Scenes from Cascade's Scottish Ale Festival

I visited Cascade Brewing's First Annual Scottish Ale Festival yesterday.  Since this is the first year, I  expected to see a smallish crowd.  I was wrong.  As I walked up to Cascade, I saw a line of people waiting to get in.  Fortunately, it wasn't raining.

They served 10 ales, and I tasted these:

  • House, Upright Brewing Co.  Made especially for the fest, this is a Scottish Ale with a spicy twist.
  • Splinters Bourbon Barrel Aged Strong Scotch Ale, Black Raven Brewing Co.   Loads of bourbon flavor and less malty sweetness.  Very nice!
  • McShagger Scottish Ale, Cascade Brewing Co.  This one had a bit of smokiness to it, very smooth. 
  • Hoppy with Woodsman, Schooner EXACT Brewing Co.  You can't have a beer fest in Oregon without a hoppy beer.  At 60 IBUs, this was it.  While the Scottish Ale style is generally mildly hopped, this provided a nice change of pace.
  • Brigadoonery Scottish Ale, Coalition Brewing Co.  I sampled this after I drank a Cascade sour ale (see below).  I expect Brigadoonery is good, but palate was out of whack after drinking the sour.

Cascade's Fruit Loops
I was fully prepared to sample all 10 of the Scottish ales.  However, I couldn't leave Cascade without tasting one of their sour ales.  So I got a glass of Fruit Loops.  Here's Cascade's description, "Apricot and Noyeaux combine to start this beer out w/sweet, tart fruit aromatics reminiscent of the yellow and orange cereal loops. Razberry Wheat and Frite Galois join in to set the deep fruit base with the taste of the red flavor. Finally, Sang Noir was added to the center of the glass to bring in the purple and complete the “früit loop.” 

While I was never a big fan of Fruit Loops cereal, I'd consider starting every morning with one of these!  It tastes it good as it sounds.  However, I made the mistake of sampling Fruit Loops in between Scottish Ales.  I should have waited until I finished...sour and Scottish ales don't play well together.  Oh well, I'll remember that for next year.

If Cascade holds the festival again next year (and I hope they do), I expect they'll improve the overall traffic flow. The fest was held in the production side of the facility and it was packed!  Beer was served in a small area towards the back and there were long lines.

Overall, I enjoyed the festival.  I like the idea of an event dedicated to a particular type of beer and I hope to see more smaller, style-focused festivals like this.  Also, big kudos to Cascade for allowing customers to reuse old beer festival mugs!  Three dollars saved on a mug = three beer samples.  Thanks guys!

One last thing, Stone Porridge was great!  Check out the short video clip below of Brewmaster Ron Gansberg jamming with his band.

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Review: Pinstripe, Ska Brewing

Ska Brewing — Durango, CO

  • Style:  Red Ale
  • Bitterness:  42 IBU
  • ABV: 5.15%
  • Malts:   Caramel
  • Hops:  Liberty
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description:  "Puts you in a certain mood.  Kind of like waking up to realize you are the king of your own country, one where there are waterfalls of beer all over the place. Waterfalls of Pinstripe Red Ale.  Brewed with Caramel Malts and Liberty hops, it has a slight fruity finish and will dance with your tastebuds till last call, then take them home and not get weird about it the next day." — Ska Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:   I picked this up as part of a mixed six pack at Total Wine.  Ska's website needs to be seen.  It's like a comic book set to ska music—check it out.  The story of how the brewery started is also very interesting.  The two founders started homebrewing in the early 90's because they were two young to buy beer!

The tasting:  Light copper / amber in color (clear) with a white head that dissipated quickly, leaving no lacing.  The aroma of toasted malts and light floral hops reminds me of a pilsner lager.  Flavor of caramel malts and light floral hops. Light boded with and mildly carbonated.  It has a very crisp mouth feel and finishes dry with some mild hop bitterness.  This is a well balanced, session beer.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gave it to me.   This is the perfect beer  for someone who's looking for a light, but balanced beer.  It would be very refreshing on a hot summer day.  I just prefer beers with a bolder malt or hop profile.

Have you tried Pinstripe or any other Ska beers?

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Scottish Ale Festival: Last Minute Details

Cascade Brewing's Scottish Ale Festival will be held on January 29just two days from now!  Here are the last minute details if you're planning to attend.

Location, Hours, & Misc.:
  • 939 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR
  • 3pm - 11pm
  • No cover charge
  • Minors allowed with parent

Mugs:  Great news!  You can bring one of your old 14 oz. plastic beer fest (OBF, HAF, Spring Beer Fest) mugs.  I must have 20 of these in my house.  If you don't have one, you can buy one for $3.

  • 4pm and 7pm:  Stone Porridge 
  • 5:15pm:  Burns reading
  • 6pm:  Bagpipers

Beer List:   If you look closely at the list below, you may notice the absence of Migration Brewing's Old Silenus.  Unfortunately, they are not attending because they sold the beer they had planned to bring.  Doh!  Hate when that happens.  Worry not...plenty of other amazing beers to sample.

Ron Gansberg, Cascade Brewmaster, gave me some behind-the-scenes insights into the festival a few weeks ago.  You can see that interview here.   Finally, If it ain't Scottish, it's CRAP!!! 

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Splinters Bourbon Barrel Aged Strong Scotch Ale  (IBU 38 / ABV 7.1%)
Black Raven Brewing Co., Redmond, WA  ·
Splinters is the Bourbon barrel aged version of the brewery's Second Sight Strong Scotch Ale. Aged for six months in various Bourbon barrels, they picked the best of the barrel for added complexity of flavor. All of the barrels were then combined and the beer was aged for another few months in stainless to meld and mature.

McShagger Scottish Ale  (IBU 26 / ABV 8.3%)
Cascade Brewing, Portland, OR ·
This strong Scotch ale cuts the chill and warms from within.  A nose of sweet malt and a hint of chocolate and smoked peat start the journey.  Chocolate, kilned coffee and German Rauch malts combine to lend this big Scottish ale a hint of whiskey.

Wee Ane Scottish Amber  (IBU 20 / ABV 4.75%)
Cascade Brewing, Portland, OR ·
This easy drinking Scottish small ale is just the thing to recalibrate your palate after all the holiday festivities.  Fuggles, Goldings and Crystal hops balance the Munich and chocolate malts to make this a genuine Scottish session ale.

Black Sheep Stout  (IBU 25 / ABV 5.14%)
Cascade Brewing, Portland, OR ·
This easy drinking stout was designed to shepherd you at any time on your beer journey, be that breakfast, lunch or supper.  The sweet chocolate nose that greets you from the dark Crystal, chocolate, brown and black malts is what this beer is all about.  It's accented by roasted barley and kilned coffee grains that lead to a finish ending with a slight spiced hop bite that will linger and dry out your palate.

Brigadoonery Scottish Ale  (IBU 45 / ABV 6%)
Coalition Brewing Co., Portland, OR ·
Golden Promise malt forms the base of this classic Scotch style ale. The malt forward base is supplemented with dark caramel and a touch of peated malt for sweetness and a light smokiness. Wyeast 1728 gives slightly fruity phenolics to the beer.

Fearless Strong Scotch Ale  (IBU 48 / ABV 9.25%)
Fearless Brewing Co., Estacada, OR ·
This huge malty beer is brewed in the traditional Strong Scotch style. Hops are subdued, while a nutty, slightly roasty finish is the hallmark.

Scottish Holiday  (IBU 35 / ABV 6.8%)
Lucky Lab Brewing Co., Portland, OR ·
This is a true Scotch ale brewed with Scottish pale malt and only the finest English hops. Scottish Holiday is a rich, dark chocolate brew with hints of licorice and raisins. Alcohol content is moderate to high but it balances nicely with a hint of hoppy bitterness. This was the Lab's first and only holiday style ale.

Highland Courage
Rock Bottom Brewing Co., Portland, OR ·
No description has yet been provided; however, we do know that this was one of the last beers brewed by Van Havig before his departure, so it's sure to be delicious!

Hoppy the Woodsman  (IBU 60 / ABV 9%)
Schooner EXACT Brewing Co., Seattle, WA ·
Hoppy Holidays' big brother, this ale is last year's Hoppy Holidays winter beer that has been aged in Bourbon barrels for a year and then blended to perfection.  Oak and Bourbon flavors mix with roasted malt and a touch of Yakima hops.

House  (ABV 6.35%)
Upright Brewing Co., Portland, OR ·
Upright "House" is a spiced brown ale made with the famous Traquair House Brewery of Scotland in mind. Upright's take on the style uses coriander, long pepper and bitter orange peel along with a simple grist to produce a malty beer with burnt orange notes and a slight background spice. It's a one-off keg made just for this event.

Review: Stone IPA, Stone Brewing Co.

Stone IPA
Stone Brewing Co. — Escondido, California

  • Style:  IPA
  • Bitterness:  77 IBU
  • ABV: 6.9%
  • Malts:  Not provided
  • Hops:  Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description:  "An 'India Pale Ale' by definition is highly hopped and high in alcohol - you'll find our Stone India Pale Ale to be true to style with a huge hop aroma, flavor and bitterness throughout. If you're a hop-head like us, then you'll love our Stone India Pale Ale! Medium malt character with a heavy dose of over the top hops! Generous "dry hopping" gives this beer its abundant hop aroma and crisp hop flavor." — Stone Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:   This is the first of five Stone beers I'll be sampling.  I'm a big fan of IPAs and I've been looking forward to tasting this.

The tasting:   Golden straw (hazy) in color.  It had a big fluffy white head that dissipated slowly and left lacing on the glass.  Very strong aroma of grapefruit and floral hops.  First, I tasted some caramel and sweet malts.  When it hit the back of my mouth, the bitterness of the citrus hops kicked in a big way.  Alcohol taste was not noticeable. It finishes dry with bread-like malts and resiny hop bitterness.  Light to medium in body.  It had medium carbonation and a nice effervescent mouth feel.  

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   I had high expectations and Stone IPA didn't disappoint.  I thought the level of hop bitterness was similar to what I've tasted in other double or Imperial IPAs.  Given Stone's in-your-face style, this isn't too surprising.  Now I'm really curious about how Ruination IPA will taste.  I'll brace myself for a full-on hop assault.

Have you tried Stone IPA or any other Stone beers?

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Review: Old Chub, Oskar Blues

Old Chub
Oskar Blues Brewery — Longmont, Colorado

  • Style:  Scotch Ale
  • Bitterness:  Not provided
  • ABV: 8.0%
  • Malts:  North American 2-Row Barley, Munich Malt, English Crystal Malt, Belgian Special B, German Smoked Malt, English Chocolate Malt
  • Hops:  Nugget
  • Sampled: 12 oz. can

Description:  "This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale (8% ABV) is brewed with bodacious amounts of malted barley and specialty grains, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malt. Old Chub features a skim-milk mouthfeel, semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a kiss of smoke. A head-turning treat for malt heads and folks who think they don’t dig dark beer." — Oskar Blues Brewery

Random thoughts:   I visited Oskar Blues in November when I was in Boulder.  These guys makes some great beer!  I'm planning to attend Cascade Brewing's Scottish Ale Festival this weekend, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to taste Oskar Blues' Scotch Ale.  

The tasting:   Dark brownish red with with a tan head that dissipated VERY quickly.  No lacing on the glass.  Aroma was not as strong as I expected, but I noticed malts and molasses.  As typical in the style, hops are subtle.  Flavor of dark roasted malts, caramel, smoke, and whiskey-like alcohol.  Medium bodied with an effervescent mouth feel.  It finished with a lingering taste of sweet smoky malts and tobacco.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I'd drink this if someone gave it to me.   I tasted Kilt Lifter yesterday.  Old Chubb is a more "aggressive" Scotch Ale.  It has a darker and heavier malt base as well as a higher alcohol content.  I was really surprised by the range of flavors in this beer.  At the end of the day, the heavy malts and the smoky flavor were a bit much for me.  

Have you tried Old Chubb or any other brews by Oskar Blues?

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Review: Kilt Lifter, Four Peaks

Kilt Lifter
Four Peaks Brewing Co. — Tempe, Arizona

  • Style:  Scottish Ale
  • Bitterness:  21 IBU
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • Malts:  Two-Row, Carmel 80L, Carapils, roasted barley
  • Hops:  Goldings
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description:  "Kiltlifter is our award-winning flagship brew.  Made in the tradition of great strong ales from Scotland.  This is the beer that made Four Peaks Famous.   Take one sip and you'll swear that it was brewed by men in kilts.  And maybe it was.  Notice its amber color, malty sweetness, and a hint of smokiness.  A true Scottish Ale.  The only thing missing here is a man with the funny accent and the bagpipes." — Four Peaks Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:   This is the first Arizona brew I've profiled.  I picked this up as part of a mixed-six pack from Total Wine & More.  A Scottish Ale Festival is being held in Portland this weekend, so I thought I'd get a jump start. 

The tasting:   Caramel (deep golden orange) in color, clear, with a white head that dissipated quickly. Very nice color.  Aroma of sweet, toasted, and caramel malts.  The flavor is very similar to the aroma with the addition of a subtle smoky flavor.  Four Peaks' description of this Kilt Lifter is spot on with what I tasted.  Medium bodied with an effervescent mouth feel.  It finishes with some sweet malt and smokiness. Very drinkable.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   I enjoyed this beer and can easily see why it's Four Peaks' flagship brew.  It has a nice strong caramel malt base and is minimally hopped.  It's very different from most of the beers I've tasted lately.  I'd like to try more of Four Peaks' beers, but since they don't distribute in Oregon, I'll have to wait until my next trip to Arizona.

Have you tried Kilt Lifter or any other Four Peaks beers?

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Review: Singletrack, Boulder Beer

Boulder Beer Co. — Boulder, Colorado

  • Style:  Pale Ale
  • Bitterness:  Not provided
  • OG: 13.2
  • ABV: 4.97%
  • Malts:  Medium British Crystal Malt,  U.S. 2-Row Malted Barley, U.S. Flaked Rye, U.S. Carapils
  • Hops:  Nugget, Tetang
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description:  "Singletrack Copper Ale is refreshing, yet full-flavored; a medium-bodied copper ale.  Not too light, not too dark...It's just right" — Boulder Beer Co.

Random thoughts:   This is the third Boulder brew I've profiled.  I really enjoyed their Never Summer and Hazed & Infused beers. 

The tasting:   Golden orange in color, clear, with a white head that dissipated slowly.  Aroma of caramel malts and something lager-esque.  I didn't smell the hops.   Flavor of caramel and biscuit-like malts. Again, no hops.  Medium bodied, effervescent mouth feel, with a dry finish.  Very drinkable.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I'd drink this if someone gave it to me.   This is a good, but forgettable beer.  There just isn't much going on in terms of flavor or aroma.  The first two Boulder Beers I tasted, Hazed & Infused and Never Summer set a very high bar for me.  While nice, Singletrack doesn't match up.

Have you tried Singletrack or any other Boulder Beers?

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