Weekend of Beer: Hood River, Astoria, Portland

If you're not one of the 99% that are fans of fresh hop beers, then you may be one who is looking for something to do other than attend the Hood River Hops Fest this Saturday. With more than 50 fresh hop beers, the Hood River Hops Fest is definitely the place to be, but I can't ignore some other great events happening around Oregon like the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup and Occidental Brewing's Oktoberfest.

Own a Piece of A New Brewery: Bellingham Beer Lab Starts Membership Drive

Old friend of the blog,Jim Parker is a serial entrepreneur and his next project--Bellingham Beer Lab, which has been in the works for many years--may be his greatest. You may remember Mr. Parker from his time helping start Oaks Bottom Public House, the Belgian Embassy, or the Green Dragon, or as President of the Oregon Brewers Guild. It has been a few years now since he relocated to Bellingham, WA, an underrated beer city as it is, and he's been working hard to get one of the world's first Co-Op breweries off the ground joining Black Star in Austin and Flying Bike in Seattle.

ALEIAS - Boneyard Brewing/John Harris Roving Collaboration Beer Release

John Harris
My brother from another mother, John Harris, has sent along word of the forthcoming release of ALEIAS, the  collaboration beer he brewed at Boneyard Beer. Though Mr. Harris is currently unemployed, you may remember him from creating such classics as Black Butte Porter, Wassail, Black Gold, the Lupulin series of fresh hop beers, Super Jubel, and many more.
Tony Lawrence

Tony Lawrence, Boneyard's Brewmaster and Co-Owner, and John Harris met up many moons ago back in their days at Deschutes Brewery. Back then John hired Tony to "wreck his life" as a cleanup brewer. Now, 22 years later,  Tony is rocking it down at Boneyard Beer. He called up John and said, "we need to brew a beer together and ferment it in the "Harris" tank." John said the what tank? Tony explained that he names his tanks at Boneyard after people. John said, "Wow, you named a tank after me," and hustled on down to Bend to create something to ferment in his eponymous tank.

Tony and John met up at Boneyard on September 10th to brew an India Wheat Ale (IWA). Featuring a good portion of wheat malt along with pale malt and a touch of crystal, they then hopped it well beyond Boneyard's RPM IPA. Simcoe and Amarillo were used exclusively throughout the process. Aleias IWA has a crisp malt character with loads of citrus and tropical hop flavor coming from using 3.5 pounds of hops per barrel.  Aleias was dry hopped 3 times. Only 40 barrels of this 7.1% beer were produced. Get it while you can!

Aleias will be released on October 4th with a unique "Roving" release party model. Come hang with Tony and John at these times at these Southeast Portland pubs:

5pm Belmont Station
6:30ish Horsebrass Pub

8:00ish Apex

Cheers to Beers at Skamania Lodge

All photos by "SNOB" Ritch Marvin

By "SNOB" Ritch Marvin

When I got the invite to the Cheers to Beers festival at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA, I have to admit, I had some preconceptions on what I was in for. I had heard great things about the lodge and assumed it would be a good stay. However, I was a bit skeptical on the beer festival. I mean, I've seen it before--take a great location, throw on some standard beers from the standard breweries, give everyone a mug, and call it a “beer festival.” Well, I was right about the lodge and, happy to say, wrong about the festival.

Pelican Brewery to Open 2nd Brewery in Tillamook

Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, OR has been looking to expand for quite some time now, and after a few failed attempts the brewery has finally signed the lease to open a new production brewery in Tillamook, OR.

Beer People: The Documentary

Winner of the University of Michigan's Lightworks Film Festival in 2011, the short documentary "Beer People" is a rare in-depth look into one state's craft beer culture. If you don't know anything about Michigan's craft beer scene, you will after this nearly 22 minute doc that I was happily surprised to learn is available in full for free online and embedded right here.

Widmer Gasthaus Experimental Hop IPA Series & Other New Beers

Widmer Brothers' Gasthaus Pub is always an underrated Portland beer destination, and right now is an outstanding time to visit. You have the new SXNW, a chocolate/chili/spice beer, Krystal Pear (created for Feast), and, most interestingly, an experimental Australian Hop IPA flight, where you can vote for your favorite.

Bridgeport's Fresh Hop Imperial Pils

Bridgeport Brewing has really flown this one under the radar. Instead of their usual seasonal release of fresh hop beer, a Double IPA called Hop Harvest, the brewery has switched it up to an Imperial Pilsner this year. Already on tap at Bridgeport's Hawthorne Pub and Pearl District Brewpub, this is also the first lager beer from Bridgeport that I know of (though interestingly all Bridgeport bottles are bottle conditioned with a lager yeast.)

The new Hop Harvest also uses an obscure Austrian hop variety called Aurora that I have never heard of for bittering, and another 45lbs of green "fresh" Oregon Tettnanger Hops in the hop jack, which seems like a rather small amount for a good-sized brewery.

I googled these Aurora hops and found a bit of info "Super Styrian (Aurora Hops) was bred in the 70's at the Hop Research Institute in Zalec, Yugoslavia". It is a similar hop to Styrian Goldings, but not related. The variety is more similar to Northern Brewer hops, which have a moderate bitterness and are sometimes credited with minty flavors. It's a good hop for European style and darker brews.

Tettnanger hops are a popular German variety with a spicy character and are popular as a bittering hop for pilsners. They're also the main fresh hop in Upright Brewing's new fresh hop ale, Kiln em' All.

At 8% ABV, this Pils certainly qualifies as a big beer, especially for a style known for its sessionable qualities. Bridgeport does an admirable job of keeping the beer light and tasty, and the alcohol is completely hidden. The flavor does indeed have that spicy hop quality, as well as the fresh hop grassy flavors, but unlike some imperialized beers, it's not really bitter. The only clue to its larger size is a richer, creamier, and nuttier malt character, though it still comes off as relatively light. Bottles are already available at the specialty shops such as Belmont Station.

Double Mountain Killer Red and Killer Green Bottle Release Party

Our bestest buds at Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River, OR recently got their bottling line up and running. In addition to 4 year round beer s in bottles they are releasing their beloved fresh hop beers in the half liter German-style hand grenade bottles next weekend.

Saraveza's Bad Habit Room Renovation

I popped into Saraveza yesterday to touch base about tomorrow's Fresh Hops Workshop and help make some hop olive oil. While there I checked out the currently under renovation Bad Habit Room, which is the event space owned by Saraveza that has been used for private and spillover events. If you haven't been there before, it's a cool little room that is about to get a whole lot better.

4th Annual Weekend of Beer at Skamania Lodge

Skamania Lodge - photo from Hotel Chatter
Looking to get out of town this weekend? Skamania Lodge has just the ticket. The 4th Annual Celebration of Beer Weekend takes place this Saturday and Sunday in the picturesque Columbia River Gorge, featuring 36 beers from 12 regional breweries. “Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re surrounded by some of the most talented craft brewers in the world,” said Scott Spann, general manager at Skamania Lodge. “Our Celebration of Beer event is the perfect opportunity for attendees to learn more about their favorite local beers and discover new breweries.”

Corvallis Oregon Gets Another Brewery

Add another brewery to your pub crawl list when you next visit Corvallis. The newly opened Sky High Brewing is yet another new brewery within just a few blocks of Flat Tail Brewing and Block 15. Opened by the folks behind Corvallis' popular American Dream Pizza, they scored an experienced brewer with Laurence Livingston.

VIDEO: How Booze Built America

I dont know how I did not hear about this earlier, but the Discovery Channel must be in love with craft beer, as a new 3 part series called 'How Booze Built America' debuted last night. It's pretense is high, but, as the host explains, it has a basis in reality. Future episodes air the next 2 Wednesdays.

Burnside Brewing News

There is a lot going on at Portland's Burnside Brewing Co. right now. Fans of the brewery's cult favorite beer 'Sweet Heat' will be excited to hear that the beer was bottled for the first time last week and is showing up at bottleshops right now. I know it is already in stock at Belmont Station as well as the brewpub. If you don't know and love Sweet Heat as I do, it is a wheat beer made with the tasty and sensational combination of added apricots and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Light, sessionable, and refreshing with a balance between sweet/tart apricot and fruity chili heat.

You know what makes a perfect pairing with Sweet Heat? Burnside's crazy ridiculous burger that was created for the Brewers Burger Brawl, which is now on the menu only on Fridays and Saturdays. This over-the-top creation costs $25 bucks but is worth every penny. It features a very spicy jerked pork belly equal the size of the patty that is seared in duck fat. If that was not enough, it is topped with lobster tail, mango, and fried plantains. If you consider yourself a burger connoisseur, this is a must try.

Brewvana Brewery Tours is partying with Drink Deck for a party at Burnside Brewing this Thursday September 20th from 6-9pm. For gastronomes and beer connoisseurs alike, this is a FREE event and the brewery will offer up happy hour pricing on beer. Play beer trivia on the buses with the chance to win a BREWVANA trucker hat and take a spin around the block in one of the buses. Drink Deck will be on hand offering discounts on products and dealing up blackjack with their cards for anyone interested in testing out their card playing acumen.

Elysian, Ninkasi, Pumpkin Beers, and More

Seattle's Elysian Brewing has been killing it lately with all of its special releases and the 12 Beers of the Apocalypse series. My favorite IPA at this moment is the current release, Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale. While some of the Apocalypse series has been really off the wall, this entry is the perfect fusion of bitter bright fruit and hops. It's the best use of blood orange--or any citrus fruit, for that matter--in a hoppy beer I have had. If you haven't tried it yet, I urge you to seek it out in bottle or tap.

After my recent long story on the pumpkin beer issue, I am curious to try the next 12 Beers offering. BLIGHT is a Pumpkin Ale from the guys famous for pumpkin beers. As usual, the brewery known for pumpkin beers is not playing it by the book. Blight is described as having flavors of brown sugar and a fiery jolt of Vietnamese hot cinnamon. Sounds good to me!

If that were not enough, Elysian has also teamed up with Eugene's Ninkasi Brewing to make a pumpkin IPA. HOP SQUASH IPA will be the first pumpkin IPA I have ever had or heard of. It's also brewed with some less than common hop varieties, Sorachi Ace and Motueka.

Our friends in Eugene - 16 Tons Beer Cafe are throwing a badass party at their Supreme Bean location with Elysian and Ninkasi for the occasion this Friday September 21st from 6-9pm and they have a lot of surprises in store. GOOD GOURD ALMIGHTY!

Pig Out at Lardo with Double Mountain, Upright & the Sugar Cube

There are many parties happening around Portland in the wake of Feast, a national foodie festival taking place this week so Double Mountain Brewery co-owner Charlie Devereux and The New School set out to collaborate with one of our favorite new hotspots Lardo for a killer afterparty event.

Full Sail Brewing's 25th Anniversary Party

Full Sail Brewing Co., an Oregon classic and an employee-owned brewery based in Hood River with a pilot brewery at Portland's Riverplace, is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Thursday, September 27th. To commemorate the occasion the brewery has crafted "25," a Pale Doppelbock.

Hood River Hops Fest: Brewery & Beer List

The best fresh hop beer festival just got even better with the release of the 64 beers that will be on tap, 51 of which are fresh hops! Yes, the list of beers for the 9th annual Hood River Hops Fest on Saturday September 29th is super-deep this year. I put together the list myself and it includes all the usual suspects plus a lot more. New breweries are well-represented, with Gigantic Brewing, The Commons, and Eugene's Falling Sky making their first appearances alongside a few out of state brewers like New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Seattle's Schooner Exact and Hales Ales.

One of the best things about this fest is it's beautiful location in downtown Hood River, OR. The gorge is becoming another brewing hotbed, and they are all represented at the fest. In fact, you will not likely find their fresh hop beers anywhere else.

Also of note are fresh hop beers from Corvallis's Block 15 and Flat Tail Brewing, both of which have not produced fresh hop ales before.

The Stats:
  • 121 Kegs that the Hood River Hops Fest will go through in just 9 hours on 9/29
  • 64 different beers being poured
  • 51 varieties of Fresh Hop beer will be poured at the 2012 Hood River Hops Fest
  • 37 Breweries are taking part in the festival
  • 8 Gorge area brewers are all participating (Big Horse, Double Mountain, Everybody's Brewing, Full Sail, Logsdon, pFriem, Soleram, and Walking Man)
  • 7 Breweries are making a fresh hop beer for the first time (Gigantic, pFriem, Block 15, Solera, Flat Tail, The Commons, and Falling Sky Brewing)

News and Events

September is a huge month for The New School. We have 3 exciting upcoming events, 2 of them this weekend and one next Friday night, all building up to the launch of the 3rd generation of the website. We have been slowly transitioning from day 1 from being a beer blog to becoming more of a web magazine.

Details on The New School's events this weekends below, but if you can't make it out with us you should check out Fire & Brimstone at both The Hop & Vine and Saraveza this Saturday & Sunday. F & B is a celebration of smoke & chili beers, a niche category but a tasty one. More info about the happenings here.

Fresh Hop Season Survival Guide

Fresh hop harvesting season is a dangerous time of the year. Sure, it might seem all humulus lupulus, alpha acid, IBU, and fresh piney resinous oils to you, but behind the curtain there is a seedy underbelly of characters you would never wish to meet. Luckily The New School has put together a guide on how to survive the Fresh Hop season.

The Great Pumpkin Beer Debate: Squashing the Controversy

Photo from Elysian's The Great Pumpkin beer tapping
Love them or hate them, pumpkin beers are spicing up the bottle selection at your local grocery store this season, adding a much needed boost to sagging beer sales after the summer boom. What is surprising is that the more popular these squash based beers have become, the more controversy they are baking up. Some consumers and brewers have questioned why we have pumpkin beers being released in August before fresh pumpkins are actually ripe. Are pumpkin beers required to be fresh and made with real pumpkin, or is it all about the spice? I spoke to some of the most prolific pumpkin brewers around Oregon and the northwest region for the whole gourd story.

Pumpkin Facts and Stats:

  • 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown each year in America. 

  • California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania are the top pumpkin producers. 

  • 95% of the U.S. crop grown for processing is from Illinois.

  • The Nestle company produces 85% of that crop of pumpkins meant for processing.

  • The largest pumpkin ever grown was in 2011 and weighed 1, 818.5 pounds.

  • Southern Tier Brewing's production of Pumking has increased from 400 barrels in 2008 to 1,100 barrels in 2012.

  • The 2012 Elysian The Great Pumpkin Fest in Seattle, WA will pour more than 60 different pumpkin beers.

Portrait of a Pacific NW Brewery with Full Sail's Irene Firmat

Full Sail's Irene Firmat and Jamie Emmerson
Monday's news that Henry Weinhard's beers would no longer be produced in Oregon as parent company MillerCoors is not renewing its brewing contract with Full Sail Brewing got me talking to co-Founder and CEO Irene Firmat, and her story alone warrants an entirely separate article.

Full Sail Brewing is one of Oregon's biggest and best craft brewers, one of our proudest achievements, really, because it's a company like few others. In addition to being employee-owned, the brewery has also helped to pioneer Barrel-Aged beers with its Black Gold and Top Sail series and fresh hop beers with the Lupulin series. The company operates 2 brewpubs and a test brewery that let world famous brewer John Harris play with his own devices until his recent departure. Lastly, Full Sail has reaped profits from contract brewing Henry Weinhard's beers and its own popular brands that allowed it to invest into energy, time, and cost saving sustainable features like the incredible Mash Filtration System that processes water more efficiently and creates less waste.

However, over the last 2 years I feel like I have seen and heard less from Full Sail than ever before. One blow was news earlier this year that Brewmaster John Harris was leaving the company after 10 years to start his own brewery. Before that Full Sail had axed most of the Brewmasters series of beers that often put out the company's most interesting brews. Recently I was disappointed to learn Full Sail would not be brewing any of the Lupulin series of fresh hop beers this year. Now top that all off with the news that MillerCoors is pulling the plug on contracting out to Full Sail and it makes me wonder what is up. Happily, Irene's Firmat is happy to talk about these things and is one of the easiest top 25 brewery CEO's to get a hold of.

Stone Brewing's Mitch Steele Authors the Definitive Guide on IPA

Mitch Steele is often not given the credit he deserves. Though Stone Brewing Co. was co-founded by Greg Cock, it was when Brewmaster Mitch Steele was hired that the beers really began to sing. An unquestioned master of style and technique, his years working for Anheuser-Busch taught him science and perfection and at Stone he has brought craft to his repertoire. So as a style aficionado and homebrewer, or simply for a craft beer education, I am excited for his new book all about the IPA. Here is some more info from the recent news release:

India pale ale (IPA) has become one of the most popular craft beer styles in the world, and Brewers Publications is pleased to present the authoritative guide to the brewing techniques and history behind this iconic beer. IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, by Mitch Steele, is a must-have addition to any brewer's library.
Arguably one of the leading authorities on hoppy beer, Steele is currently Stone Brewing Co.'s brewmaster, and his brewery experience ranges from the small-scale San Andreas Brewing Co. to the Anheuser-Busch specialty group. In this new book, he explores the evolution of an influential beer style, India pale ale. IPA covers techniques ranging from water treatment to hopping procedures, including 48 recipes ranging from historical brews to recipes for the most popular contemporary IPAs made by craft brewers such as Deschutes Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Pizza Port Brewing and Russian River Brewing Company.

Henry Weinhard's No Longer To Be Brewed In Oregon

Henry Weinhard's Brewing has a long history in Oregon that is coming to an end with the news that the brand's owner SAB Miller, will not renew its brewing contract with Hood River's Full Sail Brewing.

As a child, the downtown Portland Weinhard brewery was my first experience with the fermentation process. I remember spending weekends downtown and smelling the sour, pungent aroma of fermentation blowing out the roof of the historic brewing plant. I hated that smell at the time, but it was so unique that the aromas have been engrained into my memory. The Blitz-Weinhard brewery existed from 1856 until 1999, when Stroh Brewery, which owned it at the time, sold the brand to SAB Miller, which immediately closed the brewery and moved production to Olympia Brewery. Olympia shut down several years later and the contract moved to  Full Sail. When the original brewery was closed, a huge urban renewal project for the then mostly abandoned warehouse neighborhood turned the building into the Brewery Blocks, where Henry's 12th Street Tavern was built in a project that ushered in the creation of the Pearl District.

Henry Weinhard's produces popular bottled sodas as well, and sells enough beer in the state to be ranked 4th among the top 10 Oregon brewers by taxable barrels, Full Sail comes in behind them at 7th, based on the most recent OLCC report in June 2012. As important as Henry Weinhard's has been to Portland, the brand has been just as critical for Full Sail.

Seven Brides Brewing Presents Septoberfest

If you're not attending the Fresh Hops Workshop this day and you want to just get out of town, Seven Brides Septoberfest should be a good time.

What: Septoberfest, Fresh Hop Festival

When: Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time: 11am-11pm

Where: Seven Brides Brewing – 990 N. 1st St., Silverton, OR 97381

Seven Brides Brewing, a craft brewery in Silverton, OR presents the 3rd annual Septoberfest, a one-day beer tasting festival designed to promote fresh hop beers, with all proceeds of the event going to the national charity, Brides Against Breast Cancer. The event will take place at the brewery of Seven Brides in Silverton, OR on Saturday, September 22, 2012 from 11am to 11pm. Septoberfest patrons will be able to enjoy good food, live music throughout the day, and fresh hop brews and other seasonal favorites from over 15 breweries throughout Oregon and Washington.

Septoberfest will also kick-off a month long wedding dress drive for Brides Against Breast Cancer at the Seven Brides Brewery and Tap Room. Brides Against Breast Cancer will be collecting contemporary gown styles from 2009 until the present day for their national “Tour of Gowns”. Their outreach and educational efforts during their "Tour of Gowns" bridal shows around the country help ensure that people impacted by cancer have the resources and information they need in their battle with cancer. Gowns will be collected at Septoberfest and through the whole month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, at the Seven Brides Tap Room.

Entry to the event is $5. Tasting packages, which includes a tasting glass and 4 taste tickets, will cost $10. Group packages are available, please call for details. For those patrons that donate a dress, per the guidelines set forth by Brides Against Breast Cancer, they will receive complimentary entry to the event, a tasting glass and tasting tickets, as well as a special gift from Seven Brides.

With hop harvest in full swing, thus is the time for fresh hop brews, so come and get them while you can, as these seasonal favorites are in high demand and go quickly!

For more information on the event, including a list of participating breweries and their beers, please visit the Septoberfest facebook page atwww.facebook.com/sevenbridesseptoberfest or contact Seven Brides at, 503.779.6009.

North American Breweries, Makers of Pyramid & Magic Hat, Up For Sale?

The craft beer business is booming, but American beer sales are down. Most of the decrease in sales is attributed to people moving to cocktails and spirits. The macro breweries are hurting the most, but regional craft brewers like the Craft Brewers Alliance (Widmer, Kona, Redhook) are feeling the heat as well.

All this fluctuation is making beer brands a hot commodity for sale, as evidenced again by a report by Reuters last night saying North American Brewers, maker of Pyramid and Magic Hat and seller of Gennessee and Labatt's in the US, is up for sale. Pyramid also brews local brands Buffalo Bill's and MacTarnahan's beers. NAB is already owned by KPS Capital Partners, a private equity group in it for the money moreso than the love of beer that has put it up on the block.

So who is buying? NAB is one of those brewing groups that has been struggling lately, so it's a risk for any buyer unless they intend to build them up or the brands fill a niche in their beer portfolio. Would AB Inbev consider tacking on NAB like it has Goose Island? I don't think that NAB has anything InBev would want. InBev already has a faux craft wheat beer brand it is focusing all of its efforts behind in the Shock Top series. Call me negative, but I think NAB is poised for failure, and to sell the company with all brands intact is a difficult proposition. If sold, I wouldn't be surprised if it's broken up and the brands are sold again.

More from Reuters here http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/06/genesse-labatt-sale-idINL2E8K5FNL20120906

Oregon Public House Redux: Interview with the Founder

The Oregon Public House has been getting a lot of press lately as the world's first non-profit pub when it finally opens. The New School broke the news on the OPH development for the first time a year and a half ago in February 2011 when they were projecting to open by that summer. If you missed the news then here is a refresher course, a video interview with OPH founder Ryan Saari.

Widmer's 8th annual Oktoberfest this Weekend

Usually I am not a big fan of Oktoberfest beers, however I am a huge fan of Widmer Brothers annual Oktoberfest party now in it's 8th year. There is something about drinking from big glass steins outdoors and with the killer raucuous music lineup that Widmer puts together for this fest. This year the fest gets started early with a Friday evening session and an all day celebration on Saturday.

Fresh Hops Workshop

The first big event of the fresh hop season has been announced from Portland Beer Week and Saraveza. The Fresh Hops Workshop will be held at Saraveza's Bad Habit Room on Saturday September 22nd at 6pm. What makes this event unique is its combination of education, interactivity, and lineup of great fresh hop brews and experts.

First Look at Crux Fermentation Project

This past weekend I had a chance to visit Bend for a day trip on the Brewvana bus. The trip was primarily for The Little Woody Fest of barrel-aged beers, but I had an ulterior motive to visit my most highly anticipated new brewery of the year--Crux Fermentation Project.

Strip Club Crawl with RedHook Brewing, The New School & Brewvana

Ahhh RedHook. I dig your stubby bottles, clever marketing, and loose moral code. Thank you for supporting alternative marketing practices such as strippers and buses and independent blogs like this one. RedHook was a natural partner for The New School/Brewvana's Strip Club Crawl coming up this Friday, September 14th. The folks at Redhook are so into going topless that they are subsidizing the trip by buying the first round at each club and providing beer on the bus!

This tour is really a no brainer at only $35 per person and all that free beer. The tour starts off with the bus picking folks up at Spirit of 77, an excellent place to get a warm-up drink before hitting the classic Portland stripclub, Sassy's.  From there it heads downtown to Club Rouge, and lastly to another classic, The Acropolis, where we can all enjoy a cheap steak dinner, beer, and boobs. For those wondering, yes this tour is VERY female friendly. Thanks to Ashley from Brewvana and Karmen from RedHook for helping set this up. We all share in common a love of beers and boobs, so let's come together and party. REGISTER HERE