Review Panel: Deschutes The Dissident 2010 vs. '08

I recently received a sample bottle of this year's highly anticipated release of Deschutes Brewing's The Dissident Flanders brown style ale, and it's a good thing, as the 40 cases available at the Portland pub sold out in 1 day and many have been left searching for a few scant bottles delivered to local specialty stores. With my 1 bottle in hand I put together a review panel consisting of 4 New School contributors and brought out another bottle of The Dissident original release in 2008 from my cellar for comparison. Here are our thoughts.

Secrets of the Holiday Ale Festival 2010

UPDATED: Scroll to the bottom of this post for the "secret" beer tapping schedule

The Holiday Ale Festival is upon us.
The beer geeks' favorite fest starts this Wednesday, December 1st, at 2pm and runs through Sunday. It will feature many hard to find one-off winter and Barrel-Aged beers. Yesterday the New School crew had a chance to preview some of the "wares" so that we can offer you our picks for what to look for and what to avoid. Plus, more on the HAF pin-up girl...

Review Panel: 21st Amendment Fireside Chat

I have been meaning to try 21st Amendment's new seasonal offering, Fireside Chat, for a while. It's the first-ever canned winter warmer (to my knowledge, anyway). I held out on cracking a can until I could assemble a group of my peers to do a group tasting. Today we look at the beer's marketing, packaging and reviews from a tasting panel of 4 different palates.

Oregon Brew Crew/Green Dragon Open House

"Brewers enjoy working to make beer as much as drinking beer instead of working." -Harold Rudolph

[Guest contributor Michael Umphress reports from the Green Dragon]

It was a typical Portland night, raining biblical proportions. A local group of craft beer enthusiasts were gathering at the Green Dragon to test-drive a generous donation from Rogue Brewery. The donation is a 1 barrel brewing system, the group is the Oregon Brew Crew, and tonight’s effort is a spicy rye pale ale. The small batch brewing equipment is enough to make any lover of craft beer dream of having this in their garage.

Review Panel: Block 15's Figgy Pudding

This past Saturday I traveled to Corvallis, OR, with The Daily Pull crew and Yetta Vorobik of The Hop & Vine. We hung out with Owner/Brewer Nick Arzner of Block 15 and picked up some bottles of their first ever bottling, Figgy Pudding.
Nick was an amazing host and we got to sample many great farmhouse and wild beers from their labyrinth cellar of barrels. That, however, is not the focus of this post. Upon returning, I assembled a crew of New Schoolers including "SNOB" Ritch Marvin, Amy Marvin, and our esteemed editor ElGordo for a review panel. None of us received free bottles of the beer, and no other reviewers besides me were present for the tour and barrel tasting at Block 15, so their reviews remain unbiased.

Occidental Brewing Company Redux

Co-owners Ben and Dan Engler

When I first started the New School back in January, one of the first stories I wrote about was on Occidental Brewing Company, a mere rumor at the time. I actually predicted that this brewery may never come to be. I was wrong.

Nick Arzner on Block 15's first bottle release: Figgy Pudding

This Saturday the up and coming Block 15 Brewing out of Corvallis, OR, is set to release its first bottled beer, Figgy Pudding. This is a beer I have yet to try, but it sounds delicious and has a beautiful label to match. Figgy Pudding is an English strong ale matured in brandy barrels and conditioned with figs and a touch of spice.
The spec sheet says it:

"pours a dark brandy color with light carbonation and a fleeting off white head, complex oak, brandy, tobacco, dried fruit, spice and molasses in the nose. Layered flavours of currant, fig, port, and brandy with a velvety texture. A smooth warming finish backed by a touch of sweetness."
After reading that description I decided to catch up with Block 15 Owner and Brewmaster Nick Arzner. We discussed the unique beer, how it was made, what inspired it and what we can expect from them in the future.

New Brew Odyssey: Any Takers for Savory Beer?

Boston Beer’s recent announcement that it was brewing a beer using beef heart created a hefty buzz across food and beer blogs (including this one) last week. While plenty of other writers and respondents have discussed the merits and ethics of using a beef heart in beer, the whole story offers an equally compelling opportunity to talk about savory flavors in beer.

Be Fearless in the Mt. Hood Territory

Sometimes you need few words, this video should say it all:

Who was that crazed local in the brewery?! He scared me a bit but looked oddly familiar.
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Crazy Beer Week: What to do in Portland this Monday through Sunday

How do I afford my rockin beer lifestyle?!
Holy hell it is a crazy week for beer in Portland, OR, there are so many events you would think its Oregon Craft Beer Month. Below is a rundown of the events I will try to be attending, anotherwords its like future FourSquare if you want to stalk me. Just a few of the things happening this week: Firestone Walker 14 release, Walking Man Brewing's 10th Anniversary, Double Mountain's Fa La La La La release, Deschutes The Dissident release, Hair of the Dog anniversary, Breakside release, the list just goes on and on...

Introducing the Portland U-Brew aka P.U.B.

Introducing the next homebrew shop and brewpub in one the Portland U-Brew aka P.U.B. where you can brew on premises, or walk next door and drink the pub's own housemade brews.
Opening in an estimated couple of months on SE Milwaukee avenue. The P.U.B. will fill are your beery needs with three separate yet indefinitely intertwined business models with two doorways, one opening to a complete homebrew shop with everything a homebrewer might need, the other entrance a brewpub offering housemade brews, sandwiches and panini's, and a private party room. And finally the third section downstairs where a complete brewery is housed with lots of fermenter space for both the P.U.B.'s housemade brews but also where customers may produce their own small batches at up to a 20 gallon size.

Beer Cocktail a Day: Hot Scotchy

The final drink of Brewing up Cocktails 2 and our last in the Beer Cocktail of the Day series is the Hot Scotchy. Since previewing the beer cocktails over the last week or two the Hot Scotchy has garnered the most attention because it is the most unique, most difficult to make and because it is so damn tasty.
For further unbiased evidence just take a look at Beervana's "Hot Scotchy: The Greatest Beverage in the World" post or Oregon Live's weekend event listing that proclaims "A hot scotchy is the best tasting drink you've never had—and it's just one of six adventurous, genre-defying beverages waiting to be crafted for you on Saturday evening"

Beer Cocktail a Day: Son of the Furburger

The Beer Cocktail of the Day is the Son of the Furburger and it is the most ambitious and over the top cocktail of Brewing up Cocktails 2. The S of the F employs the classic combination of bacon and maple with another famous combo of Bourbon and Imperial Stout. Its a hard to combo to beat...

Sam Adams Beef beer sparks Vegan beer controversy

On Tuesday I reported on Sam Adams "Burke in a Bottle" beef heart brew and its got quite a bit of press since. At the time I suggested they may have gone too far but that I am all for trying meat in beeers. Fortunately/unfortunately I stepped in the controversial vegan beer debate and immediately received some messages suggesting I had offended vegans somehow. Addressing that I would like to say it is no insult to say a vegan would not enjoy a meat beer just as saying that water will get you wet.

Then yesterday (hat tip to the BeerSage) I see over at there is a whole vegan backlash and a petition against Sam Adams beef heart brew with the post entitled: "An Evil Brew: Samuel Adams Puts Cow Hearts into New Beer" by Annie Hartnett.
Dramatic much??! My reaction below:

Beer Cocktail a Day: NW Wassail

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.
That was the first stanza of the Gloucestershire Wassail carol that dates back to the middle ages and is a fitting start to our Beer Cocktail of the day the NW Wassail which was probably the most popular of the drinks we served to the media ahead of Brewing up Cocktails 2 this weekend.

The NW Wassail is a classic old school and new school take on what was a popular concoction especially in the Germanic countries during the middle ages. Our rendition uses another classic, Deschutes Brewing's Jubelale winter seasonal. This cocktail will also introduce many to the heated mulled beer.

Beer Cocktail a Day: Defusion

The Irish Car Bomb is probably one of those drinks most people think of when the phrase 'Beer Cocktail' is mentioned, and it is in the simplest, least complex way. One of the co-creators of Brewing up Cocktails, mixologist Jacob Grier, has a soft spot for the Irish Car Bomb.
"Sure, it’s got a politically incorrect name, it’s messy, it curdles if you don’t drink it fast enough, and it requires chugging a half-pint of Guinness, but it’s also tasty and fun."
Even so, he was not about to put it on the menu at Carlyle, where he was the bar manager at the time he dreamed up his new version using a handmade beer foam that he dubbed the Defusion. Our version is made with Eugene, OR's Ninkasi Brewing's Oatis.

Holiday Ale Fest Pin-Up Girl

Last year Portland's Holiday Ale Festival debuted a cartoon pin-up model of a sexy elf girl as part of its logo, presumably to help promote the festival. Hmmm, I thought the beer would be enough on its own? Regardless, it sets unusually high expectations for the attendance. Last year, before The New School existed, I wrote a pretty scathing blog post about the pin-up over at Taplister. I would link to it but it seems to be missing.
Yesterday the Holiday Ale Fest debuted its new pin-up model, which you can see above.
Not sure what they were going for on this one, but I have decided to leave the judging to you with a poll that is on the sidebar to your right. Start voting!

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Beer Cocktail a Day: Tea Party

Photo by "SNOB" Ritch

Today brings the second entry in this week's Beer Cocktail a Day series leading up to Brewing up Cocktails 2 event. Here we'll talk about the all-too relevantly named Tea Party cocktail. This one, perhaps like the modern day Tea Party, has no real place in Brewing up Cocktails, since it employs not beer but Hard Cider instead. This drink still makes itself relevant and is hard to ignore due to its sheer deliciousness.

Sam Adams has their (Beef) Heart in the Beer

Vegetarians and Vegans prepare to cringe: Last week Slashfood reported on a new beer developed by Sam Adams Boston Beer Company with Chef David Burke for a beer uninspiringly called "Burke in a Bottle" that will be served in Burke's east coast restaurants. The interesting part?
The beer is brewed with beef hearts.

Beer Cocktail a Day: Lovers Quarrel

Photo by "SNOB" Ritch

Today is the first in this week's daily series of posts leading up to Brewing up Cocktails 2,which will be held at The Hop & Vine this Saturday, November 13th. Each day I will focus on one of the beer cocktails created for the event by myself, Jacob Grier, and Yetta Vorobik. Today's featured cocktail is the Lovers Quarrel, a sour-ish spiced cocktail made with gin. Read on:

New Taplists: Upright, Breakside and the Hawthorne Hophouse

This is a brief posting featuring the taplists for Hawthorne Hophouse and Breakside Brewery's new beer tapping schedule through December and above the seasonal/guest tap list for the Upright Brewing Tasting Room, there are some fun new experiments. Like Funf and Cinco, two different versions of the Five which is a hoppy farmhouse ale and the Upright Noel, the winter ale that is not to be released until December aged in various barrels. This is a young batch that has not been aged.

Read on for new beers from the Hophouse and Breakside:

Photo Review: Night of the Living Ales

Sunday night's Night of the Living Ales pub crawl was quite a crazy time, surpassing all attendance expectations.
The Living Dead overwhelmed some of the small bars on SE 28th Avenue and killed kegs in record times (some in as little as 10-20 minutes). Hopefully everyone had fun, and though myself and co-organizer the Beer Goddess Lisa Morrison had a good time, I was definitely overwhelmed by the crowd and unexpected demand for the Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

I put out the call for photos from the evening, having had no time to take any myself. I put together a pretty entertaining collection, maybe you will recognize yourself in some of them!

Brewing up Cocktails 2.0 at The Hop & Vine 11/13

During last summer's Oregon Craft Beer Month myself and bartender/writer/mixologist Jacob Grier, with the help of Yetta Vorobik of The Hop & Vine, put together our first Brewing up Cocktails event. We centered the event around the idea that craft beer and spirits could be combined to create cocktails as tasty and unique as either ingredient alone. The afternoon went well, and we won over quite a few non-believers. However, our event was somewhat obscured by surrounding events such as the PIB and Saraveza's Double IPA Fest. But now, emboldened by some excellent press and critical reviews, we have created a sequel of sorts that will feature all new cocktails. These recipes are, I think, much better than those served at the first event, and more in tune with the season.

Breakside Brewery's 5 versions of a Smoked Porter

Co-Owner Scott Lawrence of Breakside photo by

Brief item: Today (Wednesday 11/3) Breakside Brewery has one of their weekly new beer tappings at 4pm and this week is especially a good time to check them out if you have not had a chance to yet. I have not covered these tappings before because others have been quicker to post but today's deserves a special mention because they will be tapping no less than 5 versions of a Smoked Porter, a pretty badass style all by itself. There will be the regular version, a Maple Syrup, a Chipotle Chile, Honey and Coffee versions. I will definitely be there to harass co-owner Scott Lawrence on his unfortunate Superman-esque Bartender pose in last Friday's A & E section of The Oregonian pictured.
See my original feature interview with Scott and brewer Ben Edmunds here.

Breakside Brewery
8th and NE Dekum

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3 Brewers Weigh In on Cascadian Dark Ales

Some predicted the demise of the emerging Cascadian Dark Ale style earlier this year when the Brewers Association decided to officially recognize India-Style Black Ales. In some ways that would seem to put to rest the debate on Black IPA vs. CDA, and the stylistic guidelines of each. However, since the GABF CDAs have proven they are not going anywhere, despite some negative comments. I am going to tell you why, with the help of interviews with three generations of brewers - John Harris of Full Sail, Shawn Kelso of Barley Brown's, and Ben Edmunds of Breakside Brewery - about the style and their personal interpretations.