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07-30-01

Portland Breweries: Full Sail Brewing Company

07-30-01On my visit to Texas last year I saw a few six packs of Full Sail beer at the store, but decided to go with some Fat Tire instead. On my honeymoon I got to discover what I missed all that time ago. Smalls and I decided that Full Sail was one of the many breweries that we would visit during our stay. There are a ton of breweries in Portland, and Oregon for that matter. So many in fact that our hotel gave us a brewery guide to Oregon. It was like eight pages long!

Getting back to Full Sail, we hoped on the Portland Street Car (still in fairless square) and took it down to one of the last free stops. Went towards the river and found Full Sail’s tasting room in Portland. The full brewery is located about an hour outside of the city. The tasting room is also attached to a resturant that was pretty pricy, but the beer was not.

We obviously got a sampler from their many beers and made sure to get their three main brews: Amber, IPA, and Pale Ale. They had a wheat beer, a stout, a porter, and a few other IPAs. I really wanted to try their barleywine, but they were out, darn.

I’m not going to get into all of the beers becasue they tasted as they should. Very good and stuck to the standards very nicely. I did get the stout on cask as well and it was excellent. Stouts might be my favorite beer to have in a cask. The flavors combine so nicey and the warm temperature brings out a lot of hidden flavors. They also had a Pilsner which was excellent. Really crisp and light but packed with flavor.

I would visit Full Sail again the next time I get out to Portland.

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.

Sea Dog Brewing Company Blue Paw Wheat Ale Beer Review

09-04-02-03My cousin brought a case of Sea Dog’s Blue Paw Wheat Ale to Christmas this year. We had a six pack left over so I decided it was time to throw it in the fridge and give it another try. The last time I had it, I wasn’t a big fan. Now that might of been becasue I had just had several Sierra Nevada Celebration Ales, and Blue Paw is not on the same level. Here is what Sea Dog has to say about their beer:

Our unique contribution to the fruit ale category features the nutty quench of wheat ale combined with the delightful aromatics and subtle fruit flavor contributed by Maine wild blueberries.

09-04-02-03Everything about this beer is blueberry, I’m not sure where they get the nutty quench from. When you open it you are hit with the blueberry smell. This was also my first true fruit beer, so the smell took me by a bit of a surprise. It pours a golden to pale color, which I wasn’t expecting either. I thought that it would be blueish or purple. I don’t know, this whole thing was a surprise to me.

It poured with some head that quickly faded. My first sip was blueberry, blueberry, blueberry. What I’m trying to say is that there is a lot of blueberry flavor in this beer. It is actually all I could taste. It was like a super strong blueberry muffin. I really wasn’t a fan. Now I’m sure that really isn’t fair becasue I’m not a big fan of blueberries, not fruit beers in general. But if you like blueberries and want to be burping them for a few hours, try Sea Dog’s Blue Paw Wheat Ale. I however will not be, as it just isn’t my thing.

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SB Birthday Beer

09-02-16-01One of my dear friends is turning 21 soon and she asked if I could make a homemade beer for her. Naturally I was thrilled that someone other than my roommate and I wanted to drink my beer, so I accepted the challenge. She is a big tea freak and wanted some tea flavor in the beer. I decided that a wheat beer would be ideal for a tea flavored beer. Wheat beers carry a lot of complex flavors that I thought would compliment the beer nicely.

I made a trip out to my homebrew store last week and got all of the necessary supplies. Below is a list of everything I picked up:

  • 3 pounds American 2-Row Pale malt
  • 3 pounds Wheat malt
  • 1 pound 60 Crystal malt
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (3.6%)
  • 1 tube liquid American Hefeweizen Ale yeast

I know that most wheat beers generally have a 50% wheat grain bill, but I wanted to make this an amber colored wheat beer and the homebrew store was running a bit low on wheat malt. This is supposed to make about 4 gallons worth of beer. I started my mash trying to get the grains to 110 degrees for 15 minutes, then 125 degrees for 15 minutes, and then finally 153 degrees for 45 minutes. All of these different temperatures are an attempt to release different characteristics from the wheat.

I boiled for the normal 60 with a half ounce of the Saaz going for the full boil and the other half ounce going for the last 15. I took the beer off the burner and put two teabags into wort leaving them there for only a minute or so. the  Everything went well and I cooled down the wort and pitched the yeast. The next day I took a look at my airlock and bubbles were firing away.

09-02-17-02I was unsure of the tea she wanted to use when I got my supplies. The day before brew day she gave me Chi Tea. I’m not a big tea guy so I made up a cup and found it to be very gingery. Not something I would put with a wheat beer with hefeweizen yeast. That’s the reason for such a short time in wort. I think the Chi would of gone great with a winter warmer type beer as the flavors are those I typically taste in a winter beer. At first glance I achieved an effieceny of 75% from my batch sparge and we are looking at an ABV of 4.3%. I’m pretty happy with that and I’m looking forward to trying this beer as it ages through and finally is ready to drink out of a bottle on her birthday in March.