Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holiday Ale Festival, 2006

This weekend is the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, OR. They throw up a giant heated tent in the center of Pioneer Square and we drink.

Here's the beer list and participating breweries:

Brewery (City): Beer Name (Style)
Alameda Brewhouse (Portland, OR): Papa Noel's Olde Ale (Olde Ale)
Alaskan Brewing Co (Juneau, AK): Alaskan Spruce Tip Winter Ale (Olde English)
Anchor Brewing Co (San Francisco): Old Foghorn (Barleywine)
Big Horn Brewing Co (Salem, OR): Freeride Winter Ale (Strong Ale)
Big Sky Brewing Co (Missoula, MT): Powder Hound Winter Ale (Winter Ale)
Brasserie Dubuisson (Wallonia, Belgium): Scaldis - 12% alc! (Strong Ale)
Brasserie St. Feuillien (Le Roeulx, Belgium): St. Feuillien Cuvée de Noël (Strong Ale)
Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg (Vorchdorf, Austria): Samichlaus (Strong Lager)
BridgePort Brewing Co (Portland, OR): Ebenezer Ale (Winter Warmer)
Cascade Brewing Co (Portland, OR): Defroster Winter Ale (Scottish Ale)
Chimay (Chimay, Belgium): Chimay Triple (Belgian Triple)
Collaborator (Portland, OR): Sled Crasher (Winter Warmer)
Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR): Jubelale (Strong Ale)
Eel River Brewing Co (Fortuna, CA): Triple Exultation (Strong Ale)
Fearless Brewing Co (Estacada, OR): Fearless Strong Scotch Ale (Strong Scotch Ale)
Full Sail Brewing Co (Hood River, OR): Wassail (Strong Ale)
Golden Valley Brewery (McMinnville, OR): Tannen Bomb (Winter Warmer)
Hair of the Dog (Portland, OR): Jim K (Specialty Blend)
Hazel Dell Brewpub (Vancouver, WA): Weihnachten Fest Bier (Christmas Ale)
Klamath Basin Brewing Co (Klamath Falls, OR): Cabin Fever Stout (Stout)
Lagunitas Brewing Co (Petaluma, CA): Brown Shugga (Strong Ale)
Laurelwood Brewing Co (Portland, OR): Olde Reliable (Barley Wine)
Lompoc Brewing Co (Portland,OR): Lompoc Holiday Ale (Golden Ale)
Mad River Brewing Co (Blue Lake): Steelhead Double IPA (Double IPA)
McMenamins Crystal Brewery (Portland, OR): Liquid Cheer (Tripel)
New Belgium (Fort Collins, CO): 2 Below Winter Ale (Winter Warmer)
Ninkasi Brewing Co (new brewery! Eugene, OR): Believer (Winter Ale)
Off the Rail Brewing Co (Forest Grove, OR): Blizzard of Ozz (Belgian Specialty)
Pelican Pub & Brewery (Pacific City, OR): Full House Ale (Imperial American Brown)
Pike Brewing Co (Seattle, WA): Monks Uncle Tripel (Belgian Tripel)
Pyramid Breweries (Portland, OR): Snow Cap Ale (Winter Warmer)
Redhook Ale Brewery (Woodinville, WA): Winterhook (Winter Ale)
Rock Bottom Brewery (Portland, OR): Blitzen (Belgian Style Tripel)
Rogue Ales (Newport, OR): Santa's Private Reserve (Double Hopped Strong Ale)
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co (Chico, CA): Celebration Ale (Holiday Ale)
Walking Man Brewing (Stevenson, WA): Ho Ho Homo Erectus (Imperial double IPA
-- aged in rum barrels!)
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co (Portland, OR): Regifted Red, Northwest Red

As you can see from the list, there are a lot of strong ales this year. Here are the beers I'm most excited to try:

On my list to try:
1. Walking Man Brewing (Stevenson, WA): Ho Ho Homo Erectus (Imperial double IPA). They aged it in rum barrels! Yes, please.

2. Rogue Ales (Newport, OR): Santa's Private Reserve (Double Hopped Strong Ale). I love Rogues beers and try to taste all the stuff they make. I have rarely been disappointed.

3. Hair of the Dog (Portland, OR): Jim K (Specialty Blend). Hair of the Dog is the pate of beer lovers. It is fancy, exclusive beer and HotD has obtained this massive cult following with everyone fussing about how great they are. That said, we rarely see HotD at beer fests for the common folk -- I don't remember them at the Oregon Brewer's Fest (at least in the past two years) nor have they been to the previous two Holiday Ale Festivals either. So if they don't come to us, we go to them. Ken and I went to their warehouse sale where you got to taste and buy cases of their beer on sale. Sounds good, right? What if I told you that at 11 in the morning, the line was out the door. And a case of beer (on sale) was $45-60. Seriously? It was good, but not $60 good. But here they are at the beer fest with a beer I haven't had. Move over, pate beer lovers, my elbows are sharp.

4. Collaborator (Portland, OR): Sled Crasher (Winter Warmer). Every year, a group of home brewers get together to make a beer which has been, imo, excellent. I love trying whatever they bring.

5. Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg (Vorchdorf, Austria): Samichlaus (Strong Lager). I have never had a strong lager before. This will change.

6. Ninkasi Brewing Co (Eugene, OR): Believer (Winter Ale). The newest brewery in Oregon! From the Oregonian (11/28/06):

Jamie Floyd's Ninkasi Brewing Co. is one of Oregon's newest breweries, but it's already brewing great beer and a lot of buzz. Floyd was brewmaster at Eugene's Steelhead Brewing and Cafe before he started Ninkasi, which is named after the Sumerian goddess of brewing. His winter beer is a hoppy ale called Believer.

So those are my top six, but I'll likely be tasting (many) more. Any requests for beers you'd like me to try? I will be happy to whore out my tastebuds for the sake of you all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ollie's Darwinian Dubbel

This was an experiment in mixing yeasts. Simply put, I wanted to know what would happen if you used both a Belgian and British yeast strain in the same brew.

I figured there were essentially 2 possible outcomes:

1) A sort of hybrid beer would result, ideally like an abbey-style beer (sweet, spicy, and fruity) but somewhat less so. Drier, per the addition of British yeast.

2) The yeast strains would compete for resources, and one will be much more successful at it.

Either way, I figure this would be instructive and in all likelihood produce a beer that I would like.

As the eventual name of the beer indicates, the result seems to have been the latter, with the Belgian yeast (in this case) the victor. There may be a subtle effect of the British stuff, but if you handed me the result and told me it was an abbey/dubbel style, I wouldn't question it.

Obviously, the control experiment* would be to repeat it without the British yeast and see if it tastes the same. And I may very well do this, as I really, really like this beer.

The result is reddish light mahogany with a creamy head that laces the glass nicely all the way down. Ripe fruit and a little spice on the nose, plums, candi sugar, cloves, and cinnamon on the pallate, and a pretty dry finish. Alcohol very much relegated to the background. Fantastic with Thanksgiving dinner, or as a nightcap.

Enough bragging. Here's the recipe, should you choose to try your own experiment.

Ollie's Darwiniam Dubbel


0.5 lb 2-row Belgian biscuit
0.5 lb roasted barley (300L)
1.0 lb Weyermann Cara Red (15-20L)
1.0 lb Caramunich III (53-60)


6 lb Munton's Amber

Everything else:

0.5 lb dark candi sugar
1 oz Tettnang, 4.9% alpha
2 oz Saaz, 3.8% alpha
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbs cloves
1 Tbs nutmeg
1 tsp lemon peel

Grains were steeped 30 minutes in about 2 gallons at 150ºF, sparged and brought to a boil. Extract and sugar were added and brought back up to a boil. Tettnang was added for 60 minutes, Saaz and the spices for 15.

The wort was cooled and diluted to approximately 5 gallons and pitched with "Propagator" packs of Belgian Abbey II and London ESB from WYeast. OG was 1.065. Ambient fermentation temperature was about 65ºF (hot damn I love having a basement now!) The beer was racked to secondary on day 7 and bottled on day 14. FG was 1.018, 6.5% ABV.

*Actually, the proper control experiment would be to divide the same batch of wort and pitch different yeast combinations into each vat side-by-side, but that would be a bit expensive and space consuming at this point. Did I mention this is just my hobby?


You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.

Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.

When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.

But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

I have nothing to add.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Carolina Beers (so far)

My favorites are currently Duck Rabbit Milk Stout, which I would say is probably my favorite milk stout to date, and Highland Gaelic Ale, which is a lovely malty session ale. The former is pretty widely distributed, the latter you might have to come for a visit to try.

I hope to pay a visit to the Carolina Brewery over in Chapel Hill very soon (perhaps even this weekend). Especially since I just now realized that it is not the same as the Carolina Brewing Company which is a regional bottling powerhouse with a solid Pale Ale and a decent IPA, which is also not to be confused with the Carolina Beer Company, which makes a pretty mediocre Blonde.

Durham, sadly, is lacking its own local brewery (a place called Bull City Brewing closed some years back), though I hear through the grapevine (hopvine?) that the owner of Joyce is looking into the possibility of opening a brewpub. Continue to watch here for more unsubstantiated rumor and wishful thinking.

UPDATE--The Carolina Brewery is a real treat. Had a flight, so we got to try their Sky Blue Golden Ale, Copperline Amber Ale, Flagship IPA, and Downtown Trolley Brown, as well as an Imperial Stout and Santa's Secret, which is their winter ale. All are good, but the Santa's Secret hit the spot. The IPA is also excellent. We will be back.