I know that’s a played out pun, but I like Annie Lennox and I love Aretha Franklin, so I’m using it. It’s also the most apt way to headline the beer that Pink Boots Society–an organization with the mission of elevating women in the workforce (and beyond) brews on International Women’s Day. It makes me think back to a quote that Jodie Stoudt, head brewer at Stoudt’s Brewing (and the daughter in law of Carol Stoudt, who was perhaps the first woman to build and own a brewery in the craft era) said to me when I interviewed her in 2006. “Women taste better than men.” She was, of course, referring to women’s analytical skills. So raise a pint to the brewsters in your life, and the ones you wish were in your life because girlz got mad brewing skills.
Author Archives: Brian Yaeger
Beer Birthday: Jay Brooks
Today is the 64th birthday of beer writer Jay Brooks, who other publications may not have credited but who broke the news about Drake’s buying (er, merging with) Bear Republic. His guidebook, California Breweries – North (Stackpole Books), came out long enough ago so as to be as obsolete as a guidebook to Oregon Breweries. Jay is a veteran beer writer (Celebrator Beer News, All About Beer, BeerAdvocate, etcetera etcetera) whose column Brooks on Beer appears in the San Jose Mercury News. He has contributed to the Oxford Companion to Beer as well as Playboy Magazine. He is the co-founder of SF Beer Week. To anyone who follows the brewing industry, none of this is news. But for years, a convivial component of his Brookston Beer Blog has been celebrating brewers and those in the beer community on their birthdays. So please…join me in wishing Jay a very happy birthday.
Jay, Chris the Beer Scholar, Shap, Jay, me, Bryan, Damian before founding Almanac.
Jay, Eric Rose, me at Hollister Brewing near UCSB.
Goliath Brewery. Tiny brewhaus in the corner.
People ask me my feelings about 10 Barrel Brewing all the time, well, ever since the then-aptly-named ten barrel brewery sold to the ten-to-the-millionth-power barrel Anheuser-Busch/ABI in 2014. I blogged about it in ’14. I was interviewed about it in ’15. I spoke about it in the documentary PDX: Brew City in ’17. And in each case, I voiced an understanding for those who insist they’ll never buy a 10 Barrel beer as well as those who continue to buy the beer despite being owned by the largest brewing concern the world has ever known, because it’s still really tasty.
Don’t take my word for that latter point. Trust the industry beer judges who award 10 Barrel with wheelbarrows full of medals.
Several of those medals come from the brainpan of Tonya Cornett and her tiny team of talent under her tinyHAUS imprint. It’s analogous to Eminem releasing records under the Shady Records imprint even though it’s really major label Interscope.
So. TinyHAUS brews a gamut of styles that fit under Research & Development, from cult styles such as pastry stouts to still-humming hazy IPAs and even a beloved Japanese-style rice lager. Buy them. Don’t. But if you don’t, you’re missing out on some tasty beers. Not to say indie breweries don’t make equally tasty beers.
Bend’s Best (Boston Cream Pie) Doughnuts
Since Boston cream pie doughnuts are my 5th-grade son’s favorites, for the latest quarterly round-up of Bend’s best doughnuts, nepotism led me to use his friends as judges and jury the morning after his birthday sleepover-party. I assure you, dear readers, they executed with Gordon Ramsey-like brutal honesty. So much so one of the owners got up in the comments of this one (for the first time that I know of).
Top 10 Bend Area Beers of 2022
I was asked to author my 10 favorite beers of the year for Bend Source Weekly. My first draft clocked in at 1,500 words because I gave a fair amount of thought (and background info) on each one. But my word count is a firm 700. After a couple rounds of edits, I got it down to 1,050 words, meaning I’d shed 350 but still had 350 to go. While those first 350 are now lost to the ether, I’m re/pre-printing the list here at the mid-way point just so folx could see I didn’t just write 60 words per phenomenal beer.
By my best guesstimate, each of Central Oregon’s 27 breweries released, on average, at least dozen beers in the past year, meaning we had no fewer than 350 local beers to choose from. I confess, nay, lament, I did not try them all. (That said, drinking a new beer each day in 2023 is quite a tempting challenge.) So take this list of my 10 favorite Central Oregon-brewed beers with a grain of salt (that’d be right at home in Spider City’s Kaffir Lime Sea Salt Gose or Cascade Lakes’ Salted Caramel Porter)
- Funky Fauna Artisan Ales, Thought I’d Something More to Say (Wild Saison). While saison is possibly the world’s most elegant beer style—it’s simultaneously rustic and cosmopolitan—the big tent style is woefully overlooked and under-represented among Central Oregon brewers. That was, until this Sisters-based brewery went all-in on them when it launched a year ago. Funky Fauna has released nearly 50 versions of “wild saisons,” meaning they’re fermented with a native cultivated and propagated yeast strain. Some of the beers feature colorful fruit, one even featured butterfly pea flowers that turned it a gorgeous shade of purple, but there’s no beating the delicate complexity of an oaked saison that conjures notes of wild grasses, tangy herbs, and the terroir of locally-grown and malted grains embodied in a beer like …More to Say. It’s only 4.5 percent alcohol yet packs a tremendous amount of flavor that, like many a saison, may be the ideal beverage to pair with gourmet or quotidian meals alike.
- Deschutes Brewery, Experimental 1320 (Fresh Hop IPA). Late summer hop harvest is arguably the best season for beer drinking. It’s not that every fresh hop beer is delicious, but therein lies the beauty and wonderment because they are difficult to hit the bull’s eye but when you do, they’re phantasmagorical. When Source Weekly contributors blind taste tested a slew from this year’s crop, Deschutes Experimental 1320 struck my taste buds as smacking of fresh pineapple veering into POG (pineapple orange guava) territory with that tell-tale freshie finish like chewing on flower stems (in lieu/luau of a tiny parasol.
- Spider City Brewing, Spicy Goat (Serrano-Pineapple IPA). Spider City’s line of hazy IPAs in its “deer” family and clear, West Coast IPAs in its “goat” family are solid hop-delivery vehicles. But Spicy Goat is also a capsicum delivery vehicle courtesy of serrano peppers. It’s spicy but not spiiiicy. To temper the heat, a sweet, juicy wave of piña, which brings out the tropical fruit note from the hops, conveys enough dank and juicy vibes as if swept up in the Pineapple Express current. Chili beers may be a tough sell but IPAs aren’t so this beer was a welcome way to bring the heat to a nice, cold beer.
- Bevel Brewing, Black Ace (Cascadian Dark Ale). Every time I sit around thinking how much I miss Cascadian Dark Ales, locally dubbed CDA and colloquially dubbed Black IPA, I perk myself up with a trip to Bevel. Perk is an apt verb considering CDAs drink like an stout-IPA combo proffering espresso notes from dark roasted malts and piny notes from PNW hops. As Bend’s rare yet typically year-round CDA, Black Ace (7.6 percent) is par for the course.
- Cascade Lakes Brewing, Resurgence (Gin-barrel-aged IPA). Gin barrels are difficult to come by for brewers (because most gins never see the inside of a barrel). Courtesy of Redmond’s gin-centric Gompers Distillery that produces an Old Tom (oaked gin), Cascade Lakes obtained an empty cask and, instead of filling it with a more expected sour ale or imperial stout, ameliorated Revival IPA by maturing it in an Old Tom barrel for seven months that playfully married the gin’s botanical top notes with Centennial and Idaho 7 hops’ resinous flavors for a fascinating result that would be equally welcomed by hop heads and G&T fanatics.
- 10 Barrel Brewing, Gindulgence (sour ale). At brewery behemoth 10 Barrel, the niche imprint TinyHaus serves as a creative output for brewmaster Tonya Cornett. This sour beer was imbued with peach, chamomile tea, and—most critically—gin botanicals (primarily juniper berries) to create a refreshingly complex, slightly sour ale that scratches the itch of a fruit beer, a hard kombucha, and a gin gimlet.
- Van Henion Brewing, Schwarzbier (black lager). Before even turning one, Van Henion illustrates what a wide world of flavors—and colors—Germanic lagers encapsulate. Schwarzbier simply translates to black beer and this sub-five-percenter expertly pulls off boasting a light body while bursting with dry, astringent, dark roasted malts that lend burnt toast notes atop clean, noble hops. It’s a rare sipper that works well in brisk winter or on warm summer days.
- Porter Brewing, Infamous (Extra Special Bitter). The “bitter” family of ales have become endangered, but even its strongest member, ESB, is far less bitter than IPA. At 5.8 percent ABV and 39 IBU (International Bitterness Units), Porter’s Infamous ESB is a delectable platform for English malts and hops. Its malt sweetness and floral bitterness packs toffee bottom notes, woody, floral top notes, and comes wrapped in a warming—but not “warm” cask-conditioned ale.
- Deschutes Brewery, Kanpai Crispy (Rice Lager). Forget the olden days when craft breweries shaded macros for using corn or rice in their lager grist; these adjuncts have gained traction among most breweries and perhaps never showcased better than in Japanese-style rice lagers. This 4.8 beer is dry, refreshing, and crushable AF. I dare say it’s the best beer for floating (and great for aprés ski or, if you’re one of those who can’t wait til you’re off the lift, during).
- Crux Fermentation Project, Yaamco (spiced winter ale). While Crux’s Bochi Bochi vied for my vote as best rice lager, the fermentation project’s 6.7 percent Yaamco—it’s a yam beer brewed in a former Aamco station—ran away with my vote for best winter warmer. Picture a malty brown ale like Crux’s Dark Snap, then augment it with roasted yams (over a pound per barrel), orange peel, and the holy trinity of baking spices: cinnamon, ginger, and clove. Suck it, egg nog, winter has a new snowy sipper.
Every devout beer geek I know is polyamorous when it comes to beverages. As such, I cover the wider world of drinks–usually the adult type–whenever I can. And when I heard about a thin silver lining that climate change wrought when it came to this year’s grape harvest, I got to tip locals off as to what they can expect when the 2022 vintages hit shelves including from Central Oregon’s first/oldest vineyard, Maragas up near Terrebonne.
Not most-hated, most-polarizing beer
Not sure how aware most people are, but the people who write news stories always suggest headings, but those proposed headlines are rarely used. Case in point: this story I’d pitched about a truly acquired taste in beer–rauchbier, aka smoke beer–which I knew was a perfect fit for The Takeout’s “Aquired Taste” feature focusing on food and beverages that are popular in certain sets or regions without wide awareness or appeal. The headline ran called it “America’s most hated beer” style. C’est la vie. But when it comes to smoky beers, which get very little press, the old adage must be true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Smoke ’em if you brew ’em.
Bend’s Best (Old-fashioned) Doughnuts
When presented perfectly, the glazed craggy ring is one of the most perfect doughnuts.The fact that one of Bend’s four brick’n’mortar doughnut shops only makes them intermittently makes me realize that such a bakery without old-fashioneds would be like a brewery without an old-school classic pale ale. Given that I’ve awakened to the simple, ecumenical beauty of old-fashioneds, I collected both the quintessential glazed version as well as chocolate-frosted, and even a few others such as cinnamon-sugar, maple-iced and true O.G. plain (like an unglazed cake doughnut, these are only intended for dunking in coffee or hot cocoa), If you’re jonesing for any sort of old-fashioned in Bend, heed our grueling research.
Empirical list of the best doughnuts ever
I hate listticles, but do love doughnuts and getting paid. So when I was asked to write a list of the best doughnuts, I got to work on a list so air-tight, it could be be impeached, reproached, are in any way argued against. Take a look at my suggestions for the best baker’s dozen, found in The Takeout, and realize I’m 100% right.
Pączki Day is Basically Polish-American National Doughnut Day
Of all the trips I’ve taken or will take in my self-appointed role as a doughnut ethnographer, Detroit may not be the most touristy destination or have the most exotic-sounding treats, but I’d say visiting Hamtramck to explore the larger-than-life world of Polish pączki (“poonch-key”) had me drooling the most. For one, I love jelly doughnuts. For two, pączki are unlike typical jelly doughnuts and they can even be enjoyed spiked with a shot on what others call Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras but in the Upper Midwest everyone knows it as Pączki Day, which I got to write about for TheTakeout. Take that, other immigrant doughnut styles.