Review: ParadoX, Smuttynose Brewing

Smuttynose Brewing Co. — Portsmouth, NH

  • Style:  IPA
  • Bitterness:  40 IBU
  • ABV:  5.3%
  • Malts:  North American 2-Row, English Pale Ale, Aromatic, Valley Malt C-60
  • Hops:
    • Bittering:  Bravo
    • Flavor:  01210
    • Dry Hop:  01210
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle (provided by brewery) 

Description: "ParadoX is a beer of the moment.  It's a session IPA, brewed with an experimental hop variety (01210, it's really lemony) and a portion of New England grown malt.  Our brewing staff has wanted to brew one of these for a long time and just about everyone in the company has been waiting to drink one." — Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  ParadoX is part of Smuttynose's Short Batch Series of experimental beers.  Back in January, I tasted Durty, another Short Batch brew. ParadoX  showcases 01210, an experimental hop variety planted on only 5 acres on the ENTIRE PLANET! Due to the rare nature of 01210, only 30 barrels of ParadoX were brewed. Of that, only 960 bottles (conditioned in January, 2013) were released. I got my mitts on bottle 743.

The tasting:  Golden in color, slightly hazy, with a white head that dissipates fairly slowly. Aroma is full of citrus—grapefruit, lemon, and navel orange. The taste also starts with many of the same citrus notes, but there is also a strong dose of tropical mandarin orange. Underneath all the citrus is a layer of bready malt. While hop flavors are prominent, it's not as bitter as I'd expect for an IPA. ParadoX is light bodied and has a slightly prickly mouth feel. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma or flavor. It finishes with flavors of biscuit and orange.

Rating: 4 star.  Really Good! I want this again!   The 01210 hop is supposed to be lemony, but orange is what I tasted. I don't recall tasting a beer with such prominent orange flavors. It's delicious and unique! When combined with low alcohol and the lack of intense hop bitterness, ParadoX is a beer you could easily enjoy for a session—make that an extended session!  

Have you tasted Smuttynose's ParadoX or any of their Short Batch beers? 

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Full Sail's Q2 Rotators: ESB and Vienna-Style Lager

In early January, Full Sail announced the launch of their new Pub Series, which joined LTD Lager and Brewer's Share as their 3rd line of rotating beers. Nut Brown Ale was the first in the Pub Series and ESB follows as the second. In the world of lagers, I'm especially excited about the LTD Series release of Vienna-Style Lager. Here are Full Sail's descriptions for both: 

The telltale signs of Spring arrive in the Gorge as mountain bikers begin to replace snowboarders and the snow melt feeds the rivers as white water rafters and kayakers anticipate the first runs of the year. Flowers cover the mountain meadows and blooms fill the orchards in the valley. Our pub staff knows that our ESB will be just the right beer to welcome Spring in the Gorge. ESB is a traditional ale brewed with attention to balance, highlighting both malt and hops. A combination of crystal malts give this beer its orange hue, and caramel complexities. UK and US Challenger hops were used exclusively throughout. Aromas of dry caramel and herbs are followed by a malty, medium bodied palate finishing with caramel flavors and a crisp bitterness. ABV 6.5% IBU 35

Vienna-Style Lager
This copper colored lager is refreshingly smooth, with a hint of dark roast and a clean hoppy finish. Brewed with pale, chocolate, caramel malts and hopped with Czech Saaz hops.
ABV 5.6% IBU 28 

Both  beers will be available only through the end of June.  I'll sample both and share my thoughts soon!

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Review: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Full Sail Brewing Co. — Hood River, OR

  • Style:  Imperial Stout
  • Bitterness:  40 IBU
  • ABV:  9.6%
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified 
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)

Description: "Our Imperial Stout is a highly anticipated release from our brewmaster's cellar. This beer was brewed in December of 2011 and was carefully aged for a year in Kentucky Bourbon casks from Maker's Mark, Four Roses, Jim Beam. This extended aging presents hints of vanilla and allows the Stout to pick up the flavors of the wood, bourbon and oak. The aging combined with the robust character of the Imperial Stout make for an extraordinary and wonderful taste experience. It has a strong roasted malt character and a full body. Chocolate and caramel nuances blend with the hops for a smooth Imperial Stout. It cellars well, Limited availability in 22oz. bottles and draft. Available February 2013 until it’s gone!" — Full Sail Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  This beer was previously released as Black Gold. I'm tasting Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout as part of my series on limited release beers.  

The tasting:  Black in color, with a dark tan head that dissipates slowly. Bourbon is front and center in aroma with prominent notes of coffee and molasses. In taste, bourbon is again at the forefront, but is not overwhelming. In the middle, chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, as well as light vanilla and oak are present. It has a touch of alcohol heat in the middle, but considering this is a 9% ABV beer, it's well masked. Hop bitterness is fairly light. It's medium bodied and finishes with chocolate, bourbon, and a hint of smoke.

Rating: 4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  If you like bourbon, you'll enjoy Full Sail's Barrel Imperial Aged Imperial Stout. The bourbon is showcased, but not overdone. As a result, the beer's many layers of flavor are able to reveal themselves throughout the drink. Extra TLC is required to make good barrel aged beer. This beer was well cared for in Hood River!

Have you tasted Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout?

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Stone Brewing Releases Two 2013 Imperial Russian Stouts

Did you file your taxes on time? If so, it's time to celebrate. If not, you probably need a beer anyway! On April 15 of every year, Stone Brewing releases Imperial Russian Stout (IRSget it?). While many of Stone's beers are meant to drink fresh, this is one that will improve over time. However, if delayed gratification isn't your thing, crack open a bottle now.
Continuing the "Odd Beers for Odd Years" tradition that began in 2011, Stone is releasing an Espresso version for 2013 addition to the classic version. In 2011, the IRS "Odd Year" release was a Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout. I've got a bottle of that in my cellar, and will probably let it mature for a few more years.
For more details, read on. I'll be on the lookout for these...
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ESCONDIDO, CA (April 15, 2013) – Today, Stone Brewing Co. is releasing two versions of the company’s coveted imperial stout: 2013 Stone Imperial Russian Stout and 2013 Stone ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout. As 2013 is an odd-numbered year, Stone is revisiting the “Odd Beers for Odd Years” program which began in 2011. The series introduces new or “odd” versions of Stone Imperial Russian Stout in tandem with classic version during odd-numbered years.
Stone Imperial Russian Stout is one of the highest rated Stone beers, having earned a 100 overall score on RateBeer and a 97 “world-class” score on BeerAdvocate. The recipe was created by Stone Co-founder and President Steve Wagner in 2000 and has changed little from the first brew, which utilizes four malt varieties and Warrior hops. The beer pours black with pronounced cocoa and coffee aromas. The chocolate and java notes carry through onto the palate, along with fruitiness and hints of anise. The beer finishes smooth and slightly bitter.
The 2013 Stone ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout is an augmented version of Stone Imperial Russian Stout brewed with espresso beans from San Diego’s Ryan Bros. Coffee. Like the classic version, the beer pours black and produces strong coffee and chocolate aromas. Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele notes, “The addition of espresso beans in the brewhouse and post-fermentation enhances the coffee flavors that are naturally found in the classic version, but also enhance the perception of chocolate. The fruity, yeasty and hoppy flavors found in the classic version are more diminished.” The Ryan Bros. espresso roast is a blend of Indonesian and Central and South American coffee beans roasted and blended together to produce a bold, robust flavor with hints of citrus and berries.
Both beers are ready to enjoy now, but are also ideal for cellaring several months or years. Over time, the stout will continue to develop deeper, rounder coffee, chocolate and dark fruit flavors as the hop aroma and bitterness subside.
Twice named "All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth" by BeerAdvocate magazine, Stone Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner and is the 11th largest craft brewer in the U.S. Headquartered in Escondido, CA, Stone owns and operates the farm-to-table restaurant Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido, as well as Stone Catering, Stone Distributing, and Stone Farms. Other lofty ventures include construction of Stone Packaging Hall and a second restaurant with an on-site brewhouse, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, both with an estimated completion of first quarter 2013, and Stone Hotel & Headquarters with an estimated completion of late 2014. For more information, please visit or on social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and The Stone Blog.

7th Annual Cheers to Belgian Beers

The 7th Annual Portland to Belgian Beers will be held April 19-20 at Metalcraft Fabrication in Portland. This festival features over 50 Belgian inspired beers.
In the past, all participating brewers were required to use a single yeast strain and brew a "light" or "dark" beer at random (determined by a dart throw). This year, that rule has been eliminated and brewers can use a variety of yeast strains. The result is a diverse (and delicious) beer list! 
For more details, and the beer list, check out all the details below.  Cheers to Belgian Beers!
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7th Annual “Cheers to Belgian Beers” Beer Festival, April 19th and 20th, 2013 at Metalcraft Fabrication
Portland, OR (April 13th, 2013) Cheers to Belgian Beers is back for its seventh year and is changing it up for 2013. The Belgian-style only Ale Festival will feature no single yeast strain for the beers entered, no dart throw to diversify the color and strength of the beers and no People's Choice Award. When Cheers to Belgian Beers started in 2007, it was to help introduce Oregonians to the breadth of style and flavors of beers brewed in Belgium. Since 2008, Oregon brewers have won medals in the Belgian-Style or Sour Ale categories every year at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. In order to showcase these medal winning beers, opening up the Festival to beers that have been aged, blended, barrel aged or soured and not requiring all brewers to do so was necessary. The 2013 Cheers to Belgian Beers currently features 48 beers from 44 breweries with more beers expected by the day of the festival.

For the third year, the festivities will be at Metalcraft Fabrication in Portland, a maker of brewing systems and fermentation tanks for the rapidly growing craft beer industry in Oregon, as well as the United States. The outside area will be tented and food from Philadelphia's Steaks & Hoagies will be available on Friday and Saturday and food from KOi Fusion will be available from noon-6pm on Saturday. If you need to pick up some official Timbers Army merchandise for the match on Sunday, the No Pity Van will be onsite as well. People are encouraged to take public transportation (the TriMet Bus Line 35 stops 1 block away and the Yellow Max Line stops 2 and 3 blocks away) or ride their bike (we will have bike parking outside for 100+ bikes). Parking is available on the street between Broadway and N. Graham St.
What: Cheers to Belgian Beers, Belgian-Style Beer Fest
When: Friday, April 19th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.and Saturday, April 20th from noon to 8 p.m.
Where: Metalcraft Fabrication 723 N Tillamook St., Portland - Map

How: Admission is free. There is a $15 charge for a stemmed glass and five taste tickets, which is required to taste. Additional tastes are $1. This is a 21 and over only event.

View or Download the Beer List Here
Interested in volunteering on Saturday?

For more information check out
The Oregon Brewers Guild(O.B.G.) is Oregon’s non-profit trade association for the state’s independent craft brewers. The O.B.G. comprises 103 brewing companies, 77 associate or supplier members and more than 3,300 enthusiast members or S.N.O.B.s (Supporters of Native Oregon Beer). For more information, see

Moonstruck Chocolate's Beer Berries

Portland's Moonstruck Chocolate Co. just announced the launch of Beer Berries. Although Oregon is world-famous for both craft beer and delicious summer berries, these two delicacies have not been cross-bred (yet, anyway).

Instead, Moonstruck enveloped roasted barley within layers of dark chocolate. Depending on the variety and level of roast, barley takes on wide range of flavors which include caramel, nut, chocolate, and coffee. As you might expect, all of these flavors pair quite nicely with dark chocolate.

The folks at Moonstruck sent me a sample bag. In addition to having a nice coffee flavor, the roasted barley used in Beer Berries also adds a nice crunch to the chocolate. Needless to say, they're delicious. But then again, you could dip a boot in Moonstruck Chocolate and it would still taste good!

For more details, see the news release below.


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Moonstruck CHOCOLATE CO. Launches
Portland, Ore.-based artisan chocolate company pairs two local favorites - chocolate and beer

PORTLAND, Ore. – (April 2, 2013) – Moonstruck Chocolate Co. is expanding its line of Tumbled™ chocolates with the addition of Dark Chocolate Tumbled Beer Berries. Currently available at Moonstruck’s five Oregon Chocolate Cafés and online, the beer berries are roasted German-style malted dark wheat tumbled with layers of the company’s signature dark chocolate, creating round berry-shaped treats. 

“There’s a natural affinity between the work of our local micro-brewers and what our company strives to do with chocolate every day - from a commitment to small batch production to fully developed flavors, chocolate and craft beer definitely complement each other,” said Moonstruck Chocolate Master Chocolatier Julian Rose.

The idea for beer berries developed after Moonstruck’s Master Chocolatier and Panned Chocolate Manager visited a craft brewery located across the street from the company’s Portland, Ore. headquarters.  The duo was intrigued by the unique flavors of the brewery’s darker beers, and determined to recreate a similar flavor profile in a tumbled chocolate product.  After several rounds of experimentation, the team established on the perfect balance of malted dark wheat and chocolate.

The beer berries are entirely alcohol-free, and the name gives a nod to the dark wheat’s role in the brewing process. Dark wheat is traditionally used as an ingredient in German style wheat beers like dunkelweizen, a cousin of the more common hefeweizen. The wheat undergoes a malting process, releasing sugar and giving it a naturally sweet flavor. The wheat is then roasted, which imparts notes of coffee, caramel and even chocolate, as well as a noticeably darker color in the final beer.

Moonstruck’s Master Chocolatier recommends tasting the beer berries alongside a pint of your favorite beer for a full flavored tasting experience.

Dark Chocolate Tumbled Beer Berries are currently available at all five Portland-area Moonstruck Chocolate Cafés and on the Web at The suggested retail price is $6 for a four-ounce package.

About Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Since 1993, Moonstruck Chocolate Co. has been handcrafting artisan chocolates that not only delight the senses, but also nourish the imagination. Moonstruck uses only the finest and freshest ingredients, including superior quality cocoa beans originating from some of the most exotic locations in the world. Moonstruck Chocolate’s master chocolatier, Julian Rose, was named as one of Dessert Professional’s Top Ten Chocolatiers for 2009 and Moonstruck’s award-winning creations were featured as the official chocolate of the 77th and 78th Annual Academy Awards®. Moonstruck’s chocolate creations are handcrafted, hand-decorated and hand-packaged in Portland, Ore., and are available around the country at select retailers, online at, and at the five Moonstruck Chocolate Cafés located in Portland.

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My Homebrew Process Flow (Value Stream Map)

In my real job, I improve processes using Lean and/or Six Sigma. A key tool in my trade is the Value Stream Map (VSM). It’s essentially a process flow chart, but with extra bells and whistles. 

I also teach people how to create VSMs. Since beer is near and dear to my heart, I like to use my homebrew process to illustrate how a VSM works.  I love the process of making beer! I probably enjoy making beer more than I like drinking it.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the latter a great deal, but it’s very rewarding to actually create beer.

So I’ll celebrate the amazing process of making homebrew with a three part series. In this first part, I’ll share my brew day process flow. In the second part, I’ll talk about the value added and non-value added tasks required to brew beer. In the last part, I’ll use Monte Carlo simulation to predict how the long I can expect my brew day process to take in the future, keeping in mind that there is variation in the process.

To be clear, I don't present my process as the “best” way to brew beer. This is simply how I do it. I hope some can learn from it, and I would really appreciate suggestions from others. I also won’t explain the purpose or details of each step. The experts can help you with that. That said, here we go…

My homebrew process has 10 steps:
  1. Measure Strike Water and Begin Heating
  2. Mash In
  3. Mash Grains
  4. Vorlauf and Sparge
  5. Heat Wort
  6. Boil
  7. Cool to 70 F
  8. Sanitize Carboy and Transfer
  9. Aerate Worth & Pitch Yeast
  10. Clean up

The chart below provides a visual representation of the process. For each step, I list the cycle time (how long it takes to complete each activity).

For some activities, you’ll notice additional data to the right of Cycle Time. The length of these steps varies based on the style being brewed. The three numbers represent the minimum, most likely, and maximum cycle time values (also known as a triangular distribution). We’ll delve more into this geekery in part three.

Anyway, you’ll also see some icons with a clock. These represent when I’m sitting around waiting (and drinking beer). The Mash Grains step is also spent waiting (and enjoying beer), but I displayed it as a non-wait time, for reasons I’ll explain later on.

In summary, my process takes 298 minutes (nearly 5 hours) for a typical brew session. Next time, we’ll look at which of the activities in this flow create “value” and we’ll search for waste in the process.

How does your homebrew process differ?  Any suggestions on how I can improve mine?

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Review: Alchemy Ale, Widmer Brothers

Alchemy Ale
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. — Portland, OR

  • Style:  Pale Ale
  • Bitterness:  40 IBU
  • ABV:  5.8%
  • Malts:  Pale, Caramel, Munich, Vienna Extra Special
  • Hops:  Alchemy (proprietary blend)
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)

Description: "We practice alchemy every day turning water, malt, hops and yeast into liquid gold. Alchemy Ale melds years of experimentation and our special Alchemy hop blend, in a pure expression of brewing art and science. Join us in unlocking the mystery to the perfectly balanced, perfectly hopped ale. Alchemy Ale has a bright, distinct hop character balanced with hints of caramel and a remarkably smooth finish." — Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Alchemy Ale is replacing Drifter as Widmer's year-round Pale Ale. Alchemy is not a hop variety, but a proprietary blend that varies slightly from year to year. This blend is used in many of Widmer's beers. I shared more details about Alchemy when it was announced a few weeks ago. Now it's time to give it a taste! 
The tasting:  Deep golden in color, clear, with an off-white head that dissipates slowly. Aroma of light grapefruit and plenty of ripe tropical mango and guava. In taste, it starts with a solid layer of caramel which provides a solid malt backbone. In the middle, grapefruit hop bitterness emerges. The spectacular tropical notes from the aroma don't factor into the taste. Hop bitterness is moderate. Alcohol isn't noticeable in aroma, but a touch is present in the middle. Alchemy Ale is light to medium bodied, has a creamy mouth feel, and finishes with bread and mild grapefruit hop bitterness.

Rating: 3 star. Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  I wish I could compare Alchemy to Drifter. Unfortunately, I haven't tasted Drifter in a long time and I never profiled it on the blog. Either way, Alchemy Ale is a nice addition to the Widmer lineup. It's nicely balanced overall, yet showcases some unique tropical hop flavors. 

What are your thoughts on Alchemy Ale?  Are you sad to see the end of Drifter?

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Craft Brew Alliance Launches Square Mile Cider Co.

Today, Craft Brew Alliance announced the launch of Square Mile Cider Co.  You can see the details in the full press release below.  Here are a few of my observations: 

  • The market for gluten-free beverages is growing at a rapid pace.  Hard ciders are naturally gluten-free.  CBA’s Widmer Brothers has been active in this space.  In April 2012, Widmer launched their Omission line of gluten-free beers.  Square Mile gives them another pony in the race.
  • Beer has an influence on Square Miles’ ciders. Both are fermented with beer lager yeast and one will be dry-hopped. Some hard ciders are one-note in flavor and hops can be used to add complexity and layers of flavor. I've enjoyed the handful of dry-hopped ciders I've tasted.
  • Boston Beer Co. (parent of Samuel Adams) also markets its own line of hard ciders under the Angry Orchards brand.  Launched in 2011, Angry Orchards has been a commercial success and is credited for boosting BostonBeer’s stock price.

The official launch date is May 6.  Best of luck to CBA in their new endeavor. I can't wait to taste these!

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PORTLAND, Ore. – April 2, 2013 – From the pioneer spirit of the Pacific Northwest comes Square Mile Cider Company. The Cider Company launched today, and is introducing two new cider varieties in select markets in Oregon, Washington, and California; The Original is a classic American hard cider; and Spur & Vine is a Northwest version of the classic American hard cider, with the addition of Galaxy hops.

Square Mile Cider Company is based in Portland, Ore., and is inspired by the fortitude and perseverance of the early American settlers who set out on the Oregon Trail in search of a better tomorrow. These pioneers left their old lives behind and chose a new path, relying on hope, pride, and determination. This same pioneer spirit is at the heart of Square Mile Cider Company.

When the settlers arrived in Oregon in the 1850s, they were granted one square mile of land where they could stake their claims and pursue their dreams.  They found that the Northwest had fertile soil and a temperate climate creating the ideal landscape for growing fruit trees.

Square Mile Cider Co. picks and hand presses three apple varieties to make their hard cider; Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, and Johnny Gold. The use of these traditional apple varieties in combination with a lager beer yeast makes a very unique, very easy drinking hard cider.

“We are so lucky to be living in a place of such unbelievable bounty,” said Lorin Gelfand, brand manager of Square Mile Cider Company. “The early Oregon pioneers planted orchards that have been passed down through generations and are still producing fruit today. They inspired us to bring back this classic American beverage that we’re proud to share.”

Square Mile Ciders, The Original and Spur & Vine, are available exclusively in select markets in Oregon, Washington, and California beginning on May 6, 2013. The two varieties will be available at select retail locations in 22-oz. bottles and draught only.

The Original is a classic American hard cider. It’s made from three apple varieties rooted in American culture—Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, and Johnny Gold—picked and pressed by hand in Oregon. A lager beer yeast was chosen to create a cider that perfectly balances sweet and tart with a light, crisp apple flavor and a clean, refreshing finish. The Original is best served over ice to complement the crisp apple flavor and clean, refreshing finish. 6.7% ABV, Gluten Free

Spur & Vine puts a Northwest twist on our classic American Hard Cider. Starting with the same apples and yeast as The Original, a generous amount of Galaxy hops were added to the cider during cold conditioning. Since no heat is applied to the hops, the cider takes on flavors and aromas of peach, melon, and honeysuckle, but with none of the traditional hop bitterness. Spur & Vine is best served straight up to allow the complexities of this cider to shine.  6.7% ABV, Gluten Free

About Square Mile Cider Company:
Square Mile Cider Company is a new brand from Craft Brew Alliance, launched in 2013. The name is inspired by the fortitude and perseverance of the early American settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail in search of a better future. When they arrived in Oregon in the 1850s, they were granted square mile parcels of land to stake their claims. It was on these square mile claims that some of the original Northwest orchards were planted, and where Square Mile Cider Company chose to stake its claim.
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