Monday, January 30

Widmer Brewings Next Brothers Reserve Series Exposed

I read a nice write-up over at PortlandBeer.org, and also read a post over at BeerNews.org and spotted these labels...


An Imperial Brown Ale brewed with palm sugar, molasses, and aged in Rum barrels. Can I get a hell yeah?

This will be the 6th installment in their Brothers Reserve series lineup and is slated for a release date of... Spring 2012.

All I know is that I want a case. I have just had a recent kick drinking Kona Brewings Koko Brown (Which is most likely brewed at the Widmer facility), and I feel Browns are not spoken of much, enjoyed enough, or bottled enough.

I will pipe in and say that I miss the 25th Anniversary Widmer brew... the Double Alt. I bought many of those, and had my last one about a year or so ago. It aged well. Now I still have 1 Brrrrrbon left (original BR series release).

For me this is even bigger news coming out of Widmer Brothers Brewing. I already know I will be buying a boatload of their next Rotator IPA Series, the Spiced IPA. Love that beer. This will certainly be filling my cellar, and fridge at its release.

Beer Review: Full Sail Brewers Share E.S.B. (Extra Special Barney)


"The first beer in the series "Extra Special Barney" (ESB) developed by Brewing Supervisor, Barney Brennan will be released in 22oz. bottles and on draft in January.

According to Brennan, this beer is a departure from the big, hoppy, Northwest ales. This Extra Special Bitter, a traditional English style ale, is brewed with attention to balance, highlighting both malt and hops. Five different malt varieties give the beer its orange hue, and caramel complexities. An English hop variety grown here in the Yakima Valley, Challenger, was chosen to complement the fruity esters in the aroma. It is the only variety used, meant to showcase its beauty. The pint first offers the interaction of the aromas of malt and hop, then the medium body and caramel flavors finish with a slight bitterness. Drinkable and quenching with an invitation to return for another taste. 6.5% ABV, 35 IBU

Brennan’s ESB was inspired by two things; a perfect beer moment and an aromatic highlight of the hop selection in Yakima. As Barney puts it, “First inspiration for this beer came during hop selection in Yakima. We had no intentions of purchasing these Challengers, but after rubbing and smelling them we could not resist a small purchase for something “extra special.” We really respect the opportunity to have such a strong connection to our ingredients and the harvest, and deeply value the freedom to follow our inspirations. The rest of the brew revolved around a personal, great beer moment. I was sitting on the deck at the brewery overlooking the river in the sunshine – drinking this beautiful beer we had created, balanced, aromatic – already looking forward to the second pint. I wanted to share a little glimpse of Hood River brewing life and happiness. Hopefully this ESB will be involved in some special moments for others.”


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Found this at a little 'First Choice' market on the way home... had to pick it up.

Appearance: (4.0)
- Nice lightly cloudy honey amber/brown. Thick finger of white head settling to a little lace and thin blanket of head sticking around. Slight reddish hue to the beer as well.

Smell: (3.5)
- Smooth smelling caramel malts, with some lovely bread, roasty brown sugars, light alcohol aromatics, and some pine resin hop with a floral touch to it. Smell is a bit tucked away.

Taste: (4.5)
- Lovely sweet malts, bready caramel and brown sugars with a nice touch of esters. Subtle pine and fresh herbal hops balance it out well. This beer is super balanced and just the right sweetness for the style. Little earthy, yet zesty fresh.

Mouth Feel: (4.5)
- Medium bodied with a great creamy texture. Slight chewiness from the bitter dryness, yet waters the palate in anticipation for more. Very good.

Overall: (4.0)
- This beer is solid and is something I will certainly be buying more of while I can. I would recommend you do the same. Solid balance, flavor, and sweetness, and doesn't contain Full Sail's flagship yeast character that so many of their other beers have. Certainly a nice change for them.

4.18/5 rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Sunday, January 29

Beer Review: Unibroue Brewing Don De Dieu


The meaning or name of this beer means, "Gift from God" in French. This is a Belgian-style strong golden pale from a very well known brewery in Quebec, Canada.

Appearance: (4.0)
- Perfectly bubbling light straw yellow brew with a little dark depth to it. Couple of bubbly fingers of white head settled quickly to an 1/8th inch constant layer of foam due to its powerful carbonation that continues in the glass.

Smell: (4.5)
- Bready... yeasty... golden ale.. smell is bliss. Wonderful light esters, banana, clove, and herbal notes above a subtle bready and clean grainy sweetness that seems to have been taken care of by the yeast.

Taste: (3.5)
- Sweet biscuit and malt base. Seems like a lot of a single grain.. and a lot.. no adjuncts. Sugary grain, bread, yeast, and biscuit. Subtle grassy and herbal hop notes play well and slowly balance out the flavors. Woody aged yeast flavors really lend a dry and spicy flare to this.

Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Because the sweetness and dryness is so balanced, this leaves my mouth with a film, and a chewy quality that lingers for some time. It's a touch cloying, and not really sticky at all. It does contain a subtle creamy quality. Only downside like most of theirs for me... over carbonated.. and very bubbly.

Overall: (3.5)
- Not my favorite from Unibroue overall from the regulars around these parts, but it is a fantastic beer, and seems to be made with great old-time quality. We all know they make great beers at a great price, and even brew some for Trader Joe's. I just never had this one, and had to jump on it. It had been in the fridge for a couple weeks. It's solid, but not really worth the super high marks.

3.73/5 rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Beer Review: Hopworks Noggin' Floggin' Barleywine


Nice to see this at Bridgetown Beer House last night during the wonderful PDX Beer Geeks bottle share... so I made this my purchase for that evening.

"About Noggin Floggin Barleywine: This winter warmer features a luscious fruity, caramel aroma with resinous hops and a malted toffee flavor followed by a warming finish. Drink a few of these and you’ll be saying “gunter glieben glauchen globen.”

ABV: 11% IBU: 70 OG Plato: 24"


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Appearance: (3.5)
- A so very lightly cloudy IPA-like brew. Much lighter in color than I expected, and glows like a west-coast IPA. Orange, a little murky splash of brown, and caramel. Off-white finger of foam quickly settled to a little bubbly ring in the glass, and some thin islands afloat.

Smell: (2.5)
- The scent is masked in its malty madness. Almost a touch vegetative, citrus-like, and grassy herbal. Roasty sweet caramel is very light, and a bit of alcohol shines through when forcing myself to take a deep whiff to get some scent. Touch of meatiness and rubbing alcohol really.

Taste: (3.5)
- Sweet creamy malts, caramel, esters, fruit, grass, and pancake. Certainly a unique flavor. Almost like a marshmallow pop-tart type of sweetness to it. Nice pine and grassy bitter hops. Chocolate even? Sweet cream? Kind of an oddball but not bad. Almost seems to have a slight corn and oatmeal flare to it. Also a touch of some interesting woody and vanilla like flavors.. though not barrel aged.

Mouth Feel: (4.5)
- Nice medium to heavy body... really rich, smooth and creamy. This might just be the best aspect of this beer.. which is kind of too bad really. Well carbonated, and leaves a nice thin layer of beer film behind to lend the mouth some chewiness.

Overall: (3.5)
- This Barleywine is just kind of strange and different overall. Has a great hop bitterness, and just a really odd blend of flavors going on overall. It's a touch lighter in color than most barleywines, and just has some taste that I can't put a flavor too... but it's familiar. It's not bad.. just takes a moment to adjust to. Bet the bourbon barrel version is killer.

3.4/5 rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Saturday, January 28

Bottle Share Jan. 2012 At Bridgetown Beer House W/ PDXBeerGeeks

The PDX Beer Geeks got together tonight at Bridgetown Beer House and had some great beers, grub, and times! I am glad the event turned out very well. I am also very glad that I knew about it in advance so I could make sure I had the time off to attend. I find it very difficult with my work schedule to attend anything anymore.

At first I thought the event was 6:00pm - 8:00pm..  but at about 5:00pm I double checked and realized I needed to get out of my joint with the quickness. I grabbed my tasting glass (Which is my favorite little Portland International Brewfest tasting glass), my Deschutes Black Butte XXI Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter, and took off over there and made it in about 15 minutes.

When I arrived, there was a glorious amount of aged brews, out-of-town brews, and homebrews. I just have to flat out say...  of all the homebrews I had, not one of them was even nearly bad..  most were well above average in the playing field of commercial brewing.

I made sure to take little pours as I know tasting all of these heavy beers can hit the head and blood with a powerful force. I am shocked I didn't get tanked.

It was great meeting a lot of new people, and discussing beer, the spot, future events, and plans. Brian of Short Snout Brewing arrived, and brought a fantastic stout that was basically a kitchen sink stout made with left over grains and flaked oats. I thought it was great, and totally blows a ton of other stouts away.

Also it was a nice excuse for me to get back over to Bridgetown Beer House since I haven't seen their new tap bar and layout. They were always a great little stop for me to pick up bottles, but now they have a nice tap selection for some tasty pints and growler fills.

Living in Vancouver near downtown, it is a very easy shot down I-5 for me to get to this spot which is great..  so long as I miss rush hour traffic on the way back.

Some great beers showed up, and I even finally got a chance to try the well-known infected Hellshire 2 release from Oakshire Brewing. I could easily tell what the beer was supposed to be..  and I picked up on the wonderful coffee and dry notes..  though the buttery smell, and tart off-flavors kind of killed it though it was drinkable.

I was grateful to meet the latest owner and operator of the Guild Public House and discuss brews and future events..  and as always it was wonderful to see Emily and Michael, both founders of the PDX Beer Geeks community and blog. Both Emily, and Michael really did a great job organizing and throwing this event together, and more events can be found at the blog. Don't miss the next if you missed this one! Also I met folks from Colorado, Massachusetts, and other various areas who were still pretty new to the Portland area. They also brought many out of town goodies.

Like I stated earlier, I went back to the PDX Beer Geek blog and noticed that Emily crafted up some hop brownies. They turned out very well, had a wonderful hop flair in the aroma, and really was a very subtle touch to the flavor.

I would like to shout out a big thanks to the PDX Beer Geek founders who do all the hard work to organize, write, and plan such wonderful events aside from their busy personal and family lives.

Also a big thanks to all the geeks that brought such fantastic beers! And let's not forget the awesome bottle shop and tap room Bridgetown Beer House for allowing all of us geeks to partake in such a great share! Cheers!

Friday, January 27

Beer Review: Kona Brewing Aloha Series Koko Brown


"Is there anything more iconic of the lush tropics than the coconut? The delicious heart of this island treasure has a nutty, toffee flavor and aroma that sends you straight to the beaches of Paradise. Kick back with a Koko Brown, brewed with real toasted coconut, and savor the mahogany color and smooth, roasty malt taste.

Available Winter/Spring"


Picked up a 22oz. bomber for $2.99

Appearance: (3.5)
- Pours a clear and dark cola/tea brown with about a finger of white foamy head which has settled to a very thin layer above the brew, and a slightly bubbly ring on the edges of the glass. Overall not a bad looking beer.

Smell: (3.5)
- Smells like a wonderful bready grainy brown. Subtle sweet notes with some nice yeasty bread. Light brown sugar and coconut sweetness. Overall the smell is good.

Taste: (4.0)
- Nice beer. Balanced, lightly sweet brown sugar and malt, nice light roasted coconut flavors, just the right grassy bittering hops and a fantastic fresh and smooth finish. A very solid brew.

Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Light to medium bodied brew, well carbonated with tiny bubbles, and is just a touch chewy and cloying.. but still thin and sessionable. Easy to drink.

Overall: (4.0)
- This is a tasty hit of a beer, and one I am sure to buy again. It's taste is its best trait, and it is very balanced and good. I was expecting a mediocre brown like so many, but was pleasantly surprised with the light sweet coconut flavors, and the perfect use of hops in this beer. Go try it!

3.83/5 rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Wednesday, January 25

Sierra Nevada Chooses Asheville-Area For Eastern Brewery Expansion


CHICO, Calif. - Jan. 25, 2012 - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is pleased to announce that it has chosen a site in western North Carolina for the future home of an East Coast brewery. The site, approximately 90 acres in the Henderson County town of Mills River - along the French Broad River, 12 miles south of Asheville - will be home to the new production facility, as well as a proposed restaurant and gift shop.

"We are thrilled to have found an ideal location in western North Carolina for our second brewery," says Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada. "The beer culture, water quality and quality of life are excellent. We feel lucky to be a part of this community."

The new facility will add much needed capacity for Sierra Nevada, and will allow for the quick shipment of brewery-fresh beer to consumers in the east. The East Coast brewery will start with a capacity around 300,000 barrels, with room to grow. The added barrelage will accommodate wider production of the myriad of seasonal beers and bottled specialties Sierra Nevada has produced in recent years, as well as an expansion of the brewery's well-known flagship product: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Sierra Nevada began the search for a new location several years ago. The brewery looked at hundreds of potential sites, eventually narrowing the search down to a handful of locations. The list of criteria was long and included quantifiable factors such as ease of shipping and water quality, as well as quality of life issues for its employees. Sierra Nevada has a reputation for a laid-back brewery culture and a love of the outdoors, and the new facility will retain this same tone. The Asheville area offers Sierra Nevada Brewing the perfect confluence of community, recreation and craft beer culture.

Sierra Nevada's eastern brewery site is expected to employ approximately 90 workers, with additional staff in the restaurant to follow. The brewery anticipates being operational by early 2014.

About Sierra Nevada

Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of America's premier craft breweries, highly regarded for using only whole-cone hops and ingredients of the finest quality. Sierra Nevada has set the standard for artisan brewers worldwide as a winner of numerous awards for its extensive line of beers including the flagship Pale Ale, Torpedo, Porter, Stout, Kellerweis, four seasonal beers, Estate Ale, Harvest Ales, Ovila Abbey Ales and a host of draught-only specialties.

Tuesday, January 24

Full Sail Brewing Company Releases Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter

Hood River, Or – The long awaited moment will soon be upon us: the newest batch of Full Sail’s very limited bourbon barrel-aged beer is set for release on February 1st. Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter has been aging in oak bourbon barrels deep in the brewery’s cellar for an entire year. During those long months the bourbon barrels and time have been working their magic on our Imperial Porter. This commitment to patience and excellence results in a truly special beer – complex, elegant and supremely balanced with added depth and flavor. Soon, Full Sail will be able to share the delicious result— the 2012 reserve of Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter.

“We love the concept of the bourbon barrel aging our beer. Our barrel aged beers have been a Full Sail tradition since 1998 when the Master Distiller from The Maccallan visited the brewhouse and suggested we try it. It was then we discovered the magic that happens when you pair vintage barrels, dedication, and patience. It’s an art form and when done right, it’s a wonderful thing. We brew this special beer in small batches, that’s why it is available in very limited quantities. You should get some while you can,” said Jamie Emmerson, Full Sail’s Executive Brewmaster.

“Brewed back in January of 2011, this imperial style porter was reserved and aged in Kentucky bourbon casks from Maker's Mark, Jim Beam and Austin Nichols. After a year we created a blend that is 100% barrel aged beer to craft Top Sail. This aging amplifies our robust porter and brings out hints of chocolate, figs, vanilla and oak. It’s deep black in color, with a roasty malt flavor and a rich malt and vanilla sweetness that’s smooth and amazingly drinkable. A wonderful addition to any beer cellar,” added Emmerson. To help the beer aficionados that have the self-discipline to cellar this beer, Full Sail marks the bottle label with the reserve year. Top Sail was awarded a gold medal at the 2010 & 2011 World Beer Championships and was named One of the Top 25 Beers of 2010 by Wine Enthusiast. The beer will be available in 22 oz bottles and limited draft. (ABV 9.5%, IBU 40)

To celebrate the release of this beer Full Sail is planning two Vertical Tasting events that highlight the flavor components of this special brew. “Since Top Sail is a blend of the three barrel varieties, we thought it would be interesting to try a bit of each before blending, so we kegged off a very small stash of each variety for the release. Join us to celebrate the release of this very special beer and taste the nuances between the three versions and the final blend,” added Emmerson. The special tapping will take place at 5 p.m., Wednesday, February 1st, at Full Sail’s Riverplace Brewery in Portland, Oregon and at the Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub in Hood River. For more information call Full Sail at Riverplace at 503-222-5343 or the Tasting Room and Pub at 541-386-2247.

About Full Sail Brewing Company:

The independent and employee-owned Full Sail Brewery is perched on a bluff in Hood River, Oregon, overlooking the most epic wind and kite surfing spot in the world. At this very moment 47 specialists in the liquid refreshment arts are crafting barley and hops into your next beer. Among the company’s most popular brews are Full Sail Amber, IPA, Pale, LTD, Session and Session Black Premium lager. Founded in 1987, the Full Sail crew has been fermenting godlike nectar for 25 years. Committed to brewing great beer and sustainable practices their award winning brews are now available in 28 states. The Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub is open seven days a week. Swing by for a pint, grab a bite, tour the brewery, or just soak up the view. http://www.fullsailbrewing.com

Beer Review: Widmer Brothers Rotator Series #4 Spiced IPA


You can see the release notes of this beer below. I was fortunate enough to try this release early, and receive a 6-pack for the price of showing up to the event. I poured 1.5 12 oz. bottles into a Widmer imperial pint glass which was also a fine gift.

The brew is a Chai Tea experiment with many hops, and is Widmer's first bottled release ever to be dry-hopped.

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Appearance: (4.0)
- Pours a nice clean and clear light amber orange. Finger of thick foamy head sits around a bit and creates a foamy and frothy thin blanket with lacing all about the glass. Certainly a clean and crisp pretty beer.

Smell: (4.0)
- When I had this on tap, the first thing I noticed was a wonderful hop punch to the face. Has a nice tea and cinnamon/clove aroma mixed in with an herbal earthy character. Hops add a nice pine and citrus flare along with a lightly sweet caramel and bready wheat grain. All melds together very well, and the hops are wonderful.

Taste: (4.0)
- Balance is the key word in this beers flavor. The spiced tea, bitter and not so-bitter hops, sweet malt, grain character, and more black tea all blend extremely well in this beer. In the beginning i thought the tea might be a bit too strong, but it all really does balance out. Zesty pine and citrus hops, malt that isn't too sweet, and cinnamon herbal clovy goodness.

Mouth Feel: (4.5)
- This beer is crisp, and is a light drinker for being 7% ABV. The bitterness in the finish dries the mouth and creates a nice chewy profile. It's not really sticky at all which is nice. Perfectly carbonated and drinkable.

Overall: (4.5)
- Has to be my favorite in the series, and it seems I keep saying that with each new Rotator Series release. This is well balanced folks, easy to drink, is their hoppiest yet I believe, and tastes great while packing a punch. Hardly any alcohol flavors at all. Get it when it hits the shelves in just a little over a month.

4.15/5 rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Monday, January 23

Elysian Brewing 2012 Maniac IPA Series


We Are Hopping into 2012 with an Exciting New Line-Up of IPAS!

So many IPAs, so little time...

Elysian Brewing Company is planning to make brewing life a little more challenging by kicking off its IPA Specialty Series in February of 2012 with Idiot Sauvin, an IPA both fiercely fruity and floral, made with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. The beer has appeared before only at Elysian's pubs, and will be issued in both 22 oz bottles and draft.

Then in June will come Prometheus, an aggressively aromatic blend of Northwest classic Chinook, Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo hops fondly familiar to Elysian regulars.

Rounding out the year will be Valhalla, a reddish fall-into-holiday IPA using Sorachi Ace and Citra hops, scheduled for release in October. Too many IPAs? Bah, humbug!

-Dick Cantwell


Release Schedule:

Idiot Sauvin :: FEB - APR
Prometheus :: MAY - AUG
Valhalla :: SEPT - DEC

Scottish Week at BBL House


Mo chairdean choir (my dear friends), it's Scottish Beer Week at the Barrel House, and as a toast to your good health, we'll be serving up a variety of Scottish beers all week long!

Join us for Mc Shagger Strong Scotch, a seasonal offering from the brewers designed to cut the chill and warm from within. Sweet malts with hints of chocolate and smoked peat greet you in the nose. Dark malts and hints of molasses and chocolate on the palate lead to a creamy finish with notes of peat and whiskey (7.9% ABV, $5 teardrop);

Lil' Bo Peat, a peated Scotch blonde that features light sweet malts and grains that greet you in the nose. Soft grasses and grains lend a creaminess to the palate that leads to a light, sweet crisp finish with notes of hop spice (5.6% ABV, $4.5 Imperial pint);

Black Sheep Stout, an easy drinking stout designed to shepherd you at any time on your beer journey, be that breakfast, lunch or supper. Sweet chocolate and roasted malts greet you in the nose. Smooth round notes of coffee and roasted barley on the palate lead to a creamy dark malt finish with a slight spiced hop bite that lingers like fog in the Highlands (5.8% ABV, $4.5 Imperial pint); and

Scottish IPA, an off-kilter seasonal from the brewers that's a showcase for Calypso, Citra and Sorachi Ace hops. Dark citrus, hop spice and caramel malts greet you in the nose. Light peppery notes and a slight hop burn on the palate lead to a lingering hop presence that leaves you wanting more, much like a bagpiper's last note (6.8 % ABV, $4.50 Imperial pint).

In keeping with the theme, tomorrow's Tap It Tuesday at 6 pm is Soured Mc Shagger, a Northwest style sour Scottish ale that was barrel aged for 12 months in French oak. Smoke, peat and caramel malts greet you in the nose. Rich dark caramel, dark breads, peat and a hint of smoke on the palate are followed by a sweet dark candy finish that ends with a crisp dryness that lends itself to another sip for further contemplation (8.9% ABV, $6.50 glass).

Chef Troy has created some delicious specials for this week to pair with our Scottish beers, including: Lamb Shepherd's Pie featuring braised lamb, celery, onion, carrot, mushroom, peas & corn in a rich red wine sauce and topped with creamy mashed potatoes ($5.5); Scottish Egg Deconstructed - breaded pork sausage topped with a barrel-brined hard boiled egg, whole grain mustard hollandaise & sweet roasted beet relish ($4.5); and Mixed Berry Irish Cream Trifle, a layered individual dessert with Irish cream-soaked pound cake, vanilla custard, tart mixed berry jelly & whipped cream ($4). Soup of the week is Chicken Leek. We'll also be offering white & dark chocolate nibs for $1.

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh (Great health and every good blessing to you)!

Cascade Brewing Barrel House
939 SE Belmont, Portland, OR

Beer Review: Bridgeport Brewing Dark Rain Black Pale Ale


(Portland, OR) – BridgePort Brewing Company, Oregon’s oldest craft brewery, will release its newest winter seasonal ale, Dark Rain, on Jan. 1. A perfect beer for cold winter and spring nights, the smooth roasted flavors of Bridgeport’s Dark Rain create the toasty-warm feeling of home.

The new brew is a black ale that features a generous amount of Crystal and Dark Wheat malts, creating its dense color. While you may expect an assault on the senses, this refreshing beer has a mild bitterness that starts with roasted, hoppy aromatic notes and finishes with the dry hop characteristics of Oregon’s largest hop variety, Nugget Hops. Dark Rain will be available in six-packs and 12-packs across the United States.

“Dark Rain is that link between darker, maltier beers and the highly-hopped pale ales that our fans might be more accustomed to,” explains Bridgeport’s brewmaster, Jeff Edgerton. “While using the bold flavors that come from very dark roasted malts is not new to Bridgeport, this is the first time that we have layered these flavors with five distinct hop varieties – all from the state of Oregon.”

BridgePort’s Dark Rain Ale Stats:
IBU’s: 60.0 ABV: 5.6% Color: Black OG: 14.4

Ingredients: Dark crystal malt, Dark Wheat Malt, Nugget, Chinook, Crystal, Centennial, and Cascade hops.

Description: Black Wheat and Dark Crystal Malt add dense color and mild smooth flavors to this intensely hopped Black Ale. This ale has a very drinkable, mid-level alcohol and bitterness that starts with roasted and hoppy aromatic notes and finishes with the dry hop character of the Nugget hop varietal. A Chinook, Crystal, Centennial and Cascade blend is used in our hopjack to provide full flavored background hoppiness.


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Just finally found a 6-pack locally of this on my way home here in Vancouver, WA. Perfect time to try it and review. $7.99 6-pack. Poured 1.5 12 oz. bottles into an imperial pint glass.

Appearance: (4.0)
- Pours a rather murky dark brown.. not quite black. Off-white foamy finger of head settles to a thin blanket on top and some bubbly lace about the glass. Overall a decent looking brew.

Smell: (3.5)
- Has a fruity signature Bridgeport hop aroma.. a little pineapple, citrus, pine perfume along a light and subtle grainy aroma. Overall this smells like a slightly darker version of their standard IPA. Nice crispy notes.

Taste: (3.0)
- Roasty light grain, a little bready and biscuity.. but overall light and not so sweet or chocolatey. If my eyes were shut, I might not know this was a CDA. Hop flavors are nice, and certainly the signature zesty herbal pine and light citrus hops. Much like their standard IPA, and not far enough into the CDA realm. Steel kettle-like flavors in the belch.. seems like that may be their yeast which I get in a ton of their beers now, where I never used to back in the day.

Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Overall this beer is well carbonated, and somewhat light bodied.. inching towards a nice medium body. Its a bit drying and cloying from the bitter hops, and leaves the mouth a bit parched as it should.

Overall: (3.5)
- The hop flavors are rather decent, and it's an easy drinker. But the malt just isn't there.. it is too much like their regular IPA. I would love a little more chocolate grainy malt along with all these hops. I hate to be overly critical, but I have been let down by the majority of their beers in the last 8 years or so. Don't know if I'd buy more of this one.

3.3/5 rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Saturday, January 21

My Visit To Widmer Brothers Dark Saison/Spiced IPA Release Event

Plaque upon entering the brewing facility

I was happy to receive an invitation to a media event at Widmer Brothers Brewing to sample, and discuss their latest two beer releases of the new year. W'12 Dark Saison, and the fourth upcoming Rotator Series IPA called Spiced IPA.

I haven't been blogging very long, and rarely do I get the chance to actually write about a pub, brewer, or beer adventure. I have put out a lot of emails to brewers introducing myself, and trying to get on media lists and mailers just so I can experience the latest and greatest in the industry, meet a whole lot of new friends who share the same passion, and share those experiences with a targeted audience of craft beer enthusiasts. Widmer Brothers was one of the first to quickly send me some goodies to write about, and invite me to this fantastic event which I will briefly discuss. Thank you, Widmer Brothers Brewing.

The event took place in their brewing facility right off Russel street across from their pub. They had some good appetizers that were actually really damn good. A lot of media/blogging people showed up, and it turned out to be a very fun event, and quite informative as well. Many greats in the beer industry/community showed up such as Fred Eckert, John Foyston, Rob Widmer, and many more.

We started with a glass of their famous, and probably oldest production beer, the Widmer Alt. I hate to say it, but it has been ages since I have had it, and it was very nice to come back to it. I forgot how much I really liked it. It especially reminded me how much I really liked its bitterness. Second, the new W'12 Dark Saison poured. From the tap, it was much the same as the bottle they sent me. I did comment to some on how the 6-pack in my fridge seemed to be a little different. The beer had been a difficult venture for the brewers, and the yeast was a little more difficult to manage from what they are used to commonly using, but I think they have it dialed in.

Brady Walen managing the tap
It was interesting listening to the creation process, and idea forming used to make these beers a production possibility. Hearing other idea-beers like a "smoked beer", and the sort, really peaked my curiosity. It was also great seeing Rob Widmer himself discussing the beers, and the market in which Widmer Brothers Brewing is trying to reach.

I started noticing a change from the 'norm' with Widmer beers when they released their very tasty Drifter Pale Ale. I kind of thought to myself: "It's about time they released something new and different." I know, kind of bad of me right? Not really. I think I shared the same opinion as many, and Widmer Brothers Brewing listened. After that, a whole slew of new brews started rolling out of the brewery including their entire Brothers Reserve Series. Also I am fondly remembering their 25th Anniversary Ale which was a double Alt (still one of my most favorite beer releases of theirs). Now many craft beer drinkers have made such releases like their Pitch Black IPA, Rotator IPAs, and KGB Russian Imperial Stout favorites.. where just a few years ago, those beers never existed. I really love how they have branched out, embraced the homebrewing community much more, and really let their brewers and production team off into the wild in a very clean and tidy facility full of wonderful brewing equipment (which is going to expand even more-so with some new larger fermentation/brewing vessels that run about $300K+ each).

Jeff Alworth of 'Beervana', Rob Widmer
We later got around to tasting the new upcoming Rotator Series IPA, Spiced IPA. Right after the pour, the aromas hit me with a surprise. Fruity zesty aroma hops hit me in the face. Plus I think the beer was about as fresh as it gets. Lots of hops were used, and the chai tea spices were a nice blend in this beer. I think this can easily be my favorite so far of the Rotator Series. I'm thinking some of the tea notes will settle a little once distributed all about the country to nearly all 50 states if not all 50. I also knew to myself that this beer had to be dry-hopped, so i popped the question, and it was confirmed. I also learned that this was the first production beer Widmer Brothers Brewing had every dry-hopped. That is just too cool. I think many will appreciate this beer, buy a lot of it, and look even more forward to what the Widmer team will be doing.

Snap from outside the brewery behind the glass
I for one, am thankful that Widmer uses AB (Anheuser-Busch) for distribution. I think it was a smart move and is really the whole reason these new great beers will be reaching so many locations and distributors in the country. Also you are almost guaranteed the beers will be fresh when purchased. It has allowed Widmer Brothers Brewing to expand even more, and become more creative in their beer releases. Thumbs up from me.

It was great seeing so many from the beer community, and I hope to continue being a part of the latest happenings in the northwest. Thanks again Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Cheers!

Watched and smelled the spent grain about to hit the road so some cattle farms

(Pardon the photo quality. I used my old brick of a cell phone as I didn't want to have my hands full of something other than good beer.)

Widmer Brothers Unveil 4th IPA In Rotator Series: Spiced IPA

Brewed in collaboration with San Diego Homebrew Club

Portland, OR - Jan. 19th, 2012 - Widmer Brothers Brewing introduces the next release in its Rotator IPA Series and the brewery's first nationally-released collaboration brew, Spiced IPA. Originating from a recipe created by Paul Sangster and developed with Chris Stawney of San Diego's Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF), and award-winning San Diego Homebrew Club, Spiced IPA offers an intriguing twist on the West Coast's favorite beer style. Blending familiar flavors with unexpected ingredients, this hop-forward yet balanced IPA carries notes of black tea and spices that come together, much like the brewers behind it, to create one amazing brew. Spiced IPA is a nationwide release available in limited quantities on draught, six-packs, and 12-packs at selected retailers.

"From the very first sip, we were impressed by Spiced IPA," said Joe Casey, Widmer Brothers brewmaster. "In many ways, Paul Sangster's recipe embodies what Widmer Brothers beers are all about: unique interpretations of classic beer styles. This was a fantastic project to be a part of, and we look forward to continuing to brew more collaboration beers with homebrewers in the future."

Spiced IPA is the fourth beer of the Rotator IPA Series which features a new, limited-run IPA every few months. "The idea for this beer came from trying to integrate the interesting variety of spice flavors of chai tea with the fruity flavors of a West Coast style IPA," said Sangster. "As Chris and I tested the recipe, we focused on trying to achieve a good balance between the citrusy and pine-like hop aromas and flavors we love in American IPAs with the herbal and spicy tea notes to give a more complex and full palate flavor sensation. We are really pleased with the way it turned out and are thrilled to be brewing it with Widmer Brothers."

"We started homebrewing in the early 80's, and have been part of the local homebrew community in Portland ever since. Throughout the years, we've released several collaboration beers locally through our partnership with the Oregon Brew Crew and are excited to release this collaboration beer with QUAFF," said Rob Widmer, co-founder of Widmer Brothers Brewing. "Spiced IPA is a great example of the innovative recipes that homebrewers are out there brewing today. We really enjoyed brewing this beer and hope others will like it, too."

About Spiced IPA
In a spirit of collaboration, Widmer Brothers Brewing teamed up with QUAFF to brew Spiced IPA, a beer that offers an intriguing twist on the West Coast's favorite style. The spices used in this beer include Malty Assam Black Tea, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Star Anise, Black Pepper, and Cardamom.

Ingredients
Malts: 2-row Pale, White Wheat, caramel 40, Carapils
Hops: Alchemy, Millenium, Falconer, Zeus, Galaxy, and Teamaker (Dry-hopped twice)

Profile
Original Gravity: 16
Apparent Extract: 2.5
IBU: 70
ABV: 7%
Color: 10

About QUAFF
Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF) is a group of men and women dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of homebrewing and beer evaluation in the greater San Diego area. For more information, visit www.quaff.org.

Sunday, January 15

Beer Review: The Alchemist/Ninkasi/Stone More Brown Than Black IPA


Picked up a 12 oz. bottle of this at a local shop to try. Bare with me, I have a cold, and will do my best to pull out all the wonderful traits a good CDA may posses.

Appearance: (3.5)
- Pours a murky and chunky yeast dark brown, and has a thin half finger of khaki colored head that settles quickly to a frothy bubbly mess which leaves a bit of lacing in the glass. Yeast sediment sticking to the walls of the glass.

Smell: (4.0)
- First punch to the face, and beyond my stuffed sinuses.. a huge citrus fruity hop aroma. Talk about pineapple hops.. big sweet pineapple hops. Light roasted black malts, sweet caramel, and just more huge citrus hops. Little roasted coffee and bitter chocolate attempt to balance the aromas, but fails next to the hop madness.

Taste: (4.0)
- Nice surprise. Fruity fruity hops, pineapple, some grape, esters, and a little fig and prune all wrapped up in a light malty caramel pancake. Light roasted malts, sweet grain and molasses.. little bitter earthiness, grass, and more fruit. Interesting, and kinda tasty!

Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Rather light to medium bodied. A little dry, and a touch chewy. Cloying for sure and leaves a thing layer of dry between my tongue, and the saliva my mouth is trying to provide. Well carbonated with what seems to be a basic ale yeast.

Overall: (3.5)
- This is a rare treat. Very unique, and certainly puts emphasis on aroma hops. Big fruit, dry-hopping madness. I am a little let down by the lack of more robust and sweeter malts though. It just has a touch of the roast and coffee, but not enough for me. Hence the name I am guessing.. it's much like blending a light fruity session IPA with a robust porter. But good.

3.83/5 rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)

Friday, January 13

Late Jan. & Feb. Happenings At Migration Brewing

"January 25th 8PM: Migration is celebrating the release of their Black Hearted Ale at the Goodfoot Lounge in SE Portland.  The show is FREE and there will be $3.00 pints of the Black Hearted along with three amazing bands, (Whistle Pig, Worlds Finest, and Hopping Jenny).  Our Black Hearted Ale is a "Black IPA, dark as night with a medium body and a bready malt profile brought on by German Vienna malt. Huge additions of Meridians and Centennials give the Black Hearted a caramelized tropical fruit and a spicy citrus aroma and flavor."  7% ABV 64IBU

February 15th 7PM: Celebrate the 1st installment of Migration's 2-year anniversary at the Horse Brass Pub.  Join Migration as the Horse Brass celebrates their anniversary with limited release beers pouring on nitro, cask, and draught.  This is your chance at a sneak peak of the new beers Migration will be releasing on Feb. 18th at 2828 NE Glisan.
 
February 18th 12PM: 2 Years Young…Migration will be hosting live bands throughout the day, will have a limited run of 22oz. bottles. Also released for the anniversary will be the 2-year anniversary Double IPA (95IBU's 9%ABV). As well as their Coffee IPA, which holds the color of an IPA yet the caffeine of an 1/8 a cup of cold press coffee. So don’t forget to hop on the Zwicklemania bus and stop by to help celebrate 2 years young.

February 25th 8PM: Beer Pong Tournament consisting of 2-person team, $20 buy in per team and the winner takes all.  Throughout the tournament Migration will be giving away plenty of swag throughout the match.

Migration’s new weekly Specials:
Monday‘s: Every Monday $3.00 Pints all day 11am-12am
Tuesday’s: BINGO $2 per card winner takes all, games @ 7 and 8PM
Thursday’s: Boulder at either of “The Circuit’s” gyms and enjoy HH beer and food and climbing movies all night.
Sunday’s: We are offering $8.00 growler fills all day on Sunday’s, as well as Whistlepig string band will now be playing every Sunday from 7 to 9.
"

The Goodfoot Lounge
2845 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97214

The Horse Brass
4534 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215

Migration Brew Co.
2828 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97232

Tuesday, January 10

Meet The Brewer: Hopworks Brewing's Christian Ettinger At The Green Dragon


Green Dragon Bistro & Brew Pub
928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Thursday, Jan. 12th, 5:00 PM

Beer Review: Widmer Bros. W'12 Dark Saison Brewmaster Reserve Series


This 12 oz. bottle was graciously provided to me by the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. I am grateful for the gift, and will review it as I review any other beer below.

I will have to state, that I think this style is a bold, and positive move for the Widmer Brothers to take. Farmhouse Ales, Saison, and sour interpretations of the style are among my most favored. Style, and price never affect my judging of a beer. It's all about the beer. I waited all day looking forward to this beer.

Appearance: (3.5)
- This beer pours a nice dark sun-tea brown with a quickly dissipating finger of fizzy off-white to greyish head. A small ring of lace and island of thin foam rest behind. Overall solid, it isn't a big frothy Saison that I am used to.

Smell: (4.0)
- Nice esters in the nose. Plumb and fig along with some zesty clove and herbal spices. Light sweat bready grains and a zesty lemon-like presence. This puppy smells good. Perhaps a dash of molasses sweetness and earthy aromas.

Taste: (4.0)
- I like the balance in this light and smooth tasting Saison. The bready semi-sweet grain melds well with the zesty esters and spices. The balance is spot on in this brew while remaining rather light. It does however leave me wondering a bit what a slightly stronger version of this would be like. It does have a slight earthy and grassy aftertaste which contributes to some of the feel. This beer is good.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Overall this is a light bodied to slightly medium bodied brew. It's sessionable, and is just a touch chewy and cloying. It has a nice drying effect which causes me to not put my glass down. Overall well carbonated and quite nice.

Overall: (4.0)
- Certainly no let down here. The beer is just very balanced, and is a smooth tasty drinker. It actually tastes very good, and doesn't have some of the random off flavors that many of this style have. The smell and taste is where this beer shines, which I feel is the most important. I think this will be a great intro beer for new and future craft beer enthusiasts.

3.98/5 rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale

Monday, January 9

Widmer Bros. Unveils The Latest 'Brewmaster W'' Series: W'12 Dark Saison


Portland, Ore. - Jan. 6, 2011 - Widmer Brothers Brewing introduces the latest beer in the Brewmasters' W' Series: W'12 Dark Saison. Inspired by the classic French farmhouse ale, this interpretation of the Saison style gets its dark color and deep ruby hue from a hint of caramel and dark chocolate malts. While the beer is darker than many traditional examples of the style, the citrus spice of Saaz hops provides a perfect balance of complex fruity esters with earthy and spicy notes. Widmer Brothers Dark Saison finishes slightly tart with a drying, clean, and pepper-like finish.

"We're exited to release Dark Saison," said Ben Dobler, a Widmer Brothers brewer. "Often thought to be an endangered style, saisons are in the midst of a resurgence and we're happy to share this smooth, malty interpretation. It's the perfect beer to commence a meal or for those who simply prefer a smoother beer without lingering bitterness."

About W'12 Dark Saison:

Ingredients
Malts: 2-Row Pale, White Wheat, Caramel 120L, Vienna, Dark Chocolate
Hops: Alchemy for bittering, and Saaz for aroma

Profile
Original Gravity: 11.75 P
Apparent Extract: 1.5 P
IBU: 25
ABV: 5.5%
Color: 20 SRM

Dark Saison has a suggested retail price of $8.99 a 6-pack, and $14.99 a 12-pack.

About the Brewmasters' Series
The Brewmasters' W' Series from Widmer Brothers Brewing is an exciting take on the popular tradition of seasonal beer offerings. Every spring since 2005, Widmer Brothers' brewers have been asked to select one special recipe to be released as part of this series. Anything goes; from traditional beer styles to experimental. The Brewmasters' W' Series has produced several exceptional beers, including: Drifter Pale Ale, Brrr Seasonal Ale, and Pitch Black IPA, which have each gone on to be a part of the brewery's regular lineup.

Previous W' Series beers include W'05: IPA, W'06: NW Red Ale, W'07: Pale Ale with Summit Hops, W'08: Crimson Wheat, W'09: Belgian Style Golden Ale, W'10: Pitch Black IPA (a gold medal finalist at the Great American Beer Festival), and W'11 KGB Russian Imperial Stout.


I got a bottle of this, and plan on drinking it and reviewing it very soon. I really look forward to this, as I do every year for the next Widmer Brothers Brewing W' release. Cheers!

Hazel Dell Brewpub: Obituary

I received this news only yesterday that Hazel Dell Brewing closed their doors December 31st, 2011.

I have to admit, I haven't been out there for ages, and I never really did care for the beer there. But I also never did give them another chance later on to see if it had improved. Must have been 10 years ago that I went there.

Here is a write-up from a local blog 'galensaid':

"The beloved Hazel Dell Brewpub was forced to close its doors on December 31st, 2011, after 18 years of serving fine craft beer to Vancouver, Wash. locals and travelers. On a cool, dry December morning, a favorite watering hole and restaurant was evacuated of anything resembling a family business as trucks and vans hauled away remnants of the operation. With little notice, Phil Stein, his sister and co-owner Theresa, a handful of employees and a few regular patrons helped move equipment and supplies out of the building. Theresa and employees, all teary-eyed, hustled to move office items and equipment out of the restaurant as Phil worked to clear the brew house. Everyone was flustered.

According to Phil Stein, the brew master and co-owner of Hazel Dell Brewpub, lease negotiations ran cold following the death of Phil’s uncle, who was also the property owner of the brewpub. The new property owner, Phil’s cousin, running a cash-strapped real estate investment firm handed down to him, is facing an unrelated lawsuit and aims to sell the property and building that formerly housed the Hazel Dell Brewpub. Therefore, Phil Stein and his sister, who co-owned and operated Hazel Dell Brewpub, were unable to renew their lease. Family tensions seemed to play a large part in shutting down this Hazel Dell gem.

Phil Stein and his sister, Theresa, started the Hazel Dell Brewpub in 1993. The brew operation was the first microbrewery in Clark County and the first brew operation since Lucky Brewing closed its plant in downtown Vancouver. The restaurant and pub had a 217 barrel brewing system, a wide variety of locally made beer, and operated seven days a week with about 20 employees.

Phil hopes to open another brewpub and restaurant with his sister, Theresa, but they are unsure of what the future brings.

Updates and corrections to this story are forthcoming."



A co-worker/friend of mine is talking about trying to get the space. We'll see if that happens, and I will keep you all updated. Sad news indeed for many locals here. Also 217 Barrel system? Really?

This Month At Breakside: Seven New Beers & A Brewer’s Dinner


"Known for its creative, high quality beers and constant rotation of taps, Breakside Brewery (820 NE Dekum) is starting off 2012 true to form with seven new beers on tap this month. In 2011, Breakside released 92 different beers, and with this fast start in 2012 the brewing team of Sam Barber and Ben Edmunds look to match or exceed that number this year.

Currently on tap are Cedarbaumbier, an amber wheat ale made with Western red cedar and fresh ginger, and a Neo-Cream Ale, an American blonde ale fermented at lager temperatures with a touch of fresh fennel. Both these sessionable beers come in at under 5.5% ABV, and the response at the pub so far has been extremely positive, with both selling quickly. Later this week, the brewery will tap the sixth in its series of “chef collaboration” beers, a Chestnut Honey Bock brewed with Cathy Whims and Doug Derrick of Nostrana. The beer used over 50 pounds of Oregon chestnuts that were roasted in the wood-fired oven at Nostrana, as well as a portion of “kitchen malt”—barley donated by Eat Oregon First’s Scot Laney that was malted in the Nostrana kitchen and kilned in the same oven. This month will also see the debut of the brewery’s Munich-style Helles and the return of Breakside’s popular Brown Porter.

Two brews with interesting connections to the Portland brewing community round out this month’s offerings. Hoppy Hoppy Nanobeer is a double IPA brewed with Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing. While Gigantic prepares to open its doors, Love and partner Van Havig have been making collaboration beers with other Oregon breweries. This super hoppy brew will be available at Breakside and at Gigantic’s tasting room when they open. Finally, Alanbier is a strong ale made in homage to visionary brewmaster Alan Sprints of Hair of the Dog, whose beers helped establish Portland’s reputation as a world beer destination. Alanbier is a 9% ABV dark strong ale brewed in the Old World “Adambier” style. This beer traditionally uses some portion of smoked malt, but in a cross-cultural twist, Edmunds chose to achieve the brew’s smoky flavor through the use of lapsang souchong tea.

The Breakside team is also excited to announce that , on January 20th, the brewery will have its first Brewer’s Dinner at Aquariva Restaurant (470 SW Hamilton Court). The dinner includes four courses with beer pairings, one of which features Aquariva’s Italian Amber, a beer that the restaurant’s culinary team designed as part of the previously mentioned Chef Collaboration Series. The menu and tickets are available online here or by calling the restaurant directly at (503)802-5850. Barber and Edmunds, as well as owner Scott Lawrence, will be on hand for the event to discuss the beers and enjoy Aquariva’s excellent Italian cuisine."

Breakside Brewing
820 NE Dekum St.
Portland, OR 97211

Friday, January 6

Beer Review: Ninkasi 2010 Reserve Critical Hit Barleywine


"Available in 22oz. Bottle and Draft, Special Release


Statistics:
First Brewed: 2009
Starting Gravity: 1092
Bitterness: 100++ IBUs
Alcohol %: 11.7
Malt: 2-row, Biscuit, Crystal 120, Flaked Barley, Roasted Barley, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Millenium, Northern Brewer, Cascade, Perle, Palisade, Santiam, Centennial, Liberty, Glacier, Tettnang, Saaz


On the bottle:
In the Ninkasi tradition, this Barley Wine is hopped to high heaven. Critical Hit has a rich malty expression but the 11 varieties of hops linger on the palate. Two-hundred and twenty pounds of hops were used to make only 17 barrels of beer! Its high gravity nature warms the cheeks and soul. Pull out your 20-sided die — Critical Hit does double damage so you might have to roll versus save if you take this ale for granted.


Tasting Notes:
Massive citrus, earthy, resinous and grassy hop flavor is balanced with the melanoidin complexity of port and sherry notes to create a powerful and warming taste experience.


Food Pairings:
stinky cheese, rye breads, hearty meats and stews, curries, bread pudding"

Just snagged up this 22 oz. wax dipped bomber at NW Liquid Gold for about $13.99. Have another to age. Let's taste shall we? Reviewing bottle 3920 of 5000.

Appearance: (3.5)
- A rather clear amber colored pour. About a finger of off-white foamy head which has settled to a big bubbly spotty mess in the glass. Not bad looking at all, but not what I really expected. I am used to more cloudy, darker barleywines.

Smell: (3.5)
- Sweet caramel grain notes which seems to be rather tucked away in the brew. Certainly some strong alcohol and rubbing alcohol aromas. There is a nice fruity and citrus-like hop presence as well. Seems hot and fresh.

Taste: (3.5)
- Sweet malts, bready caramel and quite biscuity. Bitter grassy hops with an earthy flare. The alcohol presence is quite noticeable and hot.. but the flavor isn't quite rubbing alcohol.. though close. It does have a character of its own which is hard to describe. Overall hot, and needs to sit.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Nice medium to full body and is a little creamy and well carbonated. It's explosive bitterness really dries the tongue, but the sweetness lends a lasting chewy character. Overall quite a decent feel to it.

Overall: (3.5)
- Not bad.. and in usual Ninkasi tradition, this puppy is bitter! Lots of early boil hops going on here. It's a bit strong, and could certainly use some time in a cold cellar. Though I don't feel this barleywine would get any better, it just may calm down the alcohol notes a bit. Certainly a good attempt though.

3.55/5 rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5
BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale

Monday, January 2

My Personal Top 11 Reviewed Beers of 2011

I figured I would go through and post the beers I felt were the best that I had tried in 2011. Many may have tried others I haven't, but like I said, this represents what I have tried and reviewed.

(1) - Port Brewing 5th Anniversary Imperial IPA.

I love this brewer, and I still feel to this day that they brew the best IPA's across the universe. I haven't tried anything out of Mars or Venus.. but they have it down! They make the cake when it comes to true west coast IPA's.

4.6/5 rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(2) - American Brewing Caboose Oatmeal Stout.

This guy used to brew for Pike and others, and really hit the market with a bang. This Oatmeal Stout is amazing and is bottled. It can be found locally around the Northwest.

4.58/5 rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(3) - Sierra Nevada 2011 Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale.

I felt the 2011 version whooped on the others, and I wish I had bought more. Fresh, this beer was amazing.

4.45/5 rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(4) - Midnight Sun Brewing Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA.

As a fluke, I just grabbed this at a local shop to try. Found it to be one of the best double CDA's I have ever had. It's tough competition for Boneyard's Armored Fist.

4.43/5 rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(5) - Walking Man Brewing Walking Stick Oatmeal Stout.

Never had the beer before and recently filled some growlers with it for dirt cheap here in Vancouver at Northwest Liquid Gold. Found it to be one of the best, if not the best, oatmeal stouts I have ever had.

4.43/5 rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(6) - Block 15 Brewing Ferme De La' Ville Provision

What a fantastic sour farmhouse brew... this brewer is fairly new on the scene, and is already popping out the best beers on the scene. Their barrel aging program, and attention to detail is unbelievable. Get their stuff if you can.

4.4/5 rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(7) - Alameda Brewing Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA.

This is a rather local brewpub for me, and they have recently expanded production elsewhere in the city of Portland. I found this to be one of the most underrated imperial IPA's to date. It is a solid drinker, and the price was amazing for a bomber. I still see it in shops, so that means they must still brew it ;)

4.4/5 rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(8) - Boundary Bay Brewing IPA

Had this on tap at By The Bottle here in Vancouver, WA, and found this to be one of the best IPA's I have had recently. So very balanced and drinkable, and I even used it to make some killer beer-battered sea bass. Their beers are solid!

4.38/5 rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(9) - Schmaltz Brewing Co. (He'Brew) Genesis 15:15.

A superb dark and tasty strong brew which I enjoyed thoroughly. Nice that a beer made my top 11 of 2011 from somewhere other than locally.

4.38/5 rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(10) - Breakside Brewing Gin-Barrel Double Wit.

I still can't hype this beer enough. I expressed this to the brewer Ben Edmonds as well. Such a good representation of the style, and the unique steps taken, and risks.. paid off well. This is a beer to remember.

4.33/5 rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(11) - Oakshire Hellshire I Release Bourbon Barrel Barleywine.

I love this style, and this was certainly the best one I had of 2011. I never did get to finding Midnight Suns Arctic Devil because of a lack of production. This was good, and I still have one bottle left thankfully. Like cream soda barleywine goodness.

4.33/5 rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Well there you have it. I liked being able to use my reviews at BeerAdvocate.com (User: Docer) to trim this down for me. It's interesting to reflect and see how my live reviews have played out. Of course there are many others that are favorites, but these are the ones that stood out the most for me.

Cheers to a 2012 full of many more great craft beers!

Beer Review: 21st Amendement Back In Black Black IPA


I have had this on tap a few times at my local By The Bottle here, and it is probably my more favored beer from this brewer. I grabbed a 6-pack from Whole Foods, and have no idea how old it is. I am trusting a cans longevity. Not a big AC/DC fan either (though I really dig hard rock), i do however like the song, and it reminds me of an old cassette single I had of it w/ that Arnold movie soundtrack hit as well.

Appearance: (3.5)
- Nice rather dark brown/black brew.. certainly some yeast sediment floating around visibly in it. Off-white foamy head down to a spotty ring and thin blanket on top.

Smell: (3.5)
- Light roasty sweet grainy brew. Little coffee, but more bitter husky grainy notes. Light bitter grassy and herbal hops. Enough sweetness to really balance things out.

Taste: (3.5)
- Kinda close to a sweet stout really.. but has a little more hop kick. Sweet grainy dark malts, light roasted coffee, some cocoa, and earthy bitter hops. Little zingy grain touch. Not bad.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Overall a medium bodied creamy smooth Black IPA. Little dry, just a touch chewy, and a tad chalky. It's a solid feel.

Overall: (3.5)
- A good dark brew.. but doesn't flirt with the IPA style enough for me. It could almost pass as an American sweet stout. Certainly smooth and balanced, and reassures my opinion of this being my favored beer from the brewer. Worth having a few cans kicking around.

3.55/5 rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5
BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale


Beer Review: Lompoc Bourbon Barrel Aged C-Sons Greetings


"Bourbon Barrel Aged C-Sons Greetings
Brewed in February 2011, aged in Heaven’s Hills Bourbon barrels for seven months and cellared for an additional month. It has a deep copper color, strong oak aroma with caramel and resinous hop notes. 8.0% ABV"


Had this at a preview tasting before the release of many holiday beers. I think Lompoc released the most brews, and most diverse in styles this last year. This is a 22oz. bottle I am reviewing. Since I went to Whole Foods to get it, I paid a bit too much for it at $11.99.

Appearance: (4.0)
- Barely cloudy amber brew.. with a little molasses coloring. Quickly fizzing off-white head leaves a big spotty ring and bubbly spotty island floating in the center.

Smell: (3.5)
- Fruity hoppy aroma with sweet bready grains, and light earthy woody vanilla notes. Light sticky smelling brown sugar, and a slightly tart malt flare. Overall not too bad.

Taste: (4.0)
- Smooth vanilla woody biscuity grain with some lovely charred caramel and roasty character. Bitter grassy hops and a floral/citrus finish. This puppy tastes really good. The flavor is one of the reasons I liked this one near the best out of all their winter offerings. Like cream soda.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Dry, chewy, medium bodied, and a little sticky. Overall expected, and not a bad feel at all. Leaves the mouth dry, and wanting more.

Overall: (4.0)
- Love this beers flavor. I think I liked it better more fresh and on tap.. but the taste is still wonderful from this bottle. Like cream soda brew. Certainly a must try.. though not one to age. Get 'em while you can.

3.9/5 rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale