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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: Great Beers in the Pacific Northwest

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste some fine beers during a recent visit to the Beaver State.

In Portland, with approximately 30 breweries and a gaggle of great beer bars, it feels as if beer is a cultural obligation. You could travel far and wide to try to find a city where beer in its many forms is taken as seriously by as many people. France can have its wine as long as they leave ale to the residents of Portland.

I had the chance to explore Portland a bit during a recent trip to the city for the Oregon Brewers Festival. I was in town with my friend Barron Boyd and we were committed to staffing the Pints for Prostates booth at the OBF. We also decided it was as good a time as any to each develop painful knee issues (both to our left knees, go figure) which slowed us down and found us using up some evening sampling hours at our hotel with ice bags and Motrin. We did manage to limp our way to get a few samples and the beer was worth the painful journey.

In addition to sampling beer at the OBF, we had the chance to hit some great locations around Portland: the Rogue Distillery and Brewery, Horse Brass Pub, Rock Bottom Brewery, Lucky Labrador Brewpub, Henry's 12th Street Tavern, Deschutes Brewpub and McCormick & Schmick's Pilsner Room. Even so, we did not even make an appropriate dent in what Portland has to offer beer enthusiasts. We did get a good cross section of very nice beers, thanks in large part to the OBF.

The Oregon Brewers Festival celebrated its 22nd anniversary. It is held at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park along the Willamette River. Admission to the festival is free, but you pay $5 for a plastic tasting mug and either $1 for a tasting sample or $4 for a full mug of beer. The crowd was moderate and mellow on Thursday, grew larger on Friday, huge on Saturday, before shrinking to a small gathering on Sunday. Overall the event is well run, offering 80 different beers -- one each from mainly northwest brewers, live music and food.

The following beers were tasted over a five day period at the event, unless otherwise noted.

Alaskan White Ale: With temperatures in the 90s this slightly cloudy Belgian witbier-style was the perfect answer. A touch of sweetness in the aroma, with a hint of citrus and spice in the overall flavor. When they ran out of this beer on Sunday, they started pouring Alaskan Smoked Porter. That's a sign of a great festival.

Bayern Brewing Dragon Breath Dark Heff:
This Montana beer has a very nice balance of hops and malt sweetness. Just a hint of fruitiness in the finish.

Bear Republic Crazy Ivan: More than a slight hint at an altbier, but different. Copper color and some spicy clove notes also make you think of a Belgian country ale, but this is brewed in California wine country.

Bison Organic Chocolate Stout:
From California, this is a dark brown ale with a rich roasty grain quality. The cocoa powder that is added to the mash is clearly present. Nice substantial stout that is not too thick.

Boundary Bay Amarillo Double Dry: If you love hops, this Washington brew should be on your list. Full hop aroma and a flavor that is a complex floral and herbal blast. I was amazed to hear it was just 45 IBUs, but it shows the brewer's skill in adding Amarillo hops four times during the brewing process.

Chuckanut Dortmunder: Golden colored beer with a clean crack of hops in the initial flavor. The malt quickly balances things out, leaving a refreshing aftertaste in this Washington brew.

Laht Neppur Naddy's Brown Nut: Good overall example from Washington of what a nut brown ale can be. Nice malty flavor with a hint of roasted grain.

McMenamins Hot for Teacher IPA: This Oregon brew had a slight amber orange color. Full hop aroma and a long lasting pleasing bitterness. Just a passing note of pine at the finish.

Ninkasi Radiant Summer Ale: A bright and flavorful brew from Oregon. Golden amber color with plenty of hops that emerge and control the direction of the beer and give it a mix of floral and spice notes.

Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout: What can you say about a beer that knocks you down, but keeps you up. This Oregon beer has plenty of coffee aroma from cold-pressed organic coffee, which also comes through in abundance in the flavor profile. Extremely rich.

Port Townsend Hop Diggidy IPA: A pretty straightforward golden IPA. This 70 IBU beer features three hop varieties and is dry hopped twice. Did I mention you can taste the hops in this one?

Rock Bottom Eat a Bale o' Hops IPA: The name says it all for this Oregon ale. Rated at 80 IBUs it's said that the brewer decided to use a surplus of hops on hand because of the weak economy to bulk up this beer. Herbal hop nose and layered hop delivery with each taste.

Track Town Ales 200 Meter: At 90 IBUs this Oregon ale is actually lighter and more aromatic than you might expect. Golden orange in color, this is very drinkable on a summer day.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout: Amazing draught at the company's downtown Portland brewpub. Rich roast coffee notes. The big head worked for several minutes before settling, churning up roasted grain aromas and flavor along the way.

Rogue Mocha Porter: Poured from a firkin at Rogue this was a real treat. Pours black with a thin tan head. Plenty of roasted grains, with hints of cocoa and coffee.

Deschutes Back Butte XXI Porter:
This 11 percent alcohol by volume beauty was served up perfectly at the Horse Brass pub. Large amounts of cocoa and coffee that finishes with more than a hint of whiskey from the barrel aging. A world class beer.

Pliny the Elder Double IPA: Also enjoyed at the Horse Brass, this has a huge big hop aroma and a flavor that while hoppy is not overly bitter.

Stone 13th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale: Also sampled at the Horse Brass, a burnt umber color with a fresh cut pine nose. The beer delivers some very satisfying malty notes and direct hop flavors from double dry hopping.

Hales Mongoose IPA:
Enjoying this Seattle cask conditioned ale at the Horse Brass was like being transported to a pub in the English countryside. Floral hop nose, nice smooth flavor that lingers.

Amnesia Desolation IPA: This brew accompanied a cheese burger at Henry's 12th Street. Copper colored with a thin head. It gave off a herbal nose with a citrus and slightly hoppy bitterness.

Lucky Labrador Alt:
Enjoyed at the brewery, this copper colored beer had an off white collar of foam. Nice level of malty sweetness with balancing hops.

Cascade Lip Smacker:
This German-style gose had a hazy gold color and a clean crisp wheat flavor profile. It was one of the beers at the Oregon Brewers Guild Brewers Dinner on Wednesday night.

BridgePort Hop Czar Imperial IPA: This triple hopped beer was also enjoyed at the Oregon Brewers Guild event. There is a good level of malt in the background, but the beer is a hop delivery system. A good example of Portland brewers' love affair with hops.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rogue Ales Donates $5,000 to Pints for Prostates Campaign

Rogue Ales has been a big supporter of the Pints for Prostates campaign since its inception in 2008. During the Oregon Brewers Festival the brewery held its final of seven special events at Rogue locations along the Pacific Coast during the summer and presented a $5,000 check to help fight the disease.

Throughout the day on Friday Rogue ran contests for patrons, including a rubber glove race to find out who could don a pair of surgical gloves the fastest. Local prostate cancer survivors were also on hand staffing an information table to reach out to men with important information about PSA testing and health screenings.

Part of the fun of being in Portland this weekend is the chance to meet so many members of the Pacific Northwest beer community. I finally had the chance to meet Jack Joyce, founder of Rogue Ales, Brett Joyce, president of the company, and Ross Baechle, a great marketing person at the brewery. Everyone at Rogue Ales has gone out of their way to help raise awareness about prostate cancer and how men can best protect their health.

All of the money raised by the Pints for Prostates campaign goes to help the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, a group founded in 1990 that works with men with prostate cancer and their families.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Oregon Brewers Festival Opens With a Flourish

You have to love a city that has approximately 30 breweries and opens its annual beer festival with a parade that stops downtown traffic -- and no one appears bothered, not the least of whom is Mayor Sam Adams, grand marshal for the march.

I am in Portland, Ore., and got to take part in the opening ceremonies for the 22nd annual Oregon Brewers Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The are 80 brewers featured at the event, each pouring a single beer. The laid back atmosphere includes live entertainment and various food vendors. Pints for Prostates has a booth at the event, thanks to OBF founder Art Larrance and PR star Chris Crabb.

I was able to sample a few beers during breaks from the booth. Port Townsend Hop Diggidy IPA, McMenamins Hot for Teacher IPA, Pikes Monk's Uncle Tripel, Ninkasi Radiant Summer Ale Brown were all nice to sip in the outdoors.

We took our dinner break at Henry's 12th Street Tavern, enjoying a tasty $5 cheeseburger with an Amnesia Desolation IPA, then stopping at the nearby Deschutes Brewpub for a rich roasted Obsidian Stout before closing out the festival.

We're heading back to the OBF for more fun today and will also be at the Rogue Distillery & Brewery at 1339 NW Flanders at 5 p.m. tonight for a Pints for Prostates fundraising event.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Celebrating Beer in Oregon

Since July is Oregon Craft Beer Month I decided the time was right to make a visit to Portland. (Actually, I'm in Portland to attend the Oregon Brewers Fest and fly the Pints for Prostates flag.)

Last evening I had the chance to meet some great west coast brewers, including Brett Joyce from Rogue Ales, Chuck Silva from Green Flash Brewing and Jeff Althouse of Oakshire Brewing, at a reception at the local Rock Bottom Brewery and then at the Oregon Brewers Guild Brewers Dinner. To go along with the fresh smoked salmon and the Shakespeare Stout brownie, I had some great local beers. They are serious about their beer in Portland and have the right to be -- its great stuff.

We'll talk about some of the brews enjoyed in a later post. If you are in Portland and heading to the OBF please look for the Pints for Prostates booth and stop by to say hello.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Denver Rare Beer Tasting Brings Together America’s Top Craft Brewers to Fight Prostate Cancer

Exclusive Event During the GABF Supports Pints for Prostates Campaign

All About Beer Magazine, in cooperation with BeerAdvocate.com, will present a premier tasting of rare and exotic beers on Sept. 25th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Wynkoop Brewery in Denver to benefit the Pints for Prostates campaign.

The inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting is taking place in Mile High City during the annual Great American Beer Festival when thousands of beer fans will be in the city. The event will feature a select group of more than 20 of America’s top craft brewers each pouring a legendary beer. These very special, rare and exotic beers will be presented by the brewers who created them to an extremely limited audience.

“We wanted to create a unique event that would give beer fans a one-of-a-kind experience where they can sample some of America’s best beers in a relaxed environment and get the chance to meet some biggest names in the beer industry,” said Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer Magazine, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. “The Denver Rare Beer Tasting is a chance to enjoy great beer and support a great cause: prostate cancer awareness.”

Money raised by the event goes to support the Pints for Prostates campaign, created in 2008 by Rick Lyke, a drinks journalist and prostate cancer survivor. The campaign uses the universal language of beer to reach men with an important message about the need for regular prostate health screenings. All funds generated by Pints for Prostates benefit the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, a 501(c)3 charity that works to support, educate and advocate for men with prostate cancer and their families. Us TOO was founded in 1990 and has a network of more than 300 local chapter support groups that help men dealing with the disease.

“This event will be the talk of Denver during this year’s Great American Beer Festival. We have a collection of America’s best brewers serving some of their most sought after beers, all to raise awareness and help fight prostate cancer. It’s great to have All About Beer Magazine and BeerAdvocate.com back the cause,” said Lyke. “Each week 4,000 men in this country hear the words ‘you have prostate cancer.’ The goal of Pints for Prostates is to get men to take charge of their health. This disease, if detected early and treated, is nearly 100 percent survivable.”

A preliminary partial list of participating brewers includes Alaskan, Allagash, Avery, Boston Beer, Bison, Dogfish Head, Foothills, Harpoon, Jolly Pumpkin, Matt, New Belgium, New Glarus, Pizza Port, Rogue, Stone, Stoudt, Victory and Wynkoop. Each will bring a special beer to the tasting.

The event will be held at the Wynkoop Brewery at 1634 18th St. in Lower Denver. Only 450 tickets will be available for the event. Admission, which includes unlimited beer samples, hors d’oeuvres, a commemorative tasting glass and the chance to meet some of America's top brewers, is $55 in advance and $65 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through Etix at www.allaboutbeer.com/pints and at the Wynkoop Brewery. For information call 800-977-BEER or visit www.ustoo.org/pints.

So far in 2009, Pints for Prostates has already held events each in California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington. In the coming months the group has confirmed participation in the following events:

July 23rd-26th: Oregon Brewers Festival, Tom McCall Park, Portland, Ore.
July 24th: Rogue Distillery & Public House, 1339 NW Flanders, Portland, Ore.
Sept. 17th: The Pub at Polaris Fashion Place, Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 24th-26th: Great American Beer Festival, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colo.
Sept. 25th: Denver Rare Beer Tasting, Wynkoop Brewery, Denver, Colo.
Oct 2nd: World Beer Festival, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, N.C.

Additional events are being booked and information will be listed shortly at www.ustoo.org/pints. Pints for Prostates also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter (www.twitter.com/Pints4Prostates).

“The growth of Pints for Prostates has been encouraging to watch,” said Thomas Kirk, President and CEO of Us TOO International, which is based in Downers Grove, Ill. “Our mission and program goal is to educate and empower men and their family members so men and their loved ones can take an active role in their health care. With Pints for Prostates we are able to reach a whole new group of men with a critical health message. The more men we reach, the more lives will be saved.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pints for Prostates Campaign Heading to Portland, Oregon

Pints for Prostates will be in Portland, Ore., from July 23-26 to help raise awareness among men about the need for regular prostate health screenings and PSA testing.

The Oregon Brewers Festival, which takes place Thursday-Saturday from Noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from Noon to 7 p.m. at Tom McCall Park in Portland has graciously donated booth space to the campaign. We’ll be staffing the booth with local prostate cancer survivors who have volunteered their time and we will raffle off a kegerator during the event.

On Friday, July 24, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. the Rogue Distillery & Public House at 1339 NW Flanders in Portland is hosting a fundraiser for the campaign. Pints for Prostates founder Rick Lyke will be on hand at 5 p.m. for a special toast.

All funds generated by Pints for Prostates benefit the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, a 501(c)3 charity with more than 300 local support chapters that help men with prostate cancer and their families.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: Six Great Beers of Wisconsin

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste some fine beers from the Dairy State.

Milwaukee has long been considered America's brewing capital. Watering holes like the Sugar Maple, Centrall Cafe and Water Street Brewery certainly create the image of a place where people love their beer. I recently had the opportunity to visit the city and enjoy a few beers.

The first thing to know about beer from Wisconsin is that there is more to the story than just Milwaukee. Small towns and cities like New Glarus, Dallas and Amherst hold up their end of the beer bargain. There is a wealth of interesting beers from both a style and creativity point of view. Beer focused taverns and retailers usually have a solid selection of Midwestern craft brews, but my focus on the visit was to sample as much of Wisconsin as possible. I was glad that I did.

Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter: The brew from Amherst, Wisc., pours a dark chocolate color with a rocky tan head. Healthy amounts of roasted malt with a slight hop bitterness for balance. Smooth and refreshing.

Furthermore Knot Stock Pale Ale: What do you say about a beer that was inspired by an oddly flavored Italian cookie. This amber gold beer pours with a thick off-white head. There is an immediate cracked peppercorn nose. An American pale ale, it delivers a coating mouth feel with a hefty amount of hop bitterness. The pepper opens more as the beer warms. Brewer Aran Madden got the idea for the beer while working at a Pittsburgh brewpub after tasting a black pepper cookie from the Enrico Biscotti Co.

New Glarus Raspberry Tart: I have enjoyed the bottle version of this beer several times and brought a few back to North Carolina for my wife, but this was the first time I had ever had the draught version. Wow, this great beer was even greater. Glowing red color with a pink head and an enticing fruit aroma. Tons of fresh raspberry flavor. Sweet, sour and packed with flavor. You won't drink this as a session beer, but you would be foolish to pass it up if you see it on tap.

Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal Stout: From Sand Creek Brewing in Black River Falls, Wisc., this 4.5 percent alcohol by volume is rich and silky. It pours an very dark brown, with slight reddish hints around the edge. Solid head that lasts. Nice mocha notes in flavor bed with a good amount of roasted grain.

Sprecher Dopple Bock: This Milwaukee brew was poured from a large format cobalt blue bottle and had a big beer oaky flavor profile. Dark amber color, thin head with hints of dark skin fruit and a touch of unexpected sourness.

Viking Big Swede Swedish-Style Imperial Stout: This brew from Dallas, Wisc., pours thick black, producing a tan head. There is a roasted grain and oaky aroma. Deep dark chocolate notes with hints of dark berries, molasses, coffee and even a little Irish cream. A big beer that evolves over the course of a glass.

Great American Distillers Festival Set for Oct. 24-25 in Portland

The 5th Annual Great American Distillers Festival will be held in Portland, Ore., on Oct. 24-25 at the Bossanova Ballroom.

Small distilleries from across the United States will be pouring samples of their best vodkas, rums, gins, whiskies, brandies and other spirits. Bill Owens, president of the American Distilling Institute, former craft brewer and internationally recognized photographer, will give the keynote address.

The festival includes sampling, seminars and the 3rd Annual Mixmasters Mixology Contest, sponsored by the Oregon Bartenders Guild, Rogue Spirits and Imbibe Magazine.

Tickets for the Great American Distillers Festival are $10 for a one day pass, which includes three tasting tickets, and $16 for a two-day pass and six tasting tickets

Saturday, July 04, 2009

July 4th: Happy Beer Day

Today America turns 233 years old. It's a day to salute the flag, remember the founding fathers, have a backyard barbecue and watch some fireworks. It is also a big day for beer.

The July 4th holiday is the largest selling period each year for beer. Why? Well the event is a near perfect combination of sales opportunities for beer marketers:

-- It's a long weekend and many people tack on vacation time.
-- Family and friends automatically schedule picnics and parties.
-- The weather forecast is almost guaranteed to be hot and sticky.
-- Baseball, NASCAR, Golf and other sporting events pack in spectators.

According to the Nielsen Co., Americans will buy 24 million cases of beer to help celebrate the holiday. So let's lift a mug and say cheers to this great country!