Breweries "Visited"

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Beer 203: Pyramid Hefeweizen and Sea Creatures

Sorry for the completely spastic report out on the beer-cation. Today I'm rewinding to San Francisco and our stop at The Eagle Cafe on Pier 39.  Pier 39 is a total tourist trap, but they have seafood restaurants and sea lions.  So that's good.  

Sidebar: I cannot for the life of me tell the difference between sea lions and harbor seals.  Those gelatinous, slightly furry creatures to the right are sea lions.  

The Eagle Cafe made one of the best fish sandwiches I have had in my life.  It looked like any other fish sandwich, but tasted far superior.  They also had cold, refreshing beer and I opted for Pyramid Brewing Company's hefeweizen.

It poured a hazy apricot color with a thick white head.  It was very lemony in the nose and  had general beer aroma.  The flavor is lots of wheat, light spice and a nice lemony tartness.  My one complaint is that despite the typical hefeweizen flavors, it felt watery as I drank it.  If it had more body, I would rate it better than average.  But it didn't so average it is.

Not pictured here: two dozen oysters
that didn't stand a chance against us!

Time to Get All Patriotic

Beer #203 Manny's Pale Ale / Georgetown Brewing Company, Seattle, WA

Welcome to the weekend, friends.  Hopefully we're all feeling sufficiently patriotic heading into the Fourth of July weekend......

OK, maybe not as patriotic as Charlie here, but patriotic none the less.  We're kicking off a five day weekend, which is much needed after a long five day work week.  Getting back into the groove at work after a two week vacation is taxing on the body, mind, and soul.  I don't recommend it.  Um, going back to work, that is.  I highly recommend vacations.

Today's beer is the Manny's Pale Ale from Georgetown Brewing in Seattle.  In the glass, you see a rich amber color, with a thin white head.  There's an excellent malt and bitter balance, with hints of orange and a light sweetness in there as well.  Caramel, maybe?  Very good choice for someone who wants a bit of hops, but doesn't want to be strangled by them.  Well done, guys.

From the bar at the W in Seattle

This brewery was started by two friends in Seattle who had a passion for beer.  There's not much info on the back story for this brewery, but they do quote Caddyshack, so I'm sure they're doing something right.

Thing to Think About Today:
We'll be getting patriotic in this space over the next few days.  Let's kick it off with the Godfather of Soul:

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Just Want To Fly

Beer #202 Afterburner IPA / Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, Oak Harbor, WA

It's Friday, and we're getting into a long holiday weekend courtesy of a few more vacation days and the Fourth of July.  Off to visit with some friends tonight, so it's straight business this evening.  Tonight's beer came on draft in Seattle - the Afterburner IPA from Flyers.  It pours a copper color with a thin head, and you immediately get a good amount of hop bitterness up front.  It also has flavors of malt, with a bit of citrus thrown in, and a good dry finish.

The picture I took of this beer is downright nonsense.  Dark bar + phone = awful photos.  So, here's a picture of the Wright Brothers doing the damn thing.

Gonna fly now......
The brewery (and restaurant) website doesn't have much info on who they are, but when you click on a link to learn more about the beer, you get a cool propeller noise.  So, you have that going for you, which is nice.  They seem to be big fans of airplanes, if you're into that sort of thing.

Thing to Think About Today:
Seeing how I put Top Gun in this space during our visit to San Diego, I needed to think of another way to incorporate the theme into my final thought.  So, today is Friday, and that means it's happy hour somewhere.  Let's stop and think back to possibly the most popular G-Man happy hour song from my college days.  Sugar Ray, it's time to Fly!

What do you think Super Cat is doing these days?  Telemarketing?  I might need him for a concert I'm planning in my backyard, so if anyone has contact info, please let me know.

Beer 202: Cascade Brewing...A Sour Lover's Paradise

This picture originally included 4 butts on barstools.
Thank god for photo editing!

Isn't that a beautiful sight?  They're from Cascade Brewing in Portland, Oregon.  After visiting Rogue (reviewed yesterday), we stopped by Cascade Brewing at the recommendation of Rogue's bartender.  Kudos to him!

Cascade specializes in sour beers.  SOUR BEERS!  There were so many...I wish I took a photo of the menu.  I was in heaven and am honestly a bit surprised that I actually left.  Sour beer = happy Marci.

I started off with the sampler (from left to right):

Raspberry wheat.  It smelled like beer -- I wasn't picking up any raspberry in the nose.  It definitely had a light raspberry flavor and was also wheat-y. It was very smooth and looked like a rosé wine.

Next up was the strawberry sour. This one was very tart with a light strawberry flavor. There was a nice sweetness that went along with it for balance but it was predominantly tart.  The flavor was green and viney - does that make sense?  Delicious!

#3 was the Sang Noir. I can honestly write that I believe it rivals Russian River's Supplication.  You can taste the oak barrel.  It's rich and earthy and very tart.  If you like tart cherries and just a bit of earthiness, this beer is for you.

Finally there was the barrel aged bruin.  It tastes darkly alcoholic like a cross between whisky and rum (the description says sherry...).  It is intense.  Not as tart as I would expect, but full of red fruit and smoothness.

I followed up the sampler with a full-sized Sang Noir and some snacks.

In conclusion, if you like sour beer, you need to go to Cascade.  It is a can't miss stop on an Oregon beer tour!  Seriously...check out this list.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beer 201: Back to Portland...Next Stop Rogue

Day #2 in Portland involved a trip to Rogue Brewery's outpost on NW Flanders. At the time I didn't realize it, but Rogue has a number of outlets. The Distillery and Public House on Flanders was fantastic and exactly what I expected.
What I didn't expect is for Rogue to also support a number of nano-breweries (exactly what it sounds like), a hop yard, barley farm and bee farm. The commitment to being local, sustainable and green is outstanding in Portland.

While visiting Rogue, I opted for the sampler and had the following:

Hazelnut Brown Nectar. It poured a shade of chestnut and smelled woody. The taste was nutty with lots of malt. Delicious.

Next up was the Chocolate Stout. Big aromas of chocolate. It was pitch black in the glass with a dense head. It had a great balance of roasted malts, chocolate with a touch of vanilla. Delicious but in a way totally different than the Hazelnut Brown.

The final beer in the sampler was the MoM Hefeweizen. This one was a slightly cloudy straw color and had no head. The scent was lemon and sweet. It was effervescent and lemony with wheat flavors. It's brewed with rose petals and honey, which don't lend overwhelming flavor...they just make it all the more tasty.

There was one more "beer" in my sampler. It was labeled kid beer. I'll leave you with my notes from that afternoon regarding my thoughts on being served root beer in my sampler...

Then the kid beer. I feel insulted. Dick.

Evidently I was none too pleased with that development. I'm also not holding grudges because Rogue is going in my top 25!


Coming Up Roses

Beer #201 Point Five / Craftsman Brewing Company, Pasadena, CA

While in San Diego, I was able to catch up with a fraternity brother of mine I haven't seen in a few years, which was a lot of fun. Sadly, I also missed seeing another classmate in wine country - with some better planning, we could have met up somewhere for dinner or drinks.  If that wasn't enough, a former work colleague flew into wine country a few days after we left.  I have since instituted a new rule: anyone planning a vacation needs to run it past me first, to confirm whether or not we're also planning a similar trip.  We can adjust schedules accordingly.

Speaking of San Diego, tonight's beer, the Point Five IPA from Craftsman Brewing, came on draft at Hopping Pig, a decent beer bar smack dab in the middle of the super-touristy Gaslamp Quarter.  It poured a hazy, golden orange color, and when you drink it you get citrus and a mild hop bitterness.  It has a lighter taste, and doesn't overpower you with hops.  The brewery's website didn't have much info about themselves or this beer, but in doing some reading on the interwebs it seems this beer is named Point Five because it's a "half IPA."  Sadly, I'm not sure where the other 50% of its DNA comes from.  

Bling, bling!

Thing to Think About Today:
You know what happens in Pasadena besides this brewery?  The Rose Bowl.  You know who played there?  The greatest offense (and a not too shabby defense) in the history of college football.  Yep, if we're thinking of Pasadena, we're thinking of the 1995 PSU vs. Oregon game:

Looking to give 'em the heat and announce your presence with authority?  Ki-Jana Carter, the floor is yours:

If you have more time, feel free to peruse all of the highlights.  Undefeated.  Untied.  Unrewarded.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

200 Beers Down!

Beer #200 Best Bitter / Dick's Brewing Company, Centralia, WA

Big milestone up today - the 200th beer on our adventure.  Definitely feels like just yesterday we blew past 100 beers, definitely feels like 165 more beers is a long, long, long way off.  Thanks for hanging in there, thanks for sharing this blog with your friends.  If you aren't sharing this with your friends or other beer geeks, you really need to start keeping up your end of the bargain.  I'm busting my ass here, people.

Marking this occasion will be a beer I had on draft in Seattle, while enjoying a dozen oysters.  "While enjoying a dozen oysters" is a phrase that can be said about many, many of the beers I had on vacation.  I'm definitely at a high risk for mercury poisoning from all of the seafood I put down.  Anyway, back to tonight's beer, which is Dick's Best Bitter, an English bitter from Dick's Brewing Company.  In the glass, it shows off a nice amber color with a white head.  When you drink it, you get a lot of caramel, bread, and citrus, with a dry bitter finish.  At 4.8% ABV, this was an easy drinking, very nice choice.

 Bad picture in a dark bar?  Check.

This brewery traces its roots back to 1984, when Dick Young spent time brewing homemade beer while also making homemade sausages for his deli.  The beer became very popular with his customers, and they have since moved into a much larger production facility - although the original deli is still open.  Sadly, Mr. Young passed away in 2009, and his daughter is now running the brewery.

Thing to Think About Today:
As much as I'd like to make some dick jokes in honor of Dick's Brewery, this blog is way too classy of a place for that sort of childish thing.  Instead, I'll leave you with some classic Chuck Berry!  An R&B legend, Berry was an influential force on The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and hundreds of other bands.  He's played at the White House, and everyone is familiar with his Johnny B. Goode.  And yet oddly enough this novelty song was his only #1 single on the Billboard charts.  Take it away, Chuck....

Beer 200: Holy @#$*!, It's Beer 200

I cannot believe that I've been doing this for 200 days.  I have drank so much beer...

In honor of the 200th posting, I've decided it's high time to review what's hanging out in the Marci Top 25 list. As I start to compile that list, I have a sneaky suspicion that there may be way more than 25 breweries represented.  Not good when I haven't done my Russian River review -- it's coming soon -- and there's still 165 posts to go.

These are in no particular order.

  1. Firestone Walker 14th Anniversary Ale
  2. Mestreechts Aajt Flanders Oud Bruin
  3. Revolution Cider
  4. Schneider Weisse Mein Grunes (saison)  Something else had to go.
  5. Saison d'Erpe Mere
  6. Saison Dupont   I've had more unique saisons.
  7. Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter
  8. Chimay Grande Reserve
  9. St. Somewhere Saison Athene Off the list...the review wasn't as enthusiastic as others.
  10. Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout
  11. Leelanau's Good Golden Harbor (biere de garde)
  12. Ayinger Weizen Bock
  13. Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura (sour stout)
  14. del Ducato L'Ultima Luna (barleywine)
  15. Petrus Aged Pale
  16. Delirium Tremens  Making more room...
  17. Leipziger Gose
  18. LoverBeer Madamin (sour) I admited it tasted a bit watery compared to other sours.
  19. Abbaye du Val-Dieu Grand Cru Belgian Abbey Ale
  20. New  Holland Dragon's Milk (stout)
  21. Duchesse de Bourgogne Flanders Red Ale
  22. Duvel Belgian Golden Ale
  23. Left Hand Milk Stout
  24. Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout
  25. Ommegang Aphrodite (fruit beer)
  26. Anchorage Love Buzz Saison 
  27. 1809 Berlinerweisse
  28. Allagash Interlude (wild ale)
 Just as I I edit.  And now there are 23 beers on the list. 


Tonight I'm reviewing Deschutes Sour Raz.  It is an American wild ale brewed in Bend, Oregon.  It unfortunately was not one of the breweries we were able to visit on our vacation.

It poured a light brown with a reddish tint.  (That picture is awful in terms of color.  It smells of sour fruit. The taste is light raspberry, malt and coppery hops.  Is coppery hops a thing?  It is now.

I also just noticed that this beer isn't listed on Deschutes' webpage. Is that strange, no?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beer 199: Vertigo Apricot and Strange Days Indeed

I've been back to work post-vacation for three days.  For most of the six trips back and forth between home and office, I've managed to see some really strange things.

1. Hot pink Mercedes - no marketing stickers, just some dude (yes, dude) in a hot pink luxury sedan.
2. What I can only describe as venetian blind style rims. They may have been on a Lexus, but I'm not sure. I was too busy trying to figure out what was blinding me.
3. Mid-size truck that looked like a drivable Timberland boot.  WTF?
4. Car from Massachusetts speeding - as in like 65MPH or more - down the SHOULDER of I-76.  Morning rush was practically nonexistent. But this cat was clipping along like it was the HOV lane.

I was honestly sad when tonight's trip home was uneventful.


On to the beer review.  Vertigo Brewing's Apricot Cream Ale brews in Hillsboro, Oregon and I found the Apricot Cream Ale on draught at Henry's Tavern in Portland, Oregon.  First off, Portland is a beer lover's paradise.  Second, Henry's is awesome.  They have something like a hundred taps -- pouring all sorts of delightful brews.  I originally wrote about Henry's here.

The Apricot Cream Ale poured a bright golden color with a thick white head that left lots of lacing behind as it faded away.  The scent was all apricot and wheat.  The flavor was full and creamy, apricot at first then rolling into a nice malt with a hint of hop in the finish. Perfect beer for the perfect weather we had in Portland!


Loyal Citizens of Zamunda!

Beer #199 African Amber / Mac & Jack's Brewery, Redmond, WA

Hitting up the Phillies game tonight, so it's all business here on the blog. Today's beer is the African Amber from Mac & Jack's Brewery, and it was officially the last beer I sampled on vacation, although it's far from the last one you'll be hearing about in these pages. It poured an cloudy amber color, and had a toasted malt flavor with a bit of bitterness on the finish. There are lemony citrus notes in there as well. In all, not a bad choice.

So you're probably wondering what this beer has to do with Africa, and the answer is not a whole lot. It was originally brewed for a pub near a zoo in Redmond, and was given the name to tie into the zoo theme. Other beers from this brewery are similarly named (Serengeti Wheat, for example).
Another hotel, another beer
Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking about Africa, then we're thinking about the fictitious country of Zamunda. I'll let Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall take it home today with their legendary movie, Coming to America, which told the tale of an African prince who made his way to America to find his queen, with much hilarity along the way.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Beer #198 Hell or High Watermelon / 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA

One of the beers I was really, really looking forward to drinking in California was the Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment.  However, I realized there's a good selection from this brewery available in my back yard, and I should probably focus on working through some harder to find breweries.  So, I didn't get to visit the brewery or drink any of the other varieties they may not distribute.  Which was mildly unfortunate.

However, all is not lost, as it makes a perfect beer for an evening in my backyard, with some sausages and and corn on the grill for dinner.  This delightfully named beer is a hazy orange color in the glass with a fluffy head that lingers.  The aroma is light, with the scent of sweet fruit and yeast.  The taste is summertime in a glass - a nice watermelon flavor up front, with yeast and wheat flavors.  Nice and easy drinking, this beer would go perfectly at your Fourth of July BBQ or a lazy afternoon by the pool.  As we're in the midst of summer, I like it so much that it's getting a place on my Top 25 Beer list.  Shazam!

Plus, I love the can art - Lady Liberty picking up watermelons off a barge going by the Golden Gate Bridge. Pretty sure I didn't see that happening while I was in town, but admittedly I wasn't looking the whole time.

Summer in America!
This brewery was opened in 2000, and for those who do not recall their civics classes, is named for the Constitutional amendment which repeals Prohibition.  Now you know.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking about watermelon, let's go to the greatest song ever featuring the word "watermelon" in the lyrics.  That's right, the great Tennessee by Arrested Development.  You know what I'm talking about - "I won the game of horseshoes.  Now you owe me a watermelon."  We had horseshoe pits in the front yard of my fraternity house in college, and I'd always sing that lyric in my head during pre-game warm-ups.  Just made sense.

Anyway, on with the show:

Anyone have a number where I can reach these guys?  Thinking about booking them for an upcoming BBQ at my place.  Let me know...

Beer 198: Time Machine to Portland Day #2

Day 2 in Portland took us to many places, but most importantly to Dan & Louis Oyster Bar where many, many oysters were consumed.

While there I definitely made a run at giving myself mercury poisoning. I also had a Lawnmower Lager from Caldera Brewing. Caldera is out of Ashland, Oregon and has a pretty varied selection of beers. I figured the lager would go nicely with the oysters.

This is definitely a beer to drink while mowing the lawn. The ABV is 3.9 percent. It actually looks like a pilsner...very light in color.

It smells like grains and beer. The taste is light and a bit on the sweet grain side. While it wasn't at all what I was expecting, I definitely saw its value on a hot day with lots of yard work. The brewer thought so too...the label stated something along the lines of great to drink to rinse the dust and grass out of your mouth after mowing the lawn.

Caldera isn't making a challenging beer with this one. But I say they are making a great beer to drink on my oyster bender!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back Home, Back to Work

Beer #197  Snarling Badger / Grand Teton Brewing Company, Victor, ID

We're back home after an amazing vacation.  Felt good to sleep in my own bed last night and shower in my own bathroom this morning.  Didn't have much jet lag on this trip, but I'm definitely thrown off on when I should be eating meals and going to bed.  I helped solve that problem with a glorious two hour nap this afternoon.

Today's beer is the Snarling Badger from Grand Teton Brewing Company, and came on draft at the Hops & Hominy restaurant in San Francisco.  It poured a hazy apricot color in the glass with virtually no head, and gave off aromas of bread and orange.  The taste gives you bananas, orange, cloves, and bread.  Very tasty, and checks in at a relatively potent 7.5%  ABV.  This delightful beer is a limited release offering from the brewery as part of their cellar series, so if you can't find this definitely sample whatever else you can find from Grand Teton.

Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers!

This brewery originated in Wyoming in 1989 as Otto Brothers' Brewery, and moved to their new home in Idaho in 1998, at which point the name changed to the current Grand Teton.

Thing to Think About Today:
I just went two weeks without thinking about work.  To say I'm not excited about tomorrow being Monday is an enormous understatement.  Therefore, I'll let Sir Bob Geldof close out Sunday with his wildly appropriate song, I Don't Like Mondays:

Beer 197: Raspberry Trail Ale and Jet Lag

I'm in for a world of hurt tomorrow. I don't adjust well to time zone changes and I'm currently and solidly on Pacific time despite being back home. I've lost my sense of what time it is completely. Tomorrow's 5:30 a.m. wake up call is going to be ugly.

Instead of dwelling on that mess, let's talk about a beer I had while we stayed at River's End in Jenner (CA).

The Marin Brewing Company's Raspberry Trail Ale poured a bright straw color, which you can't see at all from this photo. It had a full, white head that left a bit of lacing behind. The smell was strong raspberries and had a malt sweetness.

The flavor was nutty malt, very smooth with a medium body. The raspberry is mostly in the nose and not the flavor, which is fine by me. If you're a regular reader, you know I love a good fruit long as the flavor tastes natural. And sometimes natural means lighter flavor so this one rates high with me. The Raspberry Trail Ale was the perfect beer to sit outside and sip on this particular night.

As I sat there in the middle of nowhere, the lack of ambient light made visible more stars than I could see in our planetarium at work. I'm not going to kind of gave me heart palpitations. I get incredibly nervous when there isn't a high quality hospital nearby. I'm just weird like that...


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beer 196: Double Mountain IPA and Farewell to the West Coast

First night in Portland wound down with what I was told was a hoppy Irish red. Turns out it was a straight up IPA. (Insert Marci frowny face here.). The Double Mountain IPA poured a hazy chestnut color with a tan head that disappeared quickly. It smelled like cured meat and kind of sweet. I also thought it was poured entirely too cold. It took quite awhile for it to smell anything other than cold.

The bartender did not lie about the level of hops. There was a citrus, resin-y flavor throughout. There was some light malt flavor. Pretty good beer!

As I sit here waiting to board my flight home, I realized I learned a lot on this trip. For today, I'll share that the Pacific Northwest grows some crazy flavorful hops. And they brew beer that shows off those hops. At the very least I think I'm returning home with a new found appreciation of IPAs, American pale ales and anything brewed in the northwest. Cheers!

Around the World and Home Again

Beer # 196 Lawnmower Lager / Caldera Brewing Company, Ashland, OR

We're wrapping up vacation today with some morning time in Seattle before heading to the airport to fly home.  Tonight, I sleep in my own bed, which makes me greatly excited.  It's been a wonderful trip - we've seen some awesome sights, met some interesting people, ate some amazing meals, and best of all, managed to drink phenomenal beers from some unique breweries which we don't (yet) see on the East Coast.  We stocked up on this trip, so you'll be seeing West Coast beers on this blog for a few more weeks.

Today's beer is the Lawnmower Lager from Caldera Brewing.  This beer proclaims itself as being a light, easy beer best consumed after a hard day of working in the yard.  I personally hate yard work with a passion, but I can appreciate a light, easy drinking beer on a hot summer day.  This beer pours a clear, effervescent gold with a thin white head.  It gives off aromas and flavors of grain and bread, and at 3.9% ABV, you can drink this all afternoon.

Looks like summer. Because it is.

This beer is labeled as a lager, but definitely lacks the complexity you see in other lagers.  Just so you know.

Thing to Think About Today:
We're homeward bound, so we'll sign off on this trip with Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound.  Hope to  revisit the West Coast again soon, but not too soon.

"I'm sittin' in the railway station / Got a ticket for my destination"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beer 195: Drake's Hefeweizen and Napa

I'm hitting up our time machine for this review. This is the last beer we drank in wine country. Drake's Hefeweizen was had in Napa at Grace's Table. Grace's Table is all about sustainable and local food and it shows. I had an ahi salad and it was fantastic.

Drake's is brewed in San Leandro (CA). The bottle tells me they're a brewery that is grittier than prettier and I kind of like that idea. Who cares where the beer comes long as it's good. This one has an ABV of 4.5 percent. It pours a hazy straw color with little to no head. The smell is wheat. The flavor is light bananas but I had to go look for that flavor. There is good side to it. Is it a great beer? No. But it's decent and went well with my lunch.

p.s. If you're debating between visiting Napa and Sonoma, I'd pick Sonoma. Way more laid back and a bit of a hippy, earthy thing happening. Napa was fancy. Fancy people. Fancy cars. If you're from my neighborhood...imagine that great wine was made in Bryn Mawr. Ugh.

You Have Cholera

Beer #195 Mason's Irish Style Red Ale / Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, OR

Portland has been awesome, mostly because the food and beer have been stellar.  We're on the road today, headed up to Seattle for the last leg of our journey.  Sigh, the real world will be here soon enough, I fear.

Today's beer was the Irish Red from Ninkasi Brewing Company out of Eugene.  It has a reddish amber hue in the glass with a fluffy white head.  You get aromas of sweet malt, and when you drink it you get hints of caramel, malt, with a hop bitterness on the finish, although nothing too dramatic.  This plus a few dozen oysters ended up being our dinner, with leftover Voodoo Doughnuts from last night for dessert.  Heavenly.

Thing to Think About Today:
We spent some time hiking/driving along the Columbia River and the trail used by Lewis and Clark on their famous 1805 expedition to explore routes to the Pacific Ocean.  So OF COURSE the thing to think about today is the greatest video game from my childhood, The Oregon Trail.  This didn't have the excitement of Atari or Nintendo games and their slick joystick action; this educational game taught you about the life of settlers moving west across the plains on their way to the coast.  You also learned that people died of dysentery a whole bunch back in the day.

Haven't played in a while?  Feel free to check out one of the online versions, which is how I'm spending my evening.  I'm a nerd.  And if you know what's good for you, always ferry across the river.  Always.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beer 194: Portland Day 1, Hop Valley Double D

Flight got into Portland on time, but we were pretty wiped out and played it low key. Dinner at Henry's. Two beers for the books!
Henry's is an old brewery up in Portland and has gotten a second life as a bar/restaurant. Not only did we visit Henry's our first night, we managed to find ourselves there the next day as well.
For dinner the first night, I had a nice salad and an AMAZING crock of mac and cheese. Seriously...the food has been awesome on this trip.

Today I'm reviewing a beer we had back at the hotel as we settled in for the next few days.
The Hop Valley Brewing Company Double D Blonde Ale poured a golden color with just a bit of haze. The head was white but disappeared pretty quickly. It had a grassy, malty aroma with a crisp, bright flavor. It is overall very smooth but finishes with a bite. Cheers.

Death by Doughnut

Beer #194 Double D Blonde Ale / Hop Valley Brewing Company

Today's beer is the Double D Blonde Ale from Hop Valley Brewing, which we picked up in Whole Foods and drank back in the hotel to close out the night.  It had a clear gold color with a fair amount of effervescence and a white head.  You get the aroma of grain, and this is an easy drinking beer with flavors of wheat and barley.  Checks in at 4.9% ABV.  With a name like Double D, I was expecting something., perhaps.... a bit more full sized from this beer.

Hotels need to start providing me with pint glasses

Thing to Think About Today:
The Pacific Northwest is an incredibly beautiful region filled with countless outdoor adventures.  Which totally explains why we waited in line for fifteen minutes last night to eat doughnuts.  But not just any doughnuts - Voodoo Dooughnut, home of possibly the greatest doughnuts in the world.  Look, I love Dunkin Donuts as much of the next guy, but my local DD doesn't offer up the Old Dirty Bastard, a raised doughnut with chocolate frosting, crushed Oreos, and peanut butter on top.  Voodoo also offers up delights like the Memphis Mafia, which is glazed fried dough with banana and cinnamon, with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate chips on top.  I can't even begin to to imagine how much weight I gained during this trip, but having the chance to eat at places like Voodoo is totally worth it.

The Voodoo Doll doughnut. Your doughnuts are now irrelevant.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beer 193: Bear Republic Peter Brown Ale

Two days of hopping around wineries is exhausting and hangover inducing...especially when you factor in craft beer sampling. Before departing for Portland, we visited eight wineries over two days. The highlight among them is a newish one called Martorana Family Winery. While n this winery is only about five years old, the family's wine story goes way further back. Definitely check out that link for some history.

I'm not a huge red wine drinker and I was definitely in red wine country. Imagine my delight when we arrived at Martorana and met Gio, the winemaker, who opened up a recently bottled Chardonnay for us. It was so good, I'm currently smuggling it back to Pennsylvania!

I would say that if you find yourself in Sonoma, you should definitely put this winery on your list. Laid back people, quality wine and two winery dogs! How can you go wrong with that combination?!?

Following the wine stops, we hit Bear Republic in Healdsburg for some beer and appetizers. Sadly we missed out on a visit to Lagunitas -- they were closed for a private event.

I had the Peter Brown Tribute Ale. It's an American brown ale that poured a deep, murky brown. It barely had any head. There was a malt and caramel aroma that carried through to the taste. The taste also had a dominant bitterness, which I wasn't expecting. It had a nice mouthfeel...kind of creamy. I think this is a good beer...I just prefer my brown ales with more malt.


p.s. If you're wondering about the name of this beer, I have an answer. It's named in honor of one of Bear Republic's sales reps, who died at a relatively young age. A new brown ale was being brewed on the day he died and the brewmaster dedicated the new brew to him. It went on to win a number of awards and the rest is history.

On the Road Again

Beer #193 IPA / Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA

Yesterday was a travel day; stopped in Napa to get some lunch and wander around, then headed to the airport to get on a plane to Portland.  Good thing we got there very eary; Southwest's systems were down, so it took about 45 minutes to get our luggage checked.  Ugh.

Today's beer is the IPA from Lagunitas - unfortunately, we didn't get to try this one at their on-site tap room.  We drove down to Petaluma, only to find they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Despite this set back, I managed to get a giant mug of IPA on draft at dinner last night.  It poured a nice copper color with a thin white head.  I had a hard time picking up aromas, as my allergies were flaring up from our time in wine country (I think you get grapefruit).  When you drink it, you get strong hop bitterness throughout, and a good citrus profile as well.  Probably not as hoppy as some other California IPAs, and certainly not as hoppy as some of their other offerings.  Fairly easy drinking beer, and quite good.

Giant mug, good beer!

Unfortunate that we didn't get to sample some of their seasonal releases or beers that only exist on draft in the pub, but what can you do.  Next time.

Thing to Think About Today:
Another day of living out of a suitcase, another day in a hotel, another day driving around, another plane ride.  Hey, it beats the hell out of working!  If we're on the road, we'll have Willie Nelson take it from here:

Did you know Willie Nelson attended Baylor University for two years?  Now you do.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beer 192: Snarling Badgers, Hops & Hominy

Today's beer is from Grand Teton Brewing Company -- the Snarling Badger Berliner Weiss. It poured a hazy straw color with no head. The aroma was sweet and malty.

The flavor was honey and wheat, but lacked tartness. It was definitely more hoppy than tart. Overall a good beer.

We found the Snarling Badger at a great new restaurant in San Francisco...Hops & Hominy. It's so new that their website is still under construction. Cuisine is kind of a new take on southern food. Definitely check it out if you're in San Fran!

Other things to do in San Fran is taking the double decker tour bus around town. You get a two day pass for about $30 and we managed to hit every sight we wanted to see. The hop on, hop off concept is fantastic!

That's all I have for today...we're off to Portland for a few days. Cheers!

Beer and Wine

Beer #192 Outburst / Pyramid Brewing Company, Seattle, WA

Today is our last day in Sonoma before we head to the airport to catch a flight to Portland.  Yesterday was spent back on the winery trail for some more tastings, and we paid a visit to Bear Republic Brewery for food & a beer.  We tried to hit Lagunitas for an in-person visit, but their tap room is closed on Tuesdays.  Things I would have known had I bothered to check their website.  Can't win 'em all.

The beer for today is Outburst, an IPA from Pyramid Breweries, which we bought in Sausalito a few days back.  In the glass, it shows off a dark copper color with a thin but persistent head.  You get a lot of grapefruit, with a good hop taste and bitterness, and a clean, dry finish.

Yes, I drank this in my hotel room.
Pyramid started in Washington, and now has brewpubs in a number of different cities, including Berkley and Sacramento.

Thing to Think About Today:
Real time intel - if you're in Sonoma, you're drinking wine.  Why not drink wine from a awesome winery with some cool people and fun winery dogs?  To do all of these things, you should head to Martorana Family Winery.  We were able to sample some really interesting varieties, such as their 2007 Merlot, and we took home a bottle of Chardonnay.  Thanks to the asinine laws regarding the shipping of wine to Pennsylvania, we can only bring home what fits in our suitcase.  Their Chardonnay definitely made the cut.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Beer #191 Drew's Steam / Six Rivers Brewery, McKinleyville, CA

Back on the road yesterday; made our way to Sonoma County to work in some wine tastings with our beer adventures.  We're all about equal opportunity at this blog.  Visited four wineries (Hop Kiln, Rochioli, Thomas George, and Potter Creek) before finishing the day at Russian River Brewing Company for dinner and beers.  You'll hear more about Russian River soon enough, but rest assured it was a religious experience.  The wines from today were good, too!

For today's beer, we'll go with a small brewery further up the California coast, Six Rivers Brewery.  This was another beer from our lunch at Slater's 50/50 - I tried the Drew's Steam, a California Common style (think Anchor Steam).  It poured a copper color with a thin head, and gave off earthy aromas (Marci says: "wet, unfinished wood").  When you drink it, you get caramel malts, an earthy, grassy flavor, and a hop bitterness on the finish.  Not bad at all.

This brewery should consider using the slogan "Six Rivers: Twice as Good as Pittsburgh!"  Although, when your brewery has a view of the Pacific Ocean, I guess you don't need to remind the people of Pittsburgh that they don't.

Thing to Think About Today:
We're posted up in Santa Rosa, in the middle of Sonoma County.  Without a doubt the most famous resident of Santa Rosa was the legendary Charles M. Schulz, who lived here for the last 31 years of his life.  I can't imagine a childhood that didn't include Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang.  So let's all take a moment and think about the greatest comic in the history of time:

I could totally go for some buttered toast, popcorn, and jelly beans right now.

Beer 191: Telegraph Brewing Co. Saison

Telegraph Brewing Company's Los Padres is a Saison. It's brewed in Santa Barbara and has an ABV of 7%. It's a very hoppy Saison. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

It has an interesting sweet and bitter thing happening. Lots of citrus flavor, some malt, but a very strong bite at the finish.

I had this one at Hopping Hog in San Diego. I would definitely recommend a visit if you're into craft beer or handcrafted cocktails. If you're at all familiar with The Farmer's Cabinet in Philadelphia, this is its slightly less pretentious Cousin from the west coast.

I swear this photo looked normal when I took it; however I had also been sampling Karl Strauss beer, Ballast Point beer and also drank a giant margarita beforehand. Oops.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just Us and the Ocean (and Beer)

Beer #190 Raspberry Trail Ale / Marin Brewing Company, Larkspur, CA

Yesterday was a whirlwind day - San Fran tourism, lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, drive down the incredibly windy Lombard Street, a fantastic hike through Muir Woods National Park to see redwood trees, then a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to our final stop on the day, the sleepy little coastal town of Jenner, population 107.

The coast: a view of Blind Beach from Goat Rock 

My beer for the day was one we picked up along the way to drink in our hotel room - the Raspberry Trail Ale from Marin County Brewing.   It showed off an orange straw color, and was not as cold as it should have been (had been in a cooler bag in our car all day).  You get a fruit aroma with a good taste of raspberries (go figure) and an earthy, dry finish.  Nice summer beer.

View of the river meeting the ocean from our room's patio.  Better than a picture of beer, I'd say.

Thing to Think About Today:
The beer was great, but the environment was even better - the River's End restaurant, where the Russian River flows into the Pacific Ocean.  Great seafood and fantastic locally sourced (although not cheap) oysters.  Plus, as good of a sunset as you're ever going to find.  They have a number of cabins on the property, so we had a convenient walk back to our room after dinner and spent an hour or so on the deck drinking the aforementioned beer.  Heavenly.

We managed to find ourselves in a spot that didn't have cell phone reception, light pollution, or any real noise. Only the sound of the gentle rolling of the ocean against the beach, which prompted us to sleep with our patio door open.

You'll never find this place by accident, but it's well worth going out of your way for an amazing experience.

Beer 190: Mission Brewing Blonde Ale

We've departed Jenner (CA) for Santa Rosa early this morning and on our way managed to visit one of California's most dangerous beaches -- Goat Rock Beach. Dangers included rip currents, strong backwashes and sleeper waves. Not included on the list were giant jagged rocks and nesting sea lions who evidently get really riled up when humans are nearby recently born pups.

Apologies for this crackhead photo. I managed to go out without the Blackberry, ipad or camera on this beer run. Mission Brewery Blonde Ale is an American style blonde ale and is brewed in San Diego. The brewery was founded in the early 20th century and was shut down thanks to Prohibition. It reopened in 2007 and seems to be winning awards ever since.
I had this one in a bottle and it didn't come with a glass. No comments on looks or smell. The flavor is malt forward with very little hop influence. It has a fuller mouthfeel. The flavor is a bit citrusy and also had something slightly metallic in the taste. It was a decent beer...just not a great beer. Cheers.

P.S. This was the view I had waking up this morning! Not bad!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beer 189: Fish Brewing Hibiscus Hefeweizen

I'm sitting here typing away with the sounds of the Russian River lapping at the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Umm. Holy shit. Seriously. I'm in the middle of nowhere and it pretty much can be summed up as heaven on earth. I don't know how our friend found this place, but thank you.

I'm going to go back a few our afternoon at Slaters 50/50...for this review. It is Fish Brewing Co.'s Hibiscus Hefeweizen. It's brewed in Washington and weighs in at a very respectable 5.6% ABV.

It poured a ruby color with a slightly pink head. It had lots of carbonation. The smell is sweetly floral with some malt. The flavor is predominantly orange, honey and flowers and finishes with pear notes. It is very good. I get to write that because I've had a BUNCH of hibiscus influenced beers this year.

Cheers from the river's end!

Camels, Beer, Ponch, John

Beer #189 Camel Corps / Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Vista, CA

Moving out of the city and heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to a small bed & breakfast on the coast.  But there's still time for beer!  Today's beer is the Camel Corps from Latitude 33 Brewing, a copper colored  IPA.  You get aromas of pine and citrus, with a nice hop bitterness.  Not as hoppy as I was expecting, but it worked well for me - this one rode shotgun with my burger at Slater's.  Also interesting, it is brewed with hops from New Zealand.

Beer with fried pickles, just for fun.

The interesting name for this beer comes from the pre-Civil War days, when Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, decided that camels would be useful for settling the Southwest.  So, the U.S. Camel Corp was established to meet that goal.  Once the Civil War broke out, interest in the program died off.

Thing to Think About Today:
Saw the California Highway Patrol on our travels.  Yes, they still dress like Ponch and John from CHiPs.  This was one of my favorite tv shows as a kid, and I spent countless hours watching re-runs when I was in college.  Take it away, guys:

Best tv theme song ever?  Probably.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Beer 188: Coronado Brewing Wit

So much good beer...I don't even know where to begin.

Let's start with the Orange Avenue Wit from the Coronado Brewing Company. This one is brewed on Coronado Island, which also happened to be our home base for the first two days. Great location and great beers.

The Orange Avenue Wit is named for the street on which the brewery is located. It appears to be a pretty small operation; however, we can pretty regularly find Coronado beers on draught at TJ's back home. The color is very orange and hazy and it's served with an orange wedge. I hate fruit garnishes in my beer. Oh well.

The aroma is very strong on orange and the flavor is smooth and very malt forward. It is just a bit hoppy with citrus notes and some spice. A lot of the other reviews I read mentioned honey but I didn't pick up on that. Overall a solid beer. I also heard from another patron that pretty much everything they serve at the accompanying restaurant is fantastic. I can't personally attest to that but based on looks I was impressed.

Onward and upward folks...I'm off to San Fran!

Shake It Baby

Beer #188 Red Trolley Ale / Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego, CA

Today is a busy day; wrapping up things in San Diego then jetting off to San Francisco, so we'll keep it short here.  The beer for the day is from Karl Strauss Breweries, another local brewery.  I drank a flight, so here's a run down on all five pours:

- Windansea Wheat, a hefeweizen with nice banana and clove flavors
- Flan-Diddly-Anders Ale, flavorful and awesomely named, but not as tart as I was expecting it to be, picked up flavors of tea
- Red Trolley Ale, which had a rich malt background with toffee and caramel. My favorite of the ones I sampled
- Pintail Pale Ale, light hop flavors, and Marci said it had flavors of marigolds
- Boardwalk Black Rye IPA, which was a bonus pour from the bartender, had a good toasty flavor, and reminded me of the Tommyknocker Black IPA

The beer menu.  Delicious.

Everything we sampled was solid, so I'd definitely recommend this if you find it.  Haven't seen it on the East Coast yet, but it's a popular option around San Diego. 

Thing to Think About Today:
Sure, Tupac was originally from New York, but he moved a town north of San Francisco with his family when he was a kid.  You can't spend time in California without thinking about their official state anthem, California Love:

"In the city..... city of Compton....."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Can Engage Any Time, Maverick

Beer #187 Sculpin IPA / Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, CA

Day #2 of vacation; more fun and games in greater San Diego, with most of the afternoon spent in the tony suburb of La Jolla.  Spent time drinking at a Karl Strauss Brewery outpost, and then headed to Ballast Point Brewing Company, which like Green Flash is located in a nice corporate office park.  Note to brewers: there is no world class brewery in the corporate office park where I work.  Fix that.

We did a flight of beer, and I sampled:
- Sculpin Ale, a classic West Coast IPA rich with grapefruit and hop bitterness.  World class beer, and is named for a common small, spiny fish found nearby.
- Fathom India Pale Lager, (a type of beer I don't usually see), had a nice dryness and hop bitterness
- Three Sheets Barleywine, which had flavors of molasses, leather, and stone fruit.  Sadly, the weather here is not conducive to drinking barleywines, although that doesn't explain why I've put down two in the past week.

Great beers, and really enjoyed seeing the full line-up of beers, not just what shows up on the East Coast.

Thing to Think About Today:
For those of you who love the movie Top Gun, and really, that's everyone in America, it was based on the fighter pilot school of the same name located at MCAS Miramar, a base north of San Diego and close to Ballast Point (and Green Flash).  Therefore, without further explanation:


Beer 187: Finally The Bruery

The anticipation of this trip delayed some significant gratification when it came certain breweries. One of them was The Bruery's Hottenroth.

Weighing in at a very drinkable ABV of 3.1%, this is a great California beer. I love that Berliner Weiss is starting to become more mainstream. This one poured a hazy yellow with a very short lived white head.

The scent was strong lemon that carried into the taste. It's bright and refreshing. As I made my way to the midway point of the glass, I noticed a slightly chalky thing happening with the flavor. It wasn't off putting, just interesting.

The Bruery seems to be doing a lot in the way of brett-heavy or sour ales. Now that I've officially crossed them off the list, I'll be on the lookout for more offerings. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beach, Burgers, and Beer

Beer #186 Linchpin IPA / Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, CA

First full day on vacation in the books, and it was awesome.  Spent some time on the beach, some time in Balboa Park, and some time working through some great beers.  Right down to business, as the battery on my laptop is near death.

Spent some quality time at Green Flash Brewery's tasting room today.  Unique space inside their production facility, with almost all of their beers available on draft.  Outdoor seating (always a plus when you have this weather) and an indoor space without seats, but with a view of the entire brewery.  I sampled three beers, and the first is the one I'll put on record here.  The Linchpin IPA is a white IPA brewed in collaboration with Founders Brewery out of Michigan.  I didn't bother to geek out with my beer notes, but the taste had flavors of citrus and bread with a nice peppery spice.  As expected, Marci didn't like it.

SOOOOO shiny and awesome!

I also had the Rayon Vert, a Belgian pale ale, and the Trippel, a Belgian trippel.  Both were good, but we'll give a slight nod to the sweet, almost floral characteristics in the Trippel.  Delicious all around.

Yes, that's the brewery behind my beer
If you're ever north of downtown San Diego, do yourself a favor and stop by.

Thing to Think About Today:
Real time intel: had a late lunch at Slater's 50/50 today.

No, not that Slater.

This Slater's, a burger joint not too far from the airport, in what appears to be an old military base being remade into a high end shopping, dining, and arts center.  Still a work in progress, but Slater's is absolutely, positively worth a visit.  It hits the three criteria I look for:
1. Good beer list:  CHECK, with a whopping 106 beers on tap.  Which totally explains why the guy at the table next to us ordered a Coors Light.
2. Good food: CHECK.  The name 50/50 comes from their house burger mix, a 50/50 blend of ground beef and bacon.  Oh yeah!  Plus, you can geek out and customize your burger with endless possibilities of combinations of sauces, cheeses, and toppings.
3. Good price: CHECK.  My burger cost $9.  I would have paid twice as much.

Amazing first day.  Many more to come.