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.

An Oral History of Widmer Hefeweizen

Edit: This story was awarded 2nd place in the “Brewspaper” category at the inaugural North American Guild of Beer Writers (NAGBW) awards in October 2013)

When Willy Week resurrected the Beer Guide, I was tasked with writing the oral history, as it were, of one of this city’s most seminal beer offerings: Widmer Brothers’ Hefeweizen. It has protagonists, controversy, some romance, and pretty much everything needed for a Hollywood blockbuster save for a rando choreographed fight or homecoming dance scene. Oh, this story also netted me a 2nd place finish in the inaugural award ceremony of the North American Guild of Beer Writers!

Image courtesy Widmer Bros.

Image courtesy Widmer Bros.

Beer’s Great Gluten War Heats Up

gluten.narGluten Free is Big Business. That’s due partly because there are a lot of glutards and partly because some people just think being gluten free is, like, healthy and stuff. But for the folks who really are gluten intolerant, it’s serious stuff. When Widmer Bros. unveiled their gluten-free beer, Omission, it was both hailed and vilified by different camps within the GF community. (Author’s note: I like it. I’m not glutarded. It tastes like beer. My one friend who I know to be legitimately gluten-intolerant loves this stuff.) But here’s the rub:

According to the TTB, wine, beer or distilled spirits “made from ingredients that contain gluten (cannot) be labeled as ‘gluten-free.’” This could spell trouble for Widmer, which has invested significant time and money in a new gluten-free beer.

Being the investigative journalist that I am, I tracked down the TTB’s spokesman to quote on this matter. TTB’s Tom Hogue said that the FDA continues to look into issues surrounding gluten-free labeling and that the 20 ppm of gluten standard is “proposed but not final.” The TTB’s ruling affecting Omission’s gluten-free labeling only pertains to interstate commerce, so beer labeled gluten-free in Oregon could be just “handcrafted” in California, Washington, and everywhere else it will show up.

TTB operates with the “best available information,” said Hogue, and gluten-free beers pose a problem.