Review: Harvest Single Hop IPA - 291 Varietal, Sierra Nevada


Harvest Single Hop IPA - 291 Varietal
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — Chico, CA

Stats:
  • Style:  IPA
  • Bitterness:  55 IBU
  • ABV:  6.5%
  • Malts:  2-Row Pale, Caramel
  • Hops:  291 Experimental (bittering & finishing)
  • Sampled:  24 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)

Description:  Whole-cone hops, the whole time—our philosophy since the beginning. We use hops in their purest form, and we’re fortunate to get first crack at some of the rare and exciting varietals new to brew kettles. This single-hop IPA showcases newly developed hop 291’s fruity, berry-like aromas, complex floral character and hints of pepper. This intriguing varietal kicks off our five-bottle Harvest series which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers. — Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Most IPAs tend to use a blend of hop varieties to achieve a desired flavor profile. Recently, I've noticed some breweries releasing single-hop beers. As the name implies, only one hop variety is used in these beers (for both bittering and flavor). Single hop beers allow you to understand and experience the aromas and taste of a particular variety. As part of its 2014 Harvest Series, Sierra Nevada is releasing this single hop beer which showcases Yakima #291, an experimental varietal that features flavor of black pepper and blueberry! 

The tasting:  Golden in color, slightly hazy, with an off-white head that dissipates very slowly, leaving lots of sticky lacing on the glass. The aroma is full of black pepper, along with herbal and grassy notes. If I was tasting this blind, the spicy notes would have led me to believe it was brewed with a Belgian yeast strain.  Taste starts with grapefruit and piney hop bitterness. In the middle, spicy pepper notes emerge alongside a light biscuit malt backbone. Hop bitterness is moderate throughout and a touch of alcohol is noticeable in the middle. It's light to medium bodied, has a slightly resinous mouth feel, and finishes with long lingering grassy hop bitterness.    

3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if it was given to me. I’m glad that Sierra Nevada is releasing some limited-edition beers using experimental hops. I’m always amazed by the wide range of flavors that hops produce and it’s fun to experience them for the first time. While Yakima #291 has plenty of pepper and spice, I didn't taste the floral and blueberry flavors that was hoping to experience. Overall, I enjoyed the beer. I just wish some of the signature flavors from Yakima #291 were noticeable

Have you tasted this beer?  What do you think of Yakima #291?


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Review: Cellar Series Chocolate, Woodchuck

  
Cellar Series Chocolate
Woodchuck Hard Cider — Middlebury, VT

Stats:
  • Style:  Hard Apple Cider w/ cocao nibs
  • ABV:  6.9%
  • Ingredients:  Hard Cider, less than 1% of natural flavor, and sulfites
  • Calories:  230 per 12 oz.
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle (provided by cidery)

Description:  The use of crushed cocao nibs allowed for this cider to showcase chocolate's true character. The infusion of the beans brought out those strong natural chocolate notes, without the sweetness found in a chocolate bar. The balance of the apple against the cocao creates a truly distinctive tasting experience. I'm thrilled with the result and hope our fans are too. — John Mattson, Cider Maker 

Random thoughts:  This is the third release in Woodchuck's Cellar Series. I previously profiled Dry Hop and Smoked Apple, the first two releases.  Woodchuck's blog has an article that explains how this cider was made.

The tasting:  Golden orange in color, clear, with little effervescence. Cocoa is prominent in aroma and comes through on the first sniff along with some light vanilla notes. In taste, chocolate is at the forefront and reminds me of a Hershey bar. Perhaps I’m influenced by the label image, but that’s what I taste. Apple flavor comes through in the middle with a moderate amount of sweetness. Alcohol is not present in aroma or taste. It's medium bodied, softly carbonated and finishes with lingering chocolate sweetness.

4 star.  Really Good.  I want this again!  I had my doubts when I first learned about this cider. First, I didn’t think the chocolate would be noticeable. Second, I didn’t think chocolate would work in a hard cider. I was wrong on both counts!  I’m amazed by how well the chocolate flavor comes through in both aroma and taste. I’m even more surprised by how the chocolate pairs with the apple. It just works!

In general, I can't drink sweet ciders. This is sweeter than what I’m usually able to drink, but it went down quite easily. I wish I wrote about this sooner, as it’s now nearing the end of its release. If it comes back for an encore, I’ll be back.

If you thought chocolate was unusual in a cider, what do you think of mint? That’s up next in Woodchuck’s Cellar Series… 


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3rd Annual Brewer's Tasting Dinner at Oregon Garden Brewfest


Last night, The Oregon Garden Brewfest hosted its 3rd Annual Brewer’s Tasting Dinner. The festival organizers kindly invited me to attend the dinner and stay overnight at The Oregon Garden Resort, at their expense. 

This year’s dinner consisted of six courses prepared by Executive Chef Michael Spragg and his team. Each course was paired with a different beer.  I actually “live tweeted” each of the courses as they were presented to us. Here’s a visual recap of the dinner:









I enjoyed each of the courses, and most of the pairings worked quite well together. If you’ve never attended a beer dinner, I highly recommend them. They're a fun way to explore different and unusual combinations of beer and food! Here's my recap from the 2012 Brewer's Tasting Dinner.

The brewfest officially kicks off at noon today and I’ll be there. Click for festival details and the taplist!  




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BREWER’S TASTING DINNER MENU


FIRST COURSE
Golden Valley Brewery, McMinnville, OR | Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Geistbock
Served with: Hazelnut crusted goat cheese fritters garnished with micro greens and a lemon tarragon vinaigrette

SECOND COURSE
Rusty Truck Brewing, Lincoln City, OR | Simcoe CDA
Served with: Smoked sausage potato cake topped with a garlic & stone ground mustard aioli

THIRD COURSE
BridgePort Brewing Co, Portland, OR | Mettle & Mash Ginger Hibiscus Saison
Served with: Red baby dandelion leaves tossed with boursin cheese, shave pickled red onion, candied walnuts and dressed with a ginger/sesame vinaigrette

FOURTH COURSE
Salem Ale Works, Salem, OR | Juniperus IPA
Served with: Linguini pasta tossed with sautéed garlic, shallots, laurel and juniper berries and shrimp in a white wine butter sauce

FIFTH COURSE
Cascade Brewing, Portland, OR | Honey Ginger Lime
Served with: Pork confit inside half an artichoke topped with honey, ginger sake sauce

SIXTH COURSE
Stone Brewing Co, Escondido, CA | Stone 2014 Old Guardian Barley Wine
Served with: Chocolate turtle torte with hazelnut and sea salt crust


OREGON GARDEN RESORT CHEF BIO
Michael Spragg, Executive Chef


The 3rd annual Brewer’s Tasting Dinner is a six-course meal, with each course featuring a small-plate paired with a unique beer from one of six chosen breweries. Michael Spragg, Executive Chef at the Oregon Garden Resort, designed the menu.

Michael was born in Exeter, England and grew up on the Isle of Wight. He graduated at age 18 with a hospitality management degree from the School of Food and Wine on the Isle of Wight. He went on to work at the Island Sailing Club in England, a private members-only yacht club; and at the Willamette Valley Grill in Salem. His passion is cooking seafood, believing you can do absolutely anything with seafood. His cooking style is strongly influenced by the Northwest.

Oregon Fruit Products & Breakside Brewery's Fruitful Colloboration


When I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest, I knew nothing about Oregon. Well, almost nothing. My awareness of Beaver State was limited to seeing Oregon Fruit Co.'s colorful cans at the local grocery store.

So many years later, I was excited to see the press release belowespecially since I enjoy homebrewing with fruit. My first attempts (sour cherry ale and sour blackberry ale), were made with fresh fruit and I'm intrigued by the possibility of using aseptic canned fruit.

Even better, OFP has partnered with Breakside Brewery to produce three beers that sound amazing! I need to get my hands on these. If you have any experience using OFP (or other) canned fruit in your homebrews, I'd appreciate hearing about your results!   


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April 7, 2014 - Oregon Fruit Products (Salem, Oregon), national leaders in aseptic fruit purees for brewing, recently collaborated with Portland, Oregon's Breakside Brewery on a project to better understand brewers needs and how they use fruit. With Breakside's help, we developed three innovative fruit beers with our premium purees that showcase the diversity, ease of use and high quality of our product for use in beer styles of increasing popularity. See the “making of” video at http://youtu.be/JGJZRy1bMLY.

Oregon Fruit Products sells purees to brewers of beer, cider and mead nationally, but identified Breakside Brewery as an innovative regional brewer and offered our product in exchange for their knowledge. Initially the goal was to develop fruit beers for the Craft Brewers Convention in Denver, CO from April 7-10th, but soon realized the project would have a farther reaching impact.

Oregon Fruit Products’ objective was to explore how brewers use our fruit purees. We have a product tailored for brewers’ needs, but beyond a pedestrian fruit beer, what potential is there for craft brewers? With Breakside Head Brewer Ben Edmunds’ inspiring ideas, OFP got a firsthand look at the innovation involved in the burgeoning fruit beer category. Each beer was created to highlight the fruit and berries and explore the styles that Breakside does so well. We were involved in the craft brewing process from concept to glass...with these respected craftsmen.

The Fruits of our Labor
  • Gooseberry Tart Wheat - Enjoy this traditional American wheat beer made sour with the natural tartness of Oregon gooseberry puree added after fermentation.
  • Barrel-Aged Blackberry Baltic Porter - The Blackberry puree in this brew was added to the barrel for finishing, contributing rich, fruit complexity to the porter.
  • Sour Cherry Brett Kriek - This strong ale was fermented with a proprietary blend of “wild” yeast. Both red tart and dark sweet cherry purees were added during and after fermentation for color, flavor and acidity.

Visit our updated web site at www.FruitForBrewing.com with more information and ideas about brewing with fruit.
  
About Oregon Fruit Products
Oregon Fruit Products has been producing fruit purees for decades in our Salem, Oregon facility. The company is over 75 years old and is the #1 branded specialty fruit in the canned grocery aisle. Oregon Fruit Products began selling to the brewing segment when craft and microbrewing first emerged over 25 years ago – and has expanded to become a leading national supplier to this growing beverage segment. We are constantly striving to provide more than just product to our customers - providing knowledge and practical application support.


BridgePort Trilogy 2 Revealed: Aussie Salute IPA


Today, BridgePort Brewing Co. revealed the next installment in their 30th Anniversary Trilogy Series. Aussie Salute IPA, brewed in collaboration with the creator of BridgePort IPA, will be dry-hopped with Australian hop varieties. Here are the details from the brewery:


BEER #2 IN BRIDGEPORT’S TRILOGY SERIES CELEBRATES
THE SECOND OF OUR THREE DECADES OF BREWING. IT IS A
COLLABORATION BETWEEN OUR BREWMASTER JEFF EDGERTON &
AUSTRALIAN BREWMASTER, PHIL SEXTON. AS FORMER BREWMASTER
AT BRIDGEPORT, PHIL CREATED OUR ORIGINAL BRIDGEPORT IPA IN
1996 – THE BEER THAT INTRODUCED THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TO THE
IPA STYLE.

THIS AUSSIE-HOPPED AMERICAN IPA IS BUILT ON A RICH, EARTHY
FOUNDATION OF MARIS OTTER AND TWO-ROW PALE ALE MALTS. IT IS
SENT THOUGH THE HOPJACK WITH CENTENNIALS AND CHINOOKS,
AND FINALLY DRY-HOPPED WITH BOLD AUSTRALIAN GROWN GALAXY
AND ELLA HOPS. THE RESULT IS PURE IPA ALCHEMY, A HEARTY AND
HAZY, TRANS-HEMISPHERIC IPA THAT PAYS TRIBUTE TO PHIL AND ALL
OUR BREWERS, PAST AND PRESENT.


This new release will be available from May to July.  Until then, don’t miss the opportunity to sample (or stock up on) BridgePort Trilogy 1.   


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ZigZag River Lager Returns as a Portland Brewing Year-Round Release

 
Last year, Portland Brewing brought ZigZag River Lager back from the beer archives and released it as a summer seasonal. I profiled it in August and you can see my full review here

The brewery just announced that ZigZag is making its return as a year-round release. In terms of lagers, I think it's a great choice for year-round drinking. It has a solid malt presence that isn't found in many summer lagers. At 5.1% ABV, it's nearly a session beer. Check out the details in the news release below.


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Portland Brewing Adds ZigZag River Lager To Its Year-Round Beer Selection
Another Portland Original To Continuously Flow From Taps And Bottles

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 31, 2014) — The Zigzag is a river for all seasons. It flows down from the snow-covered ski slopes of Mount Hood through spring alpine flowers to the swimming holes and summer playgrounds of Portland. Portland Brewing, known for its all-season's MacTarnahan’s Amber, is now offering a refreshing, easy-drinking beer served year-round and inspired by this ever-active river: Portland Brewing's ZigZag River Lager.

ZigZag’s delightful crispness comes from 2-Row Pale, Munich, and a touch of Wheat malts along with Nugget and Tettnang hops. The result is a refreshing German-style lager with an ABV of 5.1% and 25 IBUs. This brew is easily enjoyed on the sunny banks of the Sandy or while hiking a trail near the Zigzag River itself.

“As spring advances towards summer, it’s great to make ZigZag available to pair with the start of backyard barbeque season, family camping trips, sunny afternoons at the beer garden, or a day of fishing on the river,” says Portland Brewing head brewer Ryan Pappe. “The maltiness of Munich is unique in that it can come across as bread or toast with hints of caramel, but not as heavy on the tongue as the caramel malts that are common in many ales. The cool lager fermentation and cold conditioning keeps the beer light and quenching despite its sweet maltiness, and the judicious use of spicy Tettnang hops provide a nice balance as well, cutting through the sweetness, leaving a very smooth finish.”

ZigZag River Lager is available year-round in stores, bottle shops, and the Portland Brewing Company Taproom in 22 oz. bottles, 12 oz. 6-packs, and on draft. Find ZigZag River Lager and other Portland Brewing favorites through the beer finder at http://www.portlandbrewing.com/finder/.

About Portland Brewing
Founded in 1986 by craft brewing pioneers, Portland Brewing was a forerunner of the Portland craft beer movement. Driven by a love for brewing great beer for the people of Portland, Ore. and beyond, Portland Brewing is committed to delivering the best every time. From unique small batches, to seasonal brews and new year-round offerings, beer drinkers can expect variety, innovation, quality and great-tasting beer in 2014 from a company that, simply, brews with a passion for beer. Portland Brewing is located at 2730 NW 31st Ave., Portland, OR 97210. For more information about Portland Brewing Company, head to the website, Facebook and Twitter.




27th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival Adds a Taste of Europe

  
Time to start planning. There are just 110 days until the start of the 27th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival! In a festival first, twelve European brewers (11 from the Netherlands and 1 from Germany) will join the festivities and bring us their beer from across the Atlantic.

The event runs from July 23 - 27.  I'll be there on opening day.  For the full details, check out the OBF press release below.



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Oregon Brewers Festival toasts 27th year of celebrating craft beer, adds a dozen European brewers to the mix
85,000 beer lovers from around the world will take part in the annual celebration of craft beer

PORTLAND, Ore. — On a sun-soaked July afternoon, there’s no better place to sip suds with friends than the Oregon Brewers Festival, one of the nation's longest-running and best-loved craft beer festivals. Nearly 85,000 fans will travel from around the world to take part in the 27th annual event, which will run July 23 through July 27 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. Event hours are Noon to 9pm Wed. through Sat., and Noon to 7pm Sunday.

Admission into the festival grounds is free. In order to consume beer, purchase of a 2014 souvenir 12.8-ounce tasting glass is required and costs $7. Beer is purchased with wooden tokens, which cost $1 apiece. Patrons pay four tokens for a full glass of beer, or one token for a taste. There are no advance tickets sold to the festival; all purchases are made on-site.

In the main tents, the Oregon Brewers Festival will serve up more than 30 beer styles from 86 craft breweries from around the country; there are 88 different beers served, one per brewery plus two gluten-free offerings. From Belgians to Braggots, Pales to Porters, Radlers to Reds and Sessions to Saisons, there’s a style for nearly every palate.

New this year, the Oregon Brewers Festival has invited eleven brewers from the Netherlands plus one from Germany to send over their beer to be featured in the festival’s Specialty Tent, an area where an additional four-dozen vintage, barrel aged, blends and esoteric one-offs are offered. The festival is also flying over the European brewers, who will be available for daily meet the brewer sessions at the event.

Dubbed NL to PDX (#NLtoPDX), the program started when festival director Art Larrance learned that Portland has a Friendship City relationship with the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Upon visiting, he discovered a growing craft brewing movement that reminded him of the Northwest craft beer industry in the 1980s; brewers who are just beginning to explore new flavors and styles.

“Featuring international brewers is a natural extension for the OBF,” explained Larrance. “We want to develop a long term cultural exchange and share our passion, knowledge and friendship with these brewers as part of a collective celebration of great craft beer.”

The Oregon Brewers Festival is first and foremost a celebration of beer, but the event also features five days of live music, food booths, craft vendors, homebrew demonstrations and industry displays. The Crater Lake Root Beer Garden provides complimentary handcrafted root beer to minors and designated drivers; minors are allowed into the event when accompanied by a parent.

The OBF encourages responsible drinking and urges patrons to take the Tri-Met MAX Light Rail, which has a station just one block away from the main entrance. Attendees can also take advantage of the Hopworks Bike Corral, where volunteers from Rotary Club of Portland–Westside’s Cycling 2 Serve Fellowship will watch over bikes for free (donations will benefit Rotary International’s “End Polio Now” efforts to eradicate polio worldwide).

For a complete list of participating breweries and additional information, visit www.oregonbrewfest.com.

ABOUT THE OREGON BREWERS FESTIVAL
The Oregon Brewers Festival was founded in 1988 as an opportunity to expose the public to microbrews at a time when the craft brewing industry was just getting off the ground. Today, that industry has flourished, especially in Oregon, which currently has 166 brewing companies operating 207 brewing facilities in 66 cities in Oregon. Portland alone has 53 breweries — more than any other city in the world. The Portland metropolitan area is the largest craft brewing market in the US with the most number of breweries at 73. A study conducted at the 2013 Oregon Brewer Festival estimated the economic impact of the festival on the local economy to be $31.2 Million; it also showed that out-of-state and international visitors accounted for 52.5 percent of attendees. For more information about the Oregon Brewers Festival, visit www.oregonbrewfest.com.
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Widmer's 30th Anniversary: A History Through Beer


Yesterday was a special day in Oregon beer history. Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. celebrated its 30th Anniversary! To commemorate the milestone, the brewery launched the 30 Beers for 30 Years series. The first three beers in the series, which celebrate the brewery's first three years, were released. 

If you look through the news release below, you'll learn about the brewery's early history and the serendipitous events that led to the creation of Widmer's flagship Hefeweizen. 

The 30 Beers for 30 Years releases are in very short supply. They were brewed at Widmer's Rose Quarter 20 barrel pilot system and only 20 cases of each will be available in the Portland area. Suggested retail price is $4.99 each. 

If you see these bottles in the wild, don't hesitate to pick them up!  Prost to the brothers Widmer for 30 excellent years and countless beers!


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WIDMER BROTHERS BREWING CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF BEER

PORTLAND, Ore. – April 2, 2014 – On this day 30 years ago, brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer founded Widmer Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. In 1984, the two brothers began cobbling together their first brewery on NW Lovejoy using a mismatched variety of reclaimed equipment, including retired dairy tanks and vessels initially intended for use in a nuclear power plant that was never built. Though they didn’t know it at the time, opening their small, hand-built brewery would help shape craft brewing history.

To celebrate this major milestone, today Widmer Brothers Brewing announced the first three beers in the anticipated 30 Beers for 30 Years Series, the brewery’s most ambitious effort to date and one of the most elaborate series of beer releases from a brewery in the United States. The three releases – Altbier, Weizenbier, and Hefeweizen – were the first three beers that the brothers brewed, and each represents one of the first three years of Widmer Brothers’ existence: 1984, 1985, and 1986, respectively.

The three beers each hold a huge place in Widmer Brothers’ history. Altbier was the first beer brewed and sold by Widmer Brewing Company. While development of the beer began in 1984, Altbier wasn’t actually released to the public until 1985 after the brothers brewed and dumped the first twelve batches. It’s a testament to Kurt and Rob’s commitment to quality; they wanted the beer to be just right, a value that’s evident in every Widmer Brothers beer and one that has helped drive the brewery’s success since the beginning.

As Kurt and Rob recall, to the beer drinking public in the mid-80s, there were essentially two styles of beer: dark- and light-colored beers. At the time, Altbier was considered too bold, too hoppy and too dark by some, so Kurt and Rob decided that they needed a lighter beer to both satisfy consumer demand and help grow the brewery. With an eye toward their German heritage, in 1985, they decided to start brewing a filtered wheat beer, Weizenbier.

The two brothers sold Altbier and Weizenbier exclusively until 1986 when the late owner of The Dublin Pub, Carl Simpson, asked if they would brew a third beer. Since they had limited resources and space, the request put Kurt and Rob in a tough position. To meet the request, they improvised, took an innovative approach and decided to leave a portion of their Weizenbier unfiltered and sell it as a Hefeweizen. Thus The Original American Hefeweizen was born, creating a completely new beer style that would become the brewery’s flagship and reshape the craft beer landscape. The rest is history.

“Looking back at these three releases puts our early days and growth of Widmer Brothers Brewing since then in perspective,” said Rob Widmer. “Like many young entrepreneurs, we were flying by the seat of our pants, and it’s truly surreal to revisit that time in our lives when Altbier, Weizenbier, and Hefeweizen were our only three offerings. I suppose it’s an understatement to say we’ve come a long way.”

Each re-release in the 30 Beers for 30 Years series is brewed in small batches to original specifications from archived recipes drawn up on notebook paper in the 80s. While Kurt and Rob were meticulous about keeping records, they didn’t necessarily take the most detailed notes.

“For these initial few releases, we were literally working from pieces of notebook paper, cross-referencing notes from various brews to figure out exactly how Kurt and Rob were brewing these beers 30 years ago,” said Ben Dobler, Widmer Brothers innovation brewer, who helped spearhead the series. “It’s a real challenge to replicate the recipes perfectly, especially when we consider the imperfections that likely made these beers great at the time. But we’re working hard to maintain the original character, intent and quality of these beers, which were extraordinary for their time.” 

ABOUT THE BEERS:

1984 Altbier
Drawing inspiration from traditional German beers, Altbier was the first beer Kurt and Rob brewed when they opened Widmer Brewing Company. Often described as “ahead of its time,” Altbier was named The Oregonian’s “Beer of the Year” in 1985 by celebrated beer writer, Fred Eckhardt. The beer is still brewed in small batches and is a favorite at the Widmer Brothers pub. 5.0% ABV, 35 IBU

1985 Weizenbier
Inspired by German-style Weizens, Kurt and Rob’s take on the filtered wheat beer features a pronounced American hop profile. Weizenbier was the brewery’s second release and became the starting point for the unfiltered version, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen. 4.9% ABV, 30 IBU

1986 Hefeweizen
When Portland’s Dublin Pub asked for a third beer offering from the Widmer Brothers (at the time, they were only brewing two styles) Kurt and Rob didn’t have the capacity to brew another new beer, so they improvised. Leaving a portion of Weizenbier unfiltered, they were able to offer a third beer, and Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen was born. 4.9% ABV, 30 IBU

LABELS:
Each release in the 30 Beers for 30 Years Series features label artwork by Portland-based artists. Keegan Wenkman of KeeganMeegan, Tim Weakland of Sincerely Truman, and Aaron Rayburn of AC Rayburn, created the Altbier, Weizenbier, and Hefeweizen labels, respectively. To see all three labels and to find out more information on the artists, please visit www.30beersfor30years.com.

AVAILABILITY:
The 30 Beers for 30 Years beers are available in extremely limited quantities. Thirty cases of each release, packaged in 22-ounce bottles, will be available only in the Portland market. Limited draught beer will be available in select markets. Interested fans will be able to try all three original versions on Thursday, April 3, at the newly remodeled Widmer Brothers Pub. In addition to releasing these three beers on Thursday, the brewery is unveiling the recent pub remodel at a public Grand Re-Opening Party. For more information, please visit www.widmerbrothers.com.



Stone Brewing Releases Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium


Leave it to Stone Brewing Co. to go where no brewery has gone before. Most beers are infused with carbon dioxide. Some are charged with nitrogen. In an industry first, Stone has launched a helium-infused beer. Cr(He)am Ale will be released in 16 oz. cans under Stone's new Stochasticity label.

For more details, take a look at the behind-the-scenes video posted below. This is a limited release, so be sure to check it out before it floats away...


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Stone Brewing Co. Releases Next Beer in Stochasticity Project:
Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium

ESCONDIDO, CA (April 1, 2014) – This is what happens when a beer-obsessed scientist has free rein to create beers that push the boundaries of the craft beer industry and science alike—a beer infused with helium. Wait, what? Is that even possible? Yep. And not only did Stone Brewing Co. do it first, we did it with a cream ale and double dry-hopped it to add that extra tropical, bitter goodness one would expect of a lupulin-obsessed craft brewery. Mind blown! Starting today, Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium is available in 16-ounce cans at retailers, restaurants and bars in select markets nationwide.

The beer is the brainchild of Stone Quality Assurance Supervisor Rick Blankemeier. He came up with the idea for a helium-infused beer after playing around with nitro beers and thought, “What would happen if helium was added to a beer?” The idea was presented to Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele, who at first assumed it couldn’t be done. After a brief science lesson from Rick, Mitch decided it was worth a try and the beer would be perfect for the Stone Stochasticity Project.

“I think Mitch thought I had been drinking too much of the beer when I went to him with my idea of a helium ale,” said Blankemeier. “I’m really pleased with this beer. The hop aroma punches you in the nose and there is a slight tingle in the back of the throat that is unique to this brew. The ale provides the drinker with a distinctive sensory experience.”

“This beer is tasty and very strange, but in a good way,” explains Steele. “I’ve never experienced the tingly feeling in the back of my throat that the helium addition provides. I think our fans are really going to like this, and we look forward to brewing other unique beers for the Stochasticity Project.”

Despite its unique and unexpected ingredient, Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium is an easy-drinking session beer with light notes of toast and an effervescent floral, spicy, and strong hop character from the addition of Helga hops. Helium is introduced to the beer via a widget that activates when the can is opened, streaming helium into the beer. The result is a very smooth mouth-feel and a tickle that produces a curious effect on the drinker, unlike any other beer.

Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium is a refreshing beer meant to be enjoyed fresh or within 90 days to maximize the robust hop flavors and aromas. While only available for a limited time, fans will find this beer to have an everlasting effect on their palates…and psyche.

Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium Quick Facts

Name: Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium
Stats: 4.1% ABV, 75 IBUs
Availability: Limited 16-ounce cans, beginning April 1
Hops Bill: Willamette and Fuggles, dry-hopped with Helga
Special addition: Helium
Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, and WA 

Tasting notes, provided by Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele
Appearance: Deep gold with a creamy white head. When poured, the beer cascades similarly to a nitrogen-infused beer.
Aroma: Huge hop presence, lots of tropical fruit goodness from the Helga hops.
Taste: Light notes of toast and effervescent floral, spicy hop character from the addition of Helga.
Palate: A creamy, coating mouth-feel is lightened by the infusion of helium that also adds a slight tickle to the finish.
Overall: This beer is tasty and very strange, but in a good way. I’ve never experienced the tingly feeling in the back of my throat that the helium addition provides. I didn’t think it would be possible to add helium into a beer, but after Rick explained the science behind it, I thought it was a very intriguing idea and something we might be able to do something really neat with. The Stochasiticity Project is an avenue for us to explore new techniques and ingredients that might not fit our normal approach to brewing, so the helium idea perfectly dovetailed into this concept. I think our fans are really going to like this ale, and we look forward to brewing other unique beers for the Stochasticity Project.

Suggested pairings, provided by Craft Beer Ambassador "Dr." Bill Sysak
Appetizers: Pickled herring, Funyuns®, deep-fried mozzarella sticks, Blooming Onion
Soups: Cheddar, Garlic & Stone Ruination IPA Soup, beef, chicken or pork bouillon
Entrees: Vegetarian lasagna, chimichangas, cuy
Cheeses: Humboldt Fog, Kraft singles, Cheez Whiz®
Desserts: Crème brulee, Niederfranks vanilla ice cream, aged Hostess Twinkies, Heath Bar
Cigars: Dutch Masters, Swisher Sweets, White Owl Peach, blunts