Seven Grains and One Seed
HUB’s 7-Grain Survival Stout contains the usual barley and oats, some unexpected wheat. and is rounded out with amaranth, quinoa, spelt, and kamut. I think that adds up to eight grains total. Wait! Quinoa is a seed. Are all grains seeds? Are sunflower seeds also grains?
Let’s put that aside for a second and mention that Survival Stout also boasts a healthy dose of cold pressed Stumptown coffee. Coffee is a seed. There is a lot going on in this recipe, but the final result is a fairly straight forward stout. It’s fairly dry with subtle toasted notes and a hint of graininess, like wild rice. The coffee is gentle and the finish is smooth. All in all Hopworks did a good job combining unorthodox ingredients to make a fair facsimile of a classic stout.
Hopworks Fifth Anniversary
Secession remains my favorite Cascadian Dark Ale. Black like coffee but green and herbal and piney, Secession is a great mixture of styles, especially at two bucks a pint. I followed up with the Army of Darkness bourbon aged stout. It’s great at the start, all butterscotch and chocolate. But over time the bourbon flavor begins to overwhelm the senses. I’m getting a little sick of the taste of bourbon in my beer,
Beer Fests and Barleywines
I can’t stand beer festivals. I hate the crowds, the drunken antics, the waiting in line. But I liked the Lucky Lab Barleywine and Big Beer Tastival. It was smaller, well staffed, and featured my favorite style on the planet.
That said, I ran into another beer festival trap, I wanted every beer to taste better. When you are comparing so many beers in the same style, you are never satisfied. I wanted every beer to be different. I wanted to combine the body of one beer with the flavor of another. I wanted to take the caramel and drop the hops. It’s impossible to take a beer on it’s own merits when it’s surrounded by so many others.
Not to mention the shear number of beers. So many! I always get a bit of choice anxiety. I want to get the best, but I have no idea what that is. And I never want to drink a beer I could find at home. So I skipped the Old Yeller vertical. I skipped the Old Foghorn vertical. I went for the strange and peculiar, and the hard to find.
And you can only drink so many ten percent beers in an afternoon.
Here is what I tried:
Widmer/Collaborator, CXI: Pumpernickel: it tastes like a bagel. Four years old, with nice bitter hops in the finish, and a grainy body.
Boulder Beer, Killer Penguin: from last years batch, nice caramel notes, but a bit flat, a bit lifeless.
Laht Neppur, Barleywine: from 2011, is again missing out on the body. A barleywine ought to be thick and chewy. It’s got the brown sugar. Still not right.
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Bourbon Barrel Noggin Floggin: More like it, molasses, punchy spice, butterscotch, nice bourbon touch.
Mikkeller, Big Worse: smells of maple syrup, grainy, bitter finish, but a particular hop — citra? one of those fancy new breeds — a hint of Rye?
Granny Smith’s Beer
Hopworks’ Belgian Style Apple Ale is not sour. It’s a hybrid combining crisp green apple cider and a golden blonde ale. The apples appear most noticeably on the nose, fresh and tart. but the flavors are all spicy and crisp. Sarah was a little disappointed with the yeasty must, but I thought it was nice, like a dusty, antique picture album.
We finally, finally got around to doing round three of the Oregon IPA Invitation Taste Test Challenge. It’s like the Pepsi Challenge for beer. I had some trouble finding beers with the same theme this time around. Rogue IPAs are sometimes hard to find, go figure. But we got a nice variety. The results were surprising, and surprisingly close.
Beer number one, was a classic IPA. Exactly what you want in an IPA, citrus hops on the nose with a hint of pine. The taste is mostly pine with a hint of citrus. Great bitterness. Veronica said she knew this beer, she had it before, right? Jay noted a honey tinge and a black licorice finish. He said it was a perfect cold day IPA.
Our second beer scared me. I immediately got a whiff of cat piss. Apparently that’s a thing with citra hops? Veronica said it was more like ammonia, but no one else really got it. It started out tasting all grapefruit but had a strong bitterness. Dad really noticed that it came on stronger after a while. It got was more bitter and a bit metallic. No one really liked it by the end.
Beer three, beer three! Floral, juicy rose blossoms, a little sweeter. Jay said it tasted like grapes, a summer IPA. A lighter body, but really nice. Number three was my favorite of the night.
Jay’s notes on beer four just say, “The tart!” Lots of citrus juice off the top. Best bite of the night? I got some coffee grounds on the finish, but that might just be the darker color. Veronica said it was the most balanced.
The votes were very, very close. Beer number two, Hopworks IPA, was the clear loser, which really surprised me. I’ve loved that beer before this. In third place, by one point was India Pelican Ale from Pelican Pub, beer number one. The classic IPA was great, but we are into the stand out, unique beers apparently. The 10 Barrel Apocalypse IPA was in second. Beer three, my favorite.
And the winner, by two points, was Ninkasi Total Domination. I was blown away. I have been ignoring Ninkasi because I thought their beers were too bitter and all sort of the same; even their oatmeal stout tasted too hoppy for me. My prejudice was overturned!
Next month, round four!
Here are some great barbecue beers. Light, refreshing, but still a bit bitter, and dry. Perfect for manning the grill. Have one or two of four. I’ve had the HUB Lager a few times, and Fort George’s 1811 was one the first beers on Whachudrinkin. Deschutes Twilight is a summer ale with a nice crisp lemon flavor and a crisp finish.
I’m excited to try some of these new cans. I haven’t seen them in stores yet, but they are coming, they are coming soon.
Chelsea and Sarah had a few different favorite beers at the Festival. Chelsea loved the Belgian What-Up Apple-Weizen from Hopworks. It was all apples and wheat, like pie. The Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Breakside Brewery — made with whole pies — reminded Chelsea of college. She said “this tastes like college.” I don’t know what that means. It was boozy and fruity, I guess.
The one they really loved though was a crazy mixture of Upright Gose and Bushwhacker Caramel Apple Cider. I didn’t get it at all. But those two could have sipped it all day. It was the cloudiest beer I have ever seen, like the wet stuff in apple pie. There was all sorts of apple in there and an interesting thick feel. Oh and there was caramel.
Another bonus beer to end our brew night. I picked up a few bottles at the Hopworks Bikebar last week. I cannot give up the chance at limited release beers. It’s not in my nature. This Belgian dubbel style ale reminded everyone there of a red labeled Chimay Premiere. There is a hint of dried fruit and spicy yeast. The mouthfeel was absolutely perfect, bubble with a bit of a bite. The higher alcohol, eight percent or so, gives it a great dry finish. I have another bottle I’m going to hold onto a while to see what happens.
M Bar is basically my favorite place to have a few pints. They only have three taps, but they rotate regularly, daily almost. For six months out of the year they pour the best Guinness in town on the nitro tap. They spend the proper three minutes to make sure it’s all settled and ready to drink. The rotating taps all come from smaller Oregon and Washington breweries. I’ve been introduced to a few breweries like Boneyard and Walking Man via the three taps at M.
Today was another great example of an interesting, yet familiar trip to M. I started out with a Kolsch from Occidental Brewing, which hit a lot of the notes I love in a Kolsch: light, crisp feel and nice malt flavor. I thought it had a little too much hop flavor for my taste, more like a classic pilsner than a bready Kolsch. I missed the saltine cracker flavor I tasted at Pfaffen. I was reminded more of the Früh Kolsch; the Occidental left a sort of oily tongue coating. Still a solid choice for a sunny day on the patio.
I followed with Hopworks Secession Cascadian Dark Ale. I think they stopped making it for the summer, and this tasted like an older keg. It was a lot darker than I remembered but still hoppier than a porter. The aroma of the hops has faded, but there is still a bit of grassy flavor. The overall flavor was dominated by a smokiness. The finish is smooth and dry. And unlike many stouts or porters, the body was still relatively thin and crisp. Overall not entirely unwelcome.
As the weather warms and the nights lengthen you can count on M to bring out some very nice, crisp, tasty beers.