Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

Give the gift on knowledge! November 21, 2012

With Black Friday just days away, I’m sure many of you are thinking “What do I get for the beer lover who has everything?”  How about something to read while enjoying his or her holiday pint? Over the last few years there have been many great books published about everything in the craft brew culture from what to drink, where to drink, and what exactly are you drinking.  There is a book out there for every level of beer enthusiast.

For the craft beer newbie there is The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer (2009). Written by the original “beer chicks”, Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune, The Naked Pint is a wonderfully comprehensive and humorous guide to the history of beer, various beer styles, flavors, characteristics, beer by regions, and even recipes to try your hand at making some home brew. This book is perfect for anyone just starting out in the craft brew scene or even the beer connoisseur who just wants to learn a bit more about the beer culture. Fantastic read!

Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover’s Guide to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia (2011) is a great book for the beer lover who has never been to the Pacific Northwest but would like to make the trek. Lisa Morrison (AKA the Beer Goddess) put together a wonderful book for the beer traveler. She discusses the PNW micro-brew culture that exploded into the craft brew culture the region is known for today. Lisa lists the breweries that are worth a looksy and what to have once you get there. She shares stories of her visits and what special pub crawl or bottle shop to hit along the way.  This book is a must have for your next road trip to the PNW!

For the beer historian in your life Brewing in Seattle (2012) offers a glimpse into the history of Seattle breweries and where the Seattle beer culture is today.  Beautiful, rare photos, vintage advertisements, and interviews from some of Seattle’s best-known brewers saturate this little paperback. From the earliest brewery established in 1864 through Prohibition and then on to the beer mecca Seattle is today, Brewing in Seattle is a must have for any beer historian near or far.

For the well learned beer enthusiast there is The Craft of Stone Brewing Co: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance (2011). Stone Brewing Company shares the history of the company along with a behind-the-scenes look at what has made the company the fastest growing brewery in the USA. Homebrew and food recipes, beer & food pairings, and gorgeous photos are just some of the wonderful features in this hardcover.

Does your home brewer want to make a business out of it? Well, Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, has written the book on it. Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (2011) tells Sam’s story about taking his home brewing kit and turning it into one of the country’s best craft breweries.  He discusses his successes and failures, strategies in marketing, competing and keeping up with other companies, and what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.   This is a must have for anyone starting a new business.

I own all 5 of these books and highly recommend them. There is more to beer than just drinking it. Knowledge truly is power and the gift of books will never go out of style. Feed your brain and always continue learning more about your hobby or craft.





Spoetzl Brewing spreads a little Holiday Cheer! November 19, 2012

Pecan pie is a staple in most homes during the holidays. While July is normally the best month for peaches, Spoetzl Brewing in Shiner, TX (home of Shiner Bock) has decided to bring peaches to us during the Autumn and Winter seasons and has truly outdone themselves. Shiner Holiday Cheer is a deliciously great way to celebrate family, home, caring, sharing, warmth, and love. OK, that might be a bit too sappy. It’s a great beer to enjoy during your holiday meal.

Holiday Cheer is an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The aroma is heavenly with swirls of fresh peaches and cinnamon. The taste…like drinking a peach and pecan pie! In fact, (as the Cajun side of my family would say) it’s so good it will make you wanna go home a slap your mama! The finish is a lovely symphony fresh peaches! Peach sweetness from start to finish without being overpowering. Matly, fresh, awesome! Holiday Cheer would go great with your thanksgiving Turkey, Christmas ham, or as an after dinner dessert. It’s available now in your local bottle shop so grab some before the season ends!




16th Annual Holiday Ale Festival – Portland, OR December 18, 2011

Due to a minor hospital stay, holiday madness, and lack of motivation I have been out of the writing loop for a while. Needless to say I have some catching up to do! First on my list…the 16th Annual Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, OR that took place a couple of weeks ago. As usually the festival was a great event. A large, heated tent covered the park where the festival was held, food venders kept our tummy full, and there was even a coat check for those of us that didn’t want to schlep our stuff around. As for the beer…

Old Saint Chongo – Bear Republic Brewing Co (7% ABV) – Cloverdale, CA – With the aroma of a chocolate covered banana, this winter warmer is a tasty treat. Medium bodied and malty this wheat beer starts with chocolate and finishes with a banana split.

Sang Noir – Cascade Brewing (9.2% ABV) Portland, OR – One of my top five favorites from last year’s Ale Festival was this lovely sour ale. Tart cherries dominate the taste while hints of Bourbon hit the nose. Cascade ages their red and double red beers in Pinot Noir and Bourbon barrels for up to 24 months creating this very pretty, sparkly, holiday ale. Take it easy though, the wonderful flavor will make you forget the high alcohol!

Chocolate Mint Stout – Gilgamesh Brewing (6% ABV) Turner, OR – Using locally grown mint and chocolate cocoa nibs, Gilgamesh has crafted a fun and festive stout that tastes like peppermint patties. I enjoyed this beer but was a bit disappointed with the body. It felt more like medium than full-bodied for a stout. Still a nice beer though.

Bonaparte’s Retreat – Laurelwood Brewing Co (8.2% ABV) Portland, OR – One of my favorites of the day was this toasty, smoky Corsican Christmas Ale. A very strong ale, Bonaparte’s Retreat had a nice hint of roasted chestnut and a malty finish. Great beer but this one you will need to sip, slowly.

The Nutcracker – Oakshire Brewing (8% ABV) Eugene, OR – Very nice Imperial Porter. Full bodied and malty with rich gingerbread spices and a touch of dark chocolate and coffee to finish. The Nutcracker is a great festive porter for the holidays.

Belsnickle’s Strong Ale – Rusty Truck Brewing Co (7.6% ABV) Salem, Or – My favorite beer of the event was this wonderful strong ale. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander Rusty Truck really captured what holiday ale should taste like. Warm and malty I had a hard time putting this baby down.

Just a reminder with winter beers; the alcohol is going to be a bit higher than beers brewed during the rest of the year so please be careful when enjoying them.

The Holiday Ale Festival itself was very fun and well-organized. The downside unfortunately was the beer. Brewers from all over the PNW showed up, but did not seem to bring anything spectacular. There were some really good beers at the event, but nothing seemed to “wow” me this year. Many of the beers did not taste as described and surprisingly a lot of them were a bit watery. Oh well, there is always next year.




Coming Soon: Portland Holiday Ale Festival, Airways Brewing Co, Trade Route Brewing Co, and a couple of tasty 22oz brews.


Stout for dessert? November 24, 2011

Filed under: beer,breweries,Holiday Ales,Micro brew,Stout,Thanksgiving beer — pnwbeerchick @ 10:41 am

Turkey? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Gravy? Check. Green bean casserole? Check. Pumpkin pie? Not this year!Thanksgiving dessert in my house is going to be Southern Tier Brewing Company’s crème brûlée Imperial Milk Stout. Never had dessert in a bottle before? Boy are you missing out.

My bartender suggested this fantastically crazy beer to me, and I’m sure glad he did. Brewed with vanilla bean and dark caramel malts this stout engulfs your senses with a sweet, rich vanilla/caramel aroma. The first sip and you are hooked! Full bodied, malty, creamy and rich, crème brûlée Imperial Milk Stout really does taste like the wonderful dessert for which it is aptly named.  Columbus hops and horizon hops mellows out the sweetness of the malts but trust me, this stout is very bold, rich and strong. The gentlemen I had the pleasure of enjoying this brew with (my husband and the guys at the pub) agree that this is no “chick beer.” And at 9.6% ABV you will definitely want to share with others…and designate a driver. Oh, a word of warning to my lactose intolerant readers; this is a milk stout and has lactose sugars added so drinker BEWARE!

Although this is Southern Tier’s summer seasonal release it is still available in 22 oz bottles. And I think it will be a nice substitute for the traditional pumpkin or pecan pie (sorry Grandma).





Pumpkin to the people! November 9, 2011

Filed under: beer,breweries,Holiday Ales,Micro brew,Pumpkin Beer — pnwbeerchick @ 8:01 pm

While supplies last BJ’s Brewery is now pouring their delicious autumn seasonal Pumpkin Ale! Pretty, reddish-amber color and the aroma is quite mouth-watering. The taste is simply delightful with flavors of pumpkin pie and spices swirling around. It is medium bodied, malty and clean with a nice cinnamon and nutmeg finish that lingers. Sweet and spicy this ale would go great with BJ’s pork chops, desserts and even the famous Giant Stuffed Baked Potato (which is what I had). BJ’s even offers to top the Pumpkin Ale with whipped cream to enjoy as a dessert if you wish! And at 4.7% ABV you can enjoy a couple.  Now I know the hardcore beer geeks are going to say “but PNW Beer Chick… BJ’s is a chain restaurant.” To that I say lighten up kids. Just because a brewery is a chain does not mean they don’t make some great beer! BJ’s also sells growlers of the stuff! $14.00 for the growler and fill up. $2.00 off to refill after that.  Stop in and give it a go before the Great Pumpkin swoops it back to the pumpkin patch.




16th Annual Holiday Ale Festival – Portland, OR November 2, 2011

WHEN: November 30 – Dec 4

WHERE: Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR


$25.00/per person for General Admission (Festival entry, tasting mug and 10 tasting tickets)

$50.00/per person for VIP Admission (Festival entry, tasting mug, 20 tasting tickets and access to VIP beer lines)

(Both general and VIP admission includes entry for all 5 days with current years mug and wristband)

More than 40+ breweries are signed up to bring their best ( and strongest) winter warmers! I can hardly wait!




2010 Portland Holiday Ale Festival December 12, 2010

What could be better than sampling new beer with a few friends? How about sampling beer with 18,000 new friends? Well, on December 4th I had the privilege to do just that at the 2010 Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, OR. For $25.00 I was handed a mug and a small roll of tickets to sample some of the best winter warmers brewed this year. A sample taste was one ticket and a full pint was worth 4. Forty-seven brewers from all over the country brought their best winter ales, stouts, porters and barley wines to the event.

Some beers were great, some not so much. So instead by trying to write about every beer I sampled, I’m going to give you my top 5 favorites from the 5-day event. Winter warmers are thicker and higher in alcohol so the casual drinker should really use caution when partaking in a pint.

#5  Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Beans – Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, CA)

Normally, I’m not a Smoked Porter fan. But, Stone Brewing Company changed my mind with their Smoked Porter by adding Vanilla Beans into the brew. The first sip brings the wonderful toastiness of a nice porter and then carries a bit of the smoke flavor. But, suddenly the smooth flavor of vanilla and hints of chocolate and coffee mellow this porter down to a truly lovely beer. This is a nice porter and has the lowest ABV on my top 5 at 5.9%.

#4  Brown Mashuggana – Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, CA)

Lagunitas Brewing Company took their popular seasonal Brown Shugga’ and kicked it up a notch for winter. Already brewed with a ton of brown sugar, the brewery added a touch of their Bourbon barrel Imperial Stout giving this cask conditioned porter a special kick.  The flavor of the brown sugar and bourbon really come through making this porter and wonderfully sweet, smooth beer. But be careful, at 10.0% ABV, this porter should not be taken lightly.

#3  Sang Noir – Cascade Brewing Company (Portland, OR)

Switching gears on flavor, I really enjoyed this sweet yet sour ale. Cascade Brewing Company is known for brewing sour beers and Sang Noir did not disappoint. Deep red in color, this ale is aged for more than a year in Pinot and whiskey barrels. Sang Noir is then blended with a barrel of Bing cherries giving the ale a wonderful cherry sweetness and aroma. This ale is so delicious that it would be easy to forget Sang Noir is 9.5% ABV. I had a hard time putting this ale down so, again, drink cautiously!

#2  Figgy Pudding, Olde Stock – Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery (Corvalis, OR)

This wonderfully sweet (but not too sweet) Strong Ale was a close tie for first on my list. Brewed with English pale and specialty malts and molasses, Figgy Pudding is then matured in brandy barrels and conditioned with mission figs, Ceylon cinnamon and nutmeg. Block 15 then ages the ale further with English stock wild yeast. I enjoyed the sweet aroma and the taste of sugared figs.  Figgy Pudding brought great visions of sitting by a fire on Christmas Eve. Or maybe it was the 11% ABV that gave me visions. Anyway, proceed with caution when approaching this delightful brew!

#1  North the Fourth – Fort George Brewery & Public House (Astoria, OR)

My favorite beer of the event was also brewed with the most eclectic ingredients. North the Fourth is brewed with 60 pounds of cranberries, 40 pounds of spruce tips, and 2 pounds of candy canes (yes, candy canes). US Challenger and Czech Saaz hops are nicely balanced with 2-row malt giving North the Fourth an essence of chocolate and caramel. The candy canes give this ale a wonderful and interesting sweetness. Like most of the winter beers, the ABV on North the Fourth is quite high at 9.5%. I loved this beer so much I actually handed over 4 tickets for a fill pint.

If you have never been to a beer festival, you are missing out on a good time. To be surrounded by other beer enthusiasts that wanted nothing more than taste and enjoy the new winter brews really made for a fun evening.

Happy Holidays!



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