ANNOUNCING BAKER’S DOZEN FREE—FEATURING 13 VICELESS COFFEE BEERS & DONUTS

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Brian Yaeger Presents
brian@beerodyssey.com

ANNOUNCING THE 1st ANNUAL BAKER’S DOZEN FREE—FEATURING 13 VICELESS COFFEE BEERS & DONUTS

Beervana, OR, April. 1, 2017 – Following on the heels of the Third Annual Baker’s Dozen Fest last month comes the festival Portlanders have been clamoring for, which will feature 13 gluten free non-alcoholic beers made with decaffeinated coffee and vegan donuts.

“Every time we do the whole coffee beer and doughnut thing, people chime in on Facebook or Snapchat, “Are any of the donuts going to be vegan?” said beer festival organizer Brian Yaeger. “We get people showing up and asking where the gluten-free beers are, or stating that the event would be more inclusive if the brewers considerately used decaf coffee. And you wouldn’t believe how many people ask if kids are allowed to attend and if so, will there be non-alcoholic drinks for them. So Bakers Dozen FREE is our way of saying, “We hear you. You’re on a gluten free, caffeine free, alcohol free, animal free diet. And you deserve a beer fest of your own.” Up from Baker’s Dozen’s three sessions, this event is expected to sell out and hence will occur over three sessions on Saturday, April 1. To commemorate Baker’s Dozen Free, tickets will be free, with the usual online ticketing fee of $14.99, available at TicketMaster.com/BakersDozenFree.

Admission includes samples of every non-caffeine-infused, coffee-infused, enzymatically-deglutenized, unfermented-beverage and cruelty-free donut bite. Examples of treats, er, “treats” featured at the event include a collaboration between Lunarmollusk Brewing Company and Slumptown Coffee Roasters. Queue up early for the beer everyone will be raving about on Intreppd: a Cracker Barrel-aged, hazy IPA made from flax seeds with zero IBUs and zero ABVs dry-hopped with Folgers flavor crystals. Pair these with whatever’s available from the spinning display case of Voodoo’s vegan offerings.

Bring your partner. Bring your Tinder date. Bring your kids. Bring your Mormon, Celiac, PETA-supporting neighbors. Bring everyone because this is the beer festival everyone’s been clamoring for that doesn’t exclude anybody’s restrictions.* (*Event organizers are working on Bakers Dozen Tree-nut-free for April 1, 2018.)

Pertinent links: Ticketing TicketMaster.com/BakersDozenFree ($Free online, $Priceless at the door.)Facebook: Facebook.com/BakersDozenFree

Facebook: Facebook.com/BakersDozenFree

Twitter: @BakersDozenFreePDX

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How Firestone Walker Learned to Stop Over-serving and Ban the Bomber

bravo_12ozbottle_boxKudos to Firestone Walker Brewing! I just received a release (pasted at bottom) announcing, yes, the return of Bravo Imperial Brown Ale, but more importantly, the announcement about their decision to abandon the bomber and embrace smaller packaging. Publicist Sean Christopher Weir calls this, “The upside of downsizing.”

Brewmaster Matt Brynildson said, “It’s something that a lot of people have been clamoring for, and we decided to finally pull the trigger.” The primary benefit of such a move, the release added, is “the ability to enjoy a high-gravity, barrel-aged beer without committing to consuming a full 22-ounce bottle.” In conclusion and in Brynildson’s words, “The per-bottle price point becomes more palatable, and we can spread the same amount of beer farther so that more people can try it. It also makes it easier to drink one now and age another for later.”

This is EXACTLY what I first preached in the print pages and the webpages of All About Beer (beginning here. here,, and here in June, 2011 and with In Support of Small, AAB Vol. 32, Iss. 2 from May, 2012). Nips (or pony bottles) are a subject also covered by Punch Magazine’s Megan Krigbaum last August and veteran beer scribe Lew Bryson online at The Full Pint just a couple weeks ago. They’re even one of my silly Twitter handles: @WeLoveNips.

Now, Firestone’s move sees the company abandoning 22-ounce bottles for regular 12-ounce bottles, akin to downsizing from 750s to “splits” (375-ml). As the release notes, “A 12-ounce bottle is perfect for two reasonable servings.” While I’d personally love to see this movement lead to the full mini-monty—meaning traditional third-liter nips or between 166 and 250 ml—even the move into 355-ml like a twelve is a victory. It will result not only in more people actually being able to afford beers like Bravo and their stellar anniversary beers, but more people actually drinking them since we no longer will have to wait for just the right moment when just the right people are over to crack and enjoy it. After all, you are the right person and this move makes it feasible to enjoy with the best person you know: yourself.

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Paso Robles, CA: For the first time since its brewing inception more than a dozen years ago, Firestone Walker’s “Bravo” imperial brown ale is finally finding its way into the bottle, with a limited release set for early February across all Firestone Walker markets.

Along the way, Bravo ($9.99) launches the transition of all Firestone Walker Vintage Reserve barrel-aged beers from 22-ounce bombers to individually boxed 12-ounce bottles in 2017, to include longtime stalwarts such as Parabola and the annual Anniversary Ale.

Bravo: Back to The Future

Bravo was the first beer matured in retired spirits barrels by Brewmaster Matt Brynildson in late 2004, during the experimental stages of what would become Firestone Walker’s inaugural Anniversary Ale.

From day one, Bravo has epitomized Firestone Walker’s approach to barrel-aged beers. “At the time, most barrel-aged beers veered toward the sweeter side,” Brynildson said. “We wanted to make something more dry and lean that would really allow the true bourbon barrel character to pop.”

Bravo has remained one of the driest beers in Firestone Walker’s Vintage Reserve series of barrel-aged beers, and since day one has been considered a vital component in the annual blending of the Anniversary Ale, balancing out some of the stickier components.

“Coming out of stainless steel, Bravo is pretty bracing,” Brynildson said. “But when it goes into the barrel, it really mellows out, and the barrel character comes to the forefront.”

Another signature of Bravo is a lively malt quality that is maintained through Firestone Walker’s cold-storage of its barrel-aged beers. “It has this malt character that is surprisingly fresh,” he said. “There’s a ton of barrel character, and a lot of toffee and caramel. It has the flavor of things sweet, but without being cloying or oxidative.”

The Upside of Downsizing

Henceforth, all beers from Firestone Walker’s Vintage Reserve line of barrel aged beers will be bottled in the 12-ounce format, although total production of each beer remains the same.

“We’ve been thinking about doing this for a while now,” Brynildson said. “It’s something that a lot of people have been clamoring for, and we decided to finally pull the trigger.”

Brynildson noted that the primary benefit is the ability to enjoy a high-gravity, barrel-aged beer without committing to consuming a full 22-ounce bottle.

“With beers like this, a 12-ounce bottle is perfect for two reasonable servings,” he said.

He added, “The per-bottle price point becomes more palatable, and we can spread the same amount of beer farther so that more people can try it. It also makes it easier to drink one now and age another for later. It’s just a lot more flexible.”

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Bodily Brewing Taps Micro Terroir: single-organism fluids

Bodily Br12654105_966186803457786_7032166315431549631_newing will be oozing into and out of a taproom near you soon. When fermented wort no longer catches beer drinkers’ eyes on beer-flavored beer’s merits alone, these Portland, Oregon brewers are turning to fermented warts. The brewery’s focus will not be on kettle-soured beers popular of late, but will push the envelopes by turning to intestinal and bladder soured beers. So if you think they’re taking the piss, you’re right. Their first beer, to be released this summer, is Gose to the Bathroom, a tart, refreshing Leipziger-style gose replacing sea salt with high-salinity urine. It will be followed by the hazy Bile IPA soured with Butyric acid for fans of extremely hoppy and extremely sour beers.

In an era where every possible ingredient has been used in beer from Dogfish Head’s Arctic Cloudberry Imperial Wheat (brewed in Delaware but brewed using the amber berries that only grow in far northern latitudes and are so valuable, blood has been shed over their cultivation in Scandinavia) to Burnside’s Riffle Urchin Ale from Portland (made with, as the name implies, sea urchin gonads), brewers continue one-upping themselves as far as sourcing stunt ingredients. If the joke seems to be going too far, for some brewers, the joke is merely the starting line. In 2012, Denver’s Wynkoop Brewery released this video for their Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout as an April Fool’s joke but by year’s end, the brewery announced it would seriously be brewing a stout with bull testicles. Similarly, last year Shmalz issued a press release on March 31 announcing their fourth cumming, er, forthcoming Circum Session Ale, but it was just another April Fool’s joke. Cut to March 30, 2016 and the schticky brewery announced the beer is no longer a thin-skinned joke. Asked whether or not the hoppy, session ale will contain actual foreskin, Shmalz founder chewed over his response before answering with precision, “Yes, the beer goes with brisket and comes with a bris kit.”

The move toward not just Oregon-based but organ-based and increasingly human-based adjuncts flies in the face of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law known as the Reinheitsgebot—the law mandating that beer only be made with malted barley (or wheat), hops, water, and yeast—celebrating its 500th anniversary on April 23, 2016. In all cases, these beers are in vast difference to the Reinheitsgebot. In some cases, this new breed of beers is in vas deferens. We’re not referring to Caldera Brewing’s Belgian Dark Strong Ale Vas Deferens brewed in Southern Oregon but Bodily’s planned winter release, Man-Milk Stout made with ejaculate. Admittedly, this one is jerked from the pages of New Zealand brewery Choice Bros Brewery who created Stag Semen Milked Stout.

Said brewmaster B.J. McSnotte, “If it salivates, urinates, regurgitates, or pustulates, it’s gonna end up in our beer.” McSnotte then added, “But we’re not gonna do a sour beer made with vaginal Lacto like that Order of the Yoni crowdfunded beer going around the internet. The one that uses the phrase “vaginal swab” and “feel her smell” in the promo. That shit’s just gross.”

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.

The Session #107: Are Breweries Your Friends?

sessionAs a precursor, to put this briefly, I’ve been a bad beer blogger. And when it comes to The Session, if I were Catholic, I’d type something like “Forgive me Father, it’s been 30 Sessions since my last participation.” (Click here if you care to see old contributions from my initial blog, Red, White, & Brew) My New Year’s resolution is to be better.

For the 107th ed. of The Session, Dan Conley of Community Beer Works in Buffalo NY asks, a bit self-servingly (wink-wink foreshadowing), “Are breweries your friends?

I say self-servingly because his blog is his brewery’s blog. And it worked. I really wanna try Community Beer Works beer now. And drink their beer and be a part of their community at least for the day. The topic, and hosting this Session, makes them seem, well, friendly. Conley expounds:

“To be in business nowadays you pretty much have to have a social media presence. This is especially true in the beer world, where some breweries have basically built themselves on their personality. And yet, at the end of the day, we’re selling you something.”

Conley continues, “Do you want your feeds clear of businesses, or do you like when a brewery engages with people? …As the person who does our social media…I struggle with this problem.”

My answer is: No.

Breweries are not our friends. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself and should say breweries are not my friends. But unlike Mitt Romney who famously said, “Corporations are people, my friend” (thanks in part to Citizens United), brewing companies are companies and therefore incapable of playing air hockey with me, taking me to a Portland Timbers game (except I suppose their sponsor Widmer Brothers Brewing could), or giving me a card that makes fun of my age for my next birthday. These are things friends do. Friends buy me beer. Breweries make the beer. And even then, what we love about craft beer is that brewers make the beer and, in the best of cases, we know their names and faces. And if you’re lucky, you’re friends with your local brewer(s).

Friendship is a relationship. Indeed, we have a relationship with the breweries that make the beer we choose to drink. And no doubt we have emotions surrounding breweries. In the case of local ones that we support, that emotion may be love. We are passionate about their beer. Given that most of us will never even have a beer from thousands of the 4,300 breweries that exist in the US alone, the emotion we feel for them may be indifference or lack of emotion. And in a few cases where folks feel they’ve been betrayed when a brewery sells out to ABI, a darker emotion courses through their bloodstream. Think about this: would a friend ever sell himself to the house of Bud and leave you high and dry (not that any of us would give up drinking beer altogether, mind you).

Heck, to Conley’s point, we “like” breweries on Facebook, and we delight when we see shiny new fermenters delivered just as we dote over actual friends’ newly delivered bouncing babies. But ultimately, no, breweries are not our friends. They are places we go with our friends. They are places that provide us beer to enjoy as part of our friend rituals. And to succeed, they need to have friendly service. But in the case of social media, I think it’s weird when they have actual personal profiles instead of business pages. I am on the fence about when I see a local brewery’s FB page “like” my pictures. But I’m still happy to tag them by checking in when I’m drinking at them with my friends.

Shakes’Beer (How did Ashland not think of this first?)

ShakesSBeer Poster (1)
All the world’s a beerfest, and all the men and women merely hustlers.

Well, not all the men and women, just primarily four. Zachary Rosen is a Certified Ciccerone—the beer industry equivalent of a Sommelier—and on September 18 he’s going to pair Santa Barbara area beers with the Bard of Avon. David Holmes is a theatrical director. Cecily Stewart is a professional ballet teacher. And Matt Turner is the co-founder of the Santa Barbara Hustlers for Peace and Prosperity, an approved project of the Share The Wealth Foundation that provides volunteering opportunities for those interested in becoming more engaged with their local community.
Shakes’Beer, a one-night event hosted at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, seems more befitting of Ashland, home of nearly-yearlong Oregon Shakespeare Festival as well as breweries Caldera, Standing Stone, and Swing Tree.

The fundraiser is billed as “Shakespeare in the Park meets a beer festival pairing beers with different Shakespearean characters and themes.” With Holmes directing scenes and monologues and Stewart directing “interpretive ballet and an Elizabethan dance session,” Rosen directs the theatre-in-the-round of beers. He styles himself as a specialist in abstract beer pairing events, often combining beer with music and art. He got eight local breweries to design ten unique beers for the event, each one reflecting a different character. For example, Romeo will be liquidly portrayed by brewLAB’s Red Purl Saison (brewed with Perle hops, wormwood, orange peel, and licorice root) opposite Ricon Brewery’s Juliet played by a comely Belgian IPA adorned with hibiscus, vanilla, and orange peel. A beer like Telegraph Brewing’s ode to (Gingered) Julia from Two Gentlemen of Verona and (Bonny) Kate from Taming of the Shrew would certainly break a leg seeing as it’s a Witbier with fresh ginger, pineapple, and Scotch Bonnet peppers.

Even if there are other “Shakesbeer” events such as the Shakesbeer Fest in Stratford upon Connecticut benefitting the American Shakespeare Theatre and another held at The Discovery Center of Murfeesboro, TN, if the SB Hustlers really want to make the world a better place through altruism, they can volunteer to bring their Shakes’Beer at least 650 miles north up to Oregon. I nominate StormBreaker to brew a Trinculo from The Tempest and Baerlic to make Iambic Lambic.

Documenting Portland’s beer culture

Two weeks ago McMenamins Mission Theater hosted a screening of It All Starts with Beer, a Dutch-made film about the beer cultural exchange taking place between Dutch and American brewers—primarily ones from Utrecht not far from Amsterdam and here in Portland as part of the Portland Utrecht Network (PUN intended). The film and the screening were made possible, in large part, to Dutch brewer and artisan Rick Nelson from Oedipus Brewing and Portland-based PUN president Greg Raisman. Plus, of course, none of it would’ve been made possible without Cascade Brewing founder Art Larrance and the Oregon Brewers Fest that he co-founded 28 years ago.

I was invited to speak on the panel following the beautifully-shot documentary simply because I had the good fortune to be at the right place and the right time, that being Holland in 2014 for a front row seat as their craft beer culture took a giant leap forward to the point where industry members call their scene “20 years behind Portland’s.” (For Larrance’s part, he tried to persuade me to move to Utrecht, not Amsterdam, because of how cool their brewing scene is, which nowadays benefits from the proximity and relationships with Amsterdam’s community.) Keep in mind there were already almost 20 breweries in these parts back then.

But this Saturday, I’m jumping from the panel into the doc itself. I’ll have a back row seat in the car, cars, or van that will transport John Lovegrove and filmmaker Thom Roholt to 77 breweries throughout Portland Metro. Portland? Why John? Why 77?

Lovegrove is the underground local legend who quaffed a half pint at all 34 breweries in Portland in 2009. Yes, he blew hopped chunks by the end! Two years later he surpassed his own stunt and found himself at 50 in a single day (and spewed at the end again). Fifty, today, seems more doable (not recommended, just doable) considering the clusters that have sprung up in areas like Buckman and Boise and the Pearl. Heck, Oregon City has three operating breweries today (and soon five) that didn’t exist the last time Lovegrove and Roholt undertook this most epic of pub crawls. As for the number they’re attempting in four days and the reason I’m along for the ride, vowing to drink just 1-oz of a house-brewed beer at each stop: I’ll simply be LiveTweeting the ordeal. RIP City!

Speaking of financing, Roholt’s documentary, which is about the who, how, and why PDX became Brew City in the first place and not about the foolhardy pub crawl, is accepting pledges on the website, PDXBrewCity.com. The IndieGoGo crowdsourcing campaign is raising funding for the film itself. The top tier donation includes a mini version of the crawl, to three area breweries, where patrons will undoubtedly get to enjoy more than a total of three ounces of the stuff that makes Beervana “Brewtopia,” I mean that makes Brewtopia “PDX Brew City.”

As for the 77 part. The film will be tied together with a world record attempt at visiting 77 breweries in one day because A) we can and B) the 1977 NBA Champoinship Trail Blazers emblazoned this city with the Spirit of ’77. #Spiritof77Breweries!

Lastly, why do I even get to tagalong? Because I vociferously doubted their ability to complete the 77 brewery challenge but upon realize I couldn’t talk John out of it, I talked myself into it. It’ll be a great way to hit a handful of the area’s newest breweries that weren’t open in time for Oregon Breweries and that I haven’t even been to yet such as Back Pedal, Red Ox (Tigard), Oregon City Brewing, nearly all of the ones in Vantucky, and, the newest among ’em, adjacent to Back Pedal: Splash Bar!

Hope to survive to blog about the experience.