Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

The beer drinker’s mead March 10, 2013

I have been a big fan of mead (honey wine) for years. Thick and syrupy, drinking mead is like taking in a mouth full of honey. I just love to sip this beverage on a cool spring day! Now, many of you are probably scratching your head wondering why a002 beer blogger is writing about mead. Well for one thing, I don’t discriminate. And for another, it’s considered by many archeologists and food historians to be the ancestor of all fermented beverages.
Dating as far back as 2000 B.C. (and possibly further), mead has been enjoyed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and now the United States. I’m sure you are still wondering why this article even exists. Well, PNW brewing icon Rogue Brewing has taken on the task of creating lovely mead that is not only light and crisp, but easy for even the mead hater to enjoy.
Rogue Farms First Growth 19 Original Colonies Mead is Rogue’s interpretation of a beer drinker’s mead. All I can say is WOW! THIS IS GREAT MEAD! Ok, I’m obviously going to say more. The beautiful color is rivaled by the luscious aroma. Jasmine flowers and honey dominate the nose. Traditional mead is very thick and syrupy with no carbonation what so ever. Rogue, however, uses champagne yeast and free range coastal water creating a lovely, champagne-like carbonation so the body is clean and sparkly but still maintains the jammy qualities of traditional mead. Rogue uses their own Rogue Farms Hopyard honey along with wild flower honey and Jasmine Silver Tip Green Tea Leaves.
This mead is delightfully aromatic, crisp & clean. For a wine made with two types of honey, this mead is sweet but not sickening sweet. Jasmine flowers are prominent through the body and mellow out the honey. The green tea adds a nice, soft acidic tone and the finish is just, again, more heavenly jasmine. The ABV is only 5.2% but because this is a bit thicker than beer, I don’t suggest you drink it with food.
My husband can’t stand mead, but guess what? He couldn’t get enough of this one! Neither could I!! We actually went back to the bottle shop and bought a couple more bottles. Rogue Brewing got it right.

Cheers!
Liz

www.rogue.com

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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.

 

Cheers!

Liz

 

Beercation 2012 (part 4) October 29, 2012

By the time we made it to Eugene, OR my liver was screaming for mercy!  Six days of breweries and beer and I still had two days to go…my God. Well, as the famous saying goes “the liver is evil and must be punished.” So off I went.

Eugene is the largest of the cities I visited on my beercation. There are plenty of breweries and beer taverns to go around. I stayed in a lovely hotel, The Inn at the 5th, which provided free shuttle service within the city limits. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than showing up to a brewery in a Mercedes S Class with my own driver!

My driver dropped me off at a little lesser-known brewery: Falling Sky Brewing.  This very casual brewery and gastropub offers really good food and even better beers! Ever had pickled cherries? Really tasty stuff. But back to the beer. 42 Dry Hopped Ale is a malty, sweet, well-balanced ale with a nice hop finish. Skipping Stones Kolsch is a lovely buttery beer. Caramel and malty with a sweet finish. Bare Hands NW Bitter is very balanced and very yummy! Nice Belgian lace, malty, toasty and a slightly hoppy finish. And for my little “hop heads” there’s the Reckless Abandon IPA.  This beer is a true hop beast! Unfiltered, high hop aroma, with a thick and sticky mouth-feel. Very complex for an IPA.

Next stop on our Eugene jaunt was to Hop Valley Brewing Company. Another nice brew pub with some pretty tasty food and brew. Pollination Honey Ale was very crisp and clean. The flavor was comparable to a pale ale but with a touch of honey and flowers. Czech Your Head Pilsner was another gem. Light golden color. Malty, sweet, wheat characters with a buttery/honey body and a lightly sweet finish.

A little ways outside from downtown Eugene is Oakshire Brewing. I took what was probably one of the best brewery tours I have ever experienced. And the beer is not too shabby either! Watershed IPA has a lovely hop flower aroma. Nicely hopped body with a light hoppy finish. Next up was Oakshire Amber. This nutty, toasty gem is perfect for the autumn season. Malty body and caramel finish. Overcast Espresso Stout is really something special. Imagine chocolate covered espresso beans and you have this beer. Lovely, malty, thick, and just the right amount of dark chocolate bitterness. Try it on nitro for a real treat! Another one of my favorites was the Line Dry Rye. Brewed with Oregon blackberry honey, this well-balanced beauty has the bitterness of the rye in perfect harmony with the honey. Quite nice. If you are looking for a different type of IPA then look no further than Goatshed IPA. This interesting beer is aged with coffee giving this hoppy beer a little something extra. Very interesting beer.

Another stop I made was not to a brewery but to an awesome beer store/restaurant. The Bier Stein is more than just a beer store, it’s a beer Valhalla! Twelve beers on tap and over 1,000 bottled beer from all over the world are cooling against the wall for your pleasure. Just grab one, sit down and enjoy! The beer selection is one of, if not the best, I have ever seen. Just make sure you check the price before grabbing one, there is nothing worse than beer sticker shock!

Last but not least, the last brewery on my Beercation 2012 was the ever popular and most beloved Ninkasi Brewing.  A pretty brewery inside and out, Ninkasi staffs itself with folks that know their beer! Everyone was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. And the beer, well if you have never had a Ninkasi beer you are missing out! Taster trays are available so I loaded up on a few beers that aren’t readily available in my neck of the woods. Quantum Pale is a very well-balanced ale with honey characteristics. Malty and crisp with a touch of honey sweetness. Radiant Ale is a Northwest style pale ale. The taste is like drinking flowers. Malty with citrus notes round out the floral characters. Believer Double Red Ale is a great autumn beer. Dark red color and toasty aroma. Nice malty body with notes of caramel and hazelnuts. Great beer to enjoy next to a fire on those crisp autumn nights.

Oregon is one of the best destinations for anyone from the beer novice to the connoisseur. Each brewery has its own personality and there are so many to choose from. The countryside is some of the most stunning I have ever seen and the people are very friendly. Book a vacation and see what I mean. You will fall in love with Oregon, trust me!

 

Cheers!

Liz

http://fallingskybrewing.com/

www.hopvalleybrewing.com/

www.oakbrew.com

http://thebierstein.com/

www.ninkasibrewing.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Beercation 2012 (Part3) October 18, 2012

Having never been to Bend, OR I was very surprised out how big it is. I guess what I was expecting was a tiny little town nestled on the edge of the Deschutes River. What I experienced was a large, pretty city with a huge appreciation for beer. There are ten breweries in Bend, OR each with their own style and character. There is even a “Bend Ale Trail” map that you can download onto your phone with directions to each brewery.  Most are within walking distance of each other but I highly suggest spreading your visit out over a few days. I hit as many of the breweries as I could in the two days. Although I could not visit all of them I did make a bit of a dent in the map and will tell you about my favorites.

I took up residence at the Old St. Francis School; another of McMenamin’s historic and lovingly restored hotels. Every McMenamin’s location pours their staple beers such as Ruby Ale, Hammerhead Ale and Terminator Stout. But each location also carries a beer or two that is unique only to that one. And boy was I glad to be at the Old St. Francis School during this particular week. Black Scratch Special Porter was a ridiculously awesome beer! Brewed with Mexican vanilla bean and cinnamon this porter delights as soon as you raise the glass to your nose. The aroma is a smack of cinnamon. Full-bodied and ink black color. Sweet vanilla hits the palate and the finish is dry cinnamon. This beer was like drinking a cinnamon roll! Another treat on tap, but opposite side of the flavor spectrum, was the Shade Day American Wheat. Light golden color with a soft honey aroma. Hints of caramel and wheat hit the palate. The finish is sweet with honey. This was a perfect beer for the hot day.

Making our way down the block we hit the most famous brewery from Bend: Deschutes Brewery. I started with something light. Spencer’s Gold was exactly what I was looking for. This filtered beer has a light hop aroma with a hop, citrus bite in the body. It finishes clean and floral. The Summer XPA was up next. Caramel and grapefruit are very present in the body. Bitter top notes with a hoppy finish. Very nice and not too hoppy.

About a block away is a little brewery overlooking the Deschutes River. Bend Brewing Company is very low-key and quaint. Blink and you may miss it as you pass by. But the beer is definitely worth the stop. Ludwig Pilsner is light gold in color. Flowers and caramel with a buttery body and a light hop finish. Elk Lake IPA was quite a surprise. Normally I don’t drink a lot of IPA’s but this one I could have had over and over. Pretty hop flower aroma and flavor. Well-balanced and malty, this IPA was very soft and easy to drink. Eclipse Black IPA was another great surprise. Dark brown color with toasty flavor and body. The hops are present just enough to remind one that this is still an IPA. Nice beer. And of course for the “hop heads” out there there’s the Hop Head IPA. At 100 IBU’s this is the strongest of the batch and not for hop wimps (like me). Very hoppy aroma and flavor. Strong hop finish but, like the two other IPA’s, it was very easy to drink.

My favorite brewery in Bend was also the smallest: Boneyard Brewing. A little more difficult to find (located in a residential neighborhood) but well worth the search. Just look for the vintage hearse sitting in the parking lot! But be prepared for an incredibly small, very punk rock/skater inspired tasting room (guys after my own heart). The brewers had the gals in mind when they created Girl Beer. This delicious wheat ale is re-fermented with a blend of dark, sweet, and tart Oregon cherries. Fresh cherry aroma. The first sip may make you pucker a bit, but it is quite a spectacular beer. Gentlemen, don’t let the name fool you! Most of the guys in the tasting room were asking for seconds and thirds of this little darling! Diablo Rojo is a lovely, malty red ale. Tasting a bit like dry, autumn leaves this beer is perfect for the season. for those of you who like a little “kick” in your beer, try the Diablo Rojo En Fuego! These crazy kids infused the Diablo Rojo with habanero and chipotle chilies! Talk about a crazy-good beer! But be sure you have your fire extinguisher on hand.

Bend, OR is a great place for beer enthusiasts to spend a long weekend. Again, most breweries are in walking distance of each other but a couple of them lie in the outskirts of town so I would recommend a cab. After spending two lovely days in this historic city, hubby and I packed up for our final destination on our beercation: Eugene, OR…

Cheers,

Liz

www.boneyardbeer.com

www.deschutesbrewery.com

www.bendbrewingco.com

www.mcmenamins.com

 

Beercation 2012 (part 2) September 23, 2012

One thing you should know about Hood River, OR: It is one of the windiest places you will ever visit. How windy? Well, kite surfing is the sport of choice and you can watch kite surfers by the dozens on the Columbia River catching some serious air. A pretty little town, Hood River is very walkable. The turn of the century architecture is very well-preserved and there are shops, restaurants, and boutiques to fill your day.

From my darling, vintage hotel I walked about three blocks to Full Sail Brewery for lunch. A large, chic restaurant/bar room overlooks the river. Far from its micro-brew days Full Sail is now considered a Craft Brewery and its success is evident in their establishment. Free tours of the brewery are given daily and well worth the time. The food is great and the bar tenders are very knowledgeable about their products. First I tried the LTD03 pilsner-style lager. My favorite beer of the day, LTD03 was caramel in color and sweet. Crisp body with a vanilla wafer note, I could have easily enjoyed this beer for the rest of the day. Sail Ale was next. Hoppy, crisp and citrusy. Hoppy finish and lovely grapefruit aroma. Jimvar Pilsner also impressed. Well-balanced, crisp and sweet. Medium body with a hoppy finish.

Next stop of the day was to Double Mountain Brewery. Just a block or two from Full Sail Double Mountain has a different look and vibe. A bit more rustic decor, local art work and vintage breweriana decorated the walls. On tap was Devil’s Kriek, a lovely sour cherry kriek. Dark blood-red color, sour dark cherries throughout. Hard sour finish. Full bodied and definitely a sipper. Great beer! The Vaporizer was a nice, dry-hopped pale ale. Light hop aroma with a dry, crisp hop bite finish. I didn’t stay long at Double Mountain due to the “vibe.” It’s a very “hipster locals only” place. I got the feeling they knew I was and out-of-towner and treated me as such. Too bad, because I really like the beer at Double Mountain. I just couldn’t hang with the feeling of not being welcome. So, I did what anyone would do. I headed back to Big Horse Brew Pub.

The next day I was on my way to Bend, OR and witnessed some of the most beautiful country I have even seen. Mountains, trees, rivers, streams and the occasional deer made the road trip extremely enjoyable. During the drive I took a little detour to Government Camp, OR to the Ice Axe Grill & Mt. Hood Brewing Company for a little lunch and brews. Surrounded by huge trees lies what used to be a ski rental and gift shop. Mt. Hood Brewing has been brewing some tasty stuff from this location for over 20 years. The decor is a nod to the great outdoorsman history of the town. The pizza is to die for! The beer is not too shabby either. Highland Meadow Blonde is a sparkly little beer with a lot of flavor. Honey, flowers and caramel rule this beer and a light hop finish gives it just enough bite. Very pretty beer. Kristall Weizbier is a filtered wheat beer that is light golden in color. Very well-balanced it is crisp, sweet and finishes clean. Both beers were perfect for pizza. Ice Axe IPA is their signature beer. Very hoppy and yummy. Perfect for those looking for a little extra kick.

Back on the road and headed for Bend, OR. What adventures await me in Bend?

 

Cheers,

Liz

http://www.fullsailbrewing.com/

http://doublemountainbrewery.com/

http://www.iceaxegrill.com/mthoodbrewco.php

 

 

 

 

PNW Beercation 2012 (part 1) September 21, 2012

Since I began my beer journey 18 years ago, I have made it a mission to visit every brewery I can. A few weeks ago I embarked on another “beercation” in the gorgeous state of Oregon. Now I have visited Portland many times and enjoyed the breweries and brew pubs in that beautiful and amazing city. But this time I decided to travel to some of the other lesser known cities and see what Oregon had in store for this beer chick.

First leg of my trip started off 20 minutes outside of Portland in the sleepy town of Troutdale. What’s in Troutdale you ask? Well, many a beer drinker knows of just one place…the Edgefield  Resort. Owned by McMenamins this gorgeous resort is surrounded by vineyards, gardens, mature trees, and lovely old buildings dating back to 1911. Set on 74 acres, the resort served as the Multnomah County Poor farm from 1911 until 1982 and housed farmers that needed a little support in times of need. The grounds are beautiful, quiet, and relaxing. There are a few McMenamins restaurants to choose from, a pool hall, 3-par golf course, and heated soaking pool. Oh, and there just happens to be a nice sized outdoor pavilion that hosts live acts by some little entertainers you may have heard of such as Willie Nelson, John Fogerty, Foster the People, Florence + the Machine, Gotye, Bonnie Raitt, Train…you get the idea.

The rooms are spacious and decorated not only with antiques, but the walls tell stories of the resorts former residents and the history of the grounds. As for the beer, it was great as always. Try a Ruby Ale if you are looking for a crisp, subtle raspberry ale. For those hop heads out there I would recommend the Copper Moon Pale Ale. Nice and bitey, with a sweet caramel note. Do you like art? Edgefield has plenty of it! In fact, the walls are covered with local artist pieces paying homage to the history of the resort and the state of Oregon. What a great way to spend a weekend!

The next couple of days were spent on the Columbia River in the historic town of Hood River. A charming, Victorian town, Hood River has a lot to offer for the weary traveler/beer enthusiast. But before settling into my hotel, I took a quick trip across the bridge into White Salmon, WA and stopped at a little brewery called Everybody’s Brewing.  With an amazing view of Mt. Hood, I sat on Everybody’s patio and enjoyed their taster tray. For the sake of time I will narrow it down to a couple of my fave’s. Goodwill IPA was my favorite from Everybody’s. Very well-balanced, hoppy and malty with a caramel character and a hoppy, floral finish. For a lighter choice I enjoyed the seasonal Summer Lovin’. This light, crisp ale is sweet and very easy to drink. Hints of orange and honey are present in the aroma and flavor and the finish is pleasantly soft.

Back across the bridge into Hood River. There are four breweries in Hood River: Big Horse Brew Pub, Full Sail Brewing Company, Double Mountain Brewery, and pFriem Family brewers. Unfortunately, pFriem was closed during our stay in Hood River but we had a great time visiting the other three.

Big Horse Brew Pub is truly a gem! Housed in a large Victorian home that was built into the side of a hill and overlooking the town and the Columbia River, Big Horse has been brewing tasty beer for over twenty years. The food is wonderful and fresh. The atmosphere is very laid back and simple. The view of the town and river cannot be beat. And the beer? Fantastic. I started with the Easy Blonde. Light, sweet, and easy to drink, this beer had a honey and cereal aroma. Biscuity mouth feel and a nice vanilla finish. Wind Ripper was Big Horse’s summer ale. Medium body character and very effervescent. Crisp and refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. For the hop heads there is the Pale Rider IPA. Apricot color, citrus and flower aroma. Medium body with hard grapefruit finish. My favorite beer from Big Horse was A Night in Munich; Munich Helles style lager. Crisp and sweet, this lager tasted of Golden Grahams cereal. Malty and well-balanced this beer was an absolute delight. Don’t bother looking for Big Horse in any store. The beer never leaves the brewery so if you want to give this yummy stuff a try you will have to make the pilgrimage to Hood River.

Day one in Hood River came to a beautiful end. Full Sail Brewing and Double Mountain on day two…

Cheers!

Liz

www.mcmenamins.com/

Information for Big Horse Brew Pub can  be found on Facebook.

 

2012 Oregon Brewers Festival…revisited! August 6, 2012

For 25 years Portland, OR has been the home of the Oregon Brewers Festival, or “OBF.” The festival is one of the longest running craft beer festivals in the country, and also one of the favorites. I have attended the OBF for a few years and it just doesn’t get old! Drinking beers from all over the country, meeting people from all walks of life, and spending the weekend in one of the prettiest “big” cities I have ever been to; it doesn’t get much better than that.

Held each year on Portland’s Waterfront Park, this four-day event hosts brewers from all parts of the U.S. and features live music, food, and even some souvenir vendors. Large tents and long tables provide plenty of shade and mimics the beer fests held in Germany. Imagine, being surrounded by thousands of beer enthusiasts that want nothing more than to hang out and enjoy the newest creations that you can’t get every day! It’s great fun but now to the important part: the beer!

So many beers, so little time! There were over 80 beers being served. I tried many of them but because I didn’t want to be hauled away in an ambulance, I could not try them all. So many of the beers I tried were incredible, but for the sake of time I will give you my top five favorites.

#1) Double Dry Hopped Delta Pale Ale – Boundary Bay Brewing – Bellingham, WA (5.6%ABV, 45 IBU) – My favorite of the day! Boundary Bay uses and the newer Delta hop to create a lovely, spicy note. Munich and 2-Rows malts along with Northwest ale yeast give this pale ale a dry and crisp body with a nice citrus finish. Perfect for the hot day!

#2) Kili Wit – Logsdon Farmhouse Ales – Hood River, OR (5.5%ABV, N/A IBU) – On a hot day there’s sometimes nothing better than a nice Wit beer. This traditional farmhouse ale if brewed with organic African coriander this tasty wit is rich with spice and clove. Malty, smooth body and rich, spicy finish.  Good stuff.

#3) Electric Beer – Electric Brewing – Bisbee, AZ (5%ABV, 35 IBU) – One of my favorite beer styles is German Kölsch. And Electric Brewing really impressed me with their version. Castle Cara 8, Castle Pils and Weyermann Pils malts create a full flavored, but light bodied beer. Notes of honey are present in the nose and taste and the finish is wonderfully spiced. I mean this in the best possible way; the flavor was reminiscent of Golden Grahams cereal. Another great summer beer!

#4) Saison the Beach – Lompoc Brewing Co. – Portland, OR (5.5%ABV, 25IBU) – If you like sour fruit and spices, then this beer is for you! The aroma is floral and spicy. The body is peppery and spicy with a dry, sour fruit finish. Lompoc used a potpourri of ingredients to create this little beauty: Perle and Crystal hops, Pale, Weyermann Pils, wheat, biscuit and rye malts. They have outdone themselves.

#5) Dirty Blonde – Paradise Creek Brewery – Pullman, WA (6.3%ABV, 22 IBU) – On a day as hot as the one on the day of the festival, this beer sure did hit the spot. Living up to its name, Dirty Blonde is a very well-balanced, medium-bodied beer. Spicy and malty with a touch of flowers. A little higher in alcohol, but quite refreshing.

Kudos to all of the brewers for showing us how much fun can be had creating something a little different! And kudos to the organizers for making every festival as fun and safe as possible. I always have a great time at the brewers festival and will continue to attend every year until my taste buds dry up.

 

Cheers!

Liz

http://bbaybrewery.com/

http://farmhousebeer.com/

http://www.lompocbrewing.com/

http://paradisecreekbrewery.com/

Info about Electric Brewing can be found on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/DavesElectricBrewpub

 

 
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