10 Beers for Fall

Happy Halloween! Fall is a great time of year—for beer drinkers, it keeps getting better. In the recent past, the fall beer season was relegated to a very short window. With more breweries releasing fresh hop beers, the autumn beer season seemed to start a few weeks early this year. That's fine by me!

Here's a roundup of some fall beers I've enjoyed during the past month or so. This is by no means a "best of fall" beer list, but it demonstrates the diversity of beers made for autumnOktoberfests, fresh hops ales, pumpkin brews, among others. Let's get started!

Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada Brewing:  This year, the brewery partnered with Mahrs Bräu from
Bamberg, Germany for a different take on the Oktoberfest style. It uses the rare Record German hop varietal. Very crisp with toasted malt and spicy hops. It had a pleasant mild sweetness in the finish. Served in a Spieglau Classic Tulip glass.


Tuberfest, Lagunitas Brewing:  Many potatoes were harmed during the making of this beer! Yes, spuds were used! It has a gorgeous amber color with lots of sticky lacing. Loads of piny and spicy hop flavors are layered on top of a hefty carmelized malt backbone. It's 7.5% in ABV, but tasted even boozier than its ABV rating, which was a turn-off for me. Served in a Birrateque IPA glass.

8 Pound Pale, Full Sail Brewing:  This is Full Sail's first release of a fresh hop ale in the 12 oz. bottle format.  The brewery packed 8 pounds of fresh (or wet) Magnum hops into each barrel. Grapefruit, pine, and juicy orange ooze from the aroma! I hope Full Sail brings this back next year and showcases a different hop varietal!*  Served in a Spieglau IPA glass.

Hop Harvest Red IPA, BridgePort Brewing:   250 pounds of Amarillo hops were added to the fermenter just hours after they were harvested only 30 miles away at Crosby Hop Farm. Pine and grapefruit hop aromas and flavors meld with a caramel malt backbone and contribute to a resiny mouthfeel.*  Served in a Spieglau IPA glass.

Field To Ferment Fresh Hop Pale Ale, Freemont Brewing :  By the luck of the draw, I tasted batch 40 which was made with Simcoe. Different batches were made that showcased either Centennial, Citra, Mosaic, or Simcoe. Juicy citrus and pine exploded in aroma! The bright aroma in this beer was heads and shoulders above the other fresh hop ales I tastedand my favorite of the three! Next year, I'll try to track down all four of the hop varieties. Served in a Birrateque IPA glass.

Black O' Lantern, Wasatch Brewing:  Subtle pumpkin spice in an easy drinking light-bodied stout. I personally think pumpkin spice works better in darker beers. But that's just me. Served in a Spieglau Stout glass.

Funky Pumpkin, Boulevard Brewing:  Pumpkin doesn't have much flavor, and I can't taste it here. But the pumpkin spice blend comes through and pairs beautifully with the tartness which is the result of kettle souring. Probably the most pleasant surprise of the bunch! Served in a Birrateque Tester glass.

Chai High, Avery Brewing:  A brown ale with chai spice is a combination that works well. Working with spice in beer is challenging, a bit too much and it becomes overwhelming. It is in the case of this beer. I also think a bit of sweetness in the finish would have been a nice touch and could have helped to offset the spice. Served in a Spieglau Classic Tulip glass.

Best Brown Ale, Bell's Brewery:  This is a straight-up version of the style, with no special ingredients. It has notes of coffee, roast, and chocolate. Simple and delicious. Brown Ales are underrated! Served in a Birrateque Cider glass. Yeah, I know it's not a cider, but it's a cool glass!

Black Widow Porter, McMenamins Brewing:  First brewed 25 years ago, this is one of my fall favorites! Full of espresso, chocolate, licorice, and a touch of roast. The porter style is a the perfect canvas for these flavors.*  Served in a Birrateque Stout glass.

So as you can see, there are no tricks herejust treats! While fall will be with us for a few more weeks, winter beers are starting to descend on store shelves. So be sure to find and enjoy a few more fall beers before the seasons change! 

* Sample provided by brewery.

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Lindemans Lambic Gift Set at Costco

The holidays are quickly approaching and Costco is stepping up their boxed beer gift set game. Earlier this month, I wrote about their 2016 Brewers Advent Calendar.That was priced at $60 and is now sold out at my local Costco.

The other day, I noticed a new and more affordable itema Lindemans Lambic Gift Set. Priced at a more affordable $17.99, the set includes 2 x 750 ml bottles (1 each of Peche and Framboise) and two Belgian Lambic glasses. For the non-beer geeks out there, lambics are sour Belgian beers that are spontaneously (wild) fermented and typically made with fruit. These feature peach and raspberry. If you want to lean more about lambics and their rich history, click here.

Anyway, it seems like a good deal. So if you or the beer geek in your life likes sour beer, or is adventurous, check it out.

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4th Annual Willamette Week Beer Pro / Am Recap

On October 8, Willamette Week held its 4th Annual Beer Pro / Am at The North Warehouse in NE Portland.  This is one of the more unique festivals in town because it showcases beers crafted by a partnership of professional brewers and home brewers. There was a lot to like about this event. Let’s run through my list:

The Beer:  A wide variety of styles were served—even a mead and cider.  Many beers featured unusual ingredients. Click here to see out the detailed beer list!

The Backstories:  The creators of each beer were on hand to talk about the beer and how they made it. As a homebrewer, I picked up a slew of tips & techniques that I’ll use in my future creations.

The Lines:  The serving lines were short. During the VIP hour, they were non-existent. While the venue filled up by  3pm and elbow room was tight, it still didn’t take long to get beers.  

Did I mention the Beer? Entry to the festival entitled the participants to three ounce pours of each of the 31 beers. That’s a lot of beer! It was served in a pint glass without a pour line and I'm fairly certain many pours were more than three ounces. I dumped a fair amount of beer—not because the beer was bad, but because I wanted to sample more. Each table had a dump bucket and people weren’t shy about using them. 

Water & Munchies:  More water = more beer. Plenty of water stations with bottled water were spread throughout the venue. The good folks from Kettle Chips were handing out free bags of tasty potato chips. Beer and chips are always a great pairing!

Non-Beer Entertainment:  Video games were provided in the Ground Kontrol Retro Gaming Lounge and the DJ was spinning good tunes (real vinyl). Heck, even the Unipiper was there!

Sadly, Dean Pottle, found of Dean’s Scene passed away just days before the event. If you don’t know about Dean, here’s a nice article from The New School that explains his impact on the Portland beer community. His offering, Barely Legal Hazy CBD IPA, was the first and only Dean’s Scene beer that I tasted. It was fresh hop CBD infused IPA. It had a quite a harsh bitterness that I found off-putting. While I wasn’t a fan of the beer, I’m glad I had the chance to taste it. RIP Dean.

I only had one gripe about the entire event—the glassware. It's minor, but I’ll mention it for the sake of offering constructive feedback. As I mentioned, the event glass was a 16 oz. shaker pint. This glassware is best used for making cocktails—not drinking beer. The reasons why are the topic of a post for another day. But in the future, I think a smaller tasting glass would be a better option. Again—a minor quibble.

Overall, it was an excellent event! Congrats to the team at Willamette Week for pulling off an excellent event! I hope they bring it back for 5th installment!

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Full Sail Releases Wreck the Halls in 6-Packs

Full Sail has been on a roll. Last month, they launched a fresh hop ale (8 Pound Pale Fresh Hop Ale) in 6-packs for the first time. Just today, they announced that Wreck the Halls, their long-time holiday favorite, is also being packaged in 6-packs for the first time! You'll also notice it's sporting shiny new label artwork.

It will be available from October - December, so look for it on shelves soon. I'm suddenly ready for a winter beer...

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Full Sail’s Wreck the Halls is Back, With Bells On
This bold, hoppy holiday IPA/winter warmer hybrid is an annual favorite

Hood River, Oregon – October 18, 2016 – For the perfect gift, look no further than Full Sail’s annual favorite, Wreck the Halls Hoppy Holiday Ale. The four-time gold medal winning ale is back and better than ever in festive, new packaging as part of Full Sail’s new Brewmaster Reserve 6-pack series.

“This annual favorite – in 6-packs for the first time – is a sublime hybrid of an American-style IPA and a winter warmer,” says Full Sail Executive Brewmaster Jamie Emmerson. “The result is a bold brew that celebrates the holidays with an intriguing blend of Centennial and Cascade hops providing elegant citrus notes balanced by a backdrop of a rich caramel malt body, dry hopped to amplify the aromas and flavor.”

Full Sail recently redesigned its entire core line of beers as well as its seasonal Brewmaster Reserve offerings. The hand-drawn artwork by Portland-based TWEEQiM creativeLab’s MiQ Willmott on the new Wreck the Halls 6-packs and labels perfectly conjures the festive spirit of a holiday party gone just wild enough.

“Wreck the Halls is an integral part of our diverse lineup of holiday beers, which includes both ales and lagers, and is our way of celebrating the holidays, our independence, and creativity,” says Full Sail Brewmaster Jim Kelter.

If you’re anything like us, holidays are all about food and beer, so pair Wreck the Halls slight caramel maltiness with Rogue Oregonzola, pepper jack, or stronger aged cheeses like farmhouse cheddars, Stilton, Roquefort, super aged Gouda, or Vacherin Mont D'Or. Wreck the Halls also pairs well with capsaicin foods like chili and Thai foods. Finish your holiday meal with Wreck the Halls and spice-forward desserts on the sweeter side like spiced rum cake and spiced sticky toffee pudding.

Full Sail’s Brewmaster Reserve series allows the brewmasters to put their creativity, innovation and passion into small, limited-release beers. These craft brews highlight the direct connection with Full Sail’s farmers, celebrate the art of barrel aging, and explore the effects of time. Over the years, Full Sail’s Brewmaster Reserve series has earned 18 gold medals. Brewed in small batches, Brewmaster Reserve Wreck the Halls is only available October through December, in 12 oz. bottles and draft. 6.5% ABV, 68 IBUs.

About Full Sail Brewing Company
Perched on a bluff in Hood River, Oregon, overlooking the mighty Columbia River’s epic wind and kite surfing and the snow-capped volcanic peaks of Mt. Hood, Full Sail is a true craft-brewing pioneer. Since 1987, Full Sail has been pouring pure Mt. Hood water, local ingredients and responsible processes into each and every pint. Full Sail’s brews and sustainable practices have garnered more than 300 national and international awards, including 150 gold medals and Beverage World ‘s “Craft Brewer of the Year” distinction. From Full Sail Amber and IPA to Session Lager and bourbon barrel-aged beers, Full Sail consistently strives to brew complex, balanced and ridiculously tasty beers. Learn more at www.fullsailbrewing.com.


Ecliptic Brewing's Third Orbit Anniversary Party: October 22

On Saturday, October 22, Ecliptic Brewing will celebrate its 3rd orbit around the sun. That means a day full of food, music, and rare beer tappings. In addition, Ecliptic will release its Third Orbit Anniversary Alean Imperial Porter brewed with cherries!  For all of the details, check out the news release below.

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Ecliptic Brewing Celebrates Third Anniversary
Portland Craft Brewery Hosts Third Orbit Party on October 22

PORTLAND, Ore. – Ecliptic Brewing is turning three and to celebrate will host its Third Orbit Anniversary Party with live music, food, and special beer releases on Saturday, Oct. 22.

“It is really awesome to finish our third orbit around the sun at Ecliptic.” said Brewmaster and Owner John Harris.  “Thank you to everyone that has been part of us getting here.  In celebration, we created a Third Orbit Anniversary Ale and I can’t wait for everyone to try it.”

About the Third Orbit Anniversary Ale
Ecliptic Brewing will debut their Third Orbit Anniversary Ale, an Imperial Porter with cherries, at the party.

Details about the beer:
Third Orbit Anniversary Ale: Imperial Porter w/ Cherries
Ecliptic’s third orbit around the sun is on October 20th. To celebrate they brewed an Imperial Porter with a gravity warping amount of cherries. A blend of seven malts along with Columbus, Amarillo, Chinook, and Cascade hops complement the chocolatey cherry flavors.  ABV 9% IBU 50

About the Rare Beer Tapping
During the Third Orbit celebration, Ecliptic will tap rare beers from their cellar on the hour from 11am to 5pm.  Below are some of the beers that will be tapped at the party.
Gin Barrel-Aged Orbiter IPA
Rye Barrel-Aged UltraViolet Blackberry Sour Ale
2015 Barrel-Aged Orange Giant Barleywine
Barrel-Aged Spock Saison with Brettanomyces

About The Music
Free live music, benefiting The Jeremy Wilson Foundation, will also be included in the celebration. Attendees will have the chance to donate to the foundation upon entry into the show.  All proceeds will go to the foundation.

The music will start at 5:30pm and will be open to all ages.  Fernando, a locally and nationally acclaimed artist will perform as the headliner for the event.
Below are details about the lineup:

  • 5:30pm: Ed and the Boats
  • 6:30pm: Jeremy Wilson
  • 7:30pm: Kory Quinn
  • 8:30pm: Fernando
  • And There is More

Brewery tours will be offered throughout the day from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Attendees will receive an Amuse Bouche from Ecliptic’s Chef, Michael Molitor.

There will be a limited amount of Third Orbit Anniversary t-shirts in both men’s and women’s sizes available.

For more up to date details and announcements, visit the Facebook event page here.

About Ecliptic Brewing
Ecliptic Brewing is a venture from John Harris, an Oregon beer icon whose background is steeped in the state’s rich craft brewing history. The name Ecliptic unites Harris’ two passions: brewing and astronomy, and as such, the brewery celebrates the Earth’s yearly journey around the sun through both its beer and restaurant menus. Executive chef Michael Molitor rotates his seasonally inspired menu every six weeks in accordance with the old world calendar. Harris’ signature beers include Spica Pilsner, Orbiter IPA, Phobos Single Hop Red Ale, and Capella Porter. For more information, visit: www.eclipticbrewing.com.

Ecliptic beers are available at the brewery (825 North Cook St), in bottle and on-tap throughout the area, and distributed by: Maletis Beverage (Portland, Salem, Vancouver WA), Bigfoot Beverage (Eugene, Bend, Coast), Fort George Distributing (Northern Oregon Coast), Summit Distribution (Southern Oregon), Click Distributing (Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Northern Idaho), Dickerson Distributing (Bellingham), Crooked Stave Artisans (Colorado), Freedom Distributors (North Carolina), BeerThirst (Canada), and Graybeal (Eastern Oregon).

Afternoon at Widmer Brothers 12th Annual Octoberfest

Octoberfest season is winding down. Widmer Brothers Brewing held their 12th Annual celebration Saturday at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The single day event featured a lineup of bands, food trucks, and beer. I was there for a few hours in the late afternoon. A nice size crowd was enjoying the 70° weather. It was cloudy with no rainperfect for outdoor beer drinking!

I'll just let my pictures do the talking...

Widmer Brothers' new PDX Pils, soon to be released

Angel's Reign Barrel Aged Imperial Rye Stout. From the Small Batch Tent

Small Batch Tent Rotating Taplist

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Great American Beer Festival '16: Oregon Medal Winners

Oregon breweries pulled in 21 medals today at the Great American Beer Festival! Here's a roundup of the award winning Oregon breweries, beers, and style categories!

  • Alesong Brewing & Blending, Gold, Touch of Brett (Brett Beer)
  • Barley Brown's Beer, Silver, Shredder's Wheat (American-Style Wheat Beer)
  • Breakside Brewery
    • Bronze, Breakside Lunch Break ISA (International-Style Pale Ale)
    • Silver, Breakside ESB (Classic English-Style Pale Ale)
    • Gold, Breakside Rye Curious? (Rye Beer)
  • BTU Brasserie, Bronze, Butt-Ah Nut (Pumpkin/Squash Beer)
  • The Commons Brewery
    • Bronze, Petite Classique (Other Belgian-Style Ale)
    • Bronze, Creme de Peche (Specialty Saison)
  • Craft Brew Alliance
    • Omission, Bronze, Lager (American-Style Lager)
    • Widmer Brothers, Silver, Drop Top Amber Ale (Ordinary or Special Bitter)
  • Flat Tail Brewing Co., Bronze, DAM Wild: Marionberry Pink Peppercorn, (Mixed-Culture Brett Beer)
  • Great Notion Brewing, Silver, Heart of Gold (American-Style Sour Ale)
  • Groundbreaker Brewing, Gold, Dark Ale (Gluten-Free Beer)
  • Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Bronze, Cerasus (Belgian-Style Fruit Beer)
  • Migration Brewing Co, Bronze, Old Silenus Ale (Old Ale or Strong Ale)
  • Pelican Brewing Co., Silver, Pelicano Extra! (American-Style Pilsener
  • Sunriver Brewing, Silver, Rippin, (American-Style Strong Pale)
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Gold, P2P (American-Style Stout)
  • Three Creeks Brewing, Gold, FivePine Chocolate Porter (Brown Porter)
  • Two Kilts Brewing, Silver, Scottish Ale (Scottish-Style Ale)
  • Vertigo Brewing, Bronze, Apricot Cream Ale (American-Style Fruit Beer)

For a complete list of winners, take a look at the PDF file of 2016 Great American Beer Festival award winners.

Congrats to all of these breweries and thanks for making world-class beer for our enjoyment! I happen to have an award winner in my beer fridge. I think I'll crack it open to toast all of our amazing Oregon breweries!

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Fort George Magnanimous IPA: Brewed with Fir Tips

Fort George is preparing to launch Magnanimous IPA for its second annual release. While we've got plenty of IPAs in the Northwest, this one is unique. Magnanimous is brewed with actual fir tips. I expect that will take piney hop flavors to a new level! The fir tips were picked by hand in May, and stored for several months until the beer was brewed.

This isn't the first time Fort George brewed a beer with evergreen. Back in 2010, they released North the Fourth, made with spruce tips, cranberries, and candy canes. I even interviewed Jack Harris about this unique beer.

While I love hops, I'm intrigued by the use of ingredients that aren't typically used in beer. As a homebrewer, I'm always on the lookout for unusual ingredients. I'm in the process of reading Brewing Local, a new book by Stan Hieronymus. It's giving me lots of excellent ideas for future homebrews!

In the meantime, look for Magnanimous IPA at your favorite beer store. It will be available October 5 until it runs out! For more details, check out the news release below.

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Magnanimous IPA: A Fort George 16-ounce Seasonal Collaboration with Earth & Sky Farm

Magnanimous IPA is a yearly offering from Fort George, reaching homes and pubs throughout the Northwest in early fall. But this seasonal beer brewed with Grand Fir trimmings actually starts in late May. That is when the Christmas trees at Earth & Sky Farm in Oregon City show their new, soft green growth. And it’s also when Tim Ensign and Jana Daisy-Ensign invite everyone out to the farm to harvest the fir for this winter collaboration with Fort George.

“We put a call out to friends and family in the beer community when the fir tips are ready,” explains Brad Blaser who works on the marketing team. “It’s pretty hot out there at that time of year, but Tim & Jana at Earth & Sky are great hosts. Barbecue, plenty of drinks, someone even brought a guitar to play while we picked. Your hands smell like trees for a day, but it’s a lot of fun with a really nice group of people.”

Hundreds of pounds of fir tips were picked, packed, and vacuum sealed into 10 lb. bags. These were quickly loaded up, driven back to Astoria, and delivered to a dedicated chest freezer located in the basement of Fort George co-owner Chris Nemlowill’s home. There they rested, tucked away until the brewery said it was time.

“I am happy to get that fir out of my basement,” Chris adds. “But I’m even more excited to taste a pint of Magnanimous IPA again.”

Bestowed with generous amounts of hand-harvested Grand Fir trimmings and bountiful additions of Simcoes and Chinooks, Magnanimous IPA offers a noble blend of lush piney hops and fresh evergreen aroma.

Look for 16-ounce four-packs and draft of this winter seasonal starting October 5th and while it lasts. Fort George beer is distributed only in the Pacific Northwest.

October - December Northwest Beer Festival Calendar

Fall beer festivals are in full swing. If you scan through the schedule, I think you'll find a nice variety of events. I'm most looking forward to Willamette Week's 4th Annual Beer Pro / Am on October 15. I've never attended, and I can't wait to taste the collaborations made by pro and amateur brewers. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list. If I'm missing anything (I'm focusing on annual, not one-time-only events), please send me the event details at info@notsoprofessionalbeer.com and I'll be happy to add it. That said, here's a look at the upcoming festivals during the months of October - December. Check out my Beer Festival Schedule page for updates.

  • October 1:  Sisters Fresh Hop Festival, Sisters    website 
  • October 1:  Fresh Hops Fest @ Claim 52 Abbey, Springfield    website 
  • October 7-8:  Handmade Bike & Beer Festival, Portland   website2014 recap
  • October 8:  Umpqua Brewfest, Roseburg    website   
  • October 8:  Peche Fest @ Saraveza, Portland    website  
  • October 8:  Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, Seattle    website  
  • October 8:  12th Annual Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest, Portland    website  
  • October 14-15:  PDX City of Cider Fest, Portland    website 
  • October 15:  Killer Pumpkin Festival @ Green Dragon, Portland    website  
  • October 15:  Willamette Week's 4th Annual Beer Pro / Am, Portland    website
  • October 15:  Alchemeat: Beer & Charcuterie Festival @ Culmination, Portland    website
  • October 21-23:  The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider & Whiskey Festival, Eugene     website 
  • October 22:  Brewpublic Killer Beer Fest @ Bailey's Taproom, Portland

  • November 5:  Boone's Ferry Autumn Ale Fest, @ McMenamins, Wilsonville    website 
  • November 5-6:  McKenzie Cider and Craft Beer Festival, Springfield    website  
  • November 12:  Bend Ale Festival, Bend    website  
  • BelgianFest @ Bailey's Taproom, Portland
  • November 30 - December 4:  Holiday Ale Festival, Portland    website

  • November 30 - December 4:  Holiday Ale Festival, Portland    website
  • Central Oregon Winter Beer Festival, Bend    website

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2016 Brewer's Advent Calendar at Costco

Fall is here, and that means Winter and Christmas beers are quickly descending. It also means Costco is loading up on all things yuletide. As I was perusing the aisles at my local Costco the other day, I found a beer advent calendar. The Brewer's Advent Calendar features 24 cans of 16.9 oz. imported German beersone for each day from December 1 - 24. The calendar features a broad range of German styles and is priced at $59.99, which equates to $2.50 a beer. That seems like a decent price to me.

I didn't buy it, but if anyone does, please let me know what you think of it.

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