Saturday, August 20, 2016

Laurelwood Brewing Company - Hollywood Theatre 90th Anniversary Ale

Hooray for Hollywood!
I guess you could say this post is all about milestones. This just so happens to be my 500th beer review. (big deal) It's also about a special beer brewed to celebrate a monumental milestone for a very special Portland landmark. The beer I'm talking about is Laurelwood Brewing Company's Hollywood Theatre 90th Anniversary Ale.

The Hollywood Theatre is a fantastic place to see a movie. It's one of the few theaters in the country that still has a 70mm screen and was part of Tarantino's recent 70mm Roadshow for the debut of his blockbuster The Hateful Eight. The theater is run as a non-profit and it continues to be lovingly restored. The facade is spectacular--seriously, they just don't build 'em like that anymore. One of my favorite events at the Hollywood Theatre is their periodic presentation of Kung Fu Theater: a showing of an original, restored print of a classic Shaw Brothers Kung Fu flick. So awesome!

Portland's Laurelwood Brewing Company brewed this special golden ale to celebrate and commemorate the 90th birthday of the theater that is right down the street from their brewery. How is it? Let's find out. Lights! Cameras! ACTION!

The beer poured into my pint glass a clear, golden orange color with a thick, white head. The head rose up to a finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Webs of lace were left behind, along with a thin cap of suds.

Aroma was sweet earthy malt with light, lemony hops in the background. Some light, yeasty, floral notes.

Taste followed the nose. The malt is the star in this beer. Sweet, robust, biscuity malt. Light, grassy, lemony hops. It's an easy drinker.

Thin to medium mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Semi-dry finish. No alcohol taste to this 5.1% ABV beer.

Overall, this is a nice, easy drinking ale that would definitely go well with a corndog, nachos or a slice of pepperoni pie. Not really my style, but I could see a lot of folks enjoying one at the theater, for sure. I'm giving Hollywood Theatre 90th Anniversary Ale a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.




Monday, August 15, 2016

Culmination Brewing Company - Phaedrus IPA

Inspired brewing...OR MADNESS?
I've known quite a few bar stool "philosophers". You know the guys I'm talking about; the more beer they drink, the more deep thoughts they spew. Well, they think they're spewing deep thoughts--often they're just spewing. Anyway, today's review is about a beer with a deep, philosophical name: Culmination Brewing Company's Phaedrus IPA.

They have an ancient Greek reference going on here. I'm talking about Plato's Phaedrus. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about the subject. Everything I know about ancient Greek philosophers I learned from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure:

Bill S. Preston, Socrates: "The only true wisdom consists of knowing you know nothing."
Ted Logan: "That's us, dude!"

Phaedrus IPA comes with an ABV of 6.7% and 55 IBU's. The label advises that Millennium, Galena, Simcoe, Mosaic and Citra hops went into the kettle. Dang! That's quite an "A" list of hops varieties there, I'll say! The label art reminds me of the motorcycle chase in that a-ha Take On Me video...I'm pretty sure that wasn't intentional. Anyway, let's get on to the review!

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden, light orange color with a foamy, creamy, bright white head. The head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. A thin cap and light, webby lacing were left behind. Quite a lovely beer. See photo above.

Aroma was sweet caramel malt and loads of tropical fruit up front. Passion fruit, yuzu and pineapple. Tangerine. Floral notes.

Taste followed the nose. Boatloads of tropical fruit flavors. Respectable hops bitterness balanced well against the sweet caramel malt. Some spicy herbal notes. Citrus hops flavor was left on the palate at the end. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Semi-dry finish with lingering, subtle flavors visiting the taste buds after every sip.

Overall, this is a fantastic IPA with enough flavor surprises to make it a stand out among the plethora of world class Portland IPA's. Phaedrus IPA is a keeper and--dare I say--divinely inspired. I'm forking over another perfect BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Baerlic Brewing Company - Invincible IPA

Maximum fortitude in a bottle?
Baerlic Brewing Company just recently started bottling their beer. That's a good thing. Not just because it represents a significant milestone for a great local brewery, but because I NEED to buy beer in readily available packaged form. (Yes, it's all about ME.) I must admit that I'm not so good about growlers and such. Honestly, I've tried every form of beer conveyance ever invented. My problem is that I'm a lazy, forgetful doofus. I can't tell you how many times I've wandered into a brewery or taproom and discovered that I left my growler at home on the kitchen table. Doh! I was never a Boy Scout, as my constant lack of preparedness fully demonstrates.

Yes, I do much better if a brewery has their goods waiting for me in a bottle or can to take home. It's even better if I can buy their beer at my favorite bottleshop, which is what happened recently when I spied bottles of Baerlic brews in the cold case at Hollywood Beverage. I plunked a bomber of Invincible IPA into my basket ASAP.

I've had Invincible IPA before at the Baerlic Brewing taproom. It's one of their flagship beers. Brewed with Nugget, Cascade, Chinook and Amarillo, it has some of my favorite hops in the mix. It comes with an ABV at 6.7% and a reasonable 65 IBU's. Let's get to the drinkin' and reviewin', shall we?

The beer poured into my glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with a bit of a peachy hue when held up to the light. The creamy white head rose up to almost two fingers thick in my IPA glass and demonstrated some staying power. Clumps of foam and webby lacing were left behind all over the glass.

Aroma was exactly what you'd expect with this hops profile: orange and tangerine; light, resinous pine. Fresh floral notes in the background. Some tropical fruit. Sweet, caramel malt.

Taste delivered a respectable hops bitterness with the flavors of grapefruit and orange citrus. Light pine and tropical fruit. The initial hops bitterness faded quickly and let the malt flavor shine through. Some spicy, herbal notes. No alcohol taste observed. This is an easy drinker.

Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. Dry finish with a good hops and malt balance left to please the palate at the end.

Overall, this is an excellent Northwest IPA that belongs in every Portlander's fridge. It delivers big flavor, has excellent hops/malt balance, and the price of admission is spot on. I honestly can't find a flaw. I would drink Invincible IPA any day, every day with zero reservations or complaints. I'm right on the edge between a 3 1/2 and a perfect 4 crushed can score. The Droolie is a given. My blind, ninja master beagle left droplets of drool all over the living room floor while I sipped it down. Okay, I'm going with the 4 because everybody should start bringing this beer home. I want to see those yellow recycling bins FILLED with empty bombers of Invincible IPA on trash day. Let's make it happen, PDX!



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Great Notion Brewing - Whole Melon IPA

Better than a Hüll in the head?
Wow, wow, wowsers! Great Notion Brewing is quickly establishing a reputation as THEE juicy IPA brewer in town. These folks know how to squeeze some flavor out of hops, I'll tell you what! How do they do it? Black magic? Alchemy? I don't know and I really don't care HOW they do it, just as long as they keep on doing it! Know what I mean? Yeah, you do.

The only thing more awesome about the quality and quantity of amazing beers coming out of this lil' neighborhood brewpub is that it's in my very own Alberta Street neighborhood. Seriously, I walk right by Great Notion every day on my way home from work. Jelly? Jelly, jelly, jelly? You should be. I FINALLY have a world class brewery within walking distance of my house. I could drop in every single day and knock back a cold one and still get home to feed the dog before she feels compelled to chew up my couch. How awesome is that?

Today, I dodged a plethora of hipster tourists and the usual neighborhood panhandlers and found myself in front of Great Notion mere minutes after the 8 bus dropped me off. I gazed at the tap list and took a few minutes to decide what tasty brew would accompany me home in a 32 ounce crowler. I received generous sips of the Plump IPA and the Whole Melon IPA. Both were fantastic, hoppy, juicy delights, but the Whole Melon IPA really grabbed my attention. Did I already say wowsers?

Whole Melon IPA is brewed with Hüll (or Huell) Hops. I read up on them. They are apparently from Germany and descendants of Cascade Hops. I must say, I've never heard of them before but they made an incredibly flavorful and decidedly different brew in Whole Melon IPA. I couldn't wait to get home and crack that crowler open.

The beer poured into my new, fancy, Italian crystal IPA glass a hazy, murky, peach-tinted, golden orange color with a creamy, clumpy, off-white head. The head rose up to more than a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. A few thin spots of lacing were left floating at the top.

Aroma was amazing. Huge wafts of tropical fruit, juicy citrus and Honeydew melon filled my nose and the room. My wife remarked about how fruity and floral this beer smelled, and she never does that. The Wonder Beagle perked up her nose and started pacing excitedly under foot. Props from the room, Great Notion!

Taste followed the nose. Big, bold juicy flavor. The unique melon taste was the star of the show but tropical fruit flavors of guava, pineapple and citrus notes of tangerine and orange made this beer much more than a one-trick-pony. Sweet caramel malt. A pleasant spiciness in the mix, too.

Medium mouthfeel with a succulent, juiciness on the finish. No hint of alcohol in this 6.5% brew. Appropriate carbonation. Lingering tropical fruit and melon flavors lasted on the palate until the next sip.

Overall, this is a masterful, easy drinking IPA. I loved it and will be going back for more on payday Friday. If you don't like this beer, I don't know you. Whole Melon IPA earns a perfect BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4 AND the coveted Droolie.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Labrewatory - Not Your Father's Science Experiment

Blinded me with science...
Soon after I penned an article chock-full of contempt and disdain for taprooms with an austere, industrial decor (CLICK HERE), you HAD to KNOW I would find myself in just such an environment--and loving it. There you go, I'm eating my words again, or in this case, DRINKING my words. Hey, it just goes to show you that it's always wise to be open to new experiences and to not let preconceptions prevent you from trying something great.

I wandered into The Labrewatory yesterday after visiting Ex Novo Brewing just up the road. The Labrewatory is located at 670 N. Russell Street, Portland, OR. Yes, the first thing I noticed was the bright, open, industrial, spartan decor--and the drafting stool that would be home for my wide behind while I made myself comfortable at the bar.

However, the second thing I noticed was the large, unique, eclectic and definitely intriguing tap list. Exciting! New-to-me beers! It doesn't get much better than that--well, as long as the beer is GOOD, it doesn't get much better, and this beer was go-back-for-more good!

There's a well-appointed brewing operation located in the back half of the building. I love the sight of those big, shiny tanks and there's obviously a load of creativity going into them at this brewery. The beers I sampled were surprisingly different than anything else I've had lately. 
What's brewing?

I started with a Trash Panda, a golden raspberry leaf saison. An interesting name for an interesting beer. Good stuff! My tastebuds approved. Brew number two was CaBlonde, a white oak mezcal aged blonde ale. Wowsers! Hey, you either love mezcal or you don't. I personally love the stuff and CaBlonde has just enough mezcal flavor to light it up without going crazy. FYI, there's no worm to be found in this beer, so don't be scared, homie.

The Labrewatory doesn't have a kitchen but I saw $3 warm pretzels on the chalkboard and it appears they get tamales trucked over from Tamale Boy over on NE Dekum. Tamales and beer? That's a winning combo in my book and Tamale Boy cooks up some mighty tasty tamales.

As previously mentioned, the decor is industrial chic. Stainless steel-y light fixtures hang down from the open beam ceiling like they mean some serious illumination business. The stools are old-school drafting models--round wooden seats, not metal. The bar looks like you'll either get some delicious beer out of those taps or some nuclear energy. Truthfully, the place looks very sharp.


A flight of any six beers from their tap list can be had with no hassle. They also have a crowler machine that can provide a fresh-for-home can of any of The Labrewatory's own creations. (No fills for the guest taps.)

I will definitely be paying The Labrewatory another visit soon! This place rates a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.