Monday, November 30, 2009

Old Market Pub

Located just east of Multnomah Village sits Old Market Pub. The other outpost of this two pub chain is The Broadway Brill & Brewery. We visited Old Market the other day after a quick hike up to Council Crest. First impression..sports bar. Which is fine. I counted eight TV’s, all playing different football games. Ok, I can deal with it, as long as I follow my new rule of never sitting under one.
The first two beers we ordered were their Pinocle Pale, and Rat Dog ESB. The Pinocle Pale, according to their lackluster beer menu, is “an excellent crisp rendition of this classic style!” It came with a very slight head, and with an amber color. It was indeed crisp, hoppy, and too bitter for me. The bitterness lingered long after the beer was gone. It was drinkable, but I do not know if it was “an excellent” rendition of the style.
The ESB was a better choice. It had the exact same color as the pale. It had some nice malt taste, with hints of brown sugar. Unfortunately, like the Pale, was suffering from an overpowering bitterness that was not balanced enough by the malt, for myself.
My last beer was recommended by the waitress, the Mr. Toad’s Wild Red Ale. This apparently was their “first great beer!” It was very dark, Stout dark. It was the best of the three we had, and was like drinking a light Stout. It was not very malty, not very hoppy, and had a very weak body. In short, it was kind of....blah. But, the best of the three.
Overall, the beer was ok, but if you are in the area, try to make it a little further to Raccoon Lodge.
So, all of that being said, I have some other observations. First off, it is primarily, I would say, a family friendly sports bar. They do have a pretty big menu, with lots of different options, and even a separate vegetarian menu. The food we had was pretty good. In the back room, they have four shuffle board tables, four pool tables, and a really interesting looking Gilligan’s Island pinball game. Each shuffle board table had a nicely laminated sheet with instructions and rules for the game, which is great. I wish they applied the same well thought out design and execution to the beer menu.
Old Market Pub makes me angry, like other brew pubs do. The beer seems to take a distant back seat. After asking for the beer menu, I was given a little 4x5 wrinkled piece of paper, with some horrible notes on the beer. Most of the info listed brags about awards they won in the last century, instead of little things like ABV%, IBU, and hops used etc. This is info beer geeks love, and thrive on. Why take more pride in your shuffleboard rules than your beer menu, you're a brewery! After ordering our first beers, our main menu with the beers listed was taken away, leaving me with no list to go off of until I asked for it. Does this frustrate anyone else??
The bar is covered in Corona crap too, from dirty Corona bottle salt and pepper shakers, Corona coasters, and Corona banners running the entire length of the room. Corona? Do they have stock in the bar? Also, it wasn’t even listed on the beer menu as an option, do they even carry it? Aaugh! They are a brew pub in Portland, meaning they make their own beer, and I assume take pride in it, why clutter your brew pub with Corona stuff. Was the distributor trying to clean out the trunk of his car? Have you ever seen a Budweiser poster at Double Mountain? A Busch coaster at Upright Brewing? Fuck no. Whew....calm down...calm down..
So, I don’t know, maybe I am super critical. Maybe they just want to make some beer, and watch some football. Nothing wrong with that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Palo Santo Marron

The Palo Santo Marron, from the ever experimental folks at Dogfish Head, is a 12% ABV brew that pours out like motor oil....a very tasty motor oil. One you get past the likeness to Pennzoil, you notice the beer pours with a gorgeous, creamy head. In the darkness lies a beer aged in wooden tanks made from Paraguayan Palo Santo, which translates to "holy wood", trees. The nose does little to let you in for what you have in store, you mouth is about ready to thank you. The taste is caramel, with hints of cherry: vanilla, with hints of chocolate. It tastes so smooth, you wonder where the 12% is, but after a bottle, you soon find out. The label lists it as a Brown Ale, but Porter or Stout drinkers would find a friend here as well.
The wood lends so much to this beer. The tanks used are "At 10,000 gallons, the largest wooden brewing vessel built in America since before Prohibition." Usually I am dubious about beer aged in wood. I think sometimes it adds a lot, but sometimes it adds too much. This beer's wood addition is so subtle, like Getz playing softly in the background. But, as Corcovado sweetly fills the room, you can hardly imagine the room without it.
I bought this fine beer at Beer Mongers for $3.50 a bottle, though I would, after trying it, gladly paid more.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Sorry...

but this has nothing to do with beer or darts, but it makes me smile....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fire Mountain Brew House

Hidden on the bottom shelf at John's Market, I found a new beer, from a new brewery, Fire Mountain Brew House. Located in Carlton, FMBH has two brews to choose from, an "Oregon Pale Ale", and a "Steam Fired Stout." According to FMBH, the pale is "The best of both worlds. This crisp, balanced ale combines the fruity yeast profile of an English ESB with the light body and citrusy hop character of it's American counterpart." It is a good beer, but in my opinion, not so much a pale. In fact, I would say it is one of the better ESB's I have had. It has a fruity, citrus nose, and a dark brown color. The first taste I got was sweet malt, with a very citrus, almost orange , finish. At 5.5% it is quite drinkable, and has a very low 35 IBU. On the label they claim to be brewed "old school," and maybe they are. I drink this and think of some truly fantastic English ESBs. I would like to see this on tap somewhere soon, to really see a nice full flavor profile on it, as I always think something gets lost in the bottling.
All in all, a good beer. I think this upstart shows great promise, and I look forward to trying more of their brew. They mention that they are also at Saraveza and Hop and Vine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Horse Tavern

The One Horse Tavern in Gaston used to serve up some home made microbrew, good food, and provide some small town friendly service. Well, two out of three isn't bad. Coming back from Wandering Aengus yesterday, I made a plan to stop at the One Horse Tavern to try out some of their brew, but, alas, they brew no more. The bartender that has only been there three weeks did not know when or why they stopped, but after checking around the web, it seems as though they were brewing as recently as June 2009. Currently, they have four taps, and a moderate bottle menu. The menu looked interesting, although, not a place for all. But, according to the bartender/waiter/cook, the food is all homemade, and excellent.
So, if you are in the area, and eat some dead cow, stop on by, but do not make plans to go there to try their beer.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: La Mâitresse du Moíne

Midnight Sun Brewing is a brewery that I, until now, was not very familiar with. Most people probably can not name more than one Alaskan brewery, which I hope changes. I got myself a 220z bottle of La Mâitresse du Moíne last night at Beer Mongers, and was completely blown away. It is a Belgian-style dark ale that comes in at 9% ABV. It pours quite dark, with a nice creamy head. The nose has hints of caramel, sweet malt, and brown sugar. In the mouth, it's caramel notes become stronger, and has that "oh so lovely" Belgian yeast taste. It has a very strong taste, but light body.
Even my Belgian beer hating wife was loving this beer..too much in time I will buy her her own.
The Mongers also have CoHoHo, a seasonal Imperial IPA from Midnight Sun, and they are trying to get the Arctic Devil Barley Wine. Belmont Station has the Maitresse, Obliteration, Panty Peeler, and Sockeye Red.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the winner is.....

..for the award of most useless use of shop space in Portland goes to "Stout, Microbrew, Wine and Market." The new..ok..I'll call it a bottle shop..located at 2033 SE Hawthorne, opened with the fanfare of an ant's fart, and rightly so. Stout, Microbrew, Wine and Market (yes, that's the name) is to bottle shops what MC Donald's is to fine dining. Walking in reveals a selection only second to 7-11, after it's been robbed and hit by a bomb. 80% of the beers are from Pyramid, 10 from Misc, and the rest is PBR. 6 packs of macro brews, hanging out warm against the wall, will run you 7.99, while the special of the day, Pyramid 12 packs, will set you back 8.99. It might be the only place in town to still get spring seasonals. Nothing is really priced, and you need the shop owner, with his phone glued to his ear, to let you know what things cost. Though after being there, I learned it is either 7.99, or 8.99. The soda to beer ratio was roughly 3 to 1, and the back room was full with assorted crackers, ramen noodles, and other crap I saw for a split second before bolting out the door.
Ignore the British flag on the sign too, since I saw not a single brew from the UK.
Oh yeah, they have wine too. Save yourself the 200% markup and go to Plaid Pantry.
If you have the desire to stop and check it out, pull over, place your hand in your glove compartment, and slam it repeatedly until you pass out from the pain. You will thank me later.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mash Tun

If ever there was a time I cursed myself for not having a growler or set of darts in my car, it was today. I had first gone to Mash Tun years ago, on a blind date. Memories of the girl, and the beer, had fizzled away. But trying to come up with a place to grab a pint and bite in North Portland today, Mash Tun came to mind. Back then I was single, and swore Full Sail was the greatest beer ever/ Things have since changed.
It is easy to drive right by Mash Tun. Located on a side street off of Alberta, a small sandwich board is all you have to guide you as you concentrate more on avoiding hitting stoned hippies or lost tourists.
The small-ish brewery is off to your right as you enter, and the dart board is on your left. The dining area can seem a little cramped if the outdoor patio is not open, but one man’s small is another man’s cozy.
Besides their own brews, the full bar also has a nice selection of guest taps from Ninkasi, Double Mountain, and Walking Man. The dining area also has a free pool table, along with three (three too many for me) flat screen TVs playing whatever game is going on.
When we were there, they had four of their own on tap, an Imperial IPA, the “Cream O’ Wheat,” “Alberta Pale,” and the “Kilgore Stout." We tried it all, except for the Imperial IPA. The Alberta Pale, in short, was excellent. It was a nice golden color, a little cloudy, and poured with a very small head. It wasn’t very hoppy, and the hops that were used gave the beer a pleasant floral flavor, and very little bitterness. It had hints of orange, and finished nicely.
The Kilgore Stout was quite dark, but light tasting. It was slightly sweet, and had strong flavors of chocolate. Erin described it as “roasty.”
Lastly, I had the Cream O’ Wheat. I am usually not a great admirer of wheat beers,but this was a dilly of a beer. It was light , and a good session beer I think. No real strong flavors came out, it was instead balanced well, and a joy to drink without endless dissection.
A lesson I learned today was one should never sit under a TV. Most of the eyes in the pub were squarely focused on said TV, which in turn felt like every eye was focused on us. But it’s ok, I am working on these issues in therapy.
Also, our waitress, Kimberly, at that moment, was indeed the hardest working waitress in Portland. She was not only the only waitress, but seemingly the bartender, and busboy. She may have been the cook too, but I am not sure. During all of this, with a full room, she remained calm, friendly, and a fountain of info on Mash Tun’s brews.
Other notes, my usual bitch, not enough info about the beers. I would like to see a menu, that actually stays at the table, describing all of the beers, including ABV’s, IBU’s, and any other pertinent information. And also...ummm..well, that’s it. The food was great, the beer was very good, and the entire waitstaff (Kimberly) was awesome.
Make a trip up to Alberta for Mash Tun. It is well worth the trip.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Breweries

In case you haven't heard, Stumptown is going to be guest to even more microbrews int he next coming months. Between Beervana and It's Pub Night doing great jobs reporting this, I'd like to simply link to this list on Beer Around Town. Enjoy, and keep your peepers peeled.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday night at Beer Mongers

Where else can you hear Robert Plant belt out Black Dog on a huge flat screen while trying quality micro brews? I had a great time at Beer Mongers last night. They recently added four more taps, bringing the grand total up to five. On tap last night was Ninkasi Sleigh'r, Firestone's Union Jack, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Bear Republic's Racer 5, and Monkey Face Porter.
Besides the Led, Firestone was doing a tasting, showing off their Union Jack (way better on tap), Nectar IPA, Hemp Ale, and their "seasonal" robust porter. The only beer I really liked was the porter. The Union Jack, as mentioned, was far better on tap, and I found it flat from the bottle. The Nectar IPA was hop heavy for me, and the Hemp Ale fell into the Hemp beer status of being gimmicky.
Aside from that, last night was great. The guys that run the place are true beer lovers, and it's a privilege to get into a conversation with one of them. Check this place out if you haven't already. The prices are awesome, and the beer they have all rate as very interesting choices, and you will find something you haven't seen before.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cash pricing at Belmont Station

As a member of Belmont Station's email list, I was recently informed of their new pricing setup.
From their email:
"Effective this Monday, November 2, the biggest discounts will go to CASH customers. Just as at the gas pump you now see two prices on all the beer, cider, mead, sake, and wine at Belmont Station. The CASH price is about 4% lower than the credit/debit price."
Hmmm, what to think of this? My first observation is that, to my knowledge, no other retail store,including bottle shops, does this. As a devotee to plastic currency, I know I am less likely to shop there now, knowing that someone in front of me, with the same product, will be paying less with cash.
Also, if I bring a certain amount of money, cash, and happen to see something new or interesting, I can not grab it if it eceeds the amount of cash I brought. I have to walk around thinking about how much I am spending, instead of grabbing a pint next door, and wandering around filling my six pack at will. Now yes, they will have an ATM there...
"We are also installing an ATM for your convenience, although we recommend you make sure you know if your bank will charge you extra to use what they call a "foreign" ATM. Tip: some credit unions and small banks do not charge these fees, that is the kind of ATM card I have."

As far as I know, the keeping the money local argument goes flying through the window when you are paying an ATM fee, and any money you are saving by using cash gets sucked back into that fee.
It could be I am being whiny about this. You may say, "just man up and bring cash", and "you can avoid a fee by going to your bank."
I do not like the idea of being in the same store, buying the same items, and paying different prices. Whether or not it is the cash price at Belmont, gas at the station, or whoever has that fucking Safeway card. Though not overly scientific, I did find a poll online regarding this issue regarding gas stations. Out of 26,335 votes, 29% of the votes said they would rather go elsewhere for gas to either protest the practice, or find a better price. Considering 40% of those polled didn't have stations that split prices, that is a staggering number.
But, I still like Belmont. And I don't think they are doing this to frustrate people on purpose, or or for any other reason but to save money for customers, and make more for themselves. That being said, I think I'll grab a pint at Belmont, and buy a beer at Beer Mongers. I guess it is the stuborn mule in me, but I don't like being punished for whatever payment option I choose.