The Oregon Garden Brewfest: Scenes from Day 1


Today, my wife and I attended The Oregon Garden Brewfest in Silverton, OR. This was our first time at this festival and at The Oregon Garden. Located 40 minutes southeast of Portland, The Oregon Garden is a hidden gem featuring 20 beautifully sculpted gardens throughout its 80 acres. Last night, we stayed at the Oregon Garden Resort and attended the Brewer's Tasting Dinner (compliments of festival organizers). Both the main lodge and the rooms were beautiful, and to put it simplyvery cozy! We enjoyed our short stay at the resort and plan to visit again.

Back to business... We entered the Brewfest as it opened at noon. Attendance was light for the first hour or two (as you can see in picture below), but then it started to fill up. My wife mainly sampled hard ciders and I stuck to beer. One of her favorites was Fox Barrel's Blackberry Pear Cider. I sampled and enjoyed Anthem's Hop Cider. It's a semi-dry apple cider that's dry-hopped with Cascade hops. The hops didn't add bitterness, but provided a nice citrus aroma that is unusual in hard ciders.



I also tasted Seven Brides Brewing's Abbey's Apple Ale, a beer / cider hybrid. This is a beer with apple juice added during primary fermentation. In the end, it tastes like a cross between a beer and a hard cider. As odd as it sounds, I liked it. I may have to make beer / cider hybrid one of these days!

Block 15's Wandelpad and Nebula were, as expected, great! Wandelpad is a Belgian-style blonde ale with plenty of fruity and spicy aromas. Light and refreshing, it's a perfect choice for summer. Nebula is a rich oatmeal stout loaded with coffee and notes of chocolate. Gigantic Brewing is getting ready to open their doors for business. I tasted their IPA, which will be a year-round offering. It was quite hoppy, as you might expect, but was still nicely balanced. I look forward to tasting more of their beers!

While Portland has plenty of beer festivals, the inclusion of cider and the stunning venue make this festival unique. Instead of my usual beer pictures, I've included some shots of the amazing scenery. So if you didn't visit on Friday, you will have one more chance to attend! The Brewfest will be open from noon - 11pm on Saturday, April 28. Don't miss the beer and the views!

Did you attend The Oregon Garden Brewfest? What where your favorites?


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Inaugural Central Oregon Beer Week: May 21-27


Most big cities with a strong craft beer culture have "beer weeks" that are jam packed with special events and tastings. Last year, Portland got into the game with the 1st Annual Portland Beer Week. This year, Central Oregon (with a general focus on Bend, Oregon) is holding its first beer week, which will be held from May 21-27.

The full press release is below. At this time, thirteen breweries are participating. The list of events is still under development, so be sure to check out the Central Oregon Beer Week website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for the latest details. Cheers to Central Oregon Beer!




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For Immediate Release
Jon Abernathy

CELEBRATE CENTRAL OREGON BEER WEEK MAY 21-27

Central Oregon has one of the largest per-capita number of breweries of any region around, and on top of that a thriving, exploding beer scene---so it's only natural that we also have a Central Oregon Beer Week, a week-long celebration of Bend and Central Oregon's amazing beer culture!

Central Oregon's very first Beer Week takes place the last full week in May, leading up to Memorial Day weekend with Mt. Bachelor holding their two-day Brewski festival featuring great beer from Central Oregon's fantastic breweries. 

Other events are in the works, including tastings, meet the brewers, beer dinners, some special tours, and much more, all in conjunction with the newly-formed Central Oregon Brewers Guild---check out and bookmark the Events page on the website to keep abreast of all the Week's happenings!

If you would like to participate in Central Oregon Beer Week, we would welcome your event! You can fill out our event submission form  on the COBW website to tell us all about it.




Review: Dubhe, Uinta Brewing Co.


Dubhe
Unita Brewing Co. — Salt Lake City, UT


Stats:
  • Style:  Imperial Black IPA
  • Bitterness:  109 IBU
  • ABV: 9.2%
  • Malts: Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Special Ingredient:  Hemp seeds
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle  


Description: "Toasted, chocolaty dark malts align with an astronomical amount of hops. Named Utah's Centennial Star in 1996, Dubhe (pronounced Doo-bee) illuminates the front of the big dipper from 124 light years away. Dubhe, also known as Alpha Ursae Majoris, is a red giant that appears orange in color and has a mass 4x that of the sun." — Uinta Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  This is one of the few Imperial Black IPAs that I'm aware of that is distributed in 12 oz bottles. If you haven't connected the dots, please note the pronunciation of the beer's name in the description above and consider the fact that hemp seeds are used in this beer. I'm tasting Dubhe as part of my IPA Diversity series.

The tasting:  Dark brown color, with a tan colored head that dissipates fairly slowly. When held up to the light, I can see ruby hues. Aroma starts with a strong dose of piney and grapefruit hops, followed by roasted malt. Alcohol is not present in aroma. The bitter grapefruit and piney hops quickly make their presence known in flavor. There's no mistaking that this is a hop-forward beer (as if the 109 IBUs didn't give you a clue)! After the initial assault of hops, notes of chocolate malt, roasted malt, and coffee combine to provide a Dubhe with a solid backbone that helps to keep the bitterness in check. It's light to medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and has a slick oily mouth feel. It finishes dry with a touch of warming alcohol and long lingering grapefruit and resiny hop bitterness. Although some alcohol is noticeable, it's far below what I expected for a 9.2% ABV brew. So proceed with caution...

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   Although the hemp seeds are supposed to provide a mild nutty flavor, they didn't register on my palate amongst the lupulin barrage. No big deal though. Overall, I loved Dubhe! When I'm in the mood for an amped-up Black IPA, I'll come back to this. The fact that it's available in 12 oz (rather than just in 22 oz bombers) is an added plus!

Have you tried Dubhe? What's your favorite Imperial Black IPA?


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Oregon Garden Brewfest Starts on Friday (or Thursday night)!


The 2012 Oregon Garden Brewfest will be held in Silverton, OR, this weekend (April 27 -28).  You can see the full beer and cider taplist here.

For the first time, festival organizers are planning a Brewer's Tasting Dinner on Thursday, April 26 at 7pm. Take a look at the pairing menu. It looks absolutely delicious and I can't wait to experience it! If you'd like to attend the dinner, order your tickets quickly because only 10 tickets are left at time of publication. For more festival details, including advance ticket and hotel packages, check out the Oregon Garden Brewfest website.

Are you attending the festival or Brewer's Tasting Dinner?  Which beers are you looking forward to tasting?


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Making a Yeast Starter



Many seasoned homebrewers and professional brewers recommend making yeast starters—especially when using liquid yeasts. Starters build up the population of yeast cells, which leads to a quick start to fermentation. In addition, a larger population ensures the yeast cells don’t get stressed out and produce off-flavors.

About a year ago, I brewed a Rye Pale ale using an expired liquid yeast. I had a delayed (and slow) fermentation and didn’t like the taste of the end result. I think a yeast starter would have been beneficial in this case. So I decided it was finally time to give yeast starters a try.

I wanted to reuse yeast I harvested in August for a Berliner Weisse. My Berliner Weisse recipe called for the same yeast and bacteria strains (European Ale yeast and lactobacillus) that I used in my Sour Cherry Ale. Since the harvested yeast slumbered in my beer fridge for six months, I figured a starter would be the perfect way to liven up the little critters for their next job.

Like most things in the brewing world, a yeast starter can range from complex to simple.  I decided to go with the simple method. I’ll eventually get to the stir-plate and online yeast calculators, but baby steps first.  Here’s how I made my starter. Be sure to follow the same meticulous sanitation practices used when making beer.

  1. Heat up two cups of water, and slowly stir in one cup of dried golden malt extract.
  2. Add an 1/8 of a teaspoon of yeast nutrient.
  3. Bring the mixture (wort) to a rolling boil, and let it continue to boil for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the wort into a sanitized Erlenmeyer flask (or glass jar) and immerse it into an ice bath. I used a big pot in my kitchen sink. Beware, regular glass containers can shatter if subjected to extreme temperature differences!
  5. Cool the wort down to a temperature of 70 F.
  6. Vigorously shake the flask to add air to the cooled wort.
  7. Add the liquid yeast and give it another shake.
  8. Cover the flask with a piece of sanitized aluminum foil.
  9. Wait for fermentation to begin. Give the flask a good shake whenever you can.

Apparently, it’s common to see fermentation activity within hours of adding the yeast. Not the case for me. I took nearly two days before the fermentation started. Once it finally kicked in, fermentation completed in about a day. I then put in my refrigerator, which helps the yeast to settle out to the bottom. In the picture below, you can see the layer of white yeast cells on top of the tan layer.

A layer of white yeast cells settling out at the bottom.


When it was time to pitch the yeast into my Berliner Weisse, I decanted the liquid at the top, gave the remaining contents a quick swirl and dumped it into my cooled wort.

How did my first attempt turn out?  Quite well, I think. I got the quick fermentation start I wanted and my beer was devoid of off-flavors after primary. So I’ll consider this to be a positive experience. I’ll experiment more with yeast starters—next time with a stir plate!

Do you use yeast starters? What’s your preferred method for making a starter?


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Stirring the DME, water, and yeast nutrient to a boil.

Cooling the wort to 70 degrees F in an ice bath.

Fermentation underway!



Top Brewers of 2011


Yesterday, the Brewers Association released their Top 50 Brewers lists for 2011. One for craft breweries and one for overall breweries. The full press release is listed at the end of this post.

You may be interested (as I was) about how “craft brewer” is defined. According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small is defined as less than 6 million barrels a year. The explanations for independent and traditional border on legalese. If you’re interested in the details, check out footnote 1.

After perusing the lists, here are my thoughts and observations about the Top 50 Craft Brewers List:

  • Four brewers from Oregon (Deschutes, Full Sail, Ninkasi, and Rogue) made the Top 50 Craft Brewers list.
  • BridgePort Brewing is part of The Gambrinus Co., from San Antonio, Texas, which is listed as the fourth largest craft brewer.
  • was surprised that Craft Brew Alliance (parent of Widmer Brothers, Redhook, and Kona) is not classified as a craft brewer. I expect they didn’t meet the definition’s “independent” clause based on their ownership structure. I’ll verify. They are the 9th largest overall brewer, however.
  • was pleasantly surprised to see Alaskan Brewing as the 14th largest craft brewer. This is a feat considering all of their beer is brewed in Alaska and shipped out by barge. I’m a big fan of their beer.
  • I was also surprised to see New Glarus Brewing in the 19th position. I’ve never tasted their beer, but have heard great things about their cherry ale. I believe they only distribute in Wisconsin.
  • I didn’t realize Bell’s Brewery (7th position) from Michigan and Boulevard Brewing (10th position) from Missouri were as large as they are. Good for them.

Anyway, the craft brewing industry is dynamic and I look forward to seeing how this list changes in 2012. For another take on this list, check out Beervana.

What do you think of the 2011 Top Brewers List?  Any surprises?


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Brewers Association Releases Top 50 Breweries in 2011

Boulder, CO -- April 17, 2012 - The Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade group that tabulates production statistics for U.S. breweries—today released its annual lists of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on 2011 beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 36 are small and independent craft brewing companies¹,².

“In the last 15 years, craft brewing has gone from one percent of the overall beer market to almost six percent in 2011,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “We attribute a large part of that growth to the many talented brewers who are providing beer lovers with more beer style and flavor choices than ever before.”

Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies
(Based on 2011 beer sales volume)
Rank
Brewing Co.
City
State
1
Boston Beer Co.
Boston
MA
2
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico
CA
3
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
4
The Gambrinus Company
San Antonio
TX
5
Deschutes Brewery
Bend
OR
6
Matt Brewing Co.
Utica
NY
7
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg
MI
8
Harpoon Brewery
Boston
MA
9
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma
CA
10
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Kansas City
MO
11
Stone Brewing Company
Escondido
CA
12
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton
DE
13
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn
NY
14
Alaskan Brewing & Bottling Co.
Juneau
AK
15
Long Trail Brewing Co.
Burlington
VT
16
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Portland
ME
17
Abita Brewing Co.
Abita Springs
LA
18
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland
OH
19
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus
WI
20
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Hood River
OR
21
Summit Brewing Co.
St. Paul
MN
22
Anchor Brewing Co.
San Francisco
CA
23
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Paso Robles
CA
24
Sweetwater Brewing Co.
Atlanta
GA
25
Rogue Ales Brewery
Newport
OR
26
Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick
MD
27
Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown
PA
28
CraftWorks Breweries & Restaurants
Chattanooga/Louisville
TN/CO
29
Oskar Blues Brewery
Longmont
CO
30
Odell Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
31
Stevens Point Brewery Co.
Stevens Point
WI
32
Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Eugene
OR
33
BJ's Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc.
Huntington Beach
CA
34
Blue Point Brewing Co.
Patchogue
NY
35
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cloverdale
CA
36
Lost Coast Brewery Cafe
Eureka
CA
37
Big Sky Brewing Co.
Missoula
MT
38
North Coast Brewing Co. Inc.
Fort Bragg
CA
39
Saint Louis Brewery, Inc./Schlafly Bottleworks
St. Louis
MO
40
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.
San Jose
CA
41
Breckenridge Brewery
Denver
CO
42
Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids
MI
43
Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Houston
TX
44
Karl Strauss Brewing Co.
San Diego
CA
45
Real Ale Brewing Co.
Blanco
TX
46
Mac and Jack's Brewery Inc.
Redmond
WA
47
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Portsmouth
NH
48
Utah Brewers Cooperative
Salt Lake City
UT
49
Left Hand Brewing Co.
Longmont
CO
t.50 
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
Boonville
CA
t.50 
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
Tempe
AZ



Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies
(Based on 2011 beer sales volume)
Rank
Brewing Co.
City
State
1
Anheuser-Busch Inc. (a)
St. Louis
MO
2
MillerCoors (b)
Chicago
IL
3
Pabst Brewing Co. (c)
Woodbridge
IL
4
D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc.
Pottsville
PA
5
Boston Beer Co.
Boston
MA
6
North American Breweries (d)
Rochester
NY
7
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico
CA
8
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
9
Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (e)
Portland
OR
10
The Gambrinus Company (f)
San Antonio
TX
11
Deschutes Brewery
Bend
OR
12
Matt Brewing Co. (g)
Utica
NY
13
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg
MI
14
Minhas Craft Brewery (h)
Monroe
WI
15
Harpoon Brewery
Boston
MA
16
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma
CA
17
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Kansas City
MO
18
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido
CA
19
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton
DE
20
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn
NY
21
Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Co.
Juneau
AK
22
Long Trail Brewing Co.
Burlington
VT
23
August Schell Brewing Co. (i)
New Ulm
MN
24
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Portland
ME
25
Abita Brewing Co.
Abita Springs
LA
26
World Brews/Winery Exchange (j)
Novato
CA
27
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland
OH
28
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus
WI
29
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Hood River
OR
30
Pittsburgh Brewing Co.
Pittsburgh
PA
31
Summit Brewing Co.
St. Paul
MN
32
Anchor Brewing Co.
San Francisco
CA
33
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Paso Robles
CA
34
Cold Spring Brewing Co. (k)
Cold Spring
MN
35
Sweetwater Brewing Co.
Atlanta
GA
36
Rogue Ales Brewery
Newport
OR
37
Mendocino Brewing Co. (l)
Ukiah
CA
38
Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick
MD
39
Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown
PA
40
CraftWorks Breweries & Restaurants (m)
Chattanooga/Louisville
TN/CO
41
Oskar Blues Brewery & Tasty Weasel Tap Room
Longmont
CO
42
Odell Brewing Co.
Fort Collins
CO
43
Stevens Point Brewery Co. (n)
Stevens Point
WI
44
Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Eugene
OR
45
BJ's Chicago Pizza & Brewery
Huntington Beach
CA
46
Blue Point Brewing Co.
Patchogue
NY
47
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cloverdale
CA
48
Goose Island Brewing Co. (o)
Chicago
IL
49
Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe
Eureka
CA
50
Narragansett Brewing Co.
Providence
RI


*Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes Bass, Beck's, Busch, Goose Island, Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Blue brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Kona, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Herman Joseph, Keystone, Killian's and Leinenkugel's brands; (c) includes Schlitz and 28 other brand families; (d) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (e) includes Kona, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (f) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (g) includes Flying Bison brands; (h) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families; (i) includes Grain Belt brand; (j) private label brands; (k) includes Gluek and 17 other brand families; (l) includes Butte Creek, Kingfisher and Olde Saratoga brands; (m) includes A1A, Big River, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants, Ragtime and Seven Bridges brewpubs; (n) includes James Page and Whole Hog brands; (o) sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2011.

The Association's full 2011 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual breweries, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, available May 22, 2012.

For additional statistics, see the craft brewing statistics and 2011 craft brewer sales numbers.

¹The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewer's brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

²Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for the Top 50 rankings.