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The Hop Brief: Hair of the Dog Blue Dot Double IPA

Spicy

Enjoyed on 3/7/2011

Brewery: Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.

Location: Portland, OR

Beer: Blue Dot Double India Pale Ale (Winter)

Web: http://www.hairofthedog.com/

Presentation: 22 oz. Brown Glass Bottle, Capped.

Vintage: 2011

Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 7.0%

IBU: 80

Hops: N/A

Malt: Organic Pilsner, Rye

Commercial Description:

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)

Timperial’s Notes:

Background.

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.

Appearance.

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.

Odor.

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.

Mouthfeel.

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.

Flavor.

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!]

Aftertaste.

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.

Summary.

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

On the Road to Portland, the Land of Beer

October 13, 2010 1 comment

 

Photo creds/image creds go to......www.woodbloom.com.

 

Last weekend, as you know from my and Timperial’s 52 Weeks articles on Hair of the Dog’s new taproom and Cascade’s Barrel Room, we journeyed to Portland. 1 woman, 2 men and a whole lot of beer stops. Now, we have all made the 2.5 hour drive on several occasions and every time we go, we make it a point to stop at places we have yet to try (at least one of the three of us, anyway). This weekend, we spent approximately 8 hours mapping the city for amazing beer and cool venues. We were successful.

We arrive at 11:30AM and decide to grab something quick, but delicious to eat before consuming gallons of high ABV beers. Portland has this awesome food stand lot (SE Hawthorne Blvd and SE 12th Ave) which will fulfill almost any craving with a Mexican taco truck, a Creperie, a potato/french fry stand and a Southern food vendor. The highlight was a $6.00 crepe with chevre cheese, lemon curd and fresh black berries. This fruit filled, slightly sour and sweet lunch was the perfect opener for the Cascade Barrel Room.

Stop #1:

Cascade Barrel Room

Now, I won’t go into too much detail. Interested? Then read Timperial’s review. All I can add is this is a must stop not only for sour beer fans, but for those beer drinkers who appreciate innovation and variety. Cascade offers up mainly sours consisting of fruit infused sours, barrel aged sours, blended sours and  sour stouts. The House of Sour, as locals call it, also has a Dry Hopped Porter, Summer, Winter and Autumn Goses and an amazing Rye IPA and even more. Even on a gloomy day, the sun seemed to shine through the large windows. If you live close, I suggest coming here often, to try all of the beers, of course.

Stop #2:

Green Dragon

Here you will find an extensive tap list, home brewing, a knowledgeable bar staff and a versatile space. Beers on draft range from local favorites such as Lucky Lab, Cascade (they even had a beer that Cascade didn’t currently have on tap) and their own home brew line. The Oregon Brew Crew has been brewing at the Green Dragon on a one barrel Nano-Brewing system for the last year and a half and have been consistently putting out a new great beer every week. Some of the beers created include: Alpha Dragon IPA, Chocolate Reign Stout, Golden Dragon Ale and most recently, the 5-Point Exploding Palate Technique. I wasn’t going to say it, but this is Rouge owned. With one Rouge beer on tap, this large brewery makes it a point to keep the integrity of the venues and breweries it buys and promote craft brewing!

Stop #3:

Hair of the Dog Tap Room

Again, we already sang our praises of this place. Did you see that amazing picture of the taster glasses? Epic! Check out the article here. This is a place I could hang out all day at due to the amazing beers on draft, the killer, vintage bottle list and the overall edgy yet welcoming feel that Alan Sprints new taproom/bar exudes. So, drop what your doing and spend a productive afternoon with Fred, Adam, Greg, Ruth and other HOTD brews.

Stop #4:

Upright Brewing Co.

Located about 2 miles away from Hair of the Dog, this tiny brewery has caught our attention. Back in January we stopped in for a release party in their modest space in the basement of a shared commercial building. The space, upon entering has the brewery to the right and their tasting room to the left. Today we each got a beer (a farmhouse, a fresh hop which is their farmhouse beer with nugget hops and the SEVEN saison), sat at a tree trunk table top and listened to a duet play folky blues. A great vibe with great beer. Don’t over look this place.

Stop #5:

New Old Lompoc

Our favorite New Old Lompoc location, SideBar was closed today (Sunday) so we stopped by their original brewery. A great outdoor area and an Irish pub motif, this place houses the equipment that started it all. 1 C-note and 2 Centennial IPAs were ordered. Unlike the SideBar which offers up exotic barrel aged beers, at this location, you will generally only find their regular rotated beers. One of the employees was nice enough to give us a tour of the brewery which is small, but well oiled and efficient. New Old Lompoc is a staple in the Portland craft beer scene, therefore, visit one of their spots!

Stop #6:

Lucky Labrador Brewing Co.

Like New Old Lompoc, Lucky Lab has a local brand you can’t ignore and several locations to enjoy their beer. We have visited two of the four locations and from what we see, we like. The two spaces are gigantic warehouses, open spaces with large, family style picnic tables eluding to the community essence that is the Portland beer scene. Two beers are ordered, their Porter and the Super Dog, a single IPA. Both are very credible and go down easy. Lucky Lab is a great place to get a sampler tray of beers and a snack (or a pizza if your starved).

Stop #7:

Deshutes Brewing Co.

Even on a Sunday, all of Portland flocks to this restaurant/brewery. Maybe its their award winning beers or their extensive, delicious menu options. Either way, no matter how many times we visit Portland, we always end up here. This time, we had a goal in mind. First, we had heard Black Butte XXII was on tap. It had kicked the day before, damn. However, we were able to indulge in the Mirror Pond Fresh Hop and had a growler filled to bring back North. Yes, you will wait 20 -30 minutes to get a table here and yes, it doesn’t give you that hole in the wall, charming “mom and pop” feel that I love about microbreweries BUT Deshutes does deliver high quality food and of course beers, every damn time.

There are still so many more places you can visit in Portland. But on this day, with all three Beer Blotter writers on the road to find beer, we chose these places, not randomly but for specific reasons. If you have a favorite spot in Portland, leave a comment- let the world know!

Hopworks Urban Brewery heads North to Seattle

August 13, 2010 2 comments

HUB- picture creds go to portlandbeer.org.

Hopworks Urban Brewery, Oregon’s first sustainable brewery has a line up of perfectly crafted and earth friendly beers. Ranging from Survival Stout to Hopworks IPA, you will be impressed. One of my favorite past times traveling in Oregon includes a stop at HUB.

We tasted their stout, IPA and barelywine and all were top notch. After showing some interest in their operations, we grabbed our beers and headed downstairs. We walked into the area where all the glistening brewing equipment stood. This brewery makes a point to make a difference. The brewery uses biodiesel fired brew kettles using HUB fryer oil. I mean, c’mon, that is awesome and that is just one of the many things HUB does to stay green while brewing.

But I am bearer of good news this morning- HUB has come up North to Seattle and B.C. Canada. Now, I do not always have to go to Portland for HUB, HUB has come to me. Below is a statement released by HUB:

Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) recently expanded distribution of its beers to British Columbia and Seattle. Kegs and bottles of the company’s organic, sustainably-produced beers can be found in leading taphouses, bottle shops and markets in both regions.

“We wanted to share our beer with these markets to demonstrate great tasting beer can be made in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Christian Ettinger, brewmaster/owner of Hopworks. “Our goal is to grow regionally while raising the high standards of our beer even further.  One of the ways we do this by adding new tanks to maintain our cycle times while increasing capacity.”

Last year, Hopworks expanded its brewing capacity with the addition of two 40-barrel fermenters increasing the brewery’s potential annual output to 10,000 barrels.

So those in the Pacific NW, be on the look out for HUB beers on tap at a beer bar near YOU!

Fred Fest 2010: Hair of the Dog Showcases in hometown of Portland, OR

April 28, 2010 1 comment

Fred Fest 2010

In celebration of world renowned brewer, Fred Eckhardt, Hair of the Dog will be hosting their 5th annual Fred Fest. Fred, known to many beer lovers as an American style barleywine is just one of many spectacular brews from Portland’s very own HOTD.

Below is a blurb from FredFestPDX’s blog regarding details about the event:

Attendees will be treated not only to a rare assortment of hand-selected beers, but also light fare cooked in beer and a birthday cake — complete with a round of “Happy Birthday” — just for Fred. Cheeses, chocolate, candy and even cereal will be offered in abundance so attendees can experience some of Fred’s famed beer-and-food pairings.

Cost for the event is $50 in advance ($60 at the door for the few remaining tickets, if any) and includes a souvenir glass, free ticket for a raffle of bottled specialty beers and four hours of sampling, sipping and story-telling with Fred. Tickets *are* limited and they are going fast (they’ve sold out every year to date), so order yours today before it’s too late!

So get ready, Monday, May 10, 2010 from 6:00PM until 10:00 PM at Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.’s digs. You will be in the company of some amazingly unique and well executed beers.  As always, 100% of the proceeds from FredFest and the related auctions will go to a charity of Fred’s choice. This year, Fred has named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as the 2010 recipient of the fest.

A quick side note- use the directions to the brewery that are posted on their website. Your GPS will bring you to a place that does not serve beer and that is very upsetting.

Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. makes several beers that are worth your time and pleasure. You have your attainable beers such as Blue Dot, a smooth IPA, Ruth, your quintessential American Pale Ale, Adam, first brewed in Dortmunder, Germany and Fred, a barleywine. Now, on to those HOTD beers that make my eyes pop out of my skull when I see them in bottles and, the unthinkable, on tap.  Fred from the wood is aged to perfection, Doggie Claws, a heavy, flavorful, seasonal barleywine and B.O.B (my personal favorite and a rarity that is not bottled to my knowledge) a lambic style beer aged in wine barrels.

HOTD is a highly respected brewery. All of their beers are easy to drink, entice your taste buds and encourage a greater love of beer. These are the reasons why we LOVE this brewery.

Portland & New York: On Deck

The artistry continues inside at Old Lompoc's Sidebar, attached to the brewing space. Try some damn good barrel-aged brew here.

Unfortunately, the BB crew has to maintain employment at real jobs. So we apologize for the lack of material this Monday. We promise to make up for it with some great content on Tuesday.

On Deck – BeerBlotter.com release installment #2 of its New York Beer Chronicles, which includes visits to Blind Tiger, Gingerman, Rattle N Hum (Again), d.b.a., Spuyten Duvil, and Mugs Alehouse.

Also, BeerBlotter.com’s run through Portland. This trip we tried to hit some of the outlying grog houses, including Concordia Alehouse, Lompoc’s Sidebar, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Beermongers, Eastburn, Upright Brewing, and of course – a stop at Belmont Station, Horse Brass, and Bailey’s Taproom (sneak preview: Horse Brass still the best).

So check back tomorrow to read up and meet some of the great people we met along the way (thanks Cody @ HorseBrass and Patrick @ Lompoc).

Northwest IPA Night with Beer Blotter

Northwest IPA Night!

After ringing in 2010 with style, we sat down to a quiet evening of movies, homemade buffalo wings and three Northwest IPAs.  Our line up included the following breweries, Lucky Labrador out of Portland, Oregon; Philips Brewing Co. out of Victoria, British Columbia; and Oakshire Brewing Co. out of Eugene, Oregon.  Each IPA provided distinct flavors, ranged between 7% and 8% ABV  and went perfectly with the wings!

Now, lets get down to business…

Lucky Labrador Brewing Co.: Portland, Oregon

We visited Lucky Labrador Brewing Co.’s one of three locations during September ’09.  As we sat in the large warehouse space with hops growing down the side of the building, the summer sun, hypnotizing scent of the hops and the warm breeze instantly put us in a great beer drinking mood. We ordered a sampler of six different beers, one of which was Super Dog, the brewery’s single IPA.  Floral, crisp, refreshing and sightly bitter, this beer was/is reminiscent of Pliny the Elder (although not a double).  Much to our dismay, they did not have any bottles to take home, instead we were presented with their double IPA, Super Duper Dog.  Super Duper Dog is very complex and full IPA that has the complexity of a fruit juice.  Extremely sweet and malty in flavor, there was no bitterness to be found. Highly recommended for those warms summer days and quiet winter nights.

Phillips Brewing Co.: Victoria, British Columbia

Phillips Brewing Co. was first discovered on a trip to Vancouver, Canada during a very cold, very rainy weekend in November ’09. We trudged through the streets in the Gastown neighborhood destined and determined to find Alibi Room, a local beer bar.  It’s funny how a dark, dreary, rainy winter’s afternoon will put one in the mood to drink beer just as much, if not more than a warm, blissful summer’s day (maybe its just a personal trend….). Anyway, Phillips Brewing Co. had their Longboat Chocolate Porter on tap. As we began to dry out, a sweet, thick porter sounded perfect.  We were not disappointed as every sip was rich with chocolaty flavor, thick in body and crisp in finish.  Later that day, we stumbled upon a beer and wine shop that presented a very interesting Canadian beer selection.  We quickly grabbed a bottle of Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter and a bottle of their Amensiac Double IPA, which was enjoyed last night. With a copious amount of hops, this is a “big beer” with a punch in herbal, hop goodness. A very bitter double IPA and not as smooth as we would have hopped.  Refreshing, but lacks a smooth finish.

Oakshire Brewing Co.: Eugene, Oregon

A new brewery on the block (18 months give or take in the making), Oakshire Brewing Company released two beers during 2009, the Watershed IPA and the Overcast Espresso Stout. No complaints here on the choice of styles!  Although this brewery or beer was not discovered at a local beer bar, it came highly recommended.  A quick stop in the Whole Foods in Portland’s Pearl District graces every trip to the city.  We find that the staff members that are “stationed” in the beer aisle are very knowledgeable and happy to discuss their likes and dislikes.  This time, we were in the market for an Oregon IPA that we had yet to try.  This particular staff member enjoys bitter IPAs and said that Watershed IPA was his favorite local beer.   The IPA is available all year round and as far as IPA’s go, has a full malt balance. The hoppy bitter taste combined with the malt flavors creates a very “tasty” beer.  We recommend this recommendation.

Just another Saturday night with Beer Blotter, as we celebrate a great beginning to 2010 and great local beer!  Please leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com if you have any comments on the beers in this post or have any Northwest IPA recommendations!

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