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.

Rare (Unless you’re there)

House Beer Crates_Thaddeus-T

(Photo by Mat Trogner of Allagash Brewing Co.)

this story for All About Beer, I take a look at some breweries’ most rare beers. No, not the kind that enjoy a super limited release and wind up being traded as “whale bait” on trading sites, but the ones that are readily available provided you solely drink it fresh at the source. These aren’t the one-off rare iteration beers but, quite often, the recipes no longer in favor for a wider audience but the brand’s diehard fans would have a conniption if no longer brewed.

Oregon Collabeerations for 1859

Illustration by Brandon Loscar

As Ben Dobler, a brewer at Widmer Bros, elucidated: “Some (collaboration beers) play on the strengths of one partner, some play on the strength of both partners, sometimes we take a big leap of faith and try something completely out of our wheelhouses.”

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.

Beertown USA: Bend, OR

For the reboot the Beertown USA travel feature in the latest issue of DRAFT (Mar. 2013), they asked me to not just list and summarize the best spots to hit in the small, high desert/quasi-mountain town of Bend–a city bursting with 20 breweries for its 80,000 residents–but to gear three separate itineraries for three distinct types of visitors. It’s a bit trickier than it sounds. Especially because I think most breweries in town would appeal to most beer tourists. But still, an assignment is an assignment, and a challenge is a challenge. I ended up with dividing the beer and other destinations into those for “outdoor enthusiasts,” those with “kids in tow,” and folks who deem themselves “locavores” or just really want tasty vittles.

Ale Apothecary

In my first real contribution to Ezra Johnson-Greenough’s New School Beer Blog (Feb. ’13), I decided to sort of workshop the entry I was writing for Oregon Breweries knowing it was a rough draft for the book that wouldn’t be published for nearly two years to come. It also enabled me to publish the story long before the print magazine whose photographer severely delayed my interview with brewer Paul Arney despite my huge time crunch.

The Ale Apothecary will never be a spot on the well-trodden/sloshy Bend Ale Trail. It’s ten miles out of downtown way up in the mountains. There’s no pub. No merch wall. Founder Paul Arney is a man who, after 15 years at Deschutes working his way up to assistant brewmaster, set up his own brewery and has the finished Finnish kuurna to show for it.

Birth of a beer

To kick off 2011 in All About Beer (Vol. 32, Iss. 1) I looked at how beers today are conceived quite differently than when beer itself was still being created. Many generations and scientific breakthroughs later, some brewers strive to recreate traditional styles while others run shrieking from them. Authenticity versus innovation (or authenticity plus innovation) are factors allowing so deep a field of brewers to give birth to new beers.