
brewing it first like every other beer in the world. I have all ready
heard flack from some of the California brewers who want to call it
DPA : Dark Pale Ale which is even more oxymoronic.

Interested in trying more of the style? Well the Oregon Brew Crew is tapping their newest Green Dragon beer this wednesday 5pm and it is a CDA called 'Frank Black' of imperial strength.
I am going to try to go check it out if I am not banned from the Green Dragon at this point.

I am guessing most of the readers of this blog know what a Black IPA is and probably even what a Cascadian Dark Ale is. They are both the same thing but the debate is what term to call them and weather it is truly an official style of beer.

Today is a big day for the proponents of the Cascadian Dark Ale style and name. Belmont Station is hosting the CDA Symposium that many brewers are attending as well as a representative of the BJCP.
Local beer writer Abraham Goldman-Armstrong is the organizer of this event and the main proponent of both CDA as a style and of referring to them as CDA's instead of Black IPA's. I have asked him to share some words with this blog and myself about why we should embrace it. But first, I have some thoughts of my own:

You might think the naming of this type of beer is trivial, or that the whole thing is just a fad.
Let me assure you it is not.

Going Rogue: An Interview with Brett Joyce. Part 2 of 2.

(Writers Note: this post was edited for proper grammar by new part-time Editor @ElGordo !)

In Part one of this interview (right here) I have received comments suggesting I am being unfair to Rogue. I must disagree. Brett Joyce contacted ME to talk about my beef. He agreed to a recorded interview. And get this, I even suggested sending him written questions in advance that he said NO to. In fact, let me say right now that I give him credit for that and for speaking to me. I respect him for talking with me and answering my questions, even if the answers are not always that great.

I have spent a considerable amount of time typing out our conversation, which is nearly unedited. I do not want to come off as unfair, and I want Brett to have a full chance to respond. If I simply wanted to attack Rogue then why would I do this and agree to meet and give him his say? I could have simply written a one-sided hit piece.

Anyway on to the interview. Put on a pot of coffee or open a bomber of your favorite brew, it's going to be a long one.


In which Brett offers reasons for their higher prices, why he doesn't believe in the Honest Pint project, and why Rogue doesn't (or does) repackage their beers.

SA: OK, well let me get into the questions. I have a lot of people who asked me to ask specific questions, if you don't mind going over some of those.

Brett: Are these your questions or other people's questions??

SA: They are my questions, but I have talked to a lot of people. Look, I am not going to make this a giant bashing session. I like your guys' beers and some of the stuff you are doing with the new 7oz bottles for the XS series and all that.

Brett: No it's fine, I believe you.

SA: Alright. Um, why doesn't the Green Dragon accept the Rogue Nation cards?

Brett: Um, we have tried to intentionally do the Green Dragon no harm since day one. You may have read some of the literature we have put out. One thing that we said is that we wanted to preserve the Dragon and do it no harm. What we meant by that is that we thought the Green Dragon had a great concept. You know, we have 9 pubs and all that, so our inclination is to Rogueify everything, so we tried to separate Rogue as much as possible from the Green Dragon. You start throwing Rogue Nation cards around people get confused, is this Rogue or Green Dragon? We have people walk into the Green Dragon and not know it has anything to do with Rogue. Same reason why only one tap of Rogue is allowed at the Green Dragon. We started out with 19 taps and now we have added 30, so we have just tried to add to the concept and preserve the concept. So separation is part of that preservation.

SA: But there are things you have brought over from Rogue, so is it not just a selective thing?

Brett: Well the signs you know, the things we do from learning from 22 years of experience. I don't know if they are Rogue signs, I think they are good restaurant experiences. You know nametags, we took that idea from card dealers in Las Vegas. People like to have something to talk to their servers about. Maybe they have something in common. Maybe the customer and the server is from the same place? You know, it just says 'Joe and I'm from Albuquerque', so the changes are about being polite and customer service. Nothing to confuse people they are at Rogue.
I am not sure what your referring to other then that...

SA: Will the Green Dragon Founders ever get chairs with their names on them? You know, that was one of the original stipulations when people bought in as Founders.

Brett: Good Question! Um, it hasn't come up. I meet with the Founders every year. Usually in November, which marks the anniversary of when we picked up the Green Dragon. All the Founders are there and we get their feedback and comments and it's never come up once.
If it became an issue with the Founders and they wanted it, you know its simple to do and I'm not against it, but it's been a non-issue at this point.

SA: When you took over you stated that you would be bringing in Lottery. Is that still planned? I know the pinball was there for a long time and it's gone now.

Brett: Yeah...no, we changed our mind on that. For a couple reasons we are constrained by space. And B, as I have learned more about the Green Dragon culture, I dont think it belongs there. So, based on the feel of the space and the constraints, I decided not to.

SA: So I am good friends with many of the original staff of the Green Dragon. Many before they even worked there. And some...no all either left or got replaced. It is my understanding that they all had to re-interview for their jobs and they all had to be drug tested? is that correct?

Brett: .....Again, that's correct...and here'ss... yeah, the way it goes is when we acquired the Dragon we signed the papers on the 17th and then on the 18th we had the employee meeting. They had lost their jobs under previous ownership, so we just said we want to get to know everyone. And I think there was one person that we did not re-hire. Some people elected not to be interviewed and said 'hey, we don't want to be a part of the new Green Dragon'. Yeah, you have to interview people and understand who is working for you...I think it's common business sense to do that. And you know the drug test is company policy.

SA: Why is it company policy?

Brett: I just think its smart business.

SA: OK. Let me go into the Honest Pint Project promoted by Beervana (Jeff Alworth's blog). So a while back you guys did a video of you pouring an honest pint, but it didn't quite meet the qualifications, because an honest pint actually has to be 16oz of liquid not including the head (there was no head on the beer in the video). Is there any reason you guys opted not to go that route?

Brett: ..........

SA: Or that you disagree with it or anything??

Brett: ..............In my experience, what are called cheater pints are the pints that look like a pint but have the nub in the bottom so they dont hold 16oz. That was always my interpretation of what a cheater pint was. A pint glass that doesn't hold 16oz, now there is this new alleged definition that you get 16oz of liquid, so that means you cant have a normal 16oz pint and have a head on it and I just think, if by somebody's definition they're not honest pints then that's fine, you know 95% of the bars in the world use 16oz pints. We have served standard 16oz pints since day 1, um, we have no intention of changing it.

SA: I understand what you're saying, but it is a growing trend that bars are switching over to 20oz pints, but with a 16oz marker so you can pour exactly to the line. I worked at Belmont Station, who wasn't going to switch, but so many people were asking we switched to the pints with the marker.....So are you guys just going to hold the line on that then??

Brett: yes

SA: Why do a lot of the Rogue beer cost more here, at the pub then at other locations??

Brett: Yeah, that,s a great question. The reason is that we refuse to undercut our customers. And our customers are bars, restaurants, convenience stores that sell our products and I would have a hard time looking, you know, Don Younger in the face if I was selling pints of YSB for $3.50. So we intentionally price our products higher then our customers charge for their products, otherwise we're undercutting their business. You know, if Whole Foods, if we're selling 6 packs of Dead Guy for $7.99 and they're up there at $9.99, then we are doing them a disservice so that's been our reason for doing that. Um, as long as we have had pubs, so we always set the pricing higher than our normal retail, because we want to support our customers. Simple.

SA: Ok uh, what about the repackaging of the beers?

Brett: Yeah, I think that is one of the stupidest objections to Rogue I have ever heard! And I object to it be called repackaging! Do we make custom beer bottles for special events and friends of Rogue? Absolutely. Should we have to apologize for that because we put normal everyday Rogue beers in those packages? No way! I think that's crazy. So that means we would have to apologize for making custom beers for returning National Guard troops. So the objection is, well, Rogue takes Dead Guy ale and puts it in a bottle that says 'Task Force Phoenix', which is a returning troop of Oregon national guardsmen that came back a few years ago. So that would be a repackaging under the objection that I read all the time! I just view it as, we do custom beer bottles. Should we apologize for doing a beer for the Portland Jazz Festival that happens to have American Amber inside the bottle? No! I think that's crazy, we have a partnership with a world class jazz festival. Should we apologize for making a beer for Portland State University, PSU IPA, that's Brutal Bitter? No! I think it's an honor to do a beer with them. We don't hide behind what's in the bottle, it's all out there! I don't understand what the objection is to taking some of our beers and putting them in the custom beer bottles for friends and family.

SA: Why don't you note on the bottle that they are other beers? I think the issue that a lot of people have problems with is a few people mentioned to me is they had a Rogue beer and they bought another one because they thought it was a different beer and they felt cheated because they thought it was something different.

Brett: Yeah, that's not the... I have rarely heard that. If somebody asks, I tell him what the beer was. We don't try to make it a mystery. If someone asks us, we tell them, hey, it's American Amber.

SA: Yeah, but for example, wasn't there that beer that was brewed for The Deadliest Catch (TV show)? Wasn't that a separate Rogue beer that was rebottled?

Brett: Uh, no, that's not true.

SA: That's a totally original beer?

Brett: Uh, well, we do sometimes. This one's a little bit tricky in that it was not a Rogue beer. Sometimes we will get inspiration from one of our satellite breweries - we have Eugene City Brewery, we have the Green Dragon Brewery now, and we have the Isaquaah Brewery, so the original recipe from Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale came from Eugene. Originally one of Trevor Albert's brews when he brewed down in Eugene. It was a beer at the time called 100 Meter. So we thought the beer was so good, it's a red IPA, a hybrid style. I think Trevor was honored that John Maier, our brewmaster of 21 years, thought enough of the beer that he wanted to brew it. So the original beer was Trevor's, and so thats what we put into the Captain Sig beer.

SA: Don't you think a lot of those objection could be dismissed if you just put on the bottle, you know, 'this beer used to be something else' ?

Brett: It never occured to us.

SA: OK, well I still have this statement that your lawyer Brian Schweppenheiser, who calls himself Rogue Attorney General said "it is not accurate that 'many feature repackaging of other available brands'...no repackaging at all". That is a quote.

Brett: I think this question has been asked and answered.

SA: Why do you put the XS series in ceramic bottles?

Brett: Originally we did it. And this is before I joined the company, so this is something that predates me. But my understanding is that it was done for A: the packaging; B: for cellaring; C: It's a great gift item; D: we have always prided ourselves on four things: world-class packaging, world-class product, unique thunder, which is our marketing integration, which means we are good citizens of our community wherever we are, be it a pub, distillery or a brewery. It's a great, great package.

SA: The current trends are towards sustainability and reusability, and the ceramic bottles I don't think are barely reusable, and I dont't think you can recycle it. It's just going to go into a landfill.

Brett: Yeah, thats a topic we never even talked about. No one ever brought it up. The reason we did it I explained. We never thumbed our nose. We just thought the packaging was so outstanding it belonged on our line.

SA: OK, what about the price of those beers? They are going for $16 to $20 a bottle. I mean, I think they are really good beers. I love the XS series, but I never buy them. Most people I know never buy them.

Brett: Well, you know we are changing the packaging size?

SA: I know you're making 7oz bottles, but you're not getting rid of the ceramics, are you?

Brett: We are. With the exception of the white colored one, the Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. But all the black ones you're referring to, those are going away this year. It's all going to 7oz. And the reason we did that is when beer prices rose, as ingredient prices rose and gas prices rose and the cost of the bottle rose, that the price got to be that it became a negative to the sale of the beer. At the price it started out with, I think it was pretty fair, but it got to a price where we just weren't comfortable with it anymore. So we felt like it was time to take some of the cost of the packaging out of the overall product.

SA: Can you tell me how much those are going to retail for?

Brett: Again, it depends on retailer and distributor margins, but I would say it would be between $3.99 and $4.99 a bottle.

SA: So this is a statement you said on Beervana Feb. 24th 09: "Our packaging is expensive. We serigraph all of our 22oz bottles, which costs significantly more than using paper lables. Our XS Ales are sold in ceramic bottles imported from Europe. We sell Double Dead Guy Ale in 750ml bottles that are imported from Italy, glazed in Canada, shipped to the U.S., serigraphed in Tualatin, and finally shipped to Newport for filling." I dont't know if you read the comments back then, but people were saying, 'why go through all that'? It seems really unsustainable and almost wasteful to most people.

Brett: Yeah, again, we have never built our brewery or our packaging around sustainability. It's not that we don't think there is a place for that, but it is not what's been important to us. And it's not that we don't think there is a place for that in the beer culture and society. We're not good at it! You have to focus on what you are good at, right? What we are good at is packaging. We are good at creating concepts and packages and products that are interesting, that are innovative and part of that is slightly unsustainable. We have to accept that. There is a tradeoff on things. I think it's all minor. I mean, the ink we use on the silkscreen for the serigraph is all UV free, so I think the carbon footprint is pretty minor. I don't think we need to apologize for some massive carbon footprint because we import bottles from Canada and we silkscreen them.

SA: OK, let's leave that and just talk about the cost. Isn't all that going to increase the cost of the beer?

Brett: Oh sure, what we do is not inexpensive. And it's not economically efficient. It's not how a CFO or an Operations Expert or a policy guru would tell you how to run the business. We don't run our business on conventional wisdom. We wanted a great product and packages that were unique, interesting, educational, that people viewed as great gifts. Those things are hard, they take some extra effort, extra work and some extra cost. We do not build a commodity product, so it should not go in a commodity package. We try to treat our packaging with as much care and as much respect as John Maier does his beers.

SA: There was another blog post (on the Oregon Economics Blog) that suggested that you guys use the economic term 'signalling' by pricing yourself higher to signal to consumers that your beer is of a higher quality. I know that you said that wasn't true, but I would like to see if you have more of a response to that.

Brett: Yeah, I'm not smart enough to know what 'signalling' is, but I would just say this, there is a lot that goes into the packaging, there is a lot of hops and malt that goes into our products. We have never told John in 21 years what to put into the beer. He is an artist, and it is our job to get out of the way and let him practice his craft, and it is our job to go sell it, go market it. Our beer is not inexpensive to make. It's because of ingredients and because of packaging, not because of 'signalling'. I don't even know what that means!

SA: So more on that argument that your beers cost more to make...I got a few examples from your Rogue 10,000 batch was an Imperial IPA you released in 07, it cost like upper 20s to say 30 bucks. Is that right?

Brett: Yeah, I think it was in that range.

SA: That beer was brewed with Vienna, French Special Aroma, and Maris Otter Pale Malts; Yakima Summit and German Saphir Hops, Free-range Coastal Water, and PacMan Yeast. 83 IBUs. Take for example a recent beer from Stone Brewing, their 13th Anniversary beer. It seemed a close relative. It's an anniversary beer just like yours, it's 9.5% ABV, 22.4 degrees Plato, hopped with 4.5 lbs per barrel. Chinook hops in the brewhouse for bittering and flavor; they dry-hopped this beer with a 50/50 blend of Simcoe and Centennial. 90 IBUs. And the bottle is serigraphed like yours and this beer only cost in the $8-$9 for a 22 oz bottle. So how would you explain the difference in cost?

Brett: I wouldn't. We stick to our knitten(?). I don't know what people put in their beer or how much it costs, and I don't care to comment on what other breweries charge for their beers! It's really none of my business.

SA: I have a few other examples. Rogue Kell's Lager: $5.29 per 22oz bottle. Compare it to Heater-Allen Pilsner which is just a tiny, tiny little brewery that is $4.29 a 22 oz. Or compare it to the Coney Island Lager: roughly equal in ABV and gets shipped all the way from New York, and only costs $4.99 a 22oz bottle. Their costs are probably exponentially higher than you guys?

Brett: Yeah I stick to my knitten(?), I don't know their cost structure as compared to ours. I don't know how I would compare the two things. I mean, obviously it's the packaging.

SA: So you have no comment on all these beers thats costs and shipping are much further but much cheaper?

Brett: Again, I don't know their cost structure. Packaging has got to be a part of it, is all I can tell you.

SA: OK, getting back to the Green Dragon, one blog got letters from your lawyer saying they are spreading inaccurate statements, right??

Brett: ....Yeah, I am proud to say that the Green Dragon drama is over. The great thing about all the emotion that was in the beer community is the passion that the customers had for the Green Dragon; they did not want the Green Dragon to go away or be ruined with a different concept.
I am happy to say that 15 months later the drama has subsided. Everyone I have talked to says the Green Dragon is stronger then ever, and it's what they always hoped it would be. I guess I really don't care to rehash ancient history at this point.

SA: So you're happy with how it was handled?

Brett: I am happy that we have done the Dragon no harm.

SA: OK, well, I think there are still people bitter about that when there are lawyers throwing around basically threats to bloggers that are not making a dime and just spreading the news.

Brett: You're talking about one of your brethren. I would be happy to address it with them one on one.

SA: OK, yeah, I am not trying to speak for them.

Brett: And I am not trying to speak through you.

SA: OK, I think that is it. Anything else you would like to say?

Brett:...You're recording all this, right?

SA: Yeah.

Brett: Turn the microphone off.

That is the end of the recorded interview. We continued to speak for a while, primarily about the Green Dragon and the prices there.

These are my suggested Talking Points:

1. Cheers to Rogue for abolishing the ceramic bottles. I admit, the first time I saw them I thought they were cool. Immediately after, I saw the price and didn't give a crap. Not long after that, I found them to be unrecyclable and annoying. Clearly they are changing to reflect public opinions in the market.

2. Good for Rogue for trying to not to ruin the Green Dragon. I am surprised and delighted they have decided to not add lottery machines, and I give Brett credit for noticing that it would not fit with the GD culture. I also do appreciate all the new taps.

3. After the recorder went off I realized I had not addressed the Green Dragon prices. I asked to turn the recorder back on. He said "no". I expressed my opinion that the beers at GD are overpriced. There are many instances that a particular beer is selling for say $4.75 a pint a few blocks away and at the Green Dragon it is the same price for an 8oz glass. And this is not even their own beer, so they cannot make the excuse of wanting to make their customers happy.
Now you may say prices have gone up. But let me tell you, I have worked at Belmont Station and other breweries. They have not gone up that much. Let's say the breweries increase their price 1% and Rogue increases it 2%, is what I would liken it too.

4. The food I have had at the Green Dragon is terrible. A good example of price increase is the Buffalo Burger, which has been on the menu for a while before Rogue. You can go to the GD website and see it on the out of date menu where it is listed for $6.50. This used to be a reliable menu item. It is not nearly as good as it used to be and now costs $9.50. How do you explain a $3 price increase? Brett did not have any response to this.

5. People will pay for a premium product, but I think they are going to look more skeptically at a higher-priced beer and ask, 'why should I pay that?' Rogue is old school and there are lots of newer, hotter breweries that are offering premium products at the same or cheaper prices.
I can go to Fred Meyer and pick up a bomber of Ninkasi Oatis for $3.50, as opposed to what $6.50 for Shakespeare Stout. I see more and more Ninkasi Total Domination tap handles around town and less and less Rogue.
Brett talks a lot about premium packaging, but does anyone care about a serigraphed bottle? Really? Most of their label artwork is pretty dull, and being printed on the glass does not change that or elicit a higher price from consumers.

6. Repackaging. Brett says they have never thought about putting a note on the bottle indicating the contents are a separate beer. I have a hard time believing that, since he clearly is all too familiar with the complaint. I believe him when he says they do it to help and support friends and the community. But I must believe a part of it is also business, related to selling more product.

7. There is a growing trend in the beer scene towards so-called Honest Pints, as well as sustainability, and Rogue seems to be ignoring those things.

8. There is reason for me to hope that Rogue is changing, though. Choices like getting rid of the ceramic bottles for the XS series and acknowledging that the price got too high is a big step in the right direction. Let me say this, if Rogue changes, then I will be the first one to say good job and pick up a pint or a bottle of their beer.

9. Thanks to Brett Joyce for asking to talk to me face to face and addressing these issues, and for being so cordial about it, though I could tell he was not enjoying it. And Brett, I hold no personal ill will towards you. Blogger's admission, I did partake in a few free samples and a pint.

10. My unsolicited advice to Rogue (that I really do hope they take) is this: Change Or Die.

Going Rogue: An interview with Brett Joyce. Part 1 of 2

So as many of you know. Rogue Brewing is on my Enemies List. Rogue is a very well respected brewery located in Newport, OR. Many would call them and brewmaster John Maier pioneers. I have a lot of respect for Rogue and especially John Maier. But like many others I have always thought they were overpriced and have avoided going to the pubs and buying their XS series from ceramic bottles. But I did not take it personally until other events and dealings with the company that led them to being added to my Enemies List. I think in the last few years some resentment in the public has built against Rogue because of their general prices, marketing and the buyout of the Green Dragon. At this point it may be a full blown backlash.

Soon after starting this I got an email from Brett Joyce, the president of Rogue and the son of original founder Jack Joyce. Of course he was upset over being on the Enemies List and wanted an explanation. I agreed, provided we could sit down and do a proper on the record discussion. So last week we met up at the Rogue Flanders Pub to discuss my issues and more.

I have decided to break the interview up into 2 parts, the second to go up tomorrow because of its length and because part 1 may not interest some people as its more personal dealings with Rogue. In part 2 I get into a lot of the issues people in general have with them; their bottle prices, carbon footprint, higher draft prices at the pub, the Honest Pint project, re-packaging of the beers and the Green Dragon buyout.
So feel free to wait for Part 2 tomorrow which is going to be a very long read.

A look at things to come

No this is not a post where I am going to guess the future of the beer industry like everyone else has been doing lately. Honestly I am too busy keeping up with everything going on right now in the industry (I only have to scan about a dozen beer blogs a day or so) to look into the future.

No, I am going to project things to come on this blog. First and foremost I will answer the oft asked question, why is Rogue on your Enemies list?

Well Brett Joyce, President of Rogue wanted to know why too, so I sat down with him last week to talk about it and I brought a voice recorder.
I predict it will surprise some people and reinforce others opinions. One thing is for sure, Rogue definitely spares no expense...

Later that evening I attended a special dinner at Widmer with both the brothers and all the brewers in attendance. It was to celebrate the release of their new W'10 Pitch Black IPA that we reviewed here. It was a lot of fun.
While awaiting the event to start I tried a Regifted Red at the bar. This was billed as a pretty traditional red on the menu only it was 9% abv! It was surprisingly light, almost watery. It did have some toasty crystal malt flavor and some dry roastiness from a pinch of chocolate malt and indeed some hoppiness. It was mostly just really fruity though. The alcohol flavor was surprisingly subdued for such a big and light beer.

A few interesting facts I learned: Widmer's Pilot system, anotherwords their testing batches, are 10 Barrels! Thats the same size of system at Upright Brewing.
Also interesting is that the much covered recent loss of Widmer's Imperial IPA in the power outtage was actually not covered by insurance. I thought for sure that it would be but that's a lot of money down the drain.

I also have been preparing for the first blind tasting panel for the blog. It will feature Cascadian Dark Ales/Blind IPA's as their are a million of them coming out these days. This Saturday from 11am-1pm at Belmont Station Abraham Goldman-Armstrong is hosting a symposium on the (hopefully soon to be official) style. It is worth checking out and hearing his thoughts. If you cant make it I will be posting some notes from Abe and our friend Allison is doing a video.

Speaking of CDA's I am heading up to Hood River and Stevenson, WA today with "SNOB" Ritch to film a new video segment on Walking Man, and I hear Jacob will have the newest batch of Big Black Homo, their black version of the Homoerectus imperial IPA. I would swear its one of the best if not the best I have had in the category (style) but we will see for sure when it comes to the blind tasting.

Another sub-style that is having a bit of a resurgence is the Oyster Stout. Yeah thats a real version of stout brewed with Oysters. You may have heard we recently made one at Upright Brewing with Jason Mcadam of Alchemy Brewing. But I just found out that Ft. George brewed one too and Brady from The Daily Pull blog was nice enough to bring a growler to me. Look for a more in depth story about the history and process soon.

Check back tomorrow for the Bretty Joyce Rogue interview, or atleast part of it considering how long it is taking me to transcribe it!


Beer Panel Review: Stone/Brewdog Bashah

Recently Stone Brewing and Brewdog from Scotland collaborated on a Black Belgian Double IPA. Yeah, you heard that right.
Seems like their marketing team's idea no? I was skeptical to say the least of this beer. How are they going to pull off all of these styles in one beer and make it taste much like any of them?

Check out the video below of their process. Although from my understanding this current version in the bottles is not barrel aged or with fruit. Thats going to be a special version for later release we may never see in Portland.

So to refresh everyone this is a beer review for Stone/Brewdog Bashah but instead of just my opinion on the beer I have invited two other new beer bloggers to share their opinions on this brew. I have asked each reviewer to limit their review to two paragraphs and assign the beer a score between 0-5 in .5 increments.
Let us proceed...

Review 1 by Jason Wallace
Brewdog Bashah pours pitch black with a thin beige head that quickly dissipates. I smell hints of roasted malts, chocolate and caramel. I taste dominant malts with a hint of coffee. The minimal belgian yeast and hops flavors come through in the end.

I enjoyed the beer very much. I felt the flavors meshed well but lacked a little complexity. To be honest though, in a blind taste I would have never guessed Belgian IPA, which may have been the goal of this collaboration.
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Jason Wallace is the author of Portland Beer and Music and an average beer obsessed Portlander.

Review 2 by Brady Walen
Bashah, described as a Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale, is a complex blend of flavors you'd expect from an IPA with those you might find in a stout or porter. Very dark brown, and nearly black in color, the pour leaves a thin tan head that dissolves quickly. The beer doesn't have an overwhelming scent, but there are sweet and chocolate notes here. The initial flavor is roasted malt and mocha with some hop bite; this is followed by a bigger hop hit you'd expect from an IPA - but it doesn't pack the punch I'd expect from a Double IPA. The finish takes another turn, and leaves you with more roasted flavors, and subtle chocolate and coffee notes.

Overall, Bashah is a delicious beer. It's bold but it's not overpowering; it's complex, but the flavors balance out over time with each taste. At 8.6% ABV, the medium bodied beer is surprisingly drinkable. Bashah left me thinking about how I'd classify the beer if it were up to me. I'm still not sure how I'd answer that one.
My rating: 4.0 / 5.0

Brady is a beer drinker who recently moved from Chicago to Portland. He is writing about his experience with beer in the Pacific Northwest on his blog The Daily Pull.

Review 3 by myself
What the hell is a Bashah anyway? I tried to wiki it and google it. Nothing on Wiki. On google I turned up some sort of middle eastern video. Seems like it might be a common middle east name? Seems odd to to me to randomly assign it that name but whatever.
The beer pours a dark brown color with a very light and dissipating tan head.
The aroma has fruity and yeasty note of a belgian beer but also with some light milk chocolate aroma. No, with the fruitiness it begins to remind me of a creamsicle.
Wow the flavor is pretty good. I get light raspberry's and maybe peach, roasted barley, hop bitterness, black pepper.
I am actually amazed at how much belgian characteristics come through and yet you can still taste the roasty body and the hops. The hops are a bit subdued for a double IPA though. Until I let it warm up and then some real bitterness begins to shine through as well as in the aroma. But not a lot of hop flavor.
The body is remarkably light and soft with almost no notes of alcohol.

Wow overall I was way wrong about this beer. This is a very well made and balanced brew.
I am going to give it a 4 out of 5 but I want to give it more points for how difficult this must have been to pull off.

by Samurai Artist creator of this blog.

Produce Row

Produce Row is a cool underrecognized beer spot in Portland.
Originally opened by the McMenamins brothers before they started their empire. They recently went through an ownership change.
I dig Produce Row, it is quiet and welcoming, especially in the cold warehouse neighborhood by the train tracks that it is in. The food menu is boring but solid and the service is always excellent so that helps.

I usually drop in to Produce Row every 3 or 4 months for lunch or dinner and a beer. Their menu is basic but with a lot of options. Tons of sandwiches and burgers but also a nice selection of salads and pastas and gyros.
Reminds me a bit of the Concordia Ale House menu and also I always want to compare it to the Green Dragon. They are located very close to each other and both are beer bar/restuarants, both in industrial neighborhoods, similar foods, both one time owned by huge brewery chains.

The other day I was in the neighborhood having a meeting and thought I would stop by the 'row for lunch. I ordered my favorite from their menu, the Cheese Steak.

Again nothing special but how can you go wrong with one of these? It has everything you need, onions, peppers, pickles, chips and of course steak. They served up a nice medium thick slices of steak that was cooked just right. The roll was nice and crispy and went well with the potato chips and the bitter common ale. The sandwich only set me back $6.75.

I could not help but think of the food I have been served recently at the Green Dragon. A nearly flavorless burger for $9.50 and the worst Reuben I have ever had with two soggy pieces of cheap marble rye smashed around 2 ounces of corned beer and a pinch of kraut for $9 something I believe.

Possibly the most important thing is that the Taplist is damn good. Your probably not going to find any rare beers but their is a large and eclectic list of good taps.
Since the new owners have taken over it does seem like the taps are more consistent and not changing up as much as they used to. Which is a little disappointing but how can you be upset when Double Mountain Hop Lava is one of the standard taps??

I found a new beer by Everybody's Brewing though, a Common ale. I have only had a chance to try the IPA from this new brewery up in White Salmon. I am a sucker for new beers so of course I leapt at the chance. It was not as expected. This beer was hoppy as hell. And mostly bittering hops. The body was light with a decent malt body. It was crisp and clean. Not very interesting but it went down well enough.
One of the best things about the beers on tap is that they are mostly/all still reasonably priced at $4. Seems funny to me to say that $4 is cheap as it used to be the standard but with Green Dragon charging $4.75 for most pints and serving you beers by the glass for the same price that should be served in a pint, well I feel lucky for places like Produce Row to hold out.

Produce Row has always had a nice bottle list. A huge selection with all sorts of crazy stuff and rare imports. I once found a Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast for many dollars under retail. Checking it out now it seems to have changed and scaled back. I suppose this makes sense because the list before was all over the place and many things probably had been in their cooler for years. The new list is pretty boring, but a couple Nogne beers brighten up a drab list.
I also noticed a brand new Beer & Whiskey pairing menu. Interesting. I havent really gotten into this semi new trend (HUB recently put on a beer/whiskey pairing at Victory). I dont know a ton about varieties of whiskey so I cant say if these pairings are good. But by the looks of the beers paired and the names of the pairings it seems like they came up with them just to make cheesy names for their pairings. Miller High Life with W.L. Weller Reserve is called "The High Five" Laurelwood Free Range Red with Woodford Reserve is called "The Redford" ?
I would like to try these and give them a chance but I am skeptical. Check them out for yourself by clicking the photo above to see a bigger image.

In conclusion Produce Row is not quite as great as it used to be but still better than a lot of the other usual beer and burger spots. And it is most definitely more deserving of your dollar than the Green Dragon.
So do yourself a favor and consider it when your feeling like a sandwich and a beer.


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Beer Caves

I just caught wind of this story on the internets.
Apparently back in May a construction project in the Bronx uncovered a series of abandoned caves located only about 2 miles from Yankee Stadium.

At first no one knew what the caves were used for and speculation was of the underground railroad or fallout shelters until it was discovered that they were in fact beer cellars that were built to age lager from the Ebling Brewing Company. The brewery closed a long time ago and The New York Times reports that prohibition hit them hard but that they struggled along until the 1940's. The caves are mostly rubble now with a brick wall to hold back the earth.

Tragically no vintage beer was found.
However how cool is it to think of these abandoned caves below our feet that may be filled with beer treasures?

Lagering beer in caves was not an uncommon practice pre-prohibition and its a technique still used more commonly in Bamberg Germany and Belgium. I wrote briefly about the series of caves under bamberg where many breweries would store their smoked (rauch bier) for a recent article series on Brewpublic.
Both Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY and Alaskan brewing still age some beer in caves. Alaskan Brewing uncovered a mine shaft to age their Big Nugget Barleywine for a year and a half.
The constant temperature of these caves, often around 55 degrees is a perfect alternative to refrigeration and a fun throwback to the old way of doing things. I wonder how long it will be until "Cave-Aged" is the new buzz word in beer geek circles.

Read the New York Times original story on the Bronx beer caves here

Photos are from Ruth Fremson of the New York Times and Ed Garcia Conde of the Welcome To Melrose blog

Stella Artois presents The Ritual Project

As soon as I sent out the press release announcing this new blog I had an email from a PR company congratulating me and urging me to check out this art project/advertisement for Stella Artois.

The Ritual Project
Honestly it is not very interesting from a beer perspective and I am not that into Stella Artois.
Its ok, but nothing special.

I am blogging it for one reason. As an artist myself I dig that Stella is sponsoring this project and its a different and cool way to advertise for a beer brand.
And it is interesting to get an inside look at what it takes to make these murals that we usually think of as just big billboards. I dont think I have seen this high quality documentation of the art of mural painting.
The Ritual Project page also linked to an even more interesting site that I am glad I discovered:

the Street Art Locator.com is a community google map mashup mapping street art the world over. You can find all aspects of street art here from Graffiti to the Galleries that host lowbrow exhibitions and street art produced using more formal Painting styles. Stickers are everywhere and quick slick way to get up, many go unnoticed except to the keen observer. Banksy and Blek Le Rat are the kings of the Stencil, these guys are only the tip of the iceberg with so many stencil artists across the globe there are plenty more to be discovered. Sculpture is pure old school street and wildely accepted but what about all the fantastic gorilla sculptures and installations.

If your interested in art and murals then it might be worth checking out.

The Ritual Project

Better Know a New Brewery: Occidental Brewing Co.

I first heard of Occidental Brewing on Beervana and the Beer Around Town blogs. At that time, there was only a web page with a nice old graphic, and no contact info nor any hint of where it might be located other than Portland.

Although I planned to research the brewery, the lack of information slowed my research, so I quickly moved on to Mt. Tabor Brewing and Solstice.

But then, a friendly tip from Theo Skourtis (@LawTheo on twitter) provided a reminder to reexamine the brewery, along with a contact number. I did not expect the number to lead anywhere. Surprisingly, someone immediately answered and I had a brief chat with one of the owners of Occidental.

Dan Engler, a lawyer by trade and a homebrewer of 17 years, and his nephew, who has a business degree, are looking to open Occidental. Initially they are planning a brewpub space and, perhaps, they will add production capacity down the line. Occidental is still in its early stages (they have not yet applied for licenses and are still looking for a location) but Dan has a good idea of what he wants the brewery to be: a brewpub with the emphasis on the
beer not the food. It will be a place for people to come enjoy the pint without the trappings of a full-on restaurant. And, he has a good idea for a location, North Portland, possibly St. Johns where there are no nearby breweries.

The Occidental web page says "Old styles from the finest malts and hops." When asked about what this means, Dan describes himself as a brewing traditionalist. He is a big fan of German beers and not so taken with the extreme brewing trends of today.

This seems like a good idea because I know a lot of people who love German beer but have a difficult time finding local breweries brewing these styles. I mean, everyone makes a hefeweizen at some point and you see oktoberfests in season and some bocks, but breweries aren't
really making a practice of it. Dan wants to be brewing more alts, dunkels and kolsch, and that sounds very refreshing indeed.

Double Mountain comes out with an Imperial Stout

Back in the early days of Double Mountain (who I am guessing most readers of this blog know as one of the best breweries in Oregon), I asked owners Charlie and Matt about beers they would like to brew at DM in the future. They mentioned an Imperial Stout. One of my favorite styles of beer.
True to their word they have finally brewed one and will be tapping it today (thursday) at Belmont Station for the Bigger, Badder, Blacker week of dark beers.

a badass Imperial Stout
Double Mountain brewer Kyle Larsen designed and brewed this beer. A blend of dark malts (chocolate, Carafa, Special B and roasted barley) delivers complexity in both aroma and flavor. Bumped up with light and dark Candi sugar, and buoyed by plenty of bittering hops. 9.5% ABV, 90 BU

I found a little more info on it on the DM website:

"A blend of dark malts (brown, roast, Carafa and roasted barley) gives The Chaos an aggressive, complex roastiness in both aroma and flavor. Kyle added two varieties of candi sugar and mucho bittering hops (around 90 BU) to give it plenty of punch. It’s a badass beer."

Charlie also told me that this beer still uses their house belgian yeast, the "Rochefort" strain from Wyeast and that they fermented this beer at a little higher temperatures.
Homebrewers know that the higher temps will increase ester (fruity flavors) production and probably show off the belgian yeast more.

I usually would never recommend a beer I have not tried, but I cant wait to try this and I am pretty much positive it is worth seeking out. Their are a few more kegs headed to town that should pop up at the usual good beer spots so keep an eye out.

Review Panel: Widmer's W'10

This is the first beer review post on the new blog.
These will run a little differently then most beer reviews. I have assembled a panel of esteemed beer geeks to review the beer instead of just one opinion you get a more fair and balanced take on the beer. I have 5 reviewers this time and I think it will drop down to 3 next time so it is not so long. The format is still being perfected but for now I have asked everyone to write an overall point score on a scale of 0-5 in .5 increments.
Please feel free to chime in on your thoughts.
On to the beer...

Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA?
Atleast that is what I have heard the most debate about in the beer geek circles in the last year. I think this will be the popular new style in 2010 if it wasnt already in 2009. Everyone from Laurelwood to Deschutes has been testing one.
This is the first one I know of to be released in a 6-pack and mass marketed.

I consulted the expert and proponent of the Cascadian Dark Ale term, local beer writer/homebrewer/NAOBF organizer Abraham "Abe" Goldman-Armstrong who is holding a symposium on the style at Belmont Station on January 23rd.
He wrote the following guidelines for submissions to the BJCP as a new recognized style. They have not been approved yet:

Cascadian Dark Ale (aka Black IPA)

Aroma: prominent NW hop aromas: citrus, pine, resinous, sweet malt, hints of roast, toast, chocolate malt, and/or Carafa, dry hopped character is often present.

Appearance: Deep brown to black with ruby highlights. Head varies from whit to tan/khaki.

Flavor: A balance between citrus-like and spicy NW hop flavor, bitterness, caramel malt, and roast, chocolate, or Carafa-type malts.

Roast character ranges from subtle to medium. Black malt is acceptable at low levels, but should not be astringent. Intense ashy, burnt character is not appropriate. Caramel malt as a secondary flavor is acceptable but the finish should be dry. Diacetyl should not be present. Emphasis should be on hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium, hop bitterness and tannins from roast malts combine to create a dry mouthfeel. Resinous character from high levels of dry hopping may create a tongue coating sensation.

History: A style that emerged on the Northwest Coast of North America in the early 21st Century. Northwest hops are prominent, balanced with malt, roast malts give color and flavor, but body should be reminiscent of an IPA, not heavy like a porter or stout. The style is not only gaining traction with brewers in the Pacific Northwest, but is starting to spread to other regions.

Comments: Some brewers prefer to cold steep the dark grains to achieve a very dark beer without the tannin contribution of adding the grains to the mash. The use of Sinnamar to enhance color is common.

IBUs 40-90

Color: 40+ SRM

Abv 5.5-8.5%

Classic Examples: Rogue Brewer, Phllips Black Toque, Hopworks Secession CDA, Barley Brown's Turmoil, Widmer Collaborator Cascadian Dark Ale, Lucky Lab Black Sheep, Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, Walking Man Big Black Homo, Rogue Black Brutal, Pelican Bad Santa, New Holland Black Hatter, Laughing Dog Dogzilla,


“A pinch of black malt and splash of roasted barley break this IPA apart from tradition. Cascadian Dark: Join the shady revolution.” If these promising words from the label of Widmer Brothers’ new W ’10 Pitch Black IPA don’t inveigle beer geeks to make a pass at the brewery’s latest hype beer, perhaps it claiming a gold medal at 2009’s Great American Beer Fest might galvanize one toward such an action. Known for its famous American unfiltered wheat ale, Widmer has put forth some dignified hoppy brews to the mass public such as Hop Jack, Broken Halo, and Drifter Pale, and even a few Gasthaus treats like the X-114 experimental hop IPA. But it hasn’t been until now that a commercial release of such bold, bitter proportions has reared its piquant head from the quarter-century-old Portland brewery.

In the beer geek community of our area, wax-dipped and foil-wrapped caps can only do so much to excite the real heads to gravitate toward perceived “buzz” beer. Word of mouth and the Internet have raised ears and tempted palates to get a quaff of the W ’10.

A bright Northwest hops aroma is not the first essence one would historical expect to experience coming from a deep black-brown bodied ale. Along with this whiff of dry hops, a mild roastiness adds a distinct olfactory element the W’ 10. As the tan-gray head settles to a viscous, filmy underbody, the warming spices and pepperiness ostend to the drinker a notion that this is no typical beer style. This is a Cascadian Dark Ale. Layers of resinous hops coat the tongue and pleasurably redress its mood. With a moderate amount of booziness (6.5% ABV), at center stage resides a marriage of lavish malts and assertive hops. W ’10 is certainly not for the squeamish, but absolutely from a blue print that exudes masterful recipe development and forethought. Unlike many gratuitously hopped beers, this is not simply one where the piney, fruity, floral soupĂ©on is implemented to mask any imperfection or to ride as a one trick pony. Its depth of character and flavor exhibit something unique and ameliorating.

Many parallel lines can be draw with this new beer and BridgePort Brewing’s original India Pale Ale. Both have defined what a style could evolve to become while pushing the envelope of convention and imagination. W ’10 Pitch Black IPA places Widmer emphatically into the modern age of brewing and is a great starting point for understanding what a Cascadian Dark Ale can be. Rating: 4.5

By Angelo De Ieso II, Brewpublic

The W ’10 Pitch Black IPA pours black, revealing a transparent garnet
hue when held up to the light. The beer sports a medium beige head
with nice retention that leaves a film of spotted lacing after a
couple of minutes.
Overall the nose is clean and a bit understated for an IPA, but does
reveal some subtle complexity. W ’10 smells of earth and citrus,
casting aromas of moss, black licorice and grapefruit.
This Cascadian Dark is medium-bodied and infused with a smooth and
rounded carbonation. Initially, the beer tastes medium-sweet with a
grainy profile backed by a touch of ash and coffee – imagine slightly
burnt pizza crust. The finish exhibits a moderate, lasting and clean
bitterness coupled with some fruity tannin that dries out the palate.
Overall, this is a very satisfying and drinkable dark IPA. It sports a
prominent malt profile that is very flavorful, while simultaneously
avoiding overt caramel and roastiness. Grace, complexity and
drinkability characterize the W’10.

By Jimmy "Swine-Flu" Blum, prolific award-winning homebrewer and Belmont Station employee

The W'10 pours deep black with a beige and lacy head. The nose on this beer is piney and pleasantly strong, leading me to believe it has been dry hopped. Taking a drink of the W'10 first reveals a strong hop flavor, but this quickly yields to roasty malt flavors with a finish that is quite burnt and dry. In my opinion, a Cascadian Dark Ale/Black IPA should highlight the hops over the roasted malts, which is definitely not the case for this beer. Furthermore, I find the burnt flavor of this beer to be very astringent and almost unpleasant, not to the point where it is undrinkable, but I won't be running back to the store for more. To sum it up, this beer has some good Cascadian Dark Ale quality's like heavy hop aroma and a dry finish, but the roasted malts are way too overpowering to keep true to the style.
I give it a 3 out of 5.

By "SNOB" Ritch, a home brewer for 18 years, originally moved to Portland in 2000 primarily because of the beer scene. He shoots beer related video and photos for Taplister and other beer blogs.

Color: you’d think it was a porter.
Aroma: hoppy and floral.
Taste: pleasant...but not as hoppy as it smells.

It might be my stereotypical Pacific Northwest bias towards big, brutal, hoppy beers, but the first thing I noticed was that it didn’t taste nearly as hoppy as the aroma led me to believe it would be. That’s not bad, mind you--not every beer needs an overdose of hops, though for a so-called “black IPA” I expected a bit more pep. If I hadn’t seen the label and tried it blind, I might have identified it as an overhopped brown ale instead of a Cascadian dark. The packaging doesn’t identify the hops used in the brew, but that quibble is more about stylistic guidelines than overall quality. I’m not one to frown upon a technicality if the beer is still good.

I might be totally off the mark, however, because I had multiple bottles on two separate nights--the first time poured into a pint glass and the second from the bottle--and my perception of the second tasting is that of more hops than the first. Can my palate really be influenced by the visible color of the beer? It definitely doesn’t have the citrus flavor that permeates extra-hoppy IPAs, but it’s enough to sufficiently bitter it.

I realize that there are some implications that should be explored, but color of beer versus perception of taste is a topic for a more detailed experiment another time.

The W’10 has a subtle sweet maltiness that leaves a nice aftertaste, something that’s desirable if you plan on drinking multiple bottles. Nothing annoys me more than popping open that second bottle only to find that first sip ruined by the dregs of the last bottle.

Verdict: 4/5. It’s a very nice beer that’s both drinkable and re-drinkable, and it loses points only for an aroma that promised more than it delivered. Widmer can be applauded for releasing a solid and drinkable Cascadian dark ale and shedding some light on this growing style. Some beers lose their luster after the first bottle, but the W’10 is definitely a redrinkable beer.

Buy to taste? Yes.

Buy to drink again? Yes.

Andrew Self aka @AGSHender is a homebrewer, a craft beer enthusiast, and a Founder at the Green Dragon.

Pours a clear deep ruby red with a white head and and soapy lacing. In the nose I get citrus and some sweet malt. In the flavor I get big citrus hop notes with a big malt backbone in the finish. This beer is nice and balanced. It could use more hops, but it is tasty like it is. It goes well with some crackers with a chile lime cheese spread.
4.0 I liked this beer.

By Charles Culp a veteran homebrewer and blogger from An Ear For Beer.

Pics 1 and 3 by "SNOB" Ritch and pic 2 by Angelo of Brewpublic at the Gasthaus

Better know a New Brewery: Solstice Brewing Co.

While perusing the internets and stalking Hopworks head brewer Ben Love I came upon a facebook page for Solstice Brewing. They had a stark web page up with just a logo and an email address and stating they were coming to woodstock in 2010.

I recently met up with owner/brewer Joseph Barker and his partner Timothy Czuk at the Alameda Brewpub to discuss the plan for the new brewery.

Joseph Barker has been a homebrewer for atleast a few years now and has decided the days of catering parties with his brews should become a full time endeavour. Though he is not quitting his day job as a manufacturing/woodworker just yet.
We spent a good deal of time talking about other breweries and unique beers being brewed. It was great to talk to someone with the same enthusiasm for creation.

Asked about his favorite beers he stated: Northwest styles and the classic phrase whatever beer I am holding at the time.
Talking about his vision for the brewpub Joseph believes in the community aspect of beer and bringing people together. How it almost would not matter what beer you are drinking as long as your having a good time with friends.

Solstice Brewing is planning to open by the end of this summer with a location yet to be announced on Woodstock. I was able to get get that the location would be somewhere in the mid range of woodstock probably between 45th and 60th.

Joseph was excited by the neighborhood and has been talking with local families that share his enthusiasm.
I could not agree more. I grew up in the Woodstock neighborhood and its desperately in need of a brewpub. I used to frequent a so called brewpub (not really) named Mickey Finn's which is a great place to dip your toes into craft beer. They have a large amount of draft lines but nothing too carefully chosen.
The super family friendly atmosphere and spotty food leave something to be desired for many but is probably the best offering for draft beers in the neighborhood.

Partner in the business Tim Czuk is a manager of the cancer floor at Providence hospital.
His experience comes in the form of growing his own hops, making his own Pinot Noir and helping out Joseph in all of his projects. You could tell these guys were life long buddies and family men.

They are currently looking at having a 7 barrel system and have already hired a chef they are developing a menu with. It sounds to be in line with the current trends in Portland of local fresh ingredients only with an emphasis on platters for bigger parties which is in line with Joseph's philosophy of the brewpub as a communal social environment.

The pub will be relatively small at around a 100 capacity with a bar section and family friendly area. Hops most likely coming from Hop Union and 3-4 regular taps and a few more rotating beers that allow them to play with different styles such as a Kolsch.

The current planned beers are:

Imperial IPA
An assertive ale coming in around 8.25%ABV and 120IBU’s. A heavily hopped beer complimented by a balance of malty sweetness that coalesces to a dry finish
Copper Ale
A beer brewed from 6 distinct malts to create a deep copper colored ale that has a balance of fruit and citrusy hop flavors to blend into one small piece of Nirvana
TAT Brown
Named for the local Portland Band Tango Alpha Tango, this brown is as smooth as they come with just the right amount of hops to balance the malt while letting the nuttier flavors remain unhindered
Pale Ale 15
A very light beer brewed to drink ice cold and by the stein full! At only 3.2% ABV everyone will want a pitcher of this light and balanced beer

At this point everything these guys had talked about was very portland and much in the line of other Portland favorites like Laurelwood and HUB. Not that their is anything wrong with that.
But then we broke into some talk about what might make the place unique and stand out and I could tell that this place might be a bit different...

Joseph and Tim are big outdoors guys and this will be communicated through the design of the pub. They were very hush hush about this but what I devined is that they will be following an Outside In/inside out philosphy. Asked if that means they would have a patio they said definitely.

In addition they plan to experiment with gluten-free beers and possibly higher quality non-alcoholic beers. Joseph has even spent some time making brandy and cheese though it remains to be seen weather those skills will be seen at the brewpub.

I cant wait to hear more from these guys and we will be chatting more in the future when their is more concrete news to announce.
You can follow them for yourselves at their new website, twitter and facebook pages.





Better Know a New Brewery: American Flatbread

On the saturday (12/5) of the Holiday Ale Fest we trekked down to the new location of American Flatbread. A Vermont based small chain who's main focus is on baking in their beautiful hand-made wood-fired ovens and will be opening at 411 NW Park ave. right next to the park blocks downtown where they hold the International Beer Fest.
I have heard from some east coasters that they have a good reputation and are known for their pizza.
They will also be building an on site brewery after the restaurant has opened but today they were having a work party constructing their clay oven.

Friend and founder of the Pink Boots Society, Teri Fahrendorf passed along the news of this work party to me and when we arrived she was hard at work with husband John Graber. Everything was done by hand and workers were mixing the wet clay with hay and packing it around the dome of the oven. The base of the oven is all stones with the frame of the dome built with just large sticks and the clay base packed over it so when the oven is in operation the interior wood will simply burn up leaving only the stones and clay.

One of the managers was nice enough to show me around the building, including a separate room that was completely empty down to the dirt floor. This was the room where they plan to build the brewery. They had very little details for me on this except that it would probably be a 10 Barrel system. When asked about bottling I was told their were no plans but that they might make kegs available outside of the brewery.
Looking for a little more info on the web I found some really good reviews for their beers on Beer Advocate and decent ones on Rate Beer.
Most interestingly I found this taplist for their Burlington location on their website:


Wassail Dark Brown Ale with Raspberries
Solstice Gruit Ale Medieval Herbal Brew - No Hops
Old Ale 2009 Our Holiday Strong Ale
Paul’s Pils Czech-Style Pilsner - Light, Dry, & Crisp
Lawson’s Knockout Blonde Hops in Your Corner
Greg Scottish-Style Heavy
AuerBock 6.5% Strong, Malty Lager
London Calling English-Style Session Pale Ale
T.L.A IPA Hoppy Hoppy, Joy Joy!
Smokey The Beer Bamberg-Style Lager w/ Smoked Malt
Boognish Brown English-Style Session Ale

That is a very eclectic lineup of beers. Before seeing this list I was thinking this may be another case of the beers taking a back seat and designed for mass appeal.
But a Bamberg smoked lager? a English Session Ale and a Gruit? wow thats impressive.

They also had a great selection of bottled beers listed. Check out the drink menu here.

One other thing, I caught wind of a rumor that their head brewer out east was thinking of moving out here. Could that mean he was taking over the Portland location?

So not a whole lot of info here I know but I thought it was interesting for the photos atleast. Cant't wait to see what they do with the place.

Photos by: "SNOB" Ritch