Barley, Hops, Water and…Yogurt?

Edit: This story was awarded 1st place in the “Short Form” category at the 2016 North American Guild of Beer Writers (NAGBW) awards.

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #103:

No one raises their eyebrows when black currants are used in a beer these days, but yogurt? To create the desired tartness and acidity in The Commons Brewery’s Biere Royale—a riff on the cassis-based Kir Royale cocktail—head brewer Sean Burke pitched tubs of the stuff. Specifically Nancy’s brand Greek yogurt. Burke is from Eugene, Ore., not far from the creamery’s location. Plus, it was in his fridge. Remarkably, the creation of that beer for the 2013 Portland Fruit Beer Festival is one the first uses of Lactobacillus found in unpasteurized yogurt to acidify beer. Instead of extensive aging in barrels inoculated with acid-producing bacteria, Burke went with a probiotic-rich dairy product.

“We knew we wanted to have a high amount of acidity,” said Burke at the time. “We took Nancy’s Greek yogurt and created a starter and soured in the kettle. Nancy’s has multiple strains of Lactobacillus… We mashed into the mash tun, lautered into the kettle, then soured the collected wort.”

 

Wooos and Brews: Oregon Brewfest 2014

Illustration: Kenneth Huey

Illustration: Kenneth Huey

This year’s Oregon Brewers Festival has something for every kind of beer lover, and there are many kinds of beer lover. The festival has beers for hopheads, sessionistas, fruitheads and those drunks who always grab the highest-ABV brew on the board—this year that’s Dogfish Head Burton Olde English at 11 percent.

There are 88 beers from 85 breweries. Actually, though, there are about 200 beers to sample this year thanks to the Dutch—more on them in a minute.

Here’s what to expect at the 27th annual installment of Oregon’s biggest, drunkest party.

Hoppily Ever After

This isn’t really a Portland Monthly story, but when I was contacted by the same publishing company to write a story about beer weddings, I had to accept if only to say I’ve been published in Portland Bride & Broom. It ended up being a fun story to think about and organize, even though I was given tons of direction on that end. What can I say? I love love. And beer.

Of beer and land

CRAFT by UMH (Under My Host. Even I only slightly get the name) is a new digital magazine by a very enthusiastic publisher named Cori Paige. She’s got the kind of enthusiasm that when she reached out to me via the FB to ask if I might muse about beer for her new digimag, I’d have had to have been some kind of putz to say no.

Since I can’t find the link to the first story I did for Craft, which was a fun exercise in pairing songs about beer with a beer each, here’s the most recent one published online. And I somehow got to put my Religious Studies major (A: don’t ask. B: I double majored.) to work. For the “agrarian issue,” I wrote about the link between brewing and the development of human society through the lands, ages, and religions.

New Wave Funk

BeerAdvcoate, the online forum turned magazine, doesn’t republish the print zine’s content online, but if you have #87, there’s my beer story on some of the next wave of funky brewers such as Cellarmaker (San Francisco), Side Project (St. Louis), J. Wakefield Brewing (Miami), and Crooked Stave (Denver), but being the contrarian that I am, I managed to make it center around one of the first to ride the wave, New Glarus’s Dan Carey. I also worked in some P-Funk, but that got cut out of the story, so I’ve taken the liberty of posting the first few grafs of the story below pre-edits:

The future of American sour beers started, in part, back in 1994 when New Glarus Brewing brewmaster Dan Carey developed a spontaneously fermented wild ale in the Flemish Oud Bruin style. He said it was probably a decade ago when he kegged some of that sour brown ale to the Great American Beer Festival. “I was particularly proud of this one and called it New Glarus Sour Brown Ale. But some people just wanted to try ‘the brown ale.’ One attendee in particular, whom I envision him doing a comical spit-take, exclaimed to Carey’s face, “Dude! This beer is spoiled; you have to take this off.”

I bet that same guy today brags about sampling said brown, since as P-Funk maestro George Clinton once said: “Just by getting a little taste of funk, you’re going to be hooked.” New Glarus, like Parliament Funkadelic, have always been ahead of their time.

Carey relayed his story of visiting the Belgian Trappist brewery, Orval, where brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock beseeched Cary, “Why do all of you American brewers copy me?” Arguably one of the greatest beers in the world could be described as simply a Belgian pale ale with an element of Brettanomyces, but there’s nothing simple about it. Unlike the brewers yeast that most breweries propagate, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, “Brett” is not so easily controlled and is a distinguishing character in many of the best Belgian brews beyond Orval including sour Flemish ales and Lambics. Rock continued, “Why don’t you make your own beers?” New Glarus has always excelled at doing just that, making their own beers, and Carey shared some thoughts on the notion of American breweries doing telltale, Belgian-style beers. “Our technology, temperament, and terroir are different. Frankly, if you were going hire a band for an event, if you could afford it you’d prefer to pay a band that plays original music and not a cover band. Rodenbach already exists,” said Carey referencing the notorious Flemish brewery. “Every musician is inspired, but I’m not a cover band.” Call his sour, frequently-fruited beers “lambic style” if you must, but Carey fervently calls them “American sour ales.”

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

Pop Art: Craft Soda is Fizzing Over

sidebarSoda water dates back to the 18th century, and many of America’s most popular pop brands emerged in the late 19th century. Today, business is bubbling among craft soft drink producers. It’s no surprise that many flavorful soda concoctions hail from craft brewers…Look for sodas with fresh fruits, hand-squeezed juices and spices like coriander, cardamom and capsicum—creative, full-flavored beverages even a beer geek can get behind.