Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A beer list of a different sort

Yesterday’s post was all about hard-to-find beers that should not be missed at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival. Some folks head to the OBF with specific goals in mind – to taste all of the porters, for example, or all of the high-alcohol beers.

This blog post is intended to help some of those drinkers. But only those who think – and drink – like me. I like thirst-quenching beers, organics, and beers I can't find elsewhere.

So, without further ado, here are a couple of handy checklists. If you think of other sorts, suggest them and I'll see what I can do.

Here are the hoppiest ten beers on tap at the festival (for the jargon-challenged, IBU is “International Bitterness Units” and measures the bitterness of a beer; OG is “original gravity”, roughly the beer’s malt content before fermentation):

Brewery Beer Name Beer Style IBU OG
Laughing Dog Brewing Alphadog Dog Imperial IPA Imperial IPA 127 1.070
Old Market Pub The Kraken Imperial IPA Imperial IPA 103 1.080
Green Flash Brewing Co Green Flash Imperial IPA Imperial IPA 101 1.080
Beer Valley Brewing Co Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Double IPA 100 19P
Astoria Brewing Co Bitter Bitch Imperial IPA 99 1.080
Track Town Ales 200 Meter IPA 90 16P
Standing Stone Brewing Co Double India Pale Ale Double IPA 80 18.7P
Rock Bottom Brewery Eat a Bale o' Hops IPA IPA 80 15.5P
Stone Brewing Co Cali-Belgique IPA Belgian IPA 77 n/a
Terminal Gravity Festivale British Strong 73 17.5P

These are the most alcoholic (that provided this information) (ABV = Alcohol by Volume):

Brewery Beer Name Beer Style IBU OG
Redhook Ale Brewery Belgian Tripel Belgian Tripel 20.50 10.3
Pike Brewing Co Monk's Uncle Belgium Tripel 1.08 9.0
Widmer Bros. Brewing Co KGB Imperial Stout 21.00 9.0
Green Flash Brewing Co Green Flash Imperial IPA Imperial IPA 1.08 9.0
Beer Valley Brewing Co Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Double IPA 19.00 9.0
Old Market Pub The Kraken Imperial IPA Imperial IPA 1.08 8.9
Scuttlebutt Brewing Co Tripel 7 Belgian Style Ale Belgian Tripel 19.00 8.9
Astoria Brewing Co Bitter Bitch Imperial IPA 1.08 8.7
Terminal Gravity Festivale Strong Ale 17.50 8.3
Laughing Dog Brewing Alphadog Dog Imperial IPA Imperial IPA 1.07 8.0
Boulevard Brewing Co Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale Farmhouse Ale 17.50 8.0

And the lowest in alcohol, for those who prefer to sip and savor without getting loaded:

Brewery Beer Name Beer Style IBU ABV
Eel River Brewing Organic Acai Berry Wheat Fruit Beer 15 40
Cascade Lakes Blonde Bombshell Blonde Ale 26 4.0
Caldera Brewing Co Hibiscus Ginger Beer Ginger Beer na 4.3
North Coast Brewing Co Scrimshaw Pilsner 22 4.4
Southern Oregon Brewing SOB Gold Hybrid 20 4.5
Oregon Trail Brewery Oregon Trail Wit Wit 28 4.5
Dogfish Head Festina Peche Berliner Weisse 8 4.5
Cascade Brewing at the Raccoon Lodge Razberry Wheat Fruit Beer 15 4.5
Three Creeks Brewing Co Stonefly Rye Rye Ale 28 4.6
10 Barrel Brewing Co Summer Ale Golden 4.7
Moylan's Brewing Co Pomegranate Wheat Wheat Ale 8 4.8
Lost Coast Brewery Great White Belgian Witbier 11 4.8
Deschutes Brewery Miss Spelt Specialty 30 4.8
Trumer Brauerei Trumer Pils Pilsner 26 4.9
Laht Neppur Brewing Co Neddy's Brown Nut Nut Brown na 4.9

Here are the organic beers:

Brewery Beer Name Beer Style OG ABV
Alameda Brewing Co. El Torero American IPA 1.070 na
Bison Brewing Co Organic Chocolate Stout Foreign Style Stout 1.070 36
Double Mountain Brewery India Red Ale ("IRA") India Red Ale 1.060 65
Eel River Brewing Organic Acai Berry Wheat Fruit Beer 9.0P 15
Fish Brewing Co Organic Wild Salmon Pale Ale Pale Ale 1.050 32
Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Rise Up Red NW Red Ale 13.5P 60
Standing Stone Brewing Double India Pale Ale Double IPA 18.7P 80

Monday, July 20, 2009

12 beers not to miss at the 2009 OBF

The 2009 Oregon Brewer’s Festival begins Thursday at noon (10 AM for those attending the Brewer’s Breakfast, and Wednesday at 6 for Brewer’s Dinner-goers), and Oregon’s summer weather is cooperating by giving us a real beer-drinker’s forecast. I suspect I’ll be as thirsty as I need to be once those taps open.

The thing is, no matter how many hours I spend at the Festival, I never hit all of the taps. This year, with 81 beers flowing in addition to the 20 or so poured in the extra-charge “Buzz Tent”, the likelihood of hitting them all is even more remote. The best we can hope for is to try the ones we’re unlikely to find on Portland’s nearly infinite supply of taps in its rich supply of awesome neighborhood pubs.

Thus, it’s good to have a game plan in mind before you wet your whistle. Rather than numbing my taste buds with four ounces of each brew, I prefer to taste strategically. I look for:
- New beers from consistently good breweries. If the places that brew up my favorites are brewing up something new, I know I can expect a quality taster from them at the fest.
- Beers from new OBF participants. The OBF staff works hard to mix up the line-up of breweries and to balance local with long-distance contributors.
- Experimental beers – within limits. I want to know what spelt beer is like, but I also know what I don’t like (sour beers, fruit beers, and really really light lagers). Selective support of experimentation keeps your taste buds fresh, especially after taking a beating from all of those 100-IBU IPA’s.
- Thirst-quenchers. When all is said and done, the OBF is a hot, dusty place. Crisp, hoppy beers go down well.

Luckily, for the past three years I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know the OBF beers in advance by writing the descriptions for the program. Unfortunately, I don’t get to taste them all before writing about them, odd as that may seem. The ones that are special to the OBF or that are being shipped from the east coast, for example, simply aren’t available, so I go by what the brewer tells me.
Based on that information, here are the top dozen beers I want to make sure I don’t miss at this year’s OBF:

Deschutes Brewing “Miss Spelt” – a great brewery and a unique, special-to-the-fest formulation. It might well be my first stop on the tour.

Eel River Organic Acai Berry Wheat – I know, I said no fruit beers, but this one is truly original, and Acai berries are good for you, right? And it’s organic.

Elysian Loser Pale Ale – Elysian is introducing the Sorachi Ace hop, grown in Yakima from Japanese stock. I’m curious.

Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA – A new brewery from a long-established California company, I want to see what they’ve got.

Laht Neppur Neddy’s Brown Nut – Another newcomer just three years onto the scene, and brave enough to bring a dark ale to an IPA-crazy event.

Kona Kailua Kona Coconut Brown Ale - Sounds sweet and mellow, perfect for when the sun goes down and the air gets just a touch chilly.

Marin Brewing Bluebeery Ale – Once again violating my fruit beer rule (what are rules for, anyway?), I want to see if their attempt at using blueberries in an ale works any better than mine.

Moylan’s Pomegranate Wheat – Okay, shut up about the fruit thing, okay? Come on, it’s pomegranate. I have to know. Don’t you?

Rogue Latona Pale Ale – It’s a one-hop, one-malt brew. Crazy. It might be one-dimensional, and it might knock my socks off. Let me at it. Besides, Rogue always rocks.

Three Creeks Stonefly Rye – One of Oregon’s newest breweries, with Dave Fleming (formerly of the Lucky Lab) at the helm of the brewery, how can we go wrong?

Vertigo Razz Wheat – Another Oregon newbie, which once again makes me violate my no-fruit rule. Besides, Oregon raspberries are awesome, and I’m sure my girlfriend will finish this one for me if I don’t like it.

Widmer KGB Russian Imperial Stout – you can only get this one at the Gasthaus, and I don’t get there often enough. And it’s just. Incredible. Beer.

There you go – my first 12 stops. What are yours? (Check oregonbrewfest.com or www.guestontap.com for a complete list with descriptions.)