An Interview with Craig Nicholls, Founder of NAOBF and Roots Organic Brewing

Last Thursday, on the eve of the North American Organic Brewers Festival, I posted a brief interview with beer writer and former organizer of the NAOBF Abe Goldman-Armstrong. The interview proved controversial, with Abe's claims of wrongdoing at festivals in previous years, including lack of payment to himself, breweries and charities. I encourage you to read the full post here.
Today I managed to catch up with
Craig Nicholls, the owner/founder of the NAOBF and co-owner and founder of Roots Organic Brewing, for an interview. I got his take on the events of both NAOBF and the long rumored closure/sale of Roots Organic Brewing.

(Foreword: On Sunday I learned that Abe Goldman-Armstrong had been contacted by Craig last weekend and offered his remaining pay for last year. According to Abe, Teddy Peets, one of the new festival organizers, insisted on getting Abe a Cashier's Check for his overdue pay so that it would not bounce.)

Rise of the Beer Cocktails

Last week I got together with co-conspirators writer/bartender/mixologist Jacob Grier and The Hop and Vine's Yetta Vorobik for some tasting and planning for The New School's Oregon Craft Beer Month event, "Brewing Up Cocktails", set to take place Saturday, July 17th at the aforementioned Hop and Vine. I hope this tasting will push the boundaries of peoples' experience with blending beer and liquor...

New Brew Odyssey: A Horizontal Tasting

Two new series of playful, experimental beers started showing up on the shelves of Portland’s better beer shops last month. Both take a single base beer and then riff on it with various forms of barrel aging. One, the Woodwork Series from Revelation Cat uses a double IPA as its base, and consumers can taste versions aged in French oak, American oak, and acasia. Revelation Cat is a project based out of Italy, though these beers were brewed in Belgium, and these beers release is an exciting development for the craft beer scene in both countries...

Stone Brewing recalls Mustards, issues a public apology

Who thinks this is a publicity stunt? If it is not a publicity stunt, then Stone is certainly using it to get press. I mean, who names their own product recall, as Stone has, dubbing this one Mustardgate.
What is the story?
Stone Brewing, famous for their Arrogant Bastard beer, among others, has been selling a line of condiments using their beer for a while, including hot sauces, ketchup, grilling sauces and mustards. Or so they thought. Turns out, the mustards in fact contained no beer, even though Stone sent beer to the manufacturers. Anyway, I will let Greg Koch, Stone CEO, and Chris Carol, their Merchandising Manager, explain:

A Public Apology: June 24th, 2010 from stonebrew on Vimeo.

Watching this video left me wondering, did Stone really paint a room mustard yellow just for this video?
Maybe they used Adobe After Effects?

Twitter Button from

A Shakeup at the Organic Brewers Festival: An interview with Abe Goldman-Armstrong

The North American Organic Brewers Fest, founded by Roots Organic Brewing owner Craig Nicholls, is happening this weekend in Portland, and I know very little about it. Why? Well, for the last 3 years I have counted myself among the staff/organizers and part of the elite "Keg Assassins" crew that keeps the beers flowing. But not this year. What is different? In previous years the festival organization has been headed up by Abraham Goldman-Armstrong, a well-respected writer, brewer, sustainability and organic expert, BJCP Judge (by the age of 21), and all-around brewery handyman in construction and deconstruction. If you have been to a festival in Oregon, you very likely have seen Abe running around behind the scenes and keeping things running smoothly.

Without Abe's leadership on this year's fest, the entire staff has been shaken up, with few to none returning. Though it is in competent hands with Chris Crabb, I still wanted to get a chance to speak with Abe about what is different this year and why he is not involved in a festival that has consumed most of his time over the last few years. The answers may surprise you...

Court Ruling on Bear Republic vs Central City Brewing

Back in March I reported on Healdsburg, CA's Bear Republic Brewing's lawsuit against Vancouver, B.C. brewery Central City on claims of brand infringement and irreparable harm that was filed in Massachusetts, the only state where both breweries' products are available. The issue was that Bear Republic believed Central City's Red Racer IPA infringed on their brands Racer 5 and Red Rocket and that it would harm the goodwill towards BR's products.

Word has come down now that the court has issued a ruling on the injunction Bear Republic sought on Red Racer being sold in the US...

For The Love Of Beer (Trailer)

Last night was our friend Alison Grayson's fundraiser and trailer debut for her upcoming documentary, "For The Love Of Beer". There was a good crowd at Saraveza, but I did not see many of you there. Thus, we present the trailer that you missed out on (for shame!):

For the Love of Beer Trailer from Grayson Productions on Vimeo.

Oh and there was also some guy on guy action:

A Big Week in PDX Beer

It is a seriously busy week for craft beer geeks in Portland. This may as well be the unofficial start to July's Oregon Craft Beer Month, with 3 major events taking place in the next few days...

Rogue embraces the Cannabis

According to
Beer News, Rogue Ales is making an odd move and embracing the Epic Daze Festival: High Times Medical Cannabis Cup taking place this Saturday in San Francisco by releasing its own special beer for the fest, Epic Daze Ale. Why is it so odd? Well, I suppose it is not, considering that Rogue has shown a willingness to capitalize and brand their brews in the past for increased sales. This choice, however, seems especially contradictory of Rogue's long history of being anti-drug and anti-pot, by even drug testing all employees.

Weekly Taps 6/18-6/20

This week we have another somewhat short but good list of The Weekly Taps, the guide to NEW or unique draft beers on tap around Portland, OR. Including the new Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Collaboration beer, a rare draft of Urthel's Saisonniere, a bunch of new Mcmenamins beers and rare reappearances of Lucky Lab's Super Duper Dog and Block 15's Super Nebula Imperial Bourbon barrel Stout and many more...

Uncommon Brewers + Bacon Beer on June 24

Uncommon Brewers out of Santa Cruz, CA, are going to be debuting their beers in Oregon at the upcoming North American Organic Brewers Fest. While they are in town they are making a stop at Bailey's Taproom on June 24th, with a lineup of beers that will include their Organic Bacon Brown Ale.

New Brew Odyssey: San Diego, or Agree to Disagree

 Last week, Scott Lawrence and I traveled to San Diego to look at brewing systems from Premier Stainless for Breakside Brewery. We spent a few hours chatting with the owner and employees at Premier before moving on to an important secondary goal of our trip: scoping out the San Diego beer scene.

Making Of A Beer Label (Part 3)

Late Harvest from Upright Brewing

Bottle Review Roundup: Oakshire, Ninkasi, Boulevard and Kona

Over the last 3 days I worked my way through sample bottles I had received of newish seasonal brews in a wide range of styles. Some like Ninkasi's Radiant I have tried before and others are brand new this year like Oakshire's Line Dry Rye. Typically I try to get a panel of reviewers but after a few failed attempts at getting everyone together I decided to man up and drink them all myself.
The results were mixed...

The Weekly Taps + OBF Buzz Tent beer list

It is a slow week for new beers around town, but nonetheless I have compiled the brand new or special draft beers available around Portland in one handy list as usual.
As it so happens, though there are few new beers this weekend, the Oregon Brewers FestivalBuzz Tent. If you're not familiar with it, the OBF started the "Buzz Tent" last year. It is a special tent that has rotating rare beers from a variety of breweries that is separate from the rest of the festival. It is sort of the beer geek tent. You will find the full list of Buzz Tent beers at the bottom of this post!

Want your bar, brewery, restaurants beers listed? email me SamuraiArtist1 at

Sneak Preview: Produce Row Cafe's Facelift

Produce Row opens this Saturday June 12th.
Well actually, it opened in 1974, but Saturday it reopens with a facelift and a new beer brewed in its honor. The bar aims to preserve its heritage while introducing itself back into the wild for a new generation.

I have long been a fan of the oft-forgotten Produce Row Cafe and Taphouse. It is without a doubt the most overlooked beer spot in Portland, and I have myself have been guilty of that (I had no idea it closed for remodel until I got an email about its reopening). It can be a bit too easy to forget the homey classic bar hidden in between the warehouses of the SE esplanade on 2nd and Oak.
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to put on a Summer Concert Series on Produce Row's awesome enclosed two-level patio, and that is when I really fell in love with the place. I was somewhat dismayed when I heard that the owners decided to sell the joint. Not much changed, though, until now...
“Think of it as a refresh, not a radical departure,” says owner Alan Davis. “We want to honor history and keep everything our loyal customers love and expect, while bringing the design and menu a bit more forward in sophistication.”

Look for new indoor decor of antique velvet sofas, club chairs, low lights, art from around the world, new booths by Think Design, a new mahogany wood custom built bar by Axion Designs and a 15 foot solid butcher block community table that sits on old machine legs and seats 16.

Duck, Duck, Gose

Little Man, why do you look so sad? I see in your eyes, the look of agony. Little Man, now life can't be that bad, that you would loose yourself, up in misery. Look around and you will surely see, that the world is not so hard to me. Come on now, and take a chance, Little Man.

The above is an old Parliaments song (pre-Parliament-Funkadelic, Parliaments) that I have been singing to our little kitten, Hoppy MacGuyver. I have a horrible singing voice, that is why my audience consists of cats and dogs for the most part. Now I am listening to The Goose from the Parliaments and thinking about Gose, the style not made famous, out of Leipzig, Germany. Until very recently I misunderstood this style as Belgian Gueze, and while there are similarities insofar as sour flavor notes, they remain very different beers.

Recall Bad Beer

On my news desk yesterday was word of bad bottles of Matilda, a usually terrific Belgian-style Strong Golden Ale from Goose Island, the esteemed Chicago brewery. Surprising news from a brewery that is known for their consistency and quality.
The most surprising part of the entire thing? The fact that Goose Island fessed up to their mistake and are paying out of their pockets to bring this beer back for something they could have easily just written off. This event highlights an increasing problem with Portland-area breweries.

New Brew Odyssey: The Insider's Update

Greetings New Schoolers, from the sky itself! Unless Ezra or King C beat me to it without saying anything, I believe this is the first column for this blog that will be posted mid-flight. I find myself writing live from Alaskan Airlines flight 232 on my way to San Diego; Alaskan is providing in-flight WiFi until the end of July. If I finish writing in time, I should still have a bit of time to do some beer mapping and plan out a good evening in another excellent beer city. My plan is to report back about any new developments in beer culture from San Diego next week!

Inside Look and Review Panel: Deschutes Hop In The Dark CDA

Strengthening the onslaught of support behind the name Cascadian Dark Ale, Deschutes Brewery has recently released its new seasonal Hop in the Dark as part of its ongoing Bond Street series of beers. In a web-based seminar last week, brewmaster Larry Sidor explained that this new beer went through over twenty test batches, before the brewers settled on this as a final product.

Making Of A Beer Label (Part 2)

I am sorry to admit that since last week's Making Of A Beer Label (Part 1) post I have only sat down once to work on the new artwork. Nonetheless, enough people seem interested enough to continue and I think that with even the most basic and rough colors down, the dimensions and depth of the art are beginning to take shape...

Cats, Kids, and Complaining

The past couple of weeks has been a crazed maelstrom of emotion, sickness, and little time for reflection on what has transpired. Lil' Mama the Cat had to be put to sleep, and it left us crushed. With the meows and pitter pats of paws on the hardwood floors gone, the silence became deafening. We found Hoppy MacGuyver the next day on Craigslist, and now we embark on a new adventure of dealing with a kitten who keeps pissing in the bed. (Otherwise, he's a handsome and fun kitten, with a ton of personality).

New Brew Odyssey: Evaluating the SAVOR Menu

Beer dinners are a regular offering these days in Portland—from the recurring Beer Belly dinners hosted each month by the East Burn to the one-off events we’ve seen this year at Aquariva (who hosted an Upright dinner in February) and Wildwood (who teamed up with Pelican in May). Beer and food get center stage together this week at the national level as the Brewers Association hosts SAVOR, its annual gala de cuisine in Washington DC. Along with the GABF, Craft Brewers’ Conference, and World Beer Cup, SAVOR is one of the major events put on by the Brewers’ Association and is intended to showcase the delights of pairing food and beer. In addition to the tasting event, SAVOR also feature numerous ‘educational salons’ about beercraft, including ones hosted by folks from Full Sail, Deschutes, and Rogue. It is an event, like the Slow Food Salone del Gusto that is on my ‘to do’ list in the next few years.
But in 2010, the event is sold out and far away. Fortunately, the folks at the BA have been kind enough to post the pairing menus online. We’ve been holding some pairing classes for Oregon Beer Odyssey lately, so it’s with that bent of mind that I take a stab at the SAVOR offerings. In these classes, we consider principles of pairing such as intensity, resonance, contrast, tradition, flavor creation, and cleansing.

Oakshire Brewing's Hop Vice Imperial IPA

Yesterday, in one of my regular Tuesday late night close-the-bar-down sessions at the Horse Brass, I found Oakshire's single batch tribute beer to the late Glen Falconer on tap. Hop Vice is an Imperial IPA in strength alone and affords me an opportunity to share some thoughts on Imperial IPAs that I have been mulling over for awhile...

Coalition Brewing: The Interview and Video Tour of Portland's newest Brewery

Last week, the New School team of myself and "SNOB" Ritch went to hang out with our new friends Kiley Hoyt and Elan Walsky of the new startup Coalition Brewing, located at 2724 SE Ankeny, just off of 28th. The brewery will join both Spints Alehouse and Migration Brewing in what must be the biggest up-and-coming strip in Portland for craft beer. We filmed an in-depth interview and tour of the brewhouse, and earlier I got some very revealing questions answered about what makes Coalition unique, what brewers/breweries inspire them, and how they think Coalition will fare in the ever-growing Portland brewery crowd.
Angelo at Brewpublic did a nice feature on Coalition last weekend, but I think you will find many different questions here, as well as the video, that will make it worth your reading.