By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As a non-native Pacific Northwesterner, I am aware we live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I am usually attuned to others’ reasons for loving life here. One of the most colorful aspects of life in the Pacific Northwest is the changing of the seasons. Almost universally, the region’s residents mention the four distinct annual quarters that make up a calendar year. Never a fan of the rain — although I recognize the critical contribution of precipitation to our breathtaking landscape — seasonal change means something different for me than it does for people like my wife, who’s immensely fond of the autumn colors and the departure of summer. Where she enjoys the falling of the leaves, the return of the rain and the onset of winter, I’m already missing summer and looking forward to spring.
But fall brings with it other attractions, notably the start of football season. And when you’re talking about football in Oregon, the conversation never fails to touch on the endless Oregon or Oregon State debate and the epic tailgating gatherings which have come to define football in this area. So we thought a friendly little brews-made-for-tailgating competition between certain breweries located in the totally random towns of Corvallis and Eugene would be perfect. Totally random? OK, maybe not. But both of these Oregon football towns know how to turn out some great games — and champion brews!
Flat Tail Tailgater Kolsch, Corvallis
5.0% ABV; 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Mashed with Weyermann Malt from Bamberg, Germany, and hopped with German Tettnangers, this crushable brew is fermented cold with a traditional yeast strain to keep it light, crisp and perfect for an afternoon tailgate.
Consumer Comments: With the invitingly clean hue of fresh apple juice, the Tailgater Kolsch presents itself as a friendly, easy-drinking beer — exactly what it is. Panelists liked this brew’s easy-going nature, noting its mild malt and crisp finish. This one’s best served chilled — maybe a bit more than usual — in the company of friends.
Oregon Trail Wit, Corvallis
4.7% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Oregon Trail Wit is a zesty spiced wheat ale, brewed since 1992. Crafted with Oregon pioneer spirit, Mount Hood hops, coriander and orange peel for a citrusy finish, this naturally hazy beer is supremely refreshing.
Consumer Comments: With the barest hint of clove on the nose and palate, the Oregon Trail Wit starts out paradoxically light and earthy. It’s a great autumn beer, with hints of spice and a bit of nip without the stereotypical “pumpkin spice” attitude. Panelists thought this pint might be a great introduction to those who’d like to try a beer for the first time. Serve with brats or sausages.
Block 15 Gloria!, Corvallis
5.0% ABV; Unavailable IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Blending delicate malt character and zesty hops, Gloria! is our vision of the crisp, unfiltered pilsner. Brewed with floor-malted pilsner malts, Gloria! pours a hazy, straw-colored pint. European- and Oregon-grown hops impart citrus and floral spice, while select lager yeast finishes clean and refreshing. This immensely drinkable lager is our brewers’ choice after a long day in the brewhouse. Gloria!
Consumer Comments: Panelists pegged this pint a pilsner without hesitation. Gloria! is light, crisp and easy-drinking, exhibiting notes of lemon peel framed by a sweet-but-friendly bitter body. With its refreshing character, this brew will accompany game day treats like wings, onion rings or teriyaki skewers perfectly.
Ninkasi Helles Belles, Eugene
5.3% ABV; 28 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Helles Belles is a headliner for the masses. Light and flavorful, this drinkable Lager strikes a chord between satisfyingly crisp and deliciously crafted. It’s time to rock — all night long.
Consumer Comments: Characterized by malt with a hint of spice, panelists loved the affable nature of Helles Belles Lager. With comments like “sure to please everyone” and “crisp, easy to drink,” tasters thought this brew would go well with chicken or barbecue sliders. This pint is well-balanced and lively, a great addition to any tailgate party.
Elk Horn Oktoberfest, Eugene
5.0% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This brilliantly clear and orange-colored lager was brewed for our Oktobeerfest on Oct. 22. It showcases the delicate flavors of German Pilsner, Munich and Vienna malts that provide freshly baked bread and nutty flavors that are complemented by the subtle spicy flavor and bitterness from German Tettnang hops. This beer was cold conditioned during the summer and is undeniably crisp and refreshing. Cheers!
Consumer Comments: The easy smoothness of this brew was noted by panelists, more than one remarking on its “drinkability.” The Oktoberfest Lager sports a medium body, an unobtrusive spiciness and panelists imagined it a perfect companion for tailgating fare like burgers, dogs or even cheesesteaks. The brew’s honey hue and very subtle woodsy char make for a refreshing brew.
Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA, Eugene
6.5% ABV; 80 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This IPA features four different hops with the addition of grapefruit peel for a citrus, peach and tropical bouquet. Plus there’s enough Munich malt to give it a classic burnt-orange color.
Consumer Comments: The hands-down favorite of panelists, Citrus Mistress IPA is an aptly-named brew, weighty and maybe a little opinionated without being overbearing. With a bold color just shy of blood oranges, this brew has a body of delicate citrus blossom, framed by robust hops. Like its name implies, the Citrus Mistress will keep you warmly entertained on a chilly fall afternoon, but she won’t overstay her welcome. It’s worth noting that, among the tailgating beers, this brew was the odd man — or woman — out. While the others were amiable easy beers, the Citrus Mistress’ forward IPA character set it apart from the rest.
The good-natured rivalry between our two teams is undoubtedly underscored by a shared love of our beautiful state. After all, Northwesterners are known for their love of the land and sense of fair play. Regardless of whether you’re a Beaver or a Duck fan, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the tailgating beers crafted by the talented brewmasters at any of these Oregon breweries. Here’s to football in Oregon — and the beers which help us cheer on our teams!
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
By Gail Oberst
It’s a cold November day. To keep warm, and to toast the upcoming football game, you are gathered with your friends in a parking lot near the stadium drinking Oregon beers. Which one would you choose to bring?
If your favorite team plays in Autzen Stadium, you might show your loyalty by choosing a craft beer brewed in Eugene or Springfield. If your team plays in Reser Stadium, you might want to gather up beers from Corvallis and Albany.
Either way, you’re the winner for supporting local craft beers.
The question is, which beer is the perfect tailgater beer?
Consumers this year chose McKenzie Brewing Company’s Bombay Bomber Pale Ale, praising its lightness, balance and sessionability. As with all of Oregon Beer Growler’s Perfect Pints tastings, this one was blind – consumer tasters did not know which beer they were drinking and were asked to judge the various styles of beers as suitable tailgater beers. About 20 tasters gathered last month at Corvallis Brewing Supply. Following, in order of their preferences, were their choices:
McKenzie Brewing Co. Bombay Bomber American Pale Ale, Eugene 6.2% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Brewed with all Northwest hops and Munich malt and two-row barley, this deep gold-hued ale is given a heavy-handed Mt. Hood hop addition in the kettle and dry-hopped after fermentation, for a powerful hop flavor.
Consumer Comments: Good hop/malt balance. Light citrus, crisp finish. Tasty light beer – drink while playing cornhole! Delicious, refreshing hoppy beer. Tastes awesome. I could drink this all day (with consequences).
Oregon Trail Brewery Ginseng Porter, Corvallis 6.4% ABV, IBUs not listed
Brewer’s Description: As the name implies, this robust porter is infused with American, Korean, Siberian, and Tienchi ginseng for an earthy, rooty finish.
Consumer Comments: Light enough to drink more of, and dark enough to drink more of. Coffee-like, very good. Not too heavy – a reasonable choice for a tailgater. Smooth espresso taste. Great for a cold evening while the Beavs destroy the Ducks. Tastes like wearing snug sweater. Super hearty.
Sam Bond's Accelerator ISA, Eugene 4.9% ABV, 42 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This India-style session ale features Mosaic hops, which add a distinct aroma and smooth bittering to the light malt body comprised of dark wheat, Weyermann pilsner, rolled oats and biscuit malt.
Consumer Comments: Fruity. Just hoppy enough. I could drink it all day. Smooth hoppy finish. Not too bitter. Hops like ‘woah!' Is it dry hopped?
Plough Monday Northwest Strong Ale, Veneta 8.3% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This malt-forward, deep amber ale features caramel flavors with Northwest hops that add lighter citrus notes.
Consumer Comments: Is it Scotch ale? Great beer. I’m not going blind, but if I did, I can still taste this beer. Definitely the most unique beer. It’s pretty good. Melted caramel ice cream with soda – excellent!
Mazama Brewery Saison D’Etre, Corvallis 6.3% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Spicy and aromatic, this ale has a dry, peppery finish. It is spiced with coriander, orange peel, juniper berries, and a hint of black pepper.
Consumer Comments: Super crisp, nicely hopped. I could drink this all day at a game. Bubbly. Fun to drink. Tasty Belgian character. Very good!
Deluxe Brewing Wild Beaver Amber Lager, Albany 5.5% ABV, 15 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This amber lager comes from an award-winning recipe. The bold, malt flavor is balanced by Mount Hood and Santiam hops.
Consumer Comments: Yum! Creamy sweet malty, like Easter offering in a glass. Good for starting pub conversation. Great for a day of long drinking. Good ‘gater beer. Excellent. Malty!
McMenamins Quack Attack IPA, High Street, Eugene 6.8% ABV, 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Lightly bodied and heavily hopped, this IPA showcases Falconers Flight 7 Cs hops, set aside for football season. Also featured: Simcoe and Amarillo hops, 2-row barley and Crystal wheat.
Consumer Comments: Good session ale. Clean, crisp hoppy flavor. Good lemony aftertaste. Malt and hops, versatile. Tastes like wandering into a cave full of magic hops. Easy on the palate. Solid and balanced.
Hop Valley Alphadelic, Eugene 6.7% ABV, 90 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: You can run but you can’t hide from the hops in this true Northwest IPA. Brewed by hop lovers for hop lovers.
Consumer Comments: Enough hops. Sweet and hoppy. Creamy and delish. I could drink it all day. Easy to drink. My favorite beer. Is it a thousand IBUs? I might drink at halftime if I’m trying to chase away the sensation of defeat. Nectary and delicious. Nice hop finish.
Claim 52 Kölsch, Eugene 5.3% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A clean, crisp German-style ale with light hop bitterness and melon and peach character.
Consumer Comments: Super sugary and malty. Light and sweet. Strong wheat flavor. Oranges and gin outlines with rye. Biscuity with spicy finish. Light citrus hops. Good for hot day while maintaining complexity.
Ninkasi Venn Dortmund-style Lager, Eugene 5.1% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Venn represents the meeting of American craft with European tradition. Brewed since the 1800s in Dortmund, Germany, this style marries perceptible Noble hop bitterness with a rounded, sweet malt flavor. Venn is golden in color, clean and harmonious.
Consumer Comments: Banana and cloves with a soft pils flavor and a clean finish. Nice beer for cold and hot weather. Nice and light – easy to drink.
Flat Tail Tailgater Kölsch, Corvallis 5% ABV, IBUs not listed
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest brew, this bright straw-hued crisp and lager-like ale is brewed with German Tettanger hops, adding a spicy bouquet and light bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Bright and crisp like a lager. You could “pound” this. Damn good taste. I could drink it all day.
Plank Town Resinater, Springfield 7% ABV, 70+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This single hopped NW style IPA earned its name from the high oil content of Equinox hops.
Consumer Comments: Smells like my favorite beer. Enjoyable! Pretty big for a tailgater.
Next Free Tasting:
Oregon Beer Growler’s
Holiday Ale Tasting
Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.
F.H. Steinbart in Portland
234 S.E. 12th Ave.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.