McMenamins' Black Widow Porter & Whiskey Widow

A friendly ghoul from McMenamins recently left a nice treat on my doorstep.  This marks the 25th year that McMenamins has been brewing Black Widow Porter. Here's the brewery's description:

Originally created at the McMenamins Thompson brewery (Salem, Oregon) on October 15, 1991 and brewed once a year for just Thompson's taps, Black Widow's web now spans the entire company and is available on tap and in 22-oz. bottles at all McMenamins from October 15 through Halloween. Each deep-black goblet is full of the robust notes afforded by generous amounts of black and roasted malts and further spirited with ethereal wisps of licorice. Nourish your inner ghoul with a brew steeped in tradition and mystery. A good howl at the Cheshire moon couldn't hurt, either.

In addition, McMenamins is tapping a limited release of Whiskey Widow, a 2014 vintage Whiskey-Barrel-aged Black Widow. This tasting will begin today at 4:30pm at the Kennedy School.  Don't miss it!

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A Taste of New Belgium's Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale

As I was perusing the local beer aisle, an intriguing new release caught my eye. New Belgium Brewing Co. collaborated with Ben & Jerry's to bring us Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. Here's New Belgium's description:

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream beer. Our newest collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s brings together two different types of pint-makers for one common goal: To help Protect Our Winters combat climate change. When two foodie B Corps join forces for good, delicious ideas are created. Our Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale scoops the lip-smacking fun of dessert from a bowl right into your pint glass. Brewed with specialty ingredients and a healthy sweet tooth, this beer’s rich chocolaty, salted-caramel, vanilla goodness is worth savoring to the last drop. Reward yourself, and dig in!    New Belgium Brewing Co.

The brown ale is underrated, in my opinion. I can't think of many in regular wide release. Angelo from Brewpublic wrote a nice piece on Brown Ales a few years ago. I'm a fan of because the brown ale provides a great backdrop for other flavorsespecially fruit (think raspberry or cherry). Chocolate, as you might expect, also melds nicely with the style. Since brownies are my favorite dessert, I had to give this beer a try...

Tasting notes:  Brownish-red in color with a tan head that dissipates very slowly. I noticed some chocolate and light vanilla notes in aroma. In taste, chocolate and caramel were both present. It's light bodied and softly carbonated. A touch of alcohol was present in the middle, and hop bitterness was not noticeable. It finished with chocolate and vanilla. Overall, it left me a bit disappointed as I didn't notice the salt and I expected a touch of sweetness. After all, they did mention BROWNIE, didn't they?

Even though the tantalizing brownie that appeared in my mind never found its way to the glass, it's a nice brown ale. Give it a try if available in your area. It's a limited release, so it won't be around too long. I do appreciate New Belgium making this beer available at their regular six-pack price point (as opposed to their Lips of Faith series). I've tended to avoid the Rogue / Voodoo Doughnut beer series due to its high price.

In closing, since we're talking about brown ales, I highly recommend New Belgium's Frambozen. I haven't had it in a few years, and hope to find some this holiday season!

Have you tasted New Belgium's Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale? How did you like it?

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New Variety 12-Packs from Ninkasi, Full Sail, and Pyramid

I'm a huge fan of the variety 12-pack. In fact, I can't remember the last time I bought a full case of any single beer. While I was grocery shopping yesterday, I noticed three new limited release variety packs that look great!

First up is Ninkasi Brewing Co. Their fall variety pack includes three bottles each of:

  • Total Domination (IPA)
  • Dawn of the Red (India Red Ale)
  • Lux (German-Style Helles Lager)
  • Noir (Milk Stout with Cold Brewed Coffee).  In full disclosure, Ninkasi sent me a sample of Noir, which I have yet to taste.  I'm waiting for the perfect grey, rainy fall day.

Full Sail Brewing brings us their Trophy Case of gold medal winning beers, which includes three bottles each of:
  • Amber Ale
  • India Pale Ale 
  • Cascade Pilsner 
  • Wassail (Winter Ale) 

Finally, if you're in the mood for hops--and only hops, check out Pyramid's Hop Collection, which holds three bitter bottles each of:
  • IPL (India Pale Lager) 
  • IPA 
  • Outburst Imperial IPA 
  • Thunderhead IPA

Variety is the spice of life, so go pick up a variety pack! Are you a fan of variety packs? Which brewery releases the best one?

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Hopworks' 2nd Annual Handmade Bike & Beer Festival

Hopworks' 2nd Annual Handmade Bike & Beer Festival opens tomorrow. Formally known as BiKETOBEERFEST, the festival was renamed last year when it began showcasing handmade bikes.

While there are countless beer festivals in Portland, this is one of my favorites because it's very family friendly. Check out the video I made at last year's event (posted below) to get an idea of what you can expect.

In addition to featuring offerings from many local breweries and cideries, Hopworks will serve many of their own beers, including one-off barrel aged versions. Here's the taplist of Hopworks beers.

  • Abominable Winter Ale – Our cult classic winter seasonal!
  • Cinnabom – Imperial Abominable aged on Cinnamon
  • Cedarbomb – Imperial Abominable aged on Cedar tips
  • Sour Belgian Pale Ale – Aged for a year in barrels, this is the first release from our new sour barrel program
  • B-Side EP – Sour Peach Ale collaboration with New Belgium
  • Fest of Fury – Fresh hop Märzen lager brewed with Salmon-Safe Willamette hops from Goschie Farms in Silverton, OR.
  • Nonstop Hef Hop – 3.9% session wheat beer with big hop aroma and flavor
  • HUB Lager – Our classic organic lager
  • Hopworks IPA – Organic IPA with massive NW hop character
  • Salt N Pepa – Szechuan peppercorn Gose with Jacobson’s cherrywood smoked salt
  • Pig War White IPA – Get a final look at our refreshing summer seasonal before it disappears for the year!
  • Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster – Galactic Imperial Red aged in Pinot Noir barrels
  • Big Poppa – Our Notorious F.I.G, a Belgian Strong Dark with figs aged in Woodford Reserve barrels
  • Under Pressure – Eis Eis Baby, an ice distilled Dopplebock, aged in Woodford Reserve barrels

For more details, including hours and pricing, check out the full press release below.

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Handmade Bike & Beer Festival Opens October 3-4

The Handmade Bike & Beer Festival is one of the most exciting festivals in the city of Portland. It is a weekend-long event featuring the renowned bike frame and parts builders living in our region, and the craft beer industry that makes Portland the best beer city in the country. This family-friendly festival runs October 3-4 in our covered, festival event space. 

Now in its second year, the fest is a mash-up of two of Portland’s favorite fall events – HUB’s Biketobeerfest and the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association’s (OBCA) Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show. 

The festival features over thirty custom bike-frame builders, local hand-crafted beer from a variety of breweries, excellent Hopworks’ food specials, and fun and games for all. Activities include the classic “Huffy Huck bike-throwing competition, New Birth Break Dancers, Flatlanders BMX stunt crew, and adult-sized trikes.

The Handmade BIke & Beer Festival takes place Hopworks Urban Brewery, at 2944 SE Powell Blvd.

Times of Festival:
October 3 | 12-9m
October 4 | 12-5pm

Purchase your tickets here:
$10 = Entry to the festival
$25 = Entry + commemmorative glass + 15 drink/food tickets
$40 = Entry + glass + 15 tickets + t-shirt
$45 = Date Night at HBBF – 2 entries + 25 tickets + 2 glasses
$10 = Packet with ten extra tickets

Kids 15 and under are free
A 4 oz. beer taste is 1 ticket, or 2 tickets for Imperial beer. A pint is 4 tickets and food items run between 1 – 8 tickets. We love our furry friends, but we apologize that dogs are not able to attend HBBF. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Bike Builders and Vendors:
Bike Friday, Black Magic Paint, Breadwinner Cycles, Caylor Cycles Retooled, Cielo/Chris King Precision, DiNucci Cycles, Framebuilder Supply, Helavna Cycles, Henry James Bicycles, Hi Fi Sound Cycling Components, Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks, Karl Edwards Illustration, Machine Bicycle, Magic Cycle Werks, Mahall Bikeworks, Mjolnir Cycles, Muirandessi Cycles, Norther Cycles, Paul Component Engineering, Pioneer Bicycle, Portland Fender Company, Rain Bicycles, Risse Racing Technology, Rolf Prima, Strawberry Bicycle, Thursday Bicycles, Ti Cycles, United Bicycle Institute, Zen Bikes, and more to come.

Beer and Cider:
Breweries and Cideries include Base Camp Brewing, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Laurelwood Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, pFriem Family Brewers, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, The Commons Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Worthy Brewing, and more to come.