Showing posts with label deschutes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deschutes. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BrewCycle Portland

What's better than going on a cycle trip with your friends to drink some beer, or sip some wine? Having that cycle be shared among ALL THE FRIENDS!!! That was a recent experience of mine in Portland - a tour with BrewCycle Portland for my friend Jaqcueline's birthday.

I love to I was rarin' to go - I wanted to take the bike out by myself...but it's better with friends for sure!

12-15 people, one bike, a fun and funny driver, your own iPod mix, snacks, and a trek to breweries in NW Portland. I can't think of a better way to spend a day. Pedaling was a lot of fun - not too heart-racing that it becomes too difficult, the bikes only move about 6mph max. We rode right around on the streets, through traffic lights, and around corners. Our host did the steering, and we did the rest. Though you can't drink on the bikes (city ordinances), you can bring along plenty of delicious snacks to nosh on as you move from place to place.

We went to Caps & Corks, a bottle and tap room with a massive selection. I totally got to geek out on the shelves and shelves of beer and wine, mostly local, and enjoy the rustic-Portland-pub (it's a thing) atmosphere. Gordon and I sampled the Anvil Ale ESP from AleSmith in San Diego. This lightly hoppy and gently malty amber is well-balanced and crisp. Though listed as a bitter, I did not find it all that biting, but more well-rounded and easy to drink.

We also hit up the Deschutes Brewery, where we lazed a bit in the sun in the front entryway. Here I sampled the Imperial Smoked Porter. Chocolatey and rich, the smokiness in this beer seemed almost nutty and toasty rather than smoky. I enjoyed the creamy mouth feel and maltiness, and thought it went well with the fries we picked up as a snack.

Bridgeport was another stop along the way. I enjoyed their multi-tier space, and a lovely taste of the Smooth Ryed. This beer is delightfully hoppy with a spicy nip of rye in the finish. What I liked best about it is the crispness of the beer - refreshing near the end of the ride. Drinking this in closing certainly made my BrewCycle experience a Smooth Ryed indeed!

I think the best part of the BrewCycle experience is not even the beer. Everywhere we rode we got high fives, laughter, and waves from the people on the street! We were able to laugh, joke, and enjoy the ride as a group, and our tunes were awesome. You don't even have to have 12-15 friends in order to participate. They will pair you up with other groups to get a full bike, so you might even make some new friends along the way.

Thanks BrewCycle!!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Collage of Deschutes and Hair of the Dog

The spirit of the holidays is one of collaboration.

You can find evidence of this spirit in the touching way that Clark Griswold and Cousin Eddie came together for an epic Christmas Vacation in 1989; with that in mind I embarked on a journey to discover a beer that epitomizes collaboration in it's very essence.

Rising to the top of the collaborative pyramid was Collage, a joint initiative of Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company. The first brew released in Deschutes' Conflux Series, I was intrigued by the Collage from the instant I heard about...and let me tell you why.

Thanks to Rick, I like unique and boozy beer. You can't get more unique and boozy that Collage. Two years in the making, Collage stands true to it's name as a blend of four of the most unique beers that the breweries offer: Deschutes' The Stoic and The Dissident, and Hair of the Dog's Fred and Adam.

As if blending together four super unique beers wasn't enough, the brewmasters then aged the beers for 24 months in a variety of cask barrels, including rye whiskey, cognac, sherry, pinot noir, bourbon, new American Oak, and new Oregon Oak. Left with more than 100 distinct barrel-aged rounds, the brewers crafted the final blend to reflect the collage of patience, time, and collective curiosity.

So here we go.

Brewery: Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
Style: American Strong Ale Rating: 92, Exceptional Rating: 99 Overall
Serving: 12oz Bottle
ABV: 11.6%

Appearance: Upon pouring into a belgian glass, the Collage had very little head and appeared lightly carbonated.  The beer golden with a slightly pinkish hue with moderate cloudiness evident throughout.

Smell: Delicious and fascinating at the same time. Depending on the breath, I got alternating notes of whisky and sour beer, a nice contrast between sweet and sour. The variety of spirits notes were inviting but I found the beer to be a bit intimidating on the nose at the same time.

Taste: The first sip of Collage is smooth, until it hits you in the roof of the mouth with a sweet and tangy punch. I wasn't sure which booze influence to pick up from the barrel aging, but I did get a nice oakiness on the finish. This beer almost has a tannic quality to it. Crisp might be a good descriptor.

Overall I found the Collage to be quite unique and enjoyable. With the barrel influence, I wanted it to be a bit darker of a beer but in that respect, the beer then may have overpowered the aging program.

I enjoyed this beer while watching a Gonzaga basketball game; my notes indicate that the beer is "spicy like Gonzaga hoops." Pick up a bottle when you want something different and get lost in the collage.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Old Standbys: Deschutes Black Butte Porter

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Everybody has old standbys. You know, that beverage or the place around the corner that no matter your mood or the occasion always sound great. They may not be your absolute favorite nor critically acclaimed, but they always hit the spot and are easily obtainable. We tend to ignore our standbys and keep them to ourselves, but no longer. In part one of an infinite part series that I just now made up, we at West Toast will occasionally take a moment to share with you some of our own standbys that deserve mention.

When I think old standbys, nothing embodies that more for me than Deschutes' Black Butte Porter. This black, creamy porter is packed with hues of coffee and chocolate that almost always hit the spot. It stands up on its own as a session beer and just as easily pairs with pretty much anything. At 5.2%, it's a dark and complex beer you can drink all night without hitting the floor after three. Deschutes describes it as follows:

With a dark beer as our first and flagship brand, Black Butte defined Deschutes as a radical player. A slight hop bitterness up front enhances the distinctive chocolate and roasted finish. It’s prized for its creamy mouthfeel and intense complex flavors.

When thinking about Black Butte Porter, I can't help recall it being a part of some really great memories. It's also responsible for a few lapses in memory, but those were fun as well. Here are just a few highlights off the top of my head:

  • It's the first drink I ordered on my 21st birthday. My friend Cole bought it for me and it was magical.

  • When I studied abroad in Korea, it was the first beer I had when I returned home. After drinking cheap Korean lagers such as Hite and Cass/OB for half a year, Black Butte Porter tasted like a koala crapping a rainbow in my mouth. To this day, no single beer has ever tasted so great.

  • When working in Corvallis one Summer, Josh and Dominique had just returned from a lengthy camp retreat and I decided to great them when they got home with take and bake pizza and Black Butte Porter. While that part isn't quite exciting, the memorable part is that not only did I get to meet Dominique, but that night laid the foundation for what eventually became Death Pot Pie (our Rock Band band, duh). We also all magically woke up with no hang over. No idea how that happened.

  • Unrelated to the last story, I watched Josh break a bone in his hand while trying to open a bottle of one on the side of a desk. Good times.

  • Finally, our friend Gordon once used it to create his own iced coffee drink. The recipe? Ice, 1/2 old coffee, 1/2 Black Butte Porter. The verdict? Haven't had one since.

Does Deschutes make better beers than Black Butte Porter? Of course, but none of those are as affordable, easily obtainable, nor versatile as Black Butte Porter. It's the beer I grab when nothing else seems to stand out and I'll always take one when offered. So here's to you, Black Butte Porter, and to all the great times still to come.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Deschutes The Stoic

Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
Style: Belgian-style Quadruple Rating: B (Community) Rating: 3.59
Serving: 22oz Bottle

Bend, Oregon's Deschutes Brewery is well known throughout the United States beer drinking community for their standard standard fare of affordable yet classy brew.  You can walk into pretty much any grocery store that has a respectable beer selection and find Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, and Obsidian Stout; and their Green Lakes Organic Ale has long been a staple of staff.  Imagine my elation,  then, when I learned that Deschutes had even MORE to offer: The Reserve Series.

A collection of special, relatively small-scale distribution, The Reserve Series represents the the brewmasters playground in a way. With a price point between $10.00 - $16.00 for a 22oz wax-dipped bottle, reserve beers aren't for your every day sipping; they certainly make a special treat though. In August, Deschutes released The Stoic, a Belgian-style Quadruple and the latest in the reserve lineup. I couldn't wait to try it.

According to the brewer,

[The Stoic is] a simple recipe ironically hard to brew. The classic malt bill is all Pilsner malt. Hallartau, Czech Saaz, and Northern Brewer hops sustain a deftly understated flavor. Belgian candy sugars add impact and the smooth body required of any Belgian-style brew worth quaffing. A healthy portion of pomegranate molasses casts an opulent, tangy twist, while a vintage Belgian yeast strain provides a solid reference point. Pinot Noir and Rye Whiskey barrel-aging suggest notes of spice, citrus, pepper, vanilla, and toasted caramel like offerings to the ancients.

With an ABV of 11.5%, IBU of 20, and partially aged in Pinot Noir and Rye Whisky barrels, I knew I was in for a treat!

Appearance: Lightly pink in hue, The Stoic has a slightly effervescent quality which bubble up the side of the Belgian glass I was drinking out of.

Aroma: Immediate notes of the classic belgian yeast and sugar are complemented by hints of pomegranate and a bit of oak.

Taste: My first reaction upon tasting The Stoic was "sweet." Then, the flavor profile transitioned into a tart finish with a backing of oak and whiskey on the palate. This beer is complex! As it warmed up a bit the fruitiness opened up, bringing the pomegranate to the table to play.

Depending on your mood and what you are looking for from the beer, The Stoic it could be a standalone refreshing brew, a more complex after-dinner dessert beverage, or would do just fine paired with some fresh seafood. A unique, complex beer, The Stoic is unlike anything you've ever tasted from a beer - and probably will ever taste again.

It's definitely worth the trip to the store to pick up The Stoic, and also while you're at it you might as well learn how to easily open a wax-tipped bottle of beer. Hint, make a vertical cut up the side.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Barley Wine 101

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While I can't speak for every writer at WestToast, I like to pride myself in the fact I've been writing long enough that people actually think I know what I'm talking about. Sometimes I even do! Today I'm going to impart some of that knowledge onto you in a rare, but educational experience where I share both the basics and my opinion of Barley Wine. You know, because I'm a respected online beverage journalist.

Barley Wine is perhaps the most under appreciated beverage on the market and I think most of that stems from the name alone. Barley Wine isn't wine at all, but beer! Originally brewed in England, it got its name due to its relatively high alcohol content that hovers around 8-14% ABV. As such, one typically drinks Barley Wines in the same quantities and fashion as you would a wine. Some, however, ignore this advice and end up on the floor.

Barley Wine holds a special place in my heart and palate due to its unique flavor profile that is typically not seen in other styles of ale. Regardless as to the style or brewer, almost all barley wines will exhibit undertones of brown sugar, nuttiness, raisin, and other familiar tastes that one would expect from a brown ale. These are undertones though, and none of these flavors are the shining star.

Where it gets interesting is if the brewer decides to go the American or English route. This is a gross oversimplification, but most American-style Barley Wines go with a primarily citrus hues (usually grapefruit) and most English-style Barley Wines go with a raisin/apple combo. My preference heavily leans towards English-style varietals, but that's just a personal preference due to the raisin hues not completely overpowering other flavors as well as an increased ease of drinkability.

The other phenomenal aspect of Barley Wines is that many of them spend at least a portion of their life in a cask. This mellows them out and makes the mouth feel increasingly smooth, which is critical for any high alcohol ale. My ideal Barley Wine is one that has spent most of its life in a cask and is then poured straight into my glass. While I can't replicate that last portion in my living room, what I can do is offer a review my absolute favorite Barley Wine.

Mirror Mirror is the barley wine rendition of Deschutes' Mirror Pond pale ale. Odd in concept, I know, but delicious in execution. This 11% masterpiece is aged in French oak barrels and real eased only when Deschutes feels like it. Unfortunately, this means Mirror Mirror is seemingly random in its availability and comes with a rather hefty price tag. This brew is rich in raisin and oak with a hint of citrus that ties everything together into a beverage you wish would never end. Thankfully, it does end because if it didn't, you'd end up on the floor as mentioned previously. If you can find it, stock up.

Are you a home brewer and want to take a shot at making your own? Deschutes has kindly released their recipe for Mirror Mirror clone.

If you're like 99% of customers and can't get your hands on Mirror Mirror, my go-to Barley Wine is Full Sail's Old Boardhead. Not only is it available almost year-round (Full Sail brews this every year), but it's also on the opposite end of the price spectrum at around $6/bottle. I would highly recommend picking this one up if you're new to barley wine and want to give it a shot.

So what are you waiting for? Stop by your local bottle shop and pick up some barley wines. You may just find a new favorite beverage.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A foray into the world of beer...

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For some time now my good friend Rick from the [BW] Beer Blog has been introducing me to the world of speciality beer -- all the while I have been introducing him to the world of good wine. We were commenting the other day how complementary the two pursuits have been for us, although the journey into wine is certainly more financially disadvantageous for him than beer is to me. Nonetheless, I digress.

As I have experienced more and better beer, I am starting to identify and appreciate a lot of the nuance present among the hops and barley. It really is an industry, like the world of wine, with it's own vocabulary, food pairings, deliciousness, and passion in the creation and consumption process. This weekend I got to try Deschutes Brewery's The Abyss. This imperial stout, aged in French oak, pinot noir, and bourbon barrels , has immense depth with its rich and complex flavors. Notes of coffee, chocolate, molasses and licorice pull you into the abyss, and the 9-ish percent alcohol makes it a fun ride.

I'll leave the intellectual analysis to the beer experts, but I will say that I really enjoyed this brew and my realiziation of the correlations between beer and wine is certainly an exciting one that I will explore further.