roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz


28 Mar 2012 - 11:49:07 PM
Pike Brewing

It had been a long time since I last visited the Pike Pub and Brewery. I'm not even going to try and remember when that was. I don't think I liked the food all that much, and over time that kind of spread to my view of their beer. Or something like that. Anyway, I walked down to the Market on a surprisingly non-rainy afternoon, and decided to pop in and finally do an "official" visit. The beers turned out to be pretty solid, but after sipping from all six, taking notes, and nibbling on a tasty hummus plate (so maybe I was wrong about the food...), I went back through the samplers, and two of them, after warming up, didn't taste so good anymore. I've been trying to figure out what to do about them: keep them on the Pick list but with a warning that they're better cold, or drop them down to The Rest because they don't hold up if you drink them slowly? It was too hard of a decision, as it turned out, so I just put them on both lists. Oh well.

    Rob's Picks
  • Naughty Nellie - 4.7% - Golden organic artisan ale. Nice light mix of floral hoppiness and breadiness. Crisp, bubbly. Hoppier than I expected.
  • Pale Ale (cold) - 5% - "Heirloom amber." Good mix of big bready maltiness and underlying hoppiness. Sort of a cross between a pale ale and an amber.
  • Kilt Lifter - 6.5% - Great sweet maltiness. Very full bodied. Just enough hops to balance sweetness but not stand out. Yum.
  • XXXXX Extra Stout (cold) - 7% - Great coffee/chocolate aroma. Great rich coffee/chocolate/bit of smoky flavors that linger. Extremely drinkable.
  • Monk's Uncle - 9% - Tripel. Banana/clove and slight alc aroma. Banana/clove flavor but balanced nicely with some sweetness, some spiciness, touch of alcohol, slight breadiness. Pretty darn good.
  • Doubble Troubble IPA - 8% - Strong floral aroma. Very crisp with strong floral and citrus hops. Light but strong.
  • Post Alley Porter - seasonal - Similar coffee/chocolate/smoky flavors as XXXXX but has a dry instead of a rich mouthfeel. Yay, I used "mouthfeel!"
    The Rest
  • IPA - 6.3% - lots of floral hops but nice malty base. Good hoppy bite but too floral for me
  • Pale Ale (warm) - 5% - For some reason, after this beer warmed up a bit, it just tasted bad. Weird.
  • XXXXX Extra Stout (warm) - 7% - Just like the Pale Ale, when the Stout warmed up a bit, it just didn't taste all that great.
Pike taster tray
Taster tray at the Pike Pub and Brewery -- Seattle, WA

Since my last post, I found out there are three more breweries in and around Seattle that are churning through the federal licensing process and planning to open this year. Plus, I forgot about three other existing local breweries I have yet to officially visit (or five, if I count Pyramid and Redhook). And then there are a couple I've been meaning to re-visit. So, plenty to keep me busy, without even having to bike very far from home.

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18 Mar 2012 - 9:10:42 PM
Twelve Bar Brews

I'd been waiting on two things before visiting this new brewery in Woodinville: construction work on the Burke-Gilman bike trail to finish, and then a sunny day. All the repair work wrapped up in February, and finally the rain let up for a few days in early March. Ended up biking out there on the less warm day, but it was good to be on the bike, and the re-done section of the B-G was pretty awesome. Made me excited to arrive at Twelve Bar Brews. It's located in a nondescript warehouse, but you walk in and the taps are right in front of you. Plus there's a cool (but broken) electric bass on the wall (soon there may be more non-functional instruments). They had three of their four beers on tap, which wasn't ideal, but oh well. The tasting lasted ten, maybe fifteen minutes, and then we were back on our bikes, pedaling home to Seattle. Made the Portland tastings seem pretty leisurely in comparison.

I wanted to try their IPA before writing up this post, and about a week later I found it on tap at a convenience store in Greenwood, at the soon-to-be-named Chuck's Hop Shop. They're the latest in the convenience store cum alehouse craze that's sweeping Seattle.

    Rob's Picks
  • Pentatonic Pale Ale - Very light in color. Crisp and dry. Good strong hoppiness, maltiness not too strong. Good lingering hoppy flavor.
  • Turnaround Red - 5.7% - Really smooth and good strong maltiness. Six different hops used (four during the dry hopping), but the maltiness just soaks up all the hops. Goes right down.
  • Supertonic India Black Ale - Nice dark color. Great balance of roasty maltiness and hoppiness. Really drinkable.
    The Rest
  • Wicked Riff IPA - 6.9% - Strong bitter and citrus flavors. Subtle bready base. Long lingering bitterness, that was a bit too much for me.
Twelve Bar tasters
Samplers at the Twelve Bar Brews tasting room -- Woodinville, WA

You'd think I would have run out of Seattle-area breweries by now, but there are, in fact, two places right in town (Pike and NW Peaks) that I have yet to blog. And there will be a third (Reuben's Brews) by the time summer rolls around. Two little breweries that were on the to-visit list closed recently (192 and Battenkill), so I'd better get a move on...

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13 Mar 2012 - 1:19:30 AM
Nanobrewery Gretta

There's a very tiny brewery in the West Hills of Portland that's not on any map -- you have to know the brewer in order to sample some of his fine creations. Some people call this "homebrewing," but it's more fun to call it Nanobrewery Gretta. It shares space with the nanowinery Chateau Gretta, but as yet there is no Distillery Gretta.

New brews at Gretta
Brewmaster Robert with his latest creations -- Portland, OR

Over the course of the weekend, I was able to try five of his beers, and I'm looking forward to visiting again when his two new brews are bottled and ready to drink.

    Rob's Picks
  • 2007 Cabernet Lambic - Awesome aged lambic, with that pure sour lambic flavor. Cabernet grapes give a good tannic and subtle grape flavor. Great balance.
  • 2008 Fresh Hop - Last bottle! I love me some fresh hop beers, and this one was no exception. Strong hop aroma and great flavor, with subtle caramel notes.
  • Irish-Style Stout - Nice and creamy, with coffee/smoky flavor and a slight dryness. The aroma seemed a little bit off, but everything else was on.
  • Framboise - Strong raspberry aroma, great raspberry flavor. Good sour edge. Not as tart and tannic as the Cabernet Lambic.
  • Gueuze - At first I tried Robert's Gueuze neat, and while I thought it was a very drinkable gueuze, after the Cab and Framboise, I felt like it was missing something. Robert had mentioned a few times about adding a little brown sugar to the glass, which he had done, and I finally followed his lead. That did the trick -- it balanced out the gueuze and added a whole new level. Yum!
Gretta's Brewmaster Robert
Nanobrewery Gretta's Brewmaster and his beer -- Portland, OR

Robert's wife wanted a picture of the two of them kissing in front of the beer, and although I did take said picture, I have since decided to add a new rule to the roblog: No kissy-kissy pics. I'll be happy to send them a copy of the kissy-kissy, and they can create their own blog and post it. So here instead is my preferred alternative:

Team Gretta
The Brewmaster, his wife (Brewwife? Brewbabe?), and their Brewcat, Hypatia -- Portland, OR

And that concludes my whirlwind Portland brewery tour. Whew! What will I do now? Will I let the blog go silent for another couple months? Will I finally visit some more Washington breweries? Will I write about something that isn't beer-related (i.e. climbing)? The suspense is killing me!

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11 Mar 2012 - 9:19:36 PM
Upright Brewing

I feel a little bad for Upright Brewing because it seemed like my taste buds hit the wall at this point, kind of like beer tasting fatigue. Oh well. Maybe I'll give them another shot next time I'm in Portland.

    Rob's Picks
  • Seven - Saison. Lemony aroma. Interesting flavor: kind of sweet, not very malty, somewhat bitter.
  • Scotch Ale - Nice maltiness, nice bitterness. Pretty crisp, too.
    The Rest
  • Four - Saison. Bitter, bready, astringent.
  • Five - Pale Ale. Floral aroma. Hoppy, not much of a pale.
  • Six - Rye. Sweet but hoppy. Kind of bock-like, but not bad.
  • Engelberg Pils - Pretty light, but still interesting. Wouldn't want a whole pint, though.
Upright sampler set
Upright Brewing sampler set -- Portland, OR

This was the last brewery on the tour. I said goodbye to the rest of the folks who headed off across the bridge to the train station. Then the hail started. Doh! Fortunately for me, I had a warm dry car ride to Robert and his wife's house.

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11 Mar 2012 - 1:47:35 PM
Lompoc Brewing

Lompoc Brewing seems to consist of two breweries, the first at New Old Lompoc, and the second at Lompoc 5th Quadrant, which is where we visited. They both brew pretty much the same stuff, but the first does most of the seasonals, and the second creates the supply for their distributor. Or something like that. What it means to me is that I only have to visit one to do an "offical" Lompoc Brewing post.

After a welcome walk from Breakside in the brisk sun, I was ready for either a late lunch or an early dinner along with the fine Lompoc ales. The portabello sandwich hit the spot. Robert and his wife rejoined the tour here, and he got a comprehensive taster tray to complement the various pints others had ordered.

    Rob's Picks
  • Centennial IPA - 6% - Malty start, lingering floral finish. Nice and drinkable.
  • C-Note IPA - 6.9% - Really nice! Smooth maltiness and good strong floral/bitter/citrus hops. Slight sweetness, too.
  • Proletariat Red - 6.2% - Good nutty maltiness, lingering hoppiness.
  • LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft) - 6.9% - Alcohol aroma. Dry and smoky, sort of stout-like, but with slight alcohol flavor and bit of sweetness. Interesting.
  • New Olde Ale - 7.5% - Smooth, well-balanced, touch of sweetness. Sort of amber-like, but nice. Very drinkable.
  • Batch 69 Baltic Porter - 7.7% - Alcohol aroma. Smoky, chocolatey goodness. Yum!
  • Jolly Bock - 7.2% - Really nice brown ale. No bocky sweetness.
    The Rest
  • Fool's Golden Ale - 5% - Lemony, hoppy aroma. Light and somewhat sweet, crisp, slight breadiness.
  • Sockeye Cream Stout - 4.9% - Pretty creamy, but somewhat watery, oddly enough. Not too flavorful.
  • Oregon Special Bitter (OSB) - 4.2% - Some bitterness, some maltiness, but a little watery. Light.
Lompoc taster tray
Taster tray at Lompoc 5th Quadrant -- Portland, OR

At the end of the visit, I tried to buy a logo glass, but they had just run out of their selling stock, unfortunately. Should've pinched one of the glasses that had been on the table. Next time I'll know better than to try and be honest in my logo glassware acquisitions...

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10 Mar 2012 - 12:10:03 AM
Breakside Brewery

Robert, Morgan, and I lingered at Fire on the Mountain after the others set off on foot to Breakside Brewery, but they had already arrived and ordered a few beers and free samples by the time Robert dropped off the two of us (he had a few things to do other than hang out and drink -- weird). So I spent some time playing catch-up with the beers on the table and giving the glad eye to one of the waitresses, but she never even looked my way.

Breakside has a cool space: two levels, lots of light, modern feel. Nice neighborhood brewpub.

    Rob's Picks
  • Hoppy Amber - 5.5% - Hoppy aroma. Great citrus hoppy bit and good malty base.
  • Aztec - 9.4% - Nice amber color. Great spicy maltiness and good alcohol edge.
  • Alanbier - 8.2% - Nice brown with slight nuttiness. Good body and dryness.
    The Rest
  • Dry Stout - 4.7% - Good chocolatey aroma. Very dry, but kind of watery. Flavors are kind of weak.
  • BLT Gose - 4.6% - Watery, bready, slightly lemony. Odd.
  • Triple - 9.1% - Slow start to sweet caramel finish. Doesn't taste strong. Not the usual tripel, not too sharp.
  • American Wheat - Kinda blah. [Not the best tasting notes, I know...]
Papa beer and baby beers
Papa beer and baby beers at Breakside Brewery -- Portland, OR

What else to say? Only three more Portland brewery posts to go -- can't wait till I'm all caught up!

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9 Mar 2012 - 1:08:14 AM
Fire on the Mountain

After Saturday's seven or so brewery visits, it was kind of hard to wake up Sunday morning. Ugh. I was moving way too slowly to make it to the first stop of Day Two of the Portland tour: brunch at the Columbia River brewpub. Instead, Robert and I joined the attenuated tour (about half the participants had returned to Seattle that morning) at the more civilized time of 1:00 pm at Fire on the Mountain.

This is a curious place. It's a Buffalo Wings joint, and this one (the Fremont location on NE 57th -- there are three) started brewing its own beer sometime around the beginning of December 2011 (and they already have an oak aged stout!). No wings for me, but I did have a taste of their hottest sauce, El Jefe, and yeah, The Boss slapped the hangover right out of me.

    Rob's Picks
  • Shocks of Sheba IPA - Nice hoppy aroma. Good malty base and decent hoppy bite. Very drinkable. Not the hoppiest, but nice.
  • Electric Mud Stout - Oak aged. Pretty light on the start, then the stoutness kicks in. Not bad at all.
    The Rest
  • Wonderin' Rye - Pretty smooth, but a little watery.
  • Pancho Pale Ale - Somewhat bitter, somewhat malty, but a little too light on the tongue for me.
  • Lefty Lager - Like the Pale, but less hoppy. Drinkable but not too memorable.
Fire on the Mountain tasters
New brewery offerings at the Fire on the Mountain wings joint -- Portland, OR

Not the usual brewery visit, but it was a fun way to start the day, and they even had FotM Brewery logo glasses for sale.

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8 Mar 2012 - 1:34:13 PM
Tugboat Brewing

After Migration, the brewery tour headed off to the Deschutes Public House. I've been to the Deschutes brewpub in Bend many times, and when I finally do an "official" visit for the blog, I want it to be from that one. So I went rogue and left for Tugboat Brewing with Robert, his wife, and their friend.

Tugboat is a cozy little pub. Lots of bookshelves with odd titles for a bar (The Nursing Mother, From Here to Maternity, iMac for Dummies, Internet for Dummies) and retro lamps on the tables. They had three of their beers on tap, but unfortunately the Chernobyl Stout (13%!) was out.

    The Rest
  • Hop Gold/Wheat - Hop craziness. Superstrong grapefruit/tangerine citrus flavors that overpower everything else. Intense face-puckering bitterness that just doesn't go away. None of us could drink more than a couple sips. One of the worst beers I've ever had. Robert suggested re-naming the beer "Fool's Gold." We returned the two pints, and the bartender replaced them with the Hop Red, mercifully pouring the Hop Gold down the drain.
  • Hop Red - Malty aroma. Hoppy, malty taste, but very bitter. More manageable than the Hop Gold, which isn't saying much, but still too bitter for me. Got through about a third of the pint before giving up. None of us finished this beer.
good picture of bad beer
Great atmosphere at the Tugboat brewpub. Wish I could say the same for the beer... -- Portland, OR

We also ordered a plate of nachos. Robert described them as "good for washing away the bitter memories." To be fair, though, the various reviews we looked at after the fact had good things to say about the Chernobyl Stout and their IPA, and one of the Portland brewery tour organizers had great things to say about their visit to Tugboat. But that doesn't change the fact that the two beers we tried were horrible. Maybe next time they'll have decent stuff on tap.

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8 Mar 2012 - 12:11:16 AM
Migration Brewing

When we arrived here, I thought this place was pretty great, but by the time we left it had gotten so crowded and loud that it just wasn't very enjoyable anymore. Better to get to Migration Brewing early, or go mid-week. The curse of success, I suppose.

Most folks on the tour ordered individual pints here, but Robert, who rejoined us here with his wife and a friend after a post-Green Dragon hiatus, got a comprehensive sampler of the Migration ales. So I was able to try everything on tap. After a whole day of sampling beer, however, my notes were somewhat sub-par. Oh well. Just go meta with this one.

    Rob's Picks
  • Migration Pale Ale (MPA) - 5.2% - Floral aroma. Broad malty base with some floral hoppiness. Very drinkable.
  • Luscious Lupulin IPA - 6.5% - Floral/citrus hop blend -- quite nice. Subtle maltiness. Good lasting hoppiness.
  • Black Hearted CDA - 7% - Seasonal. Great blend of roasted maltiness and bitterness.
  • Terry's Porter - 6.7% - Malty and dry, with bitter undertones. Really good porter.
  • Deuce Double IPA - 9% - Seasonal. Good hoppiness, but maltiness really shines. Awesome balance. Bitter but smooth.
    The Rest
  • Clem's Cream Ale - 4.6% - Very bready, pretty crisp. More like a blonde.
  • Glisan St. Dry Hop Pale Ale - 5% - Sweet aroma. Pretty good, but kind of sweet instead of extra hoppy.
  • Old Silenus Strong - 7.2% - Malty sweet aroma. Doesn't taste strong, more like a good bock. (Too bad I'm not a big fan of bocks...)
Migration sampler
Migration beers migrating to our bellies -- Portland, OR

Usually the intros and outros are fairly easy to write, but after so many breweries in one day, and so many posts in a short span of time, they've been getting harder and harder to come up with and make entertaining (although the next one will be easy). Sigh. My life is so hard!

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7 Mar 2012 - 11:58:53 AM
Coalition Brewing

I liked this place. Pretty small, with a great hang out vibe to it. Plus the bartender was quite pretty and gave out free stickers. They also have a program where you can try your hand at the brewing process on their pilot system, and if people like the beer, they'll scale it up to the bigger system. If I lived in Portland, I have the feeling I'd spend a little too much time at Coalition Brewing.

    Rob's Picks
  • Two Dogs IPA - 5.8% - Lots of hop. Floral, bitter, crisp.
  • Wu Cream Ale - 4.9% - Very hoppy, but not particularly creamy. Sort of IPA-ish.
  • Bump's Bitter ESB - 5.5% - Not too bitter, not too malty. Great balance.
  • Lost Glove Strong - 8% - Rose-y aroma. Caramel flavor that mixes well with the floral hoppiness, and a nice maltiness. Really good.
  • Loving Cup Maple Porter - 5.5% - Great coffee dryness. Very drinkable.
  • Hanso Stout - 6.2% - Seemed very similar to the Loving Cup. Still good, though.
  • Apollo Creed CDA - 7% - Not too hoppy, but great maltiness and good balance. Nice.
    The Rest
  • King Kitty Red - 5.74% - Hoppy, malty aroma. Malty, hoppy flavor. Okay.
  • Wheat the People - 4.4% - Bubbly, with a bready finish. Very light. Also okay.
  • Mr. Pigs Pale - 5% - Floral aroma. Flavor a little too floral for me, but otherwise nice.
  • Hanso vs. Bulleit - 6.4% - Aged on oak with Bulleit bourbon. Didn't really taste the bourbon very much. Good stout, but I expected more from this one.
Coalition Brewing
Tour organizer obscured by some fine Coalition beer -- Portland, OR

I'm now half-way through the brewery posts from this busy beer-tasting weekend. Whew! The one guy I know who subscribes to my blog will most likely be quite surprised when he gets back from his vacation in Mexico and finds 14 new posts waiting in his RSS reader. Hola, Wayne!

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6 Mar 2012 - 9:53:46 PM
Burnside Brewing

The Portland brewery tour took the scenic route from Cascade Barrel House to Burnside Brewing in order to look in the window of the tiny Natian Brewery. Doesn't get much more nano than Natian.

At Burnside, there was a long table open that fit all of us, conveniently enough. This was the first stop of the day for me that seemed to put about the same amount of emphasis on food as on their beer, and so it felt a little odd to just order a couple pitchers and a sampler tray, for us and for them. Oh well. At least we didn't take up their 12-top for too long.

    Rob's Picks
  • IPA - 6.5% - Hoppy start, malty finish. Good and crisp.
  • Sweet Heat - 4.9% - Lemony and spicy -- nice. A bit bready. Interesting. Can't quite taste the apricot, which is fine with me.
  • Stout - 5.4% - Slow start, but good dry coffee stout flavor.
  • Alter Ego Imperial IPA - 8.3% - Floral aroma. Complex hoppy flavor, malty base not overpowering. Good.
  • Pinot Noir Barreled Oyster Strong Ale - 10% - Wow! Awesome balance of pinot noir and dark beer flavors. Didn't taste the oyster, which was fine with me, but the person sitting next to me did. Life is funny that way.
    The Rest
  • Oatmeal Pale Ale - 5.5% - Floral hoppiness, malty blahness. Okay, but not too interesting.
  • Stock Ale - 5.4% - Great malty finish, but start is not too strong.
  • Bourbon Barreled Stout - 6.5% - Very bourbony, maybe too much so. Good stout, but it's overpowered by the bourbon blast. Person sitting next to me really liked it, though.
Burnside sampler
Sampler tray and pitcher at Burnside Brewing -- Portland, OR

One thing I'm happily surprised about is even though my tasting notes were very concise for the breweries on this tour, I'm able to remember a large percentage of the beers by reading them. Maybe it won't be another three years before I go on another one of these tours.

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5 Mar 2012 - 10:59:42 PM
Cascade Brewing

The Portland brewery tour train rolled on down the line from the Green Dragon to the Cascade Brewing Barrel House. The core group in the tour had been to Cascade's brewpub, the Raccoon Lodge, on a previous trip, but fortunately they decided to include the Barrel House even though they don't do any brewing on premises. It does house the aging barrels, and that's good enough for me. Plus, it was on the way to the next stop. We also sat down at two separate tables here, but I somehow felt more rushed than at the Green Dragon. Oh well.

    Rob's Picks
  • Blueberry Bourbonic - 11% - Smooth sour blueberry flavor, with bourbon finish. Somewhat heavy. Nice!
  • Rhubarb Crisp - 6.5% - Sour start, with a rhubarb blast finish that lingers.
  • Plum Rye - 7.35% - Plum aroma, flavor on finish. Very sour start. Nice broad base.
  • Shrieking Violet Blueberry - 11% - Lighter and crisper than the Blueberry Bourbonic, and really nice.
  • Kriek - Really good. Very very sour, and somewhat subtle cherry flavor.
  • Nouveau Cerise - 8.18% - Really nice and sour. Cherry "darker" than the Kriek -- more complex.
    The Rest
  • Noyaux - 8.94% - A raspberry sour. Subtle start, raspberry comes through in the finish.
  • 2010 Sang Noir - 9.2% - Like a really sour sparkling wine. Very raisiny.
  • Raspberry Wheat - 5.7% - The one non-sour beer that was ordered. Basically a bubbly raspberry drink. Meh.
  • Sweetart - 8.25% - Sour and good, but nothing about it stood apart from the other sours.
  • Blueberry - Also sour and good, but after the other two blueberry drinks, this one felt and a little too light and easy.

I forgot to take a picture here, which is unfortunate because their colorful beers would have made for some great photos.

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4 Mar 2012 - 10:11:27 PM
Oregon Brew Crew / Green Dragon

The Green Dragon devotes a couple of its 62 taps to the various homebrewers in the Oregon Brew Crew who release a new Green Dragon-branded beer every week or so on the in-house 1bbl brewing system. Fun!

    Rob's Picks
  • Hoppy Night CDA - Floral hoppy bite, good lingering roasted maltiness.
  • Vienna Lager - Color a bit dark for a lager, but really smooth, nice, and simple. Goes right down.
Green Dragon remains
Remains of the Brew Crew, Buckman, et al samplers at the Green Dragon -- Portland, OR

Next time I'm in Portland I'll have to swing by the Green Dragon again to see what new delights the Brew Crew have concocted.

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4 Mar 2012 - 2:20:32 PM
Buckman Brewery

The 15-person Portland brewery tour tsunami swept its way from The Commons to the Rogue-owned Green Dragon alehouse, which in addition to having 62 beers on tap also houses a distillery and two microbreweries, Buckman Brewery and Oregon Brew Crew's 1bbl nanobrewery. Interesting set up. I guess there's enough demand for craft brewing that Rogue can rent space to the competition, although Buckman does specialize in botanical brewing, with various herbs and spices and fruits and whatnot, which is an area that Rogue hasn't explored too much. Anyway, there were too many of us to all sit together, and so we split ourselves across two tables. I ended up at the smaller, 6-person table, where we ordered two 4-glass samplers to cover the five Buckman and two Brew Crew beers on tap, plus a bonus Double Mountain IPA. The waitress eventually came back with two sets of the two samplers, which was a bit of a surprise but, in the end, a good problem to have. And since we were a smaller group and all seated, I was able to take more reasonable notes. Phew!

    Rob's Picks
  • Fruit Cake Stout - Decent stout, slight fruity notes but not as fruitcake-y as I feared. Slight smoky finish.
  • Chamomellow - Nice, light and bubbly, with good mellow flavor.
    The Rest
  • Black Saison - Dark in color but watery, kind of bland.
  • Side Dish Sweet Potato Brown - More body and flavor than the Black Saison, some more complex sweetness.
  • Ginger - Definitely taste the ginger. Well-made, but I don't think I'd drink a whole pint.
double the samplers, double the fun
Doubled up samplers of Buckman and Oregon Brew Crew at The Green Dragon -- Portland, OR

So yeah, some interesting brews, but I think I still have a ways to go before I fully appreciate the world of botanical brewing.

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3 Mar 2012 - 5:03:05 PM
The Commons

The first stop on the Portland tour itinerary was lunch at Hopworks, but since I had already visited it in November, I joined up with everyone at the second stop, The Commons Brewery. Initially called Beetje Brewing, they changed their name to something more pronounceable and moved into a bigger location. It's a nice space -- lots of windows and light, with stacks of aging barrels. Lots of Belgian-inspired brews.

The pacing of the tasting was completely different from Occidental -- everyone stood around the little table with the taster tray, and the sampler glasses made their way around one immediately after the other. I barely had time to scribble even minimal notes, while standing, before the next taster arrived. Yikes! I eventually came to think of it as speed-tasting: a sip of each beer, and then you paired up with the one you liked best.

    Rob's Picks
  • Flemish Kiss - 5.8% - malty and crisp, with an interesting bitterness
  • Pale Evening Ale - 5.8% - nice pale ale
  • Sticke - 6.8% - good brown ale, pretty dry
  • Commons Blond Ale - 6.2% - nice hoppy blond, bready
  • Madrone - 6.9% - nice sour bite, bubbly
  • Saison de Pamplemousse - 5.8% - crisp, citrusy, although I couldn't really identify it as grapefruit
    The Rest
  • Urban Farmhouse Ale - 5.3% - Lemony aroma. Sweet, bready, bitter -- odd mix. Strong bitter finish.
Commons tulips
The Commons tulip glasses (for sale, as well!) -- Portland, OR

With this rapid, stand-up beer tasting method, I think I can now safely add "Agile/Scrum experience" to my resume...

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2 Mar 2012 - 7:16:03 PM
Occidental Brewing

Well, after two and a half months of not visiting any new breweries, I ended up going down to Portland with a group of friends for a mad dash of brewery tours. Thinking I'd make the trip a bit more relaxing, I headed down the day before. The friends I stayed with then took me out to Occidental Brewing, which wasn't on the weekend's ambitious itinerary. Occidental does German-style beers, and I guessed that I would like their lighter beers more than their darker (dunkel/bock-style) ones. I guessed correctly. All very well-made, though -- I'm just not a big fan of German-style dark beers.

    Rob's Picks
  • Hefeweizien - Lemony, bready, light. Very refreshing. Good German-style hefeweizen. Clove/banana aftertaste, but not too strong.
  • Cloudy Summer - Kolsch-style. Strong bready aroma. Great bubbliness. Good bready flavor and hoppy edge. Light, but not as light has the hefe. Yum!
  • Altbier - Slight floral hoppy aroma. Good malty base with complementary bitter back end. Slight lingering caramel flavor.
    The Rest
  • Dunkel - Sweet bock/malty aroma. Malty and slight nutty taste, not too much of that malty sweetness. Pretty good.
  • Lucubrator - seasonal Doppelbock - Similar aroma to the Dunkel. Tastes kind of like a stronger version of the Dunkel, in fact, but with a bit more of that malty sweetness. Sorta barley wine-ish in taste, but without the alcohol flavor and content.
  • Dunkelweizen - seasonal - Very unfiltered lemony aroma. Clove/banana and slight lemon flavors with malty/bocky sweetness. Reminded me quite a bit of Leavenworth's Whistling Pig Dunkelweizen.
Occidental samples
Samples at Occidental Brewing -- Portland, OR

This sampling session was nice and relaxed. Had plenty of time to scribble down my notes between tastes and discuss the beers with Robert, who does his share of homebrewing. Felt like I learned quite a bit about beer talking with him. Maybe I should give this homebrewing thing a try -- just need to find somewhere other than my little one bedroom place to do it.

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brewery posts

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old travel journals

- Road Trip 2001
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