Beware SPAM

Posted: July 13, 2012 by bacchation in Uncategorized

If you are on the facebook page, the twitter feed, or have email subscriptions set up, I am doing a major 3 day set of updates, hopefully encompassing about 10 new posts, so stay tuned, and just ignore the update messages until next week 🙂

Ninkasi in Eugene was a stop that had been waiting to happen for years.  On a recent multi-day paddling trip to the high Cascade lakes, we felt the need for a quick quenching.  Working our way through a maze of streets we found the brewery, flanked in food carts and a super funky food co-op.  A high wall, cool entry gate, and industrial feel matched well with what my expectations would be for the place, they have one of the coolest industrial styled tap handles in the business (I want a lot of these for my home beer cooler).

The taproom is tiny compared to most breweries that produce this volume of beer, I imagine that sales will eventually necessitate an expansion, though maybe the owners and neighborhood like the cozy feel.  Hungry, we were a little sad to see that the only option for food in the pub was a bowl of soup, but it sounded delicious so we ordered it and a sampler and proceeded to wander around.  The bar tender called us back, it seems that they only had enough soup for half of a bowl, but she assured me that were were there because they are “famous for beer, not soup” and reminded us that there was a giant food cart pod across the street if we were still hungry after.  The soup ended up being free, the perfect price!

The sampler was great, we selected beers towards the darker end of the spectrum, as I have had most of the lighter beers multiple times in bottles and we wanted to try some beers on draft.  Remember how I mentioned that I really liked their tap handles?  Their sampler tray design was just as cool, I wanted to go back inside and see if I could buy the tray for doing sampler sets of my own beers at home.

On top of the sweet layout of their tasters, they were kind enough to include upgrades to the usual tap list and short description of their beers that most places give you.  As a home brewer, the information on the back of each identification card was great to see, it gave you most of the data that you would need to start playing around with building your own clones of their beers.  Hops, malts, ibu’s, starting gravities… a treasure trove of info for the brewer or educated beer drinker.  For those who are not into that many details, they offer tasting notes and even suggested food pairings, nice touch.  It took all of my willpower not to consider one of these cards a souvenir.

Pictured above, the Renewale, was by far our favorite of the bunch, it took a 4 bottle rating, though none of the beers that we sampled deserved a rating below a 3.  Over all, our taster tray, the warm sunny day, the sparse but tasteful decorations of the place, and the great personalities of the two folks working the brewpub created a perfect atmosphere for a Friday morning drinking session, thanks Ninkasi for a wonderful experience!

Renewale 2012 – 4

Radiant Ale – 4

Turkey Soup (half bowl) – 3

Watching a 3 year old escape a half dozen times from his dad and run out the gate and around the block – priceless

 
Become a Sumerian, revere Ninkasi
 

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Mount Hood Brewing Company and Ice Axe Grill

Posted: June 10, 2012 by bacchation in Beer, Brewpub
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We stopped off at at Mt. Hood brewing after doing a little hiking along the PCT.  The beer was cold, and the soup was hot, but I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the HUNDREDS of kids walking around with skateboards.  For those of you who have never been to Government Camp, and likely don’t even know where it is, due to some sort of skate tournament, the number of minors in the area leaning on cars, hiding in bushes, and generally doing what I now recognize as what grandparents called “mischief” was greater than the entire town’s population.  What are her parents thinking letting her dress like… nevermind, back to the beer.

I am on a kick now for cask beers and real ales (more about that later) so the immediate choice was their ESB.  While this doesn’t always get the highest reviews, this particular batch was pretty well balanced.  The warmer temperature (cask beer isn’t served as cold for those who have never had it) had a little less of the bite that I would expect from an ESB, but the additional aging and low carbonation level gave it a nice creamy quality that I appreciated.  I likely would have preferred to have their porter which was above average just out of the tap from a cask, but I do like that people are starting to cask things that most folks don’t already assume are flat beers.  I would rate this one at a squeak into the 3 star category.

Multor Porter, I didn’t take notes, and at this point I was dead tired and just wanted to go back and get in a sleeping bag, but I wrote down 4, which means that I need to make an effort to drink it again at the very least, it might have been quite good.  Sorry, terrible review, but hey, it gets a 4, so that’s a bonus, and what other brewery crafts their beers with altitude?

Mt. Hood Brewing Pint Glass

Lynn had the Cloudcap Amber, it really didn’t do much for her, and when I tasted it I thought it wasn’t as good as I remembered it being… if you are looking for a beer that you can slam down, and that will be gone (you know, like your standard American style lager) or for someone who doesn’t drink a lot of beer and always just asks for the lightest thing on the menu this is your best bet, it is there, gives you a little pop of flavor, and then drops off.  Sorry Mt. Hood guys, but this only gets a 2 rating (you are still better than Budweiser!).

Pub experience is nice, on the small side, and the food menu is short, but since this place normally hosts piles of snowboarders and skiers who are not too picky, I can get over the lack of a nice veggie option today, most people just want big, hot, and high alcohol after a day on the slopes.  On a total side note, I was pleased to see that their mug club has taken over a huge portion of the ceiling, great work cultivating those return customers!

Ice Axe Mug Club

TL;DR version

Cask ESB – 3

Cloudcap Amber – 2

Kristall Weissbier – 3

Multor Porter – 4

Food – 2+/3-
Change your altitude!

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Attack of the Clones: PUB Style

Posted: June 8, 2012 by bacchation in Beer, Brewpub, Festival
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Thanks to Aaron from Portland U Brew for sending me a last minute text on this event that we would have otherwise missed in the hysteria that is Portland Beer Week. The folks over at PUB started off the week’s events with a flight of clone beers that they brewed, and these are not your every day clone beers (SNPA, Widmer Hef, etc.), we were in fact treated to both the originals as well of their versions of Puwel Kwak, Tilburg’s Dutch, and Sunner Kolsch. These are some of the world’s best style beers.

Some might balk at the 20 concept of a 20 dollar tasting tray, but when you quickly calculate the cost of these beers that they were pouring from the bottle alongside their own versions, coupled with the quality of the clones themselves, it ended up being a steal.

Lynn, Kris, and I pulled up and split 2 tasters between the three of us.  My favorite was the Kwak clone, which in my opinion surpassed the parent version in smoothness, and the mouth feel and color was a dead match.  Kris preferred the Dutch, and Lynn’s favorite was the Kolsch (owing to her predisposition to mellower beers).  I love it when 3 people walk into a bar (this isn’t the beginning of a joke here, I promise) and taste 3 different beers and all come away with a different favorite, yay taste buds!

At any rate, this was a great event (we also all went to their single hop event, which was a blast, wish I had pictures of that) and I HIGHLY encourage folks to head over and give the fine folks at PUB a visit, they are brewing up some very cool beers… and no longer relegated to the bowels of Brooklyn/Sellwood, you can find their beers at such places as Green Dragon (they were there for the firkin fest) at the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, and Aaron’s awesome Bacon Beer was on tap for a while over at Beermongers.  Keep up the great work!

 
Visit Portland U-Brew!
 

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Stumptown Tart 2012

Posted: May 25, 2012 by bacchation in Beer, Brewpub
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Going beer shopping with Ethan D. is something that I never knew I was missing.  One sunny day when we had found Pliny on tap at Belmont Station, Ethan realized that he never bought us a housewarming present, and we wandered out of the pub half, and in to the bottle shop.  Amongst the 1300+ beers that are available, he pointed out one that he knew that both Lynn and I would enjoy (but mostly Lynn he thought) in the 2012 Bridgeport Brewing Stumptown Tart.

This year’s incarnation is oozing with red berry flavors, think strawberry and raspberry, and is nicely balanced with a good dose of hops.  Usually the only fruit beers that I gravitate towards are the sours, because I find that some excited brewers seem to just throw in as many berries as they can get their hands on into the tank, with little concern for balance.  An example of this overfruity quality is Lindemans Framboise, a beer most of you have had.  This is an example of a bad fruit beer to anyone but an under aged female trying to decide between Boone’s Farm Fuzzy Navel and something in the beer section… this is not the case with Tart.

It smells like something you wouldn’t like when you smell it, so much fruit, almost like jello, but the surprise is in the taste (ignore the pink color).  Balance in the form of a nice crisp shock of hops, a smooth mouth feel that is unfortunately lacking in a lot of the sours, and a solid finish with grapefruit to cut through the sugars makes this a very good example of what a thoughtful brewer can offer.

Available all over town for who knows how long and in the standard 22 in most bottle shops, this is a beer that you can share with people who don’t normally like heavier, hoppier, hotter beers, but who might enjoy something refreshing and fruity.  Stumptown Tart gets a solid 4 bottle rating from both Lynn and I.

 

Visit Bridgeport!

 

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