Monday, August 31, 2009

Everybody's Brewing - finally

On our third try, we finally got to sample some of the White Salmon based brewery's brews. The first time, they didn't have any of their own on tap, the second time, they were closed due to a neighboring fire. But now, they are open, with three of their own on tap, and nine guest taps. So after a nice hike up Wind Mountain yesterday, we went for a much needed beer. First up, I had the X-tra Pale (pictured), and Erin had the ESB (pictured). At this point, I should say, I do not feel I should say whether or not I liked this ESB, or any ESB. I can say what I thought, but really,I don't like ESB's. Erin liked it a lot, but I didn't, too sweet for my taste. It did have a nice, red colour, and very little head. It has a malty taste, with some bitter notes from the hops. Now, Erin liked it, said it was nicely balanced, and the waiter said it was his favorite beer. I didn't like it, but that says nothing really. Now, my X-Tra pale, which the waiter told me is 5.3%, was really good. Again, little head, nice cloudy yellow color, had some faint citrus notes on the nose, had a hoppy, sweet taste, with a gentle aftertaste, all leading to a very tasty brew. Iwill say, I wondered if the waiter messed up and gave me the IPA, it was a hoppy Pale, but then, I had the IPA, and I knew it WAS the IPA. At 6.8%, it is their biggest brew. The flavor was very floral, and not as bitter as other IPAs. But, it was very good. Sometimes, I think with some extreme IPAs, when the IBUs are pushed, the balance goes askew, making a "hey look what we did" brew, instead of a beer anyone would want to drink on a regular basis. This was a great beer, with an explosive mouth feel. I could swear I even got a little pepper on the aftertaste, with some spicy notes. Very good IPA.
So, to wrap it up, the beer was very good. The view from the deck is amazing, and any bar with a kayak strapped to the wall is a winner for me. We had the nachos for a snack, and have had the chips and mango salsa in the past, both pretty good. The guest tap list is also nice:
Laurelwood Organic Red, Scuttlebutt Porter, Double Mountain Kolsch, Deschutes Green Lakes, Stone IPA, Walking Man Red, Rogue Brutal Bitter, Hamms, and Pine Martin Pale.
So, I have a few complaints, though few, and small. After the drive home, I put my finger on what I didn't like about Everybody's Brewing. It doesn't feel like a brewery, it feels like a family restaurant, that happens to have some killer beer. I would have a beer list, or a beer menu, describing the beer, and listing the details that beer geeks like. When I asked about the ABV, the waiter didn't know any of them, and had to search for the info. Which is fine, and the guy was super nice, but, it's a micro brew. At least write them on the chalkboard. Also, the deck with the great view of Hood I mentioned earlier, is totally at mercy with the sun. I wish they would put out some umbrellas for the tables out there. Two small issues.
Make it a stop on a Hood River, Stevenson, White Salmon pub crawl. Drive from Portland just to go?? Hmmm, probably not, but...maybe. Maybe, go and decide for yourself.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Triple Nickel

Finally, a post about darts. Really, we have been in a rut when it comes to playing darts. We usually end up at Lucky Lab, Roots, or when the eyes want more than the wallet has to offer, resort to the $11 half rack of Lost Coast at Plaid Pantry and stay in playing on our home board that hangs on our sadly punished wall. But last night was different, we decided to venture out to Triple Nickel. It was my first visit to this Belmont dive, known for strong drinks, organic cruelty-free tater tots, pool, and hosting dart league play. I had read on Bar Fly various reviews, some making it sound like paradise, others making it sound like hell on earth. Some reviewers talked about rude bartenders, dirty people, and disgusting food. But, I found none of that last night. Of course, I am not saying those may not be there, but for us, the experience was good.
It is a sports bar, well sort of. They have a number of flat screens, all playing whatever game of pointy ball may be on. Which, worked well for us, because we had our pick of any of the four dart boards. The dart area is awesome. The ceiling panels ooze nicotine from decades of patrons, the walls are stained in chalk from the score boards, and you are faced with a mind boggling number of plaques and trophies from dart tournaments of years past. All of this, mixed with a damn strong Gin & Tonic, with Queensryche playing on the jukebox, well, that is the Triple Nickel.
Now, the tap list does hold the required PBR, Henry's, and Deschutes offerings. But, there was a couple of interesting taps, Hale's Cream Ale from Seattle, and Trumer Pils from Austria (well, Berkeley, CA).
Yes, I liked the place. Except for one huge problem I had....Erin beat me the first match, and we called the second a draw so we could make our movie (Up, really good by the way).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bill's Tavern - Cannon Beach, OR

Bill's doesn't make it to Portland all that often, or, at all as far as I know. They have two locations in Cannon Beach. One downtown in the tourist-centric area, and one a little farther out, the Warren House. Usually, when we are in Cannon Beach, we head for the Warren House. It is less populated with casual wander-bys, has an outside beer garden, and pool table. But, for this trip, after a successful Saddle Mountain summit, we choose the downtown outpost.
They have seven of their own beers on tap, as well as three guest taps.
First up, I had the Duckdive Pale Ale, while Erin opted for the Ragsdale Porter.
The pale had a nice head, a very cloudy hazy body, and was a darkish tan/yellow. There was little nose, but that lead to a low carbonated, nicely balanced brew. It had a full, pleasing mouth feel, and really, in my view, was closer to an IPA than a pale. It is made with Amarillo hops, and weighs in at 4.8%ABV. I really liked it, and wish it would show up in town once in awhile.
The Ragsdale Porter was too bitter for me, personally. For a porter, I found it a little weak, both in flavor and appearance. It finished flat, and left little aftertaste. Erin liked it however, and was happy to find a lighter porter for the summer months.
Next up was the 2x4 Stout, and at 7.9%, the biggest brew Bil's offered. The nose had notes of roasting coffee and caramel. The mouthfeel had malt, smoke, and caramel, with no coffee notes like some other stouts have. They use a mix of Ahtanum, Chinook, and Summit hops.
The last beer I tried was the Asa's Premium Blonde. A 4.6%ABV beer that was light, saison golden, and had a small, though thick head. The nose had a very strong, hopyy and orange aroma. It was crisp, and refreshing.
Bill's isn't a destination brewery by any means, but handy to know about if your in Cannon Beach. The food was good too. We split an order of Halibut fish and chips, and really hogged it down. Why isn't it a destination brewery? Well, everything is good, but not "drive an hour great." Call me an alcoholic (go ahead, my wife does everyday), but I like my beers in the 5.5 plus range, and a little more full bodied. But, for what they were, I thought everything we had was done well, and when I am in Cannon Beach again, I would go back.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blitz Ladd Inaugural Brewers Challenge

Last night was the first brewers challenge at Blitz Ladd. Though not too far away, I usually avoid Blitz because I am not a fan of sports bars. But, that being said, we had a pretty good time last night, and enjoyed some great live music from The Insomniacs. The theme for last night's challenge was IPA. The tasting tray was $5 a head, and you got to sample 12 different IPAs. The list was:

Fearless IPA - 5%ABV
Fish Tail IPA - 6.7% ABV
Union Jack IPA from Firestone Walker - 7.5% ABV
Eclipse IPA from Bend Brewing Co. - 7.6% ABV
El Torrero IPA from Alameda Brewhouse - 7.1% ABV
Old Salt IPA from Cascade Brewing - 5.8% ABV
Inversion IPA from Deschutes - 6.8% ABV
Grandson of Spot IPA from Full Sail - 6.0% ABV
Apocalypse IPA from 10 Barrel Brewing Co. - 6.5% ABV
Total Domination IPA from Ninkasi Brewing - 6.7% ABV
Grifter IPA from Mac Tarnahan's - 6.2% ABV
Hop Stoopid IPA from Lagunitas - 7.7% ABV

The Grifter IPA won the judge's choice award, while the Hop Stoopid won the people's choice award. Our two favorites were the Union Jack, and the Old Salt. Our least favorites were the Fearless, and the Eclipse.
I hope they make this first time challenge a yearly event, it was fun. According to the taster sheet, they are having a Winter Brewers Challenge. Stout?? Hmmm, I hope so. I will be sure to check it out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weihenstephaner Korbinian

A nice little sale of note is going on, as I write this at least, at Belmont Station. For just $2.49, you can pick up a bottle of Doppelbock from "the world's oldest brewery. " Weihenstephan Korbinian, besides being a good beer, is a good pickup if, like me, you like to collect labels. As with a lot of German beers, the design on the label is really interesting, colorful, and makes whatever is inside seem very prestigious. Is it the best Doppelbock I have ever had in my entire life? No, but it isn't the worst either. Is it the best I have ever had for $2.49? You bet your ass it is. At 7.4% ABV, you won't make it through too many I would think. It was quite dark, not too sweet, and nicely balanced. I am not a food pairing genius or anything, but I would suspect that this beer goes better with food, than just drank alone. But, again, at $2,49, you can afford to be experimental.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Klamath Basin Brewing at the Lab

Quick note, a fantastic beer from Klamath Basin Brewing is available at the Hawthorne Lucky Lab. The beer is called 8 Second Ale. It is made using Hersbrucker hops, which gives the beer a light hop flavor, great for these horrid 100 degree days. I thought I might have even detected a little bit of Rye on the mouth feel and aftertaste, which was nice as Lucky Lab currently doesn't offer the Quality Rye, a beer that deserves a seperate mention on it's own.
So, I do not know if other Lucky Labs have it, but stop by the Hawthorne post, grab an 8 Second, then scurry back to the dart boards for an affordable, boozy way to say fuck you to the triple digit temps.


Everyone has one. The old saying goes they are like assholes, we've all got one, and they all stink. Sometimes opinions can make you friends, and other times they can make you enemies. Opinions about beer are no different. One man's Duvel is another man's Keystone Ice. If you are in Alabama and order a Duvel in some backwoods bar, your liable to never be seen or heard from again. Likewise, if you order a Bud Light at a micro-brew in Estacada, you will be laughed at "until the idiot who asks this question finally leaves quietly in disgrace".
I think opinions about beer are so interesting. We have our beer experts, our connoisseurs, the opinions that we read in magazines that we hold in high regard. We have our blogs, for those of us that have "way too much time. Instead of creating something. They tear things down, which has always been way easier." And then we have the no blog writing, non beer expert, consumer, that actually likes to drink the beer he/she likes, and tell friends about it.
In my opinion, the most respected of the beer gods, all the way down to the simplest of the Estacada folks "who are so damn jealous" "they can't see straight. They are pissed that someone is able to accomplish anything in this town," have a right to think what they want. We all are amazing experts when it comes to our own palette. It's true. I am the world's leading expert on the palette of Jeff (this Jeff anyway, there are a lot of us).
I blog about it. What I think.
I have a full time job, goals, plans for a side business, have fought and won a battle with cancer, a loving wife, great friends, and count myself lucky to live in the greatest town in the greatest state in the country. I do not have way too much time, I have spare time. Spare time that I like to drink beer, appreciate beer, and talk about beer. If I go somewhere and love it (like the awesome Ft. George) I climb to the tops of buildings , screaming out "Go, Go, Go!!" If, however, I go somewhere else, and do not like it, I enjoy writing abut that as well.
But, who am I . Just a guy. My last name isn't Eckhardt, or Armstrong, or Alworth, all of whom I enjoy reading. I take their opinions very seriously, and respect each of them. I would also respect an opinion from some guy with a last name of Jones, Smith, or Doe.
What gives me a right to my opinion? The hard earned money in my pocket that goes out, and supports the local micro-brews. That's right, my consumerism gives me the right to drink, eat, be merry, and climb on my soap box and bitch and moan to my heart's content.
Some people, however, think certain soap boxes are made out of gold. Unfortunately, in reality, they are ALL made out of popsicle sticks. And not the good popsicle sticks, the cheap crappy ones.
Why Jeff, why do you rant on, why aren't you writing about how great the new tasting room is at Upright Brewing (it is), or how awesome it is that Bar Avignon has Ft. George on a permanent tap (Vortex IPA, mmmm).
Why???? Why????
Apparently, because I have way too much time on my hands, have no desire to create anything, and am surrounded my cross-eyed, jealous, pissed off friends.


Or maybe because every time I drink a micro-brew, I can taste Oregon. And all I want, is for Oregon to taste very, very good.


italicized quotes courtesy of Ken Johnson, whose beers I am not a fan of.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fearless Brewing - Part Zwei

Lately, I have been emailing back and forth with Fearless brewer and owner Ken Johnson. He read my honest, blunt, and not very kind review of his beer and bar from a few months ago. He has been very nice in his emails, and assured me if I was to come out, he would sit with me and go over every beer and talk with me about them. He also has noted that respected Portland beer writer, Fred Eckhardt, called his IPA monumental, despite the fact I can not find it on tap anywhere in the Portland metropolitan area.
So, denying Ken's kind request to host me, I decided to try to find somewhere where he is on tap in Portland. Well, one of the few I could find was Hungry Tiger Too, a place I knew the location of well, being directly across the street from FH Stienbart. So, this Sunday, my wife and I went to see if my taste buds were off, or if Ken's has slipped.
The beer in question was Fearless's Scottish Ale. Fearless describes this beer as such : "from beer novice to beer geek, everyone loves this beer." Bold. Sadly, much like surburban menus that promise the best fish and chips in Oregon, the beer fails. Everyone does not like this beer. I did not, my wife did not, the bartender did not, and from what we were told, cutsomers did not much like it either.
The color on the beer was fantastic, a dark amber, with almost an orange tinge to it. However, much like Micahel Jackson, the beer had no real nose. The beer starts with a slight hint of flavor, that dissapears quickly, leaving, like most other Fearless beers, an almost detergent aftertaste. My wife treid it, and noted it was malty, and bitter, though I described it more like colored, fizzy, alcolohic water.
I told Ken that anything I say about his beer is my opinion, and nothing personal, though he thinks I have some personal feeling either towards him, or his establishment. I don't. Ken, from what little I have seen, or from what little I have spoken to him, seems like a nice guy, that is happy doing what he does. I just do not like his beer, plain and simple. I hope it gets better, and I wish him and his brewery nothing negative. I just think the beer lacks flavor, substince, and any interest at all.
So Ken, if you read this, know I truly have nothing against you. I just do not like the beer you are currently making.
As if I had any doubt, after this, we went to Upright Brewing's new tasting room and enjoyed their amazing beer. A world apart. Not just in stlye, but in complexity, execution, and passion.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Double Mountain trip

As if anyone with any common sense needed an excuse to go to Hood River for no other reason other than visitng Double Mountain, I have yet another. Thy name is Oaked Idle Hands. If Ft. George's Illuminator is sex in a glass, than Oaked Idle Hands is the pleasing, comforting smoke afterwords. It is a Scotch ale, aged in oak barrels. It is brewed with Gambrinus Organic Pilsner and Dark Munich malts, imported crystal malts, and roasted barley. It uses Brewer's Gold and Newport Hops. It is 8% ABV. It is...spectacular. At $6 for 12oz, it is a steal. Calling this one of my favourite Double Mountain brews is saying a lot. I haven't found one I don't like yet (though the current batch of Kolsch, unfortunately, seems a bit off). I have a bad feeling that it will never see the bright lights of the rose city, so I urge, beg, insist that you drive, bike, or crawl to Hood River to get it, before it is gone. Double Mountain, I feel at least , is not the same brewery that we saw when it first split from the Full Sail (full sail sucks) macro machine. It is becoming polished (try the Pilsner), experimental (Oak Aged Scoth Ale), and otherworldly (Kriek, Kriek, Kriek). With Ft. George and Double Mountain, I feel like Brad Pitt, with Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie tugging at either arm. But, lucky for me, I get to choose both.

MacTarnahan's Lip Stinger

MacTarnahan's is not known for extreme beer, interesting beer, or, in my opinion, even good beer. I mean, it's ok, drinkable, but nothing to write home, or a blog about. Until now. I got a 22 of Lip Stinger from the always awesome Belmont Station the other night, and man, was it good. It is a farmhouse style ale brewed with peppercorns. The taste, and interest, was far beyond the 4.8% ABV that the label suggests. It is funky enough to stand proudly in line with other farmhouse style ales, even (gasp) the most excellent Upright Brewing. For a brewery that usually has the excitement of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Lip Stinger is a welcome surprise, and one that I hope to drink much, much more of.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Double Dead Guy

Usually I am not a big Rogue fan. I don't know why, but nothing I had really excited me, and the bottles always beg for a few extra bucks than I usually have. Some of the wilder ends of the Rogue experimentation leave me reaching for my water glass rather quickly. I go to the Rogue pubs though, whenever I am near one, and leave with the same "why did I go there" results. I spent too much on the food, and too much on the beer. Well, my friends, that may have changed during my last visit to the Rogue in Astoria. I got the Double Dead Guy, with an order of Dead Guy Marinated Mussels. The mussels were good, though I prefer the Spruce Gin Shrimp Cocktail. But, the Double Dead Guy, although I have had it before, was excellent. I could get a hint of orange on the nose, and maybe even a little apricot. The taste was fantastic, a little citrus-y, and much like a regular Dead Guy on steroids. They do bottle it, and Belmont Station has it, but if you get it on draft, I would highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ft. George trip

Yesterday we took our friends from Illinois to the mecca of coastal brewing, Ft. George. We were lucky enough not only to chat with Chris, but catch the musical stylings of the Musky Buskers.The two piece from Portland sounded great. Ft. George had a BBQ going on outside, with brats (not veggie brats though) and the awesome Illuminator Doppelbock on tap. It is barrel aged using barrels from the Heaven Hills distillery, and tasted a lot like a Belgian Sour to me, which Chris, owner/brewer, agreed with. He credits that to the barrels he used.I of course, took a growler home with me. Which leads me to the next excellent point, the amazing new growlers they have. They are like nothing I have seen before, and have cool flip tops. The other beer of note we tried was the Spank Stout, made with a spicy mix of Jalapeno, Habanero, Pasilla, and Anaheim peppers brewed right into it. I usually despise chili and spicy beers, but this one not only was really good, the subtle spiciness made me want to drink more, and more, and..well, I don't remember much after that.
Ft. George is growing by leaps and bounds, installing a breath taking new outside tank, and inching ever closer to canning their Vortex IPA.
The food, as always, was great, and getting to talk to the two brewers of Ft. George was an honor, and a pleasure.
It is a bit of a drive, but well worth it. Ft. George is my favourite Oregon brewery, with Double Mountain at a close second. Amazing beer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Everybody's Brewing..except them

Well, just got back from a berry picking, geocache getting, and Walking Man drinking day of fun. Sadly, when we tried to go to Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon, after being promised last time some home brewed beer in the following weeks, the sign on the door said closed until further notice. So, I am posting this, hopefully stopping others from the journey, since the website says nothing of it. I'll write about Walking Man soon, as well as finish up my Walla Walla series. Until then, beat the heat, and enjoy something cold and alcoholic. Cheers.