Tag Archives: beer event

Holiday Ale Fest 2013 Day 3

6 Dec
A sea of people and its only 3pm

A sea of people and its only 3pm

Well over these three days I did not get to all the beers but over the last three days I manage to cover the vast majority of them.  Give them all as quick read, for a little planning your Holiday Ale Fest weekend because as you know beer fest in Portland are very crowded over the weekend. Cheers everybody.

Golden Valley Brewery.  Santa’s Smokin’ Bock. Let’s hope I didn’t mess up and the smoke malt, 60% of the grain bill, doesn’t wreck my palette for the day. Well, nose displays just a hint of the smokiness. Wow, this is good, the smoke malt is present but just adds to the notes of fruit, pear?, all the way to the crisp spicy hop finish. The smokiness increases as the beer warms a bit but In this weather you have nothing to worry about. This is a must try beer. Continue reading


Holiday Ale Fest 2013 Day 2

5 Dec

IMG_7385Lets start this post off right, three cheers for the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.  Now let’s drink some beer!

Oskar Blues. Ten Fiddy, 2008 limited release. Starting out the day with a five year old stout. Sweet, roasted malt nose. Noticeable sweet, warm alcohol finish. From my memory of the Ten Fiddy in the can, this beer has seem to lose some of the heft from the body and the alcohol is more present and warming. Given the choice, I would chooses pint of the current batch over the aged Ten Fiddy, but started with a warming beer as this, is not a bad way to start this cold day.

Base Camp. White Squall. This wheat wine starts with a faint fruit nose.  The beer starts with the same fruitiness up front, white grape?, that quickly gives way to a strong wheaty sweetness. There are some spicy hops here but the flavors are not so cohesive. For me the beer gets a, meh. There is nothing terribly wrong with the beer, it just does’t shine.

Alameda Brewing Co. Long Beard’s Baltic Porter. The beer smells of sweet coffee.  A light body beer, with just a hint of the smoked malt, which is nice. The original flavor fades to sweet dark malt, yet remains balanced. This beer will not show you something new but is worth a ticket.

Bear Republic Brewing Co. Santa’s Lost Wallet.  A blend of two of Bear Republic’s stouts and a brandy barrel aged Belgian Brown. This beer is a good contrast to the Base Camp brew, here all flavors come together to make a great winter warmer.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Erotic Cake.  Again, another beer that is not breaking any new ground, even with the cocoa nibs “dry hopping” but this is overall an excellent milk stout. I enjoyed it from start to finish.

Stickman Brewery. The Twerking Elf.  Northwest Sour Brown. Just a hint sour to the nose. This is a unique beer. I would call this a sweet and sour beer. The beer has some body for a sour, which carries a bit of sweetness, but that last for just a moment before the sour takes the beer to its finish. This is a great place to introduce yourself to sour beers as the sour here is quite gentle. For me this beer brings something new and is worth a ticket. Now about that name….

Rogue Ales & Spirts. Big Ass Rye Strong Ale. This is the third beer at the fest this year that smell like a skunky Heineken, not good. And it tastes like a Heineken with a hint of rye. Just skip this beer.

IMG_73932 Towns Ciderhouse. Bourbon Barrel Nice and Naughty. I approached this cider with some hesitation as the aroma was so spicey, I was afraid it would overwhelmed the cider. I am happy to say, I was 100% wrong! While I don’t get much in terms of flavor from the barrel the cider and spices plays very well together.  The description may remind one of a mulled cider but here the cider and the spices are brighter and more enjoyable.   This is a two ticket cider and totally worth it.

Hop Valley Brewing Co.  The Wolf. The description calls it an English Barleywine but the hops on the nose says otherwise. While it does start out with an initial sweetness, the hops quickly assert themselves in this excellent American style Barleywine. When it comes to barleywines I am generally at traditionalist, preferring the more malty English style, but this beer has me rethinking my stance. This is an excellent beer, get a taste, or even a full mug.

Drinking, thinking and writing about BEER.

Drinking, thinking and writing about BEER.

Widmer Brothers Brewing.  Biere de Noel.  The description of this Biere de Garde does not mention hops at all but a resinous hop is all I get from the aroma. The hops carries this beer. While there are sweet/malt notes, the hops are the star. The hops are complex and quite simply delicious. Two beers in a row that I have to give a full recommendation to try.

Columbia River Brewing Co. Hawaiian Christmas. Here I have to be up front with my biases, I loved Roots Coconut Porter and I will be comparing this beer to that great porter, even if just subconsciously. The beer starts with a very nice sweet coconut nose. Drinking this beer, the coconut is lost to me, which is unfortunate. That aside this rich imperial porter is very tasty.

I will wrap up with a few comments on the Fest its self. Clearly Wednesday, was a way better day to enjoy the festival. I know this is hindsight and is now advice for next year but Wednesday had way more beer lovers, fewer plain old drunks staggering around. That said I know I will be back to sample more tasty brews tomorrow.

Holiday Ale Fest 2013 Day 1

4 Dec

IMG_7369Coalition’s Shenanagins. Barleywine. Clearly a Coalition beer, they somehow make a big barleywine dry and crisp. Lightly sweet up front, then the dark malts come through. The dark malt adds just enough tannins IMG_0215to dry the beer without being overwhelming. Amazing this lighter bodied beer is not alcohol hot at all. Don’t like big bodied beers but want a warmer this is your beer.

HOTD. Jim 2009. I am a fan, HOTD brings the artistry to brewing. Not all their beers are home runs but the home runs are all out of the park. Jim 2009 is no exception, damn this is complex. Hops have faded a bit from last year, malt is now more forward, it bring notes of fig, dates, dried fruit to the front. Still balanced from start finish. This is a special pouring, I hope all of you are one of the lucky ones to get a taste.

Collaborator hullucinator. Skip it, tastes just like Heineken. Not worth the ticket.

Nation McGuinness. Imperial Milk stout. Wonderful nose, coffee and spice, like a Greek coffee. Light bodied, so the dark malt jumps out immidately. Not as complex as the aroma would suggest. This is a good stout, worth a taste but don’t expect something groundbreaking.

Deschutes Brewery, Yule goat. This is a spiced brown fermented with with brett in whiskey barrels. Clearly a brett beer, strong sour nose. Many times sours are quite thin as the brett ferments out so completely but this beer has some body. The whiskey barrel is quite subdued, lending just a hint of vanilla and what to me tastes like a tart srtrawberries. I am sure this is all from the yeast but it makes for an interesting beer, worth your ticket.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Luponic Merlin. An oatmeal stout, hopped up with Citra, Centennial and Simcoe. The nose of this stout is very traditional, all dark malts. It tastes just as one would expect from the description, a hoppy stout. One might call it a West Coast stout. If you are one who thinks all styles of beer can use a heavier dose hops this is your beer. This is a great beer but I will admit I liked the Velvet Merlin from 2011 more.

Elysian brewing Co. Doom. Starts off a bit rough, with a nose that is a bit like a skunky lager with the smell of the hop bines. But the taste, wow hopheads rejoice! If hops are your thing, start with this beer. The Citra and Nelson Sauvins hop impart a wonderful tropical fruit note. In parallel, Magnum bittering hop contributes a nice spicyness. The complexity of the hop is very impressive. Back in August, Elysian had the best beer at the IIPA Fest at Saravasa and while I come to the holiday ale fest for the the winter warmers, Elysain may win out once again. This is a must try beer!

Eel River Brewing Co. Gargantua. An imperial strong ale blend. Starts with a light vanilla and brown sugar nose. The vanilla/bourbon flavors are right up front, with a real nice creaminess. This softens and rounds out the barrel flavors. The finish, is lightly sweet and lingering. A wonderful winter warmer on one of the coldest days of the year.

Burnside Brewing Co. It Make Reindeer Fly. Imperial Rye Ale. So, this beer is made with carrots and raisins, a kind of beer carrot cake? A nice winter ale made all the more pleasant with the sharp dry rye finish. Another tasty winter warmer to try at the Holiday Ale Fest.

Kells Brew Pub. Imperial Brown Ale. I was lucky enough to talk to the brewers about this beer and the thought behind this beer was to remind the drinker of a traditional Irish fruit cake, all the while relying on just the basic ingredients required to make beer. I believe Dave and crew were successful. The beer is sweet, with hints of dried fruit and enough English hops for spice. Tasty.

PINTS Urban Brewing Co. Hibernator. PINTS calls this a weizendoppelbock. This beer starts with a lightly sweet aroma. The description hits it on the head, this is a big, slightly sweet hefe. It has all the clove and banana a good German hefe should. Wheat beer fans, this is your first stop.

Oakshire. Swiss Mrs. Alpine Alt. A milk chocolate stickle alt. Good idea, not well executed. The cocoa nibs are very noticeable, it is too strong for the light body of the beer.

New Belgium Brewing Co. Barrel Aged Cascara Quad. Sweet roasted nut smell. A sweet winter warmer. Good but nothing special. In years past New Belgium brought one of their Lips of Faith beers, which were always something to look forward too. This one just doesn’t live up to past offering here at the Holiday Ale Fest.

West Highland Brewing. Spiced Ale. A lightly sweet spiced ale. This one hits the spot. The body is big enough to hold up to the very noticeable, cinnamon and ginger. In my opinion a lighter beer, spiced like this would come across as harsh. Here the flavors meld well for an enjoyably winter spiced ale.


Hopworks Urban Brewery. Kronan the Bourbarian. This is a Baltic Porter aged in bourbon barrels. Spicy nose. A rich Baltic Porter, with strong bourbon and vanilla flavors. This quite simply, is a great barrel aged porter. There is nothing new, but it is well executed. I am sure this will be a popular brew, stand in line and get yours.

Lompoc’s 2012 Holiday Beers

25 Nov

Well, I hope this finds you relaxing after a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrated with friends and family, an understanding that black friday is for choosing between a stout or a porter, and the football…well lets not talk about the football.  If you are now in the holiday spirit, but an early Thanksgiving is leaving a gap in your merrymaking plans, then I have just the thing for you – a little holiday cheer.

Miranda, Brian, and I spent a few hours back on Monday, November 12th, at Lompoc’s Sidebar tasting their winter brews with a few other bloggers. Why were we so privileged?  Simple answer: to get you all excited to go to the Sidebar on Tuesday, November 27th for their holiday beer release extravaganza.  This is the unofficial kick off to one of the best beer drinking weeks on the calendar: the Holiday Ale Festival. Soon you will be able to get the official descriptions from the Lompoc website, but below I give my thoughts (and a few from Miranda and Brian) on each beer.  All pallets are different, and agreeing or disagreeing is not the point, this is to pique your interest and help you out the door to raise a pint on Tuesday, Holiday Ale Fest Eve.  There are few beers I will definitely be going back for seconds for next Tuesday. Continue reading

The Flavors of GABF: Day 1

29 Oct

Well, once again I have shown I type slower than a turtle in the arctic, so I am breaking the list of the beers down by day. Day one is about as complete a list of tasting notes as can be when faced with over 2200 beers in a room with 20,000 people. My notes are short and to the point but I took them seriously. I definitely plan to use this list on my next trip to Belmont Station or Bridgetown Beerhouse, and I hope it is useful to you as well. I know taste is very subjective and this represents my opinion only, so if you have tried one of the beers in the past, or take my advice and disagree with me, tell me. Let me know which beer and why in the comments.

Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn NY
Sorachi Ace
Light Belgian saison made with the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace. Complex, medium body beer with the mustiness of a saison. The beer had a very nice flavor but did lack a bit of the nice lemoniness the sorachi ace provides, which I was hoping for. Side note, Brian and I made a similar beer this year and while I can’t say it is better, we definitely stood our ground with a professional brewer.

Monocacy Brewing Company, Frederick MD
Riot Rye Pale
All citrus hop nose that carries through in flavor and finishing rye and dry. I like this beer very much. Note: Miranda tried this beer (and she offered it to me) toward the end of the GABF and it was not nearly as good with a strong diacetyl (buttery) flavor.

Sean Kelso spending a little bit of time at his old booth

Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City OR
A CDA or black IPA – whatever you want to call it – this is one fucking good beer!! Seek out this beer and drink 2 or 3 pints.
Another damn good beer, hell just go to Barley Brown’s and taste all their beers.

Bend Brewing Co. Bend, OR
One Loudah
A slightly sweet nose but all hop flavor. This is not to say this beer was not balanced. Nice dry finish. Another good beer from Bend.

Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago IL
Sweet and spicy, cloves, cinnamon?, but that all there is, generally a one dimensional beer. Generally unimpressive. I guess I expected more as I have had some good beer from Goose Island in the past, stouts especially, and this one does not stand up.

Christmas ale
Spicy, slightly sweet, and big bodied beer. Definitely a winter beer. I liked it but understand this beer will be too sweet for some.  So I didn’t write down the brewery, which I understand makes it impossible to find again, but give me a break, it is hard to hold a glass, write, and have 20 knuckleheads bump into you all at the same time.

Flat 12 Bierworks, Indianapolis, IN
Half cycle IPA
Light, crisp, hoppy and balanced.  Awesome beer.

Nola Brewing Company, New Orleans, LA
This imperial IPA had a real nice and strong hop nose. This beer is notably dry for a double IPA. The beer is balanced and showed off a very good use of hops. With family in the south it is always good to find a good beer from this area of the country.  Now do they distribute to Arkansas?

Left Coast Brewery Co., San Clemente CA
Left Coast Rye IPA
Rye is very prominent in this beer, something I like. Nice hop bitter and finish, wrapped up in a large bodied beer. A very good rye.

Ska Brewing, Durango CO
Steel toe Stout
Strong tobacco nose, interesting. Rich, medium dry stout, a good beer.

I told you it was crowded

Strange Brewing Company, Denver CO
Farmhouse ale
I know this style of beer can be musty, but the nose on this beer was awful, like piss.  Was it poured into a dirty pitcher before it went into my glass?  The flavor was better, hoppier than most farmhouse, making a bit different. A good start, but then finished yeasty. I would not have two tastes.

Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz CA
Bacon Brown Ale
An unimpressive brown, I have no more to say.

Mad Fox Brewing Company, Falls Church VA
Pale Ale
Nice bright floral hop, a very drinkable pale ale.

Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Easton PA
Black Sour
Holy shit this is a very good sour beer. Sour but very drinkable, rich for a sour. I could have multiple pints.
Double Simcoe
I smell pickles. Is this a funny smelling beer or did I not rinse well enough? This is clearly bittered with simcoe but I expect a 1000x more when someone is using the awesome, simcoe hop. This beer was thin and unimpressive.

Santa Fe brewing Co., Santa Fe NM
Happy Camper IPA
An all malt nose, I couldn’t detected any hop. The flavor is better, the hop is clearly there and good. A decent IPA.

Big Choice Brewing, Broomfield CO
Huge body, sweet with some hop but just not balanced. Not my pint of beer.

Asher Brewing Company, Boulder CO
Funbarrel Monstah
Big 11% beer with aromas derived from the barrel, vanilla and fruit. The nose carried through to the flavor with the addition of bourbon to finish it out. A good barrel aged beer but I have high standards for this kind of beer, and it is not up with the best.

Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Cuvee d’Apricot
Dried apricot nose hides the sour and let me tell you this is a sour beer. A delicious summer time sour.
From the Wood
Sour nose. Rich and complex in flavor, yet less so than the apricot. Assuming From the Wood is a barrel aging reference, I did not detect any obvious flavors from the wood. But again, it was another delicious beer from Marble.
Imperial Red (Silver medal winner)
Hop nose (heavily dry hopped I suspect) and strong hop flavor, yet very balanced. One top-notch beer, I could have five pints (except the beer is 9%).  Across the board an excellent brewery. I will be looking for their beer to show up one day at my local bottle shop.

There was more to check out than just beer!

Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que – Lake Travis, Austin, TX
Bitchin’ Camaro
Awesome name, shitty beer. Malty sweet, unbalanced. The first beer I poured out tonight.

Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que, Austin, TX
Bride of Zombie
Light in color and bodied, very citrusy, tasty IPA
Hop zombie
Nice standard IPA.  For you Oregon beer drinkers, it reminds me of Double Mountain’s Hop Lava with bright hops, light body, and a dry finish.  A nice standard IPA. I am starting to believe tasting multiple beers from each brewery is the way to go at GABF. If I had stopped at Bichin’ Camaro I would have said stay away from Uncle Billy but what can I say his Zombies are tasty.

Stewart’s Brewing Company, Bear DE
Oyster stout (Silver medal winner)
Roast malt nose with a hint of coffee. Good stout with a slight briny note, lighter body and dry finish, like an Irish Stout. I have had a few oyster stouts and generally like them, and this is a tasty representative of the style.

Beer Valley Brewing, Ontario OR
Fresh hop Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale
A very good IPA but frankly not as good as the standard Leafer which is excellent.

10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend OR
Crosby Farm Fresh hop
Nice Pale Ale that showcases what fresh hop can bring to a beer. The flavors are hard to describe but if you have ever picked hops you know what I am talking about.

Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Nice standard IPA, now can we get them to be more creative with the name?

The flavors of day one as I recorded them.  I didn’t really put a dent in the larger list of beers at GABF but there is always day two.

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