Scenes from Holiday Ale Fest '13
2 minutes ago
I hope customers are so mesmerized by the shiny blue cans that they ignore the prominent word "lager" and don't read blogs like this. Because, if they manage to get the beer into their glass, they're in for a treat. Despite people's expectations about canned lager, this is quite a lively and assertive beer. I'm not sure what the hops are, but noble sounds about right--or maybe Sterlings or a mixture of nobles and bastard American varieties like Mt. Hood. In any case, it's zesty and spicy, but buoyed by a lovely, summery sweetness. As is de rigueur for an Oregon beer (nod to Stan Hieronymus), it is as cloudy as November Portland skies. And, although it is packed with flavor, the volume doesn't blast at IPA levels, so it has that moreishness you want from a summer tipple.Many cans and pints later, I'd add a few more notes. It's not a subtle beer. The hops (which were at the time confirmed to be Saaz and Centennial) are American-strong. It's certainly not balanced in the manner lager fans will expect. There's a decidedly sulfury nose that combines with the hops in a way that does not delight one and all (a friend of mine recoiled and said "woo, skunky"). Even in the lead-up to this post, a number of people called it their fave while commenter Shawn wrote "I heard the hype, bought one, took a few sips and had to give the rest away. Yuk. I like some lagers (Heater Allen, especially), but the 1811 was undrinkable." As all those fans of Logsdon's saison will no doubt agree, assertive beers divide people.
Bend Brewing Ching Ching
Jon Abernathy says it's good, says I said it was good, and that's good enough for me. Sadly, my one experience with the beer came at the Beer Bloggers Conference at the end of a long day of sampling, and my memory is foggy. A pomegranate-hibiscus beer that took bronze in this year's GABF.
Bridgeport released a whole raft of new beers this year after the departure of founding brewer Karl Ockert. Kingpin seems to be the consensus fave.
Burnside Brewing Sweet Heat
Burnisde made a great debut this year, joining Portland's growing group of eclectic new breweries (I'm looking at you, Ben and Alex). In an inversion of norms, I found Jason McAdam's offbeat beers--the harder ones to brew--to be the special ones. The pale and IPA I could leave. The Gratzer, Berliner Weisses, and my fave, Sweet Heat, were fantastic.
Boneyard Hop Venom
Boneyard has made some serious noise this year, and I regret I haven't tracked down a pint yet. Although they have fans of many of their different beers, Hop Venom, a double IPA, seems to be the fave of faves.
Coalition Wheat the People
This isn't going to win--I know that. It's a small, elegant little wheat ale, not a booming hop monster, aged sour, or funky experimental beer. But it is a fantastic beer and it deserves to be on the list.
Putting this beer on the list is a bit of advocacy on my part. It grew out of the collaboration experiment with Boulevard that produced a white IPA. This is more a white pale, and it was the better of the two versions. It shouldn't work, but it did, and I loved the way the spices and hops worked together. Maybe Deschutes will bring it back.
Fort George 1811 Lager
This is a bit like Wheat the People--probably too ordinary a beer to be crowned king. Yet in a state blessed with far too few lagers, 1811 was a joy. I drank a lot of it over the summer and admired how it stayed true to the roots of the style while also gave a strong nod to hoppy, ale-loving Oregonians.
GoodLife Descender IPA
Another beer I haven't tried, but which seems to be getting some fine notices. Has a dab of Galaxy hops, which are the current rage.
Logsdon Seizoen Bretta
A truly rustic beer made in a true farmhouse, Wyeast founder Dave Logsdon's brett-aged saison is the odds-on fave to win the Satori this year. The only handicap? I wasn't a huge fan. The brett (a strain from Dave's private store) is quite aggressive, bordering on violent. Turns out brett is hard to use in saisons--Boulevard's absolutely exquisite Tank 7 (possibly America's best saison) sees all its rustic malt and yeast character crushed under the brett influence. Nick Arzner manages it in Block 15's saison--he knows how to keep the brett from overwhelming the beer. Seizoen Bretta? I'm not there yet. But I'm willing to be convinced--after all, it is my favorite style of beer. (Today.)
Laurelwood Organic Pale Ale
As with all things Laurelwood, this beer attracted very little attention. But as a parting gift to the brewery, Chad Kennedy couldn't have done better. It is the best pale I've had in the last five years, easy. Vivid hopping, but amazing balance.
A beer where I seem to be out of synch with the beer geek crowd. I found it smoky and lush, others found it sweet and insipid. Of course, I'm right.
Occidental ... err, Cloudy Summer?
I haven't had any beer from this brewery either. But come on--St Johns, German styles? It's got to be good, right? Cloudy Summer, a kolsch, may be their best, if the internet doesn't lie. And I've certainly never found it to.
In Zen Buddhism, satori is the moment of sudden enlightenment when the mind realizes its own true nature. The Satori Award, now in its fourth year, honors the beer that in a single instant allows the drinker to realize brewing magnificence. It is that moment when the sheer force of tastiness produces a flash of insight into the nature of beer. I award it for the beer released in the previous year (roughly) by an Oregon brewery (roughly) for a regular or seasonal beer. The inaugural winner was Ninkasi Believer followed by Full Sail Lupulin (2007), Cascade Apricot Ale (2008), and Upright Four (2009) and Prodigal Son Bruce/Lee Porter (2010).I could use your help this year. Due to a book project, I've been devoting a lot more of my palate-space to beers brewed outside Oregon. I have no doubt that I've missed some of the best releases this year (for example, I haven't tried anything from Occidental, Good Life, or any of several other tiny start-ups from 2011). I've had precious little beer from a few well-regarded newbies like Flat Tail and Boneyard. So, in designating this year's Satori, I'm going to have to rely heavily on the hive mind, possibly even substituting a people's choice for my own if it appears clear there's some movement toward beers I haven't tried (and can't easily get my hands on).
House Bill 5034 (2011)Well done!
Liquor; retail sales; selling glass of beer as a pint if it contains less than 16 ounces of beer; prohibit. Amends 1998 PA 58 (MCL 436.1101 - 436.2303) by adding sec. 1006.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates all sales of distilled spirits in the state, is proposing two significant rule changes. One would allow far more liquor stores to become "non-exclusive," meaning they would be allowed to expand into beer and wine sales.The OLCC is running scared because last
The other, which could have even broader consequences, would allow corporations to become liquor agents. The idea is to make it easier for big grocery chains, such as Safeway or Fred Meyer, to open "store within a store" liquor outlets. Buy the cantaloupe in the produce section, then head over to a separate area for the vodka or gin to make fruity martinis.
The singer’s rider also reveals a fondness for certain beers. It states that she requires: “12x selection of bottles of best quality European lager beer. ie Beck’s, Stella Artois, Peroni etc. North American beer is NOT acceptable.”The singer in question is Adele, the latest soul-inspired English singer to roar to massive stardom. She's all of 23, so this seems about par for the course. And maybe this accounts for something, too:
She [also] asks for two bottles of posh red plonk and a packet of Marlboro Light fags and a lighter.Someone ought to sneak an American IPA in with the Peronis and see what happens.