SF Beer Week: Oregon Takeover

SF-Beer-Week-2015.0.0I love everything about SF Beer Week (namely the parts about San Francisco and it being a week of beer). Back in 2009, when I lived there and the first SFBW took place, I knew it was special but I didn’t know just how special. Everything about it was over the top yet just right. I remember the tap takeovers from locals like Anchor to ones nowhere near SF like Allagash. I remember the beer dinners including one from the always legendary Sean Homebrew Chef Paxton. And I recall going on the Beers 2 Breakers bike ride that inspired Bryan Kollesar, Derrick Peterman, and myself to throw a bona fide Beer Run the next couple of years. I won’t be doing the Beer Run again this year, sadly, but I am going back and this time, it’s a full-on night of Oregon Breweries, Beaver state beers that’ve never basked in the California sun. After visiting every brewery in the state for my brand new guidebook, I’ve put together this list:

  1. Ale Apothecary: Sahalie, Sahati, Spencer. Bend
  2. Barley Brown’s: Turmoil CDA, Pallet Jack IPA, Fork Lift IIPA. Baker City
  3. Boneyard: RPM IPA, Notorious 3IPA. Bend
  4. Breakside: IPA, Salted Caramel Stout. Portland
  5. Cascade: Gingersnap, Foudre Project #1. Portland
  6. The Commons: 3rd Bbl-aged Stout (using bourbon barrels from Bourbon Little Brother). Portland
  7. Crux: Tough Love bbl-aged RIS, Half Hitch Mosaic IIPA. Bend
  8. De Garde: Bu Weisse (Berliner Weisse), Petit Desay tart farmhouse. Tillamook
  9. Double Mountain: Devil’s Kriek, My Little Runaway (Belgian cherry ale). Hood River
  10. Ft George: 1811 Lager & Vortex IPA. Astoria
  11. Hair of the Dog: Fred From the Wood. Portland
  12. Hopworks: Abominable Winter Ale, Kentucky Christmas “aka Bourbon A-bomb”. Portland
  13. Upright: Special Herbs (gin-aged gruit with lemongrass, sweet & bitter orange peels, hyssop, and Sichuan peppercorns. Portland
  14. Viking: Winter Squash Porter Braggot. Eugene

The lineup is a sliver of what I know Oregon beer is all about: variety. Oh it’s also about greatness, depth of flavor and artistry, but look at that incredibly wide-range of beer styles (some traditional, some wholly made up). Let’s have fun with some numbers

1 braggot. Because of course Oregon has a dedicated braggot brewery in Viking. Actually, there are two (the other being Fire Cirkl)

2 X-mas beers. The commercial holiday may be over, but HUB keeps the season going here with Abominable (“A-bomb” is a hoppy winter ale) and Kentucky Christmas, the bourbon-aged version of A-bomb!

3 Bend. I strived for geographic diversity with this lineup since it’s OREGON Breweries Night, not just Portland. But when you have 20 amazing breweries in a town of just 80,000 people, of course I sought out more than one or two. By that measure, fewer than half of these are from PDX. Oregon’s a great place to road trip for beer and you’ll see waterfalls, hop farms, and gorgeous coastline along the way.

6 Darks. with no two alike. Some are barrel-aged while others have flavors like salted caramel (in collaboration with Salt & Straw ice cream) and delacata (winter) squash in the form of a porter braggot.

7 Farmhouse. and again no two alike. Yes Upright and Ale Apothecary both work within this realm but between their 5 beers being poured, they’re all wildly different

8 IPAs. various styles from PNW IPA to CDA to imperial to a triple

9 sour beers. Cherries, ginger, wild black currants, and some sans overt fruit flavors, soured purely through wild yeast.

11 barrel-aged beers. Stouts, sours, strong ales and even a gruit. Barrels include bourbon, wine, and even gin.

21 GABF medals won by Barley Brown’s alone (4 last year, more than any other company). Breakside has won 6 including a gold for the American-style IPA being offered here. Both The Commons and Hopworks have earned 4 apiece, too.

90% RPM. This IPA is 100% delicious, but some 90% of Boneyard’s production is of this beer which I feel safe calling Oregon’s favorite IPA and you’ll see why. But wait til you try Notorious, which is basically a 3xRPM.

200 dollars. That’s how much Eric Cripe spent on the case of Hair of the Dog Fred From the Wood. Drink up and thank him heartily. I really had to call in some favors to make this event happen.

1811 Lager. No, not 1,811 lagers, but a lager named in honor of the year Astoria was founded, which is where Ft. George Brewery was founded many years later. With so many boldly flavored beers, I thought a lighter, pre-Pro lager was necessary to recalibrate our palates!

I hope to see tons of old friends and new ones this Saturday night at:

The Jug Shop (1590 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415.885.2922)

Cost: $45 adv/$50 door. (Nearly sold out. Only room for about 20 more)

Starting time: 6:30 p.m.

Books: Get your copy of Oregon Breweries for $20 (happy to sign ’em free)

Beer Destination: San Francisco

BeerAdvcoate, the online forum turned magazine, doesn’t republish the print zine’s content online, but if you have #73, there’s my beer travel story on one of the best beer towns in the world: San Francisco. After the lede, below, I devised an itinerary that stops at musts like the legendary Toronado as well as more intimate nooks like Fat Angel.

Anchor Brewing Co., established in 1896, transformed into America’s original craft brewery in 1965 when Fritz rescued and renovated it, thereby making the SF Bay Area the epicenter of the beer renaissance. Maytag was even ahead of the real food movement, pioneered by Alice Waters who opened groundbreaking Chez Panisse across the bay in Berkeley in 1971.Today, the Bay Area is home to over sixty breweries, and The City itself boasts nine beyond Anchor…and growing. In fact, the SF Brewers Guild decided to bring the contract and gypsy breweries into the fold so now membership stands at fifteen.

BeerMe: Cherry Voodoo Brewing

A recurring feature in DRAFT is “BeerMe,” a first-person narrative about a brewer, but one that’s sometimes told to and written by a third party. In this case, the subject is a guy named Yuri Green who was about to launch a brewery initially called Cherry Voodoo (and later launched as Triple Voodoo. Without Yuri. This story (vol. 5.6, 2010) may or may not have something to do with that.) Did I write this as a dark comedy? You bet! But was what I wrote built around actual quotes and approved by the subject? Yeppers.

Turning Beer into Booze

I only knew of Charbay Distillery since they make the best infused vodkas–flavors like green tea–so while I don’t recall how I first heard about their experimental whiskey made from distilled pilsner, I knew I had to try it and get the story (for DRAFT, vol 5.5, 2010). Days after reaching out to them, I found myself on their Napa Valley property, talking to the father-son duo of Miles and Marko Karakasevic, master distillers, and, yes, sampling an array of beers spun into golden whiskeys (and some white ones).

Beer in Good Spirits


Photo: Kyle Bursaw

Thinking back, I honestly don’t remember how Tom Griffin, aka the Barrel Guy, even landed on my radar. He flies under almost every radar. This one guy–he doesn’t like the term barrel broker because spent barrels are more like a canvas to him than a commodity–helped shift the direction of the craft beer business in the 21st century but no one outside the brewers really knew about it. Certainly no one had written about him. Nor was he trying to be written about. I think it was an off-handed comment by Matt Brynildson, Firestone-Walker’s brewmaster, where I casually heard his name and some time later that set me off looking for him, but he doesn’t have a website or anything. That’s why how we first met face to face is part of this story, my first for DRAFT Magazine (vol. 5.4, July, 2010). Of course, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, but this remains one of my favorite stories.

Cheers to Tom, wherever he may presently be driving.