Showing posts with label Oakshire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oakshire. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things Beer Taught Me: Oakshire's Heart Shaped Box

So although I don't feel comfortable claiming the identity of "student" (unless you modify it with something like 'of life,' or 'of the human condition'), I am taking a class this term in Family Counseling.  I've really enjoyed being back in the classroom, mostly because I am a big nerd.  I like reading books, and writing papers, and engaging in classroom discussion.  The one thing I have not enjoyed is the time commitment - mostly because it has kept me from posting as often as I'd like.

That said, I do have a school ritual left over from graduate school that I am going to capitalize on here at West Toast.  I looove to sit and read in bars.  I find that when I am in a crowded and noisy environment, I am able to ignore what is going on around me and focus in a better way.  Thus every week I've been posting up at least one night a week at my favorite location in Corvallis, Les Caves, to get in some reading and try out something new.  At least for a while, that is what I'll be posting about on here.

Beer and Psychology!!!

Last week beer was for breakfast, and breakfast was good.  I sampled Oakshire Brewing Company's Heart Shaped Box - a bourbon-barrel aged espresso stout made with bing cherries.  My book - In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore.  It seemed apt that I'd read a book about the benefits of slowing life down while having a beer, brunch, conversation, and watching hailstones pelt the street outside.  I enjoyed the mixture of intense flavors in the beer.  The powerful coffee flavor made it apt to drink this beer in the morning.  There was a light tartness of cherry throughout, that lingered with the bitter of the coffee at the end.  I did not detect much of the bourbon, but did find wonderful vanilla on the nose that stayed with me into the taste.  The mouth feel was low in carbonation, and smooth, which surprised me considering how thick and dark the beer appeared in the glass.  I paired my brew up with a side of potatoes and sausage, and found that the sour/bitter sensibilities of the beer stood wonderfully with the spice and grease of my breakfast meat.  All in all it was a great brunch.

My reading proved to be very interesting as well - I'll share with you a quote from Honore, who posits that the fast-paced world has led people to impatience, rage, and decreases in coping skills.

"In a way, we are all fast thinkers now.  Our impatience is so implacable that, as actress-author Carrie Fisher quipped, even "instant gratification takes too long."  This partly explains the chronic frustration that bubbles just below the surface of modern life." p. 12

(apologies for no art in this post - it was impromptu and thus I did not have a camera)


Monday, October 17, 2011

Les Caves de Awesome!

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Four years ago, my friend Chris told me that he was leaving a stable job with the largest chain of brewpubs in Oregon to help open a new establishment in Corvallis...Block something or other.  I recall thinking that he was nuts to follow a pipe dream, after all, his new bosses -- Nick and Kristen Arzner -- while experienced in the restaurant industry had little to no experience as proprietors.  Well, two months later I found myself helping install a brewery, 650 pound fermenters and all, on a drizzly December day in 2007 and the rest was history.  Block 15 Restaurant and Brewery opened in Spring 2008 and quickly became the most popular brewpub within a 100 mile radius, known for creative brew and unique food.

Last winter, when Chris started talking about a new project Nick and Kristen had cooked up in a vacant coffee shop next door to Block 15,  my ears and palate perked up.  If this new venture were to experience even 50% of the success of Block 15, we were all in for a treat...a fact I confirmed in person last weekend.  Allow me to introduce Les Caves Bier & Kitchen ("Caves"), a European Bier Tavern in Corvallis, Oregon.

The first thing I noticed walking through the doors of Caves was that it was Sunday, and well, they were open.  I've come to take this fact for granted in Seattle but in Corvallis, an open restaurant on a Sunday is worthy of note.  According to owner Nick Arzner,

Les Caves is modeled as a European Bier Cafe and will share the same community and environmental commitments as Block 15.

Walking through the doors of Caves, I felt like Harry Potter apparating to a different time and place. Chic, modern, but cozy, Caves features a bar made from beer barrel staves, a relatively intimate seating area, and a prominent beer fridge. I also couldn't help spending a minute reflecting with Nick on the success of the business. Four years ago it was a rag-tag group of friends and family renovating the joint next door; the luxuries of filling a needed hole in the Willamette Valley dining scene brought the ability to engage Metzger Green Build to do the heavy lifting on this project.

As authentic of a beer bar as you'll find in the Pacific Nortwest, Caves brings influences from Belgium, Great Britain, and Germany in both menu and beverage selection. Beer Curator Drew Salmi selects world-class beers for a 16-tap rotational draught list, including a IPA and Saison brewed by Block 15 exclusively for Caves. But wait, there's more! Did I mention the bottle list? No? Well, you'll find over 100 bottles from near and far, including a delicious Oakshire Brewing Hellshire bourbon aged barley wine that I found to be rich, sweet, and toasty and awesome during my visit.  If you're looking for rare beer this is the place to be.

Oh yea, they have food too. Cracking open the menu you'll find a feature of local agriculture, from scratch cooking, in house baking, and divergent choices ranging from simple pub snacks to date-worthy entrees. Since Rick and I don't make it to Corvallis all that often, the whole gang got together for the visit to Caves and we appropriately ordered pretty much one of every appetizer on the menu. Bier Bread Pretzel...awesome with the stone ground mustard. Salt Cod Fritters, who doesn't like salt, cod, and fritter? The surprising highlight of that portion of the meal was a crispy crab deviled egg. For dinner I thoroughly enjoyed a Rabbit Leg Confit with a house made sage biscuit that can only be described as orgasmic. The menu rotates frequently based on what's fresh, so keep an open mind and you'll not be disappointed.

A place that is you'll be just as comfortable grabbing appetizers and beer on a random Wednesday night after a long day of work as you will all gussied up for a hot date on a Friday night, Caves has great things to come. As with any new establishment, there are a few kinks being worked out but never fear, all signs are pointing to awesome and I can't wait to visit again. I almost forgot...they serve brunch as well on weekends! Buttermilk Stout Pancakes and a Bloody Tequila Maria? Sold! Actually, I'll take a mimosa...but you get the picture.

Les Caves Bier & Kitchen
308 SW 3rd Street
Corvallis, Oregon

Les Caves, Bier & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oakshire Amber Ale

Brewery: Oakshire Brewing Company
Style: Amber Ale Rating: B+/3.92 (Community) Rating: 3.31
Serving: 22oz Bottle

Oakshire Brewing Company is a brewery out of Eugene, Oregon that has seemed to explode onto the Oregon beer scene within the last year. In fact, you could say that for breweries in Eugene period. Oakshire is especially significant to the Oregon beer scene in that I believe they do an excellent job at creating craft beers that fall perfectly on that line between good enough for craft beer fans like myself, but not intimidating enough for folks used to macro pilsners. Case in point, Oakshire's Amber Ale. Here's what Oakshire has to say about it:

Refreshingly balanced & flavorful, our Amber Ale pairs wonderfully with a variety of foods while holding its own as a session beer. Brewed with five malts and three hop varieties, the Amber is a lovely table beer for new and experienced craft beer drinkers.

Appearance: Looks like a typical amber with a light caramel-esque hue and thin, white head. Not much fizziness, which leads leads me to believe the drinkability will be pretty high for this one. Not very translucent either, which is somewhat of an oddity for many Oregon ambers.

Smell: Medium hop profile with light citrus aromas. Fairly typical malt profile as well.

Taste: It's a bit creamier than expected. By no means would this pass as a cream ale, but definitely a more substantial body than most other ambers. The taste is brewed very close to the typical amber style as well, but with one large difference that I didn't notice until a friend pointed out that the taste almost completely dissipates off of your palate within seconds. I wouldn't have noticed this because it isn't that important to me, but many of my other friends agreed that lingering taste is a huge turn off from many craft beers. I tend to drink things because they taste good, but whatever! If it's going to open folks up to craft beer, then I'm down for it.

I may not have mentioned anything exactly remarkable about this brew, but there's nothing negative to say either. It's brewed to a style and it's done flawlessly. In fact, this would be one of the most perfect beers to pick up a keg of for a party, game day, a Tuesday, or whatever! Great utility beer that would sound great for almost any occasion.