Review: Marooned on Hog Island, 21st Amendment Brewery


Marooned on Hog Island
21st Amendment Brewery — San Francisco, CA

Stats:
  • Style:  Oyster Stout
  • Bitterness:   Not specified
  • ABV:  7.9%
  • Malts:  Pale, Crystal, Rolled Oats, Carafa, Chocolate Malt, White Wheat
  • Hops:  Magnum, Willamette
  • Special Ingredients:  Hog Island Sweetwater Oyster Shells
  • Sampled:   12 oz. cans

Description:  "Exhausted by the tedious work and rancid beer, deck swabs O’Sullivan and Freccia abandoned Sir Francis Drake’s Galleon. Days later, they washed up on a tiny island in Tomales Bay, where they encountered local oyster farmers John and Terry. Soon, these beer mutineers and oyster mercenaries were feasting on roast pig, fresh oysters and goblets of the captain’s finest ale. They could think of worse fates than being MAROONED ON HOG ISLAND." — 21st Amendment Brewery

Random thoughts:  Marooned on Hog Island is part of 21A's Insurrection Series. It's sold in 4-packs and is priced similarly to 21A's year-round and seasonal 6-packs. I'm drinking it as part of my series on limited release beers. 

The tasting:  Dark brown in color (near black), with a tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and espresso. Taste begins with deep roasted malt followed by a prominent earthy hop bitterness. In the middle, dark chocolate and light brine are present. Alcohol is noticeable in aroma and taste. Marooned on Hog Island is medium bodied, has moderate to high carbonation, and finishes slightly sweet with roasted malt and light hop bitterness.
 
Rating: 3 star. Good. I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  If I tasted this blind, I don't think I would have noticed the brine or oyster flavors. Regardless, this is a nice stout. I wish 21A released a version brewed without oyster shells. It would be fun to do a side-by-side comparision.

Have you been Marooned on Hog Island?


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Review: Liquid Breadfruit, Maui Brewing



Liquid Breadfruit
Maui Brewing Co. — Lahaina, Maui, HI

Stats:
  • Style:  Imperial Golden Ale
  • Bitterness:   Not specified
  • ABV:  8.2%
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Calypso
  • Special Ingredients:  Breadfruit and Toasted Papaya Seeds
  • Sampled:   12 oz.can

Description:  "To celebrate the cornucopia of a Maui-grown harvest, we will ingeniously combine local breadfruit (or ulu) & toasted papaya seeds into the recipe of an imperial golden ale fermented using Dogfish Head’s DNA ( Delaware-Native-Ale) yeast." — Maui Brewing Co.


Random thoughts:  Liquid Breadfruit is a collaboration between Maui Brewing Co. and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. I'm drinking it as part of my series on limited release beers. I've never tasted Breadfruit before, so I looked it up. Here's a good article that explains the joys of breadfruit. It's starchy, tastes like undercooked potatoes, and is often fed to pigs. This should be interesting...  

 

The tasting: Light golden in color, hazy, with an off-white head that dissipates fairly slowly. Aroma of lightly toasted malt, mild alcohol, and a tropical fruit sweetness. In taste, it has a bready malt backbone, which dominates the flavor. Some earthy and mild fruity flavors are noticeable in the background. Alcohol is heavy in taste and overall hop bitterness is low. It's light to medium bodied, softly carbonated, and finishes with bready malt and alcohol. 

Rating: 2 star. Drinkable, but I don't want to drink it.  I enjoy sampling beers that use unusual ingredients. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. For me, the flavor in Liquid Breadfruit was one dimensional and lacking, in general. I didn't finish the drink. This beer does have its share of fans, so check out RateBeer and Beer Advocate for a different point of view. In the future, if I want starch, I'll eat french fries. 

Have you tasted Liquid Breadfruit?

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Elysian's Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale

 
Fresh off its 12 Beers of The Apocalypse series, Elysian Brewing Co. is preparing to release another beer made with unusual ingredients—this time Blood Orange. More details from Elysian are listed below.

Back in June, I had the opportunity to hear Dick Cantwell, Elysian Head Brewer and Co-Founder, speak at the National Homebrewers Conference in Seattle. In my favorite session of the conference, Dick talked about how he and his team have experimented with odd ingredients over the years.  This beer is yet another example of their exploration. I’m looking forward to tasting and writing about this one!  Stay tuned!


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Grok this: what if the world were an orange--a blood orange--and there were Citra and Amarillo hop cones orbiting all around it, with just a dusting of blood orange peel, and it was all, like, an atom? Heavy, right? Well dig this: just to keep things a little blurred around the edges, the mad chemists at Elysian Brewing have come up with Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale. It'll be available at groovy taverns, restaurants and stores beginning April 1 in six-packs, 22-ounce bottles and on draft.


You've heard the story before: the Man's been throwing his weight around again, muscling people all over town with super-uninteresting beer. Enter Superfuzz, a one-beer crusade against the oppressive ordinary. He can relate to other ales, with an easygoing blend of Northwest Pale, Munich and Dextri-pils malts, but where the hops and the blood orange come in, he's a complicated guy. Worldly German Northern Brewer and Cascade bitter and flavor the beer, but it's the combination of Citra, Amarillo and Blood Orange peel in the finish, topped off with pureed and concentrated blood orange in the fermenter that land the biggest blows. Call it Orangesploitation, Superfuzz is serving notice. Starting gravity is 14°P/1.056, and alcohol a mellow 5.3% by volume.


-Dick Cantwell
   

Review: Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout, Odell


Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout
Odell Brewing Co. — Fort Collins, CO

Stats:
  • Style:  Milk Stout
  • Bitterness:   Not specified
  • ABV:  8.5%
  • Malts:   Not specified
  • Hops:   Not specified
  • Special Ingredients:  Milk Sugar & Milk Chocolate
  • Sampled:   12 oz. bottle

Description:  "If you’ve ever been to our brewery, you’ve likely seen the old, beat-up truck that hauls away our spent grain. That truck belongs to Lugene who’s been feeding his dairy cows the hearty malt for over a decade. Named in his honor, Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout is brewed with milk sugar and milk chocolate. The rich and creamy brew reminds us of a cold glass of chocolate milk and our hometown “Aggie” roots." — Odell Brewing Co.


Random thoughts: I'm a big fan of the milk stout style. I was intrigued by this beer when I first read about it a few months ago. I picked it up during a a trip to Arizona (Odell doesn't distribute in Oregon). This is part of my series on winter limited release beers. Lugene is sold in 4-packs and is available from January - March.

The tasting:  Very dark brown, near black, in color with a dark tan head dissipates very quickly. Aroma of roasted malt, licorice, and chocolate. Immediately after the initial sip, the first thing that hits the palate is a wave of sweetness from the chocolate and milk sugar. In the middle, roasted malt, and sweet chocolate are prominent along with notes of vanilla and coffee. Hop bitterness is very low and while alcohol is present in flavor, it seems mild for an 8.5% beer. Lugene is medium bodied, has a creamy mouth feel, and finishes with sweet chocolate malt and lingering vanilla.

Rating: 3 star. Good. I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  I loved the first few sips of this beer. The roasty flavors combined with the sweet chocolate and creamy body were amazing. By mid-drink, the sweetness started to wear me down. By then end, I could barely finish the bottle. Make no mistake, Lugene is a good beer—it's just really sweet! If you like milk stouts, you should try it.  However, save it for dessert or share with a friend. This is no session beer. One is all you need!

Have you tasted Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout?


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Alaskan's New Freeride APA

 
Alaskan Brewing recently announced the launch of Freeride APA (American Pale Ale), a new year-round release. The full press release is listed below. This beer will feature Citra hops--one of my favorite varieties. Citra provides an amazing blend of juicy tropical fruit flavors. I look forward to tasting and and writing about Freeride when it's released!


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ALASKAN SCALES UP FREERIDE APA TO YEAR-ROUND BOTTLED RELEASE
New American Pale Ale from Alaskan Brewing releases March 1

JUNEAU, Alaska (February 13, 2013) – 
Alaskan Brewing is releasing their first new, year-round bottled brew since 2009 with Alaskan Freeride APA. This floral, fruity and citrusy American Pale Ale features Citra, Centennial and Cascade hops in balance with a medium malt body.

“It was a long ride to perfecting this recipe,” said Production Operations Manager Dave Wilson. “We had been experimenting with American Pale Ale recipes that we liked, but when the Citra hop variety showed up, it matched the malt profile in a way that made it both really refreshing and full of flavor.”

First brewed on Alaskan’s pilot system in 2010, Alaskan Freeride APA became a local favorite through Alaskan’s Rough Draft series of draft experimental brews available in Alaska only. Alaskan then shared Freeride APA with select draft locations in the lower 48 via their Rough Draft Export series in the spring of 2012 to celebrate their role as the official beer of FLOW Tailgate Alaska and the annual World Freeride Festival held each year in Thompson Pass near Valdez, Alaska. 

“Some of us on the brew crew spend a lot of our free time in Alaska’s backcountry, skiing and snowboarding,” said Alaskan Brewer Tyler Lindquist. “The APA grew out of our attempts at brewing the perfect après-ski beer, but it turned into basically a great après-anything beer.”

Like all Alaskan Brewing labels, Alaskan Freeride APA features scenes from life in Alaska, including backcountry snowboarding near Juneau and snow-biking on a glacial lake. While previous Alaskan label art features vibrant illustrations of Alaska activities, this new package features photographs of Alaskans in action which directly connect the new brew to the people and places that inspired it.

Alaskan Freeride APA will be available on draft and in bottles in the 14 states where Alaskan beers are sold beginning in March. Fans can learn more about where to find Freeride APA and other Alaskan Brewing products by using the online Brewfinder at alaskanbeer.com.



About Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaskan Brewing Co. has been making award-winning beer in the remote, coastal community of Juneau, Alaska, since 1986. The Alaskan Brew Crew bottles the unique character of the Last Frontier with historic recipes, local ingredients, and glacier-fed water. The pristine location of Alaskan beer has inspired the brewery to apply innovative thinking and a respect for the local environment to their growth, making Alaskan an industry leader in sustainability. Alaskan Brewing handcrafts Amber, White, IPA, Stout, Freeride APA, Winter Ale, Summer Ale, Spring Black IPA, the award-winning Smoked Porter, and an array of limited edition beers in the Alaskan Pilot Series. Visit www.alaskanbeer.com to learn more and connect with Alaskan at Facebook.com/AlaskanBrewingCo and @AlaskanBrewing on Twitter.


Review: Columbia Common, Widmer Brothers


Columbia Common
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. — Portland, OR

Stats:
  • Style: California Common
  • Bitterness: 32 IBU
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Malts: 2-Row Pale, Munich 20L, Caramel 40L, Chocolate Malt
  • Hops:  Alchemy, Columbia, Willamette
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle


Description:  "The Columbia Hop was near extinction when we brought it back to create this crisp, easy drinking common ale. With a rich amber hue, Columbia Common, the new spring seasonal release for 2013, has a mild grassy and spicy hop notes are complemented by a fruity character and clean finish brought on by the use of Hefeweizen and lager yeasts and unique malt bill. It's the perfect beer for spring. Prost!" — Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.

Random thoughts: I'm drinking Columbia Common as part of my series on spring seasonal beers. I first tasted this new beer a month ago at a preview hosted by Widmer Brothers Brewing and decided to revisit it for a full review. At the event, I spoke with Ben Dobler (Brewer at Widmer), who told me Columbia Common is simultaneously fermented with both ale and lager yeasts (in the same tank). Normally a common (or steam beer) is fermented with lager yeasts at ale fermentation temperatures.

The tasting: Medium to dark amber in color, hazy, with a white head that dissipates fairly slowly. Aroma of caramel at the forefront, earthy hops, and notes of yeast. Overall, it's quite malty. Taste is very similar to aroma. It's very malt forward with toasted and bready malt. It has a touch of sweetness and a moderate amount of earthy and grassy hop bitterness. Alcohol is not present in aroma, but a small amount is noticeable in taste. Columbia Common is medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and finishes with notes of caramel and earthy hops.
Rating: 4 star. Really Good! I want this again!  Columbia Common's malty flavors and mild hop bitterness remind me of an Oktoberfest. Although this is spring seasonal, I think it would also be a great choice for the fall season.

Have you tasted Columbia Common?


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Portland Brewing Co. Re-Launch Party


By now, you've probably heard that Portland Brewing Co. is returning and you may have seen their newly re-branded packaging on retail shelves. I recently interviewed Ryan Daley, Brand Manager for PBC, about the change

Portland Brewing is owned by North American Breweries. Last year, NAB did a nice job of refreshing their Pyramid brand, so I've been curious to see if they can rekindle interest in Portland Brewing.

Last Friday, my wife and I attended the re-launch party hosted by PBC at their NW Portland taproom. Four beers were served, each paired with a small bite of food.

  • Oyster Stout:  This new beer was brewed with whole Yaquina Bay oysters. This is a draft-only release that will be available only in Oregon. I liked it. It was smooth and roasty, but I couldn't taste the oyster / briny flavor. 
  • India Pale Ale:  Another new beer, this will be a year-round release. I'll post a detailed profile after I find a bottle and sample it at home. My first impressions were positive. Well balanced, and not overly bitter. 
  • MacTarnahan's Amber Ale:  An old classic that has stood the test of time. No changes were made to this beer, and it will continue to be a year-round release.
  • Rose Hip Gold:  I first tasted this new spring seasonal a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised. Paired with Rose Hip Gold Ice Cream created by Salt & Straw, this was easily the best pairing of the evening! Made with the beer, the ice cream was delicious. It had a strong malty-sweet base and a light rose aroma. 

Fred Bowman, Portland Brewing Co's original co-founder, makes a toast.


Bottom line, I'm encouraged by what I saw (and tasted). The Portland Brewing re-launch strategy is simpleit's focused on beer and reconnecting with the past. To that end, in 2013 we'll enjoy some old favorites such as Zig Zag River Lager and Blackwatch. We'll also see new releases and draft-only selections. In addition, I think they've hit the mark with the new packaging designs.

Funny how we always seem to end up where we started...

What do you think of the "return" of Portland Brewing Co.?


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2013 Oregon Garden Brewfest


Last week, we learned that the Oregon Brewers Festival is expanding to five days. Another beer festival, the Oregon Garden Brewfest, is also expanding its run to three days (from two). Held at the scenic Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton, the Oregon Garden Brewfest is far more low-key and relaxing and its bigger beerfest cousins. This year's OGB will be held April 26-28.

The Oregon Garden Resort offers a few guest room packages. Consider staying the night! Last year, my wife and I stayed in one of the guest rooms (compliments of festival organizers) and enjoyed the cozy accommodations. 

To get an idea of what you can expect at the OGB, here are my recaps of last year's Brewer's Dinner and opening day at Oregon Garden Brewfest.


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Oregon Garden Brewfest expands to three days, offers ideal spring
getaway with craft beers & ciders, live music and great room deals

SILVERTON, Ore. — The Oregon Garden Brewfest has been the Willamette Valley’s best-kept secret for a number of years, but the word is getting out. As a result of its popularity, the Oregon Garden Brewfest is expanding to three days in 2013: April 26 through 28 at The Oregon Garden’s Grand Hall. The 9th annual festival will feature nearly 95 handcrafted beers and ciders from 45 different breweries spanning from Silverton’s backyard to the East Coast. Event hours are Noon to 11 pm Friday & Saturday, and Noon to 6 pm Sunday.

Located in the historic town of Silverton, 45 miles south – just over an hour’s drive – from the Portland metropolitan area, the Oregon Garden Brewfest also features live music from more than 20 area bands, food, tasting lessons by Women Enjoying Beer, a Brewer’s Tasting Dinner, a Connoisseur Tasting, and a homebrew competition presented by Capitol Brewers.

Advance admission includes a one-day pass for $15 that features a tasting glass, seven tasting tickets, and express entry; a three-day pass for $25 that includes a tasting glass, 15 tasting tickets, and express entry; and a VIP pass for $50 that includes a tasting glass, 45 tasting tickets, a T shirt and a food voucher. Advance sales are available at http://ogbf2013.blogspot.com. Tickets at the door cost the same, but include only five tasting tickets for one day, 10 tasting tickets for three days, 35 tasting tickets for VIP, and no express entry. Designated drivers pay a cover charge of $5 and receive a bottled water.

A full glass of beer costs four tickets, and a taster costs one ticket. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased for $1 apiece. The event is cash only, with an ATM on-site. Parking at The Oregon Garden is $5 per car; free shuttles will be available to various locations in town.

The Oregon Garden Brewfest is for ages 21 and over on Friday and Saturday; minors are welcome all hours on Sunday.

The second annual Oregon Garden Brewer’s Tasting Dinner will take place on the eve of the festival, April 25 at 7 pm. This six-course tasting will be attended by participating brewers and industry insiders. Each course will be a small plate paired with a beer tasting from one of six area breweries. There are a limited number of tickets available to the public for $40 apiece.

A Connoisseur Tasting on April 26 from Noon to 2pm gives attendees the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the brewers and representatives. This event is included with Friday admission.

For those from out of the area who wish to make a night of it, The Oregon Garden Resort is offering two room packages: the Brewer's Dinner Package for $219 is available on April 25 and includes accommodations, two tickets to the Brewer’s Dinner, breakfast for two the next morning, and two one-day tickets to the Brewfest on April 26. The Brewfest Package for $189 is available April 25 through April 28 and includes accommodations, breakfast for two, two one-day tickets to the Brewfest and two food booth vouchers. Reservations are available at http://oregongardenresort.com/Packages.htm or call 503-874-2500.

For a complete list of participating breweries and beers, a detailed entertainment schedule, or more information about the event, visit http://ogbf2013.blogspot.com.

Beer Run: Mid-Winter and Spring Seasonals


At the start of the New Year, breweries begin releasing their mid-winter or spring seasonals. These beers serve as a nice bridge from the heavier beers of winter to the lighter brews of summer. I'll celebrate the season by sampling this collection of seven beers:


All of these beers are being released broadly for the first time. If you're looking for other spring seasonal beer ideas, you should consider Alaskan's Black IPA, Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye, and Southern Oregon Brewing's Black Heart Imperial Stout,

What's your favorite spring or mid-winter seasonal?


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