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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Semi-Final Satori Award List: Vote Now

Thanks to help from contributors, I have pretty good list of beers I'm considering for the Satori. This year, instead of selecting it solely based on my own preferences, I'm going to ask you all to vote for the one beer you'd call the best debut Oregon beer this year. Rather than do a poll, which is so easily skewed, send me an email with your choice in the subject line (the_beerax at yahoo dot com) or vote via comments at my Facebook Page. I'll keep a running tally and use those to weight my own preference--which could be key with beer from breweries I haven't yet had a chance to sample.

Here's the list, with brief comments. You may obviously vote for a beer I didn't mention here.

Bend Brewing Ching Ching
Jon Abernathy says it's good, says I said it was good, and that's good enough for me. Sadly, my one experience with the beer came at the Beer Bloggers Conference at the end of a long day of sampling, and my memory is foggy. A pomegranate-hibiscus beer that took bronze in this year's GABF.

BridgePort Kingpin
Bridgeport released a whole raft of new beers this year after the departure of founding brewer Karl Ockert. Kingpin seems to be the consensus fave.

Burnside Brewing Sweet Heat
Burnisde made a great debut this year, joining Portland's growing group of eclectic new breweries (I'm looking at you, Ben and Alex). In an inversion of norms, I found Jason McAdam's offbeat beers--the harder ones to brew--to be the special ones. The pale and IPA I could leave. The Gratzer, Berliner Weisses, and my fave, Sweet Heat, were fantastic.

Boneyard Hop Venom
Boneyard has made some serious noise this year, and I regret I haven't tracked down a pint yet. Although they have fans of many of their different beers, Hop Venom, a double IPA, seems to be the fave of faves.

Coalition Wheat the People
This isn't going to win--I know that. It's a small, elegant little wheat ale, not a booming hop monster, aged sour, or funky experimental beer. But it is a fantastic beer and it deserves to be on the list.

Deschutes Chainbreaker*
Putting this beer on the list is a bit of advocacy on my part. It grew out of the collaboration experiment with Boulevard that produced a white IPA. This is more a white pale, and it was the better of the two versions. It shouldn't work, but it did, and I loved the way the spices and hops worked together. Maybe Deschutes will bring it back.

Fort George 1811 Lager
This is a bit like Wheat the People--probably too ordinary a beer to be crowned king. Yet in a state blessed with far too few lagers, 1811 was a joy. I drank a lot of it over the summer and admired how it stayed true to the roots of the style while also gave a strong nod to hoppy, ale-loving Oregonians.

GoodLife Descender IPA
Another beer I haven't tried, but which seems to be getting some fine notices. Has a dab of Galaxy hops, which are the current rage.

Logsdon Seizoen Bretta
A truly rustic beer made in a true farmhouse, Wyeast founder Dave Logsdon's brett-aged saison is the odds-on fave to win the Satori this year. The only handicap? I wasn't a huge fan. The brett (a strain from Dave's private store) is quite aggressive, bordering on violent. Turns out brett is hard to use in saisons--Boulevard's absolutely exquisite Tank 7 (possibly America's best saison) sees all its rustic malt and yeast character crushed under the brett influence. Nick Arzner manages it in Block 15's saison--he knows how to keep the brett from overwhelming the beer. Seizoen Bretta? I'm not there yet. But I'm willing to be convinced--after all, it is my favorite style of beer. (Today.)

Laurelwood Organic Pale Ale
As with all things Laurelwood, this beer attracted very little attention. But as a parting gift to the brewery, Chad Kennedy couldn't have done better. It is the best pale I've had in the last five years, easy. Vivid hopping, but amazing balance.

Ninkasi Imperiale
A beer where I seem to be out of synch with the beer geek crowd. I found it smoky and lush, others found it sweet and insipid. Of course, I'm right.

Occidental ... err, Cloudy Summer?
I haven't had any beer from this brewery either. But come on--St Johns, German styles? It's got to be good, right? Cloudy Summer, a kolsch, may be their best, if the internet doesn't lie. And I've certainly never found it to.

If I missed any, holler and I'll post them to this list. Otherwise, vote now and let me know what you favor.


  1. IPA's and Wheat Beers?! Really?! That's just flowing with Innovation! I'll go with Lodgson Seizoen in any form. Probably one of the best made American Belgian beers I've had in a long time and light years more interesting that bales of hop additions or the use of Wheat. ;-)


  2. I'm with Doc Wort - Lodgson's Saizoens are wonderful.

  3. I say 1811 to celebrate the bicentennial if Astoria. Great drinkable beer and a historic style. Logsdon is great but Upright happened first. Also, the Ching Ching is a simply beautiful Berliner style fruit beer. Good list any old way...

  4. That Logsdon, not Lodgson. And that's my vote. :-)

  5. My top 2 are Bend's Ching Ching and Boneyard Hop Venom. Logsdons is a close third.

  6. Upright may have been first, but Logsdon does it better.

  7. Jeff, if I've only had one of these, can I vote?


  8. Oh right--OR, you could vote in comments.

  9. There can be no consensus. Hopheads have no use for Saizoens and vice versa. Beers presently occupy distinct stylistic space.

    I haven't had every beer on your list. My vote goes to Laurelwood Organic Pale. I was shocked by this a good way.

  10. The fact that Doc Wort is willing to vote on an Oregon beer is persuasive. Score one for Logsdon. (Which, a non-mouse, I've fixed. Thanks.)

    KD, you get a vote! I especially like the idea of voting on a beer you haven't tried, which I may do if Boneyard rallies.

    My preference right now, FYI: Laurelwood Organic pale in the pole position, Fort George 1811 a close second, and third a tie between Burnside Sweet Heat and, because it's illegal according to my own rules, Chainbreaker.

    Logsdon is rising because of the beer geek consensus.

  11. Too bad the Logsdon fresh hop is not on the list-that was fantastic. So I'm voting for Ching Ching, excellent the three times that i have had it, and in second place, Hop Venom

  12. Logdson made a version of the Saizoen with pear juice - simply fantastic.

    With that said, just to be arbitrary, Sweet Heat is my vote. Excellent beer. Loved the mix of sweet and not too hot - solid all around.

  13. If I go with the beer that most impressed me in 2011 I'd still have to go with Logsdon's, but if I go with the beer I'm likely to drink the most of, it's 1811 all the way.

    Since I know Dave has some amazing stuff bubbling away at his farm and will probably be a contender next year with something else, I'll cast my vote for the 1811 Lager.

  14. Logdson without the brett.

    I can't imagine 1811 to be on anyone's best beer list. I heard the hype, bought one, took a few sips and had to give the rest away. Yuk. I like some lagers (Heater Allen, especially), but the 1811 was undrinkable.

  15. I'm with the good Doc on this one. While I love IPAs, I expect we could spend a decade exploring the various permutations of the style. While many are wonderful, they're not radically different from each other. Logsdon's Seizoen Bretta gets my vote because it was unique, memorable, and darn tasty.

    I have not tasted Ching Ching, but the Berliner Weisse is a new favorite of mine. Based on the comments, I need to try it soon.

  16. I'll go with the 1811. Besides the historical reference to Astoria's bicentenial, this is a great lager. This coming from an ale drinker.

  17. Well if I need to vote on one I've had, I enjoyed the Kingpin.

    But the one that I'd really like to try when I come back out to Oregon, is the Lodgson offerings.

  18. Some good ones here for sure. Big fan of the Logsdon and Sweet Heat. And the Boneyard is absolutely fantastic. Probably the 2nd best DIPA I have ever had. But my vote has to go to the 1811 Lager. What a treat that beer turned out to be.

  19. I would have to go with Ching Ching first and Hop Venom second.