Sunday, July 29, 2007

Concordia Ale House & Pink Elephants

Update: 7/30 - I learned this from Wikipedia regarding "Pink Elephants"

Last night I made another trip out to the newish Concordia Ale House (I say 'newish' because in contrast with Horse Brass and other stellar locations these guys are the new kids on the block). If you haven't been to Concordia, know that there's always something good on tap and their bottle list is no sloucher. In addition, the food here is well priced for the quality of food; however, it isn't pub food so the prices reflect that.

While here I was able to track down the new owners of the place. Jerry Olson, along with his cousin, Jason Honstein, bought Concordia Spring of 2007. While still getting settled in it was pretty clear Jerry had ambitions for this place, and I'm looking forward to catching up with him next Summer to see where they've made it. For now though, know that the Double IPA competition is still in tact, albeit slightly modified. In 2006 the inaugural competition was blind - meaning you ordered beer by the number. Once completed you were tasked with the ranking of the beers and your votes were cast. Once the event concluded (which was scheduled for one week, but may have been cut short when the beer ran out) all votes were counted and winners announced. This year, however, the competition was 'open', allowing customers to know who brewed the Double IPA. Admittedly the format change raised some hackles, while also pleasing many who just need to know what they're drinking, but in the end the competition was met with open arms. Oh, sounds like next year they may be modifying this a bit to make it a competition between Washington and Oregon brewers - so keep an eye on that.

While enjoying an Alesmith Grand Cru with a couple of friends, one turns and asks me a geeky sorta trivia question, "What's with beer and pink elephants?" She asked because there was a picture on the wall (seen above) that seemed an awful lot like a couple of Belgian beers she'd seen in the cooler. I thought for a moment and realized I had nothing, no idea. I figured it'd be a good question for the owner... after all his wall is adorned with the lovable, fat, mythical creatures. I'll tell you now - nobody knows. If you do - email me!

The Pink Elephants on the wall, while still not knowing if there is any significance, did produce a great story and serves and the underlying motivation for this post. It turns out that Concordia Ale House is housed in a refurbished relic of a building. Prior to opening in 2006 the place was in shambles - leaky ceilings, falling apart at the seems. Then the property owner, no doubt prompted by the new upscale market next door, chose to redo the whole damed thing. Construction progress is well documented in a photo album behind the bar, including sevarl 'before' pictures... they did a lot of work making this a pretty place to be.

One day during this construction a worker made a discovery (I don't know exact details), the painting of the three pink elephants. You see, prior to being a dive bar and before the last owner took possession, there was a bar here called "The Pink Elephant, but rumors floating around with the old timers suggest Pink Elephant closed down in the late 1930's. So, from all logical estimations, this picture that was long neglected was most likely painted in the thirties. And that, dear beer enthusiasts, is a very cool story.

Look closer at the photo by clicking it. Check out the details here - or lack thereof. Then, think of the Disney Pink Elephant Parade from decades gone by - I see a lot of similarities. I don't know time lines for all this yet, but I figure I'll look into this and get back to you. For now, however, I am in the Portland airport awaiting my eventual boarding and my trip back home to Sacramento.

Found online:
"Seeing pink elephants" is a euphemism for drunken hallucination caused by delirium tremens.
If you have any insight to provide, I'd love to hear from you - rick [at]

Saturday, July 28, 2007

OBF Day Two - The Other Stuff

Pictured: Allen of Hair of the Dog and Rick
With barely enough sleep and weary capacities for thought and logic we left the Benson Hotel around 7:30AM for Edgefield to play a round of golf for the third annual Brewers ProAM charity event. All moneys for the event go to the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, which uses this money to provide scholarships to brewers. At the event this year were two brewers now brewing professionally - both recipients of the scholarships. And, of course, being a 'brewers' golf tournament it was not a surprise that beer was involved - plenty of beer. In fact, kegs met us at nearly every one of the 15 holes played (they're undergoing construction now, 3 holes not available). The game was good, the contestants all having a great time and by the time it was over I had realized I was having a very good day.

From the golf tournament I headed over to Hair of the Dog brewing for a very special open house... very special. Allen, the owner/brewer, does not do tours and even if he did - it'd be nearly impossible to find. The beers, five on tap, were simply amazing and featured: Fred, Fred of the Wood, Rose, Greg, Blue Spot Double IPA. Greg is a beer using nearly 40% squash - hundreds of pounds worth. Incredible. Fred, as many know, is a beer named after Portland beer hero Fred Eckhardt - and it was an honor to klink glasses of this beer with the real Fred - all ajoy with the days festivities.

I can't really say enough about what I saw at HotD - but I'll just say this: what Allen has pieced together, with anything he can get his hands on, is simply a beauty to behold. A four barrel brewery and a one-man operation guarantee that Hair of the Dog's quality will not be an issue for some time to come. Fabulous.

As if this weren't enough, from the Morrison's place I rode with Jay to the Stumptown Coffee company in downtown Portland for the Elysian party, an invitation only event to host brewers, writers and industry supporters. There were four Elysian beers on tap, which were all great - the Jasmine IPA is wonderful! However, if you can imagine, my palate was becoming fatigued, so it was onto the Lambics they had behind the counter. I started with Liefmans Kriek and then finished with a Boone Gueze. The people, the place, the beers - all top notch!

When all was said and done I made the mistake of trying to get to another bar to watch a friend play. Don't get me wrong, he was great! I was just getting fatigued and needed to get back to my hotel. So, sadly, I bailed out a bit early (Sorry Jaycob) and hoofed it back to the Benson - capping off what is one of the cooler beer days I've had in a long time.

I love Portland.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

OBF Day One - Thursday

Well, sitting in my seventh floor hotel room in downtown Portland and getting ready for a busy beer-filled day. I am here with Chadd, the organizer for Sacramento's local "Hop Heads" beer enthusiast group, and together we'll begin the day by walking to Rogue's tap room for breakfast with the brewers. After we've had our fill there we'll join in the annual parade to the waterfront playing kazoos and feeling happy to be here. Finally, around 1pm the liquid bread will begin to flow and we'll all feel like we've witnessed something special - and surely we will have.

Camera charged. Handheld mic ready. Comfy shoes on foot. This will be a good day.

- Rick

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oregon Bound

Bags packed. Boarding pass printed. Emails sent.

In twelve hours I'll be in Beervana, the happiest place on earth. In twenty four hours the 20th Oregon Brewers Festival begins - with 72 commercial brewers and 1 home brewed beer flowing for the masses.

Here is my list of items most looking forward to:
- Silver City Whoop Ass double IPA - had this last year and went nuts for it.
- Trumer Pils - an early morning drink if you will, there is just nothing wrong about the beer.
- Ninkasi Believer Imperial Red - you may not know it, but this style is among my favorites.
- Calapooia Yankee Clipper - I've been here once, tried the beer... loved it. Hope Mark is here.
- Amnesia Dry Hopped Dusty Trail Pale Ale - If you've tried Amnesia beer, you'll know why.

- Friday night at 9:30ish I'll be at Imbibe (club) on Hawthorne and 22nd to see a college friend play his guitar. Jaycob Van Auken (look it up) is an absolute joy to hear and I am happy he's doing a show in Portland while I am there.
- Dinner! Hoping one night to make Concordia Ale House and another night to hit Horse Brass.

Email me for details - hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In Search Of: Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale

Ok, this is a mix of press release and ramble.

No, Sierra Nevada doesn't have a new beer. Yes, they are bottling a beer for the first time, which is cause for celebration. Now, mind you, I have not tried this beer, but reading their press release leads me to believe one thing: This beer has potential to be the most pure example of an Amerian IPA out there. Read this from their press release.

The 2007 Anniversary Ale features prominent usage of Cascade hops– the signature hop used in Sierra Nevada’s most popular product, Pale Ale. It is an American Style IPA with a big, fragrant pine and citrus hop aroma balanced by the sweetness of two-row pale and caramel malt. It finishes with an additional Cascade dry-hopping creating a big hop aroma Sierra Nevada fans will look forward to.
You see, here's my thought. Sierra Nevada won't make a bad beer. If they call something an American Style IPA, they probably mean it. This beer most likely won't knock you down with bitterness, but must display American hop character like very few few beers on the market can do - showcasing the hops' flavor, aroma and bitterness masterfully.

Again, I haven't tried this beer, but it is now atop my list of beers to track down.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Alaskan IPA

The beer is new to Northern California, but I first tried this in Oregon back in January. I can't tell you how happy I was to see this in our local Nugget Market - apparently the only place in the region carrying the product at this time. In short, there isn't a beer put out by the guys in Alaskan that I haven't loved, from their light Summer Ale to their near perfect Winter Ale. My hopes are high on this.

Pours a rich, thick, golden color with good clarity. The head is best described as sticky, rocky and well retaining. The aroma has it all going on: caramel, citrus, spice, alcohol. All characteristics coming together beautifully. This general combination is also found in the flavor, enhanced by the smooth and creamy texture and medium body. Next, this beer is 'juicy', reminding me of a few good "wet-hopped" beers you'll see around this Fall. Along with the before-mentioned characteristics, the words "grapefruit", "flowers" and "Spring" come to mind. Simply beautiful.

This is a great beer. It has the hops you want in a 'west coast' IPA, but also has a great malt backbone that you don't see everyday out here. However, this sweetness isn't as pronounced as you'll find back east in their IPAs. This beer is new to the market, but I believe I'll be pulling this off the shelf more quickly than most of the IPAs out there. No, this is not as agressively hop bittered as many of my staple IPAs, but wow... that flavor is rich!

Score on this... 4.2/5

From their website...
Alaskan IPA is made from glacier-fed water and a generous blend of the finest quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and premium two-row and specialty malts. Our water originates in the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from more than 90 inches of rainfall each year.

The pronounced hop flavor makes this style of beer refreshing and a delicious accompaniment to grilled prawns, spicy food and as an aperitif.

Original Gravity: 1.057, ABV: 6.2%, Bitterness: 55 IBU, Color: 12 SRM

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schonramer Wheat Beer (Hefeweizen)

I'll admit, I've never heard of this beer and can't pretend to tell you the proper pronounciation. However, I know enough to not-so-boldly say this is a fantastic example of a Bavarian Wheat beer, otherwise known as Hefeweizen. Pouring an orangish gold color, with a cloudy haze and a frothy/rocky loose bubbled head, the beer is simply a thing of beauty to look at. The aroma also seems to carry out orders from the historical style guidelines - clove and and a beautifully light fruity character.

The flavor is slightly tart, as you come to expect from the style, with a sweetness up front that is surprisingly caramel-like. The hops in this beer are clearly not the forefront, only intended to buster the character of the yeast and malts. What hops you can detect come through as a moderately peppery and lightly bittering.

The mouthfeel is another strong area of this beer, as it is nearly chewy in it's texture. Low alcohol warmth and lending to the beers overall refreshing quality.

I won't say this is the best Hefe I have had, but it is everything you'd want in a traditional hefeweizen. Refreshing. Flavorful. Clean.

Score: 3.9/5

FYI - I picked this beer up at Nugget Market here in Northern California. I suspect you'll be able to find this beer and others by the same brewer. Suggest you look for these sooner than later. Judging by the date stamps, these are as fresh a beer you'll find from Germany.

Martin Lodahl Part II Posted

Just a quick note to let you know that I have posted the second show we did with Martin Lodahl, featuring Belgian Sours. Incredible.

Find the show page here.

Here are a few pics.The final three beers of the night.
Mentioned in show - look close and see if you can spot the bottle the government didn't like.

Martin Lodahl

A bad picture - but this is what a bottle cap looks like after 13 years... and this bottle also had a cork in it! Tasted great.

Monday, July 16, 2007

FiftyFifty and Playing With Loaded Dice

I had hoped to have this carried, at least in part, by a more local publication. I see now that ain't happening, so here you go. Sorry it is late.

FYI - There is an interview with Alicia Bar, the owner of Fifty Fifty at the bottom of the story, in case you are interested.

Recently I found my way up to Truckee's newest brewery, Fifty Fifty Brewing Company. The place was packed with people enjoying themselves and the new beers on tap. To try and describe the energy in the place would be like describing energy - you just can't do it. But trust me, it was electric. People meeting people, sharing stories, thanking the brewer and owners (repeatedly) and savoring the night they'd been anticipating for so long.

We arrived a bit late for dinner and, for as busy as it was, had little trouble getting a table and getting our food order in. While waiting for the appetizers the first rounds of samplers showed up, four beers ranging from the pale straw color to the deep liquidy black oatmeal stout. In the future, when all seven beers are on tap, they'll offer a seven-sample beer platter for those who want to try them all and still be able to walk out.

Our table sampled the beers together, the four of us who ourselves were catching up and soaking in the energy of the night. Up first was the Golden Ale, a session beer that comes in with a very low bittering and light alcohol (4.9%). The beer went down as easily as you'd expect and before solid notes could be taken, the samples around the table were all gone - a good sign.

Our second sample of the night was their Pale Ale, which came in a shade darker in color, displaying good clarity and a beautiful white frothy head. The flavor up front was exactly what you'd expect in an American Pale Ale - bready sweet balanced perfectly with a mild hop bitterness. What was surprising here was the hop flavor - big and bold, showcasing the citrus character you want in an American ale. Finishes clean with a wonderful hopped aftertaste and leaving a very good overall impression.

The IPA was next and, like the Golden Ale, seemed to go down quicker than my notes. Clearly this beer was a hop display, showing off the strong American hop character in an unmistakable fashion. The initial sweetness was wonderful, a burnt sugar/caramel character that quickly would give way to that main hop attraction. I think it's safe to say I enjoyed this beer - so much so that after the sampling three pints of this would be consumed once my pen and paper were safely tucked away. I do need to mention, there is something strange about this beer - something about it I couldn't put my finger on. At first, this oddity distracted me to the point I wasn't sure I liked the beer, but then I realized I'd consumed two pints rather quickly so that thought went away. Mike confirmed this sentiment, suggesting perhaps it was the water. I know this, I'll be back to try and nail this down.

Final sample of the night was their Oatmeal Stout, a favorite style of mine. Of course the beer was black as night, yet not thick or viscous as some west coast stouts are. At 6.0% this wasn't a monster beer, nor was it ever intended to be, but it was full in flavor. A wonderful, rich, creamy chocolate bitterness shone through in a powerful way, the creamy body making it very drinkable. Yet again, sample seemed to disappear into the thin high-altitude air.

After the samples I had the great pleasure of meeting the brewmaster for FiftyFifty, Todd Ashman. With the legend that proceeded the man, I was delighted to learn how approachable, kind and generous he was with his time, thoughts and beer. After only a couple of minutes in conversation Todd invited me back to the brewery, a clean brewery with room to move, but not a lot of room to grow. Todd brought me back to share a couple beers that weren't quite finished, beers that needed a few more days in the tanks before they could be dispensed at the bar. First up was the Tripel, brewed with Palm Sugar and Sage Honey. For an 'unfinished' beer, let me tell you it was brilliant! The adjuncts complimenting the style in a way that I couldn't imagine - soft, yet full of flavor and very light in color. Todd went on to tell me his passion for brewing with unique ingredients and seemed to suggest patrons to FiftyFifty could expect a lot more of this kind of stuff in the years to come.

My final sample of the night my have been my favorite beer overall, the Porter. While it too was unfinished, the flavors in this were incredible: deeply toasted malt, hints of hops and a body that begged to be shown off. For a region seemingly obsessed with IPAs and the uber-hopped beers we love, a beer like this porter was refreshing, soothing and welcome.

After chatting a bit more it was clear that Todd had been at work for a long time that opening day, his mind clearly engaged in all that was happening, his body clearly needing some much earned rest. So, without a lot of fanfare he quietly called it night. It was a telling story watching the patrons at the bar watch Todd as he shut the lights off behind him and closed the door to the brewery - the looks that seemed to say "thank you" as they all tried not to notice. It was a beautiful night and this is a beautiful bar. I don't think it's a long shot to say that Alicia, Andy and Todd are just at the beginning of a wonderful journey, and although their name and proximity to Reno conjur images of a gamble, I think these guys are all playing with a stacked deck - and they're about to hit it big.

While there I had a great time with owners, Alicia and Andy Barr, and the brewer, Todd Ashman. Following the night I was able to ask a few random questions of Alicia about this new brewery, below are the highlights of that interview.

PBN - "The name. Hopefully you have a wrote answer for what the name means - as I know more than a few people last night wondered the same thing."
Alicia Barr (Owner) - "“FiftyFifty” to us is a broad term for balance. A big part of why we moved up here [to Truckee] to start this venture was to achieve a better work/life balance, something we used to hear preached a lot, but rarely saw practiced. Our work is our life now because it is something we are so passionate about. There is also the balance between beer and food, hops and barley, etc. Everyone has their own personal balance, which is why our motto is Find Your Balance. Then there is always the joke that if everything goes to hell, we’ll just split it up fifty-fifty."

- "Seasonal beers, will you have them?"
Alicia - "We will absolutely have Seasonal Beers! The Trifecta [Belgian Tripel] and the Roundabout [Oatmeal Stout] are our first real seasonals. We plan on rotating in different styles of stout throughout the year, and will definitely do several other seasonals as well."

PBN - "Who are the owners? I know you are an owner - wasn't sure who all was listed as such."
Alicia - "My husband Andy and I are the owners. We have some private investors that are friends or family, but Andy and I own about 90%. This is a true “Mom and Pop” operation."

PBN - "Why did you all decide to open a brewery? Previous experience?"
Alicia - "Why we did this… Well, given that both of us have masters degrees in engineering, it seemed the obvious choice to open a brewery and restaurant. The truth is, there is a combination of factors that led us here. (1) We both always knew that we wanted to own our own business, and we were ready to try something other than engineering – something with more direct people/customer interaction. (2) We had been vacationing in Truckee for years, and absolutely love it here, so wanted to make it our permanent home. (3) We love beer and food – I’m a homebrewer and Andy is a fantastic chef. Given those three things, and the fact that there was no brewpub in all of North Tahoe – we ended up here. Neither of us has any personal experience in the restaurant industry, so we hired two experts in our GM and Brewmaster. They are also invested in the company and the four of us make up the core team that runs the show."

PBN - "How'd you get Todd? That's a major part of this story, his being here."
Alicia - "Todd was a HUGE find for us. We posted a job listing to the Brewer’s Association email forum last summer for a start-up brewery in Truckee. Within 2 days we had 15 resumes. Todd was one of the first to respond as he had been out of brewing for a couple years and missed it dearly (as it missed him). We actually had a lot of excellent brewers apply as start-ups had not been all that frequent. However, it was pretty obvious from the get-go that Todd was the brewer for us."

PBN - "Future plans - will you hope to distribute locally or have taps in regional restaurants? Will you be part of the NorCal Brewers Guild? Will you have special events, like beer appreciation nights? Will you have guest taps, how many?"
Alicia - "Future Plans: We hope to start distributing to local draft accounts in about 6 months – probably a couple of key locations in Kings Beach and Tahoe City to start off with. From there we definitely plan on bottling, but it will probably take us about a year until we’re ready. Right now we are targeting the Manifesto Pale Ale and the Donner Party Porter for distribution. However, once we get enough capital to expand, we will also consider the Base Camp Golden Ale as well. We will absolutely be part of the NorCal Brewers Guild, as well as the California Small Brewers Association. We’re working on a lot of special events down the road, including a BrewMaster’s Dinner, Special Tasting nights when a new seasonal is tapped, and some other beer appreciation events."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend Review

Well, I have originally intended to review the Stone Pale Ale, but realized that my palate was a bit off and didn't think it'd do the beer justice. Then I realized something - I had a fantastic weekend, why not tell you all about that?

Friday after work I met some friends at our local brewery, Beermann's, in Roseville California. They recently started contract brewing for a large and established craft brewery and the mood was high. In addition, their Assistant Brewer (Tim) had just released a belgian inspired beer - and for the life of me I cannot remember the name - that was a blend of beers with a 60 pound addition of honey and use of belgian yeast. I don't think any brewer at Beermann's has attempted a Belgian beer before and this was certainly great start.

As an aside. I firmly believe that Tim at Beermann's is one of the most talented and passionate brewers in the region. And I say this with nothing but respect for all the brewers I have had the pleasure sharing beer with. Tim has "it", if "it" could ever be seen. I have nothing but admiration for the guy and hope if you make it out to Beermann's you'll be able to have a pint of something he's crafted.

Saturday I headed over to a friends place, he was hosting a dinner party for his wine enthusiast club. I had been asked to prepare a list of beers to compliment the meal, and I think I did OK judging by the conversations. My list included a whole lot of variety (I think 12 different beers in all) and in the end I concluded two things (bare in mind, this is not a beer loving crowd):
  • Affligem Tripel is that good. After laboring in my talking up of the pilsners, saisons, porters, and IPA this was the beer that needed no introduction and no geeky commentary. I knew the beer was good, but I have never considered THIS to be a 'training wheel' beer... until now.
  • Dark beers are really really misunderstood. I poured a bit of SN Porter and spent more time explaining that the beer wasn't "thick like Guiness". Yes, dark, roasty, toasty and yummy - but neither the porter or the dry stout are 'thick'. This must be the most misunderstood thing about beer - after the fact that Cold isn't a flavor.
  • A good German Pilsner is a good thing. One of the menu items was scallop fritters (yum), using chopped scallops, corn meal and onions. This paired with the pilsner beautifully.
  • Racer 5 is also that good. Another one of the beers that needed little introduction and a hit for all - once I said the word "Grapefruit" those in attendance were duely impressed.
  • I brought a couple fruited lambics thinking they'd be 'training wheel' beers for wine fans... and they looked forward to trying it. However, these were miserable failures. I brought a sweet peach lambic and a sour cherry lambic (Boon Aude Kriek). I laid in on the history of the style and how the beers are made, all good conversation pieces - but the beers simply did nothing for those there.
  • Vintage beers is also something largely misunderstood. I brought a bottle of the 2007 & 2001 Bigfoot and the side by side comparison was indeed impressive.
The event was fun and at the end of the night I was writing lists for beers to look for (Affligem & Aventinus Doppelbock seemed to top the list).

Sunday was a pretty tame day in contrast to Saturday's event, I really only wanted to get one beer in my system - the BRAVO IPA at Rubicon. If you're not familiar with the Bravo project, brewers all over Northern California are brewing a single hopped beer using the new "Bravo" hops. Jay at Brookston Beer Bulletin did a great job covering the hop and the main event, if you're interested.

So, onto the Bravo. Big grapefruit through and through with a significant bittering quality. I don't know what the hopping schedule was for the Rubicon creation, but the beer had a lot of flavor from the hop and an incredibly long lingering bitterness. The beer was great - my only ding for it was that intense lingering bitterness. In fact the beer was of such a quality I think I need to find another reason to go downtown this week.
Finally, beer is good on its own, but best with friends.

Martin Lodahl Show Posted

I try to not put the podcast side of PBN on this page too much - but I wanted to let you know that our first of two shows with Martin Lodahl has posted. If you're interested just click the Podcast & Press Releases link on the upper-right hand side - you will not want to miss this.

- Rick

Friday, July 13, 2007

Step Up and Say Thanks

Beer lovers,

Certain you've seen the news that Congress now has a "Small Brewers Caucus" who are all about enjoying craft beer. A great start at least...

The Caucus homepage

What I'd like to recommend is for all you to send a quick email to someone on this list and say thank you and let them know you love that they love good beer. My email also asked for reasonable taxation of alcohol and to bring in the drinking age limit back to the national conversation - but you can say whatever. These listed members are certainly getting an ear-full from the neo-prohibitionists from around the country, it will be good for them to know there is a lot of support for them as well.

If you feel ambitious, you can also email your representative and ask if they've heard of this caucus and ask if they would join - if for no other reason than to learn some helpful facts about beer and the brewing industry.

A couple quick email addresses are found on the homepage or

A Night with Martin Lodahl

Last night Mark, Mike and I accepted a special invitation to sit with Martin Lodahl, at his home, and enjoy some of the best Belgian (and Belgian inspired) beers out there while recording his thoughts and memories of his time in the country. We have well over two hours of audio that I will work on editing this weekend - enough for two shows. I can't help but think this is the most informative and entertaining show we've done to date and wish to pass on a very big "thank you" to Martin for making it happen.

Martin has been a brewing consultant, homebrewer, two time organizer for the AHA Homebrew competition, Beer Judge (as well as a board member for the BJCP) and contributor to the BJCP style guidelines. Martin also speaks about twice a year to BJCP classes and the Gold Country Brewers Association about Belgian beers.

A few articles
What to look forward to when these shows post:
  • Ommegang Hennepin
  • Moinette Brune
  • Afflegim tripel
  • Allagash four
  • Russian River Temptation
  • Boone Aude Kriek
  • Hansens Kriek
  • Lindemens Cuvee Rene 1994
  • Cantillon Organic Gueze 2003
Not a bad lineup, eh? I must admit, it may be the most impressive lineup I can remember for one night of conversational drinking.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Trader Joe's Bavarian Hefeweizen

image from
I had originally intended on putting this as my Summer Beer #3 review, but have reconsidered because I think this beer is available year-round. My wife and I love shopping at Trader Joe's, it is just a great all around grocer with quality food at great prices. Several years ago they had, what I considered to be, the best beer selection in town. Now, however, they seem to have lost their interested in beer and it seems like their shelf space for beer is smaller and their variety a bit less interesting that I remember. That said, a about a year and a half ago they started carrying their own brand of beer, contract brewed in large part by Gordon Biersch. These beers are great values - usually 4.99 a six pack (and you can buy singles of any sixer they have) and each beer full of flavor and aroma.

In the heat of Summer my love of all things hoppy subsides a bit and is replaced with a love of all things tart or sour. Now, I can't afford to drink lambic every night, sad to say, but I have found a well made hefe hits the spot. So, when I was picking up my week's worth of groceries on Sunday I picked up a six pack of the TJ's Hefe - my first time trying the beer - and I am happy I did.

Aroma: mild overall, with some clove spice peeking through. No hops, low malt. Clean to be sure and pleasant overall, just subdued when compared to some Bavarian samples.

Appearance: Golden color with a with fluffy head that has great retention. Slightly hazy, but not as much as other examples of the style.

Taste: Very thirst quenching, wonderful really. Slight tartness from the wheat with hints of citrus, clove and mild banana in the aftertaste. Hops are moderate, with a peppery characteristic and just enough bitterness to balance the biscuity sweetness. Finishes slightly dry with a lingering mild bittering that refreshes the palate.

Body: Medium bodied beer with low alcohol warmth and moderate carbonation. Again, a wonderful thirst quenching beer for hot summer days.

Overall: A great American made Hefeweizen, with more going on than some more widely distributed examples, but with less character overall than some of my favorite German versions (Hopf). Great for Summer days and clearly a drink designed to enjoy throughout the day. Yeah, I can have several of these without blinking an eye, meaning it must be good.

Score: 3.8/5

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ten People Who Shaped the US Beer Scene

Clearly this could get out of hand, the listing of influencial beers, brewers, people, cities, logos, ingredients, magazines, clubs and whatever. That said, Stan over Appelation Beer started the discussion with the 10 Beers that Changed America, which sparked some debate. Today, Jeff at Beervana lists Oregon's Influential Ten. I commented that his list made no mention of Fred (number 3 on my list) and then realized... why not do a list so you all can tell me what I missed? So, with that in mind, I offer a list of 10-ish PEOPLE who have shaped the modern American beer scene.

Fire Away!

1) Fritz Maytag - For obvious reasons he must top the list. Upon buying the struggling Anchor brewing he spearheaded the brewery's turnaround and making it the prize of craft brewing in America.

2) Jack McAuliffe - Owner of the now defunct New Albion Brewing, once located in Sonoma (their sign now adornes the wall of Russian River Brewing). Beer geeks will know the name, but in case you miss this significance, this was the first modern 'micro brewery' in the US. They weren't around when I discovered beer, but I have heard up and down reviews on what they once made - but there is no doubting the importance this place had in the US.

3) Fred Eckhardt - The first beer column writer published in modern times, beginning in early 1980's. His first columns were published in The Oregonian and his writings inspired many of the readers to start asking for better beer - if not make their own. Fred's first beer article was published in 1969, 10 years before making beer at home was even legal. Oh, and Hair of the Dog's "Fred" is named after the guy... how cool is that?

4) Charlie Papazian - Another no-brainer pick, but Charlie's book, "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" was inspirational to many beer lovers who would become home brewers... who would become brew masters. In addition, Charlie has continued fighting the good beer fight with his works with the American Brewers Association.

5) Bert Grant - You won't find a first or second generation brewer in the US (those who have been brewing 15-25 years) who doesn't want to give this man credit... who am I to disagree? Sadly, all I know about Bert is what I've read about the man - and it has all be very good.

6) Garrett Oliver - Getting to the 'iffy' picks, I am putting Mr Oliver on the list for what he is doing now with his passionate pursuit to change people's perception of beer, specifically with regards to food and beer pairing. Personally, I think he's the most articulate brewer/writer out there and his writings are among the most approachable out there.

7) Jim Koch - Boston Beer Co does so much to promote craft beer. Yes, they're promoting their own beers, but they are the only beer commercials to combat the B/M/C ads that saturate my TV. He is on this list mostly for his seemingly larger-than-life personality.

8) Ken Grossman - For two words: Pale Ale. Talk about spawning a revolution! And today he's not found brewing too often, but leading the way for sustainable business practices and social responsibility.

9) Tie because I can't tell them apart... Vinnie Cilurzo & Sam Caglione - It seems that these two are pushing two different envelopes with equal success and a wonderful friendship. Vinnie is becoming somewhat legendary for his work with sour beers and wine barrel aging - not to mention some of the best IPAs in the country. Sam... well, Sam seems to be doing whatever he wants, and doing it well - and has been featured on TV spots highlighting beer more than once for his works. Together, these two are creating a solid reputation for beers across the country.

10) With respect to Jeff Alworth's piece on "Oregon's Influencial Ten", I'll let this one remain empty. I know I am missing some obvious people and for that I apologize. I would like to see Dave Alexander, owner of Brickskeller, or Dave Keen of Toronado, Don Younger of Horse Brass - someone who makes the beer bar a great place to be today, those who have redefined what a Beer Bar can be.

Not Listed:
- John Maier of Rogue - I really wanted him to be here, but... he's not. I can't even tell you why.
- Greg Koch of Stone - Couldn't do it - I think he is deserving, but I can't pump anyone off the list.
- Tomme Arthur? Help me out here - who has had the greatest influence on barrel aging beers in the US? Todd Ashman was floated once as a pioneer while he was at Flossmore Station, but I honestly don't know enough to know how wrong I am. I mentioned Tomme for what he is doing now and the success he is having - along with the legend he seems to be creating - but that could be off base.
- The Alstrom brothers at Beer Advocate - Love the site or hate it, BA is huge right now. I hope they figure out their magazine endeavor, those who talk to me (thanks mom) just aren't in love with it like they'd hoped to be.
- Homer Simpson - and I am partially serious here. Can you name another "family TV show" who has a beer drinking father? Better yet, can you think of a family show that was on when The Simpsons first aired that had so much beer throughout the show? I can't.

A note about Rick Sellers
I am admittedly a student of the American Beer Scene at this stage of my life. I hope to someday be able to pass on the history of our modern brewing to as many people as possible, with the respect and passion those who are doing that now have in their writing and daily lives. I am pretty young (30 is the new 27, right?) still and know I have quite a ways to go before I'll call myself an expert. There are, however, experts I greatly admire who also have great beer blogs - Jay at Brookston Beer Bulletin, Lew Bryson at Seen through a Glass, Stan Hieronymus at Appelation Beer in particular. These guys spark my beer loving imagination and challenge me to dig deeper into my library of beer knowledge - or expand it I should say. I guess this little piece is a note of appreciation to the better beer writers in the country today, those who have seen and experienced more than me. Thanks guys.
- Rick

Summer Seasonal: Anchor Summer Beer

In this second installment of Summer Seasonal reviews for 2007 I have my first (to my knowledge) sample of Anchor's Summer Beer. According to the Anchor website, this seasonal beer was first brewed in 1984, but has only been bottled for the past five years (since 2002). It is available April through November in six packs and 22oz bottles, with this particular sample picked up at Beverages and More in Citrus Heights.

Apparently this is an American Wheat beer, and judging by the first year brewed, it must be one of the first to be made - no surprise knowing that Anchor has paved the way for several styles we love today.

When poured into a pint glass, this beer displays a dry, somewhat earthy and dried flower aroma. Very clean aroma too, slightly crisp and certainly inviting for hot summer nights. Its color is light golden with great clarity and a frothy white head that retains itself well for about 30 seconds after pouring.

The taste hits you in three distinct waves. Up front, the beer is biscuity sweet, with light caramelization. Next, the mild peppery and floral hop flavor and bitterness - for some reason I am thinking of dried flowers when tasted. Finally, this beer shows off a crisp, moderately dry finish and a wonderful tart character that is from the 50% wheat used in the recipe.

Anchor Summer Beer has a medium body with a chewy texture to it. Their site suggest a consistency of 'whipped eggs', but I am not getting that necessarily. The beer is also highly carbonated, lending to a more refreshing bite your cheeks will appreciate. Their is a low alcohol presence, which you'd expect in a beer boasting 4.6% ABV.

Overall, I gotta give some love for the quality of this beer, it is a great representation of the style. If you like Hefeweizens, beware. This is an American wheat through and through and you could be quite disappointed with every aspect of this beer if you're expecting the clove/banana character that defines Hefes. Additionally, the body and appearance would throw you off if you go into this expecting a cloudy beer. I personally find this to be very close to an American Pale Ale - but with a clear tart character.

The Score: 3.9/5

About my scores...
I am scoring these beers based on their style, not a personal preference. I am not a fan of the American Wheat Beer, it should be noted. However, many people are, and this beer is clearly made to style and is pretty much without flaw. So, it gets a high score - and 3.9 is a very high score.

My Scale (adapted from bjcp standards)
4.5 - 5 = Outstanding
3.8 - 4.4 = Excellent
3 - 3.7 = Very Good
2.1 - 2.9 = Good
1.4 - 2 = Drinkable
< 1.3 = Problems

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Wrong Message?

I have TiVo and rarely am subjected to commercials. However, I have been enjoying some live sporting events these days - Tour de France and tennis to be a bit specific - and this means I am seeing more TV ads than normal. A "new to me" add on now is the Miller High Life adds where Miller supposedly removes High Life from the shelves of upscale/over-priced establishments. First view of this I openly laughed, I mean, it is a really funny ad. But then I got to thinking more about it because something didn't seem right about it. Now I realize what it was - the ad is actually putting out the wrong message.

What message is wrong? That beer doesn't belong in fine dining establishments with "11 dollar burgers". Now, if the message were that you shouldn't charge 7 bucks for a 12 ounce bottle of Miller I would be OK with the ad, but that wasn't their message. Not at all. The sinister part of me believes this ad campaign is an assault on Craft Beer in the US, the beers that are finding their way more and more into these establishments. I also admit that the folks of Miller didn't think of the message beyond the humor of it all... afterall, the commercial is funny.

I don't know though, America has a rich and celebrated love affair with beer, and it is certainly a working class drink of choice (by looking at the numbers), but to suggest it doesn't belong next to fine foods and establishments... that's just nutty. But, maybe the message is half right. I don't want a Miller High Life with my flavorful 11 dollar burger - no, I think I'd rather see a heavily hopped pilsner or American IPA next to my plate. You think that was their intended message? No. Me neither.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Session Conversation - Atmosphere

Recently a topic for the "Session" topic came up that has piqued my interest. I don't rightly know what the rules of "The Session" contributors are, but I figured I'd give this a shot. I may have my blogger privileges revoked though...

I found this on the Appellation Beer Blog today.
"So, we want to know about the “Atmosphere” in which you enjoy beer. Where is your favorite place to have a beer? When? With whom? Most importantly: Why?"
Let's tackle this loaded topic one question at a time.

Where is my favorite place to have a beer? Where beer is appreciated by those around me. I frequent several local bars with friends and this seems to be the common denominator. It begins with the owner - they must appreciate beer, or at least appreciate that I appreciate good beer. These places are easy to spot based on the proportion of craft beer on tap compared to macro. From here the rest of the details all fall apart, but I guess to understand I should probably explain.

Stop One: The Dirty Place
This place has a better name, but to be honest I can't tell you what it is. It is found in an old part of town that seems to have been neglected for 30 years while the world around it progressed and moved into the 21st century. Upon walking in you quickly notice the place is dark, really dark, like someone forgot to pay the light bill type of dark. Next, you see all TVs playing Fox News - something you just don't see in most bars. There are a handful of unused tables and a bars with a spattering of regulars. In the corner, an pool table that leans to the left and a new Juke Box playing hair band favorites from the '80s. The bar is often sticky to touch, the bathroom disgusting and reeking of urine (you really have to go to brave this scene). It is a dive bar at its finest. But what's on tap? Moylan's, Rubicon, Bear Republic, North Coast, Lost Coast, Anderson Valley and even the occasional Hoppy. There is no mistaking why me and my beer loving friends find this place regularly, its the beer. We find that with good beer we can ignore the pundits (or laugh at their silly commentary), the filth and the general depressing nature of the place. Lose the beer and we'd never return. Oh, and the best part - Racer 5 pints are three bucks.

Stop Two: The Wine Bar
Not far from The Dirty Place is a wine bar in a new part of town, the part of town built in the 21st century with all the glitz and glimmer to accompany it. The scene here is quite different: A large flat panel TV silently showing whatever sporting event is on TV; Hand-painted murals on each wall with warm and inviting colors; A wall of fine wines from the many wineries in our region; New, clean tables and a floor that appears to be swept every 30 minutes. In addition, this place doubles as a fine cheese shop, with each cheese brought in special by their talented cheese man. What's on tap here? Today is Bear Republic Racer 5, Deschutes Buzzsaw Brown, Lost Coast Imperial Pilsner, Stone Pale, Moylan's Hopsickle and a local Hefeweizen - all to highlight an impressive bottled beer selection. Coming here isn't cheap, but the place seems to invite conversations with strangers and an overall good time.

Stop Three: The Brewery
Still in the same city, every Thursday and Friday night, our local brewery opens its bay doors for an evening beer tasting. No chairs. No glasses. No TV. No music. There is a fake cow you can sit on when its your birthday, but that is another story. Beers are poured in a small plastic cup and regulars will bring in community finger foods, like chips or sometimes even a pizza. They almost always have a blonde ale, an IPA, a stout, a red and whatever they happen to have just made a one-off batch of. This place is a warehouse through and through, but the people come each week to enjoy the beers after work and find new friends, all while hoping to say hi to the local brewers there and get the inside scoop on what to expect next.

Stop Four: The Other Brewery
Down the street from The Brewery is a chain brewery, new and super shiny. Getting in this place on a Friday night can be tricky, but once in you can sit in a comfortable seat and enjoy cocktails, house made beers and premium shots of your favorite liquor. On every wall are flat screen TVs, many per wall that is, all playing sporting events of any kind. People here are dressed for a party - women in low-cut blouses and men in fresh-pressed button downs displaying their favorite name brand. To call this place 'trendy' may be an understatement, and I think you know what I mean. The place makes good beer though, and always has great guest taps. We don't mind at all bellying up to the bar in our less-than-stellar apparel and challenging those around us to drink better beer (yeah, they sell a lot of Bud here, believe it or not).

So, there you are, my favorite places. Each as different from the other as can be, but all serving good beer - on purpose. There are other dirty places in town, more breweries to see and lots of wine bars - but they don't respect beer or appreciate my beer enthusiasm. These four places do, however, and for that I have great appreciation and loyalty, as do my beer-loving friends.

Oregon Brewers Festival 2007

Will you be there? My plans have not become finalized, but I know I'll be flying into Portland late Weds night and checking into my downtown hotel with Chadd, organizer for Sacramento's Hop Head beer enthusiast club. That night, after we check in, I hope to check out a nearby pub.

Thursday morning we'll participate in the OBF Parade and then be at the OBF by 1:oo PM. We'll stay the whole day on Thursday at the OBF and hopefully have dinner at Concordia Ale House (an undecided item).

Friday I hope to hit up Hair of the Dog for a bit, hoping to meet up with the brewers there. After that a couple other breweries will be visited and maybe a couple hours again at the OBF.

Saturday is road trip day. My goal is to get out to Stevenson to see Walking Man again, then head out to Mt Hood to see Double Mountain and Full Sail.

So, again - will you be there? Let me know and we'll try to meet up.

Some Like it Hot

With 107 reached in my town yesterday and 125 degrees reached south of here, it is clear that much of the country is in the furnace of summer right now. So, with that in mind, I have put together a quick list of beers you can find to help cope with the heat.

- Berliner Weisse (style): while hard to find, this beer is shockingly refreshing when served cold and there is no need to add syrups to this sour beer.
- Lambic: forget the fruited lambic (unless you happen to find Hansen's Oude Kriek, which is a god-send), this heat requires the wonderfully refreshing tart character that comes from the Lambic tradition. Gueze's are generally less offensive to your palate, by the way, so if you find this blended lambic, you'll be set.
- Flanders Red: While harder to find in any sort of quantity, you can usually find the Duchesse de Burgone. It is a bit sweet up front, but quenches your thirst quickly.
- Hefeweizen: And finally, the old stand by for summer heat. With this moderately tart style and chewy texture (all coming from the Bavarian yeast strain), you will find it goes down easy and doesn't leave your mouth coated in sweetness. Leave the lemon for your lemonaide, these beers are great on their own.
- The others... yes, if you must have your pilsner it will work, same with some light bodied American Pale Ales. Also the Deschutes Buzzsaw Brown is a great option if you want more malted goodness in your flavor.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Independence Day for the US is here again, a great time to enjoy the company of friends and family while grilling and drinking a good beer. Like so many others, I wish you all a happy and safe holiday, but I have a couple of suggestions for the American Beer Lover.

  1. Do NOT buy Corona and give your local grocer hell for having it on sale for a decidedly American holiday. Afterall, how much more offensive can you get than to push a non-American beer for this country's biggest party? Don't do it. And don't buy Heineken or other imports for your 4th of July party. Drink American and encourage your friends and family to do so as well. Hell, I'd buy a Bud over an import for this holiday... not that I'd buy a Bud.
  2. Buy a good summer seasonal, especially if you have never tried it. On the market now are some great options (I think I'll try them all):
    1. Full Sail Session
    2. Sierra Nevada Summerfest
    3. Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
    4. Anchor Liberty
    5. Alaskan Summer Ale
    6. Deschutes Buzzsaw Brown
  3. Share with your friends. Beer isn't just to be consumed, but it is a chance to share and a story that hasn't been told. Don't be selfish with the good beers of this country.
  4. Lunch plans? If not, go to your local brew pub. They often have great food for summer heat and wonderful beers to go with it. Support your local brewer.
  5. Finally - respect beer. If you don't belong behind the wheel, then don't get there. Don't be an ass and don't make the good beer lovers of this country look like drunken idiots. If you need to do that to have a good time, pick up a few cases of Bud and have at it. Seriously, you are the billboards for the craft beer industry and if you're not able to enjoy the product while putting on a good face for the holiday then don't. I don't care if you're drunk, there's a good chance I'll be, but the idiocy is what kills. Again, respect beer.
That's it. Happy Fourth of July everyone.
- the guys at Pacific Brew News

Monday, July 2, 2007

Draft Magazine: Rick's National Writing Debut

Friends, this week the newest issue of DRAFT magazine hits the shelves and features a healthy amount of my very own writing! Yes, part of their cover story, "America the Beertiful" was written by yours truly (from Colorado to the Pacific). I haven't seen the final piece yet, but am happy to have been able to put the piece together with them.

Now, go pick up the magazine and tell me what you think!

July is Oregon Beer Month

Yes, July means many things for many people, but for West Coast Beer Enthusiasts, this is Oregon Craft Beer Month, capped by the legendary Oregon Brewers Festival at the end of the month, in Portland. This month I'll try to put an Oregon focus on beer reviews and stories. For now, a press release.

Below is info from the website.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Portland Mayor Tom Potter have declared July to be Oregon Craft Beer Month. What does this mean to you? Oregon’s craft beer industry invites you to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month at any and all of the following events. Can’t make it to Portland? Visit your local pub, tavern, or grocery store. Just remember to “Think Oregon, Drink Oregon!”

1. JULY 1 – JULY 31
26 Rotating Oregon Craft Beers
McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside Restaurant & Pilsner Room, 0309 SW Montgomery, Portland 1pm on July 1st
11 am to 11 pm daily
503-220-1865 •
Come and meet Oregon brewers from around the state and enjoy a rotating selection of Oregon Brewed beer all month long while visiting the home of the Full Sail at Riverplace.

2. Ten Taps Program
All Rogue Pubs 541.867.3660 •
In honor of Oregon Craft Beer Month, Rogue Ales will be dedicating half of its beer taps at every Rogue pub to local craft breweries.

3. JULY 11
Public Tapping of Velvet Pale Ale
Rock Bottom Brewery, 206 SW Morrison St, Portland
5:30 to 6 pm
503-796-BREW •
Complimentary samples of Rock Bottom's Velvet Pale Ale, the beer voted “People’s Choice Best Pale Ale” at last year’s Oregon Blind Tasting.

4. JULY 12
Oregon Brewers Guild Supporter of Native Oregon Beer (SNOB) Gathering
Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, 5151 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland
1 to 3 pm
503-288-BREW •
Come visit Laurelwood’s new brewery in the heart of the Hollywood district. There will be a brewery tour at 2 pm, along with a raffle for “July is Oregon Craft Beer Month” t-shirts. The event is open to the public, who can sign up to become SNOB members.

5. Double Mountain Brewer’s Dinner
Good River Restaurant, 904 Second Avenue, Mosier OR 7 pm
541-478-0199 •
Join brewmaster Matthew Swihart for a pairing of Double Mountain beers with a
special menu from Good River chef Barry Rumsey. Seating is limited; call for
tickets or more information.

6. JULY 16 - JULY 22
Beer Specials Featuring "Sour" Beers
Belmont Station, 4500 SE Stark St., Portland
503-232-8538 •
Specials on tap and in the bottle throughout the week. Unofficially named the "Puckerfest," several sour beers, including a year-old Berliner Weiss from Portland's BJ's Brewpub, will also be pouring at the adjoining biercafé.

7. JULY 18
Double Mountain Brewer’s Dinner
Celilo Restaurant, 16 Oak Street, Hood River
7 pm
541-386-5710 •
Seating limited; call for tickets or more information.

8. JULY 19
Concordia Cup
4 to 10 pm
Concordia Ale House, 3276 NE Killingsworth, Portland
Join a dozen Oregon Craft brewers and vote for your favorite Imperial IPA.

9. JULY 20- JULY 21
Sagebrush Classic
Broken Top Club, 62000 Broken Top Dr, Bend
800-601-8123 •
One of the Northwest and Central Oregon's premier culinary and golf events, put on each year by Deschutes Brewery.

10. JULY 21
Beer and Sausage Fest
Raccoon Lodge & Brewpub, 7424 SW Bvtn Hillsdale Hwy, Portland
1 to 10 pm
503-296-0110 •
Featuring a variety of grilled sausage and live music.

11. 6th Annual Roadhouse Brewfest
Cornelius Pass Roadhouse & Imbrie Hall, 4045 NW Cornelius Pass Rd, Hillsboro
4 to 11 pm
503-640-6174 •
Savor ales from eight McMenamins breweries, along with food specials and chats with McMenamins brewers. Live music provided by the Scraff Orser Band and the Freak Mountain Ramblers. Joe Mishkin "The Balloon Guy" will entertain the kids.

12. JULY 24
Beer & Cheese Tasting With Fred Eckhardt
Rogue Ales Public House, 1339 NW Flanders, Portland
Doors open at 5 pm
503-222-5910 •
Join Fred Eckhardt, the dean of American beer writers, as he pairs a selection of Oregon microbrews with gourmet cheeses. Tickets cost $30 in advance, or $35 at the door; seating is limited.

13. JULY 25
Oregon Brewers Guild Dinner
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, SW Bill Naito Parkway & Oak St, Portland
5:30 to 8:30 pm
503-288-2739 •
Some of the biggest names in craft brewing attend this informal BBQ as a prelude to the Oregon Brewers Festival. The ticket price of $40 ($30 for SNOBs) includes dinner, a souvenir pint glass, and eight half-pints of Oregon beers that are not featured at the festival. Proceeds benefit Oregon Brewers Guild. Attendance is limited to 750.

14. JULY 26
Oregon Brewers Brunch and Parade
Starting point at Rogue Ales Public House, 1339 NW Flanders, Portland
503-778-5917 •
Traditional brunch starts at 10 am. At 11 am, brewers and beer lovers set out for an oldfashioned sidewalk parade, accompanied by kazoos and music from the March Fourth Marching Band. The parade will wind its way through Portland sidewalks, with scheduled stops, to the opening ceremonies of the 20th annual Oregon Brewers Festival. $15 fee includes brunch, beer, t-shirt and kazoo. Tickets available at the door.

15. JULY 26 – JULY 29
Oregon Brewers Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland
Noon to 9 pm Thurs-Sat; Noon to 7 pm Sun
503-778-5917 •
See details on page 6

16. JULY 27
Third Annual Sasquatch Brew Am Golf Tournament
McMenamins Edgefield Inn, 2126 SW Halsey St, Troutdale
8 am to 1 pm
Pair up with celebrity brewers for a round of golf at one of the coolest courses in the area. $75 fee includes golf, picnic lunch, prizes, games, goodies, and a golf shirt. Proceeds benefit the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation to support its brewing scholarship program.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Beer Enthusiast Group

We all know, or should know, that beer is not merely a drink to be consumed - it is an art, a craft, a science and a story yet to be shared. I am fortunate to be part of an active beer drinking group, a beer enthusiast group that is, who enjoy gathering for a good conversation and a few great beers. Recently a dear friend was in town, a member of our group who moved the the Northwest, a man we all love to see when he finds his way back down, and this in itself was cause enough for celebration. The meeting place and time was set, and we all knew beer would be in order.

Now, I am going to list the beers we sampled last night, but I guess I need a little disclaimer here - actually, this is a main point for the story here, so if you're wanting to start up a beer enthusiast club that enjoys a lot of variety, pay attention.

In attendance last night were 7 group members. When a beer is opened among us, it is for group enjoyment and there is no hogging of good beers by anyone in attendance. This typically means each of us is served a few ounces, never a whole pint and rarely a half pint. If you'd like to create a beer enthusiast group in your area, you must understand this. If we each had a pint of all of these beers, we'd be pretty useless on an average Thursday. For tastings like this you don't need a whole glass, the point here to to sample as many good beers as you can, all while making sure to enjoy the conversation and the finger food that should be available.

The Beers:
- Klaster Dark
- Lodi Beer Company's IPA
- Full Sail IPA
- Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA
- Lagunitas Lucky 13
- Bear Republic Red Rocket
- Lengthwise Triple Hop Red
- Bear Republic Tribute Brown Ale
- Brew It Up Mai Bock
- Blue Frog Mai Bock
- Sequoia Buzzsaw Double IPA
- Lagunitas Maximus IPA
- Green Flash Imperial IPA
- Moylans Hopsickle

It was a good lineup to be certain. Each person responable for bringing a beer to share with the group. Shopping priorities are simple - if you have never seen it, never tried it, buy it. Not all new beers are great, but you just never know. Beyond that, shop for your favorite beer you don't get to try every day.

Next, food. We almost always have a fresh baked loaf picked up at a local grocery store, cheese, salami or other finger food type meats. Interesting note on cheese too, we shop for cheese the same way we shop for beer, often bringing in a cheese we've never tried. Now, we're not cheese experts and can't really tell you what makes a great cheese, but we've found some wonderful pairings with this method.

Finally, the parameters. Enjoy yourselves, then enjoy the beer. We will often speak about the beers, afterall, we are a beer enthusiast group, but it all seems secondary in the overall scheme of life conversations.

So, if you have friends you don't see often enough and you all like beer, start your own beer enthusiast group in your area. Our group started mostly as strangers some years ago, and today we are all good friends. Beer enthusiast groups are a great way to discover more beers than you can on your own and a fun way to spend an evening. I think you'll agree.

- Rick Sellers