Sunday was quite the trip. It lingered through Monday, but no regrets. Upright Brewing rocked my world. Le Pigeon made me redefine the word “burger.”
Upright Brewing was celebrating their 2nd Anniversary, so we made it a point to get their early to taste the new release. But, we couldn’t help but to shuffle around the city to visit some other favorites.
Top of the Morning with Imperial Workhorse
I won’t jump right into Upright’s display of greatness, because we had some other amazing visits that I’d like to share. First off, we visited Laurelwood’s production brewery in NE neighborhood of Hollywood.
Laurelwood Brewing recently released its first ever batch of Imperial Workhorse, a larger than life version of its iconic Workhorse IPA. The big brother is 9.9% and almost 100 IBUs. At first sip, it immediately wakes you from whatever slumber you might be residing within. The beer is incredibly flavorful, sharp and non-boozy. Lots to like about that beer, and the brewery will be bottling a limited amount in swing-top bottles that will be available at the brewery. Hint: Do not miss the Bourbon Barrel Aged Moose & Squirrel Russian Imperial Stout – I actually preferred this beer to the Imperial Workhorse.
Upright’s Rise to the Top
We left Laurelwood to head over to Upright Brewing, where we spent an hour crying in the last drops of each beer. Its that good. Watching it reduce to nothing was so incredibly painful.
Upright Brewing decided to release a sour version of its Four, a 4.5% wheaty farmhouse ale. The beer, appropriately named “Four Play,” uses a combination of fresh Oregon cherries, brettanomyces and lactobacillus yeasts aged in Pinot Noir barrels. This beer is right now, my beer of 2011. Drinking this beer reminded me of standing in front of Jean Van Roy in Cantillon’s tasting room, drinking one of their more celebrated Lou Pepe lambics – its that good. Incredibly smooth, yet refreshingly tart, the cherry flavor is subtle enough to keep this from being a kriek, but pronounced enough to not be forgotten. Do not miss, if you can find it.
To prevent a one-sided affair, Upright also decided to pour its last remaining portion of its christmas ale, Noel. This spiced farmhouse ale is aged in Pinot barrels and spiked with cherry juice. The wood really works well on this beer, because the alcohol is barely noticeable and it goes down very smooth. The spice is unforgettable, hitting you with concentrated dosages of black pepper and herb. Had Four Play not knocked me out of my boots, Noel would have stole the show.
To end our visit, we had a great talk with owner/brewer Alex Ganum. If you want to meet a great brewer and better guy, chat with Alex. Ganum hails from the ballyhooed ranks of Ommegang and certainly knows how to make incredible beer. Despite his incredible success (they made the Rate Beer Top 50 Brewers in year 2), he remains a normal guy, more than happy to stand and chat with his customers over a beer.
Some Old Favorites
After leaving Upright, we had quite the whirlwind trip around the east side. We visited renowned bottle shop Belmont Station, who was holding its 14th Anniversary sale (Congrats). There we got our first tastes of Corvallis brewers Block 15 and Flat Tail Brewing. Block 15 poured several bourbon barrel aged brews, including the rare Pappy’s Dark Ale. Pappy is a Strong Ale aged in 10 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels for 2-4 months. While a few other Block 15 barrel aged beers were surprisingly unimpressive – this one blew our minds. The Pappy wood is noticeably more rich and flavorful than other bourbon barrels, and we agree its worth the extra dough.
After Belmont, a visit to Hair of the Dog was simply nostalgia and routine. Why the hell would you ever go to Portland and not get indulge in Alan Sprints’ craft? The house flight of Greg (a spiced pilsner?), Blue Dot, Fred and Adam, will warm the cockles. If you are lucky, Alan might be serving the duck wings, a stack of 3 full wings smothered in a rich gravy. Get it.
A Burger for the Ages
Last but not certainly not least – a visit to Le Pigeon. While we were waiting for this renowned eatery to open, we ran over to Burnside Brewing and tried the Oatmeal Pale. I was surprisingly impressed by that beer, as Pales typically do nothing for me. The oatmeal was absolutely noticeable and really changed the body of this otherwise simple beer. But, 5:00 PM rang and we ran back to Le Pigeon.
Why are we running? Rumors of Le Pigeon‘s incredible burger have haunted my dreams for weeks. I have seen glaring images of this burger in nightmares in the previous few nights. It was seemingly stalking me – and for good reason. Le Pigeon makes 5 of these bad boys each night. Thus, its incredibly important to get in there when they open at 5 PM. By 5:15 PM, all 5 orders had been placed.
Le Pigeon has an earthy, classic gastropub feel. Sitting at the bar, you feel part of the kitchen and the decor makes you feel right at home. It only took about 60 seconds to order our burgers with greens ($13) and our $4 Pilsner Urquells (they also have $2 High Life – got to love it).
The icon of glory arrived before me in less than 15 minutes. I had ogled at its creation, built from the implements of success, beauty and wonder. Its time. I sliced the perfectly charred ciabatta bun in half and dig in. What followed was a protein orgasm smothered in pickled specter. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the best burger I have ever tasted – and my companion agrees. The meat is top notch, cooked to a perfect medium rare, maintaining its juiciness. The pickled slaw on top is such an added treat that you barely notice the perfectly melted cheese that covers 100% of the burger mound. Perhaps most important is the fresh powdered ciabatta roll that was charred to perfected, giving the burger an “off the grill” flavor.
Its not often when a Sunday in March results in my favorite beer of the year and my favorite burger of all time (and that is saying a lot). This past Sunday, Portland floored me. Well played, PDX.
Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) has released its new 2011 version of Ace of Spades. Hold on to your butts.
Ace of Spades is the former GABF Gold Medal winning Imperial IPA that blew the socks off Seattle back in 2009. During Brouwers Cafe’s Hopfest 2009, a keg of Ace of Spades spun my head around, made me Google HUB, and plan a trip to see more. Since then, HUB has been producing some of our favorite NW IPAs, as well as one of our favorite stouts – Survival Stout.
HUB released Ace of Spaces again last year, when it became a bit more accesible in bottle form. Beer Blotter ran a review of that beer back in December, which you can view by visiting this link. We cannot wait to try it again this year!
Here is the HUB press release. Be sure to look for it next time you are at the supermarket:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Hopworks Urban Brewery’s (HUB) award-winning Organic Ace of Spades Imperial IPA is now available on tap and in 22 oz. bottles at select bars, restaurants and stores across the Northwest. The limited release beer won a gold medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Fest in the Imperial IPA category and is an annual favorite with beer enthusiasts across the region.
Named in honor of rock n’ roll icon Lemmy Kilmister and his band Motörhead’s popular song and album, Ace of Spades prominently features Amarillo, Cascade and Centennial hops, added at every point of the brewing process: mash tun, first wort, kettle, and dry hop. All of the hoppy green goodness results in a beer with a huge citrus hop aroma, flavor and deep, clean bitterness.
Ace of Spades Imperial IPA is 9.5% ABV and more than 100 IBU.
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) is Portland’s first Eco-Brewpub. HUB offers an assortment of award-winning, world class beers made from organic malts and locally-sourced hops on draught and in bottles across the Pacific Northwest. HUB incorporates a range of sustainable practices in the production of its beer and brewpub operations and makes every effort to protect “our” future with a thoughtful alternative. The 20-barrel brewery produces 6,400 barrels a year and provides the SE Portland brewpub with ten different HUB organic beers on tap and two cask ales at all times. In early summer, Hopworks will open its second location, Bike Bar in North Portland, expanding the company’s love of beers, bikes and the environment.
HUB is located at 2944 SE Powell Blvd. and is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. For more information, please visit Hopworks online at www.HopworksBeer.com or follow on Twitter @HopworksBeer.
Upright Brewing is one of the Northwest’s brightest young talents (to put in a sporting vernacular). In just 2 years they have managed to gain a much coveted spot on ratebeer.com‘s annual Top 100 Brewers In The World List (92 position) and they came in at number 14 in the top 50 breweries to visit list. I’m fairly confident that if rate beer had made a top 50 list of best beer labels in the world that Four Play label over there would be highly ranked as well.
Needless to say, these guys are doing some really fantastic things. They’ve effortlessly coupled innovation with pristine quality and impressive craftsmanship. If you’ve had any of Upright’s beers and you’ve visited their basement brewery, I know I’m preaching to the choir. It’s mostly just exciting that they have been acknowledged so quickly, especially since so many amazing NW breweries go under the radar.
For me, being a huge fan of saisons, Upright has become a brewery that I would rank very highly in my own list of most exciting breweries, either new, old or in between. Their use of open fermentation is something that is most intriguing to me. I still don’t know much about it, but it’s clearly working very well for these Portland fellows. There is no doubt that Upright Brewing is a great inspiration to me and should be to anyone that has a dream of opening a brewery.
This anniversary party ranks up there in excitement levels (for me) with such recent Portland area events as the opening of the Cascade Barrel House and the opening of the Hair of the Dog Tasting room. The prospect of getting a few bottles of Four Play and Apricot Anniversary Ale are what cellar dwellers dream of. If anyone else is going down there let us know by adding a comment. Maybe we can hook up and chat beer.
Here’s the details from Upright:
Oregon’s only farmhouse inspired craft brewery Upright Brewing is turning 2 years old and celebrating with a party on Sunday March 20th from 1-6pm at the Tasting Room. The party will also mark the return of perhaps the breweries most anticipated annual release Four Play a sour farmhouse cherry wheat beer aged in Pinot Barrels.
About Upright Brewing
During the last two short years the small production brewery just east of the Broadway bridge has been devoted to producing some of Portland’s most diverse range of beers, focusing on a French/Belgian inspired farmhouse-style, but brewing without inhibition as evidenced by their historic takes on English Old Ale and Oyster Stout or their authentic German Gose and Engelberg Pilsener.
Upright recently added three new tanks, using one to produce a year-round hop forward German-style pilsener for draft only. It’s called Engelberg Pils, a nod to Mt. Angel where all of the brewery’s hops are sourced. The other two tanks will enable the brewery to produce more one-off draft beers and also allow production of at least eight annual seasonal bottled batches throughout the year. As always, the numbered beers that Upright has focused on since the beginning will continue to be fermented in our unique open-top tanks. The new year has also brought expanded distribution for Upright’s beers with Lime Ventures now bringing the bottles and occasional draft beer to the Northern California market adding even more west coast cities that include north to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.
About Four Play
In celebration of the brewery anniversary, it’s becoming tradition to release Four Play, a very Belgian-esque beer based on Upright’s wheat beer (named Four) but barrel-aged for a year with cherries, souring yeasts and bacteria. Four Play is blended from former pinot noir barrels that yield a rosy looking sour ale with wonderfully complex aromas and flavors. It’s always a limited release and the 2011 batch is represented by only 67 cases and 3 kegs, all of which the brewers believe is their finest and suitable for cellaring up to 5 years.
About the 2 Year Anniversary Party
In addition to the extremely rare Four Play one of only 3 kegs on draft Upright will also be releasing something even more rare in bottle, last years Apricot Anniversary Ale aged in Ransom Spirits Old Tom Gin Barrels of which there are less than 3 cases of 750ml bottles. To top it off look for a special cask of this years edition of the World Beer Cup award winning Gose stuffed Dry Hops and extra Salt.
Follow Upright Brewing:
What was your beer of choice during the Superbowl? Perhaps something to represent the Mid-West? For us, it was homebrew all the way- Hop Chocolate. But now for your week in beer…
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Silver City’s Whoop Pass Double IPA Event: Seattle, WA
4:00PM-10:00PM @ 74th St. Alehouse
Silver City, a brewery located across the Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula, is coming to the city to show off their Double IPA, Whoop Pass. Stop by the 74th St. Alehouse and grab a pint.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Dogfish Head Night: Limerick, Pennsylvania
6:00PM-12:00AM @ Craft Ale House
Get Ready! Go! DOGFISH HEAD!
60 Minute IPA
75 Minute IPA – firkin
90 Minute IPA
**120 Minute IPA ’09
**Red & White
**Black & Blue
Indian Brown Ale
**World Wide Stout
Raison D’Etre (being poured through Randall the Enamel Animal filled with …)
and maybe more.
I’ve double starred my favorites.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Heavy Seas Beer Dinner: Cambridge, Maryland
7:00PM-9:00PM @ Blue Point
For $60.00 you get a 5 course dinner paired with deliciously amazing Heavy Seas beers. Here is the menu- get ready to droooool.
he Menu (subject to change)
Heavy Seas Classic Lager paired with Oysters Bingo
Heavy Seas Gold Ale paired with Rock Shrimp & Corn Fritters, Smoked Paprika Aioli
Heavy Seas Marzen paired with Baked Ziti With Italian Sausage, Marinara and Parmesan
Loose Cannon paired with Loose Cannon Braised Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables
Siren Noire paired with Chocolate Bread Pudding, Caramel Anglaise
Friday, February 11, 2011
Chocolate Beer Craziness: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
5:00PM-8:00PM @ Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Check out Iron Hill Brewery‘s line up of chocolate inspired beers. Beer and chocolate, pretty much my two favorite things.
Overload Stout served on nitro
Shokolad Stout served on cask
Oompa Loompa Stout served on nitro
Plus – complimentary chocolate treats from our kitchen for mug club members.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Pizza Port 2nd Annual Brewbies: Carlsbad, California
12:00PM-5:00PM @ Pizza Port Carlsbad
Pizza Port Presents its 2nd Annual Brewbies festival! Benefitting the Keep A Breast organization (a local breast cancer awareness organization)! Brewbies is a beer festival for boobies!! 25-30 local and regional beers February 12th, 2011 from noon to 5pm at Pizza Port Carlsbad. Buy your tickets online in advance for $25 or at the door for $30. Ticket includes (4)6oz tasters, collectors glass, I love Boobies Bracelet and (1) raffle ticket. Additional tasters and raffle tickets are $1 each. 100% of the proceeds are donated to breast cancer awareness.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Imperial Stout v. Imperial IPA: Plymouth, Massachusetts
12:00PM-5:00PM @ British Beer Company
This is a tough one- two amazing styles head to head- Imperial Stout vs Imperial IPA: a tag team match-up between Dogfish Head Bitches Brew and NE Brewing Co Imperial Stout Trooper vs Sierra Nevada Hoptimum and Dogfish 90 min IPA run through the Randall stuffed with fresh hops and grapefruit peel.
Monday, February 14, 2011
My Beery Valentine: Portland, Oregon
5:00PM-9:00PM @ Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern
Brewpublic’s 2nd Annual My Beery Valentine offers a variety of unique, specialty, and one-of-a-kind craft beers with sweethearts and sweettooths in mind.
Pouring on this night:
* Block 15 Love Potion #9
* Cascade Chocolate Raspberry
* Double Mountain Bonne Idée Avec Kriek
* Fort George Bourbon BBL Cavatica
* Fort George Murky Pearl Oyster Stout
* Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis
* Oakshire Heart Shaped Box
* Upright Blend Love
Saraveza will also feature special treats courtesy of Sugar Pimp to pair with these delicious brews.
This event is open to the public. No tickets sold, just show up. It is recommended that you arrive early. For full descriptions of the beers listed, visit http://brewpublic.com/events
If you would like us to promote an event or want to comment about an event that you went to, please leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Cheers!
Draft Magazine is a nationally published magazine focused beer culture. They have been around since 2006, sometimes featuring celebrities on their covers. All in all, its not the nerds guide to beer. Its more of a sassy celebration of all things barley pop.
Don’t let my description drive you away. Draft Magazine is good. In fact, all 3 of the Beer Blotter writers are subscribers. We enjoy the fact that Draft presents a global expose on happenings in the beer world. Its really a good way to locate beer venues from around the world.
Just this week, Draft released its annual Top 100 beer bars list. This list is sorted geographically into 4 regions. I was afraid that they were attempting to force options for each of these regions, but it appears that the selections are not equally divided (for example, the Northeast has many more than the South). So, it appears that the choices are without prejudice.
In scouring the list, I was very pleased to see places like Avenue Pub (New Orleans), Apex (Portland), Blind Lady Alehouse (San Diego) and our very own Monk’s hole – The Stumbling Monk (Seattle).
But, one cannot peruse the list without finding their own list of absentees. While less deserving pubs made it (i.e. Cooter Browns (New Orleans), Green Dragon (Portland), McNulty’s Bier Markt (Cleveland)), some of the nation’s most celebrated beer venues are missing.
While that absentee list will differ for each of us, here are my Top 5 Absentees:
- Brouwers Cafe (Seattle) – They must have pissed off a Draft Magazine writer. Many of us know that Brouwers can sometimes rub the wrong way (and its been stated by commenters here on the site), but there is no better selection of ale in the NW. Brouwers routinely procures 60 taps of rare beer, one of the best bottle lists in the country and an unprecedented number of unmatched in-house beer festivals (See Sour Fest, Hopfest, Big Wood, and Hard Liver). Again, they must have pissed someone off.
- Bangers & Lace (Chicago) – This might simply be too early for Draft to call this place a winner. But, Bangers & Lace has quickly ascended to the top of the Chicago beer world. Presenting an unmatched selection of rare beer, along with phenomenal food, B&L deserves a spot. Guest writer For Whom the Bell Toales agrees that this is the #1 beer venue in Chi-town.
- Small Bar (San Diego) – Ok Ok, they got it mostly right. Hamilton’s Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse, and O’Brien’s Pub should all be on the list. But, Small Bar gives that Top 3 a run for their money. Mixing a spectacular beer selection with epic food and spunky surroundings, I think it deserved a spot above many of the LA selections.
- Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH) – Draft picked one of the many Cleveland suburb favorites – Buckeye Beer Engine. But, I think they got the wrong one. The Brew Kettle blends an incredible draft lineup (thank god for the connection with Founders), house made ales, and some spectactular bar grub. Get drunk enough? Go brew a batch in the back. Beyond that – its just a cool dark place to grab a beer.
- New York’s Forgotten Trio – Ginger Man, Mug’s Alehouse and d.b.a. (NY, NY) – They picked a lot of NY spots. I can understand that its pretty tough to run into your editor’s office and say we picked the Top 100 – 20 of them are in NY. Its a tough job to pick between the excellent spots in NYC. In my mind, they got the top 3 on the list – Rattle N Hum, Blind Tiger and Spuyten Duyvil. Those three are iconic, and the three places that I spend the most time while in NY. But, the above three all deserve a shot at the list. The Ginger Man is just a few blocks from Rattle N Hum – many would say its the cooler bar. Mug’s is tucked away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But unlike the uber-hipster crowd at Spuyten Duyvil, you will find comfort at this grog spot. d.b.a. is the lone East Village fave. d.b.a. has been pouring beer for a long time and has an excellent wide spread selection.
I will say, writing the Top 5 absentees was pretty tough. All in all they did a great job finding the appropriate bars. The Top 100 is a worthy list and you should take a glance.
What else is missing!?
Last week, a bombing attempt shut down Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. Yep, its real. The best part though is that it could not lead to the surrender of Portland’s famed Holiday Ale Fest.
Holiday Ale Fest hit its 15th Anniversary this year with over 60 beers flowing from the taps. We didn’t get the opportunity to go, but from the comments we have read – we missed out. Next year.
Check out the Festival’s press release for more recounts of the famed weekend. Hoppy Holidays!
Neither bomb threats nor Civil War kept crowds
away from this year’s Holiday Ale Festival
PORTLAND, Ore. – Dec. 9, 2010 – A thwarted bomb attempt at Pioneer Courthouse Square less than one week prior didn’t stop beer lovers from attending this year’s 15th annual Holiday Ale Festival. A crowd of more than 17,000 gathered in Portland’s Living Room over five days to raise a mug to the big, bold craft beers of winter. The Northwest’s most prestigious winter beer festival took place Dec. 1 through 5 and featured more than 60 winter craft beers during its five-day run.
The beers served were either made or blended specifically for the event or were vintage offerings not commonly served in the region. In some cases, the kegs tapped were the last known kegs available of a particular beer.
New features to this year’s festival were well-received, including the addition of a printed map of the five different bars on the required festival tasting mug; a real-time mobile interface that listed the beers, their location on-site and their descriptions (m.holidayale.com); and a VIP ticket, which cost $45 in advance and allowed users to bypass long lines at both the entrance and the bars.
The Belgian Beer and Brunch, an auxiliary event held on the Sunday of the festival, sold out, with more than 120 people sampling prestigious beers and noshing on pastries, meats and cheeses in an area overlooking the main festival tents.
The People’s Choice winner, as determined by the beer that sold the most kegs, was Moore Holiday Ale. A Collaborator beer (Collaborator is a project where homebrewers submit recipes and the selected beer is brewed commercially by Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.), the Imperial Bohemian Pilsner was made with Saaz hops and smooth Pilsner malts that refreshed the palate.
Hopworks Urban Brewery Kentucky Christmas came in second, while four breweries tied for third: Deschutes Streaking the Quad, Lompoc Franc’ly Brewdolph, Stone Smoked Porter and Ninkasi Unconventionale.
Two fundraisers for the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) were deemed a success: the Crater Lake Soda Garden, which poured root beer for designated drivers and accepted tips for donation, and a coat and bag check that ran at capacity much of the time. The festival matched the monies raised by both projects, bringing in $2,500 for the charity. The CCA also held a raffle that raised an additional $2,000.
Festival attendees stayed warm and dry under a large clear-topped tent that covered the venue while allowing for views of the city lights. Gas heaters created a cozy ambience under the boughs of the city’s Christmas tree. In addition to beer tasting, the Holiday Ale Festival also featured on-site food, event merchandise, organic cheeses, roasted nuts, mead sampling, and seasonal background music.
The 2011 Holiday Ale Festival will take place November 30 through December 4. For more information, visit http://www.holidayale.com or call 503-252-9899.
Photo Credits: Matt J Wialter on Flikr