Kona: The Big Kahuna at Craft Brew Alliance

Craft Brew Alliance is parent to Widmer Brothers, Redhook, Kona, and Omission. They also own Square Mile Cider Co. The Widmer Brothers brand has always resonated the most with me because it originated in Portland, has a very strong local presence, and the beer is excellent! Based on that, I always assumed Widmer was the core brand within the CBA portfolio. It turns out, it's not.

Craft Brew Alliance released quarterly earnings on May 4. The results didn't impress the market and CBA's shares (ticker symbol BREW) dropped 6.2% the next day. The conference call revealed some very interesting facts about CBA's portfolio of brands and their growth drivers. To cut to the chase, consider these numbers:

Kona = 51 
Redhook = 19
Widmer Brothers = 17
Omission = 5
Square Mile = 0

Any ideas what these numbers are? The figures above are the number of times each brand was mentioned during the conference call. Kona got a LOT of air time. That's because Kona is King at Craft Brew Alliance.

Text size indicates number of  mentions during  CBA Q1'16 earnings call.  Made with Wordle.

Below are a few quotes (courtesy of Seeking Alpha) from CBA executives that convey the emerging dominance of Kona in the CBA portfolio.

  • "The Kona brand family is the clear number one focus for CBA. Kona will be the marquee brand within the portfolio moving forward."

  • "The Kona brand plays like a Craft brand imported from Hawaii and has the benefit of being a lifestyle of Craft and an import play. The unique equities of the Kona brand play across both the Craft and import segments and provide the greatest opportunity to leverage clear points of difference versus the increasingly quarter Craft’s competitive landscape."

  • "This is part of the broad consumer appeal and the underlying fundamental strength and opportunity for Kona to source volume across more occasions, more consumer segments, and more geographies, both domestically and internationally. As such, the Kona brand is less impacted by the onslaught of new Craft brands and a hyper localization of Craft, when compared to the current challenges faced by other legacy Craft brands that compete more directly with one another."

  • "Kona is not only the largest volume brand we have, but it’s the brand that we can brew in the most places including Memphis because of the types and the character of the beers. So they’re more profitable beers for us and we can brew them and more profitable breweries we have more flexibility there."

That's quite the love fest, isn't it? Living in the Northwest, it's difficult to appreciate the power of Kona because Widmer Brothers and Redhook are far more ubiquitous in our area.

CBA is upping the ante in Kona with additional investment. Groundbreaking for a new 100,000 barrel Kona Brewery occurred in March, with completion targeted in early 2018. In the near term, we'll see 12 pack-cans of Big Wave Golden Ale in the summer, the launch of the Makana series of small-batch beers previously available in Hawaii only, and three new Kona TV commercials. While the commercials won't air in Portland, you can view them here, here, and here.

While Kona is the golden child, its CBA siblings are facing challenges. Here are a few interesting tidbits about Widmer Brothers, Redhook, and Omission:

  • While Widmer Brothers has national presence, it's mostly a significant player in the Northwest only. Neighboring California has been a challenge for the Widmer brand.
  • Redhook, on the other hand, is a stronger player across many regions of the US including the Pacific Northwest, California, the mid-Atlantic, New England, and the Southeast.
  • In their home markets, Widmer Brothers and Redhook have been hindered by slow craft segment growth. In Oregon, craft growth was only 1.9%, and it declined 1.2% in Washington.
  • Omission growth is slowing due to increased competition in the gluten-free category.  On the bright side, it is still the leader in the segment with a 42% share, compared to Red Bridge's 26% share.

It will be interesting to see how Kona and the rest of the CBA brands perform in the years to come. As a public company, CBA will explain the details (and company earnings) for us at least four times per year, so stay tuned. You can read the entire CBA Q1 earnings call transcript at Seeking Alpha.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Home Hop Garden: May Update

My hops plants have thrived in the unseasonably warm weather that has continued since my April update. Since then, the first-year rhizomes have both sprouted! After I first planted them, nothing happened for almost three weeks. But after they finally broke through the soil's surface, they really took off!

The Centennial has two bines, the tallest is 28" high. The Chinook also has two bines, with the tallest being 27" high. I transplanted each of these into larger containers to give the roots more room to grow. I helped each of them to find the twine, and now they're dutifully wrapping themselves around it as they climb.

My second-year Willamette has grown to just over 12' high. Through the end of last fall, it had only reached about ~7'. I think I need to fertilize it soon. I hope this plant will produce some cones this year. So far, so good!

2nd-year Willamette, 12' tall

1st-year Centennial, 28" tall

1st year Chinook, 27" tall

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Full Sail's Hop Pursuit IPA & Blood Orange Wheat

By now, you've probably seen Full Sail's new look. Back in March, the brewery revealed their new branding and packaging designs and also announced the release of two new beersHop Pursuit IPA and Blood Orange Wheat Ale. Full Sail sent me some samples and I wanted to share my tasting notes.

Hop Pursuit IPA joins Full Sail's Classic IPA in the year-round lineup. Hop Pursuit showcases the newish hop varieties of Mosaic, Equinox, Simcoe, and as well as Cascadethe classic Northwest variety. Interestingly, while session beers are all the craze these days, Full Sail didn't opt to go the session route for this new IPA. Hop Pursuit weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 65 IBUs. Here are my tasting notes:

Poured into my Luigi Bormioli Birrateque Craft Beer IPA glass. Deep golden in color, clear, with a white head that dissipates very slowly. Aroma of grapefruit, pine, as well as some tropical mango and pineapple. In the taste, resiny pine and grapefruit dominate. Caramel sweetness emerges in the middle to balance the hops. It's fairly bitter, and touch of alcohol is present in the finish.

Blood Orange Wheat is part of the rotating Pub Series lineup and will be available through August. In my mind, this is a bit of a departure for Full Sail, as they have tended to stick with classic styles. The addition of fruit in this beer is likely a response to evolving customer tastes. Here are my tasting notes:

Poured into my Spieglau Wheat Beer Glass.  Golden in color, hazy, with a white head that dissipates slowly. Bright orange pops immediately in the aroma. Light herbal and grassy notes are also present. The taste starts with tangy wheat, with orange flavor emerging in the middle.  Hop bitterness, mostly herbal, is low. It's light bodied and softly carbonated. It finishes with a touch of pithy orange. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma or taste.

At 5.2% ABV, this is essentially a session beer, and a great choice for summer. I like that it has fruit aroma and flavor, but is subtle and not overwhelming.

If you're looking for some new options, give Hop Pursuit IPA and Blood Orange wheat a try!

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Wolves & People Tasting Room Opens May 14

The long wait is nearly over! Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery finally opens its (barn) doors this Saturday, May 14. In the past few months, I've had the opportunity to visit the brewery twice as part of Cellar Society (I'm a member) and media tasting events.

Between these visits, I sampled eight beers spanning a wide range of styles including saisons, stouts, Flanders-style red ale, spelt ale with coffee and cinnamon, and even a Kvass (Baltic-inspired ale fermented with bread yeast). The one constantthey were all excellent! Christian DeBenedetti and brewer Jake Miller have done an amazing job of making delicious beers in the converted barn that has been part of DeBenedetti's family home for a half century.

For more details about opening day, check out the news from Wolves and People below. In the mean time, here are a few pics from my recent visits that will give you an idea of what to expect. You're in for a real treat!!

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

An amazing stout with cacao nibs

Jake Miller (left) and Christian DeBenedetti

Funky experiments = delicious beer

Bar taplist

Media Preview taplist

The Soulboat, a former Smithsonian traveling exhibit

Doors made with wood salvaged from Rainier Brewery, built in 1884

Opens May 14!

Everything you need to know about our Opening Day -- and beyond

Welcome! Our main doors were made from wood salvaged from the original Rainier Brewery, constructed in 1884.

We made it! After over two decades of dreaming and planning and two straight years of building out, we’re opening the doors at Wolves & People! We’re beyond excited to start pouring our wild and farmhouse beers for you all and know you’re ready, too. Thanks for all your support, enthusiasm, and patience. The little tasting room is coming together, and we have 16 picnic tables with umbrellas for shade and shelter. Here’s what to expect this weekend, rain or shine...

Beginning this Saturday, May 14th, will be tapping six to eight beers by the glass each Saturday from 2-8pm, beers subject to change as supplies last. In the coming month we’re planning to unveil the following on draft: a dry-hopped grisette, biere de garde, Belgian pale ale, assorted traditional and experimental saisons, wild ales, strong ales, a wild-ale/lager hybrid, an old ale, a wild farmhouse witbier, even a stout or two. What you taste in our tasting room may be a one-time beer, here today, gone tomorrow. A few notes that will make opening day and other coming events go well:

  • Rain or shine. Dress appropriately. The beer garden is gravel.
  • No minors whatsoever. Your ID will be checked. Please bring a valid driver’s license.
  • No dogs or other pets allowed. Pets can be left in cars with windows wide open only.
  • Please carpool. We have limited parking. Bring a designated driver for your group.
  • Draft pours only currently. No growlers will be filled. No bottles are for sale yet (coming soon!). Of course, we have no barrel-aged beer for sale yet.
  • Please do not park on Benjamin Road. You will be towed as this creates a safety hazard. If overflow parking is also full, please consider coming back another time. We’ll do our best to accommodate everyone! Please drive slowly and carefully on our narrow country road.
  • Please do not wander around or park off the gravel in any part of the orchard or on neighbors’ property. This is a working farm. There are new tree plantings as well as holes, trenches, and other hazards. Please do not smoke or litter.
  • Please respect fellow beer lovers, hosts, neighbors, and volunteers.
  • Stay hydrated. We will have water stations and encourage you to chug our pristine well water. We make our beer with it!
  • Consider a great meal before or after your visit at Ruddick/Wood, Storr’s Barbecue, or Recipe in Newberg, and Red Hills Market in Dundee.
  • Cash is strongly preferred. All 12oz pours will be $5 for opening day, and may change later. Custom decorated glasses will be available for $10 each or two tickets (while supplies last).
  • Official tee shirts, hats, stickers, and patches will be available for sale, while supplies last.
  • We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. No limos, stretch numbers, or buses due to our narrow driveway. Always drink responsibly.
  • You’re extra cool if you bike to the brewery! We’ll find a place to lock it up.
  • Most of all, have fun!

 That should do it. We are really looking forward to seeing you. Look for our May & June events calendar in a separate email shortly, and online. Thanks and see you soon! W&P

Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery
30203 NE Benjamin Road
Newberg, OR 97132

New Belgium's Heavy Melon: Watermelon & Lime in a Beer??

New Belgium Brewing recently revealed its new summer beers. Juicy Mandarina IPA and Heavy Melon. The former features the Mandarina Bavaria hop variety and is available on draft only. The latter is available on draft, as well as in bottles and cans.

Heavy Melon is brewed with watermelon and lime peel. I'm actually not a fan of watermelon. Yes, I'm one of the few people on this planet that has no use for the melon of water. However, I was intrigued by the combination of watermelon and lime, so I'd figured I'd give it a try. Here are my tasting notes:

Poured into my Luigi Bormioli Birrateque Craft Beer Seasonal Glass. Golden in color, clear, with a frothy white head that dissipates fairly slowly. Aroma is grassy with faint watermelon. 

The taste starts herbal notes. In the middle, I noticed the watermelon and mild grain. The level on the watermelon is moderate, and it has the melon flavor, but not the fruity sweetness. Overall hop bitterness is low and alcohol isn't noticeable in taste or aroma. It's light bodied and softly carbonated. Heavy Melon finishes with grassy hops and watermelon rind. I didn't pick up any lime at allwhich was unfortunate, because it seemed like a promising combination.

To be fair, I'm not a big fan of watermelon. I think I'm one of the few people in the world that don't like it. If you like watermelon, give it a try. For more details, check out the brewery's press release below.

If you're so inclined, consider 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. I profiled it almost five years ago. I wasn't a huge fan, but the beer's still around. No small feat these days. It's a staple at the Oregon Brewers Festival each year. Apparently, there's a huge demand for watermelon ales. Go figure...

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

New Belgium Brewing is Ready to Soak up the Sun with Heavy Melon and Juicy Mandarina
The brewery’s latest seasonal and Hop Kitchen releases offer crisp fruity sweetness and an island hop vibe

Ft. Collins, Colo., – The heat of summer will be here in no time and New Belgium is ready for refreshment with its latest seasonal Heavy Melon. This super crisp and refreshing American-Style Fruit beer is brewed with juicy watermelon and zesty lime peel. Ripened fruit aromas of melon, papaya and citrus offer an invigorating wash of fruity sweetness, grassy bitterness and the slightest touch of tartness.

“Since our first days back in 1991, New Belgium has been crafting fruit beer and Heavy Melon continues our tradition of pushing boundaries, while making creative and innovative beers,” said Andrew Emerton, New Belgium Brewing specialty brand manager. “Heavy Melon uses only real ingredients and even though it’s a watermelon beer, it’s actually born from the same place as other New Belgium favorites like Citradelic, Ranger, and Fat Tire. The pressed watermelon juice we sourced comes from Yakima Valley, the same region that grows almost all our hops.”

Heavy Melon has a juicy, mouthwatering start with a spritzy crisp finish and pours a bright golden color. This medium-light body beer comes in at 5 percent ABV, with 14 IBUs.

Heavy Melon
Style: American-Style Fruit Beer
Malts: Pale and Caramel 80
Hops: Nugget 
ABV: 5%
IBU: 14
Food Pairing Ideas: Bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, basil, balsamic and watermelon; vanilla ice cream.
Availability: now in 12 oz. bottles and draft, starting May 30 in folly packs in 12 oz. cans

To learn more about Heavy Melon, check out New Belgium’s blog “Get Ready to Crush Some Heavy Melon Ale”.

Juicy Mandarina IPA
Also available this summer is Juicy Mandarina IPA. This Hop Kitchen release offers a wave of exotic hop flavors. Juicy Mandarina IPA sports a full array of island hop vibes courtesy of citrusy Mandarina Bavaria, vibrant Calypso, tropical Galaxy, and a bonus experimental hop #522 that rounds out the ensemble with bright, breezy floral notes. Fruity hybrid yeast accentuates the burst of hops, while soft wheat mats float each sip across the tongue with ease. Juicy Mandarina IPA is 6.5 percent ABV and 65 IBUs. It’s available on draft only.

Malts: Wheat
Hops: Mandarina Bavaria, Calypso, Galaxy and experimental hop #522
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 65
Availability: Draft only

For more information about New Belgium Brewing, visit NewBelgium.com. You can also follow New Belgium on Facebook at Facebook.com/NewBelgium and Twitter @NewBelgium.

About New Belgium Brewing Company 

New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews thirteen year-round beers; Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Slow Ride Session IPA, Snapshot Wheat, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsner, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel and a gluten-reduced line, Glutiny Pale Ale and Glutiny Golden Ale. Learn more at www.newbelgium.com.

6th Annual Cider Summit Portland, June 17-18

Cider Summit Portland returns June 17-18 for its 6th annual event. This is your chance to sample from a wide variety of local, regional, and international ciders.

For the 2nd year, Oregon Fruit Products will sponsor the Oregon Fruit Products Fruit Cider Challenge, which provides cidermakers with the opportunity to use OFP's fruit purees in unique pilot batches. Attendees will vote for their favorites and crown the winners.

Early bird ticket pricing is now available. Whether you're a seasoned cider fan or a newbie, you don't want to miss this! For more details, check out the news release below. To get an idea of what you can expect, check out my recap from the 2015 Cider Summit Portland.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Portland’s Largest Cider Tasting Festival Returns to the Pearl for 6th Annual Event

Portland, OR  - Cider Summit is pleased to announce that early bird tickets to attend Cider Summit Portland are now on sale.  The sixth annual event will be held Friday-Saturday, June 17-18, 2016 at Fields Neighborhood Park at NW 10th & Overton in the Pearl District.  Cider Summit PDX celebrates local, regional and international artisanal ciders and cidermakers.  Cider Summit is presented by World Foods Portland and Bushwhacker Cider.

As in years past, Cider Summit will feature leading cidermakers, including dozens from the Pacific Northwest and ciders from at least five states and five countries.  Cidermakers and importers will be on hand to inform and guide guests through the tastings poured into the commemorative festival glassware.  Several of the cidermakers will be participating in the second annual Oregon Fruit Products Fruit Cider Challenge.  These cidermakers will create pilot batch fruit ciders using Oregon Fruit Product’s puree and the attendees will vote on their favorites.  Winners will be announced at the conclusion of the event on Saturday.

The event will also feature specially paired food selections that will be available for purchase from vendors including World Foods, Streetcar Bistro and other small bites.  There will be a “Dog Lounge” hosted by DoveLewis and Unleashed by Petco which will provide dogs and owners an opportunity to refresh and socialize.  Live music on the Jim Miller Festival Stage includes a stellar blues line-up produced in association with event beneficiary, the Cascade Blues Association.

“We are very pleased with the way Portland has embraced our event,” noted event co-founder, Alan Shapiro.  “We are expecting over 150 ciders this year - many of them new to the event.  We look forward to welcoming both the area’s cider lovers and the cider curious.”

General admission early bird tickets are now on sale for $30 exclusively online at https://cidersummit.boldtypetickets.com/.  Beginning June 1, general admission tickets will be $35 in advance online or at selected event sponsor locations and $40 at the door.  VIP tickets are available for $45, exclusively online, and include four extra tasting tickets and exclusive early access to the event between 2pm-3pm on Friday.  Designated driver tickets will be available for $5 at the door only and include a bottle of water.  This event is strictly 21 & over - no exceptions.

For those seeking to utilize public transportation, Cider Summit recommends the Portland Streetcar which stops 1 block from the event entrance.  There will also be a complimentary shuttle, courtesy of Rogue and The Green Dragon, with multiple stops in SE Portland.  Please visit the event directions page for further information.

Cider Summit is committed to working with several community and non-profit organizations.  This year’s event beneficiaries include Cascade Blues Association, DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, Northwest Cider Association, and the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research.

For more information please visit CiderSummit.com, facebook.com/CiderSummit or follow us on Twitter @CiderSummit.

Oregon Fruit Products Launches Quarterly Limited Releases

Fruit beers continue to grow in popularity. For years, Oregon Fruit Products has been a leading supplier of aseptically packaged fruit purees for the brewing industry. Yesterday, OFP introduced a new quarterly limited release program that introduces a new fruit for each season:

  • Spring 2016 (available May 11th) – Mango
  • Summer 2016 – Pineapple
  • Fall 2016 – Passion Fruit
  • Winter 2016-2017 – Rhubarb

I had the chance to visit OFP last summer during blueberry season. Check out this post to see I short video of the harvest and canning process.

These fruit purees are quite versatile and can also be used in ciders. Oregon Fruit Products is sponsoring the 2nd Annual Fruit Cider Challenge at the 6th Annual Cider Summit PDX. As part of the event, cidermakers will create limited release ciders using OFP’s puree. Festival attendees will sample and vote on their favorites.

For more information about OFP's Fruit for Brewing Purees, check out the news release below. I expect we'll be seeing a wave of mango beers in the near future!!

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Oregon Fruit Products Launches Limited-Release Program for Fruit for Brewing Purees
2016 Flavors Include Mango, Pineapple, Passion Fruit, and Rhubarb

May 3, 2016 – SALEM, Ore. – For the rest of 2016 and into 2017, Oregon Fruit Products LLC will release a new limited-edition Fruit for Brewing puree each quarter, ranging from sweet tropical fruits to tart rhubarb.  Such offerings are intended to provide craft brewers with the ingredients needed to create their own specialty-release fruit-infused beers, ciders and sour beers, a trend that continues to show growth within the craft beer industry.

“We continually hear from our craft brewing customers that they want new flavors on a frequent and rotating basis so that they may put their ingenuity to the test with new seasonal beers, ciders, and meads,”says Chris Sarles, CEO of Oregon Fruit Products.  “With 14 mainstay flavors and four new rotating flavors, we can be a one-stop shop for breweries around the Country of all sizes.”

Using fresh or frozen fruit in the brewing process is labor-intensive, costly, and can lead to unpredictable results or worse yet, introduce unwanted yeast strains into the brew.  Oregon Fruit Products’ Fruit for Brewing purees are aseptic, meaning they are flash-heated at ultra-high temperatures for a very short time to minimize microbes in the fruit puree.  The product is cooled quickly to maintain the best fresh fruit flavor and color. This process delivers a consistent year round flavor profile brewers can count on.  The entire process is closed, with the package filled and capped in a sealed environment, without letting any contamination enter the system.  The majority of Oregon Specialty Fruit purees have a shelf life of 18 months in ambient temperature. 

Oregon Fruit tentatively plans the release of the new items as follows:

  • Spring 2016 (available May 11th) – mango
  • Summer 2016 – pineapple
  • Fall 2016 – passion fruit
  • Winter 2016-2017 – rhubarb

Release dates will be updated throughout the year on the company’s brewing website: www.fruitforbrewing.com.

Fruit for Brewing  purees are available in 42 lb. bag-in-box, 425 lb (55 gallon) drums, and 2,300-lb. totes.  The product is certified Kosher, made in the U.S.A., non-GMO, gluten-free and vegetarian.  Oregon Fruit Products does not use, nor does it allow, any of the eight major allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat) in the products or processing areas.

Oregon Fruit Products LLC
Founded in 1935, Oregon Fruit Products offers a complete line of canned, frozen and shelf-stable premium fruit for consumers, foodservice operators and ingredient sales.  The company is located in Salem, Oregon and can be found on the web at www.oregonfruit.com and www.fruitforbrewing.com.


May - July Northwest Beer Festival Calendar

We're headed into prime beer festival season in the Northwest! The number of excellent beer (and cider) tasting events continues to grow each year. To help myself keep track of them all, I decided to develop a rolling list of annual beer festivals in Oregon and the Northwest.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. If I'm missing anything (I'm focusing on annual, not one-time-only events), please send me the event details at info@notsoprofessionalbeer.com and I'll be happy to add it.  That said, here's a look at the upcoming festivals during the months of May - July.


  • May 12-22, Seattle Beer Week, Seattle, WA    website
  • May 13-14, Cheers to Belgian Beers, Portland    websiteevent overview
  • May 20-29, Central Oregon Beer Week, Bend    website  
  • May 30 - June 5, Eugene Beer Week, Eugene    website   


  • June 4: Inaugural Pints in the Pearl, Portland     websiteevent overview
  • June 4:  Sasquatch Brewfest, Eugene     website
  • June 10-12:  Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland    website
  • June 18:  Eastern Oregon Beer Festival, La Grande    website
  • June 10-19:  Portland Beer Week, Portland   websiteevent overview
  • June 11:  Vegan Beer & Food Festival, Portland    website
  • June 17-19:  Oregon Garden Brewfest, Silverton    websiteevent overview2015 recap
  • June 19-20:  Cider Summit, Portland    website2015 recap
  • June 22:  Sake Fest PDX, Portland   website
  • June 24-26:  Portland International Beer Festival     website 


To see an updated list, please click the Beer Festival Schedule tab on my main page or click Beer Festival Schedule. Happy beer tasting!

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Widmer Hefeweizen, Now in Cans

In the mid-90's I lived in Illinois, a craft beer wasteland. If you wanted a beer in the Land of Lincoln, your choices were macro. Miller Lite and Bud Lite where essentially your options. I chose to avoid beer entirely.

Around this time, I visited Portland for the first time on a business trip. While at dinner, one of my co-workers suggested I taste a local beer. I recalled hearing something about Portland having decent beer, so I figured I'd give it a try. I asked the server to surprise me, and she brought back a tall curvy glass filled with what appeared to be orange juice. After attempting to send back the orange juice, she told me it was a beer called Hefeweizen.

With a few sips, the seeds of my beer journey were planted, and I have the Widmer Brothers to thank for it. Widmer Hefeweizen has always held a special place in my heart because it was my first good beer. It was unlike anything I ever tasted.

Fast forward 23ish years, and Widmer's Hefeweizen is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, Widmer is releasing is launching cans of Hefe in the Portland marketjust in time for summer. The brewery sent me a pair of freshly canned Hefes along with a nice can cooler. I'm glad to see that Hefe is Widmer Brothers' first foray into cans. While there are plenty of IPAs available in cans, I can't think of any canned Hefeweizens.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Hefe!

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Ale from Brewery Ommegang

It's finally here! Season 6 of Game of Thrones premieres tonight on HBO. GoT's violence and debauchery should pair nicely with a glass of fine beer. Brewery Ommegang has stepped up to the plate with the release of Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Alethe latest in its series of Game of Thrones licensed beers. Last year, the brewery released Three-Eyed Raven, a saison, for the Season 5 premiere.

I found Seven Kingdoms at Costco for $7.99 (750 ml bottle). Hopped with Bravo, Centennial, Citra, Cascade, and Columbus, I expect this will have plenty of bright citrus and tropical flavors. For more details, check out the press release below.

Enjoy Season 6!

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Seven Hells! Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Ale, the newest beer in the Game of Thrones series from HBO Global Licensing and Brewery Ommegang, is slated to debut this spring ahead of the premiere of season six of HBO’s critically-acclaimed and Emmy award-winning show. The brew will be available all throughout the realm – the United States that is – both on draft and in large-format 750ml bottles.

Seven Kingdoms is a marriage of a traditional Belgian-style wheat and a hop-forward American ale – but unlike so many of the marriages on the show, the resulting hoppy wheat is pleasant, playful and inspired. At 6.9% ABV, it possesses a nuanced complexity that pairs nicely with the hop-forward characteristics that make it surprisingly refreshing.

“We love bringing as much inspiration, thoughtfulness and creativity to the Game of Thrones beers as we can,” said Mike McManus, Innovation Manger at Brewery Ommegang. “This last season, the imaginativeness of the show was pretty astounding so we aimed for a beer that could hope to match that. A fusion of two wonderful styles was an idea that really excited our team.”

“With Seven Kingdoms, Ommegang has crafted another excellent brew which we know our fans will love,” said Josh Goodstadt, Vice President of Global Licensing at HBO. “The world of Westeros is varied and complex and this varietal embodies those characteristics while offering a new and unique taste to beer drinkers.”

Seven Kingdoms pours a hazy pale yellow with a thick cap of pure white foam. The aroma is floral, citrusy with a touch of passion fruit and a slightly herbal hop aroma underpinned with yeast notes of banana, ripe fruit, and spicy phenols. The taste is a full, round hop flavor with tart orange and lemon with a substantial wheat maltiness and the finish has slightly lingering hop notes without being harshly bitter. The mouthfeel is smooth and silken owing to the wheat and oats.

The new brew is hopped with Bravo, Centennial, Citra, Cascade, and Columbus, and brewed with pilsner, white and red wheat, oats, and a touch of sugar to lighten the body. Ommegang’s unique house yeast is used in both primary fermentation and bottling conditioning.

Seven Kingdoms follows the re-release of the first two Game of Thrones-inspired beers, Iron Throne Blonde Ale and Take the Black Stout (fall 2015 and spring/fall 2013), Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison (spring 2015), Valar Morghulis (fall 2014), and Fire and Blood Red Ale (spring 2014). Due to the popularity of this series of beers, Seven Kingdoms will be brewed at 3.5 times the volume of the first beer released in spring 2013. It will be available nationally in March 2016 on draft and in 750ml bottles for the suggested retail price $9.99 per bottle.