By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
I’m old enough to be a little jaded, maybe, but I’m fortunate to have grown up in a time when women were being welcomed into careers previously held mostly by men. Going to doctors’ appointments as a kid, my first physician was a woman. I worked for a woman who held flag rank in the U.S. Navy — a woman who’d earned the distinction of a flag flying from buildings, ships or cars she occupied, denoting the admiral’s shoulder boards she wore. Heck, even the two most effective nightclub bouncers I ever met were both fearless women! In a nod to this edition’s female focus, we raised our glasses to the confident and successful women of Oregon!
Ambacht Brewing: Golden Rose Farmhouse Ale, Hillsboro
6.5% ABV; 17 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Ambacht Golden Rose Farmhouse Ale is a fruit beer made with rose hips. The rose hips give the beer a unique tangy flavor that goes well with complex earthy dishes, such as barbecue or those made with beans.
Consumer Comments: Tied for first place with Ordnance’s offering, Ambacht’s Golden Rose is beautifully balanced and inviting. With a bit of rose hips on the nose, this brew presents a good head, a little citrus on the mid-palate along with the barest hints of nutmeg and anise. Panelists enjoyed Golden Rose’s easy drinkability and floral themes. Two tasters even described this brew “like a pleasant walk through a rose garden.”
Ordnance Brewing: Bloops Blueberry Wheat, Boardman
4.6% ABV; 21 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Brewed with blueberries from our local farms, Bloops is a balanced wheat beer with just enough blueberry aroma and flavor to provide something delicious without being sweet and overly fruity.
Consumer Comments: Along with Ambacht’s entry, Ordnance’s Bloops earned our panel’s top honors this month. A heady brew, the Bloops tempts with — surprise! — hints of candied blueberry on the nose and immediate palate, introducing a bit of honey before a clean, mineral finish. Well-balanced and affable, panelists described this entry as an ideal all-occasion beer, perfect for summer sun.
Hop Haus: Fruit Fly Triple Berry Wheat, Gresham
5.0% ABV; 28 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is an amber to red colored slightly malty wheat ale with a smooth and mildly sweet berry finish. The triple blend of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is added at the end of the boil, which provides some pectin haze. Willamette hops are added to balance out and complement the wheat.
Consumer Comments: Hops and berry announce Fruit Fly Triple Berry Wheat — and the hoppy character won’t overstay its welcome. A notable citrus element takes charge on the mid-palate and panelists agreed — we tried it! — this brew works well served with a small orange wedge. Our tasters thought this beer would be a perfect companion on a summer evening, relaxing by the pool.
Mazama Brewing: Rasplendent, Corvallis
5.0% ABV; [Unavailable] IBUs
Brewer’s Description: What could be more refreshing for a summer beer than crisp, juicy raspberries? Add hibiscus and it drinks like a glass of raspberry lemonade, but with a nice head of foam and a light touch of hops. Rasplendent has also racked up several awards, including Silver Medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, Gold Medal at 2016 Best of Craft Beer Awards and Silver Medal at 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards.
Consumer Comments: With its color of rose wine and a lively carbonation, Rasplendent might be called a wine-lover’s brew. With notes of raspberry, cranberry and pie cherries, the beer’s bold fruit character is both inviting and refreshing. Panelists agreed this brew has surprising appeal for both beer lovers and those who might prefer wine.
McMenamins: Never Surrender Cherry Chocolate Stout, Portland
6.4% ABV; 17 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Inspired by two Yorkshire institutions: Samuel Smith’s Brewery and heavy metal legends Saxon. Comprised of mostly British malts, this beer boasts dark, blissful flavors from 42 pounds of Oregon Fruit Products’ cherry puree and 10 pounds of cocoa nibs from Meridian Cacao.
Consumer Comments: Probably my personal favorite of the fruit brews, Never Surrender Cherry Chocolate Stout features broad coffee appeal along with chocolate, cherry and maybe a shred of chicory. With tongue-in-cheek good humor, our panel labeled the Never Surrender a perfect “breakfast brew.”
Ninkasi Brewing Company: Hop Cooler Citrus IPA, Eugene
7.2% ABV; 74 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Bright and tropical, this IPA brilliantly layers a citrusy blend of orange and tangerine with a robust hop profile. Crafted with real citrus and packed with as much flavor as a hop cooler, you won’t be able to stop at just one sip of this fresh and fruity beer.
Consumer Comments: Presenting the inviting hue of honey, Hop Cooler offers a very fresh nose of hops — distinct without being overpowering. Pineapple gives way to citrus on the mid-palate before a satisfyingly long finish. Like its name suggests, the Hop Cooler is a perfect fruit IPA.
Two Shy Brewing: Not-So Peache, Roseburg
6.2% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a natural sour brewed with 100 pounds of local peaches and aged in barrels. Peach, complex Brett, sour, clean finish.
Consumer Comments: A spritely effervescence introduces the sparkling peach saison/sour from Two Shy. With notes of apple and a hint of cinnamon, panelists described this brew as invitingly “sour, like a cider but bright, like a champagne.” Easy on the palate without sacrificing flavor, this upbeat brew is a great one to enjoy while celebrating!
By sheer coincidence, this month’s panel consisted of twice the number of women than men. While I recognize the equality of palates, I will say the input I get from female panelists is far more expressive than that from male. So, here’s to you, beer-loving women! We couldn’t print Super Brews without you!
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
I balked at doing this tasting as part of our annual salute to women in brewing issue, lest you think fruit beers are somehow “girl beers.” There was a time, and I’m not saying it’s entirely passed, when the ladies were served beer laced with fruit juice to save us from … what? Bad beer? Or the (ha ha) heavy alcohol in the Buds that were available to us then? Gurrl, please.
But despite the backhanded insult, I fell in love with fruit beers when my bestie’s mom served me and all of her guests — including the guys — cold shandies. This beer-lemonade combination, served on a hot summer day on her deck overlooking the Umpqua River, was refreshing. Suddenly, I was a fan of fruit beer, and it looked like I wasn’t a sissy for admitting it. Fast forward to 2016.
We’ve come a long way, babies. Evidence: Portland’s annual Fruit Beer Festival, June 10-12 this year in a new location in the North Park Blocks downtown. I dare you to stand amid those throngs of sweating men drinking fruit beers and yell, “Fruit beers are for girls!” If you make it out alive, you’ll have learned a valuable lesson: Fruit beers are for everyone.
Think you’re not a fruit beer drinker? You might think twice, because not all fruit beers are the same. It’s apples and oranges, literally. Our tasting last month featured fruit beers that ranged from sweet to tart, hot pink to tan, sessionable to heavy hitter. Didn’t like one? Try another. Fruit finds a friend in lambics, krieks, Belgian-style creations, wheats, stouts, blondes and even IPAs. I promise, you’ll find one that suits you and have a great time in the discovery phase.
Our volunteer tasters chose the following favorites from among the Oregon fruit beers sent to us last month:
Ambacht: Pie Cherry Pale, Hillsboro 7% ABV; 17 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The farmhouse-style golden ale is infused with whole Montmorency pie cherries from Yamhill County during the secondary fermentation. Rosy gold in color, its aroma has hints of cherries as well as almonds. Not too sweet, and just a little bit tart, this ale's smooth, dry finish makes it light on the tongue.
Consumer Comments: A fruity drink with a wine-like bite. Summery and not too tart. Tart cherries from the farm with a little salt. Reminds me of apricot fruit leather! Nice balance of tart and sweet. I’d enjoy a pint of this on a warm day. Good grapefruity taste.
Silver Moon: Mango Daze Session Ale, Bend 4.9% ABV; 29 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A mouthful of summer, this enjoyable session ale is packed with traditional fruity Northwest hops and a perfect hint of tropical mango.
Consumer Comments: A perfect summer picnic drink on a beautiful sunset warm evening with puffy clouds turning orange and pink as we lay under a gently-swaying willow tree. Smooth and sweet. Hibiscus tea? Loveliness! Peachy flavor. Tastes like the sun! Light and pleasant.
Rusty Truck: Moonlight Ride Blackberry Ale, Lincoln City 5.3% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The aroma of ripened Oregon blackberries on a crisp moonlit September night is what inspired our blackberry ale. This ale was aged on 126 pounds of pureed blackberries per 10-barrel batch. Enjoy the ride!
Consumer Comments: Nice, dry, not too sweet, fun color! Soft on a summer day when you need something light. It’s like a raspberry-cherry saison. A great session beer. Raspberry Jolly Rancher! Light and effervescent.
Ordnance: Bloops!, Boardman 4.6% ABV; 21 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This blueberry wheat beer starts with a pleasant blueberry nose followed by a sip of blueberry flavor and mingled with hearty malt sweetness. Reminiscent of blueberry pie. Who cares if it started life as an accident? Bloops!
Consumer Comments: Great nose! Wonderful to enjoy on a warm spring or summer day. A mysteriously good fruit pie. Fields of blue, mild and soft. A smooth and silky fruit salad. A berry party — serve it with pie. Berry light, alcohol with a bite.
Mazama: Rasplendent, Corvallis 5% ABV; 13 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is an award-winning American fruit ale. What could be more refreshing than crisp, juicy raspberries? Add hibiscus and it drinks like a glass of raspberry lemonade, but with a nice head of foam and a light touch of hops.
Consumer Comments: On the sweet side — serve it with whiskey? A mouth-puckering, sweet-tart experience. Easy drinking on a barbecue night. Not-quite-ripe strawberries. Raspberry kick. A good replacement for a blush wine on a hot summer day. Interesting! What is it? Really good.
10 Barrel: Raspberry Crush, Bend/Portland 5.5% ABV; 10 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Raspberry Crush is the beer that started the Crush series. It is conditioned with loads of raspberries. The tartness of the base beer acts to amplify the raspberry flavor. You can almost taste the seeds!
Consumer Comments: Delicious raspberry beer to serve on a hot summer day. I could have two or three. Raspberries, I get it! So good! Nice and fruity raspberries. Sweet berries. Tantalizing fruity tickle on the tongue. A fruity Popsicle. Nice fruit flavor and a little sweet.
Hop Haus: Tiki Caliente Chili Mango, Gresham 4.9% ABV; 38 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A well-balanced pale ale brewed with two-row, Munich, Golden Promise and Victory malts along with Willamette hops, toasted jalapeno and habanero peppers with pure mango juice.
Consumer Comments: Spicy! Ay, caramba! I have a jalapeno face! Habanero kick! Very nice pepper and a great summer beer. Habanero fruit salad! Great spicy peppers! Some tropical fruit with peppers. I would love it with some grilled halibut or prawns.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Pale Ale Tasting 3-7 p.m. Saturday, May 7 at the Seven Feathers Casino Hammer N’Ales Brewfest in Canyonville.
By Gail Oberst
For Oregon Beer Growler
During the European wars and famines that marked the mid-1800s and early 1900s, Germans came to Oregon in droves — seeking farmland and rural life that mimicked their once-healthy homes. With them came beer recipes — most of which contained varying amounts of wheat. Witbiers, weissbiers, weizenbocks and hefeweizens were, and are still, a German mainstay.
In 1914, Prohibition in Oregon put a stop to that until the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933. Unfortunately, Prohibition knocked the ale sense out of an entire generation of beer drinkers, a bleakness that continued for almost a half-century beyond the repeal. The craft beer revival here began in the mid-1980s, closely followed by a revival in wheat beers, thanks to Widmer. The brothers found a welcoming trade in their Hefeweizen, a flocculent golden brew that has pleased ancestral palates for centuries. Other breweries followed. Today, wheat beers are as common in Oregon breweries as daffodils in the spring.
Hefeweizen is literally translated as “yeast wheat” beer. Beyond those two ingredients, brewers in Oregon are likely to use the mild flavors of wheat as a stage on which to exhibit too many other delicious additions: Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and other fruits; rye, barley and pilsner malts, roasted grains, honey — the list goes on.
Our tasters gave a thumbs up to seven Oregon wheat beers during our monthly tasting. As it is each month, the Perfect Pints tasting is blind. Here are their choices:
Full Sail: Session Wheat, Hood River 5.7% ABV, 24 IBUs
Brewery Description: This premium, American-style hefeweizen is medium-bodied with aromas of malted wheat and a citrusy hop finish. As with all great hefeweizens, there’s just enough residual yeast to give it a hazy, golden pour.
Consumer Comments: This beer was put together well. This might make a good radler beer. A nice hop aftertaste. Light. I could drink a lot of these. Like having sex in a canoe. Lawnmower beer. I smell fresh grass! Crisp!
Fat Head’s: Grapefruit Goggle Fogger, Portland 5.4% ABV, 12 IBUs
Brewery Description: This hefeweizen has light aromas of wheat, bubblegum, clove and spice. Infused with fresh grapefruit zest.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing, especially on a warm day. Very tasty. Butterscotch! Great for summer! Eat it with fresh or dried fruit. Yummy and light. Bring on those hot days — this is the beer for it.
13 Virtues: Woozy Weizenbock, Portland 8% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewery Description: This German-style wheat beer is the darkest and strongest in the “hefe” family. Half wheat and half specialty malts are fermented with classic hefeweizen yeast to produce chocolate and banana flavors. A Great American Beer Festival medal winner!
Consumer Comments: Nice caramel color. Malty, but not too heavy. Sweet and different. You wouldn’t guess this is a wheat beer. Nice and crisp — for a darker beer. Not like most darks. A little taste of smoke or roasted grains.
Deschutes: Chainbreaker White IPA, Bend 5.6% ABV, 55 IBUs
Brewery Description: Brewed with wheat and pilsner malts, this white IPA displays beautiful citrus aromas from Cascade and Centennial hops that meld with the esters of Belgian yeast. A thirst-quenching, hopped-up wit that deserves the IPA name.
Consumer Comments: Mild beer with hops. Spicy! Long-lasting hops in a great basic beer. The spice adds great flavor. Peppery! Nice rainbow of flavors, just perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. Traditional weissbier. A golden cloud with hops floating on it.
Golden Valley: Third Street Wheat, McMinnville 5.1% ABV, 18 IBUs
Brewery Description: This American-style wheat ale contains more than 50 percent malted wheat in the mash for a fresh wheat aroma. Crystal and Willamette hops contribute floral and citrus notes.
Consumer Comments: Spicy. Nice. Peppery hops. Maybe good with smoked salmon? Bright, light flavor. Mild. I could drink too many of these.
Hop Haus: Fruit Fly Triple Berry Wheat, Gresham 5% ABV, 28 IBUs
Brewery Description: An amber to red-colored, very refreshing, easy-drinking, slightly malty wheat ale with a smooth and mildly sweet berry finish. The triple berry blend of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is added at the end of the boil, which provides some pectin haze. Willamette hops are added to complement the wheat.
Consumer Comments: Great color and nice body. Summer pickings. Nice and sweet wheat. Very nice blend, perfectly rich. Hop berries! Hoppy sweet — eat it with a bowl of fresh raspberries … if you can wait that long! Tastes good with raisins and spicy sausage.
Hopworks: Nonstop Hef Hop, Portland 3.9% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewery Description: This new, year-round beer is a low-alcohol, dry-hopped American wheat beer created for drinkers with active lifestyles. The beer has the taste and feel of a Northwest pale ale without the extra weight of high alcohol. Contains Northwest hops and red spring wheat grown on the Hopworks estate on the San Juan Islands, Wash.
Consumer Comments: Nice citrus flavor. Nice and bright, gentle hoppy flavor. Floral? This is growing on me — I think I’ll have another. Easy drinking. Fruity hops. Pretty beer! Refreshing. Take a run, take a hike, sweat a bit, then kick a couple back … heaven.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Fruit Beer Tasting, 2 p.m. Saturday, April 9 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Fruit has flavored beers for centuries worldwide, in styles from Belgians to hefeweizens. Internationally loved, fruit beers can be found flavored with extracts, purees or whole fruit — fresh or dried.
Oregon brewers have a particular advantage: they have quick access to fresh fruits grown in the Northwest that range from rhubarb to pumpkins. This month’s Perfect Pints features, for example, include raspberries, cherries, prunes and blackberries grown in Oregon.
This region’s connection with fruit also makes its annual Portland Fruit Beer Fest, set for June 12-14 this year at Burnside Brewing, a natural. Dozens of breweries will feature fruit beers, some made specially for this event. Watch for updates and ticket sales at the website, www.fruitbeerfest.com.
Meanwhile, the following fruit beers are available now. The beers were chosen by our consumer judges at our monthly blind tasting at F.H. Steinbart homebrew shop in Portland.
Twisted Snout: Raspberry Squeal, Toledo 4.6 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: It's a crisp golden ale brewed with real raspberries.
Consumer Comments: Like jam and beer … awesome. Raspberry! Oh, there’s a party in my mouth and every-berry’s invited. Makes my lips smack. Fruit pie from grandma’s secret recipe. Love to share this with grandma as we sit on the porch and watch the river flow by. Would serve this to my wife on Valentine’s Day and hope to get lucky. I might need to try a whole glass of this...
Coalition: Space Fruit Citrus IPA, Portland 7.0 percent ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewery Description: Space Fruit is a West Coast IPA with a citrus twist. Coalition uses five different citrus fruits to create unique flavors and aromatics that mingle with the hop character.
Consumer Comments: Carmen Miranda with her tropical fruit hat! Juniper fireworks: Gets you ready for the 4th. Love this beer -- yum, yum. Call me a cab, I would like to overindulge in this one. Rosemary? Pineapple? Yeah, this is a good beer. I tend to like the hops.
Golden Valley: Italian Prune Bomb, McMinnville 8.5 percent ABV, 54 IBUs
Brewery Description: Golden Valley’s Tannen Bomb was aged in pinot noir barrels with 75 pounds of fresh Italian prunes harvested from the brewmaster’s family orchard. Two fermentations later, this pink-colored beer has a lively floral, fruit blossom nose.
Consumer Comments: Boozy, vanilla. For a high-alcohol beer, it’s tasty. It’s got a brandy feel. Sugarplum fairies dance in my head! Ready to chill out with the peeps. The sun coming out after a sudden rainstorm. To quote Justin: “I can drink the shit out of this beer!” Delicious and less beer-like with an interesting aftertaste. This is my favorite so far. I’d love to get hammered on this one and see how I feel the next day.
Rusty Truck: Moonlight Ride Blackberry Ale, Lincoln City 5.3 percent ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewery Description: The aroma of ripened Oregon blackberries on a crisp moonlit September night is what inspired this blackberry ale. This ale is aged on 126 pounds of pureed blackberries per 10-barrel batch.
Consumer Comments: I’d be interested in finding out how much is too much of this beer. Pink lemonade city. Berry fruit cocktail with farmhouse essence. Nice flavor. Grapefruit? Raspberry?
Stickmen: Dark Cherry Wheat, Lake Oswego 6.0 percent ABV, 23 IBUs
Brewery Description: This American wheat beer with cherry is a simple wheat recipe with a secondary fermentation on 168 pounds of Oregon dark cherries. It finishes dry with a hint of tartness.
Consumer Comments: Wow. I would drink this on my lunch break and then deny it to my boss! Strawberry jam on crack. Strawberry jam slathered on pepperoni. Refreshing! A lot of Brett, like a farmyard in a good way. Unripe melons.
McMenamins: Ruby Ale, Oregon 4.39 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: One of McMenamins’ standards since 1986, it is still a light, crisp and refreshingly fruity ale. Great Western Premium 2-row and 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberry puree are used to craft every colorful batch.
Consumer Comments: Delicious! Yum, raspberry soda. Light and wheaty summer day beer with mixed berries. Perfect summer sipper (or slammer!). Berry heaven. Strawberry shortcake — no whipped cream. Berry goodness as you are wandering the fields. Refreshing, light, deep and pretty. Would like to fill my CamelBak with this and suck it down while cutting the grass.
Widmer: Hefe Shandy, Portland 4.2 percent ABV, 12 IBUs
Brewery Description: The original American hefeweizen gets a bold, new citrusy aroma and flavor from lemon drop hops and natural lemonade flavor.
Consumer Comments: Super citrus, smells like lemonade. It’s a radler and it’s delicious. Key lime pie eaten on a veranda at sunset. Get out the bikini and spray tan. I’m replacing my after-dinner cup of lemon ginger tea with this. Awesome summer taste. Lemonhead! I love how dry. Would love to listen to country music while drinking this. Okay we have a winner. This is my favorite.
NEXT FREE TASTING:
Oregon Beer Growler’s IPA Tastings:
Friday, June 12 at 5 p.m.
Three Legged Dog, Independence
Saturday, June 13 at 1 p.m.
F.H. Steinbart Co., Portland
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.