Lagunitas High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout

As 2016 comes to a end, here's a beer that will close out your year on a memorable note. Every once in a while, we see amazing value in a beer. I think High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout, part of Lagunitas' 2016 OneHitter Series, fits the bill. It was brewed with coffee, aged in High West Whiskey Barrels for over a year, and weighs in at 12.2% ABV and 40 IBUs. Here's Lagunitas' description:

"This beer couldn't have been done without the help from our friends at High West Distillery in Park City, UT and Chicago's-own Metropolis Coffee. We brewed a rich, malty Imperial Stout with some of Metropolis' Spice Island blend, then let it vintag-ize in High West Rye and Bourbon Barrels for up to 17 FREAKING MONTHS. It's good to have friends!"

While that sounds great, you can pick up a barrel-aged stout an any decent bottle shopat a price of $10-$20+ for a bomber (22 oz. bottle). I bought this six-pack for $12, which equates to $3.67 for a bomber! So it's ridiculously inexpensive for a spirit-barrel aged beer, but is it any good? Here are my tasting notes:

Poured into my Speiglau wheat beer glass (my stout glass was dirty). Aroma and flavor start with sweet chocolate and espresso. In the middle, notes of whiskey emerge along with vanilla and subtle oak. It's medium bodied, has a creamy mouth feel, and finishes with lingering hop bitterness and sweet chocolate. While it's 12.2% ABV, the boozy heat was surprisingly subdued. I expected it to be fairly hot. It drinks great now, but I want to see how this beer ages. I plan to cellar (crawlspace, really) my 5 remaining bottles over the next few years and see how it evolves. I'm patient...

I stopped rating beers a long time ago, but if I rated this, it would have earned one of my rarely awarded 5-star ratings. High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout should be available through Januaryif it lasts that long. If you see this on the shelfsnap up a six-pack. While it's tempting to hoard, save some for your fellow beer lovers!

Wishing you an excellent 2017. Happy New Year!

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Hopworks Urban Brewery Opens Vancouver Brewpub

Hopworks Urban Brewery is spreading its wings and opening a new brewpub in Vancouver, Washington. The new location features seating for 300 and an 8 barrel brewhouse, which will produce select beers exclusively for the Vancouver market. 

For more details, check out the press release below. Congratulations to Hopworks on their expansion!

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Images courtesy of Hopworks Urban Brewery


Vancouver, WA— Hopworks Urban Brewery, known for a sustainable, Eco-friendly approach to craft beer, will open their third location on Friday, December 30. The new space is a 6,000 square foot brewery and restaurant in East Vancouver, Washington, at 17707 SE Mill Plain Boulevard.

“We are a neighborhood brewery,” said Hopworks Brewmaster and Founder, Christian Ettinger. “Part of being a good neighbor is simple - treat the neighborhood with love and respect, and always serve your neighbors the best beer you can. Vancouver is packed with families and people who love craft beer, and it has a rich brewing history. There is such a great community feeling here, so we are happy to share our beer and space with the people of this beautiful city.”

The new brewery, which features an 8 barrel brewhouse and restaurant with seating for 300, continues the commitment to sustainability that made Hopworks the first Certified B Corporation brewery in the Northwest. The brewpub will serve a number of beers exclusively for Vancouver, including a new Imperial IPA that debuts on Friday. All beers are brewed with thoughtfully sourced ingredients from Washington and Oregon, including organic barley malted in Vancouver, and a combination of local, organic, and Salmon-Safe hops.

In true Hopworks fashion, the Vancouver site is at the intersection of two bike paths, with plenty of bike parking. The brewpub is a Salmon-Safe Certified development and contains a 10Kw solar array, native landscaping, and energy and water efficient design.

“Like our other locations, the Vancouver brewpub is also family friendly,” added Ettinger. "You can take in views of Mt. Hood from the mezzanine, hang out in the beer garden, or relax with a pint in the lounge.” The Hopworks kitchen will serve a variety of the classic Hopworks pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers along with a number of new menu items.


About Hopworks Urban Brewery
Hopworks Urban Brewery strives to revolutionize and inspire the brewing industry with practices that drive quality, protect the environment and improve the community we live in. Utilizing organic malts and a combination of locally-sourced, organic and Salmon Safe hops, the company’s 20-barrel brewery in Portlad produces 13,500 barrels of beer and cider a year for HUB’s brewpubs and for distribution throughout the Northwest. Hopworks is a family-owned and operated business, the first Certified B Corporation brewery in the Pacific Northwest, a gold-level bike friendly business, and Long Root Ale received Brewbound’s “Marketing Initiative Award of the Year” in 2016. At the end of 2016 Hopworks will open a new 8 barrel brewery in Vancouver, Washington. More info at:

Easy Beer Brine Recipe

For this year's Thanksgiving dinner, I made the turkey. I've carried this immense responsibility (and minor stressor) a few times over the years. I'm not a great chef and my turkeys always ended up being too dry. That is until eight years ago, when I first brined a turkey! Brining is a magical technique that not only seasons the bird, but also and keeps it moist and juicy throughout the cooking process.

I didn't write a beer blog eight years, so I didn't think to add beer to the brine. Not this year! Beer was the star ingredient in my brine, and our turkey turned out most and delicious! 

Although Thanksgiving is long gone, I wanted to share my brine recipe in case anyone was looking for a simple, but good recipe to brine their bird or other protein. You could easily incorporate your favorite spices and herbs, and I expect it would turn out well.

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup kosher salt (don't use table salt)
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 15 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 24 oz of beer (you can use a wide variety of styles. I prefer malt-forward beers, you could use hoppy beers as well). I used Colorado Native Winterfest, a Vienna-style lager, from AC Golden Brewing Co. 


Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, heat to boil until the salt and brown sugar dissolves, and the liquid turns clear.  Remove from heat, stir in the beer, cool to room temperature.  Pour the brine over the meat into a container large enough to hold both. Cover, and refrigerate at least 12 hours (I let mine marinate for 24 hours).  Remove meat from brining liquid, and cook as desired. After cooking is complete, be sure to let the meat rest for a sufficient time (20 minutes for my turkey) before carving. If you don't, all the juices will quickly drain, and dry out the meat!

Here's my finished brine, cooling in an ice bath.

I used a large plastic roasting bag to hold the turkey and the brine solution. I used the bag only to brine, and removed the turkey from it prior to baking. 

Poured the brine into the bag, over the turkey.

Placed the bag filled with the turkey and brine into a roasting pan and put it in the fridge. Every 6 hours, I gently turned the bag over, exposing the other side to the brine.

24 hours later, I pulled the bird out of the brine bag, put in the roasting pan, and filled the pan with assorted root veggies, and baked it.   

Success! The turkey was well seasoned and juicy. It picked up the herb and spice flavors. The leftovers tasted tasted even better the next day...

I'll definitely use this recipe again, and will experiment with a different style of beer. Probably a porter or stout. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turns out! Cheers!

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Recipe: Cranberry Komboucha with Cardamom and Clove

Four years ago, I experimented with komboucha. I made a few batches at the time and enjoyed them. Earlier this year, my interest in the fermented tea drink was rekindled after I attended the Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival. I was very impressed by the wide variety, creative, and tasty flavor combinations used in komboucha, so I decided to brew some more.

Besides being good for you (komboucha oozes probiotics) it's crazy simple to make. The only equipment you need is a big glass jar, a piece of cloth, and some bottles. As a homebrewer, I appreciate the ultra-short "brew day" and fast turnaround times. To learn about the process of making komboucha, click here.

I've already made a few batches, and wanted to share an original recipe I created. This idea for this actually came from a beer recipe that's been percolating in my mind for a while. I thought I'd see how it worked in a komboucha, and I was thrilled with the result.

Cranberry Komboucha with Cardamom and Clove
Makes one gallon

Base Tea:
  • 112 oz. filtered water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 teabags Darjeeling tea
  • 3 teabags green tea


After making the tea, and cooling down to room temp, I poured the tea into my clean gallon glass jar and added:
  • 2 cups starter tea (komboucha from a previous batch that pre-acidifies the new batch and helps to start the fermentation process)
  • 1 SCOBY (I bought mine here. Get one free from a friend, if you can. They multiply, so you can launch your own SCOBY selling empire, if you choose).
Fermentation time is a matter of personal preference. If you like it tart, let it ferment longer. If you prefer it sweet, ferment for a shorter time. You can always taste along the way to see how it's progressing. I let mine ferment for 22 days. Within a few days, you'll see a white gelatinous layer forming on the top of the tea, which gets thicker over time. This is a "baby" SCOBY that you can use to make more tea, or give to a friend. Heck, some people even eat them!

Bottling / Secondary Fermentation:

Now that we have a tart fermented tea, this is time when we can get really creative! I poured the contents of the fermentation jar into a large bowl. I removed the SCOBYs (we now have two) and reserved two cups of fermented tea to serve as the starter tea for a future batch. From there, I added
  • 1/4 cup of Oregon Fruit Products Cranberry Puree  (OFP sent me some aseptically packaged samples for my brewing experiments. You can also try making your own with fresh cranberries, which are widely available this time of year.) 
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger juice

I blended the puree and ginger juice into the tea and poured the mixture into my clean bottles. Before capping the bottles, I directly added the following into EACH bottle:
  • 1 crushed cardamom pod
  • 2 whole cloves

I sealed the bottles with my bottle capper and let them rest at room temperature. A secondary fermentation will occur within the bottle causing it to carbonate. Again, the length of fermentation time (and amount of carbonation) depends on your preference. Be aware that bottles can explode! Using re-sealable Grosch-style bottles allows you to regulate carbonation.

I let min sit in secondary for about 2 months--simply because I didn't get around to drinking it sooner. Here's a picture of the end result! I'm thrilled with it turned out. The level of cranberry (at 1/4 cup puree per gallon) was perfect. The combination of cardamom and clove melded perfectly with the tart berry flavor. I wouldn't change a thing!

The process is really quite simple. My detailed instructions may make it seem more complex that it really is. I'm experimenting with other flavor combinations and will be sure to share my favorites. If you try this recipe, or have ideas for other recipes, let me know!

Homemade Cranberry Komboucha with Cardamom and Clove

Oregon Fruit Products aseptically packaged Cranberry Puree

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Reverend Nat's Releases 16.6% ABV Wooden Hellfire

Here's one to file under the category of "Unique." Reverend Nat's Hard Cider has released Wooden Hellfire, a 16.6% ABV behemoth. So what's makes this one different from the rest? First, it's 16.6% ABV. That's like getting a side of cider with your booze! Second, it was aged in Kentucky bourbon-barrels for a year. Third, and most intriguing, is the fact that the apple juice was boiled for 18 hours prior to fermentation.

If you're not familiar with the cider making process, you should know that cider is not boiled AT ALL during the traditional cider making process. The act of boiling increases the sugar content, which leads to a higher alcohol content. The 18 hours boil time is also an oddity. Most beers are boiled for an hour. Some higher ABV styles such as barleywines may be boiled 2-8 hours prior to fermentation.

Finally, this is a still cidermeaning it's not carbonated, which makes sense given the style. I expect Wooden Hellfire will provide a very interesting accompaniment to your holiday reveling! Bottles are now available for a limited time at the Reverend Nat's Taproom. For more details, check out the press release below.

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Photo courtesy of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider

Likely the highest ABV ever achieved in a cider without the addition of external sugars

Portland, OR – Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider continues to produce ciders that no one else will make with the debut of their newest cider, “Wooden Hellfire,” a 16.6% ABV monster produced only with fresh apple juice and yeast, and left to age for over a year in Kentucky-sourced used bourbon barrels.

“The cider was conceived as a response to the fledgling ‘ice cider’ style,” says the founder and head cidermaker, Reverend Nat West. In this cider style, largely produced in Quebec, apples are typically left on the tree until they freeze, thus cryo-concentrating the natural juice until it achieves a very high starting sugar level. These high natural sugars allow the production of a naturally sweet and high alcohol cider that has no other ingredients added to increase the ABV such as fruit juice concentrates, sugar or distilled spirits.

“But I never much liked the perfume-y and syrupy profile of ice ciders very much,” continues West. “So I wondered what would happen if I boiled the hell out of juice rather than freezing it.” In July of 2015, West worked with a local Portland brewery (“They’re a big brewery and don't want to go on-record with this project”) to boil fresh apple juice for 18 hours, reducing the overall volume by two thirds. This “pyro-concentrated” apple juice was, “thick and viscous, about 29 brix, full of caramelized burnt sugars with tons of cooked apple and molasses flavors. It was right then that I realized I was making more of a barleywine kindred than a riff on ice cider.”

West brought the juice back to his cidery and fermented it with a Belgian saison strain, “going for some Belgian quad aromas to play with what remained of the apples,” he said. Fermentation completed in about 60 days at which time the cider was racked into freshly-dumped Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels where it rested for over a year before being bottled exclusively for the Tent Show Bottle Club, Reverend Nat’s rare-cider membership group. 38 cases will be released on Sunday December 18th, 2016, at the group’s monthly cider release. Any remaining bottles will go on sale on Tuesday December 20th in Reverend Nat’s Public Taproom. An extremely small number of flavored variants were made as well including cherry-chipotle, raspberry-tobacco and coffee-cacao.

About Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider:
Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist and craft beer revolutionary who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make. Founder Nat West started making cider at home in 2004 and opened Reverend Nat's Hard Cider in September of 2011. With unique products like the multiple-fermented Revival, dry-hopped Hallelujah Hopricot and quinine-bittered Deliverance Ginger Tonic, we are making cider in the creative spirit of beer geeks. To learn more, check out the website at or find us on Facebook or Twitter @revnatscider.

Otis Classic Swing Top Grolsch Bottle Unboxing

I recently started "brewing" komboucha (again). Compared to beer, it's a ridiculously easy process. Minimal gear is neededjust a big glass jar and a piece of cloth to cover it. You also need bottles. Being a homebrewer, I have plenty of those.

Many komboucha makers use Grolsch bottles with resealable flip-type or swing top caps. The benefit of resealable closures is that they allow easy regulation of carbonation because you can open the cap, "burp" the gas, and re-seal.

Otis Classic, a manufacturer of swing-top Grolsch bottles reached out to me and offered the opportunity to evaluate their product (at no cost). I accepted and they sent me some bottles to try out. I'm sharing my initial impressions via this "unboxing" post, and then I'll provide more feedback after I have a chance to put the bottles to significant use. So let's take a look, shall we?

Otis Classic sells through Amazon (who fulfilled my shipment) and other vendors. You've seen many boxes that look like this. 

Three smaller boxes were contained within the outer shipping box, packaged snugly with protective material.

Each of the three boxes contained six 16 oz. bottles. 

Each bottle was wrapped in a bubble wrap pouch and held tightly in place by a cardboard divider.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the red rubber gaskets are different from standard gaskets (with holes) used in the vast majority of Grolsch bottles. This full-style gasket is better suited to higher carbonation levels. Standard gaskets can leak with high carbonation. Each bottle has a full-style gasket attached, plus 6 extra spare gaskets are provided in each box.

Here are the bottles in all their glory! According to the manufacturer, their long necks make cleaning easier (compared to short-fat bottles). The closures are made of 204 Stainless steel and are dishwasher safe. Most of the competition uses tin, which corrodes after a few washes. Finally, the amber glass will protect your precious liquid cargo from harmful UV light.

My first impression is very positive. The product was packaged superbly. The bottles have a nice weight and solid feel to them. The caps clamp down very tightly. I'll be putting these to good use in the near future to bottle my beer, komboucha, and cider. I'll follow-up in a few months with a more thorough report. But so far, so good!

For more information, check out Amazon or the Otis Classic website.

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Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale Returns to Support Three Great Causes

I love hoppy red ales. The combination of flavor and color always clicks with me. So I was thrilled to see the news that Ninkasi Brewing Co. is bringing back on old favorite. Believer Double Red Ale is returning as limited release for the months of December - April. 

What makes it even better is that Ninkasi is donating a portion of the proceeds to three great charities! Ninkasi's Facebook followers will have the opportunity to vote and determine how the funds are allocation among the three non-profits. You can also vote at

For more details about the beer and the amazing charities, check out Ninkasi's press release below. Note to self: stock up on Believer before it disappears in April!

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Available Dec. 2016 – April 2017 in Bottles & On-Draft, A Portion of Believer Sales Goes to Conscious Alliance, Team River Runner and Women Who Code

EUGENE, Ore. — Back by popular demand, independent Oregon craft brewer Ninkasi Brewing Company announces the return of Believer Double Red Ale to its Seasonal Release Series available Dec. 2016 through April 2017. In partnership with the brewery’s Beer is Love donations program, a portion of all Believer sales will go to three national non-profits: Conscious Alliance, Team River Runner and Women Who Code.

Established in 2012, Ninkasi’s Beer is Love program offers beer donations to registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations throughout each of the 14 states where Ninkasi beer is sold. The program supports non-profits doing work in five core categories: women, equality, recreation, the environment, and arts and music. Since inception, Beer is Love has worked with more than 800 organizations. “It is an honor to partner with great organizations throughout every community where we sell our beer,” says Emilie Hartvig, national donations manager for Ninkasi and its Beer is Love program.

Originally released as a winter seasonal in 2006, Ninkasi co-founders Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge brewed Believer Double Red Ale as a way to thank those who believed in their mission: to start a craft brewery dedicated to community. It is a natural fit for the brewery to commit the sales of Believer to organizations doing good work.

Believer returns to the shelf in 12 and 22-ounce bottles and on-draft later this month through April 2017. Ninkasi will donate $1 per case and $7 per keg of Believer sold to three non-profit organizations who exemplify the foundation of Beer is Love. “We are thrilled to bring back Believer and support organizations who are doing amazing work to support women in tech, recreation for veterans, and communities in crisis through arts and music,” explains Hartvig.

Conscious Alliance (
Based in Boulder, Colo., Conscious Alliance is a national organization supporting communities in crisis. The organization operates through a three-tier approach: emergency food relief to communities across the United States; empowerment programs for youth in impoverished regions of the country; and nutrition, exercise and gardening education for youth in economically isolated Native American reservations. Conscious Alliance operates ongoing grassroots food collection and hunger awareness programs by organizing food drives at concerts and music events. The donations collected benefit local food pantries nationwide and economically isolated Native American reservations.

“We are thrilled to partner with Ninkasi and share Believer with Conscious Alliance’s supporters nationwide,” said Justin Levy, executive director of Conscious Alliance. “As an organization with a mission to empower communities through music, art and action, it’s a natural fit for us to collaborate on this campaign that helps give back to our communities."

Team River Runner (
Team River Runner is a volunteer-driven, national nonprofit organization offering wounded and disabled veterans an opportunity to regain independence with an adventurous, adaptive paddle sports program. Team River Runner promotes camaraderie and teamwork as veterans problem-solve and learn paddling techniques in pools, lakes and whitewater rivers.

“The Team River Runner family is thrilled Ninkasi has selected us for the upcoming Believer release,” says Team River Runner executive director, Joe Mornini. “It takes the collective efforts of organizations and companies to create positive energy; we know the added support of Ninkasi will help increase awareness of our program.”

Women Who Code (
Women Who Code is an international non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. The organization is building a world where women are proportionally representative as technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members and software engineers. Women Who Code has executed more than 4,200 free events around the world, garnered a membership exceeding 80,000, and has a presence in 20 countries.

"Women Who Code is proud to be partnering with Ninkasi, and we applaud them for their dedication to helping our cause of building a more diverse, inclusive, and dynamic technology industry around the world,” explains Jennifer Tacheff, Women Who Code VP of business development.

Voting Opens January 2017!
The three benefitting organizations will have the opportunity to engage their followers by asking for their vote on Ninkasi’s Facebook page and Beer is Love website. Votes will be totaled at the end of the campaign in April 2017 and will determine how the donation pool will be allocated among the three organizations. Each organization will receive a minimum donation of $5,000 with the final donation pot divided based on number of votes and total Believer sales: first place receives 50 percent, second receives 30 percent, and third receives 20 percent. To vote, visit or between Jan. 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017.

Believer Stats
Enjoy Believer. Support Beer is Love. 
Unlike a typical Red Ale, Believer balances a rich malt complexity with a plentiful hop presence. Notes of caramel, toffy, fig, and date ease into earthy and floral hops, making this Double Red Ale incredibly drinkable and full-flavored.

  • Style: Double Red Ale
  • Series: Seasonal Release Series
  • Available: December 2016 – April 2017
  • ABV: 6.9%
  • IBU: 60
  • Malt: 2-Row Pale, Munich, Crystal, Carahell
  • Hops: Centennial, Summit
  • Packaging: 12oz. 6-Pack, 22oz. Bottles, Draft
  • Distribution: Alaska; Alberta; Arizona; California; D.C.; Colorado; Idaho; Maryland; Nevada; New York; Oregon; Texas; Utah; Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Tasting Notes: Multiple malts are used to create caramel, toffy, date, fig, subtle chocolate, and a hint of roasted malt complexity. The hops lend to an earthy and floral hoppiness to balance the malt. The balance of the two aspects with the alcohol content make for an incredibly drinkable and full-flavored beer.
  • Food Pairings: Pork; Lamb; Duck; Pizza; Rich, Creamy Cheeses; Toffee; Chocolate

About Ninkasi Brewing Company
Founded in 2006 by Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi Brewing Company continues to grow from its first batch of Total Domination IPA, to two brewhouses, a 55-barrel and a 90-barrel brewhouse, located in Eugene, Ore. Ninkasi’s Flagship beers—Total Domination IPA, Tricerahops Double IPA, Dawn of the Red IPA, Easy Way IPA, Hop Cooler Citrus IPA, Helles Belles Helles Lager, and Vanilla Oatis Oatmeal Stout—are sold throughout Alaska; Alberta; Arizona; California; D.C.; Colorado; Idaho; Maryland; Nevada; New York; Oregon; Texas; Utah; Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia. The brewery remains privately-owned and is committed to community support and giving. Ninkasi’s Beer Is Love program offers in-kind donations and support for organizations throughout its footprint. For more information, call 541.344.2739 or visit


Catching Up With Carlton Cyderworks

Time flies...  Back in the summer of 2011, I interviewed Keenan Bailey of Carlton Cyderworks. At the time, his cidery had been in operation for nearly two years. Since then, they've launched some exciting new lines of cider and assumed ownership of a taproom / growler station. I checked in with Keenan to learn more...

What has Carlton Cyderworks been up to during the past few years?

Keenan Bailey:  We started as, and still remain, a family run cidery. Basically myself, my parents, and my wife. As everyone in a family business knows, that presents its own set of advantages and also challenges. Over the last couple years our family lost a few members. That took its toll on all of us, especially my father, and of course the cider business suffered. For us the cidery is a labor of love, so it was a sad time for a variety of reasons. That has shaped us though and helped with perspective. Incorporating our family story into the company will be critical as we refocus and get back to making great cider.   

I see you have opened up Growlers Tap Station in McMinville. How did this come about? Can you tell us a little about it?

KB:  To a certain extent, Growlers Tap Station fell right into our laps, and we’re really happy to have it. It was opened in 2013 as a beer focused tap house and growler fill station. The location is within walking distance of my house and always had a great tap list, so it became my preferred spot in McMinnville to grab a pint. It’s very much a neighborhood joint with a lot of loyal patrons. Earlier this year we discovered the owners were interested in selling, and we immediately knew it would be a great fit for us. Our production facility isn’t in the best location for a tasting room, so buying Growlers Tap Station instantly gave us an outlet for our cider.  We took over in July, and didn’t change much - why try to fix what isn’t broken? Currently we have 23 beer taps, 9 ciders, and also wine, kombucha, and soda available by the glass or growler fills.  Of course, we mainly have Carlton Cyderworks on the cider taps, but we do have a couple rotating guest taps for cideries in our region.

Having a tap house allows us to experiment a little more with our cider making. We’re making more one-off ciders, maybe even just enough to fill a barrel. We can focus on the process, on the ingredients, and just have fun too. For instance, we’re about to tap a cider that involved making traditional New England Boiled Cider - something we’ve never done before. We also are working with smaller apple orchards in our area, making cider from just a few trees here and there.  If our customers don’t love a particular cider, they can give us that feedback immediately, and then as cider makers we say “OK lets adjust this, or improve that, or maybe scrap this concept.” On the other hand, if we make a cider that everyone loves, we can make it on a larger scale with confidence that it will be a success.

An unexpected benefit has been the opportunity to make contacts with brewers in our area. We get to meet them, try their beer, put it on tap - and then we have a chance to tell them about our cider. We’ve have a couple cool relationships start that way.

Your winter cider, Sugar & Spice, is now on release for the holiday season. I've always found balancing spice to be challenging in beer and cider.  What was your approach to making this cider?

KB:  For us, it’s just a process of trial and error. There are a few basic rules we stick to, and I think those principles help keep us out of trouble.  With Sugar & Spice, we’re using whole spices that we grind before adding to the cider.  It’s easier to become unbalanced when you add extracts or “natural flavors” or even artificial flavors.  Sadly, that happens in the cider industry.  So we try to use the ingredients at their truest, most basic form.   

Pairing cider and certain spices can create familiar and comforting flavors. Apple pie, apple crumble, baked apples - those are well loved dishes where spices are used and most people are familiar with those flavor profiles. It’s a logical step to include those spices in an apple cider. For quite a few of our ciders, I usually start by thinking about food, and how the ingredients I’m using would be used in the kitchen.   

What's in store for Carlton Cyderworks?  Can you share some details about upcoming releases or future plans?

KB:  When we decided to start Carlton Cyderworks in 2008, the first thing we did was plant an orchard of traditional English cider apple trees. Then we went to the UK, where we have family, and experienced the cider culture there. So looking back, that’s what we wanted to be - a cidery in Oregon making English-style traditional cider. That’s what we love. So getting back to that original vision; the orchard, pressing our own fruit, playing with wild fermentation, that’s what we’ll be doing.  

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we released a few premium ciders which are available in 750 mL bottles at our tap house. We’re really excited about these products and have had great responses to them. The labels also feature artwork by my grandfather, Oliver Bailey, who recently passed away. He was responsible for our logo and all our other artwork. It’s nice to be able to recognize his influence this way.

At the beginning of 2017 we will also be releasing our first estate cider, French Lane Press, in 750 mL bottles. It is a blend of all the apples from our orchard in Carlton, primarily English bittersweets/bittersharps, and some American heirlooms. The labels of these premium ciders show the percentage of each apple variety used, similar to what you might find on a wine label. That’s something I am passionate about. There is a lack of transparency in the cider industry. For instance, when I go wine tasting they tell me exactly what grape varieties are used, where they came from, sometimes even down to the exact vineyard. That doesn’t happen with cider. Where do the apples come from? Oregon? Washington? Which region? What varieties are used? We expect that information with wine, and to a certain extent we expect that from beer - at least with the varieties of hops used. That hasn’t translated to cider for some reason. So hopefully we can get cider drinkers to start asking those questions.  

A big thanks to Keenan for taking time to chat! It's exciting to see how Carlton Cyderworks' has evolved over the years. I promise to not wait 5 years until the next check-in! For more details, please visit the Carlton Cyderworks or Growlers Tap Station & Cider House websites.

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Photo courtesy of Carlton Cyderworks

2017 Oregon Beer Awards: Tickets on Sale

The 3rd Annual Oregon Beer Awards ceremony is happening on February 28th, at Revolution Hall. This year promises to be the best yet! Nearly 1000 beers have been submitted for award consideration in 22 style categories from over 100 Oregon breweries. 

Tickets for the event are $15 and are now on sale here. The event also benefits the non-profit Oregon Wild and their Brewshed® Alliance program. For more details, check out the press release below or the event Facebook page.  Best of luck to all the entrants!     

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PORTLAND, ORE.– The Oregon Beer Awards are back for a third year to recognize and celebrate the state’s most outstanding beer. Tickets ($15) to the awards ceremony, happening February 28 at Revolution Hall from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., are now on sale. Industry insiders and general public welcome and encouraged to join us for this unique celebration of Oregon’s craft beer bounty.

“This is the most fun you’re going to have at a beer awards ceremony anywhere in the world,” said Ezra Johnson-Greenough, founder of The New School and Portland Beer Week, “It’s like attending the Academy Awards only with much better beer.”

Winners will be announced during the ceremony on Tuesday, February 28, at Revolution Hall (1300 SE Stark Street, Portland). The 2017 OBA Hall of Fame induction by JVNW will also take place. In addition to 22 judged beer style categories, awards will also be given for Best New Brewery, Best Beer Bar/Bottle Shop, Best Brewpub Experience, Best Beer Festival, Brewery of the Year – Small, Medium and Large.

Each category will be presented by an industry supporter, who will send a representative to the stage to open the envelope. Master of Ceremonies Katie Nguyen, Portland comedian and host of The Liquor Store’s Earthquake Hurricane, will keep guests entertained, along with live music, an incredible beer list (TBA) and more. The event directly benefits Oregon Wild’s Oregon Brewshed® Alliance.

Tickets and more information can be found at Past winners can be found here. Interested sponsors are encouraged to contact

Full Sail Releases Shortest Day CDA

Are the short, dark days bringing you down? Hang in there, because the Winter Solstice arrives on
December 21 and brings us more sunlight with each passing day! To celebrate the event, Full Sail Brewing has released Shortest Day CDA.

The Cascadian Dark Ale (also known as Black IPA) emerged in popularity in 2010, when it was first recognized as a style at the Great American Beer Festival. I always enjoyed CDAs and remember seeing many in wide release between 2010-2013. Styles ebb and flow in popularity, and CDAs haven't been as widely available in recent years. I haven't had one in quite a while, so I was excited to learn about this new release from Full Sail. Here are my tasting notes from the sample the brewery sent:

Poured into a Spieglau IPA glass. Near black in color, with a frothy tan head that dissipates very slowly, leaving lots of sticky lacing on the glass. Aroma starts with a strong dose of pine followed by citrus. In taste, I noticed toasted malt, chocolate, coffee, in addition to piney and citrus hop notes. It's medium, bodied, moderately carbonated and has a resiny mouth feel. It finishes with lingering citrus bitterness. On paper, you'd think that the "malty" flavors of chocolate and coffee would clash with the "hoppy" citrus and pine flavors. They don't. It just works...

Shortest Day CDA is available for a limited time, so don't miss out!

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Toast to the Winter Solstice with Full Sail’s New Shortest Day CDA
Dark malts and bright hops balance this award-winning, medium-bodied Cascadian Dark Ale

Hood River, Oregon – The shortest day of the year means the longest night, with more time to drink Full Sail’s new, perfectly balanced Shortest Day Cascadian Dark Ale. Shortest Day CDA, which has already won a gold medal from this year’s Great International Beer & Cider Competition, is brewed with 2-row pale, crystal, and de-husked chocolate malts. It pours a deep dark black with a lacy tan head, with aromas of dark roasty malt and hints of tropical and citrus fruit. 

“Shortest Day CDA offers bold flavor with excellent balance,” says Full Sail Executive Brewmaster Jamie Emmerson. “De-husked chocolate malt imparts dark chocolate flavor while crystal adds depth and complexity. Generous additions of Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops lend flavors of fruit and sweet floral notes.” 

The hand-drawn artwork by Portland-based TWEEQiM creativeLab’s MiQ Willmott on all of Full Sail’s recently rebranded packaging pays homage to Hood River’s water sources, bounty of fresh ingredients, and of course, the award-winning taste in each and every bottle. Shortest Day CDA’s label design does all this and more. Willmott’s meticulous design features the Green Man—known in lore as the mascot of the winter solstice—fashioned from hops, celebrating the darkness of night and rebirth, as days begin getting longer again. “The Green Man’s crescent-moon smile reflects on the river,” says Willmott. “And the white stars represent the ‘winter circle,’ the phenomenon of stars that appear only on the winter solstice. Even the Big Dipper gets a cameo.”

“The symbolism of the label design draws attention to the well-balanced, ridiculously delicious ale inside,” says Full Sail Brewmaster Jim Kelter. “Enjoy this Brewmaster Reserve selection on the shortest day of the year and any other day this season, while it lasts.” 

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 Shortest Day CDA is only available November through February, in 22 oz. bottles and draft. 6.6% ABV, 57 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

Gigantic Releases High Voltage Winter IPA and Shazoo Imperial Milk Stout

Gigantic Brewing Co. is celebrating the holidays with the launch of High Voltage Winter IPA and Shazoo Imperial Milk Stout. Here are the delicious details provided by the brewery: 

High Voltage Winter IPA "Plug in the three phase and the generator! This IPA has huge amounts of citrusy Mosaic, Citra, and Cascade hops, with just enough crystal malt to keep things in check."

For High Voltage we took the traditional IPA and added crystal malt to add a little sweetness for the colder winter months. Some may call this a hoppy red ale, but we prefer Winter IPA because of the pronounced hoppiness and drinkability. Much like Ben Venoms creature on the label, High Voltage is its own beast. High Voltage has a bright citrus and cane berry hop aroma, with a touch of dankness. Beautiful hop flavor with crystal malt sweetness balanced by the loving IPA bitterness.

The label features original quilt made by Ben Venom. Mr. Venom made the quilt of a vicious beast that exists only in his world with Gigantic t-shirts and patches. High Voltage is paired with the song "Flies" from Red Fangs newest album "Only Ghosts (

Shazoo Imperial Milk Stout  "Inspired by Europe, we added milk sugar to a rich imperial stout to make an enormously delicious milk stout. With coffee, chocolate, and caramel notes, you can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!"

Shazoo features artwork from Travis Millard, a Los Angeles based illustrator who explores various oddities of the imaginative landscape. The beer is paired with Y La Bamba's song “Libre” from their new album “Ojos Del Sol” ( The name of the beer came from Family Guy season 7 episode 3 "The Road to Europe"

Both are limited releases and won't be around for long. For more info, check out the beer dossiers for High Voltage Winter IPA and Shazoo Imperial Milk Stout. In the meantime, if the beers don't give you a sufficed dose of Gigantic's giganticness, check out the premier edition of their new online magazine.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some beers I need to sample....

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December - February Northwest Beer Festival Calendar

Winter in Oregon may bring a fewer number of beer festivals, but they're good ones!

This is by no means a comprehensive list. My focus is on recurring events (held each year).  If you have an event you'd like me to list, send me the details at and I'll do my best to add it.  Cheers!

  • November 30 - December 4:  Holiday Ale Festival, Portland    website
  • December 1 - 4:  Bigwood Festival @ Brouwers Cafe, Seattle    website
  • December 9 - 11:  6th Annual St Johns Winter Beer Fest, Portland    website
  • December 9 - 10:  Vancouver Winter Brewfest    website
  • December 10:  Central Oregon Winter Beer Festival @ GoodLife, Bend    website

January '17
  • January 28:  NW Coffee Beer Invitational, Portland    website
  • January 28:  Collabofest 2017 @ Base Camp Brewing, Portland    website
  • January 28:  Artisinful! Portland Beer and Chocolate Festival @ Culmination   website

February '17
  • February 1-4:  Salem Winter Brewfest, Salem    website
  • February 3-4:  Blasphemous Brewfest @ Ringlers, Portland    website
  • February 10-11:  KLCC Microbrew Festival, Eugene   website
  • February 18:  Zwickelmania, Events across Oregon    website 
  • February 18:  Festival of the Dark Arts @ Fort George   website 
  • TBD:  Firkin Fest @ Green Dragon, Portland
  • TBD:  Hillsdale Brewfest @ McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery, Portland
  • TBD:  Blackout Beer Fest @ Lompoc Sidebar, Portland

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