Beer Touring Oregon

As I said a few weeks ago, I traveled out to Oregon over the weekend to visit my brother who lives in Astoria, Oregon.  Having neverhaystack gone to visit my brother on the west coast, I was really excited to get out to the west for a much-needed visit.  I’ve only been as far as Colorado before, and I wasn’t able to drink at that time, so I was just as excited to finally get some of these west coast brews I can’t find back east.  Ironically, I’ve actually had and enjoyed quite a few beers from Oregon, but I quickly found out I hadn’t really had anything yet.

We got into Portland around 8 PM their time.  That of course meant it was already feeling like 11 PM our time.  I’m a night owl so it wasn’t a big deal for me, but my wife was certainly starting to hit the sleepy wall.  Since we were most likely heading back to Astoria pretty quickly, we decided to catch dinner in Portland before our hour and a half trek back.  Lacking imagination, we tried to head over to Rogue for something to eat and drink.  For some reason they were painting the place that night, so we had to find another Sleighrplace to go.  They recommended we head over to Cassidy’s.  Cassidy’s was alright on the beer realm, but it was great for food.  I had Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt from Ninkasi and Working Girl Porter from Fort George Brewing.  Don’t get me wrong, I can’t find either of these breweries over on the east coast, but I am actually quite familiar with both of them.  Therefore, I was really looking forward to getting something from some breweries I hadn’t had.

The next day we were off in the Astoria area and visiting some of the places around him. We first headed over to see the Pacific Ocean in Seaside Oregon first.  My brother informed me of a new brewery over there called Seaside Brewing Co.  Of course I had to go in!  While there I had some great brews.  Their imperial stout Black Dynamite was actually being brewed homebrew style right as you walked in the front door.  I of course had to have that one first.  Both Black Dynamite and their Lockup IPA were quite good.  If I lived over there I’d be there all the time.  While there I noticed a pamphlet for something called the North Coast Craft Beer Trail.

Evidently, while on the trail, you move up and down the Astoria area trying out different bars.  There are 11 bars on the list, and if you go to 9 of them, you get  a commemorative glass for your efforts.  Of course a glass may not seem like a big deal, but it gave me a goal to shoot for.  Not all of the bars were the best, but I had a lot of good beers.  Some of the beer highlights from the trail were the Black Bear XX from Alameda Brewing, Double Daddy Imperial IPA from Speakeasy Ales, the Roguenbier Rye from Rogue, and the Polish’s Black Walnut Stout from Fort George Brewing.

One of the biggest beer activities from the weekend was visiting Fort George Brewery’s Dark Arts Fest.  When I first heard about it I Festival glassmade fun of my brother for dragging me to a witchcraft festival.  Thankfully, I found out that instead it was a big stout festival featuring 40 different stouts from the Oregon area.  I was actually quite impressed by the way it ran.  They had different areas in their restaurant, on their porch, in their tasting room, in a performance area, and in the actual brewery for tasting of different beers.  They also managed to get some crazy big and amazing beers in as well.  Here are, once again, some of the highlights.  The Abyss from Deschutes, Super Nebula from Block 15 (aged in Pappy Van Winkle Barrels), Suge Knite from Boneyard (14%), and Spiced Old Baba Yaga from Bear Republic.  Fort George also put together 10 or so great stouts and barrel aged stouts for the event.  It was certainly one of the highlights from the trip.

One of my other favorite things to do while in a different area is go bottle hunting.  Thankfully one of the stops on the craft oregon bottlesbeer trail was at a bottle shop you could also drink at.  While there I purchased a Vertical Epic 2008 from Stone Brewing, Fred from Hair of the Dog, and Consecration from Russian River.  The man running the store was striking up some good conversation, so I asked about a bottle of Pliny the Elder.  Thank goodness I asked because he walked in the back and brought one right out for me.  Later in the week we found another shop run by a much less knowledgeable, but very nice, older woman.  Perusing around I found a bottle of Abyss and The Dissident from Deschutes.  Knowing I had to make a choice, I decided to go Dissident because I already have a bottle of 2012 Abyss.

Finally, after a few days of bumming around Astoria, we headed back to the big city of Portland.  My big goal while there was a toHair of the Dog glasses hit up a few breweries I couldn’t find back home.  My wife was controlling the lunch decision, so I brought up a bunch of different menus from brewpubs located in Portland.  She ultimately landed on Deschutes which meant I had to taste drive just about everything they had to offer.  In fact, I didn’t drink anything more than a 3 oz pour the entire day.  On the menu Deschutes did have a collaboration with Hair of the Dog called Collage.  I wanted to taste it, but it only came in bottles, so I had to buy one for the ride home too.  Finally, later that night, we ended up at Hair of the Dog for a tasting of the 7 beers they had available.  I enjoyed just about everything I had, but I loved the Fred, Adam, Doggie Claws, and Otto from the wood.  Certainly made me wish I could get a few more of their things around here.

Overall I had about 45 different beers over the course of the 5 days I was in Oregon.  Over half of them came in 3 oz tastings, but it helped me realize I had only touched on the tip of the craft beer scene in Oregon.  It was a great trip, and I hope to go visit my brother at his next location: Seattle.


Thanksgiving Drinking

As it is already Thanksgiving, I’m sure most of you have already decided what it is you will be drinking while giving thanks today.  I’m basically here to let you know what I’ll be having and to ask you what you’ll be drinking.  I don’t really think of Thanksgiving as a big drinking holiday.  I didn’t grow up in a house where you see a lot of alcohol, but still, I went out to the store last night to secure something for the few days here. Interestingly I saw plenty of people picking up quite a few different libations for their big turkey day. I guess my family is just more of a rarity.  Regardless, you’ll find that my selections don’t really focus on the actual dinner, instead they seem to  focus on more of the follow up.

A lot of the Thanksgiving beer blogs I read focused on what people would be drinking at each part of the meal.  While I would like to plan out the appetizer, dinner, and dessert beers, I recognize I won’t be drinking anything until after the meal.  My life is slightly different when I’m back in my childhood home.  I may have a glass of wine of something during dinner, but I’m saving my beer selection for dessert and after the meal fun.

I had really only planned on having one beer on Thanksgiving day, but I went out to the store to see what was available in this area.  Of course, I couldn’t help myself when it came to purchasing beer.  If all goes as planned, the first beer I’ll be drinking is one from Rogue Brewing Co. Since I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, I decided I would bring this bottle of Pumpkin Patch Ale for my dessert. This is actually a beer I haven’t seen in the stores.  I was given this one by a friend at our house warming party.  At this point I had started to think about giving up pumpkins for the season, so I decided this would the perfect one to end the season for me.  Pumpkin Patch is part of Rogue’s GYO series.  GYO stands for Grow You Own, hence they grow their own pumpkins 77 miles away from their brewery and right next to their 42 acre hop yard.  They pick the pumpkins, roast them, and get them in the brew.  While I’ve found myself becoming quite skeptical of Rogue’s more “out there” brews, this one sounds like a good chance at a great pumpkin beer.

The second beer I decided on may result in drinking more than one.  Since it’s a smaller bottle, and I bought a six pack, I can’t make promises that I won’t end up watching some football and drinking two or more of these.  I decided I would use my second beer to transition from fall to winter beers.  As you’ll find when I really start reviewing the winter beers, I don’t mind a beer that has some Christmas spice, but I decided to go with something big and malty for my winter representative.  Therefore I picked up a six pack of Great Divide’s Hibernation ale.  I did have one bottle of these last year, but I decided to jump headlong into this old ale this year.  I’m thinking I may brew an old ale next.  I’m kind of between that or a scotch ale, so I wanted to also remind myself of what an old ale is like.  I figure if you can drink a good glass of scotch or bourbon after a big meal, I can drink a big malty beer for my after dinner drink as well.

I have a feeling my selections don’t reflect what most beer enthusiasts will be doing this holiday, but I have a few other things to take into consideration.  I’m happy to use my day to transition from fall into winter and check out a style I’m considering brewing.  So what are you drinking this holiday?

A Little Sweet with a Touch of Heat


I know it’s been a little while since I wrote on here, and I was planning on talking about my latest brown I have in bottles; however, instead I’ve decided to seek out a little advice on my next brew.  As with other homebrewers I know, the second you get your beer brewed you start thinking of what you want to produce next.  For weeks now I’ve been thinking about getting an IPA going.  I may have been a little overzealous attempting to produce a double IPA before ever producing a regular IPA.  Therefore, I was thinking I need to make a good regular hoppy beer.  Then my wife through an idea into the mix that really threw me for a mental loop.



I was looking around for recipes that I could use a pound of honey a fellow teacher gave me.  I was thinking I should use it in the IPA I had in mind.  Of course the big honey IPA that comes to mind is Hopslam.  I love Hopslam, but I wasn’t really looking to create a clone of it.  Then my wife said “Why don’t you make a honey chipotle beer?”  That really set the wheels turning.  It sounded like the perfect blend of sweet and spice.  Why not produce something like that?  I started looking for recipes I could use to produce it.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard of a beer that combines both of these ingredients, but I know of ones that have the individual flavors in them.  I started to try to focus mostly on the Chipotle aspect.  Rogue’s chipotle uses and amber base, and Stone just added chipotle to their smoked porter.  Using both of those beers as inspiration, I’ve decided to try to produce a honey chipotle porter.  This of course only brings a whole multitude of questions.  Hence, I have taken to the blog to find out what my readers think I should do to produce this next brew.


On to the questions!  The first questions deal with the chipotle peppers.  What would be the best way to get a nice medium to light burn on my beer?  I want it to be a little sweet and a little heat, so I really don’t want to overpower too much with one of those aspects.  From what I’ve read, you can add a pepper per gallon to the brew.  I’ve read about some people who add the peppers in the last 20 minutes of the boil, and I’ve read about others who have added them to the secondary.  So where would you put the peppers?  The final question involving the peppers deals with how I “sanitize them”.  I read about some who allowed them to soak in vodka for days and then added the entire solution to the brew.  I’ve also read about others who roasted them and deseeded them before hand.  Is there a particular method you would take to prepare the peppers?


I also have questions on the honey.  I’ve never used honey in my brew, and I want to make sure you can taste a little bit of sweetness to counterbalance the slight burn of the chipotle.  Of course I don’t think I would add the honey at the start of the boil, but I’m not sure if I wait to the last 5 minutes or put it in earlier?  I also believe I can add it straight to the brew without making a solution, but I’m not entirely sure about that.  Could I infect my beer if I don’t create a solution out of the honey?  Do I make a solution in order to add it in?

As always, I’m getting pretty psyched for this beer, but I want to make sure to produce a good beer and not something that goes down the drain like my imperial IPA.  So I come to you, my faithful and helpful readers.  Help me plan and plot how to best produce my first ever porter!






Rogue Brewing Co – John John Dead Guy Ale

This past weekend I had the joy of having my two siblings visit me in Washington DC.  As we grow older we continue to move in different directions.  The most distinct way in which we have moved apart is physical.  After I graduated college I followed the only teaching position that would hire a teacher fresh out of college down in Washington DC.  Being the oldest, I was the first to move away.  My brother shortly thereafter graduated from college, joined the Coast Guard, and is now stationed out in Astoria Oregon.  My sister still lives at home, but she is one year away from finishing her graduate program for physical therapy.  It’s actually rare we are all in the same room, but we manage to get together every once in a while.  Being that my brother lives on the west coast, I coaxed him into bringing a few bottles of beer I wouldn’t be able to find on the east coast.  Reviews will all be coming shortly, but he brought a bottle from Ninkasi, Pyramid (which I think we might be able to find), and this bottle from Rogue.  We do get Rogue over here, but he told me this bottle was rare, so I had him bring it with him.

I don’t think I’m far off from being accurate when I say that Rogue is most known for their Dead Guy Ale.  It was the first beer from Rogue I ever had, and I see it most commonly if a bar carries their stuff.  What is unique about this bottle is that it is part of their John John series.  Surprisingly, the Rogue site doesn’t really give a lot of information on the John John series.  What I discovered was that John John represents the first names of Rogue Brewmaster John Maier and Rogue Spirits Master Distiller John Couchot.  Their names are significant because these beers utilize both of their skills and talents to create its contents.  In the case of John John Dead Guy, they have taken the normal Dead Guy ale and aged it in whiskey barrels.  Unlike a lot of cases with other breweries, Rogue doesn’t have to go anywhere else to get their whiskey barrels.  They not only brew their own beer, but they also distill their own spirits as well.  Thus, both of these Johns are very important to the process of really creating any John John beer.

When I think of anything barrel aged, I automatically picture it pouring out a dark black or brown color.  Perhaps it is because a lot of the things put into barrels ends up being stouts and darker beers.  This beer, on the other hand, pours out a surprisingly light orange color.  There is a chance that this is the most surprised I’ve ever been when pouring out a beer.  There is some really light white head that develops on top of the glass.  It has a very hazy quality to it for sure, but you can occasionally see a little light carbonation in the glass as well.  You do get some really light lacing and a little bit of very slight sticky lacing as well.

The aroma of the beer is nearly as surprising as the color I experienced.  Once again, I am used to beer that comes out of aging to have a certain smell to it.  You can typically sense the aging in the nose somewhere, but it really doesn’t seem like it’s there at all.  You get a little light boozy scent to it.  I guess maybe this is the closest to the barrel aging coming through.  Citrus may be the biggest note that comes out of the aroma at all, but the scents just really aren’t there.  John, previous reviewer here, said how he was looking for a distinct quality but the beer seemed to lack a specific personality at all.

Although being disappointed thus far, I was hoping to be blown away by the surprising flavors.  Unfortunately it just didn’t seem to happen that way.  Unlike most barrel aged beers, this one came out really clean and crisp.  There are some well-balanced sweet malts at the start of the flavor.  This leads into some ample citrus flavors that end up being the most dominant characteristic of the entire beer.  I might be reaching for it, but I get a slight booze flavor following the citrus.  It’s so slight that it’s really hard to find.  There is a very minor hit of hops and a little light boozy whiskey on the end.

Just like with the flavors, the mouth tends to be really crisp and clean.  There is a lot of ample carbonation here with no off characteristics.  The citrusy flavor is really good, but it just feels like it is missing something.

I had a hard time writing this one about what I tasted; instead, I felt like I kept landing on what I felt like this one was missing.  Maybe the idea of barrel aging something has created expectations, and they really weren’t meant here.  I was gearing up for a big bold beer, and I didn’t get it.  I really struggled with try ing to give this beer at least a C; however, I have to stay true to the grading guidelines.  I may have to see if I can find another one in the John John series to see if I like it more.

Teacher Grade: D

Rogue Brewing Co. – Bacon Maple Ale

More than a few months ago I read on another blog about this collaboration between Rogue and Voodoo Doughnuts.  I was immediately interested in giving this beer a try.  I really love a good hearty beer, and I wanted to know what a beer brewed with actual bacon would taste like.  This beer was meant to pay tribute to Voodoo Doughnuts signature doughnut and, therefore, made with bacon and maple.  I was disappointed to learn that it wouldn’t be seeing a countrywide release.  Therefore, I had to go to calling in favors to get this beer in my possession.  The hunt was on!

A few years ago my brother, who is in the Coast Guard, was stationed out in Astoria, Oregon.  Although it is only famous for being the town feature in the movie “The Goonies”, it does have the advantage of having access to these types of limited releases from Rogue.  After bugging my brother for months to see if he could find this bottle, I was finally sent a picture of two bottles via text message.  I finally knew I would be tasting this beer.  My brother managed to transport the bottle back to my parents house for Thanksgiving, and I picked it up when I went to my parents this past week for Christmas.  I brought this bottle with me Christmas eve to a little gathering at my sister’s boyfriend’s house.  He and my father were both interested in giving this bottle a taste, so we passed it all around.

Rogue’s site doesn’t have a whole lot to say about the brewing of this beer.  They state that amongst the litney of different ingredients they use in the recipe, they also manage to use the exact bacon and maple flavoring used in the production of the doughnuts at Voodoo.

As you can see from the picture, the beer pours out a rich auburn color with a slightly orange tint to it.  I was fairly surprised by this.   Obviously the bottle gives no hint to what the liquid will be like on the inside, and the term ale is far to vague to really know either.  I suppose I was thinking this would be a lot darker, but I was surprised to see this color pour out.  Thankfully, I found the Chimay glass in my friend’s cabinet.  It really helps to show the nice amount of fluffy white head that develops on top of the beer.  It does manage to disappear fairly quickly, but a little swirl brings it right back.  There is some really nice lacing that develops on the sides of the glass.  The liquid is really hazy and has a lot of visible carbonation.

The doughnut that inspired a beer

What do you think a beer called bacon maple is going to smell like? The smokey bacon smell is the aspect that comes out the most.  I really thought that the bacon would be a little more subtle, but it seems to be really at the forefront of things.  The maple sweetness is definitely present on the nose as well, but it is a little more of an after thought.  There is a little bit of hickory smokey scent that you can get out of here too.  I like the sweet malts that are all over this beer, but there are some slight hops that seem to be present as well.

The taste reminds me of a mild rauchbier.  I guess a smokey bacon flavor would bring that about; however, the smoke is a little less dominant and the bacon is more prevalent on the taste.  There is a little bit of a short sweet malt introduction.  It has a very bready feel to this introductory taste as well.  An interesting little hint of orangey citrus is there right before the bacon comes in.  The hickory bacon taste is really strong and leads you into the that slight sweet maple finish.  There is a strong smokey flavor that lingers on the palate for the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel may be the most interesting part of the profile.  There is a hefty amount of carbonation on this beer, which helps keep a beer involving bacon and maple very crisp.  I really would have thought this would be a much heavier and more syrupy beer.  Instead, it manages to keep a very crisp flavor throughout.  It is actually slightly refreshing.  The very light smokey bacon finish is really pleasant and not too overpowering, which I find really surprising.  It does linger a little long on the palate, and it kind of gets a little old; however, it is never unpleasant.

This isn’t my favorite beer ever, but I had a lot of fun tracking it down and giving it a try.  It is a really interesting way to combine

If you can read the ingredients

these ingredients to create a really interesting brew.  They could have made this more of a porter or stout, but instead they decided to go with a much lighter hand on these ingredients.  I think that actually shows a lot more skill and finesse overall.  I don’t know if you can find this one anywhere, but my brother managed to find it for me a little over a month ago.  So you might just get lucky like I did.  If nothing else, I’m happy the bottle has joined my trophy case of rare beers I’ve managed to find.  Time to find another beer to hunt down.

Teacher Grade: B+