Review: Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Brewing

Shipyard Brewing Co. — Portland, ME 

  • Style:  Pumpkin Ale
  • Bitterness:   Not specified
  • ABV:  4.7%
  • Malts:  2-Row British Pale Ale, Malted Wheat, Ligh Munich
  • Hops:  Hallertau, Willamette
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description: "Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and a subtle spiced flavor." — Shipyard Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Today, I'm tasting a pumpkin brew from the other Portland. Recently, I've been noticing more of Shipyard's beers in Oregon. I'm not sure how long they've been distributing here, but I'm always glad to get my hands on an East Coast brew! I'm tasting Pumpkinhead as part of my series on fall seasonal beers.

The tasting:  Golden straw in color, clear, with white head that dissipates very quickly. Aroma is extremely spicy—nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. Flavor is dominated by the same spices. The malt flavors don't emerge beyond the onslaught of spice. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma or flavor and overall hop bitterness is minimal. Pumpkinhead is light bodied, has a crisp, effervescent mouth feel and finishes with lingering spice. 

Rating:  3 star.  Good. I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  I've profiled at least a dozen pumpkin beers during the last two years. Pumpkin itself doesn't have much of a flavor and I'm usually left contemplating if I can actually taste it. In this beer, there was no question. I clearly could not taste the pumpkin. All I could taste was spice. For me, when it comes to spice, less is more in a light bodied beer.

Have you tasted Pumpkinhead? What's your favorite pumpkin beer?

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Winter Holiday Homebrew Recipes

Halloween is next week, and the holiday season will soon be in full swing. If you take your cues from your grocery store's beer fridge, you've noticed that winter seasonals have arrived. If you're a homebrewer, this means it's time to start brewing your holiday homebrew! Now you need to figure out what to brew...

Fear not! I've assembled a few recipes for your consideration from Northern Brewer and High Gravity.

Northern Brewer

Saison de Noel:  Deceptively dark and beguilingly complex, this holiday specialty is brewed in the tradition of Belgian farmhouse ales. A generous malt bill with highlights of butter toffee, chocolate, dark fruit, and bread tangles with the earthy, spicy funk of Wyeast’s French Saison strain and a single addition of bittering hops to strike an evolving balance.  Extract or All-Grain.

Brickwarmer Holiday Red:  This strong-ish American amber ale is built for the cold: a substantial gravity for snowy weather, but a fast turnaround so you can get some holiday cheer from fermenter to pint ASAP. Malty but not too sweet, just enough bitterness to balance, a definite but not overstated citrus hop profile (bolstered by real citrus!), this is far from your normal holiday ale. Extract or All-Grain.

High Gravity

  • Christmas Ale for 2012  (inspired by Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale).  Extract
  • Christmas Ale for 2011  (based on Tulsa Brewing’s Old Pumpkin Head).  Extract
  • Christmas Ale for 2010  (based on Magic Hat’s Fest of Fools).  Extract
  • Christmas Ale for 2009  (based on Full  Sail Wassail).  Extract
  • Christmas Ale for 2008  (based on Big Sky Powder Hound).  Extract
  • Christmas Ale for 2007  (based on Saint Arnold’s Christmas Ale).  Extract

Last but not least, please consider Charlie Papazian’s Holiday Cheer. Here’s the full recipe and my brew log. This is the second homebrew I made and it only improved with age!

What are your favorite holiday beer recipes? 

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Please Welcome the Hillsboro Hops!


I’ve never been a big fan of Baseball. It’s just too slow for me. Maybe I don’t appreciate the finer points of the game. Regardless, when I heard that Hillsboro landed a Minor League baseball team, I was very interested. After all, it's fun to hang out at a game, eat a hot dog, and drink a few beers. On Tuesday, my interest turned to excitement when the name of the team was revealed. Our new team will be known as the Hillsboro Hops!  While beer is popular around here, beer geeks like me are in the minority. So the selection of Hops as the team name was an unexpected surprise.

Ironically, I don’t think hops are even grown in Hillsboro or Washington County. I won’t quibble though, because I think the name and the logo are great!  From a marketing and branding perspective, I think it’s a brilliant choice. I expect some folks (especially beer geeks) far and wide will be clamoring to buy Hops logoed merchandise. 

For more details check out the full press release below. For a concise history of the Hops, including their previous incarnation as the Yakima Beers, check out Pete Dunlop’s great post on Beervana Buzz.

I can’t wait to take my kids to their first Hops game next June! Even more, I can’t wait to buy some gear with the new logo. Once I get my hands on a new Hops baseball cap, I think I’ll finally retire my well-loved (and well-worn) Alaskan Brewing Summer cap. I expect my wife will be thrilled. (You’ve got to see the cap.)

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Short Season, LLC Reveals Name for Single-A Baseball Team
Hillsboro "Hops"

Hillsboro, OR (October 16, 2012) - Short Season, LLC announced today that it has selected the name Hillsboro "Hops" for its Single-A baseball team. The Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate begins play in a new state-of-the-art stadium in Hillsboro in 2013 and will play 38 home games from mid-June to early September.

"The name 'Hops' recognizes Hillsboro's proud agricultural heritage and the fact that Oregon is the second largest hop producing state in the United States," said K.L. Wombacher, General Manager of the Hillsboro Hops. "Hops is also a term used regularly in baseball - short hop, bad hop, crow hop. We feel 'Hops' encompasses several different components we wanted to include in our team name."

After reviewing team name suggestions submitted by fans, Short Season LLC, the owners of the Single-A Hillsboro franchise, decided on a name that had not been used previously by a pro or college sports team.

The Hillsboro Hops logo includes an animated hop plant donning a baseball cap with the letter "H". The primary team colors will be navy blue, light blue and green.

The team will unveil its uniforms and baseball caps in November and Hillsboro Hops merchandise will be available immediately following the unveiling.

Hillsboro Hops season tickets are ON SALE NOW by calling 503.640.0887 or by going online to

About Hillsboro Hops:
The Hillsboro Hops are the Single-A baseball affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball. The team's season runs from mid-June to early September. The franchise relocated to Hillsboro in 2012 and will begin play in 2013 in a new state-of-the-art 4,500 seat stadium. The Hops are part of the 55-year old Northwest League, which includes teams in Boise, Eugene, Salem-Keizer, Tri-Cities, Spokane, Everett and Vancouver BC. Major League stars who rose to prominence via the Northwest League include Ken Griffey Jr., Felix Hernandez, Edgar Martinez, Reggie Jackson, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson and Tony Gwynn. Follow the Hops on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Deschutes Descends on Illinois

I moved from Illinois to Oregon in the late 90's. At the time, Illinois was a beer wasteland consisting mostly of macro lagers. I was never a fan, and avoided them like the plague. Things have changed in the last decade, and a craft beer culture has slowly taken hold in the Land of Lincoln. It's a about to get a lot better!

Deschutes Brewery just announced they will begin distributing to Chicago and the rest of the state in January 2013! They'll begin by shipping:

Many of my family, friends, and readers are in Illinois and I'm thrilled that they'll be able to drink beer from one of Oregon's best breweries. Hopefully, one of these days, Deschutes will send them some of The Abyss!

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Wirtz Beverage and Deschutes Brewery Bring “World’s Best Beer” to Chicago

Bend,Oregon brewery’s craft beers will be available for fans in the entire state of Illinois starting in 2013

15 October 2012 – Bend, Oregon – Recently named the “World’sBest Beer” at the World Beer Awards, Deschutes Brewery’s Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale is just one of the beers that Wirtz Beverage will be bringing to craftbeer fans in the state of Illinois early next year. Deschutes Brewery has partnered with the state’s leading distributor, which has more than 1,000employees statewide, and will be the first beer brand for the company’s new craft beer team.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Deschutes as we launch into the craft beer market in Illinois,” explained Julian Burzynski, Wirtz Beverage Illinois Senior Vice President. “The growth and innovation of the Deschutes brands is a perfect match to our progressive approach to the business.”

Along with Red Chair NWPA, Deschutes Brewery will initially be releasing: Mirror Pond Pale Ale; Chainbreaker White IPA; and Black Butte Porter, the nation’s number one selling craft porter. The beers will all be available in six-packs and draft starting in January 2013.

“Partnering with Wirtz Beverage made great sense for us, as the company’s experience and relationships in the industry are unmatched in the marketplace,” said Andy Tysler, national sales director for Deschutes Brewery.“We are looking forward to bringing our beers to the third largest city in the nation, and filling the increasing demand for craft beer in the region.”

Wirtz Beverage uses technology, business intelligence,education and training, plus great people, to differentiate itself in the market. The company recently opened a new 600,000 square foot, state-of-the-art warehouse, training and distribution facility just outside Chicago. The company has a long history of success with beer distribution and brand building in both Minnesota and Nevada.   

Deschutes Brewery recently added five new 1,300 barrel fermentation tanks to increase capacity at its Oregon brewing headquarters, and plans to add five more tanks in 2013. When all the new tanks are online, the brewery will have the capacity to brew more than 460,000 bbl annually to fill demand in its expanding distribution footprint.

About Deschutes Brewery
Founded in 1988 as a brew pub in downtown Bend, Oregon,Deschutes Brewery is known for such brands as Black Butte Porter, its flagship brew and the nation’s number one selling craft porter, and the popular Mirror Pond Pale Ale. In addition to its original Bend pub, the brewery opened a second pub in Portland’s Pearl District in 2008. The company’s main brewing facility is located in Bend’s Old Mill District and produces approximately250,000 barrels of beer annually for distribution in 19 states and two provinces. To find out more, visit

About Wirtz Beverage Illinois
Wirtz Beverage Illinois is the state’s most established alcohol beverage distributor with operations statewide serving premium wine,spirits and craft beer brands.  The company is an affiliate of Wirtz Beverage Group, one of the nation’s leading alcohol beverage distributors.   With nearly $2 billion in annual sales and 3,000 employees, Wirtz Beverage Group has operations in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin.

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Beers Made By Walking: Interview with Eric Steen

A recent trend in craft beer is brewing with unusual ingredients. At the National Homebrewers Conference earlier this summer, I attended a lecture devoted to the topic. Led by Dick Cantwell, founder of Elysian Brewing, we learned that inspiration for ingredients can be found anywhere.

Can inspiration be found during a stroll through the woods? Eric Steen thinks so. He uses nature hikes to inspire brewers to learn about and incorporate nature into beer. Eric a former Portlander, now residing in Colorado Springs, writes the  Focus on the Beer blog. I was intrigued by Eric's "Beers Made By Walking" program and contacted him to learn more.

Why did you start Beers Made By Walking?  How did you get the idea?

Eric Steen: The initial inspiration for BMBW came during a week-long canoe trip down the Yukon River in Canada. There, I was introduced to the Norwegian term ‘friluftsliv,’ which is translated as ‘Free Air Living.’Theterm describes a way of living in which people make a habit of being outdoors on a regular basis. There are Friluftsliv conferences that host ‘walking lectures’ where attendees hike for a few days on end, stopping every now and again for a lecture and food.

The program's concept developed further during a trip to Scotland, when I built a pop-up pub that served homebrewed beer to the public.While there, I visited Williams Bros. Brewing in Alloa and was inspired by their line-up of historic Scottish beers that used ingredients from the landscape -like heather flower, gale, Scottish pine, and seaweed. Another inspiration came from British artists, like Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, who use walking as a means of understanding our relationship to the world. Beers Made By Walking, in some respects, is a mashing together of those pieces.

Palmer Lake, near Colorado Springs, CO -  Photo by Daniel Flanders
Step 1 of Beers Made by Walking is "Go Hiking." What happens on the hikes?

ES:  Each hike has been completely different. For the hikes in Colorado Springs, I always try to have a big public crowd that comes along. The hikes generally last from 2-5 hours and a botanist or naturalist tells us about the plants we are seeing along the way. A couple of the Oregon brewers also had public hikes but some were private. So, it's always a bit different and I only get to go on a few of them each year.

Step 2 is "Learn." Is the focus on edible plants? What is the most surprising or interesting thing you've learned from your hikes? 
ES:  When I first started doing this, I had very little knowledge about the plants that surround us. The most surprising thing is that now I have what I believe is a reasonable base of knowledge and was able to help lead a hike this summer. I want to learn more and more though I'm not anywhere where I'd like to be. One plant that stands out to me that I see a lot on these Colorado hikes is three leaf sumac which is related to both poison sumac and mango. It produces a lovely hairy red fruit that taste like lemon. A few brewers have used it in the past and I think it's wonderful.

Step 3 is “Make Beer.” As a homebrewer, I’m interested in the technical aspects of this step. Do ingredients tend to be added in the boil as substitutes for hops?

ES: Actually, the ingredients have been used in every step of the way. Perhaps they tend to get put at the end of the boil more than others but brewers have used Juniper, sunflower, and grains in the mash. Chokecherry and other berries are often added during or after fermentation and then the more aromatic plants are often used at the end of the boil. I've had some people really go all out adding wild yarrow or wild sage to the beginning of the boil. It's always fun to see what the brewers try.

Red Huckleberry, Forest Park, Portland - Photo by Eric Steen
Step 4 is “Drink Beer.”  How many events have you held?  What were some of the more interesting and surprising flavor combinations?

ES: The Oregon BMBW will be the 5th one, although I put on lots of other types of beer events too. I've done a couple in Colorado Springs,just finished up one in Denver during GABF and I also did a small in Washington over the summer. It's hard to pick an overall favorite beer out of these but some that stand out include a 4% sour mash chokecherry kreik with 100% lacto, arose hip and sumac saison, a juniper and pineapple weed belgian dark ale, and a prickly pear cactus golden ale. Other ingredients that I'd really like to see more exploration are stinging nettles (which have been used but I think they should be used more), sorrel, dandelion, oyster plant, and other plants that we consider "weeds."

How have brewers and beer drinkers responded to BMBW?

ES: Most brewers seem pretty enthusiastic about the idea.Lots of breweries are currently undergoing expansion and said they would give this a try when they were finished up. 

What’s next for BMBW? Do you have any specific goals or plans?

ES: I've been thinking a lot about this and have begun meeting with a few people for advice. I have lots of ideas but not sure which to act on. I like putting on these special tappings and mini-festivals, I don't think I'd want to do a full-blown festival because I like that people would get to spend a more concentrated amount of time contemplating the beers and ingredients. I do plan to increase the amount of brewers that participate in Oregon, and I have hopes of expanding the program into more states every year.

Grizzly Peak Trail, Medford OR -- Photos by George Rubaloff

I visited Colorado Springs last year, and enjoyed the local beer at Trinity Brewing. How does beer culture in Colorado compare to Oregon?

ES: In Portland I didn't have to drive anywhere for beer, I could go where I wanted and walk home. That's impossible here, things are spread out and people love to drive. That's one thing I certainly miss. Other than that, Colorado has plenty of great breweries that make amazing beer. I'm lucky to have Trinity Brewing in my own town, I love having Crooked Stave, Avery, and New Belgium in this state. There seems to be a similar amount of craft beer drinkers that are educated and thirsty. There's new breweries popping up every time I turn around, it's impossible to keep track of now and I hope that soon I'll be able to easily walk to any number of great breweries.One thing Colorado has down that I'm not sure Oregon does is this heavy emphasis on canned beers, which really are a nice addition to any camping, hiking, or ski trip. They're light weight and they condense down when you're done with them.

Lastly, you find yourself sitting next to some guywho’s enjoying a macro lager. You can choose any two beers in the world to give him. What would they be?

ES: Mirror Pond Pale Ale would be the first because that's the beer that changed me and I still think it's fantastic. The next would be a Colorado Native from AC Golden. This is a Coors product but AC Golden is a killer brewery located upstairs from the big boys. The Colorado Native is 100%Colorado ingredients and is a crisp and refreshing lager with plenty of flavor.

A big thanks to Eric for taking the time to chat! He has a unique idea and I can't wait to see how it grows. Do you want to taste some Beers Made by Walking? If so, you're in luck!  Eric will be holding a BMBW event on Saturday, October 20 at Belmont Station in Portland.You'll have the chance to taste five beers inspired by nature hikes in Oregon:

Coalition Brewing - Ale with Stinging Nettles and Salmonberry
Deschutes Brewery - IPA with Juniper and Sage
Flat Tail Brewing - Fresh Hop Cherry Saison with Corvallis Cherries and Yarrow
Standing Stone Brewery - Ale with Sweet Root, and Wild Ginger
Upright Brewing -  Saison with Yarrow and Rose

100% of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Northwest Trail Alliance.  To learn more, check out the Beers Made By Walking website, Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter.

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2012 Great American Beer Festival: The Medal Count

Photo © Brewers Association
The 2012 Great American Beer Festival, held in Denver, just came to a close. If you haven't heard about GABF, here's a snippet from their website:

"According to the Guinness Book of World Records®, there is no other place on earth where a beer aficionado can find more beers on tap. The Great American Beer Festival is the American brewing industry’s top public tasting opportunity and competition. Tasting sessions will offer attendees the opportunity to tour America’s brewing landscape, one ounce at a time, with access to more than 2,200 different beers from some 500 of the nation’s finest breweries. The GABF gathers practically every type of beer from all of the regions of the country, and are arranged geographically on the festival floor. The festival allows visitors to taste the largest number and the widest variety of hand-crafted products in the American beer industry."

2,200 beers! That seems like quite a party! I've never attended, but imagine I'll visit one of these years. One of the highlights of the festival is the beer competition. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are awarded in 84 different categories encompassing 134 styles of beer. The awards ceremony was held earlier today and you can see the complete results here.

As with any competition, there's always a curiosity about won the most awards. So I downloaded a list of winners and sorted them in a spreadsheet. In the tradition of the Olympic medal count, the chart below shows the states that won the most medals. Drum roll, please...

As you can see California, Colorado, and Oregon were the big winners!

Next, here's a list of individual breweries that won the most awards. Please note the chart below is NOT a complete list of winning breweries. For space reasons, I only included breweries that one two or more medals. Oregon breweries are shaded in orange.

A huge congrats to ALL of the Oregon Breweries who won awards at GABF this year!

10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend
Barley Brown's Brew Pub, Baker City
Bend Brewing Co., Bend
Breakside Brewery, Portland
Burnside Brewing Co., Portland
Columbia River Brewing Co., Portland
The Commons Brewery, Portland
Deschutes Brewery, Bend
Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River
Harvester Brewing, Portland
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland
Laurelwood Brewing Co., Portland
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Hood River
Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City
Rogue Brewery, Newport
Silver Moon Brewing, Bend

For a concise list of the winning beers from Oregon, check out The Brew Site's summary. Have you attended The Great American Beer Festival?  How would you describe the experience?

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