By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It happens every year when I serve this style at our monthly blind tasting. Someone asks: What are amber and red ales? And as usual, I talk about toasted malt flavors that lend robust, sweet, caramel or fruity flavors, with emphasis on balance, even though in Oregon you may find this style hopped to the hilt.
And as usual, all of my so-called expert opinions fall apart as my tasters move through Oregon amber and red ales’ variety of flavors, colors and textures — from high-alcohol imperials to Flanders-style sours and all variations between. I’m not alone in my confusion. Even the biggest contests in the U.S. put reds and ambers into categories together. The caramel and medium-toast malts give the ales their distinct amber to red colors and full bodies, but after that, especially in Oregon, anything goes.
So, with all this fuzzy variety, how do you know what you’re getting when you buy an ale named “red” or “amber?” You could spend your time reading the description on the label or bar menu – that might help. Sometimes, breweries name their hoppier reds and amber “IRAs” or India red ales. The higher alcohol ales might have an “imperial” designation. Or, you might skip the reading and go straight to the tasting. The combinations of flavors in this style are sometimes genius, sometimes edgy, sometimes weird. You decide. And take your time.
To get you started, here are the favorite reds and ambers chosen by visitors to our blind tasting:
Rusty Truck Fender Bender Amber Ale, Lincoln City 6.2% ABV; 35 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Not your Mama’s amber ale, Fender Bender has notes of chocolate barley and an assertive hop character.
Consumer Comments: I’ve been on the road awhile and wasn’t sure where I was until I tried this – Oregon – hoppy, laid back. A nice red with a medium-hop character. Good malty flavor. Nice bitter finish. Dark beer taste with center of the Earth power.
Fearless Loki Red Ale, Estacada 7.5% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This big, bold red ale has a slightly spicy sprinkle of rye malt. Roasty malt flavors are accentuated by massive helpings of Galena and CTZ hops. Just like its namesake, it can be a little sneaky!
Consumer Comments: Unlike me, this beer has a backbone. I like it! Well-balanced, medium and delicious. Amber taste with a kick. Great beer with a perfect amount of bitterness. This could be dangerous, but I don’t care. Sweet aftertaste.
Full Sail Amber Ale, Hood River 6% ABV; 31 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This amber is a sweet, malty, medium-bodied ale with a spicy, floral hop finish. It’s brewed with 2-Row Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malts and hopped with Mt. Hoods and Cascades.
Consumer Comments: Nice and malty amber. Good and sweet malty flavor without the bitter aftertaste. Very refreshing with a hint of roses and chocolate. Romantic! Valentine beer. Dark, but not heavy. Love it.
Elk Horn Viva La Rouge, Eugene 8% ABV; 20 IBU
Brewer’s Description: This sour red saison was aged on plums in a red wine barrel for 14 months with lactobacillus, pediococcus and brettanomyces.
Consumer Comments: Love this sour. Cherries? A sour beer! This seems like a higher-gravity ale, but it’s still well-balanced and level. I don’t like sours — well, I used to not like sours, but this one is tart and refreshing.
Leikam Grateful Red, Portland 7.1% ABV; 70 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Chinook, Columbus and Willamette hops take this into IRA territory, but the specialty malts offset any overwhelming hoppiness.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing on a hot, summer day. Woodsy. This is odd, but good. I’d want to drink it with split pea soup. Very good. Enough hops to be an IPA. Roses?
GoodLife Redside IRA, Bend 6% ABV; 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Named for the unique subspecies of rainbow trout found only in Oregon’s Deschutes River, Redside India Red Ale is one of a kind. Bright hops and a red malt base create a flavorful, aromatic and balanced ale with notes of guava nectar and a fresh floral hop bite.
Consumer Comments: Very balanced, unlike me. I can, and will, drink this all night! Light and tasty, and pretty hoppy for a red — just the way I like it! Oregon-style.
Royale The Visitor Red Ale, Portland 6% ABV; 42 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a rich, malty, flavorful red ale with a lush red color and a subtle tropical fruit and berry hop aroma. Medium-bodied, this ale has toffee, caramel and baked bread flavors that are malty, but not too sweet.
Consumer Comments: I like the malt. I’d like some more of this, please. Pretty beer! Perfect malty taste with just the right hopping. Another glass, please. Great!
Stickmen Red Kit Northwest Red Ale, Lake Oswego 7.1% ABV; 75 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This Northwest red beautifully balances four different malts with four fruit and citrus-forward hops for a harmonious drinking experience. The ale is dry-hopped with Amarillo, Citra, Pacifica, and Simcoe hops.
Consumer Comments: Nice hop nose and aftertaste, almost like a red or amber IPA. It’s been a long day, but with this beer, the night will finish nicely. Long live the night! Love this one! Excellent bitterness.
Plank Town FURTHR Ambr, Springfield 5.8% ABV; 32 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A smooth, malty, English-style ale with seven U.K. malts balanced by a variety of noble hops, leading to a clean, dry finish.
Consumer Comments: Smooth! It’s sweltering out, but this beer makes it worth it. My mouth feels wonders. Is this a brown? I like it. Take it to the park, forget your troubles and watch the river go by. This one goes down easy.
Worthy Eruption Imperial Red Ale, Bend 8% ABV; 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The numbers say it all. This brew is bursting with flavor. There are six pounds of hops per barrel, including Cascade, Centennial, Crystal, Meridian and Mandarina Bavaria. Despite all of that volcanic bigness, Eruption is incredibly smooth.
Consumer Comments: Two Exclams!! Oh my king, as in, King Louis IV. Sweet, malty and good. Pretty hoppy for a red, but nice citrus flavor. The malt balances the hops, making it very drinkable.
Burnside Too Sticky to Roll IRA, Portland 6.2% ABV; 72 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a Northwest-style red ale with medium bitterness accented by chocolate malt and candy-like sweetness from caramel malt. It is brewed with Centennial and Millennium hops for both bitterness and hop aroma.
Consumer Comments: Well-balanced with depth. Smooth between sweet notes and bitterness. That’s real good. Malty enough for a 95-degree day. I could drink this with a nice steak dinner. Mommy just took me to the candy shop and bought me a drink.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ah, the can. Its history began when Napoleon in 1795 offered a prize to anyone who could invent a method of preserving food for his soldiers. According to the Can Manufacturers Institute, by 1809, Nicolas Appert had invented food preservation by sterilization in bottles, and the following year, Englishman Peter Durand developed iron cans coated with tin to prevent rusting. Cans, easy to transport and less likely to break than glass, soon became the cure to scurvy-plagued sailors and soldiers, not to mention countryside pillagers.
The process for packaging carbonated beverages in cans didn’t come to the fore until about 1930 when researchers developed coatings that wouldn’t dissolve under pressure. The first soft drink cans appeared in 1938, because it took a few years to work out the bugs. But beer wasn’t afraid of sissy glitches. In 1935 there were steel cans of Krueger in Virginia. The new packaging was so popular that by 1950, a quarter of all beer sales were canned. The lightweight aluminum can and the pull-ring bumped up can’s popularity in the 1960s. Today, the Brewers Association estimates that about 55 percent of all beer sales are in cans.
In Oregon, canned craft beers had a short hurdle to jump: Discerning drinkers often associated cans with macro-breweries. But that misconception is quickly passing in a state where craft beers accompany us everywhere we go, from hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness to biking the mean streets of Portland.
Last month, our tasters chose these favorite summer beers, all available in cans:
McMenamins Ruby, Statewide 4% ABV; 5 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A popular standard since 1986. Ruby is a light, crisp and refreshingly fruity ale made with Great Western Premium 2-Row, 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberries, and a touch of Chinook hops in every colorful batch. Simple, but delicious.
Consumer Comments: Unusual flavor. I could drink this when I want something out of the ordinary. Fruity! Almost a fruit Belgian, but not sour. Nice fruity flavor. Rootin’ tooty. Fruity and yet citrusy too. Lambic? Belgian? Raspberry flavor!
Burnside Couch Select Lager, Portland 5% ABV; 14 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a helles-style lager brewed with quality pilsner malt, German Tettnang hops and fermented with a Bohemian Lager yeast strain. Cold fermentation produces a nice, crispy snap to a beautiful hop flavor and subtle hop presence.
Consumer Comments: Good beer for sitting on the deck after work. Easy drinker. Good for all-day drinking. Fresh, slightly tangy, great balance. Refreshing! Crisp!
Silver Moon Get Sum Pale Ale, Bend 5.6% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Redefine your love of pale ales. Get Sum has a light and clean golden body backed by a refreshing citrus hop flavor.
Consumer Comments: An IPA I could drink and drink and drink … Very good. Super. Tickles my nose and my tongue. This was my favorite. Hoppy, but easy to drink. Light and tasty.
Rogue Pendleton Pale Ale, Newport 5.2% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A light, refreshing pale ale brewed with Delta and Rogue Farms Alluvial and Rebel hops grown on Rogue Farms in Oregon, Rogue Farms Risk, Sacchra 50 and Dextra Pils malts.
Consumer Comments: Great grilling beer. Nice long hoppy aftertaste. Beautiful amber color. Nice hop flavor for a thirst-quenching beer. I could wash down a few tacos and burritos with this beer.
Boneyard Skin N Bones ISA, Bend 4% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This India session ale is a single-hop beer showcasing Mosaic hops. Brewed with pale and pilsner malts, it’s light-bodied and golden in color. Perfect to quench your summer thirst!
Consumer Comments: Good chilling beer. Great lawnmower beer. Good bite, hoppy and citrusy, my favorite so far! Good balance. Bike ride beer. A great, light IPA. Drink and run then drink again.
Laurelwood Mother Lode Golden Ale, Portland 5.1% ABV; 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest ale is crisp, dry and refreshing, making it a great introduction to craft beer. This recipe has earned gold at the World Beer Cup as well as silver and bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.
Consumer Comments: Good after-dinner beer. Rich flavor. Oregon’s snappy answer to Bud: “Drink this, big beer.” This was the best. Beautiful beer.
Oregon City Brewing 8-Bit Blonde, Oregon City 4.8% ABV, 25 IBU
Brewer’s Description: Plug in your controllers and hit that power button - it's time to go up a level! This blonde ale sits atop a crisp pilsner malt backbone, and Sterling hops give it a grassy, herbal note that takes down that final boss in one fell swoop.
Consumer Comments: Good summer-break beer. Very good for the style. Tastes light, like a lager. Oh, yeah. All day long. Floral and euro herbs.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Reds and Ambers Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Here’s the conundrum I offered as conversation to a handful of party stragglers sipping the last of their brews around a solstice campfire: This will be the fourth, maybe fifth year I’ve written up the results of our Oregon IPA tastings. Surely by now, I say, everyone knows the India story — that English colonizers living in that faraway place, thirsty for their ales, packed their barrels with preservative hops to get the beer to India so it wouldn’t spoil along the way.
Or, do they? One person tells the tale of a beer server in Portland who suggested that IPAs were actually invented there. We all snickered, arrogant in our superior knowledge of beer. Did the fool not notice the name refers to India pale ales?
Someone suggested: “Why didn’t they name it Portland pale ale if this hoppy beverage were actually invented in Portland?”
“Because nobody wanted to order a “Pee-Pee A,” delivered Kate, ever the one-line queen.
Ba-dum-bum. Cheers all around.
Here are some of our consumer tasters’ favorite Oregon IPAs:
Ordnance Full Metal Jacket, Boardman 6.6% ABV; 53 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Western Europe meets West Coast in this quaffable IPA. A fusion of New-World hops are held up with a malty backbone reminiscent of a maltier English-style pale.
Consumer Comments: Floral, malty and thick. Citrusy, floral, nice smell, slightly piney. Strong bitterness but not too much, with a nice balance. Molasses. Easy drinking. Flavorage! Flowery smooth flavor. Sunny hop delight! Lightly floral and malty.
StormBreaker Handful of Hops V. 3.0, Portland 6.8 % ABV; 78 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: V. 3.0 of this experimental IPA series has aromas of mango, citrus and pine. Hoppy finish blends nicely as the slightly sweet fruitiness and characteristics of orange
citrus and pine find their way across the palate.
Consumer Comments: Hop in the sun for some of this fun! Fruity and sweet and a little bitter. A light citrus flavor and a smooth ending. Floral with a nice balance of bitter and sweet. Nice head. A bit tart. I love the citrus notes. Easy drinking. Crisp backbone.
Widmer Upheaval IPA, Portland 7% ABV; 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This IPA has more than two pounds of hops per barrel, unleashing a huge hop flavor and aroma with serious bitterness and a balanced finish. Brewed with wheat, the result is a hazy, bold IPA that’s unfiltered. Hops: Alchemy, Simcoe, Chinook, Willamette, Brewers Gold, Nelson Sauvin.
Consumer Comments: Piney, citrus, hoppy goodness. Sweet and smooth. Lemony hints. Spicy aftertaste with a little bite. Malty, sweet, easy drinking. Sticks to your tongue! Pleasant drink. Refreshing. Mowing the lawn IPA.
Full Sail Classic IPA, Hood River 6% ABV; 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This Northwest-style IPA is generously hopped with Centennials from the Yakima Valley and brewed in the classic style with two-row Pale and Crystal malt. It has a full, malty body and a hint of fresh citrus. Perfect after your favorite water sport, even if that happens to be the grueling drag-the-poolside-lounge-chair-into-the-sun event.
Consumer Comments: Light and refreshing. Bubbly fun. Flavorful, nice crisp taste. Very good, balanced and good summer fun. Smooth drinking and easy flavor to savor. Citrusy and herbal, quaffable and simple. A good go-to beer.
Hop Haus Genie In A Bottle, Gresham 5.7% ABV; 70 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A well-respected Northwest-style IPA. It’s smooth drinking with a late hop addition. This medium-bodied, palate-pleasing beer is definitely something you’d ask for in
one of your three wishes!
Consumer Comments: Well-rounded, balanced, enjoyable. Zippy. Some pine and citrus. Nice! My favorite! Very easy drinking. Great beer. Very simple, which is nice. Pool party beer. Summertime fun beer.
Big Horse Paragon, Hood River 6.4% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The Paragon is a light and bright summer IPA. Made with a blend of Amarillo, Centennial and Azacca hops, the Paragon pops with fresh citrus flavors of candied mandarin orange and subtle flavors of star anise.
Consumer Comments: Subdued flavor and not too intense. Sweeter with a floral aftertaste. A food one for a spring day when the sun is out, but still cold. Nutty. Licorice? Nice level of bitterness. Great color, light, dandelion notes, good spring beer.
Hopworks Pig War, Portland 6% ABV; 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Organic Hard Red Spring Wheat grown on Twin Oaks Farm on San Juan Island imparts tart flavors, medium body and signature wheat cloudiness. Pig War refers to the 1859 standoff between American and British authorities over San Juan Island. The only casualty of this 15-year standoff was one wayward pig.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing. Great for a summer picnic. I wouldn’t hate myself for drinking too much of this. Flavor on the palate jumps like a kangaroo with hops in its pouch. The hops are very unique. Wonderful flavor. Would be nice with a burger. Real citrus flavor. A very pleasant beer.
Silver Moon IPA 97, Bend 7% ABV; 75 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Packs a punch with bold tropical fruit and citrus zest flavors, creating a light pine aroma.
Consumer Comments: Sound sipping with a Sitka spruce. Fruity body with a warm, hoppy after flavor. Perfect for a hot day on the river. Good and fresh tasting. Floral and slightly sweet. Would go great with Chinese food. Fantastic. The hop notes are spot on. Roasty, but light.
McMenamins Hillsdale IPA, Portland 7% ABV; 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The Hillsdale IPA greets your nose with the pungent, grassy aromas of Mosaic and Citra hops. A simple grain bill keeps the beer light in color and body, as sweet malts were excluded to avoid overshadowing any hop flavors. The name pays homage to the very first McMenamins brewery, opened more than 30 years ago.
Consumer Comments: Is it rude to ask for the recipe? Good basic IPA. Keep this one around for guests who love IPAs. Light and delicious.
pFriem IPA, Hood River 7.2% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: When the first pale ales arrived in India in the early 18th century, outcries of “Zounds!” “Jolly good!” and “Huzzah!” were heard across the East Indian subcontinent. Expect the same exclamations when sniffing the piney aroma and tasting the big hops, huge citrus and candy-like malt.
Consumer Comments: The champagne of IPAs. Very good. Get me some curry. Great flavor. Smells like tropical fruit. Golden delicious. Candy with a bitter back. Long-lasting hoppy taste, coats my tongue.
Sunriver Vicious Mosquito, Sunriver 7% ABV; 70 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The Sunriver Brewing Company’s flagship uses heavy handfuls of the finest Northwest hops (Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe), which define this pungent, resinous brew. This hop attack comes at you like the vicious mosquitos at our nearby Cascade Mountains.
Consumer Comments: Bitter like my sister-in-law after the divorce, but in a good way. Classic IPA with a nice balance. Easy drinking. Good taste with no lingering aftertaste. Yes! Light and refreshing. Great smell.
Portland Brewing and Double Mountain Subcontinental IPA, Portland/Hood River 7% ABV
Brewer’s Description: Brewed for Portland Beer Week, these two brewing giants collaborated on an IPA with pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron.
Consumer Comments: No way. Anise? This is Christmas on my tongue! It’s like running through a clover field on a beautiful summer day. Very good. Hint of cloves or some other spice. Low bitterness. Santa’s workshop IPA.
Wild Ride Electri-Fly, Redmond 6.3% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Prepare to lift off and experience an IPA that showcases a blend of premium two-row and honey malts, which lay a perfect perch for the addition of hops. Flown in from the Southern Hemisphere, the unique hops give this beer a pleasant flavor and the aroma of
Consumer Comments: Floral aroma. Pine cones. Slight butterscotch. Good and smooth. Smooth and fruity and not too bitter.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Canned Beer Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
On a recent day when the mercury hit the 80s, I was standing in my booth serving tastes of Oregon’s pale ales to thirsty visitors at the Hammer N’Ales Brewfest fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity in Canyonville. Pale ales are the perfect beer for a hot day — a great Oregon refresher.
In addition to fests, how about a pale ale on a lake after the cast, on the bank of a river after floating the rapids, behind a lawnmower, after weeding the garden or on your shady porch watching the neighbors sweat it out in their yards. They’re not too strong (official range is from 4.5 to 6.0 percent ABV), so you can drink them for a happy session. Also, pale ales tend to be less hoppy than the India pale ale, so your tongue may be less tarred after a few beers. Pale ale hoppiness usually ranges from 30-45 IBUs, according Beer Judge Certification Program standards. Oregon pales are a bit hoppier, but mildly fragrant and fresh. This popular English style landed in the New World with a hearty “huzzah,” and is ours now.
Here are the Oregon pale ales chosen as favorites in the blind tasting by visitors to the festival:
Vertigo: Closer Pale Ale, Hillsboro 5.3% ABV; 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This ale gets its light copper color from 120 and 60L caramel malts. Magnum and Amarillo hops added for bittering, flavor and aroma give this beer a balanced profile.
Consumer Comments: Smooth, crisp and slightly hoppy. I could be happy with this one because I don’t like overly hopped beers. Great floral flavor. Made my mouth feel like a velvet slipper dipped in rosewater and lemon rind. Crisp, dry, firm bitterness. A beer for beer drinkers. Great for a long afternoon barbecue. Light, nice and bright. Nice summer beer.
Ordnance: RX Pale Ale, Boardman 5.6% ABV; 32 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Pouring a light straw color, this ale gets its spicy flavor from a healthy dose of rye malt. The rye spice combines nicely with Citra and Mosaic hop aromas to create a beer that is perfect for day's end, be it after work or a long day of outdoor pursuits.
Consumer Comments: Light, interesting, mild fruity hop flavor. Hoppy! Nose outstanding. Taste is OMG. Drama in my mouth. Well done! Very nice and exceptionally smooth, and not bitter. Clean and refreshing. Dry. I need to figure out how to get a keg of this into my RV. Light and crisp.
Rogue: Pendleton Pale Ale, Newport 5.2% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A light, refreshing pale ale brewed with hops and malts grown on Rogue Farms, including Rogue Farms Risk, 2-Row, Sacchra 50 and Dextra Pils Malts; Delta and Rogue Farms Alluvial and Rebel hops.
Consumer Comments: Malty highlights. Crisp and clean taste. Easy drinking. Get out the fried chicken, we’re taking this one on a picnic. Better than most. Light hop and clean taste. Refreshing! Fruity!
Laurelwood: Piston Pale Ale, Portland 5.8% ABV; 37 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our seasonal pale is the Northwest interpretation of a classic British style, which essentially means — yup, you guessed it — more hops! We have updated our recipe to please the palates of our current crowd of beer drinkers. Expect refreshing citrus hop flavors and aromas.
Consumer Comments: My perfect pale ale. Drinkable and refreshing. Love the floral notes. Hoppier and hoppier! Dude! Smells like killer bud. Hint of sugar and spice. Eat it with simple carbs and cheese. Piney. Nice hop notes. Great aroma — a real winner. Fruit. A drink for a sunny day. Take it to the cabin and drink it in front of the fire.
Big Horse; Badfish, Hood River 5.5% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Blond-colored pale with intense hop flavors of tropical citrus and pine. Finishes dry without a harsh lingering bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Well-balanced hops and malt, great drinkability. Not as hoppy as the others. Burst of flowers. Put me in the rose garden. Subtle almost lager-ish mellowness with a satisfying bitter accent. Clean and fresh. Crisp and dry. Best one so far. Nice blend of bitter flavors. Pale ale, as it should be. Not too hoppy, not too light. I loved this beer.
Arch Rock: Pistol River Pale, Gold Beach 6.0% ABV; N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This recent gold medal winner is robustly dry-hopped, giving way to the intense hoppy aroma and flavor. Subtle bitterness and drinkability set this beer apart. Its resinous, citrusy and fruity character comes from CTZ, Chinook, Nugget and Centennial hops. Even with the hop-forward flavor of this beer, it’s well balanced with medium bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Intense flavor for a pale. All about the hops. Bold and strong flavor. Beautiful nose, almost Donald Trump arrogant bitterness presentation. Well played! Sweet up front — hop party in the back. Solid and easy drinking. Good flavor.
Hop Haus: Dr. Bob's Periodic Pale Ale, Gresham 5.8 % ABV; 40 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A tribute beer to the late Dr. Bob, this pale ale is true to the style — easy drinking with a subtle malt backbone and smooth balanced hop finish. Made with 2-row, C40, aromatic and Victory malts; Chinook and Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Perfect amount of hoppiness. Yes! I’d share this one with my friends. I like this like sunshine. Subtle nose. I would date this beer! Goes down well with a little bitterness on the aftertaste. Tasty! A good all-around beer that could be a staple for the ‘fridge.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s IPA Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th, Portland.
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
Sometimes, just to engage the thirsty crowds that show up for the monthly Oregon Beer Growler tastings, I quiz them like a beer-serving schoolmarm. “What is a double IPA?” I asked. The answers included: “More hops, more alcohol!”
That response does prompt the question, though: more hops and alcohol than what? Certainly in Oregon, an IPA 7 percent and higher — even without the “double” designation — is not unusual. International Bittering Units above 80 in a pale ale are also common in hop country.
Double IPAs, sometimes called imperial IPAs, are in the category foremost for their palate-jacking hop characteristics. And, despite its official designation as an “American” style, the double probably originated in the hop-centric West, especially in Oregon and Washington, where most American hops are grown. Because we’re hopheads, many Oregon brewers don’t even bother to designate their high-alcohol, high-hopped beers as “doubles,” preferring instead to list the hoppiness on the label and let the drinker beware. I had no idea until recently, for example, that one of the first hoppy beers I ever loved — Lompoc’s C-Note, featuring seven hops that start with “C” — is considered a double.
Oregon hopheads also know that “hoppiness” does not always mean “bitterness.” The hops in doubles are sometimes floral and fragrant, complementing the extra and often sweet malts required to push up alcohol content, and sometimes tricking your tongue into thinking this beer is less alcoholic than it seems. Don’t be fooled! Read the label. Pour wisely.
Our tasters chose the following Oregon double IPAs as their favorites. All are available now on tap, at the breweries, or in stores:
Rogue: 8 Hop IPA, Newport 8.88% ABV, 80 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: These aroma hops are grown at Rogue Farms in Independence. Then brewmaster John Maier selects and blends eight varieties to create the brash and burly flavors of this IPA, the boss of Rogue’s IPA family.
Consumer Comments: Bubblegum yeastiness! Well balanced and not overwhelming. A true IIPA, yum! McDreamy in a glass. Multiple hop flavors blend together. Floral, like a field full of flowers. Sage and pine. A bratwurst kind of beer. Woodsy and yummy … a lumberjack beer. Tongue-tingly goodness.
Gigantic: Ginormous Imperial IPA, Portland 8.8% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Developed in a secret testing facility deep in Southeast Portland, Ginormous is powered by seven mighty hops. His mission is simple; to deliver a massive hop punch to those in need.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing, apricot and peach. I want a pint! Smooth — I’d bathe in this. Interesting flavors. Nice malt and nice balance. The best so far! Spicy! Great river beer, when you are looking to get lost on a beach. Deep flavor, fairly smooth with light bitterness. A good starter beer. Lingering pleasant aftertaste.
Silver Moon: Maui Wowie Double IPA, Bend 8.2% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This small-batch beer, brewed only a few times a year, is not your average hop bomb. The “Big Three C’s” — Chinook, Centennial and Citra hops — create a high-gravity, hazy copper ale with an intense pine, pineapple and citrus flavor.
Consumer Comments: Killer beer! It’s my favorite so far. A hot beer for a cold day. A delicious amount of hoppiness. One taste is not enough. I’ll have a pint, please. Juicy and tropical. Are we on the islands? Super easy to drink.
Two-Shy: Ignition Double IPA, Roseburg 9.5% ABV, 115 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This has a balanced, but mildly sweet malt profile with Nugget, Simcoe and Cascade and dry-hopped with Citra and Cascade.
Consumer Comments: Peaches! I could drink this with a meal, especially with pork. Light, fluffy — something to drink on a patio in the sun. Not overly bitter. Nice and fruity. Bubbly and refreshing with a light kick. A poolside beer for sure. A good winter solstice, curl up by the fire during a blizzard beer. Strong, but smooth. Drink by a roaring fire in a cabin in the snowy woods.
StormBreaker: Triple Double IPA, Portland 8.5% ABV, 90 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Achieving a triple double in hoops is impressive, but achieving it in your beer is even better. Ten hop additions of three hop varietals — Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo — scores on your palate, rebounds with big aromas of grapefruit citrus and pineapple, and is assisted by citrus flavors to balance the slight upfront bitterness and big ABV.
Consumer Comments: Roasty with a nice finish. Nice, light and malty. Yummy perfume for the tongue! Semi-sweet finish. Mellow taste with great finish. No strong bitterness, something you can drink in a relaxed setting. Nice mixture of citrus and tea. Anytime! Citrus upfront, good flavor, I dig it!
Barley Brown’s: Tank Slapper Double IPA, Baker City 9.2% ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Intense pine and citrus notes in this double IPA come from massive amounts of Simcoe and Chinook hops. At more than a half ounce of hops per pint, this is not for the faint of heart.
Consumer Comments: Good smell with bitter hops. Well-rounded flavor. Malty flavor that has a nice bitter front taste that goes away nicely. Honey-like. Yogi and Boo-Boo climb a cedar tree on a hot day to get to the honey. Wahoo! Cantaloupe melons and butterscotch. Solid gold grapefruits.
McMenamins: Major Threat DIPA, Portland 8.39% ABV, 62 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A true West Coast DIPA in which hops were incorporated at every step of the brewing process from mash to keg. Nugget hops were used for bittering while Chinook and Simcoe were used for the main hoppy flavor. Simcoe and Mosaic were then overloaded in the back end of the boil for a great tropical aroma. Finally, Mosaic was used again to dry hop each keg for a huge burst of hoppy dankness.
Consumer Comments: Bitterly delicious. Not overly hoppy. Very good, some sweetness, pleasant bitterness, drink in winter and early spring. Delicious and refreshing beer. Hoppy, earthy hops. Caramel and pomegranate. Mango! Nice and fruity, slightly sweet.
Ninkasi: Tricerahops, Eugene 8% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Double IPAs are noted for their hop profiles. Earthy, floral hop aroma and flavor are abundant in Tricerahops. The bigger body and higher alcohol balance the large volume of hops to create a beer that is very flavorful while still being balanced and drinkable. The beer can be deceiving, as it is very smooth.
Consumer Comments: I really like this one! I could drink some more of this! This feels like a day of cutting pine trees. The pine flavor resonates in the mouth. Basically good. A bubbly tongue blaster. Nice hops, lightly malted, but still balanced. Nice malt. Oddly delicious.
Plank Town: UnObtainium, Springfield 8.6% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our mad scientists added eight varieties of hops combined with U.K. Maris Otter and Crystal malts to make this an unforgettable third version of our annual double IPA brew.
Consumer Comments: Really nice. Magical brew made of fairy dust! Hooray! I’d pair this with a spicy meal. Hands down favorite. Good anytime. Strong beginning and great finish. It’s weird, but awesome.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
How do I love thee, Belgian-style beers? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the
depth and breadth and height your tastes can reach …
My apologies to Lizzie B. Browning. But the first time I tasted a Belgian-style beer many years ago – it was a Pelican Saison, sipped at the Pacific City pub while watching an incredible sunset – I felt like reciting poetry. Years later, and with many Belgian-style beers under my belt, this style still makes me feel misty.
So what is this bubbly wonder that has inspired so many Oregon brewers? Brewing “Belgian-style,” it turns out, is like saying you are brewing “American-style” or “German-style.” The number and variety of Belgian beers are as vast as the ocean between us. And, like Belgians, Oregon brewers are known for caring not an ounce about official beer styles, instead experimenting, mixing tastes, pushing limits.
There are more than a dozen official Belgian styles – tripels, dubbels, Trappists, strong ales, biere de gardes, sour ales, lambics, saisons – including specialty styles, the list is endless.
Do they have anything in common? Most Belgian-style beers feature traditional Belgian yeasts, which leave the beers dry and bring out fruity, spicy or other complex flavors available in the malts used. To get a good feel for the recognizable “Belgian” flavors, I suggest you start with a saison or a farmhouse ale, where the yeast flavors are unmasked, light and fun. But don’t stop there. Try them all. See if they don’t inspire a poetic line or two! Below are the results from the latest monthly blind tasting:
Sky High: Monk’s Mana, Corvallis 10.3% ABV, 15 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: In celebration of the Trappist Monks, this Belgian-style honey tripel is brewed with local Honey Tree Apiaries honey and Crosby Farm hops. Lush wildflowers, spicy and distinct.
Consumer Comments: Stronger, fruitier, tastier. Slight spice, full-bodied, nice sipper. Pair it with a salmon fillet. When you need to reward yourself after a long day, drink this. A crisp strong beer loaded with fantastic flavor. Meady and vanilla-ish. Woody … yum! Complex and delicious.
Pelican: Saison, Pacific City 6.5% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Fruity and spicy aroma from farmhouse yeast. Floral and slightly herbal hop character provided by Golding hops. Bottle conditioning provides lively finish.
Consumer Comments: Best yeast I’ve tasted so far. Great beer. Get me a bag of pretzels and a lawn chair. Great on a spring day or anytime. Frothy and silky. Champagne bubbles. Flavorful, super tasty. Mellow and smooth. Kick back in your lounger chair with this beer and a cigar.
Stickmen: Troonbeeckx Belgian Blond, Lake Oswego 7.9% ABV, 29 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This blond greets you with aromas of pear, orange and light spice, a bit of malt sweetness and fruit followed by a peppery bite and lingering alcohol warmth.
Consumer Comments: Oh yeah! Funk-a-licious! Great with seafood. Wildflowers. Serve it up with dessert! Belgian-y. I really like the aroma. I just want to stick my nose in that funk! Nuts and raisins. Spicy, smooth. Drink it on a sparkling clear snowy day.
Mazama: Saison d’Etre, Corvallis 6.3% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This beer is spicy and aromatic in the true Belgian tradition. Spiced with coriander, juniper berries, orange peel and black pepper. Dry and effervescent, the spice is balanced with soft malt flavors.
Consumer Comments: A good Belgian. Smooth and great. Different and slightly tangy. Almost apple-y. I could see myself drinking this on a summer day by the pool. Cheers to 2016. Drink this.
Elk Horn: Twisted Wood Saison, Eugene 7% ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: An orange-colored, Belgian-style saison brewed with grains of paradise. It features flavors of banana, clove, mild bitterness, with a toffee malt backbone.
Consumer Comments: Crisp, clean aftertaste. Serve it with fruitcake. The “between-a-beer” beer. Belgian yeastiness. Chestnutty. Flavor is light and pleasant. Refreshing. Dry, tiny bubbles. The champagne of Belgian beers.
Worthy: Farm Out Saison, Bend 7.3% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Fruity and spicy flavors from a unique yeast strain add to the complexity of this French/Belgian inspired ale. Complex yet refreshing, an all-occasions beer.
Consumer Comments: Lots of flavor. Full-bodied. Would pair well with a pork loin. Wild! Just like what a Belgian beer should taste like. Wild at heart, soft on tastebuds. Zesty. Fruitcake.
Golden Valley: Grizelda, McMinnville 6.5% ABV, 32 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This beer is brewed with Belgian pale and Pilsner malts, and graced with Hersbrucker, Willamette and Belma hops in the kettle and dry-hopped with whole Styrian Goldings. It’s then conditioned in oak barrels then conditioned in the bottle with Brettanomyces.
Consumer Comments: Is that my best friend, Brett? Smokey hints of mescal. Nice! Fruity and slightly sour. Good with a steak. Fruity! Tart and light. Pretty decent for a sour beer, and I usually don’t like sours.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Stout Tasting starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 at Frame Central, 6639 SW Macadam Ave., Portland. In addition to the tasting, artist Ron Pomeroy will be showing his unique paintings made with beer during a reception from 7-9 p.m.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
What is a winter warmer? It’s an enigma wrapped in a label and poured in a glass. The answer, in Oregon anyway, is best left to poetic interpretation.
But perhaps the experts can help us. When I looked up winter warmer’s definition on the BeerAdvocate website, I found a description including “malty sweet,” “low hop bitterness” and some allusions to wassail-like spices.
Some of the beers judged by consumers at the Oregon Beer Growler’s winter warmer tasting fit those descriptions, but more often, winter warmers in Oregon lodge themselves firmly in categories all their own. Oregon’s winter warmers occupy a wide range of styles and innovation. Olde ales, IPAs, barleywines, brown ales, farmhouse ales and CDAs are all perfect winter warmers, as far as Oregon brewers who entered this tasting were concerned.
What’s this mean for you, craft beer drinker? It means a wonderful variety of seasonal beers are now in your local bottle shop or on tap in your brewpub. These brews can be enjoyed with a holiday meal, on the slopes, in front of a fireplace or at a New Year’s celebration.
As always in our blind tastings, our non-professional tasters were asked to indicate what beers they liked as a winter warmer. Their choices and comments are as follows:
McMenamins: *565 Strong Ale, Eugene 9.3% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A big-time beer for big-time fans. This beer was brewed in the fall of 2014 and aged with Billy Whiskey-infused oak, giving it plenty of time to grow up and work its way into your glass. Plenty of Chinook and Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Tastes like a prized bottle pulled from the cellar and slowly sipped. Smells like barleywine teen spirit. Tequila! Full-bodied, flavorful brew; easy to sip by the side of a fire. James Joyce’s Chamber Music XXXVI. This is the beer you bring home to mom and dad if mom and dad respect beer, bourbon and liquid blankets. Great for winding down after Christmas or family gathering shenanigans. Bourbon, heavy, malty.
Uptown Market: Beeracle Off 92nd Street, Portland 9.5% ABV, 49 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Believe in Beeracles! Cold-steeped, roasted malts lend complex flavors without any acidic bites. This warmer also boasts a complex blend of chocolate, tobacco, fruit sweetness and is that a hint of toffee? Yes, yes it is.
Consumer Comments: Flavor explodes in my mouth at first taste. Very good … I enjoyed this one. Reminiscent of raw cocoa, so it’s good for me, right? Is it barrel-aged? Coffee strong.
Wild Ride: Nut-Crusher Peanut Butter Porter, Redmond 6.0% ABV, 18 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Wild Ride brings together two favorite flavors, peanut butter and porter, in this nutty, chocolaty and caramel beer. It’s a true liquid peanut butter cup.
Consumer Comments: Like a liquid chocolate truffle treat with a strong nuttiness. Tastes like semi-sweet baking chips. Very chocolaty. Makes me want to drink it with ice cream. Peanut butter explosion in my mouth. Drink this with a brownie. Sexy candy. Tremendously dangerous. Drink this for dessert after every meal. Dutch Bros. Can I drink this for breakfast?
Cascade Lakes: Slippery Slope, Redmond 6.4% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This beer is one smooth, wintery ride. Full-bodied and well-balanced, this seasonal ale uses crystal malt and generous amounts of Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Not heavy, but good for a mellow Oregon winter. I loved it. Nice and mellow. Kind of takes you by surprise. Fragrant like a Christmas candle. Hoppy and floral. Piney.
Hop Valley: Festeroo Winter Ale, Eugene 6.8% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: When it’s cold outside, wrap yourself up in this Northwest take on an English-style old ale. It’s brewed with a slightly spicy combination of malts and hops.
Consumer Comments: A respite from the season: bright, hoppy and a break from the rain. Super enjoyable winter sippin’ brew. Really enjoyed this winter brew. Lemon bread with jam. I could drink this in the summer, too.
Sunriver: Shred Head Winter Ale, Sunriver 8% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A robust, Northwest-styled ale brewed with dark brown sugar, packed with the finest American and European malts and fortified with the a hearty helping of Northwest and British hops.
Consumer Comments: Sweet warmth. A winter treasure. Perfect for winter. Bready and malty. Christmas candy. Burnt sugar.
Montavilla: Old Fellowship Barleywine, Portland 9.8% ABV, 60+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Big malt aroma rides side by side with a figgy, caramel-toffee aroma. Centennial hops balance out this mighty barleywine with citrusy, dank notes. Young, but still smooth and drinkable.
Consumer Comments: This brew would be great to sip in an igloo. Spicy like an IPA but soft and syrupy. Malty and boozy. Big, but easy to drink. Zippy aftertaste.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Belgians Tasting, 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th St., Portland.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Can you smell football in the air? Then it’s time for tailgaters, the best part of football season for some of us. The homemade snacks come out. The barbecues are lit, and relit, and lit again — never mind the rain! The jokes become ribald. In Oregon, the coats take on garish hues of orange and neon green. The true Oregon flag — a blue tarp — waves proudly in both Duck and Beaver parking lots. And best of all, craft beers reign at tailgaters.
For the past three years, we’ve delivered papers to Oregon’s Civil War tailgater events, and I’ve always been amazed at what great taste in beers Duck and Beaver fans have. They raise their glasses full of local craft beers, and like good cheerleaders, defend the practice. “My beer comes from my neighborhood,” says one Beaver who lives down the street from Flat Tail Brewing. “I wouldn’t drink anything but this,” said a Duck fan as he raises a glass of McMenamins beer. Then he adds: “Today.” And his crew laughs.
Because why choose just one when you live in Oregon? The world is your glass. Fill it up.
In honor of the Civil War between the Ducks and Beavers Nov. 27 this year at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, the Oregon Beer Growler has gathered seven beers from Eugene-Springfield breweries and seven from Corvallis-Albany breweries. We presented the beers this year at The Bier Stein in Eugene at a blind tasting and let consumers choose their favorites. Block 15’s Sticky Hands in Corvallis won the most votes, besting Eugene’s High Street McMenamins Grandma Betty’s Quilted IPA by one vote. Oakshire’s Line Dry Rye from Eugene was a solid third. The rest are listed in no particular order with comments from the tasters.
Block 15: Sticky Hands, Corvallis 8.1% ABV, 110 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This ale features ample additions of sticky, resinous, lupulin-packed hop buds grown in the Pacific Northwest. Aromatic blast of tropical fruits, citrus and dank herbs; luscious hop flavor with a balanced bitter finish, pale malted barley and fermented with our privately banked brewer’s yeast.
Consumer Comments: Yum! Ba da da da da, I’m lovin’ it. Great Taste. Best flavor. Hoppy beer for game day. Infused with leaves and footballs — in a good way. Hoppalicious.
High Street McMenamins: Grandma Betty’s Quilted IPA, Eugene 7.1% ABV, 80 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Mosaics, Mosaics, Mosaics. A patchwork blanket of Superior Pilsen, Pearl Pale and C-15 malts woven together with an insane amount of Mosaic hops.
Consumer Comments: Grapefruit. Great on a hot day. Great game day beer. Not too heavy tasting. Great IPA with great flavor. I’d drink more. A pretty decent beer. Citrusy, fruity and delicious.
Oakshire: Line Dry Rye, Eugene 6.3% ABV, 66 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A crisp, aromatic, honey-orange colored IPA is crafted with 15 percent rye for a complex malt profile that adds a touch of spice. Balanced by a generous portion of American hops for a snappy bitterness with a slight citrus grapefruit flavor and a piney aroma.
Consumer Comments: Love this one! Very mellow, but not too light. Perfect for drinking with tailgater snacks. Smooth and full-flavored. Very hoppy and delicious. Good flavor and a really good beer. Complex.
Ninkasi: Lux Helles Lager, Eugene 5.3% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The lightest of the European lagers, this Munich-style beer has a clean aroma with just a touch of grassy hops leading to a sweet, toasty malt flavor. This sustains to a crisp finish with just a hint of noble hop aroma.
Consumer Comments: Light and easy to drink. Yes. People would like this. Good lager. I could drink a lot of this. I really enjoyed this beer. Drink often!
Oregon Trail: Brown Ale, Corvallis 4.8% ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A multiple award winner at the Great American Beer Festival in 1994 and 1995, this brown is medium-bodied, yet slightly dry, with a nice hoppy middle and roasted finish.
Consumer Comments: Coffee? Good for an early game. Breakfast beer. Nice light stout? I’d drink it — a lot of it. Sort of smoky or roasty. Enjoyable winter beer.
Flat Tail: Tailgater Kölsch, Corvallis 5.5% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest brew. A bright straw-hued, crisp, lager-like ale with German Tettnanger hops adding a spicy bouquet and firm bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Seems like a good tailgate beer. I could drink this all day. I could drink 10 of these. I don’t like beer, but I do like this. Tastes like a complex lager. Good smooth flavor. I could run a 10K on this.
McMenamins on Monroe: Liberty Harvest, Corvallis 5.9% ABV, 23 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: An Oktoberfest beer made with German Kölsch yeast, a third of the grains are Vienna and Munich malts with Victory malts lending a light toasted flavor. Made to be quaffable!
Consumer Comments: Tasty. Pears. Nice Finish. Complex. Interesting. A lot going on. Easy to drink. Good flavor. Smooth.
Plank Town: Oktoberfest, Springfield 5% ABV, 22 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our salute to the classic Oktoberfestbier. The spicy, sweet, herbal hop aroma draws your tastebuds deep into this malty beer.
Consumer Comments: Fruity and sweet. Easy-drinking and flavorful beer. Definitely something I could drink a lot of!
Elkhorn: DBR (Ducks Blue Ribbon) Kölsch, Eugene 5% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This light refreshing ale is composed of entirely German-sourced ingredients. It has a classic pilsner-like profile of light grain, spicy hops and unsurpassed drinkability. Straw in color, light in body and light on bitterness, a perfect beer for any occasion.
Consumer Comments: Very light session beer, I like it. Smooth and drinkable. Light and fresh. Dry and crisp.
Mazama: Mosaic Eruption, Corvallis 6% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This IPA showcases Mosaic hops that give it a bold grapefruit twist. This beer is triple-hopped with a blend featuring Mosaic, Amarillo, Citra and Centennial hops.
Consumer Comments: Great taste. This beer would go great with tailgate foods. Floral. Grows on you. I’d be the star of the tailgater with this one. I usually don’t like hoppy beers but this one is great. Delicious and fragrant.
Mancave: Exalted IPA, Eugene 8.2% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Weyermann Pale and cara-type malts give this beer a uniquely sweet flavor — like the cheesecake of IPAs. GMO-free barley, Simcoe, Cascade, Citra, Amarillo and Columbus hops.
Consumer Comments: Fruity! Caramel and rich. Strong-tasting.
Deluxe: D-Lite, Albany 3% ABV, 19 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This German Leichtbier is under 100 calories, a truly bold craft light beer. It is bright and refreshing with light citrusy notes and a hop character that the “big” domestic light beers can’t match.
Consumer Comments: Buttery. Light. Very light and super easy to drink. Tasty for such a light beer.
Calapooia: Paddle Me IPA, Albany 6.8% ABV, 72 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Paddle Me IPA is a spicy brew with Maris Otter Pale imported malts and loads of high-alpha hops, including Summit and Simcoe for a pungent tickle of front-of-palate grapefruity flavor and aroma. An extra dose of Nugget and Centennial hops provide a playful slap of mid-range to back-end bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Tastes like fruit upfront. Delicious, hoppy and rich and pretty strong. Bitter or almost sour — I like it. Good bold flavor.
Claim 52: Claim House Weizenbier, Eugene 4.6% ABV, 10 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This hefeweizen-style beer is perfect for the pregame tailgater or anytime.
Consumer Comments: Love it! My favorite. Light but not watery. Is it hefeweizen? Full of flavor. Surprisingly good. Light with a good aftertaste.
NEXT FREE TASTING
Belgians: 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.