The Don of Oregon Beer

As news broke on the Internets yesterday that the great Publican and Horse Brass owner Don Younger had passed, I felt sickened, especially after learning that he had in fact not and was being treated comfortably (but on life support) in the hospital. True, the outlook is grim, but let's not be printing an obituary for the immortal so soon.
[Update: It's being reported that Don passed at 1230am this morning. The exact minute that I hit publish on this post.]

I am sure other publications both print and online will soon be posting retrospectives, but I find them untimely and distasteful for a man who is still alive and kicking in a hospital bed and who, out of all of us, is the most likely to pull through this mess and afterwards light a pipe, spit in your face for suggesting otherwise, remind you that his pub is still #1, and demand another pint of Rogue's Younger's Special Bitter.

I will not claim to know Don Younger all that well, but he has influenced my life irreversibly. When I joined other friends and industry alike at the Horse Brass Sunday night in a vigil for the man, I had a hard time even cracking a smile or laughing at a joke. I will leave his history to those older and more experienced than I, but I would like to share my Don Younger story, as any who has spent any time with the man surely have one. I would also like you to all share yours here in the hope that the positive vibes make it to 'the last smoker', who would surely join us for another.

Behind The Pint Interview with Jeff Bagby of Pizza Port

Last Wednesday APEX bar in Portland, OR played host to Pizza Port Brewing from San Diegeo, CA and Brewmaster Jeff Bagby who brought many of his biggest beers to share with us.  APEX was packed to the gills with beer geeks and industry folks alike but Jeff was kind enough to take a little time to talk with us about Pizza Port and how it's different than Port, What a San Diego style Pale is and what he thinks of the Cascadian Dark Ale vs. Black IPA debate.

Jeff Bagsby of Pizza Port Brewing has a Beer with The New School from Ritch Marvin on Vimeo.

The Art of Barrel-Aging with Block 15's Nick Arzner

One of the more interesting current trends in American Craft Brewing is barrel-aging. Though it is not a new process, to most folks aging beer in oak barrels is something strange and foreign, and usually limited to wine and spirits. While barrel-aged beers have become commonplace in Oregon and around the world, many brewers do not know what goes into properly producing quality beers from barrels, with oxidation and infection being common problems. Block 15 in Corvallis, OR, has one of the most elaborate barrel-aging cellars in the state and has been producing phenomenal ales from its barrel collection - both English-style ales from bourbon barrels and Belgian and Flemish-inspired, winey and sour brews alike. With the forthcoming bottle release of Pappy's Dark Ale - one of the brewery's most accomplished barrel-aged brews - I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the art of barrel-aging with owner/brewer Nick Arzner.

How Beer Saved the Video Star

With Sam Calagione's Brewmasters craft beer has been getting more attention on screen than ever. While I never got too excited about Brewmasters the above trailer for Discovery Channels new Doc How Beer Saved The World looks positively phenomenal.
With that in mind I have compiled a few new and less seen beer related videos and commercials for your perusal.

New School Weekly Beer News

The latest chapter in our weekly-ish Beer News column features all the dish and brewery news, from brand new brewery openings to new collaborations to ancient beers, as well as some recent breaking and entering.

A Brewer Mash-Up

Vasilios Gletsos and Ben Flerchinger

When I first heard that two of my favorite local brewers, Ben Flerchinger (Head Brewer at NW Lucky Lab) and Vasilios Gletsos (MacTarnahan's), were collaborating on a new beer, I knew I had to write something about it. Born from the 2 friends' desire to brew together and not as any sort of official brewery collaboration, they dubbed the project a Mash-Up, and named the beer Weihnachtsbock (I hope I spelled that right). The Mash-Up beer is set to be released this coming Thursday at Lucky Lab's NW Quimby Public House. In anticipation of the event I sat down to have a couple beers with the brewers and talk about Weihnachtsbock's creation.

Full Sail Black Gold Release Party with Vertical Tasting

Here is a notice worth posting. A fantastic Imperial Stout, and certainly one of the world's best Bourbon Barrel-Aged beers, Black Gold from Full Sail Brewing, has gotten a release date and 2 parties - one in Hood River and one right here in Portland, at the Riverplace Brewery and Pilsner Room.
“Since Black Gold is a blend of our Imperial Stout aged for a full year in both 18 and 20 year old bourbon barrels, we thought it would be interesting to try a bit of each before blending. We kegged off a very small stash from each vintage for the initial release. Join us to celebrate the unveiling of this very special beer and taste the nuances between the two vintage years and the final version,”
- Executive Brewmaster Jamie Emmerson.

The events will be held at Full Sail’s Tasting Room and Pub in Hood River and at the Riverplace Brewery in Portland at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1st. For more information call the Full Sail Riverplace brewery at 503-222-5343 or the Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub at 541-386-2247.

DoubleHeader Beer Release Party

Now here is an interesting event, and it sounds like a good way to spend a Thursday night.
Much more info below.

Review Panel: Ninkasi ReNEWale

Ninkasi Brewing has introduced a new seasonal in-between their winter beer release Sleigh'r and spring seasonal Spring Reign. ReNEWale is the latest in a growing example of breweries releasing seasonals in the middle of seasons, almost like transitional beers as is the case with Full Sail's Bump in the Night, Hopworks Secession and more.

Hopworks New 'Bike Bar' location in North Portland

Updated Friday 1/21 2:17 am

"Compressed, intimate, hyper social and bike based"
- Hopworks owner Christian Ettinger on the upcoming Bike Bar

As originally reported here on The New School, and more recently rumored on Eater PDX, Hopworks Urban Brewery has confirmed they will be opening a 2nd location in North Portland. Dubbed the 'Bike Bar', it will be located on the N. Wlliams bike route just one building down from Lompoc's 5th Quadrant Location.

Baristadors Brewing up more than just Coffee

(Ed. note: Today's post is by guest writer Michael Umphress)

What are the two things Portlanders love most besides roller derby & fixed gear bikes? We all share a common love for both local coffee and craft beer. Imagine both of these in one location; what more could we ask for? Local coffee artisans at Baristadors are bringing these two loves into one great location. While still relatively new to the brewery scene, they are no stranger to a damn fine cup of coffee. Having just received a brewing permit back in August of 2010, they are now moving into the world of craft beer.

Move over Four Loko, It's Scotch Whisky in a Can

If there is one thing that was missing from cans now that we have quality beer and alcoholic energy drinks in them, it's good Scottish Dram Whisky served in a classic 12oz aluminum package. Well, Scottish Spirits Ltd. has heard our cries!

Meet me in San Francisco

Possibly my favorite beer event ever is happening in less than a month. This year's SF Beer Week is February 11th through 20th and will feature a plethora of beer events of all kinds, from your straightforward special tappings to unique food pairing events like Strong Beer & Strong Salads, Grilled Cheese Sandwich pairings, Oyster and Stout nights, Pig Roasts and even Daily Beer Cocktail specials. All of these are among a zillion other unique events highlighting the amazing diversity of San Francisco foodie culture.

Brewing with Coffee and Laurelwood's Espresso Stout

Recently there has been a spate of new Coffee Beer releases, like Bridgeport's Cafe Negro, Breakside's coffee-infused Dry Stout, and the newest version of Laurelwood Brewing's Espresso Stout. I recently picked up a few bottles of these for a review panel, but soon discovered that we had already reviewed the Laurelwood brew in the early days of The New School, way back in last March (it received a coveted 4.5 from the Yalie). Seeing as how we had reviewed it previously, I thought it would also be nice to chat a little with Laurelwood Brewmaster Chad Kennedy about the creation of the beer and how he approaches using coffee in beer.

New Brew Odyssey: A Common Challenge

California common, aka American amber lager or Steam beer, is one of my favorite styles of beer. Or rather, perhaps I should say that Anchor Steam is one of my favorite beers, especially when it’s fresh. The beer and style confuse easily, and for good reason. While there are many beer styles inspired by a single beer (Duvel for Belgian strong golden ale, for example), California common is unique in that it remains a ‘style’ that really is defined by a single beer. Indeed, even style guidelines acknowledge this, and the BJCP states “this style is narrowly defined around the prototypical Anchor Steam example…” Because the guidelines are so tightly drawn for California common, few brewers choose to take on the style. Brewing it, you are left with little opportunity for experimentation: you can either brew an Anchor clone with Northern Brewer hops or use other American varietals and end up with something more similar to a pale ale.

1st Buckman-Kerns Brewfest kicks off this Sunday

This Sunday January 16 at 1pm the East Burn hosts the first Buckman-Kerns Brewfest centered around breweries in their neighborhood many of which have opened in just the last 6 months or so. Organized by Kat Finn (one of Ben Edmunds picks for Best Beertender) they have collected some pretty great brews that many probably have not tried like Burnside Brewing's new Gratzer and IPA, Cascade Barrel Houses new release of The Vine that will be draft only this year. Not to mention brews from freshly opened Migration Brewing and Coalition Brewing and rounded out by the nano Natian.
Full disclosure, while I am not an employee in any way of the festival both Ben Edmunds and I will be doing some beer judging for them along with the Beer Goddess. It should be a good time. And dont fret that its a Sunday, afterall Monday is MLK day and its a 3 day weekend what better way to celebrate!

For more extensive info including the entire beer list check out my full write-up on PDX PIPELINE

Beer News: Oskar Blues, Caldera, Bend Brewing News and more...

There's lots of new Beer News to report this week, including some interesting lawsuits involving Gordon Biersch, Oskar Blues and Molson Coors; news on Caldera Brewing's expansion plans; award-winning brewer Tonya Cornett's new gig; and a few more interesting tidbits from around the NW.
Beer News may become a new weekly column here on The New School, chronicling the biggest breaking beer-related stories each week, from local to international, if there's enough interest, so please leave your feedback.

The Ever-Changing Beer Style Guidelines

Yesterday the Brewers Association announced changes in its style guidelines for 2011,updating the guides for the following existing beer styles:
  • Belgo-American-Style Ales
  • Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin/Oud Red
  • German Bock
  • Rye Beer

Perhaps more significantly, the BA has completely changed the names of 2 different styles - American-Style Sour Ale has been changed to American-Style Brett Ale, and the recently added, brand new style American-Style India Black Ale has been changed to simply American-Style Black Ale. Of course, this may be the most controversial in the ongoing debate over whether to call the style Cascadian Dark Ale, but I think the changes regarding American Sour Ales are surprisingly significant. Why does it matter? Competitions across the country typically refer to the BA's guides on judging all beer styles. If a beer does not fit into these descriptions it may lose quite a few points from a BJCP judge.

Below is an extremely detailed break down of all the changes in this year's guide.

Burnside Brewing Gratzer Release on Tuesday

The first in Burnside Brewing's more experimental brews releases this Tuesday the 11th at the pubs 4pm opening. This is a pretty highly anticipated brew for me so I thought worth posting. Here is what Burnside says about the beer:

The Gratzer is a commercially extinct smoked wheat beer native to Poland.  Burnside Gratzer began with our executive chef Ronnie Vance smoking 600 pounds of white wheat over Apple wood.  The result is a mild, cloudy wheat beer with a full mouth feel.  Drinkers will notice flavor notes of both sweet & nutty that finish with just a touch of smoke.  Our Gratzer is designed to pair well with food, and all Burnside Beers are unfiltered to protect their complex flavor profiles.  Beer notes 5.67% ABV, 8.75 IBU's. 

The Gratzer will also be pouring at the Buckman-Kerns Brewfest this Sunday at East Burn.

Rogues in Portlandia

If you live in Portland and you have not heard about the new IFC series based here called Portlandia, you must be living under a rock. When the sneak preview music video debuted, I swear I couldn't go 5 minutes without seeing people link to it on twitter or facebook. Now the inevitable has happened - Rogue Brewing is repackaging a Portlandia beer for the show. Surprisingly enough, I have some thoughts...

Photos of the Year

In the New School we like photos. Some would disparage relying on photos to tell a story like a children's book, but being an artist myself I appreciate their value and use them whenever possible. Here I have collected a sort of scrapbook of pictures (with commentary) that were taken over the first year of The New School's being. Photos range from amazing-looking brews to notable events, but mostly surround friends and personalities of the local beer scene we are happy to spend some time with over a brew.

All the Beer News that's Fit to Print

Updated: 2:56pm with news of Rock Bottom's Van Havig Firing

Updated 2:25pm: With news on Pelican Brewing and Four Loko being put to good use

Here is a round-up of recent local and national beer news, from closures to brewery expansions, cancellations, and the redefinition of what constitutes a craft brewer. All of these are interesting stories, yet none quite inspired me to write full posts. But, being breaking news, they are items that I think many will be interested in.

Review Panel: Deschutes Hop Henge batch #9

Deschutes is one of those breweries that tinkers and plays with a beer on and on, trying out different hops and malt profiles. One of those ongoing experiments is Hop Henge. When it was first released many years ago in the Bond Street Series, it was as a Double IPA. It later got scaled back to being a regular IPA, and is now slowly became a Double IPA again, with this latest, 9th bottled edition.

New Brew Odyssey: How to Brew With Citrus in the New School

It’s a New Year and time for a new start for the ol’ New School column! After some prodding from the Samurai Artist, I’ll be taking the New Brew Odyssey column in a new direction this year and will be focusing on some of the brewing techniques used in the pilot batches/experimental releases that we’re putting together up at Breakside Brewery. For folks who don’t know, we release a new one-off batch of beer each Wednesday night—done as single keg batches on our old pilot system, this brings the flexibility and creativity of great homebrewing to a real brewery.

The Proliferation of the Beer Cocktail

Beer Cocktails from The Kitchn

Beer Cocktails seem to have been everywhere over the last month or so. First, during Spints Alehouse's recent anniversary party, I found two different Beer Cocktails on the special egg nog flip cocktail list - one using a Belgian ale, the other a stout. Second, I was at Beaker & Flask the other night and tried their take on the Boilermaker that features, instead of a shot of whiskey, a miniaturized cocktail designed to be paired and dropped into a pint of beer. Then there are the new articles about Beer Cocktails popping up in both SF Weekly and, strangely, Wine Enthusiast. Meanwhile, both The Oregonian and The Republican of Western Massachusetts named Beer Cocktails as one of the biggest new trends. It's a good time to take a look at the other Beer Cocktails being created around the country that are doing some things we may never even have heard of...

Hopworks rolls out Secession Cascadian Dark Ale

Free pints of Secession at the release party yesterday

Yesterday, on short notice, Hopworks Urban Brewery re-released Secession, a Cascadian Dark Ale. Originally released on draft at the North American Organic Brewers Festival only 2 years ago, the recipe is based on a homebrew that beer writer and CDA proponent Abram Goldman-Armstrong created. In its original release it was dubbed a CDA, and in 2010 it was released as bottled seasonal that was dubbed a Black IPA, though all the packaging contradicted that moniker, with beer notes mentioning Cascadia, the color scheme of the Casdcadian flag, and even featuring a small depiction of the map of Cascadia. It was a change that got no love from beer geeks - including myself - and I am happy to say that the re-release of the beer has been correctly renamed as a Cascadian Dark Ale, with a new label modeled on the official flag of Cascadia.

Enemies of the State: Portland Beer Club

Back in November I added the Portland Beer Club to the list of Enemies of the New School. What is the PBC? I have no idea, as all indications point to it being just one dude with a facebook page who believes that gives him the power to demand free beer and VIP treatment from breweries. When I added him to my Enemies List in the Enemies Of The State posting, it was because he pretty clearly laid out his intentions to get free beer in exchange for positive reviews on his facebook page while alluding to eventually having a podcast that has been supposedly in the works for years. He followed through on his promise with a hyperbolic reviewthat was devoid of any (even constructive) criticism for Columbia River Brewing Co,. a well-known solicitor of fake positive reviews. Well, PBC apparently finally got wind of his being called out and issued a response yesterday that goes a little something like this...