A New Class of Beer

Recently we have seen some trends take over the craft beer industry, like Cascadian Dark Ales/Black IPAs, various types of sour beers, and the aging of beers in oak barrels. In the latter I see another, entirely new trend slowly but surely spinning out of it: a class of beers inspired by hard alcohol/spirits and cocktails.

Need evidence? Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver fell so in love with a version of a 'Manhattan' that he created a beer based around it called The Manhattan Project. Inspired by 'The Dude' and his proclivity for White Russians, both Naked City in Seattle and The Social Brewery in San Francisco created beers modeled on the cocktail. Next month Breakside Brewery rolls out 3 different barrel-aged 'Cocktail Beers', and this Friday at Circa 33 we host the release of Upright Brewing's Kopstootje Biere, a lager/ale hybrid based on forgotten French brewing traditions that use a variety of herbs and spices. This beer is designed to be drunk as a beer back to the classic spirit Bols Genever in a one-two punch combination called a Kopstootje, or "little headbutt".

Thoughts and Notes on Anheuser-Busch's Purchase of Goose Island

If you didn't catch the news that quickly shot around the internets yesterday, Anheuser-Busch purchased Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Company, once part of the Craft Brewers Alliance (along with Widmer, Red Hook, and Kona). Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall is also stepping down.

Obviously this is pretty huge news in and of itself, but I think the most interesting question is why Anheuser-Busch purchased the company in the first place. Sure, Goose Island is successful and large for a craft brewery, but it is still beyond minuscule in comparison to the macros. This move may signal a new strategy for the big guys...

Ninkasi Brewing/San Francisco/Brewing Up Cocktails

Well, I am headed back to the Bay Area for the annual Craft Brewers Conference, which is being held this year in San Francisco. Any excuse to get back down there is good for me, but this one is especially worthy. I will be just one of many on the trip, as virtually every Brewmaster in Oregon is going down. The coolest part of the trip, and really the primary reason, is an excuse to do a new Brewing up Cocktails event with my friend, Jamie Floyd, and his brewery, Ninkasi...

Sneak Peak & Review: Widmer's Galaxy Hopped Barleywine

The other day I received a handsome package from the Widmer Brothers that caught me somewhat by surprise. I had no idea what it contained, but I was suspecting more of the freshly repackaged 6 pack beers. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find the latest in the Brothers Reserve line of beers, Galaxy Hopped Barleywine.

An Interview with Laurelwood Owner and Founder Mike DeKalb

Mike Dekalb next to Laurelwood's IPA championship banner from 09

Last Friday Laurelwood celebrated its 10th year in business, no small feat for a brewpub. Other than a number of McMenamins locations, I can't think of another local example. Thriving on the market young families, many of whom moved to Portland to raise children, I think Laurelwood hit on something not covered elsewhere in this market, even by McMenamins. It certainly did not hurt that the brewery broke out to stand on its own, creating Oregon classics like Free Range Red. Laurelwood was also the first brewpub in Oregon to brew organic beers, way before it became the popular thing to do when Roots went all in and Hopworks perfected the sustainability in a brewery movement. Speaking of Hopworks, who can forget that HUB Owner/Brewer Christian Ettinger first earned his stars at Laurelwood before moving on to open his own place? Throughout it all, Laurelwood owner Mike De Kalb guided the ship through the ups and downs of the changing production and brewpub landscape of Oregon. This is what I was most interested in talking to him about, hoping to get his insight on running a brewery business in what is probably the most competitive time in craft beer history.

Four Played Out

I don't know about you, but I am extremely offended by Upright Brewing's bottle label for Four Play, the highly anticipated sour cherry farmhouse ale coming out on their 2nd Anniversary this Sunday at the brewery from 1-6pm. Thanks to Beervana's commenters for pointing out that the label is clearly sexist and the product of an immature hyper-masculine boy's fantasy. With a name and label like that and my repressed sexuality as an artist, I feel dirty drinking it. Foreplay should be performed only after holy matrimony, of course, and absolutely never ever depicted or talked about. Violence, bloodshed, alcohol, and drugs, these things don't concern me, but when you suggest that women can be sexy and seductive, that is just in bad taste. A label like this destroys the sanctity of my ale. What's next, two men holding hands?!

So what do you do when you want to drink this sexy beer without feeling pressured to be held to society's questionable standards? We have came up with the answer!

World's First 24oz Beer in Cans Coming Soon to Oregon

In the American tradition that Bigger is ALWAYS better (unless it's a cell phone) comes new 24oz cans of Black Star: Double Hopped Golden Lager. Black Star is a brand brewed at the Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish, Montana, but the beer we get here is more likely contract-brewed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I had not heard of it at all until they made a big release and push in the NW last year, with a pretty hefty marketing campaign. Some of the marketing was bizarre, like having a bluegrass band play in the aisles next to Black Star at various grocery stores in Portland. (Does that band tell all their friends they went on a grocery store tour?)

All that may not make the beer seem very appealing, but when I got my samples last year, the beer was surprisingly solid. It's even brewed with authentic German hops - 80% Mittelfruh and 20% Czech Saaz. The beer even received pretty high marks from lager connoisseur "SNOB" Ritch in our review panel.

Most tempting of all is the retail price of these 24oz badboys: $1.99! That is 2oz more than you get in a bomber, for god's sake, that is a lot of beer and at just 4.6% abv it is a true session beer you can put back a lot of.

Surprisingly the 24oz cans are already in Oregon, but so far pretty much only at 7-11 locations.


7115 S.E. Powell Blvd

30 SW Arthur

1533 S.W. Broadway

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An Interview with Laurelwood Brewmaster Chad Kennedy

Chad Kennedy is Laurelwood's Brewmaster, Chad Kennedy is also a gay porn star or so I was told (I am currently in negotiations to have him model for next years Four Play label). Which Chad did I interview I am still not sure but either way he makes great beer and his talents will be on showcase this Friday for Laurelwood's 10th Anniversary. The interview reveals some new tricks up these guys sleaves including a brand new Nano Brewery, new Experimental beers and the hardships of using Organic ingredients.

Download The Beer Devotional for FREE

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the kind publishers at Adams Media have offered our readers a free E-Book download of The Beer Devotional: A Daily Celebration of the World's Most Inspiring Beers. This offer is only good for today March 17th so get it while you can.

Here's the link to the FREE EBOOK on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/gTXz5J

On Barnes & Noble's Nook: http://bit.ly/g3AVdN

On Sony eBookstore: http://bit.ly/eLCsRB

And in the iTunes bookstore!

About The Beer Devotional: As Ben Franklin said, beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Now beer lovers everywhere can hoist a cold one while browsing this informative guide to their favorite beverage. For each day of the year, beer expert and homebrewer Jess Lebow lists a beer, information on its history, taste, price, and where to find it. He suggests food pairings and includes trivia, brewing tips, and information about beer-related events, as well as quotations about the ease and contentment beer brings to our lives. Every state in the union is represented in this book, which unlocks the secrets of stouts, lambics, IPAs, and porters. The Beer Devotional: A Daily Celebration of the World's Most Inspiring Beers (Adams Media, a divisin of F+W Media, May 2011) offers you an inspirational daily guide to the joys of beer.

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New Brew Odyssey: Green Beer!

I used to live in a small Colorado mountain town where St. Patrick’s Day was the biggest bar night of the year. I’m told that the night before Thanksgiving now trumps it, but by all accounts, March 17 is a major night for many bars. At Breakside, we’ve sought to get into the Patty’s Day spirit two times over. On Thursday, the holiday proper, we will release our very traditional Irish red ale. Lightly hopped and very malty, it is tasty and easy drinking. On Wednesday the 16th, we release Green Grog, our experimental beer for the week.

Belgians and Barleywines in Fog City

Captain Neil has the crazed glow of Barlewywine in his eyes at the Toronado

In the City by the Bay there is one beer bar that is on the lips of every beer geek: the Toronado. This bar is an institution a legend even on the level of Portland's Horse Brass Pub, and the first that comes to mind over all other beer bars in the city. And there is no festival in the city that is better known than the annual Toronado Barleywine Festival that takes place each February during SF Beer Week.

This post is the last in my 2011 SF Beer Week chronicles and focuses on the beer bars and taphouses of the Bay Area, including The Trappist, The Monk's Kettle, La Trappe, Zeitgeist, Alembic, and, of course, the Toronado and the Barleywine Festival.

New School Beer News Roundup

Pyramid/MacTarnahan's to Relaunch Portland Brewing Co. Beers?
Perhaps so. Pyramid/MacTarnahan's is considering remaking many of the old classics from Portland Brewing Co. before they were bought out. Again, sources indicate that Zig Zag River Lager is definitely making a return appearance very soon. There may be some Bourbon Barrel Blackwatch on the way as well, with more possibly to follow...

Fort George Leaves Mountain Peoples Distribution for Maletis
In a surprising turn of events, Astoria's growing Fort George Brewery has suddenly left longtime local distributor Mountain People's Beer and Wine, just as Ft. George rolls out its new cans. This has gotta hurt, as Mountain Peoples has been a huge advocate of the Astoria brewer and did much to help it during its rise from obscurity. I suppose the reasons for change are obvious, though, as Maletis is a much bigger distributor that contracts with A-B/Inbev. The whole thing is reminiscent of Ninkasi's switch from Point Blank to Maletis several years back. I hope to follow up with more on this story.

Red Hook's New Bottle Size
This rather obvious teaser image shows that Red Hook is set to reveal a new bottle on March 16th in a more stubby, hand grenade-like size. My sources indicate this bottle actually holds no more liquid than the typical 12oz bottle, so other than the variety, don't expect anything groundbreaking. Surprising that they are not just leaping straight to cans like everyone else.

Rock Bottom Considers Bottling Some of Its Beers
This story is a few weeks old, but the Denver Westword reports that Rock Bottom is considering standardizing 3-5 of its beers through all locations and then bottling them to keep a consistent brand. No decision has been made on who would actually brew and package these beers, since Rock Bottom locations are brewpubs and do not have production facilities. The story even suggests that recent merger partners Gordon-Biersch would not necessarily be the bottling partner.

Applications Now Being Accepted for Glen Falconer Brewing Scholarships
The non-profit foundation set up by Quentin Falconer, brother of the late Glen Falconer, benefits brewers with scholarships to attend the Siebel Institute, as well as a chance to brew the annual Legacy Project beer with Walking Man Brewing. Now, with the co-sponsorship of Siebel they are offering two brewing scholarships. Details:
One scholarship is to the World Brewing Academy Web-based Concise Course in Brewing Technology from August to November 2011. The Concise Course in Brewing Technology is a two-week intensive program that covers every topic critical to successful brewery operations. The program is designed for brewers pursuing a wider knowledge of professional brewing standards and techniques in order to advance their brewing careers as well as individuals planning to enter the brewing industry.

The second scholarship allows candidates to apply for one of three two-week Web-based modules from the International Diploma in Brewing Technology Program. This specialty brewing scholarship is intended for those brewers who seek an in-depth understanding of a specific brewing discipline. Candidates must designate which module they wish to attend.

The Concise Course scholarship is open to individuals planning on entering the brewing industry and to professional brewers with no more than three years of brewery work experience. The specialty brewing scholarship is open only to professional brewers. Applicants must be from the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii and California’s northern geographic region (San Francisco Bay/Monterey Bay areas and north). The full application must be received no later than April 20, 2011. Complete details and scholarship applications are available at www.siebelinstitute.com.

The Glen Hay Falconer Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for professional and aspiring craft brewers from the Pacific Northwest to further their knowledge and expertise. For more information on the Foundation please visit www.glenfalconerfoundation.org

Mt. Tabor Brewing Expands, Opens Tasting Room, and Moves to Vancouver
Mt. Tabor Brewing, the startup nanobrewery located in Portland's Montavilla neighborhood, recently had its 1 Year Anniversary, and the company has big changes in store. Currently brewing on just a 1 barrel system in just a production capacity, the brewery has just signed a lease on a new space in Vancouver, WA, that will house a new tasting room and a larger 5 barrel brewhouse.

Rogue Creamery Celebrate Its 75th Anniversary with Special New Beer
Rogue Brewing is apparently brewing a new secret beer to celebrate the Rogue Creamery's 75th anniversary, which will be packaged in 750ml bottles. (via Beer News.org)

For the Love of Beer Kickstarter Campaign
My friend Alison Grayson's documentary about women in the beer industry is nearing completion, and she has started a Kickstarter Page to raise the last amount of needed money to release her baby. Upon publishing, she only needs to raise another $1,100. Donations start at as little as $10, and she's offering donors some pretty cool schwag once the project is complete.

Hopworks Ace of Spades Imperial IPA Returns in Bottles and Draft
What may be HUB's most popular seasonal release, Ace of Spades Imperial IPA, returned to the brewpub's taps yesterday. Bottles of this hop and booze bomb are set to roll out later this week to stores in Oregon and Washington.

Bridgeport Hawthorne Alehouse Closure and Reimagining
Bridgeport Brewing Company recently announced that the pub will close for four weeks starting on March 13th for a renovation. The project appears to be an entire reimagining of the space, with a new menu and, my sources say, an entirely new staff. This does not seem to bode well for the SE location. It seems like the entire lineup of Bridgeport is going through a renovation, with the recent axe on favorites like ESB and the introduction of new beers like Cafe Negro and Kingpin. I am wondering what the brewery's sales numbers were like last year.

Pelican Releases Nestucca ESB, Saison Du Pelican in Bottles, Expands Distribution to Washington
For the first time ever, Pelican Brewery is bottling its Nestucca ESB, noted for its English-style herbal and grassy hops and toasted malt character. The brewery is also re-releasing Saison Du Pelican in 750ml hand corked and caged bottles. Possibly the biggest news is that Pelican is slowly expanding its distribution into Washington, beginning with Vancouver.

Cascade Brewing Saison Festival Announced for May 7th
The Cascade Barrel House is putting on a rare festival of Saisons, the first I have heard of. They will be pouring Saisons from Block 15, Boulevard, Breakside, Buckman, Brasserie Dupont, Cascade, Double Mountain, Green Dragon, Oakshire, Stillwater, Two Rivers Cidery & Upright.  The festival runs from Noon to 10 pm and also features live music.  Admission is free - to drink, either bring a 14 ounce plastic festival mug from home (like the ones sold at Oregon Brewers Fest, Holiday Ale Fest, or other such events) or purchase a plastic Cascade mug for $3.  The event takes place on the production side of the Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  Minors are allowed, but not encouraged. 

Ninkasi Collaboration Beer with John Maier of Rogue Ales
For this year's annual Sasquatch Brew Fest, Ninkasi owner/brewer Jamie Floyd will be teaming up with longtime Rogue Ales Brewmaster John Maier to bring back an old favorite, Glen's Best Bitter, in honor of the fests namesake Glen Hay Falconer. The brew will use the newly-released Falconer's Flight hops.

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Upright Brewing Turns Two and Brings the Four Play

So Upright Brewing is turning 2 years old. To celebrate this occassion they are releasing Four Play, which is perhaps the best beer made by the young brewery (it was named Best Oregon Beer by a panel of critics in our 2010 year end poll). Again, this year's label features an artistic representation of a sexy model. Last year's label featured nudity that prevented the bottle from being sold out of the brewery, so this year's edition will be (slightly more) covered. I don't think the label comes off as any less risque, but it does fly by network television standards. Four Play 2.0 is quite a bit different than the first year's version in more ways than the label, which is darker and more gritty. The beer itself, which I have tried, is much more sour, with the cherry flavor being much more forward than the previous year's release. Personally, I love 2.0 all the more, and I have a feeling sour beer lovers will embrace it.

More from the press release:

Oregon's only farmhouse-inspired craft brewery, Upright Brewing, is turning 2 years old and celebrating the occasion with a party on Sunday, March 20th, from 1-6pm at the Tasting Room. The party will also mark the return of perhaps the brewery's most anticipated annual release - Four Play, a sour farmhouse cherry wheat beer aged in pinot wine barrels.

About Upright Brewing
During the last two short years the small production brewery just east of the Broadway bridge has been devoted to producing one of Portland's most diverse range of beers. Upright focuses on beers of the French and Belgian farmhouse style and brews without inhibition, as evidenced by their historic takes on English Old Ale (Billy the Mountain) and Oyster Stout, as well as their authentic German Gose and Engelberg Pilsener.

Upright recently added three new tanks, using one to produce a year-round, hop forward German-style pilsener for draft only. This new beer is called Engelberg Pils in a nod to the small community of Mt. Angel, Oregon, where all of the brewery's hops are sourced. The other two tanks will enable the brewery to produce more one-off draft beers and also allow production of at least eight seasonal bottled batches throughout the year. As always, the numbered beers that Upright has focused on since the beginning will continue to be fermented in the brewery's unique open-top tanks. The new year has also brought expanded distribution for Upright's beers with Lime Ventures, which will bring bottles and occasional draft beer to the Northern California market, adding to a distribution territory that spans north from Oregon to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

Final Label Art

About Four Play
In celebration of the brewery's anniversary, it's becoming tradition to release Four Play, a very Belgian-esque beer based on Upright's wheat beer (named Four), but barrel-aged for a year with cherries, souring yeasts, and bacteria. Four Play is aged in former pinot noir barrels, then blended in a way that yields a rose-colored sour ale with wonderfully complex aromas and flavors. It's always a limited release, and the 2011 batch is represented by only 67 cases and 3 kegs, all of which the brewers believe is of the finest quality and suitable for cellaring up to 5 years.

About the 2 Year Anniversary Party
In addition to the extremely rare Four Play (one of only 3 kegs will on draft), Upright will also be releasing something even rarer in bottles: last year's Apricot Anniversary Ale, aged in Ransom Spirits Old Tom Gin barrels, of which there are fewer than 3 cases of 750ml bottles. To top it off, look for a special cask of this year's edition of the World Beer Cup-award winning Gose, stuffed with dry hops and extra salt.

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Stumptown Coffee & Sixpoint Ales: Berserker Bock

Check out this well-made (if not a bit melodramatic) video on the new collaboration beer Berserker Bock from Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Brooklyn, NY's Sixpoint Ales.

In case you're wondering who Sixpoint, is their beers do not make it anywhere near Oregon, but word is Stumptown brought this particular beer (a coffee-infused bock) to town and it is available on tap at the downtown PDX location at 128 SW 3rd. I recommend calling ahead to make sure it's still there.

Go Buy This Beer: New Belgium Le Terroir

So you're at the beer store browsing the aisles and you want something you have not tried before. You like sour beers and there are a number of expensive options begging for your hard- earned dollar, and you're not about to just blow $17 on a bottle of sour stuff from Cascade every day.

For your consideration, I submit New Belgium's Le Terroir: Dry Hopped Sour Ale, now available in 22oz bombers for only $7.10 at The Beermongers. It is an absolute steal.

The Brewpubs of San Francisco

Brunch at Magnolia Brewing

The Bay Area has lots to offer: amazing views, beautiful Victorian houses, turn-of-the-century cable cars that break down at the drop of the hat, and hills that you would never wish to walk up or down after a few pints at the pub. There are, however, many more brewpubs and breweries in Portland than SF. The area tends more towards excellent beer bars and taphouses than brewpubs, as evidenced by the closure of one of my favorites San Francisco Brewing Company. However, the breweries they do have are very fine, and each provides its own attraction, from a view of the bay to classic cask beer to just damn good beer and food pairings. What they lack in quantity they make up for in variety. In fact, two of these brewpubs blew our socks off and may well top any one I can think of in P-Town. For backstory on our trip, here is Part 1 of our SF Beer Week Adventure.
Click through to read reviews of the best in SF brewpubs.

New Brew Odyssey: The Umami Beer

Dried Anchovies on the brewery desk photo by Ms. Allison Jones

Today, March 1, is my good friend Kathryn Miller’s birthday. For no real reason, we have a (now three year old) tradition of brewing a stout to commemorate her birthday. The stouts tend to be somewhat exotic to match Kati’s personality. Two years ago, we did a milk stout with chocolate and ginger; last year’s was a bourbon-barrel stout. Until this year, this has remained a small homebrew project. This year, I suggested Kati come in and join in brewing her own beer as part of the Breakside Wednesday Release Series. Kati’s Stout is one of the beers in the series that I am most excited for, as I have been increasingly interested in the viability of savory beers. This Wednesday, we are releasing a savory wheat stout, brewed with wakame seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, and miso.