roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz

30 Nov 2011 - 5:56:01 PM
Block 15

During my stay in Corvallis, I re-visited the burgeoning Block 15 beer empire. In addition to their brewpub, they have now opened a European-style gastropub next door called Les Caves. It is European-style presumably because they serve a whole lot of bottled European beers, in addition to two Les Caves-only Block 15 beers. And the food's much fancier than in the brewpub.

Other times I've re-visited breweries I've gone back to the original post and added in the new info. Block 15, however, was in my first beer post along with six other breweries, and so I decided it warranted a post of its own, especially after tasting eleven more of their beers. Yikes! Good thing it was spread out over two days. I've included the original beer notes -- see if you can figure out which ones are which!

    Rob's Picks
  • Caves IPA - 6% - Good floral aroma. Very strong hoppiness -- nice floral/citrus blend. Full malty base with slight caramel flavor. Big, strong IPA.
  • Caves Saison - 5.5% - Has that banana aroma and flavor, but the flavor was well-balanced by maltiness and strong hoppiness. Quite smooth, too. Kappy didn't taste the banana, so maybe it'll come off as clove if that's your thing.
  • Strawberry Fields - 7% - Sour kick to strawberry flavor. Interesting, especially the aroma: sour creaminess, kind of cheese-like.
  • Imagine - 15% - "Bourbon barrel Belgian Imperial Stout" -- Holy cow! Strong bourbon aroma. Bourbon stout explosion to a chocolate finish. Thick and strong. A huge beer! Wow. They only sell this every other year, apparently -- I wish I'd bought a bottle or six...
  • Bent Shovel - 10% - Alcohol aroma. Great caramel/alcohol balance. Bitter finish.
  • Hemp Nut Brown - 5% - Fun tangy flavor to the nut brown. Interesting bitter aftertaste, slightly floral. Not light, not heavy, but elements of both. Second hemp beer I've seen, and I've liked both. Hmm...
  • Alpha IPA - hoppy and crisp, kinda citrusy. Yum!
  • Print Master's Pale Ale - quite nice, very drinkable
  • Aboriginale - Big! Like this better than Print Master's, actually. 7.1%!
    The Rest
  • Glo, Golden Lager - 5% - Fairly bubbly. Bready start balances the lightness. Lemony finish.
  • Apricot Ale - Apricot aroma. Strong tangy apricot flavor that lingers.
  • Ridgeback Red - 6.3% - Floral aroma and flavor. Strong hoppiness. Okay.
  • Super Fly Rye - 7.5% - Floral aroma. Pretty hoppy, but in the same floral way. Some maltiness, but not too much. Lingering bitterness.
  • Dunkel Weissbier - 5.5% - Alcohol aroma. Interesting alcohol/hop/malt balance, but a little watery.
  • Chocolate Porter - very chocolatey, maybe too much so. Slight licorice edge to aroma and flavor. Finishes with root beer flavor. Kappy sez, "Tastes like Chocolate Red Vines."
  • Nebula Oatmeal Stout - kinda weak, but at 6.8% it won't take much to do the trick

Block 15
Block 15 sampler blocks -- Corvallis, OR

And now we'll return to our regularly scheduled Washington posts. Let's have a big hand for our special guest, Oregon!

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21 Nov 2011 - 2:47:49 PM
Flat Tail Brewing

Corvallis is a college town, and the otherwise unfortunately named Flat Tail Brewery is all about the OSU Beavers. But now Corvallis has three breweries, which is not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. Kappy and I showed up for lunch and ordered the beaver tail-esque taster paddle to accompany it. I was a little surprised that several of the beers were made with fancy spices and whatnot, like coriander and rosehips, and two were made using open fermentation, and so I got my hopes up for some interesting brews.

    Rob's Picks
  • IPA - 6.8% - Citrusy aroma. Big hoppiness -- mostly citrus flavored, but some floral, too. Decent balance -- not the best IPA, but good.
  • Dusseldorf Alt - 4.5% - Really nice. I wish this had been their Pale Ale. Great maltiness and nicely balanced. Very drinkable. Unfortunately, the line "I was born in Dusseldorf, and that is why they call me Rolph" kept going through my head as I drank this.
  • Porter - 6.8% - Decent balance of dryness, hoppiness, and chocolate and alcohol flavors. Good lingering flavor.
  • De La Rose - 7.5% - Floral aroma. Nice balance of floral and other flavors. This is the one with the coriander and other spices. Complex but drinkable. I like it.
  • Six - 6.5% - Like a lighter, hoppier tripel. Good sweet caramel flavor balanced by hoppiness rather than alcohol flavor. Nice!
  • KSA - 3% - Kind of like sour cherry cider. Very sour, very strong cherry flavor, almost no maltiness or hoppiness. Pretty fun, actually. Made with cacao nibs, as well, but you really have to concentrate to notice it.
    The Rest
  • Kolsch - 5% - Light and bubbly. Somewhat lemony start to strong bready finish. But kind of dull.
  • Pale - 5.5% - Fairly light. Subtle floral hops, decent malty base. Drinkable, but nothing too interesting.
  • White Tail Wheat - 4.5% - Fairly crisp for an unfiltered beer. Nothing interesting going on with the flavors, though. Drinkable, but meh.
  • Saison de la Tail - 10% - Very light on the tongue. Strong floral hoppiness, subtle caramel sweetness. Can't believe it's 10%. Did they accidentally swap this one with, say, the De La Rose?
taster tail
Flat Tail Brewing's taster tail -- Corvallis, OR

With the way the Kolsch, Pale Ale, and Wheat came out, I'm glad we skipped their Amber. I was also glad they were out of their raspberry ale and pumpkin stout. But hey, they had some good beer, and the food was decent. So, I'd say Flat Tail is a fine addition to Corvallis. Go Beavers!
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18 Nov 2011 - 10:33:44 AM
Hopworks Urban Brewery

Another brewery post! I've been meaning to write a climbing post to wrap up my fall climbing season but have been too lazy to go through the few pictures I took at City of Rocks. Instead, I headed down to Oregon to visit a friend and hit a few breweries. First up was lunch at the Hopworks Urban Brewery. I arrived in Portland a little after 1:00, and so Kappy and I were quite hungry by the time we sat down in the HUB. The place was all done up in various bike decor, frames above the bar and jerseys on the walls, and that made me feel right at home. Too bad Seattle doesn't have a place like this. Anyway, we ordered our lunches, as well as the housemade pretzels as an appetizer. The pretzels, which looked more like bread sticks, were quite big. Very tasty, though. Then our plates arrived, and the portions were huge. I did my best with my Tofu Po' Boy and salad, but ended up leaving most of the soft baguette. We were both still full by the time we made it to Corvallis and went out to dinner with Kappy's wife. Oy. I'll have to go for a run or something soon.

    Rob's Picks
  • Organic HUB Lager - 5.1% - Nice aroma. Initial light taste to strong breadiness. Very slight hop bite aftertaste.
  • Crosstown Pale Ale - 5.3% - Floral aroma. Mix of floral and bready tastes. Smooth, with a good lingering bitterness. Not bad for a floral beer.
  • Hopworks IPA - 6.6% - Hop aroma blast. Good strong hoppiness with floral and citrus notes. Nice balance of hops. Reminds me of Ninkasi's Total Domination.
  • Survival 7-Grain Stout - 5.3% - Strong chocolate aroma. Thick and chocolatey. Bit of coffee flavor, too. A very filling beer -- I'd be full after one pint. Might be a bit too much, actually, and I debated dropping it down to The Rest, but didn't.
  • Hey Porter - 5.1% - seasonal - Interesting complex malty aroma. Dry, slightly smoky, good malty base. Some chocolate, some coffee. Pretty yummy.
    The Rest
  • Velvet ESB - 5.2% - Slight floral aroma. Good maltiness, with slight caramel flavor. Fairly crisp. Malty/floral mix kind of odd, though.
  • Deluxe Organic Ale - 6.9% - Floral aroma. Some hoppiness, some maltiness, but kind of blah. Not too interesting.
  • What the Helles - 4.5% - seasonal - Very light to start, leading to slightly bready flavor that lingers. Drinkable but, again, not too interesting.
  • Abominable - 7.3% - seasonal - Floral aroma. Strong floral taste. Bit of a malty base, but not enough of a balance for me. Pretty light for a winter ale, too.
  • Secret Alt - 4.2% - seasonal - Slight floral aroma. Bubbly and light, somewhat malty. Not so interesting, either.
Hopworks taster tray
Taster tray at the hip Hopworks Urban Brewery -- Portland, OR

They had two logo glasses for sale, as well. I went with the pint glass rather than the stein. It ended up being their BikeToBeerFest glass, which is awesome. The stein just has their logo, which is fine and all, but I'm all about the beer-biking. Maybe next year I'll sign up for STP and have a celebration beer at HUB at the end of the ride...
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17 Nov 2011 - 3:37:04 PM
Hilliard's Beer

It was a cold and sunny November Saturday, and my climbing plans got canceled. So I called beer-biking friend Jonny and made plans for a pleasant little ride to the very new Hilliard's Beer in Ballard. I'd read a few blog posts of theirs earlier in the year and was looking forward to visiting. We hit the Burke-Gilman and slowly made our way through the weekend throngs to Fremont, where we decided to take a detour and check out the new section of the Ship Canal bike trail. It's still under construction, but the trail part was done -- all that's left is finishing the fencing (which made it easy to get on the trail) and doing the landscaping. Can't wait for it to be officially open! Unfortunately, its western end was more securely gated, and we had to backtrack a little ways in order to then get to Magnolia and down across the locks.

Skillet and, eventually, the Blue Truck Special were parked in Hilliard's parking lot and serving up food. I got the veggie option from Skillet, their fresh berry brioche dessert. It was wonderfully tasty and filling, and probably packed more calories than I burned on the whole bike ride. We sat down inside and sampled the three beers they had available. I liked them all, which made it a hard choice to pick just one for a full pint, but I went with the freshly canned Amber (just two days previous). Hilliard's is now the third Puget Sound brewery I know of that's canning (after 7 Seas and Two Beers), and apparently the micro-canning revolution is really taking off -- the Hilliard's guy said that Sierra Nevada is going to start canning, as well. Go figure.

Update! (3/24/2012) - Finally re-visited, after hitting NW Peaks just around the corner. Got the Saison this time, but the three other beers available were the same as before. Just one food truck there this time, and it looked like some pork-only outfit. Ah well.

    Rob's Picks
  • Amber - From the can! Very slight floral aroma. Good hoppy/malty mix, with a bit of an alcohol flavor. Not a wimpy amber. Very nice!
  • Regimental Scottish Blonde - Tangy, hoppy start, wheaty finish, with a very subtle lemon flavor. Nice and crisp for an unfiltered beer. Very refreshing.
  • Cast Iron Stout - A hoppy stout, with a strong coffee start, subtle caramel sweetness, and a Guinness aftertaste. Not too heavy, as well.
    The Rest
  • Saison - Pretty cool mix of a light tripel and slight lemon flavor. Caramel and alcohol flavors. Somewhat sweet but also has a slight sour mash edge. Bit of that clove/banana taste, too. Sort of all over the place, actually. Pretty wild beer to can.
Hilliard's samples
Hilliard's samples -- Seattle, WA

All in all, a fine addition to the local brewing scene. Can't wait to try more of their beers, especially on a Saturday when all the food trucks are there. A hidden epicurean corner of Seattle.
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