Liking them apples


When the CBC hit Portland last year, I said, Man, I gotta write something about this for the Portland Mercury. Which I did. (Then, once the hangover waned, I recapped CBC events for 1859.) When, a year later (present date), CiderCon was heading to, uh, Cidervana, I pitched doing a bigger story and maybe we put it on the cover and really show those cider makers from other places outside the Northwest how big fermented apples are here and what a true cider city looks and reads like. They bought it. Even cooler, I somehow finagled an assignment for 1,800 words into 3,000. Clearly, there’s a lot to say about cider.


Deluxe Brewing/Sinister Distilling in Albany

Deluxe Brewing in Albany, OR

Howie manning the bar at Deluxe Brewing in Albany, OR

Technically I’ve been to Deluxe. But I hadn’t really BEEN. That is, I hadn’t tried their beer because when I visited on tour for the book, Eric “Howie” Howard was just building out his brewery/distillery or as they call it, “brewstillery.” Albany isn’t exactly the brightest star in Oregon’s brewery constellation but with Deluxe it now hosts two such businesses (the other being Calapooia a short walk down the road along the tracks).


Unless you’re really looking for it

The space is a large warehouse sectioned off with the brewing equipment, the bar area replete with a ping pong table (I didn’t find any takers during my visit which means I’m undefeated on the tennis table), and the “other” space as you walk in with two vintage pickup trucks and seating for anyone with minors. There’s a dry-erase board for local food options and a pretty good bbq cart parked outside. To pair with my brisket sandwich, I had the Pure Sin Schwarzbier, a dry, no-roast onyx lager at an ideal 4.7% ABV.

Howie said it’ll be a few months til he has any of his spirits available in bottles. There’s something pretty cool about a whiskey with a beer back that all originated paces from the bar. No sooner had he poured me a beer than he was whisked away to lead a tour that, since my seat in the 21+ area was within ear shot, sounded like an educational discussion of the brewing process conducted via a homebrew setup and a fridge/kegerator.


It’s what’s on tap

Albany is not Corvallis (though their flagship is Wild Beaver, which isn’t a spontaneously fermented lager as beer geeks might hope for but an amber or Vienna-style lager.) But if you’re looking for something on the truly wild side, their brewer named Bobby had a “Black Wine Ale” on tap. Far from something like a 13.8% black barleywine, it’s actually a 3.8% schwarz fermented with red wine yeast. I liked it. Maybe even more than Howie. I’d be curious what some lager-loving Germans would say.

Death Rides a Pale Horse Brewing

In the span of traversing the state of Oregon researching veteran as well as rookie breweries, it stands to reason some soldiers will fall on the battlefield. But are they squeezed out of the marketplace or does their ticker simply stop…ticking? I found myself in Salem anyway, so I took the time to pop across the street from one that was still under construction to visit the not-young owner of one that was in the midst of selling off parts. Here’s that story for The New School on Pale Horse Brewing and the intriguing discussion about what leads a brewery to fail in the comments section.

Golden Valley Brewery Tannen Bomb

The only logical decision is to drink winter seasonal beers while the getting’s good. Most craft breweries release a “winter warmer” to ward off Jack Frost, a tradition dating back millennia to when agrarians celebrated the solstice by brewing beers made heavier with extra with grains (and perhaps fruits and spices), and religious practitioners believed intoxication aided communion with deities and spirits. Outside Portland in McMinnville, great beers are easily found inside the Golden Valley Brewpub; visit to New Seasons in hopes of picking up a six-pack of Tannen Bomb, so named since it arrives in stores along with Christmas trees and is a veritable malt bomb — 125 lbs. of malts per barrel.

Modern Cider

AAB 33.3

AAB 33.3

Modern Cider is the cover story of AAB Vol. 33, Iss. 3, 2012. It’s, as their title puts it, “Not your father’s hard cider” (for the record, don’t call it hard cider to folks in the industry; it’s cider–that “soft” stuff is juice since you don’t call grape juice wine.). Today it gets barrel-aged, Brett-o-mized and sake’d out.

Hop Forward

AAB 32.2

AAB 32.5

This cover story in All About Beer (Vol. 32, Iss. 5, 2011) was rooted in some of the entries I wrote for the Oxford Companion to Beer on hop varietals and really learning how long it takes for a new hop to go from a little-hope experiment to A-list hop, essentially, getting to know tomorrow’s hops today. Hop Forward is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever researched’n’written as a beer writer.

Dr. Shaun Townshend of Oregon State University amidst offspring from the 2010 breeding crosses, grown in partnership with Indie Hops.

Dr. Shaun Townshend of Oregon State University amidst offspring from the 2010 breeding crosses, grown in partnership with Indie Hops.