Bayou Berry Beers

Strawberry_HeroThe last story I’d written for CraftBeer.com narrowly focused on beers made with sage. So to zoom in even deeper, I didn’t just write about beers made with strawberries (not a broad category) but zoomed in on strawberry beers made in Louisiana, where they take their strawberry beers very seriously.  In fact, the North American Strawberry Growers Association represents commercial farmers in 40 states, but none of them seem to take up the mantle of celebrating this crop in their craft beers more than the Pelican State. Yeah you right

I’m a beer sage

epicsageI love herbal beers but I particularly think sage works wonders in the right beer. But good luck pitching a story about the so-narrow-it’s-nearly-two-dimensional field of sage beers. Unless there’s a hook, a peg, an angle. Hence, I waited months until I figured CraftBeer.com would want something on Thanksgiving beers, especially ones to suggest that aren’t flavored like pumpkin pie! And since a good stuffing mix and turkey brine includes sage, well, here’s a round-up of beers so sagey, they’re sagacious.

Beer review: 10 Barrel’s Riding Solo

10BarrelRidingSoloAmong my myriad New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 is to do more beer reviews. Between the samples I happily receive on my doorstep, beer travels that find me at different breweries across strange, new lands and just happening upon a new offering at some local watering hole, I want to ensure I’m paying good attention to what I’m drinking.

Seeing as a delivery guy just dropped off a bottle at 6:30 on a Saturday night, clearly it’s time to begin drinking. The beer is from 10 Barrel in Bend (not the 10 Barrel pub in Boise or Portland or the recently-announced forthcoming one in Denver). It’s called Riding Solo and it is, as the name suggests, a single-hop pale ale. Comet hops to be precise. Not that you’d possibly know that from the label copy. It reads: “We could talk about this single hop, but we’d rather talk about Benny, the brewer behind this pale ale. 4 years ago Benny was on the fast track working for a large brewery, and then it all came crashing down. He made a bad choice, climbed the wrong building in Bend and found himself in the clink without a job. We hired him the next day and he has been crushing it ever since. One brewery’s loss is another brewery’s gain. Cheers to the man behind the beer.”

Man is that a strange way to market a beer that theoretically has some educational aspect to it. It shows drinkers the aromatic and flavor profile of the nearly extinct Comet hop, a USDA varietal that I’ve personally never encountered. And anyone who buys this beer won’t know that they’ve had it. (Unless they are compulsive about every beer they try or read my oft-neglected blog religiously.)

Upon cracking the crown I was met with an herbal whiff and I’m only half referring to reefer. At first sip, I was struck by the spicy, dank bitter beer—like a skunk smoked a spliff cut with black pepper and dried grapefruit peel. It falls into the garlic’n’onion descriptor, too. Although they call it a pale ale, it’s orange in color and at 6.8% ABV and 67 IBUs it presents itself like an India Red Ale in malt and hop character. In fact, the spiciness makes it taste like there’s some rye malt in the grain bill, but doubt there actually is because then they’d probably have called it Ryeding Solo.

An Oral History of BridgePort India Pale Ale

This is the second installment of this type of oral history of a Portland beer that would go onto help shape not only the Portland beer scene, but impact the national beer climate as well. Crazy to think that before this beer debuted in 1996, most beer drinkers in America had no clue what an India Pale Ale was.

Image courtesy BridgePort

Image courtesy BridgePort

Willamette Week “Drank” reviews

Wherein I review the following new releases on shelves or on tap:

Flat Tail: Cider Wit (Jan. ’12)

Philadelphia’s: Barrel-aged Betsy Ross Golden Ale (Feb. ’12)

Everybody’s Brewing: Little Sister ISA (Mar. ’12)

Lompoc: Batch 69 Baltic Porter (Apr. ’12)

Fort George: Roses on Roses (May ’12)

Hopworks Urban Brewery: Abbey Ale (June ’12)

Double Mountain: Devil’s Kriek (July ’12)

Base Camp: In Tents IPL (Nov. ’12)

Salmon Creek: Märzen (Dec. ’12)

Caldera: Mogli Bourbon-oaked Imp. Chocolate Porter (Jan. ’13)

Agrarian: Espelette chili beer (Apr. ’13)

Flat Tail: Lemon Diesel (Aug. ’13)

Lucky Labrador: Black Sheep bourbon-aged CDA (Sep. ’13)

Finally, well, most recently, this review of Rogue’s Brutal IPA…per the editor’s request to review it particularly as it tastes having traveled to Amsterdam. (Jan. ’14)

Caldera Big Island Red Sea

The Big Island Brewhaus, tucked into previously-existing Tako Taco Taqueria, has a lineup of beers that’s amazing, and I was surprised to discover a beer called Red Sea — brewed in collaboration with none other than Caldera Brewing from Ashland in Southern Oregon.

On top of a delectable imperial red ale — think hoppy IPA but with red-hued caramel malts for added body — chocolate, molasses, pink peppercorns and Himalayan pink salt were added for richness and spice. The end flavor is not unlike a sweet-and-savory molé