Behind the Scenes at the Willamette Week to Choose The President of Beers

It's no secret that I have not been a fan of local weekly rag the Willamette Week's weak (watch the pun!) beer coverage since arts editor Martin Cizmar jumped with both feet into the spent grain bucket. I tolerated and got a few laughs out of the initial review of Logsdon's Seizoen, but then became irate at his take on Hopworks Abominable Ale. My disagreement with Martin's fundamental misunderstanding of seasonal beers and beers from the Pacific NW in general caused one of my infamous rants against the crappy beer coverage in mainstream publications in my post Willamette Week Delves into Beer Reviews, Fails Miserably. Since then, Martin and I fought a secret cold war over each other's honor before burying the hatchet. (Don't tell Martin, but I won). So, OK, I have to give the guy credit, he is trying, and with the help of professional beer writer Brian Yaeger, edjumucation is just a few short years away in Portlandia. Still, WWeek's 2011 Top 10 list of Oregon beers still makes me cringe (Bridgeport Summer Squeeze, really?!?).

Since then, Martin Cizmar may have softened up with his newfound celebrity after being featured on CNN for returning his boy scout badges. (That's honorable and all, but I once tried to return half of Chick-Fil-A sandwich after finding it between the car seats, that was much more challenging.)

But I digress! I was shocked and humbled when Mr. Cizmar invited me to join an esteemed critics panel at WW offices a few weeks ago. The panel was for Willamette Week's The President of Beers, a story currently being featured in a long running series on the paper's website as they count down from #50 to #1.

An Ode to the King

Rarely do I call your attention to another site, but today is a good day to visit Eater PDX because the site has just posted an ode I have written to one King C., aka Chris Ensign. If you're a longtime New School reader, you may recall his column here in the early days called Stumbling Toward Beerhalla. Or you may more than likely recognize him from Horse Brass or APEX. Regardless, I was pleased to write a short story for Eater and to salute one of our great beer bar bartenders. Cheers to you, King C!

Read the full story here:

Beer Business Is Big Business: Columbia Distributing Sells to Private Equity Firm

It's a big day for news in the craft beer business. After the report on Bloomberg Business Week earlier, Beer Business Daily has just broken the news that Columbia Distributing has been sold to a large private equity firm (thanks to James Fick for the heads up). If you needed any more proof that big business is gunning for the craft beer market, this helps make the case. The article is behind a pay wall, so I will give you the gist of the information disseminated from a press release and with my own inside information:

Craft Beer Market Analysis on Bloomberg Business Week

A fascinating recent segment on Bloomberg Business Week rates Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams, as a "sell" stock. Noting that the Boston Beer Co. has had record stock gains mostly to due the success of its cider brand, Twisted Tea, and expanded distribution to 48 states. UBS analyst Kaumil Gajrawala essentially makes Boston Beer Co. out to be not unlike Microsoft, which may be a big company, but its stock is plummeting and the company is running out of places to grow as new innovators swoop in. Is Boston Beer Co. a target for a buyout by a big guy like AB-InBev? Perhaps, but judging by this Jim Koch interview on ABC News the other day, he is quite happy and enthusiastic about the industry still.

With craft beer's foothold in the market growing every year, the macro brewers are struggling to hold onto their market share. As the analyst here points out, the big guys are not going anywhere and will likely always hold most of the supermarket shelf space. What I am most concerned about are those limited shelf spaces in coolers across the country that more and more craft brewers are gunning for. Those valuable SKU's will soon be running out, I suspect, and faster than ever with the advent of the mobile canning line and multiple lines of beers from single breweries, like Hopworks Lager in 22oz bottles as well as cans.

As craft brewers do eat into the big guys' shelf space, more and more they become larger targets for buyouts, especially when they have potential and room to grow.

Just take a look at Goose Island, which was purchased by A-B Inbev last year for $38.8 million with plans to quickly expand Chicago's biggest craft brewer. After immediately installing new 100 bbl tanks last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that Goose Island beers (still difficult to find in Oregon and not available at all in many regions) will expand to distribution in all 50 states. That kind of aggressive growth strategy, largely based around packaged bottles, will put more pressure on regional brewers, who will soon be fighting to stay on grocery store shelves. Inbev's $38.8 million investment to purchase Goose Island was a drop in the bucket compared to how much it will be worth in the coming years. Distributors controlled by A-B Inbev across the country can push the product. To compete with these big guys, craft brewers need to sign on to larger distributors, many of which are controlled by or have strong ties to the macros. Either way, it's a win/win for the big guys. The next 5 years will be a trying time for craft brewers, I predict.

Base Camp Brewing's Got Next

When I first reported on the new Base Camp Brewing in the works in May of 2011, no one could have guessed it would be more than a year later and it still would not be open. Perhaps fortuitously, though, the holdup with permits and installation has given owner Justin Fay and his team time to gain a distributor, build a pretty nice tasting room, and hire another experienced brewer. Now the brewery is just days away from firing up the kettle and a month or so out from opening the tasting room.

Lompoc Sidebar Sour Night

Lompoc Brewing has been putting together some fun theme nights featuring guest breweries on Wednesdays, and this week there is a nice lineup for Sour Night. Wednesday August 29th from 4-10pm will feature 4 guest breweries and 3 different Berliner-Weisse's (one of my favorite styles) that should be fun to taste side-by-side.

From Lompoc Brewing: Fleming Red, a blend of their Wheat Wine, Stout Out Loud, Proletariat Red and a red ale aged in Bourbon barrels for 10 months; Lompoc Cherry Bomb, Proletariat Red fermented in Maryhill Winery Port barrels with 40 pounds of sour cherries for a big cherry aroma with a fruit forward flavor, finishing dry with a touch of oak.

Breakside Passionfruit Berliner Weisse, a sharply sour German wheat ale made from a 100% sour mash, infused with the tart and tropical flavors of passionfruit.

Cascade Elderberry, a NW style sour red ale initially aged for 14 months in French oak wine barrels, then additionally aged on elderberries for 10 months.

The Commons Berliner-Weisse, a traditional European inspired Berliner Weisse.

Upright Lactovasilios, a one-off barrel fermented Berliner Weisse that features a pleasantly funky and aromatic nose with the characteristic sharp sour flavor produced by large amounts of lactic acid bacteria.

3901A N Williams Ave
Portland, Oregon
Tel - 503-288-3996

11th Annual Laurelfest Celebration

I have been remiss in mentioning Laurelwood Brewing's 11th annual Laurelfest celebration TODAY August 25th at the 50th & NE Sandy blvd. Portland location from noon - 10 pm.

New Bottleshop/Taproom N.W.I.P.A. Now Open

N.W.I.P.A., aptly named after the hip hop supergroup, is a new bottleshop and taproom focusing on India Pale Ales that has just opened in the quiet Foster-Powell neighborhood, bringing a welcome respite for craft beer loving locals.

Corvallis Beer Week VIP Tour with The New School & Brewvana Brewery Tours

Corvallis Beer Week returns for its 2nd year September 10th through 16th with one of its marquee events, the Block 15 Beer Brunch and Cellar Stash Party, already SOLD OUT in just 1 day. LUCKILY, the New School has 14 Reserved Tickets to this party for the return of our hosted VIP Tours with Brewvana Brewery Tours on Saturday, September 15th.

The 2nd Annual Block 15 Beer Bunch and Cellar Stash Limited Bottle Release includes a Beer Brunch with free range eggs, local bacon, Nebula Stout sausage, French Toast, pastries, fresh fruit and coffee. Your seat also includes Beer Rights to purchase 2 bottles of beer from the stash. After everyone has chosen their 2 bottles, what remains will be available for anyone to purchase. Special brews, mimosas, and cocktails will be available for purchase as well. 

Deschutes Jubelale Celebrates 25 Years in 2012

A classic Oregon winter ale, Deschutes Brewery's Jubelale returns for its 25th year this October through December. The spicy, malty, and slightly hoppy winter seasonal is well known enough to have caused a debate last year with a slightest recipe change. The art on the bottle changes each year and has also inspired many collectors and even a traveling art show.

Hollywood Liquor Adds Craft Beer and Wine Under New OLCC Pilot Program

Hollywood Liquor in Portland, OR is one of the first of four Portland liquor stores to be selected by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to participate in a test program that allows it to sell beer and wine next to hard liquor and spirits. Currently Oregon liquor stores can only sell spirits, not beer and wine, if they have more than $1.5M in annual sales. This is another great step towards making craft beer available to more people and receiving more convenient and fair treatment by the OLCC.

Upright Brewers Dinner at Wildwood Restaurant

Portland's best beer dinners usually take place at Wildwood Restaurant, and Sous Chef Paul Kasten is continuing his Brewers Dinner pairing series this September 7th with Alex Ganum of Upright Brewing. This six course masterfully paired dinner takes place on Friday September 7th at 6:30pm. In addition to popular seasonals like Upright's Flora Rustica, there will also be rare vintage beers like Four Play 2010 and 2011 that make this a can't miss event.

olive oil poached oregon albacore and fresh shell beans
arbequina olive, parsley, lemon creme fraƮche
flora rustica

bodacious corn and shaved fennel salad
torpedo onion, pine nuts, caramelized garlic vinaigrette, feta, chile, cilantro
blend love

grilled prosciutto-wrapped gem lettuce
champagne vinaigrette, crispy pistachio breaded goat cheese, saba

country pate and duck liver mousse
marinated cherries, bread and butter pickles, grain mustard, crostini
fourplay 2010 and 2011

pork cheek raviolo
brown butter, romano beans, chanterelles,
cherry tomato agrodolce, beecher's flagship reserve cheddar
late harvest batch 3, 2011

whipped aged gouda stuffed crepe
orange marmalade, burnt honey, candied walnuts
                                       billy the mountain batch 2, 2010

Upright Brewers Dinner at Wildwood Restaurant & Bar
September 7th, 6:30pm
$75 per person includes, food beer and gratuity
Contact Shelly Jones, for reservations

Flanders Fred Blending Session at Hair of the Dog

Each year a noted American brewer is invited by SBS Imports to Belgium to participate in a collaboration brew at De Proef Brewery near Gent. Earlier this year Alan Sprints from Portland's Hair of the Dog Brewing created Flanders Fred with De Proef Brewmaster Dirk Naudts. The beer is a blend of lambic from Bockor Brewery with a De Proef-brewed (collaborative) version of Hair of the Dog Fred. The beer was released last month and has been well received.

On Wednesday night Hair of the Dog will have the Flanders Fred on tap along with the base lambic from Bockor and the HOD-brewed Fred. You can try your own hand at blending the two beers and compare side-by-side to the Flanders Fred collaboration.

Wednesday August 22nd
Hair of the Dog Brewery

61 SE Yamhill Street
Portland OR 97214

Brewers Burger Brawl: A Champion Rises...

Left to right: Ben Dobler, Van Havig, Charlie Devereux and Matt Van Wyk (center)

 The 2nd annual Brewers Burger Brawl took place last night at The Hop & Vine and pitted 5 brewers against each other in a burger and beer pairing contest. Each burger was quite unique and served in slider form, with optional 6 or 12oz beer pairings. Last year Jason Mcadam of Burnside Brewing Co. took home the trophy, and he defended his title this year against Charlie Devereux (Double Mountain Brewing), Van Havig (Gigantic Brewing), Matt Van Wyk (Oakshire Brewing), and Ben Dobler (Widmer Brothers Brewing).

Lucky Labrador's Hop Harvest Is Upon Us!

Ahh late summer. Temperatures are unbearable, pumpkin ales seem out of place, and craft beer aficionados occupy a grey space between earlier summer festival times and the oncoming harvest season. Thank goodness for the upcoming fresh hop harvest that will supply us with more to drink and debate about. Perhaps your first chance to get your fingers sticky and your mouths damp with fresh hops will be on Tuesday August 28th for Lucky Lab Brewing's Hop Harvest.

REVIEW: Stone 16th Anniversary IPA and Deschutes Black Butte XXIV

It's been some time since we reviewed any beers on this site, and now seems as good a time as any to evaluate a couple of big new releases out now in bottles--Stone Brewing's 16th Anniversary IPA and Deschutes Black Butte XXIV. Both beers celebrate anniversaries of sorts and are big, bold beers.

The Craft Beerds Book Needs Your Support

When I first heard about the Craft Beerds book, I was incredulous at the idea. Talk about an eccentric niche subject--craft beer labels that feature bearded men. Then again, I was honored to be asked to include my label for Upright Brewing's 'Blend Love' featuring Gigantic Brewing's Ben Love, who is occasionally bearded.

Weekend Guide to Beer Drinking in Portland

August looked to be a slow month in the aftermath of Oregon Craft Beer Month, but this weekend is no different than many in July, with no fewer than 3 different beer festivals (BikeToBeerFest, Humulus Maximus and the first ever Vancouver Brewfest) in the greater Portland area. Not to mention Migration Brewing Co. debuts its brand new, reimagined logo with a party featuring beer specials and giveaways.

New Brewer Shakeups and the Return of Dave "Chowdah" Fleming

Dave Fleming - J. Foyston/The Oregonian
It tuns out rumors of Dave "Chowdah" Fleming's retirement from brewing has been greatly exaggerated.

When it was announced that Dave would be stepping down from his Head Brewer post at Lompoc Brewing to take up a new role as a salesman for Willamette Valley Hops, many were sad and surprised to see him go.

Around the same time, we were surprised to learn that Zach Beckwith, Ex-New Old Lompoc Brewer who took the reins at new startup brewery, Pints Brewing was leaving the company. Another startup Portland brewer, Kells Brewpub, also was in the midst of working out kinks installing its brewhouse without the experience of a professional brewer.

Enter back into the picture Dave Fleming, who with his years of experience as Head Brewer at Lucky Lab, Three Creeks Brewing, and Lompoc has a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Dave stepped in to fill the void at Pints Brewing in the interim between brewers. Pints new brewer has been found in Patrick Wadkins, who spent time brewing at Philadelphia's Steaks and Hoagies. Together, Patrick and Dave have tweaked Pints Green Line Organic Ale and lowered the alcohol and hopped it up a bit more until it has become more of an India Session Ale at 4.6%abv.

Three-Tier System Puts 10 Barrels on Hold in Boise

10 Barrel's Boise Brewpub Building Plans

Boise Weekly reports that Bend-based 10 Barrel Brewing's much-anticipated expansion into Boise is held up in the red tape of the Three Tier System that separates brewer from wholesaler and retailer. Scheduled to open this summer with Shawn Kelso, famed brewer from Barley Browns Brewpub at the helm, 10 Barrel's brand new site plans have been held up once again thanks to an Idaho law that will keep the company from selling its own beer brewed in the Bend facility. 'Whaa?' you say. It seems that while the new brewpub will have its own brewery, it is not enough to accommodate the anticipated demand for the beer. The brewery's plan was to ship in and sell additional beer from 10 Barrel's brand new production facility in Bend, and that puts it at odds with the state's alcohol control board.

Jacob Leonard Joins Breakside Brewery's Production Team

Jacob Leonard (left) and I compete in APEX's Washoe Tournament together

As Breakside Brewery prepares to open its production new facility in Milwaukie, Head Brewer Ben Edmunds announced a big new hire to assist with the transition: "I'm very excited to let you all know that Jacob Leonard will be joining the brewing staff at Breakside as the Production Manager and Co-Brewmaster of our new facility."

Jacob Leonard made a name for himself at Walking Man Brewing, helping to put that brewery on the map back in the day before making his way to Widmer Brothers, where he has been for over a year now. Known for creating some of the best hoppy, big beers and constantly trying something new, he is known to still homebrew on his off time every weekend. Jacob is an exciting new addition to the Breakside Brewery team.

Joining the team in September, there will be a welcoming party at Breakside for Jacob Leonard as he debuts his first beers for the company.

Back Stories:

Interview with Jacob Leonard when he left Walking Man for Widmer. 

Video interview with Jacob Leonard while at Walking Man

The Commons releases Eidolon in Beetje Series bottles

Inner Southeast Portland's farmhouse-style brewery The Commons is releasing Eidolon the 2nd in their Beetje Series next Friday August 17th at 5pm at the brewery. A throwback to their nano brewing roots when Beetje was once the name of the garage based brewery before they moved into a full on small craft brewery.

Link Bait

Taking a page from other blogs, when I have little that interests me to write about like today, I am going to share some worthwhile reading on other sites around the web. Nearly every day I scour the top beer stories worldwide to keep abreast of what's going on. Most of these stories are crap, but occasionally I come upon some of note. Here is what I am reading now:

Search for beer yeast taps some unusual sources

In SF Gate Magazine, writer Lessley Anderson explores some of the more unsual varieties of yeast and the places they are found. Perhaps this article is spurred by Rogue's upcoming beer brewed with a yeast supposedly cropped from Brewmaster John Maier's beard (I have reason to believe its a marketing gimmick). It's more interesting if you want to know more about yeast, the differences between varieties, and odd varieties like the one Dogfish Head is using from peaches.

Photo from Serious Drinks

First Look: The Abbot's Cellar in San Francisco

Serious Drinks has a preview of new craft beer eatery The Abbot's Cellar, from the folks who brought you San Francisco's beer geek darling bar/restaurant, The Monk's Kettle. While my experiences at Monk's Kettle have been muddled at best thanks to their doorman, pretentious atmosphere, and over the top pricing, I am still excited to check out this new beer and food pairing concept restaurant that takes it one step further than anyone else is.
Jacob Grier writes up our trip to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail on new website Drink Portland. In it you can learn how we made 240 beer cocktails in under 3 hours, and he shares how you too can make some of the drinks and how to make huge bulk batches for a party.

Capitol Cider Bar Coming to Pike/Pine

The Seattle Met reports the city is going to get an a cider-dedicated taphouse, much like Portland's groundbreaking Bushwhacker Cidery. Furthermore, the new Capital Cider Bar will have a kitchen that produces only gluten-free food. As all signs point to cider being the next big thing, a new taphouse with 20 dedicated cider taps and promising sour beers is welcoming news to many.

Photo by John J. Watson/The Times

MADE IN NORTHWEST INDIANA: Three Floyds brand, building grows

Northwest Indiana Times has a story about the growing pains the much hyped Three Floyds Brewing is going through. From expansion to hype, trading, and branding, there is lots to learn about the struggles of a growing brewery in the craft beer boom.

4th Annual BikeToBeerFest

Just when you thought beer festival season was over, Hopworks' BikeToBeerFest returns for its 4th year this Saturday, August 11th. The tagline says it all: "Bikes. Bands. Beer." By combining Portland's love of craft beer, bicycle friendly culture, and our amazing local bands, you get Biketobeerfest. This year's fest looks like it will be the best one so far--earlier in the year this time to avoid rain showers, with the best band lineup yet.

Bailey's Taproom Anniversary Video

Bailey's Taproom turns 5 this week and I have been remiss in reporting about the birthday festivities. Thus, when I saw that Bailey's first employee, Michael O' Connor, posted a short video he made about Bailey's origins, this seemed like the perfect time to make up for it.

The big closing event for the taproom's 5th anniversary is today, the Barrel-Aged Beer Fest.
Saturday, August 4th - 4pm-11:30pm
$5 admission includes a 12oz souvenir snifter and access to 4oz pours of rare barrel-aged beers.

10 Barrel Imperial Pray For Snow - Imperial Winter Ale (Brandy) 8% Alameda The Bear Fighter (Whiskey) ~7% Anchorage Galaxy IPA - Sour Wit/IPA (Oak) 7% Block 15 Cherry Canary – Firkin - Sour Belgian Golden with cherries (Oak) 7% Breakside/Wildwood Old Whiskey Dick - Old Ale (Bourbon) 11.7% The Bruery Tart of Darkness – Sour Stout (Oak) 5.6% Burnside Red Light District - Imperial Stout (Rum) 11% Cascade Sour Summer Sipper - Sour Blonde with orange (Bourbon) 6.5% The Commons - Amber Table Beer fermented 100% with Brett Lambicus (Gin) 5% Double Mountian Ferocious Five - Imperial Brown Ale (Bourbon) 11.0% Firestone Parabola - Imperial Stout (Bourbon) 13% Flat Tail 2nd Anniversary – Nitro - Flanders Red (Pinot) Laurelwood Preacher in the Wilderness – Sour Tripel (Gin) 9% Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Far West Vlaming – Flanders Red/Bruin (Oak) 6.5% Lompoc 2010 Franc’ly Brewdolph – Belgian Red (Cabernet Franc) 7.6% Ninkasi Imperiale - Imperial Stout (Bourbon) 9.1% Silver Moon 2011 Bock Joy – Bock (Oak) 7.2% Stone 2008 Imperial Russian Stout – Imperial Stout (Bourbon) 10.5% Uinta Labyrinth – Imperial Black Ale (Rye Whiskey) 13.2% Upright Bailey’s Fifth Anniversary Beer – Six w/ cherry, currant and sweet vermouth (Pinot) 7%

Kells Brew Pub & pFriem Family Brewers Open with Housemade Beers

Today - Friday, August 3rd, at 3pm, Kells BrewPub taps its first housemade beer, an Irish Red Ale. Reported here, the small Kells Irish Pub chain opened its own brewpub location earlier this year on the popular NW 21st Avenue strip in Portland with a brand new brewhouse that was not operational until recently. This makes Kells Brewpub the latest new brewery to open in Portland, with Base Camp Brewing coming up soon.

210 NW 21st Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97209
Phone 1 (503) 719-7175

Also, this Saturday, August 4, pFiem Family Brewers celebrates its Grand Opening in Hood River. I visited the other day to find a busy and very classy new tasting room/brewpub with lots of fancy handmade design elements. Also, look for a brand new Belgian IPA (joining the brewery's five already released beers) that is modeled after a Belgian-style Tripel it is very light bodied and subtle in it's fruitiness with a big hop punch and a shockingly high alcohol content (9%) that is incredibly well hidden. I predict if pFriem keeps making it, it will become a bestseller. Be prepared for a wait on food, though; mussels and frites took about an hour to be served the other day.

707 Portway Ave #101
Hood River, Oregon 97031
Phone 1 (541) 321-0490

The Case for Beer Infographic Poster

Beer posters/infographics are getting more popular these days, who hasn't seen the one modeled after the mineral chart or the one of glassware and all the word beer descriptors making up the image. Anyway here is a new one that I like and would like to see hanging up in more bars as it spreads a little beer education to those just learning to appreciate craft beer.

Image Source: ELE INC

New Belgium Releases New Collaborations with Alpine Beer Company and G. Love

New Belgium Brewing is at it again, brewing two new collaborations. One is made in conjunction with California beer geek favorite Alpine Beer Company for Super India Pale Ale, the other with musician G. Love to create Peach Porch Lager. Both beers are to be available in the Lips of Faith Series this August.

From the press release:
New Belgium and Southern California’s Alpine Beer Company came together for the love of IPAs to make Super India Pale Ale. Amarillo, Columbus, Simcoe and Centennial hops bring bitterness to the forefront, balanced with Pale, C-80 and Carapils malts. The tropical and citrus tones of the American hops dominate the flavor of the copper-colored beer. ABV is 9% and there are 70 IBUs.

Peach Porch Lounger is the lovechild Saison of musician G. Love and New Belgium. The glowing orange beer is a groovy mix of peaches, hominy grits, molasses and lemon peel with pale and biscuit malts. Brettanomyces yeast brings a bold, sweet nose and the beer ends with a dry finish. ABV is 9.4%.

“The ability to share passions – with brewers, musicians or anyone else – is another reason to love the creative nature of Belgian beer,” said New Belgium brewer Grady Hull. “As longtime fans of G. Love, working together was clearly a wonderful opportunity; and anyone who is unfamiliar with Alpine Beer Company is in for a treat.”

Super India Pale Ale and Peach Porch Lounger will be available this August in select markets while supplies last.  Pricing varies by market.

The Lips of Faith series offers limited edition selections that showcase New Belgium’s more esoteric and palate-elevating creations. They are only available in certain locations and for a short period of time. New Belgium’s Clips of Faith, a traveling beer and film tour, also gives people across the country a chance to sample beer from the Lips of Faith portfolio. To learn more about the tour, which runs through October, visit

To find New Belgium beers in your area, you can use the New Belgium Libation Location tool: You can also follow New Belgium on Facebook at