Documenting California Craft

by Sean on December 17, 2014

Check out this coming beer attraction….

Yup, Craft: The California Beer Documentary is coming our way.  I fervently help that it will fairly cover the whole state and sneak some history and education in there.


Up from the Cellar for December will be focusing on multiple vintages of the Anchor Christmas beer.  I will be covering the years 2008-2014. And choosing a winner like college football does.  Via a biased playoff.


(You can check out last years mega-review HERE)

2008 pours a near reddish color this year.  The first whiff upon popping the cap is of Oud Bruin and cherry but as the beer warms up that fades off like the head diminishes.  There is a decidedly fruit taste to this beer.  Fruit punch primarily.  Strawberry would be my next guess.  It doesn’t taste bad per se but it is certainly more fruitcake and dried fruit than anything else.

2009 has a more pleasing aroma to it.  Good start.  And it is so different from the ’08.  Cinnamon red hot flavor hits me first.  Never had that in a beer before.  That initial taste fades a skosh and the beer starts to taste better as it warms.  There is a nice rich, full taste to this with what seems to be a darker malt bill to it.

It is kinda hard to pick a winner to move on to the next round against the victor of 2010 vs. 2011.  The oldest and last bottle of the Our Special Ale had faded too much for me though it was offensive.  So I have to pick the 2009, though the spice profile makes it an underdog for the next round.



Holiday Ale # 19 – CoHoHo from Midnight Sun

by Sean on December 16, 2014


That is one hop crazed fish on the label from Midnight Sun.  Or maybe crazed from the juniper berries?  “CoHoHo begins with generous measures of pale two-row and specialty malts along with spirit-boosters like brown sugar and honey. Hefty doses of Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe hops beautifully balance that outrageous malt bill while juniper berries heighten the festive character of this exuberant beer.”


PDX Beer Update

by Sean on December 16, 2014


Each time that I re-visit Portland craft beer scene, I make every effort to spend most of my time at the newest breweries and/or trying new beers.

This trip I succeeded more than usual with that task.  Stops were made at the relatively new Ecliptic Brewing and at the new Fat Heads space on the Westside while trying new beer from the charity driven Ex Novo.

I even sampled a pale ale schnapps from the distilling stronghold of my brother-in-law.

But I start to digress.  Let’s start from the beginning.

With a plane flight from Burbank still fresh on the mind, the traditional first stop was at Ken’s Artisan Pizza for the family’s favorite pizza.  Where I encountered Ex Novo’s Damon Stout-amire.  For Blazer fans, the name will ring a point guard bell.  The beer was a little thin to me and could have used a boost of chocolate or coffee notes.

Next up was Fathead’s which is in walking distance of both the Deschutes and Bridgeport locations and though the beers in the tasting tray were uniform, I don’t know how many customers will be stolen away.  The Holly Jolly was my favorite and the Head Hunter IPA was well done but the Chocolate Cream was a mess.  Too many weird vanilla notes.  The space is nice but a little too Applebee’s for my taste.  The wait staff was great.  Very helpful without being over attentive.

Ecliptic was a much different scene at the south end of Mississippi Avenue near-ish to Widmer.  Astronomy is the theme in design and beer names  My placemat of beers was well done.  Rigel Sparkling Ale was light and crisp with minor Belgian notes but my two favorites were the Pollux Imperial IPA with tons of mango notes and the Canopus IWA – India Wheat Ale that very floral.

During the trip I also tasted Supergoose IPA from Hale’s Ales and Vanilla Cream Porter from Worthy Brewing that were strong but I really dug the Java the Hop from Fort George.  Not so much IPA but damn the coffee was spectacular.

Overall, my top picks include two from Pfriem in Hood River, their Blonde IPA and their Single Malt Golden Promise.  Just super tasty and easily separated to top of the pack.  The other choice is Gigantic’s Peace Loving Decoy a lovely Vienna style that was perfect with dinner.

As usual, the choices were abundant and wide ranging.  Now I just have to drink up all the beers that I brought back!


Diamond Knot Storm Surge

I get seasick just looking at this storm that is attacking this boat.  Much better to be on shore with a Diamond Knot beer in a glass than on the open sea.

“This is pretty complicated beer, at least by our standards (we normally love the old saying “Keep it simple, stupid!”).  We use 2-row pale malt, German Carared, Caramel 80, Carapils and Munich malts in the mash, then just before beginning to extract all the goodness from those malts, we sprinkle crushed Midnight Wheat over the grain bed to ‘stain’ the mash.

The effect of this little bit of brewhouse trickery is to pull only the color from the wheat while extracting just a hint of its roasty, coffee-like qualities.  Additions of a whole boatload of Chinook, Cascade, Simcoe and Columbus hops give this beer a lovely, layered bitterness that perfectly complements the complexity of the malts.  It’s very dark in color, but don’t let appearances deceive you; this beer is highly drinkable and perfect for those cold, stormy winter days when you want to dream of Spring. “


Sean Suggests for December 2014

by Sean on December 15, 2014

header_beer_shopping_listThis year, my suggestions are for beers to bring over and share on Christmas Day.  And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be a barrel-aged imperial stout.  You don’t want to be blotto before you fish the last gift out of the stocking do you?


Anchor Brewing/ Winter Wheat 7.00% ABV

“Anchor Winter Wheat is made with a unique blend of malted barley and five wheats from Belgium, Germany, the Midwest, and a family farm just 75 miles away, where we get our soft red winter wheat.”


Cascade/ Gose 7.50% ABV

“This NW style sour ale is a re-creation of a historic German beer style, spiced with coriander and sea salt to replicate the water in the town of Goslar where the beer originated.”


Brasserie DupontAvec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont 9.50% ABV

“A coppery blond beer with aromas of hops for the Bon Voeux is a beer tasting combining mellow bitterness and fruity. Our selection of yeasts and a long maturation phase with hopping gives it flavor and a characteristic and complex taste. The true fermentation in the bottle , which can be extended very long in your cellar, resulting in a balanced and harmonious beer, surprising and complex aromas .”



Holiday Ale # 17 – Yard Sale from Uinta

by Sean on December 14, 2014

Uinta yard sale

At first, I did not know what Yard Sale had to do with Christmas but then I read that it refers to a ski slope spill that sends gloves, skis and such down the hill to form a pile, like a yard sale.

Clever and a cool can for a Winter lager that Uinta Brewery describes as having “Honey and caramel undercurrents. Vanilla accents. Malty with light and hoppy notes. Finishes dry. Yard Sale pairs well with earthy mushroom bisque, grilled lamb or pork, and even mussels and clams.”


Review – Rhubarbian from 2 Towns Ciderhouse

by Sean on December 14, 2014


You are at Beer Search Party and yes, you are reading a cider review on this blog.  On my recent trip to Portland, I picked up this Rhubarb cider because when are you going to get a chance to taste this combo?  Maybe in a pie but in an alcoholic drink.

This Corvallis based cidery does plenty of fruity ciders but the combination promised on the can: “Tangy, wild, and not for the faint of heart, the Rhubarbarian is a fearsome hard cider made with fresh-pressed NW rhubarb” made me pick up a can.

The aroma doesn’t scream rhubarb to me.  More like a combination of cider and white wine.  The taste is both pretty smooth with an initial hit of tartness.  The apple taste seems most prominent to me though the rhubarb is a nice undercurrent throughout the drinking.  You do have to pay attention to get that rhubarb though which leads me to wanting a bigger hit of that and less of the apple.  They also do a version with hops by the name of Hop & Stalk which I wish I had seen to compare.

Now I want rhubarb pie!


Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 1.52.38 PM

Nuclear Winter might be a skosh depressing especially with the gas masks on the can but at least the plumage on the Finch’s beer is colorful for this “Belgian Dark Strong Ale with Extra Special Malt and Caravienne malts and Dark Candi sugar for increased color and alcohol content. Small amounts of East Kent Goldings are added but are not the prominent feature of this beer. The Belgian yeast dominates the beer’s flavor and aroma profile. It will surely warm you up in the cold winter months.”


What will the 2014 numbers look like?

by Sean on December 13, 2014

Can the growth sustain at such a high figure as 17%+?

Will the total market for craft expand to 15 billion?

Will big beer continue to drip-drip customers?

I don’t own a crystal ball so I don’t know what exactly will happen. But upcoming posts on this blog only detail growth and expansion. I believe that if growth is steady above 10% the momentum will continue and 2015 won’t be the year of the “big contraction”.

Find more craft statistics HERE.