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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beer Month Notes, With Pictures

And Oregon Craft Beer Month rolls forward, leaving tired livers in its wake. Notably, Puckerfest has delivered a tour de force of great beers, one that continues tonight when Block 15's Nick Arzner brings a four-pack of his wonderful barrel-aged beers. If you haven't been to Puckerfest yet, definitely go. I've been really impressed with the pricing structure; it encourages you to get many small pours. Many of these beers are exceedingly rare, so Belmont Station could be charging a mint. Anyway, I've been sipping and snapping (pics) of beers as I go along, and here are a few highlights.

Flat Tail Corvaller Weisse
I have now tried exactly one of Dave Marliave's Flat Tail beers, which looks impressive when you compare it to the previous total (100% increase!). At some point I'll make it to Corvallis and do a proper survey. In the meantime, I was quite pleased with the Corvaller Weisse he brought for Puckerfest. Just 3.6%, it was a great example of how flavorful small beers can be. Lots of lactic tart with a wheaty background, crisp and light, perfect for that summer we may one day get. A very nice example. Below are Dave and his beer.

BJ's Enfant Terrible
It's probably sends the wrong signal to call this a zombie beer, but I mean it only in the best sense: it's the last keg of a 2007 batch of brett-aged beer made by Vasilios Gletsos when he was at BJ's. (There's another zombie at Puckerfest, Roots' Epic.) Sometimes aged beers get mellower, sometimes they don't. Brettanomyces is not a gentle yeast, and it has roughed this beer up pretty good. Still, I enjoy tastes of the past. Plus, it was purty.

Upright Lambicus Six and Blend Love
Four Uprights were pouring last night, but two were aged in gin barrels. Let us speak no more about that. (Gin fans should consult Nicole, who likes a nice gin-soaked beer.) The two I liked were Blend Love, the kind of sour that brings folks together, and Lambicus Six, which divides them. Blend Love was a toothsome mixture of tart and sweet, shot-through with rich, summery fruit flavor (raspberries, cherries, and strawberries). Lambicus Six, made with the rye-based Upright Six and aged with a lambic blend, was deeper, funkier, and much more sour. Some of the sour-heads were giving it a big smile, others wrinkling their noses. I smiled.

Breakside Beach Saison
This is not a Puckerfest beer, nor is it sour. Rather, it's a pretty traditional Dupont-style saison made with Dupont's yeast. (A yeast Breakside's Ben Edmunds and I used in a Grisette collaboration I'll tout heavily next week.) This is a classic saison: rich with tropical fruit flavors, crisp, dry, and moreish. It's a fantastic beer, and I could drink gallons of the stuff.

Deschutes White IPA (But Not That One)
Before last night's Timbers game (another topic about which we shall not speak), I stopped in at Deschutes to see what was shaking. In addition to the usual goodies--a nice pils, Armory XPA, Black Butte XXXIII--they have a remarkable beer called Chainbreaker White IPA. This isn't the White IPA that came from the collaboration with Boulevard--still not released--but a milder, super tasty version. It's not remotely an IPA: nothing in it has even distant familial connections to that old style. Rather, it's a hoppy wit, or a spiced wheat pale, or something. It's a soft, delicate beer that has a spine of zesty hops that merge perfectly into the spices. I suspect they used sage in this recipe, as they did in the collaboration brew--in any case, my mind couldn't shake the connotation. It's one of the most interesting beers I've tried in a long time, a fusion brew that actually finds breaks new ground in tastiness, not just bizarreness.


  1. I've made it for the first two nights so far and as well love the offerings and structure.

    On the Flat Tail Brewing night, I started with the '07 Enfant Terrible and so far have to say that it is my most favorite of all that I tried so far. I them had the Flat Tail Anniversary which was super good.

    For the Double Mountain night, I started with their Rainier Kriek which was great. I did however notice that Double Mountains pricing was a bit more over all the other offerings. Still well worth it. Then I finally tried the Upright Belmont Station 14th Anniversary sour which I really liked a lot. Some didn't, but I loved the herbal gin-like qualities. Then I finished that night with Deschutes Sour Saison which was fantastic.

    I will be heading down there again soon in a few hours to try some Block 15's goodies. It's been a fantastic experience.

  2. If you define percentage increase as the change in value over a starting value you'll notice, of course, that the denominator is zero in your Flat Tail experience index. This of course is a murky and mysterious backwater of math - what does something divided by zero equal? In general we call it undefined, but with the use of a limiting argument, you can get away with calling it an infinite increase in your Flat Tail experience. What you probably should not call it is a 100% increase.

    You are welcome.

    It appears that Flat Tail is prepared to give Block 15 a run for their money as the best brewery in Corvallis. Flat Tail has one advantage already: their brewpub is in the old Fox and Firkin location which is across from the Willamette riverfront park and has a very nice outdoor seating area. The decor is OSU rah-rah typical of a college town bar, but nice nonetheless.

  3. I wondered if someone was going to call me on that, but I concluded, "nah, nobody's that pedantic." This sounds like a riposte, but actually, I love being called to the carpet. Good readers!

    Brewmance, the Kriek is expensive, but having seen the operation, I understand why. It's really expensive to make.

  4. Would some of the beer geeks please back me up on the GIN?

  5. I went early today, and I have to say, I was really impressed. It didn't seem like they had as many sours last year, but that could have just been me.

    I don't like the gin with beers, but I thought the Belmont 14th anniversary was an excellent blend between tart and funk. The gin wasn't that noticeable.

  6. I stopped in and had the Flat Tail berliner as well. It was nice, had a stronger acetic bite than any berliner I've had before. By the end of the glass the diacetyl was a bit much for me, maybe with some time the brett could clean it up.

  7. I really enjoy this event. It is probably my favorite festival. Everything I tried I liked. The Belmont anniversary, Widmer Gose, Block15, Big Horse Kriek, and the Enfant Terrible (my brew). I stand behind your assessment. While I still really enjoyed the ET, I preferred it when it was brighter. Thanks to Carl and the Belmont crew for serving and saving it through the last four years! It's been fun for me to see it's arc.