Tuesday, November 30

Portland Holiday Ale Fest Kicks off Tomorrow!

At 2:00pm tomorrow the wonderful Holiday Ale Fest kicks off. Information can be found at their website:


5 days of extremely good craft beer will be pouring. From barleywines and blends, to sours and Belgians...  many diverse beers, and breweries will be present. This is usually the most anticipated brew event for me. I even took 8 days vacation from my usual full time job so I could at least attend 3 days of the event. The beers are heavy, and I live in Vancouver, WA. That means I will have to make more trips there this year so I can try as many as I can without getting intoxicated beyond belief which can be quite easy there with so many powerful beers.

The 2010 Holiday Ale Festival Beer List

Brews I especially look forward to trying:

- Bear Republic Brewing Company • Ebeweesner Scrooge
- Beer Valley Brewing Company • Ho Ho Ho Slapper
- Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery • Figgy Pudding, Olde Stock
- Boneyard Beer Company • Femme Fatale
- Columbia River Brewing Company • Paddler's Porter
- Firestone Walker Brewing Company • Union Barrel Fermented Porter
- Fort George Brewery & Public House • North the Fourth
- Hopworks Urban Brewery • Kentucky Christmas
- Lucky Labrador Brewing • Pavlov's Russian Imperial Stout
- Ninkasi Brewing Company • Unconventionale
- Shmaltz Brewing Company • Jewbelation Blend
- Southern Oregon Brewing Company • Mrs. Claws
- Three Creeks Brewing Company • Rudolph's Imperial Red  (Huge fan of the standard Rudolph's Red)
- Widmer Brothers Brewing Company • Black Dynamite

With some of the lists floating around out there, I am sure this doesn't touch everything that will show, but these are my picks from their official website.

Also don't forget some of the others that are really local. If you are visiting, don't miss my favorite sour to date from Cascade Brewing...  the Sang Noir. Pure enjoyment. Also don't hesitate to try Bridgeports Old Knucklehead Barleywine. I still haven't even had that yet, and hear it is delicious.

The Holiday Ale Festival tap schedule will be as follows:

Wednesday, Dec. 1st

  • 2:00pm - 10:00pm
Thursday, Dec. 2nd
  • 11:00am - 10:00pm
Friday, Dec. 3rd
  • 11:00am - 10:00pm
Saturday, Dec. 4th
  • 11:00am - 10:00pm
Sunday, Dec. 5th
  • 11:00am - 5:00pm

Don't miss the event! It is always a blast...  and usually starts to get crowded around 4pm and later...  so if you are an early sipper, or a late drinker...  there will be plenty of goodies there for all. See you there!

Drive sober, and be responsible!


Thursday, November 25

An evening with Ron at the Cascade Barrel House

It wasn't too long ago that the Cascade Barrel House opened their various different doors. Unknown to many, over in Beaverton Oregon, is their Raccoon Lodge which was fired up in 1998 by Art Larrance. Art also co-founded Portland Brewing back in 1985. At that time, I was 7 and listening to Van Halen's "Jump" on MTV. Beer then was just a big air filled bottle sitting next to me. The photo to the left is Head Brewmaster, and Master Blender Ron Gansberg who is about to crack into a conditioned barrel of goodness for the first time at the Barrel House.

I was first introduced to the Raccoon Lodge by my sister as she lived only a hop skip and a jump away from Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway on Canyon Road at the time. I was in my early twenties, and worked at a dealership there as a mechanic. I developed a good taste for their regular lineup up brews, and really liked the Porters and Razberry Wheat. At the time I never knew what a sour ale was. Like today, many who go to the Raccoon Lodge have no idea they offer fine sour ales. These folks have been going there for years and have never pieced two and two together. They know the name 'Cascade Brewing', but never knew it was the Lodge. I have many times stirred up discussion at the bar there to inform folks.
 "Behind the wooden barrel" Nov. 23, 2010

I was fortunate enough to attend a tour of the Barrel House with many other local Bloggers. The hospitality was great, and they served up some fine new sours and grub for those in the media. The photo to the right is of Ron Gansberg, placing one of the two total barrels which great conditioned ales will pour. The other decorative barrels house their standard taps which also pour fine sours on top of their regular quality beer lineup. Usually a dozen or so sours are pouring at all times.
The Cascade Barrel House was much anticipated by craft beer enthusiasts everywhere. Sours have gained huge popularity over the years with many other brewers offering them such as Russian River, and Upright Brewing to name a couple. Also the BeerAdvocate hype machine is very well oiled, and can almost spur wars if not maintained.  Soon after the opening, they were releasing two brand new medal winning sours in bottles...  Bourbonic Plague and Vlad the Imp Aler. I mentioned to Ron that he was going to sell out of those in one day. The hype machine was well on the move, and folks everywhere were trying to get orders in as fast as they could. The Bourbonic vanished pretty quickly, and I am sure there wasn't as much of it around like the Vlad. There are still many cases of Vlad to be purchased at this time. The bottle limits changed within the same day as the turnout was massive. I bet the staff felt extremely overwhelmed. But they managed, and I am sure realized...  they are one of very few that live up to the demands and challenges of the beloved hype machine. They truly are worth every bit of hype, blog posts, and word of mouth advocacy there is. The Cascade Barrel House I feel is even going to be much more responsible for more traveling and tourism to Portland. It is seated in a beer mecca of spots in SE Portland.

Ron was full of information and jokes while guiding us beer nut bloggers around. The photo here to the right is just a few of many barrels in the joint...  staged and ready for use. Just the red stains from where fluids have poured made me thirsty. Ron and his crew often use Port, Wine, and Bourbon barrels for their aging and souring process. French oak seemed to be more common on many of the barrels I read, which had various stamps and markings on them. Most of the sours are all blends of variously aged brews..  fresh, 6 months, to even 36 months which I believe is what Ron said was the longest aged brew.

 The best part of the tour was seeing Ron's passion for his work. It's no wonder why all the sours...  each and every one... have turned out so well. The photo to the left represents many of the well known and liked bloggers of beer in the Portland area. I think Ron really enjoys educating and discussing his work with us. From the start to the finish, I was a sponge. The information was great, and really engaging.

I am one for getting worried. Worried that the supply won't live up to the demand. But here still today, there are various new blends and seasonal sours hitting the taps and bungs. My favorite Sang Noir wasn't there that day, but that is okay because a new Blueberry sour was on the taps and it was my first ever blueberry beer. It was great, and wasn't too buried in berry. The Beck Berry is a fantastic favorite as well which Ron said is the only sour so far brewed with Brett. It may be the only one too, as this particular bacteria can spread like the Bourbonic Plague infecting other beers. Ron believes the isolated strain came over with some of the barrels.

I love sours. They truly are my favorite style, and that is with thanks to Ron Gansberg and his sharing of his passion of the sour. Here on Thanksgiving Day I give thanks to all those who are as dedicated to their craft as Art Larrance , Ron Gansberg, and the rest of the crew at Cascade Brewing. The service at both locations is always stellar, and of top quality. The "House of Sour" is great, as the menu is rather small. I think that is a good thing. They know many are there for the sours and just might want some finer appetizers and foods to pair with the sours. The layout is great, and has large garage doors that open during the summer months. Also there is a lot of seating outside as well when temperatures rise. Inside is quite cozy as well and seats many.

I can't wait to continue trying new projects from Ron and his brew crew. The Cascade Barrel House is here to stay, and I know they will continue to be very successful. All they have to do is continue brewing up killer beers with the positive attitudes in which they have.

It was a great evening, and it was great finally putting some faces to the various blogs around town such as Its Pub Night, Behind the Pint, The New School, Portland Beer & Music, Portland Beer, Pubs of Portland Tours, The Daily Pull, PDX Pipeline, and Taplister. Be sure to check out their blogs as well, as I am sure there will be some great information. Portland certainly is a great place to be...  especially when sours are readily available. Cheers!

(p.s. If there are any errors, please send me a beer, and I just might fix them!)

Tuesday, November 23

Party at 4th Street Brewing!

4th Street Brewing is throwing a party to show support for their loyal customers over the years according to their Facebook post.

"We're throwing you a party to say thanks for all your support, please join us on December 1st from 4:00pm-9:00pm. We're having free live music PLUS pints of beer for only $2 and our awesome fries for only $2! Plus, it's our second anniversary that week too! Looking forward to seeing you all and thanks again!"

 I feel like 4th Street Brewing get's left out from the whole mega craft beer scene in the Portland area. They offer some very solid beers. That's not to say each and every one is just killer. The Standard Eager Beaver IPA is one of the best sessionable IPA's on tap around town, and has a killer biscuity hoppy flavor. The Demented Duck Amber is another great brew and very hoppy for the style. For those who stick with the BMC crowd can easily transform over to the bright side with their Black Roots Blond Golden Ale.

They also always have great seasonal brews on tap as well. My most favored ale of theirs was the Single Malt Ale which was brewed with Golden Promise malt. What a fantastic beer that was. 

Often I think the alcohol content of their beers are overstated in the pubs literature, but the beers are still great none the less. 

Go party down and enjoy some great prices on some great beer and food while rockin' out to some live music!

Gresham, OR, 97080
Tues - Sun:
11:00 am - 1:00 am

Black Friday Brew Summit at Roscoe's

Yet another great Winter and Seasonal brew summit is also taking place at Roscoe's according to their Facebook Page.

"Our "Black Friday Holiday Beer Summit" is coming up on Friday the 26th beginning at 2PM. We will be featuring 16 great holiday beers on tap.

Some of the breweries and holiday beers featured will be: Amnesia (Sleigh Jerker), Deschutes (Forest Park Strong Ale), Cascade (Dark Day Winter IPA), St. Bernardus (Christmas), Kulmbacher (Eisbock), Double Mountain (Fa La La La La), Collaborator (2009 bourbon barrel aged Floodcraft), Fort George (Drunkin' Pumpkin), Oakshire, Hopworks, and many more. We will have 5 ounce tasters available.

Spread the word! we hope to see you there."

Last time I was there was at their Fresh Hop beer summit and I enjoyed the sample trays they put together. They also had a nice sheet in which I was able to write some review notes on. I am guessing they will do the same with this summit. Perhaps I will be able to swing by there Friday night and enjoy some samplers!


Big Al's Winter Brew Fest

Big Al's is a rather large and fun filled family joint. Bowling, Pool, and an Arcade to name just a few of the cool things there to do. I find myself going there to watch some good football games and play pool. The prices are good, and there is a decent but small tap selection. I am hoping this upcoming winter beer fest (which is being held there on Nov. 27th from 4-11pm) will inspire a larger more permanent tap selection.

Obviously to many in the Portland area, Vancouver is not really known as a craft beer haven of sorts. But I see a push up this way, and I am guessing Big Al's is trying to snare a piece of that action. I don't have a really good idea on the tap list, but I am guessing there will at least be a dozen good winter beers and seasonal beers on tap.

Don't get me wrong, By The Bottle and Salmon Creek Brew Pub are two killer craft beer spots in Vancouver. I frequent them often. I live in Eastern Vancouver though which really only gives me one option out this way. McMenamins. I was there a couple nights ago though and enjoyed their winter seasonal 'Kris Kringle'. It was strong, hoppy, and quite good. I find myself getting bored with their usual lineup.

From what I have heard, there will be a couple of new start up breweries coming in our very near future up here as well. That sounds good to me.

So come on by Big Al's and bring the family. Bowling there is a blast, and if you are an arcade junkie, you will be entertained. The beers will be flowing, and flowing at a tasty level. I'll be there playing pool most likely...  at least for a little while. There will also be live music that night.

Big Al's Vancouver (360) 944-6118
16615 SE 18th Street, Vancouver WA 98683


Friday, November 12

Hair of the Dog Celebrates Its 17th Anniversary!

17 years Hair of the Dog brewing has been spitting out great brews one after another to mainly local craft beer advocates.

" I am pleased to announce my 17th anniversary celebration. This year it will be November 19th thru the 21st. We will have special Beers on tap all weekend long and two Beer releases. I will be selling 2010 Doggie Claws and 2010 Matt starting on November 20th, at 10:00 am.

There will be a limit of six, 12oz bottles per person on the Matt, no limit on Claws. Hope to see you here -- Alan"

So stop by and have a blast at their tasting room and have a few!

Monday, November 1

Full Sail Brewing Releases Hoppy Holiday Treat

Hood River, Or – The first snow storm of the season has arrived! The air is cooler, the nights are longer, and the east winds are blowing as snowboarders and skiers start to make their way up the mountain. At the Brewery, the Full Sail crew is humming with the anticipation of a big snow year and their hoppy holiday release, Wreck the Halls.

Wreck the Halls is a sublime hybrid of an American style IPA with a “Winter Warmer” style strong ale. The result is a bold beer that celebrates the holidays with an intriguing blend of Centennial hops providing elegant citrus notes balanced by a backdrop of a rich caramel malt body. Wreck the Halls is dry hopped further, thereby amplifying the aroma and flavor. A perfect way to celebrate the season, Wreck the Halls will be available in specialty beer stores and pubs on draught and in 22oz bottles early November through December. ABV 6.5%, IBU 68.

“Wreck the Halls is part of our rotating selection of Brewmaster Reserve beers. Every eight to ten weeks we come out with a different beer that showcases the brewer’s art. We began the program back in 1998 as a way of celebrating our independence and creativity,” said Full Sail’s Founder and CEO, Irene Firmat.

According to Executive Brewmaster Jamie Emmerson, Full Sail will reveal their 2011 Brewmaster line up in early December.

I have had this already, and I must say it is tasting amazing. The hops hit you with a punch. Great flavorful malt character as well. Certainly a solid brew. Can't wait to see what next years reserve series will offer.  - Perry