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07-21-01

Portland Breweries: McMenamins

07-21-01McMenamins is another chain that has dozens of locations in the Portland area. I know you are thinking that I traveled across the country to visit chain breweries; this is the last one. We went to the McMenamins Crystal Ball location. The funny thing is that have an additional bar the next block down. Weird.

McMenamins was a werid place overal, but I dug it. When Smalls and I entered there was a large bar area, and a decent seating area. Overtop the bar was a huge concoction of things. Broken glass, odd figures, bits and pieces of just about anything. It gave a folky vibe, which for an Irish place, is somewhat fitting. Smalls and I ordered our normal water and sampler.

In the sampler was a fruit beer, pale ale, stout, pilsner, wheat, and a porter. Most Portland breweries seemed to have a good selection of brews that run the gambit. To start out with we had the Pilsner called Bagdad Ale. It was a pretty tasty Pilsner with nice sutble flavors that would be perfect on a hot day. It was a great example of how you can use ale yeast for a lager. We then moved onto the wheat named Edgefield Wheat. I was alright, a typical American Wheat which some not subtle flavors but nothing to write home about.

The fruit beer was next on the list. It was called the Ruby and was pinkish in color. I never really had a beer that was that color before, so I was a little werided out. It is brewed a puree of Oregon grown raspberries as well. IF you have read this blog in the past, you know I’m not a fan of fruit beers, and this one did not agree with me. It was too sweet, to overly fruited (is that even correct english?) and there was nothing other than fruit. Not a fan.

Terminator Stout was McMenamins offering of a stout. Pretty typical flavors, mouthfeel, and aftertaste. I enjoyed it, but then again a typical tasting stout is pretty good on its own. Black Rabbit Porter was pretty excellent. It had a nice coffee flavor to it and Smalls promptly called dibs on it after tasting. Is it weird that I don’t like coffee, but I like coffee flavors in beer? Just saying. The final beer we had at McMenamins was their top seller, a pale ale, Hammerhead. It was a bit higher in hops than what I like in a pale ale but it was well balanced and fit the name. It was clean and really hit the spot.

The food wasn’t half bad at McMenamins either.  We got there for the lunch special and got all of our food and beer for under $25. Being that we had a $25 gift certificate, we each ordered another pint to finish it off. I got the Hammerhead and Smalls decided on the Pils. Pretty good place, both beer and food were not up to the standards of some of the future breweries I will write about from Portland. I would put the beer slightly behind Rock Bottom, and the food way behind it.

07-20-01

Portland Breweries: Rock Bottom

07-20-01Coming from the Philadelphia area I have heard of Rock Bottom Brewery before. RBB is the first brewpub chain to my knowledge and they have been pretty successful at it with 35 locations at last count. My previous most local one was in King of Prussia, PA, but I never visited. I heard a bunch of mixed reviews about the beer and Victory always seemed to win out if I wanted to make a little drive from home.

Smalls and I wondered around Portland our first night there and caught the MAX light rail (free in the majority of the city by the way) to the river. Almost immediatly we spotted Rock Bottom and decided to make it our choice for dinner. They have a nice coner location and have plenty of indoor, outdoor, and bar seating. We looked over the menu before going in just to make sure it wasn’t out of this world and also to make sure they had food that we liked. Prices check. Food check. Seat please!

07-20-02Our waiter came by and we ordered two glasses of water and a sampler. Their beers included a lager, wheat, IPA, stout, porter, and an amber. For another 79 cents a sample glass you could try the two beers on cask which I don’t remember what they were. The lager, Swan Island Lager, was pretty darn good, nice and light with tons of flavor. My parents would hate it as it was a lighter lager with more flavor than water.

The wheat beer, Volksweizen, had what you expect from a beer with that name. Lots of ginger and corriander with a decent amount of balance. Not the best I’ve had, but not the worst. Sunny Day IPA was on the piney side for me, so I wasn’t too big of a fan, but if you like that taste, you might dig it. The Maltnomah Porter, named for the Multnomah Falls located about a half hour outside of the city was excellent. By far the best beer we had there. Tons of flavor, great after taste, and was a bit more complex than your typical porter.

Morrison Street Stout switches by the season. In the summer they have a cream stout which was pretty typical. If you say cream stout on CO2, you can expect to taste this beer. The final beer that I remember (the other two were on cask) was the Oregonic Amber. It was good, just a bit misbalanced with too much hops and not enough malt, and the pine was back.

Overall it was a decent place, but not somewhere that I would drive to go to. A free train ride five minutes away sure, but nothing more. The food was excellent and I would visit again just based on that. Sorry I didn’t grab any pictures, it was too much of a hassle to bring the camera out everywhere and look like more of a tourist than I already did.

09-06-25-02

Rouge Brutal Bitter Beer Review

09-06-25-02I’m a big fan of Rogue Ales. So much of a fan in fact that my future wife and I are toasting with a Shakespear Stout this Saturday at our wedding. I love the Dead Guy Ale and have tried to get as many of their beers under my belt as I can. One of the “normal” onese that has always eluded me was the Brutal Bitter. But alas, finally, I got a chance to try it. Here’s what the brewery has to say,

Tasting Notes:
An Imperial bitter with exotic traditional floor malts, citrusy, hoppy flavor, stupendous hop aroma.
6 Ingredients:

Malts:
100% Floor-malted Maris Otter, Cara Vienna, Cara Wheat.
Hops:
Crystal.
Yeast & Water:
Rogue’s Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.
Specs:
15º PLATO
59 IBU
76.1 AA
14.2º Lovibond

09-06-25-03Upon popping the top you are hit with hops, big shocker. It pours a nice hazy brown and had a nice lasting head with great lacing. The nose with hops, hops, hops, with a little malt mixed in there. Tasting is a kick in the mouth. I know I;ve been doing a lot of IPAs for the past little bit, but this thing was the strongest hops I’ve expreinced yet. After a few sips you actaully get some flavor as you adjust to the hops.

It had a decent malt backbone, but the hops were just overpowering. If you read this blog you should know by now that I am all about a balanced beer. This beer isn’t meant to be, but that is what threw it off for me. This is probably the first Rogue beer that I will not be buying again. If you like hops, you will like this beer. It was just a bit too unbalanced for me to enjoy fully. (more…)

Lubbock, TX Triple J Sampler Beer Review

Two weeks ago I was in Lubbock, Texas doing some job hunting during my spring break. Naturally one of the first things I did was look for a brewpub to visit. I found the Triple J Chophouse and Brew Company. You can check out their site here. Triple J is a nice place; it has some good food (a bit overpriced) and looked to have some promising beer.

09-03-19-01For a seemlingly upscale place, the table covers were brown paper. Kind of werid but I liked it. Anyway, onto the beer. I ordered the sampler which came with four of the breweries five beers, my server gave me a taste of the other one as well. From right to left you have the stout, cream ale, rye ale, raider red, and the smaller sample was of their IPA.

The cool thing was that they served their beers in little mason jars. The stout was pretty good; nice, roasty, and well balanced. I enjoyed it but it was nothing super special. A very good example of the style. The cream ale wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t very creamy with no head and a real lack of flavor. The rye ale was a nice treat. I love rye beers with their suttle flavors and this one was a bit different. The rye was really allowed to shine and it got better the more I drank. The Raider Red (Lubbock is home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders) was my least favorite of all of the beers. The website claims it is malty and balanced with hops, but I think it was way over hopped. There was a bit of nice malt upfront but it faded quickly with the hops. The final beer was the IPA small sample. As with the Raider Red it was over hopped, but it fits with the style. My problem was that it went too far with the hops. I like an IPA that has a little something else to offer, this did not. There was not a strong malt backbone to help balance the hops at all. Some may love it, I did not.

If you are in Lubbock for any reason (please don’t) then check out the Triple J. It’s not my favorite brewpub but it offers tons of different beers thoughout the year.

Lancaster Brewing Company Sampler Beer Review

This isn’t so much of a beer review as it is a sampler review. I recently celebrated my birthday and decided that the best way to do that was to sample some microbrew from a local place. I live in Lancaster, PA so I went to Lancaster Brewing Company. They have some great beers, and package 4 of them (Milk Stout, Strawberry Wheat, Amish Four Grain, Hop Hog). They also package a few seasonals, but at their brewpub in Lancaster City they have a lot more to choose from.

Looking at the image on the left, there are 13 sampler glasses! That’s the most I’ve ever had from a microbrewery sampler plate. They were all 5 oz. glasses and it only costs $15. Not a bad deal at all.

There were actually only 12 beers on tap, but they then decided to make a black and tan type drink by combining the Milk Stout and the Strawberry Wheat into something they called a Chocolate Covered Strawberry. I like the Milk Stout by itself, not so much on the Strawberry Wheat, but when combined, both brews go to a new level. I’ll be reviewing a bit more of their brews in the near future. I mainly wanted to comment on the quality of the beers (with the exception of the Oktoberfest, when it is January and the Oktoberfest is still around, it’s not good) and how great they made my birthday. (more…)