Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reuben's Brews - Roasted Rye IPA

Along for the rye'd?
I've been regularly toasting a small, unorganized group of beer nerds on Twitter. Somebody drinks a beer, takes a picture of said beer and tweets a photo out to the rest of the crew. This morning, I proclaimed today #RyeTuesday. I seriously doubt any of the other folks will drink a rye beer, but I made the commitment, dammit!

Recently, I've become a fan of Reuben's Brews out of Seattle, Washington. Every one of their beers that I've tried so far has been excellent. Good stuff, Maynard! I spotted their Roasted Rye IPA in the cold case of my local bottleshop yesterday and decided that it would be the perfect subject of my #RyeTuesday tweet. Is it? Let's find out!

The label declares Roasted Rye IPA to be a "winter warmer India pale ale." Here's what Reuben's Brews' website had to say about this beer:

"ABV: 7.0% IBU: 80+
Citrus and tangerine in the nose, supported by chocolate, roast & caramel, with a full and warming mouthfeel. The best of an India Pale Ale and a winter warmer wrapped into one brew."
The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, deep, ruddy amber color with a thick, clumpy, off-white head. The head rose up to two inches thick and dissipated slowly. Thin, webby lacing was left behind on the glass and a thin spotty cap remained throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was sweet malt and toasted grain. Indistinct citrus hops with chocolate and caramel notes, as advertised.

Taste was less citrus hops than the nose belied and definitely malt forward. Roasted, toasted maltiness with the spicy, herbal notes of rye. Some pine and light fruity flavors in the mix. This is a big malt beer. I'm not so sure I would call it an IPA. Definitely a winter warmer, though.

Medium mouthfeel with a smooth, creamy finish. Good carbonation. Spicy rye finish.

Overall, this is a terrific beer. I really like it. I'm giving Roasted  Rye IPA a very respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. I would definitely drink it again.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Loowit Brewing Company - Super Shinobi Triple IPA

Perfect beer for a ninja or two?
Here's a tip for any beer tourists out there currently planning a trip to Beervana, aka Portland, Oregon. Set aside a day for a trip across the river to our sleepy neighbor to the North, Vancouver, Washington. Vancouver breweries have really come into their own. They are brewing all kinds of awesomeness up that way and one of my favorites is Loowit Brewing. Their beers are great and their labels are super cool. Speaking of super cool, tonight's beer is Loowit's Super Shinobi TRIPLE IPA. Let's get right to the imbibing!

Super Shinobi poured into my IPA glass a clear orange/amber color with a creamy, off-white--almost tan--head that rose up to more than two fingers thick and dissipated slowly. Copious patches of webby lacing were left behind all over the glass. 

Aroma was sweet caramel malt and indistinct citrus hops right up front. Hints of tropical and stone fruit and resinous pine in the background, but that malt aroma is the star of the show.

Flavor followed the nose, with plentiful rounds of sweet caramel malt, citrus and piney hops alternating across my tongue. Nice! A bit of grapefruit pith. Notes of tropical and stone fruit. Resinous pine lingered on the palate after every sip. Super nice! Not your typical PNW IPA hops profile, though, as there was a hint of grassy, spicy, herbaceousness lurking in the mix.

Medium mouthfeel with a slightly creamy finish. Surprising lack of alcohol taste for a beer with  11% ABV. Yoink! This one is dangerously easy to drink. Zero harsh. 

Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable triple IPA with an excellent malt/hops balance. I like! Ha, it's different enough that I might even be able to pick it out of a crowd, even with my rudimentary taste buds. Good stuff, Loowit, and I'm giving Super Shinobi a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. This brew also earns the coveted Droolie. Merry the Wonder Beagle perked right up from a late dinner nap when the aroma wafted in her general direction.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Reuben's Brews - Life on Mars Imperial India Pale Ale

Cold Case Space Invader?
Has anybody else noticed that there seems to be a significant lull in the number of new beers offered at the supermarket? I wonder what that's all about? I'm thinking perhaps there are now SO many popular local beers that the empty space in the cold case is getting mighty sparse. I find myself in the specialty bottleshops more and more, especially when I'm looking for a new release.

Now, more than ever, it's nice to find a new-to-me beer in the supermarket cold case. It's a special surprise!  Recently, I found a bomber of Reuben's Brews Life on Mars Imperial IPA at Green Zebra Grocery. $6.99 for the 22 ounces. Hey! That's a decent price.

Reuben's Brews is stationed up in Seattle, Washington. I've had a few of their beers and I've  been very impressed with those. Thus, I was pretty enthusiast about drinking their IIPA. How was it, you ask? Let's get to it...

Life on Mars poured into my glass a deep, clear orange/amber color with a foamy white head that rose up to more than two fingers thick with no coaxing. Thick, webby lacing was left all over the glass after the head slowly dissipated.

Aroma was citrus and pine. Sweet caramel malt. Hints of ripe mango in the background. Nice!

Taste followed the nose. Sweet malt balanced nicely against some big, bitter hops. Flavors of orange, tangerine, tropical and stone fruit. Resinous pine. Excellent!

Medium mouthfeel with a smooth, clean finish. Both malt and hops flavors took turns reannouncing themselves on the palate after every sip.

This Reuben's Brews website describes this IIPA as follows:

A DEEP RED BREW, WITH A BRIGHT NOSE OF CITRUS, TANGERINE, AND PINE SUPPORTED BY A MEDIUM FULL BODY AND SMOOTH CARAMEL NOTES. JUST WHAT THE LUNAR LANDER ORDERED!

Life on Mars certainly has the malt profile of a red ale. ABV comes in at 8.2% but I didn't get any hint of booze or alcohol sting. Overall, this a stellar brew. I would drink it anytime if found on a tap list. I'm giving this one a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First Annual Portland Gloom Fest 2017!

Who's ready for Gloom Fest '17?
The assignment presented to the group of beer bloggers seemed easy enough: create and design your own BEER FESTIVAL! Hell, I've dreamed about that for years! DECADES! So why couldn't I think of anything to write? Why did I sit there staring at my blank computer screen for hours? Days? Writer's block? Nah, I'd actually have to be a writer for that to be the case. I pondered and pondered, stroking my unkempt, wizened beard, as I stared glumly out at the gray, dreary, November sky. The leaves endlessly falling into my yard. The rain drizzling, drizzling, drizzling... THAT'S IT! Seasonal Affective  Disorder! I'd solved the riddle of my doldrums AND come up with the perfect Portland beer festival!

Welcome to PORTLAND GLOOM FEST! (This festival is particularly appropriate, given that the topic of this assignment was created by beer writer extraordinaire, Brian Yaeger, who recently relocated from Portland to...Santa Goddamn You Brian Barbara.) Now that I've taken a fistful of Sunny Gummies, I'm ready to create my fest!

Here are ALL the details:

SIZE: The Portland Gloom Fest should remain a small event of fewer than 500 participants. Why? More than 500 people and you've got a PARTY! Portlanders are just too damn resourceful and I have no doubt that they will always find a way to have a good time if enough people are involved.

BEER STYLES: Typically, a free-for-all is not advisable when it comes to the beer styles allowed at a beer festival, but this is Gloom Fest. My initial thought is that the beers involved should not be for beer newbies. No session beers, no hefeweizens, no fizzy, yellow, wussy beers. Gloomy Portlanders need something to remind them that their taste buds are still alive when the winter gloom REALLY sets in. Gloom Fest beers need to be dank, bitter and nasty, just like my soul after 97 days of continuous rain. I want to see ridiculous IBU's in those IPA's. Barleywine Ales with enough ABV to get an elephant drunk. Russian Imperial Stouts with the viscosity of motor oil. Bringing a chile beer to Gloom Fest? It better ring up on the Scoville Scale at around 250k. I think you get the idea.

The perfect beer fest for
a case of the SADs...
LOCALS ONLY: Needless to say, this is a locals only affair. The last thing we need is some beer tourist from a sunny clime mucking the whole thing up with their chipper disposition and sun-evened complexion. Breweries need to be local, too, but we'll accept offerings from our brothers in gloom over in Vancouver, WA. They understand the necessity of a tightly clinched hoodie in the deep throes of a Pacific Northwest winter.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: It shouldn't be too difficult to find an empty, burnt out old warehouse down by the river--not all of them have been turned into high-end condos yet. A damp, moldy tent set up at the Oaks Amusement Park could also fill the bill. As long as the roof leaks, we should be good to go! Of course, the third or fourth week of December would be an ideal time for Gloom Fest. The Winter Solstice is on December 21st, which is a Thursday this year. True seasonal depression should be just getting a deep footing in the psyches of most PDX denizens right around that time. Too bad the corrupt and incompetent officials of Multnomah County already sold the abandoned Wapato Corrections Facility. That would have been a swell location for Gloom Fest!

GLASSWARE: Bring your own Mason Jar and get 50% off admission! Free Sharpees will be provided so you can add your own damn logo. This is Gloom Fest. Nobody is going to design some awesome logo just so the City of Portland can try to steal it from us! Hells no!

ADMISSION: I don't know about you, but I don't like expensive beer festivals. Gloom Fest admission is FREE! (I know, that kind of takes the "deal" out of the 50% off deal for bringing your own glass, but life's a bitch, then you move to Portland and die.) Taster tickets are $1. Need to leave and come back? I will personally draw a unicorn on your goddamned face with one of those Sharpees. Designated drivers? Of course! We'll have special NOT DRINKING wristbands for your long-suffering, beer-hating bestie or significant other that you selfishly and mercilessly drag along to every beer festival, you schmuck, you.

Man! I don't know about you, but I'm getting really excited about Gloom Fest! I'm all a-tingle! It's either excitement or the two Monster Energy drinks I mixed with a lager and  used to  wash down my high blood pressure meds. Either way, I'm psyched! I hope you are, too! See you at the Portland Gloom Fest!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Is the City of Portland a BEER BULLY?

Old Town Brewing's Leaping Stag
logo on a delicious IPA.
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat, I am NOT a fan of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Hey, I voted for the guy, but it seems like he's been trying his damnedest to make me regret checking that checkbox since the day he took office. In my opinion, Wheeler has provided zero effective leadership AND he has proven time and time again that he is woefully out of touch with his constituents. 

I could go on and on about how Wheeler has fouled things up by choosing the wrong side during the alt-right protests this year, (Psst, Ted, Nazis are bad and you should tell them to stay the f**k out of Portland.) but recently, Wheeler has gotten into my own personal wheelhouse by trying to screw over a Portland craft beer mainstay, Old Town Brewing.

OH, NO, HE DIDN'T! Yeah, he did. WTF, Wheeler? Don't you know that craft beer helped make the City of Portland the tourist destination that it is today? Do you not understand what side your proverbial bread is buttered on? Do you really want to be One Term Ted?

I first read about the dirty dealing that the City of Portland is doing to Old Town in an article posted by Jeff Alworth in his Beervana blog. Read all about it HERE. In a nutshell, Old Town has owned the trademark rights to Portland's Leaping Stag logo for the past five years. I talked to Old Town's owner Adam Milne today and he told me that he has been engaged in a legal battle over the logo with the City of Portland for the past two years. Yes, that predates Mayor Wheeler's tenure in office, but it certainly appears he has no intention of reversing the ridiculous course the city is taking on this issue.

Milne advises that he only wants to maintain the exclusivity of the Leaping Stag logo for beer and other alcoholic drinks. The City of Portland wants total control of the logo to sell it to the highest bidder--now hold on to your hats, Portland craft beer peeps--including BUDWEISER! I ask you, is Portland, Oregon a BUD TOWN? Nope, nope, nopiti-nope! The last thing I want to see is the Leaping Stag affixed to a bottle of Bud Light. We're talking Oregon beer SACRILEGE! I'm pretty sure Mayor Wheeler and his toadies downtown have no idea how offensive that would be. I'm also sure they sip on $500 bottles of wine up in some Penthouse eatery, as they look down at the unwashed, beer drinking masses.

This really is a case of bureaucratic bullying of the worst kind. The City of Portland intends to win a war of attrition, even though they have lost every legal challenge on the issue thus far. They simply plan to fight until Old Town Brewing can no longer afford to defend itself. 

I'm taking this personally because the folks at Old Town Brewing are NICE. I consider them to be my neighbors--because they are. The Old Town location is minutes away from my Lloyd District office by MAX and I eat lunch there all the time. The MLK location is a short bus ride from my Alberta Street home address. This isn't a nameless, faceless, giant corporation that doesn't give a crap about our town. They are good people who greet me warmly when I walk through the door. The money I spend at Old Town goes right back into OUR community. That means something to me. I think it should mean something to you, too. Sadly, it doesn't seem to matter one iota to the fat cats at City Hall.

I called the Mayor's "Opinion Line" today and left a message detailing my displeasure with the city's bullying of one of our upstanding craft breweries. I would implore you to do the same. The number is 503-823-4127. Let Wheeler know that the city's position on this issue will not stand and could very well result in some changes in leadership next term.

That Leaping Stag logo doesn't belong on any beer except one brewed by Old Town. I'm not sure how much money the City of Portland believes it can scoop into the coffers by effectively stealing the logo for their slimy exclusive branding scheme, but that's absolutely not the Portland way. Perhaps a few protest parties in front of Ted's house are in order? I think I know where we could get a few kegs...