Enjoyed on 3/7/2011
Brewery: Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.
Location: Portland, OR
Beer: Blue Dot Double India Pale Ale (Winter)
Presentation: 22 oz. Brown Glass Bottle, Capped.
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
Malt: Organic Pilsner, Rye
Blue Dot is named after our planet: we are only a pale blue dot in this universe. A Double India Pale Ale made with Organic Pilsner, Rye malt and a combination of intense northwest hop varieties.
Beer Advocate: A- (4.12)
Rate Beer: 99 (3.81)
Alan Sprints of HoD is a chef. It’s not uncommon to see him in the kitchen when you visit their new (and amazing) tasting room. He is also a master brewer – one of the best on this great blue dot we call Earth if you ask me. When he creates a recipe, be it for a hearty meal or a complex brew, he puts years of experience and know-how (and heart) into it. In the mighty Northwest, nothing moves us quite like an IPA. Alan isn’t particularly known for profundity in alpha usage, but he is a legend with malt. Let’s see what balance he can bring to the most hoppy of styles.
Blue Dot flows from its glass chamber and fills my tulip with a muddy straw-colored liquid. When held to the light it glows a cloudy, translucent pale orange. If I didn’t know better I’d think this a Belgian Wit before me.
The head is very minimal and stark white. Carbonation bubbles can be seen rising but, overall, the effervescence is minimal. The crown completely dissipates and the lacing is very minimal.
My initial reflections on the scent are of an Earthiness and a graininess. I sometimes think that I’m hyper-sensitive to pilsner malt. It’s always obvious to me when it is used. There is a slight spiciness in the nose but I wouldn’t have assumed that it came from rye had I not known it was a part of the grain bill.
A second waft brings thoughts of a tropical forest. Bitter citrus and pineapple are most prevalent, but a sappy, resinous, pine-like greenness cannot be overlooked. It’s somewhat floral as well. “Orange blossoms” seems to be most appropriate, killing two birds with one stone.
Blue Dot slips gracefully across my tongue and goes down silky smooth. The carbonation, though pretty minimal here, plays in tune with the alcohol to bring a mild sting to the tongue and rear corners of the mouth. The bitterness is so intense that it’s almost corrosive, which is more impressive than detrimental.
Maybe it’s the spicy rye. Who knows what it is exactly, but it really stings, though mostly after the swallow. Still, I kind of like it. It’s similar to the effect that ginger has on the mouth, which I love.
First and foremost, this beer is a bitter bomb. At 7% abv and with such subtle grains employed, the 80 IBUs are mightily magnified. Once you’re able to reanimate your imploded face, the strongest palates amongst us may be able to detect the citrus and graininess that was prefaced in the nose.
Grapefruit juice and bitter orange peel are all over this one. What mild pilsen character climbs through can claim a doughy, biscuity essence. The rye is somewhat challenging to segregate due to the huge hop profile. One must ask whom imparts the huge spice element. I guess it’s huge enough to award to both parties.
[I feel I must offer a disproportionately high mark for the malt flavor, mostly due to its uniqueness. Is this beer balanced in the traditional way? Hell no! But...how could I not respect innovation and against-the-grain...ed...ness... Puntastic!]
The aftertaste is very dry with bitterness but by no means one-dimensional. An exhale stirs up pleasant thoughts of freshly baked rolls. A peppery heat can most likely be attributed to the rye malt and the alcohol. Spicy hop bitterness only further asserts the notion.
It’s quite clear that this brew was formulated deliberately to excite the spiciest amongst us. If I were in the business of pairing beer with food I would never miss an opportunity to place this beside a warm plate of spicy something-or-other with peppercorns. Sorry, I’m no chef.
I think Frank Herbert would be proud of what Alan has created with Blue Dot. In his utterly epic sci-fi series Dune, lives, cultures, planets…everything revolves (figuratively) around “the spice”. The Spice Melange. It’s oddly ironic that this beer is named after the planet Earth when such a comparison about a fictional work steeped in interstellar politics can be made. Perhaps this would be the defining beverage of choice on the desert planet Arrakis, of course, where it not so (seemingly…?) bereft of water.
As you see, my nerdiness is vast and covers many more planes than just craft beer. I’ll attempt to stick with just the one in this particular forum. The point to it all is that this beer is spicy as shit. The malts and hops coincide to form a perfect storm and it all whips around so fast that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish the origins on what the tongue perceives. It’s sci-fi beer and it’s delicious.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.85
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.90
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.92
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.46
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.90
Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.01
Week 47 of 52 (Only 5 to go!)
Three Creeks Brewing Co.
721 Desperado Court
Sisters, OR 97759
11:30am – 9pm Sunday-Thursday
11:30am – 10pm Friday-Saturday
Type of Establishment: 10 bbl brewery and brew pub, gorgeous cabin at the foot of the Cascade Mountains.
Visit: After spending Christmas with my mother in Bend, OR I chose to head home via Rt. 20 to I-5 in order to bypass some, potentially, more hazardous mountain pass conditions. This route took me through the small tourist town of Sisters, OR. Sisters is home to one of Oregon’s newest and brightest production breweries. They also happen to have a killer pub. I had to stop to fuel up (in more ways than one) before my intrepid trek across the Santiam Pass.
Beers on Tap (at time of visit):
Old Prospector Pale Ale
Hoodoo Voodoo IPA
Five Pine Chocolate Porter
Cripple Creek Cream Ale
Rudolph’s Imperial Red
Left Behind Barley Wine
Bottle List (all 22oz):
Hoodoo Voodoo IPA
Five Pine Chocolate Porter
Rudolph’s Imperial Red
I didn’t eat here, but after glancing at the menu I immediately wished that I had a much smaller breakfast. The menu was, for the most part, as far as content goes, pretty typical for a up-scale brewpub… apps, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, etc, but everything seemed to have a little extra panache. The most notable item that I saw was found on the specials menu – a reuben pizza. I actually had to ask the bartender if it was really a reuben pizza or two separate items. Holy shit! Pastrami and kraut and thousand island on a pizza. How on Earth did I not order it?!
I really like this place. The end.
Just kidding. Immediately upon pulling my car into the parking spot out front of TCB I felt a sense on comfort. I knew that I liked the place before I even entered. It wasn’t so much the brewery that I was standing outside of (though you can tell from the picture above that it does look pretty cool from the outside), it was just such a pretty, pleasant, calming situation I was in. My stomach and heart were full from the recent Christmas festivities, there was fluffy snow on the ground, I was in a cute little town right on the cusp of a beautiful mountain, I had just driven through pristine fields full of horses and cattle… everything was right as rain.
As I entered, things seemed to only improve. Just within the doors, the foyer housed the hostess and the “gift shop”. I was overwhelmed. The hostess wanted information from me – was I alone? Was I eating? Where would I like to sit? But alas, I was most inattentive, after all, there was beer and brewery merchandise to ogle. Eventually I regained my composure and asked if there was a bar that I could sit at. There was, just through the door to my right.
I guess the bar area is where the unsavory folks tread. That’s why they had to build a wall to separate that area from the more family friendly dining room to my left as I entered. Sucks to be a family because that area was seriously weak in comparison to the bar, with the great exception of a very luxurious leather couch adorned alcove around a blazing fireplace in the rear of the room that is.
Once I got situated at the bar it became evident that there was nothing unsavory about any area within TCB. The bar portion was uber clean, cozy and comfortable. There was wood everywhere, which is an attribute that I adore in a Northwest bar. There was a huge bay window on one side of the room that revealed the shiny new brewing equipment. There was a pool table, a Christmas tree, several free-standing tables and a gorgeous leather chair surrounded copper topped bar. The tap handles seemed to be all hand carved and burnt wood. The lighting was inviting, and so was the staff. Wow! Really impressed!
Sadly, considering that it was snowing and chains were required on the pass, I was both slightly in a hurry and very conscious of my alcohol consumption. Because of this I inquired on the sampling situation. TCB does offer a flight of all of their standard offering and a flight of every beer that they have on tap. I was only really interested in getting three samples so I negotiated a pay as you go deal and the bartender was happy to appease me. I had the IPA, the barley wine and the chocolate porter. All three were tasty, but the barley wine really stood out. I asked if they were pouring growlers of it to go, but it was a little pricey so I stayed content with things as they were.
I took in my surroundings one last time and hit the road. If there is one thing that I know for certain it is that I will make it back to TCB, hopefully sooner rather than later. If TCB’s brewpub bar was in Seattle it would, without a doubt, be a regular visit for me. If you are ever in or passing through or near Sisters – maybe you’re heading to the rodeo – do not miss this precious little beer filled cabin in the woods.