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.
Due to my inability to post events on Sunday, I have decided to post on Mondays and give you events from Tuesday through Monday. Hope that is okay. If not, let me know!
This weekend, I indulged in a Black Raven Trickster, Cantillon’s Framboise, New Belgium‘ s La Folie, New Belgium’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Sah’ti, Deschutes Hop Henge and 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA. A pretty good weekend in beer, if I say so myself.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Holiday Beer Dinner: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
6:00PM-9:00PM @ Victory Brewing Co.
Nothing like the holidays to have an excuse to splurge! Check out this menu- its simply irresistible, $50.00 per person and paired with Victory Brewing Co. beers.
Duo of Soups
Red pepper bisque and puree of spinach
Served with Prima Pils
Prosciutto wrapped beer blanched asparagus with gruyere mornay sauce
Served with Rauch Porter
Cranberry and chestnut filled turkey breast cutlets with Pursuit giblet gravy and roasted seasonal squash
Served with Pursuit Pale Ale
Cracked barley encrusted oysters with Anaheim chili risotto and saffron aioli
Served with ESB
Cinnamon nutmeg spice cake with Dark Intrigue frosting
Served with Dark Intrigue
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Bourbon County Bottle Signing: Homer Glen, Illinois
6:00PM-9:00PM @ Kenwood Liquors
Bourbon County is one of the best stouts EVER and in my opinion the best beer made by Goose Island. Tonight, stop by one of the two Kenwood Liquor locations and pick up a bottle specially signed by Goose Island Founder John Hall.
12037 W. 159th Street
Homer Glen, IL 60491
10750 South Cicero Avenue
Oak Lawn, IL 60453-5402
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Dogfish Head Bash: Montpelier, Vermont
7:00PM-2:00AM @ Three Penny Taproom
This epic tap list includes Dogfish Head‘s best beers:
- Chateau Jiahu
– Bitch’s Brew
– My Antonia
– Red & White
– Black & Blue
– Olde School
– 90 Minute
– 60 Minute
– Indian Brown
Friday, December 17, 2010
Week of Wild Friday Tastival: Eugene, Oregon
5:00PM-10:00PM @ Sixteen Tons Beer & Wine
Hot Damn- Featured breweries will include Block 15, Upright, Hair of the Dog, De Dolle, Cantillon, Rodenbach, Russian River, The Bruery, Orval, Cascade, Deschutes, Victory, Lindemans, Oud Beersel, 3 Fonteinen, De Ranke, Haandbryggeriet, New Belgium, Avery, Mikkeller, Ommegang, and more.
Tasting tickets are $1. Beers are 1-4 tickets for 3oz tasters. No entry fee. GO TO THIS!!!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Maui Brewing Launch Party: Denver, Colorado
1:00PM-5:00PM @ Freshcraft
Finally, Maui Brewing has reached Colorado. A state full of beer lovers, it’s about time! The long-awaited time when CoCoNuT Porter, Big Swell IPA & Bikini Blonde Lager hit Colorado are now over.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Twelve Days of Barleywine: Anchorage, Alaska
11:00AM-11:00PM @ Glacier Brewhouse
Stop by Glacier Brewhouse for some barleywines. It’s impressive that a brewery makes an array of this specific style. Today is the 10th day, so time is of the essence.
THE 10th DAY OF BARLEYWINE – DEC. 19, 2010
1. 2011 Big Woody Barleywine aged in Ukrainian Oak barrel for 10 months. (9.00% abv)
2. 2010 Eisbock aged 8 months in Makers Mark barrels. (9.00%abv)
3. Cask conditioned selection. 2008 Russian Imperial Stout aged 2.67 years in virgin Czech oak barrels. (9.00% abv)
Pay as you go
Monday, December 20, 2010
Library Alehouse Holiday Beer Fest Kickoff: Santa Monica, California
6:00PM-11:00PM @ Library Ale House
$10.00, just $10.00 gets you:
Library Logo Tasting Glass and Your First Beer
…$2.50 – $5 Refills on ALL Holiday Ale Fest Beers throughout the Fest
10% off food during the festival
Tonight is the kick-off event and this will continue for two weeks. But tonight’s tap list includes:
– Nøgne Ø / Jolly Pumpkin / Stone Special Holiday Ale
– Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
– N’ice Chouffe
– Dogfish Head Pangea
– Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
– Sierra Nevada Celebration
– Anchor Brewing’s Merry Christmas Happy New Year Ale
– Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice
– Delirium Noel
– Gouden Carolus Noel
What is your favorite beer holiday event? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Wow! 17 years. Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. and owner/head brewer Alan Sprints have been up and running for quite some time. Through the boom of the micro-brewing industry, Hair of the Dog continues to impress and grow.
From November 19th through November 21st, HOTD will celebrate with all of its loyal patrons (and maybe some newcomers) at the new tasting room.
A direct message from Alan reads:
I am pleased to announce my 17th anniversary celebration. This year it will be November 19th thru the 21st. We will have special Beers on tap all weekend long and two Beer releases. I will be selling 2010 Doggie Claws and 2010 Matt starting on November 20th, at 10:00 am.
There will be a limit of six, 12oz bottles per person on the Matt, no limit on Claws. Hope to see you here – Alan
I almost have to laugh at the “we will have special beers on tap…” as I truly feel that ALL HOTD beers are unique and a cellar worthy addition.
So stop by and celebrate this momentous occasion in Portland as HOTD tacks on another year of success!
Big Wood is coming. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
There is no secret that we are utterly obsessed with Brouwer’s Cafe’s Big Wood beer festival. Last year, we launched this site in the midst of Big Wood 2009. This year, we are giving you a 3 week “head’s up.”
Big Wood will be held on December 2, 2010. If I remember correctly (but I might stand corrected), Big Wood begins in the afternoon, sometime around 4 PM. The event is officially one day, but the beers will pour for several days afterwards.
What is Big Wood? Guess. Big Wood showcases wood-aged beers on more than 40 taps. Typically, you will see a plethora of massive scale beers pouring, including some of the most complex beers you will ever taste.
Last year – Hair of the Dog dominated. From beer nerds to beer newbs, Hair of the Dog shocked and awed the crowd. Alan Sprints delivered Fred from the Wood, Michael (Flemish Red), Matt (Bottleworks 10th Anniversary) and BOB (a barrel-aged lambic). Read our review of the event by following this link.
Brouwers has yet to release a list of this year’s beers. They will slowly begin to trickle in but we have already seen them announce that Midnight Sun is sending a keg of Berserker and heard, through the grapvine, that New Belgium is bringing something special!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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).
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!
Week 37 of 52: (are we caught up yet? anyone?)
61 SE Yamhill Street, Portland, OR
Type of Establishment: Taproom, glorious beer serving facility
Visit: Same as our Cascade post. After our stop at Cascade’s new taproom, Hair of the Dog was next on our list of Portland beer hot spots.
Beers on Tap (at time of visit):
Blue Dot Imperial IPA
and some foreign pilsner, but I didn’t pay a damn bit of attention to that tap.
Several vintage bottles to go and several that you can only drink in house. Magnums are offered of some beers and others date back to the mid-’90’s. HOTD never disappoints with vintage brews.
Pasta dishes, brisket sandwiches, potato based stews, bread and butter, pickled appetizers and more. Not an extensive menu but some good, filling foods that will pair well with the beers. Oh – Alan Sprints, owner and brewer, is cooking in the kitchen.
Hang out with bb.com and within moments, you would find out that Hair of the Dog Brewing is in all of our top ten list for US breweries. They cannot be denied that place in beer stardom.
For the past two years I have dreamed of visiting an establishment that had several HOTD beers on tap. My only encounter with this dream-like state of mind has been at Brouwers during Big Wood Fest (Fred from the Wood, B.O.B., Michael — beers with no ego that harbor all of the complexity and flavor you can imagine). I have called the brewery and attempted to visit the brewery in past trips to Portland, but due to the brewery being closed on the weekend, I was forced to hold out.
My time has come. Just one month ago, the news broke. Alan Sprints, owner and head brewer, unveiled a tasting room that is open on the weekends! Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, Hail the Goblin King! (That was weird, but I am leaving it) Although this exciting information cannot be found on HOTD painfully outdated website, you can friend them on facebook and get Alan’s news on whats going on.
HOTD has always remained a mystery to me, the outdated website, the lack of accessibility to the public on the weekends. You might think that all this build up could back fire. But, not in this case. No, not at all.
A large garage door lets the mid afternoon sunlight in coating a table or two in it warmth. Before choosing our seats, we take a lap around the wide open space. With exposed wooden beams, high warehouse ceilings, walls painted in primary colors and a stand alone rectangular shaped bar area, I immediately like the feel of this place.
Since there weren’t three seats to be found at the bar, we choose the table in the sun which provides us with a little Vitamin D and a direct view of the exposed kitchen. Behind the kitchen counter to the left of some rustic bread and to the right of a colorful bouquet of flowers, stands Alan. He has been the owner and brewer of HOTD for over 16 years, he is a master mind, an innovator and apparently a damn good cook too! This guy does it all. He even sliced my bread – no lies.
We order a taster of everything on the menu. A rainbow of beer descends upon us from the waitress’ tray. A combination of the small taster glasses, the sunlight, the bold colors of the beer and of course the epic flavors of each one made it an all too perfect experience.
We “oo’d” and “ahh’d” over Fred, Adam and Doggie Claws. Each beer performs to a “T” with layers of flavors. The Fred appeared to be very young, meaning that it most likely just came out of the fermenter. It was a bit strange, since we are used to having Fred after its aged and caramelized, but it was actually a unique opportunity to taste the young Fred. We weren’t too disappointed.
At the end of the day, I could drink these beers in a cold cave with sleeping bats and still rate it a 4.5/5. But lucky for all you HOTD lovers, there is a place with character and comfort for you to visit. Take a visit; its worth the drive.
The Northwest Brewing News has rolled out its annual Reader’s Choice Poll – its time to vote. The Brewing News is a national brewing publication, severed into seven regional publications. Our good friend Geoff Kaiser writes for the Northwest edition, when he’s not manning the ship at Seattle Beer News.
Every year, the Brewing News holds a poll asking its readers to select the very best in the Northwest. Categories for best brewery, brewpub, bar, beer store, home brew shop and perhaps the most heated category – best bartender – are divided state by state. You may vote on the best Northwest beer for each style, as well.
When going through this poll, we noticed that we hit a few stumbling blocks. How do you pick between Hair of the Dog & Cascade Brewing? Is Uber Tavern a better place to grab a beer than The Dray? What the heck is down in Northern California? Don’t be ashamed to have to Rate Beer yourself a group of candidates, as long as you have actually experienced the pub, brewery or beer you intend to choose. But, if you are stuck – let us recommend a few:
Best Imperial IPA
Even with heavyweights like Russian River, Hopworks, Walking Man and Midnight Sun in the mix, and with Washington rising stars Boundary Bay and Port Townsend making their own cases – there can still be only one choice for us. Black Raven’s Wisdom Seeker licked the competition at Brouwers Hopfest. We have no reservations about this choice.
Best Strong Ale
The Northwest has always somewhat lacked in the big beer categories. But, there is no doubt that one strong ale has dominated the Northwest for many year – Hair of the Dog’s Fred. Alan Sprints has been making this beer for ages. If you have a vintage bottle laying around, you know what makes this complex ale so special. Vote with confidence.
Best Sour Beer
For years, I would probably have said that Russian River had this category killed with Consecration. But after recently tasting Cascade Brewing’s Noyeaux, I have reservations. Noyeaux was recently described in a post by our very own Timperial Stout. Check this one out before you mark down one of Russian River’s excellent choices.
Best NorCal Brewpub
We pushed Russian River out of the competition above, but here they take the cake. Backed by unprecedented selection and incredible beer food – there is no better place to grab a collection of beer and a delicious meal.
Best Washington Brewery
Some would say Boundary Bay has the history and fanfare to deserve this award. Some would say that Black Raven is the young gun that should take the title. We don’t disagree, but lets consider a 3rd choice – Snipes Mountain Brewing? You might think we are crazy but the Sunnyside, Washington brewer has been turning heads. Just about everything that brewer Chris Miller has put out of late, has shocked and awed. Food for thought.
Best Washington Bartender
Wow, we have some great bartenders up here in Seattle. We have a ton of love for Rachel up at Naked City, Natasha at The Dray and certainly Amy, down at Collins Pub. These three wonderful ladies have excellent beer IQs and care about their patrons. This gives them serious consideration.
But, to find someone who can advise, entertain, and take excellent care of you, all without being a giant asshole – priceless. Chris Cavanaugh is that guy. Chris can be found at three, count them, three amazing beer spots in Seattle. Once a fixture at Brouwers Cafe, Chris had to leave to tackle cancer. Once he returned to the bar, Chris grabbed spots at Elysian Brewing (Capitol Hill), The Stumbling Monk, and time behind the bar at Brouwers Cafe. There is one reason that he is at these three places – everyone loves him! Chris will give you great attention, wonderful advice, and excellent entertainment. Not once have we ever heard one person dislike him. Vote for this man.
So take a stab at the poll and let your voice be heard! You can access the poll by following this link. Got any other suggestions for choices, please post them in the comments below.