Tasting a Trio of Pyramids

Pyramid Brewing sent me three of their recent releases. On Super Bowl Sunday, a friend and I tasted them in the order shown below. The brewery's marketing descriptions are listed in italics. My tasting comments are in bold:

  • Triangulate Citrus Pale Ale:  Chart an undiscovered path of malt, hops and fruit with Triangulate Citrus Pale Ale. We added a huge helping of Lemondrop™ hops and real lemon peel to give it a big, citrusy nose and flavor. Wheat and oats takes the malt body in a unique direction for a smooth, satisfying mouthfeel. Available January - March.  I noticed a bit of citrus in the nose, but not as much as I expected (and hoped for) given the beer's description. The taste was far more spicy / yeast-like than citrusy, and I found that to be distracting. I liked the creamy texture which resulted from the oats.

  • Brewer's Reserve Railroad Avenue:  This Imperial Porter uses deep roasted malts and roasted barley with dashes of vanilla, cinnamon and dark brown sugar. Railroad Avenue is a big, malty brew that conducts the palate to a nicely spiced, mildly sweet finish. Available Mid January - April.  Pyramid nailed the description for this limited release! I enjoyed the cinnamon—its presence was noticeable and added a nice twist, but wasn't overwhelming. It weighs in at 8.2% ABV, but had little alcohol heat. 

  • Barrel-Aged Snow Cap:  Full of deep bourbon flavors of vanilla and oak, this 30th anniversary edition of Snow Cap is big, bold and worthy of celebration. Complex notes of dark fruits, nuts and spice are present and will make sure you get snowed in with us for yet another year.  Available November '16 - February '17.  This special release is 2015 Snow Cap aged for 10 months in bourbon barrels. This beer also matched its description, as the vanilla and bourbon were prominent in flavor, with the addition of stone fruit and warming alcohol in the finish. The oak added another level of complexity. A great end to the flight! 

Overall, I was very impressed with Railroad Avenue and Barrel-Aged Snow Cap. Both are limited releases, so if you stumble across either, consider giving them a try!


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Valentine's Gift for IPA Lovers at Costco

Does your Valentine love IPAs? No need to overcomplicate this, folks. Get them some IPA, and a lot of it! While shopping at Costco the other day, I saw mixed cases of IPA from Stone Brewing and Sierra Nevada. I think most hopheads would be thrilled with either:

  • Stone All IPA Mixed 24 Pack:  Pataskala Red IPA, Delicious IPA, Ruination Double IPA, Hop Revolver IPA
  • Sierra Nevada 4-Way IPA Mixed Pack:  German-Style IPA, Peach IPA, Black IPA, Torpedo Extra IPA 

If you decide to bless your loved one with a case of IPA, go the extra mile and give them a proper IPA glass. I used to think these specialized beer glasses were a marketing ploy, but they're not. Their design optimizes the hop aroma and flavors. Cheers to Valentine's beer!

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GrowlerWerks uKeg64 Unboxing

I don't buy growlers or even growlettes / grenades, for that matter. It's not that I don't like them, or am opposed to them. I just don't drink a lot of beer in one sitting. As soon as a filled growler is opened, the precious contents are ruled by a rapidly decrementing quality clock. After opening and pouring from the growler, air enters the container and the beer starts to go flat. If the beer is not consumed quickly, (within a few hours) the quality and experience intended by the brewery will not be preserved. If you drink multiple beers per session, or share with others, glass growlers are a great option. Although I write a beer blog, I don't drink a tremendous amount of beer. Just a few each week. So growlers have never been part of my routine.

There is one benefit of growler culture that I've missedthe ability to take home a beer that's served only on tap. But this is a first world problem, and I have managed to survive.

GrowlerWerks, Inc. is a business in SE Portland that appears to have a solution for my "problem". They reached out and asked if I'd like to evaluate their uKeg™64, a pressurized growler. This product dispenses beer from a tap and keeps the contents under pressure even after pouring the first drink. These features prevent the beer from going flat and enable the consumer to enjoy the contents over a period of days, rather than hours. It's an intriguing concept. I could see the benefit especially for high gravity beers that I'd want to enjoy slowly. I could also use this to carbonate and dispense my homebrew.

Intrigued, I accepted GrowlerWerks' offer, and they sent me an evaluation unit (in full disclosure, at no cost to me). It arrived a few days ago, and I thought I'd do a quick unboxing post and provide a few quick impressions. I have not used it yet, but will follow-up with an additional post after I've had a chance to test it out. But first things first, price. The uKeg 64 retails for $139 at Amazon and the Growlerwerks website. A typical glass growler is $5-10. But, as you'll see, this is no ordinary glass growler. Is it worth the high price? That depends on the utility derived by the user...

OK, let's take a look, shall we?

The uKeg 64 arrived in a box looking like this...

It was nicely protected with instructions placed on top...

Two 8 gram food grade C02 chargers were included....

After removing the top styrofoam cover, the uKeg was wrapped in a plastic bag.

This is the regulator cap. The bottom portion unscrews from the top and holds the CO2 cartridge (8g or 16g). The dial allows you to control the pressure level.

It sports an attractive handle. If you're going to carry it around,  you might as well do it in style!

The built-in pressure gauge ensures the beer is poured at your desired pressure.

It has a built-in tap handle... 

...and a sight glass that lets you to see how much beer remains.

There it is in all its glory!

So that's the rundown of my first look at the uKeg™ 64. As far as growlers go, it's visually stunningdare I say sexy? Are all of the features overkill? Probably. Are they necessary for survival? Probably not. But beer is about fun and enjoyment, and this seems to fit the bill! Anyway, I plan to put the uKeg to some good use, and I'll report back with my findings. Cheers to growlers!

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Afternoon at NW Coffee Beer Invitational

One of the great things about the Portland beer scene is the plethora of specialized beer festivals. Instead of going a mile wide by tasting a variety of styles (which is fun), these festivals enable us to delve further and explore a specific style or theme at greater depth. I did just that at two festivals on January 28th. My first stop of the day was the Goose Hollow Inn.

Just completing its 4th year, the NW Coffee Beer Invitational celebrates the glory of two of Rose City's favorite beveragesbeer and coffee. 16 beer and cider makers created coffee-infused beers (and ciders) specifically for the festival.

Festival co-founders, Dave and Jean Fleming, added a few new twists to this year's event. First, they included three SW Oregon Coast breweries (7 Devils Brewing, Chetco Brewing, and Yachats Brewing) whose beers aren't typically found in the Portland area. In addition, the Flemings asked these breweries to also bring their favorite non-coffee beers. This was a great addition! After drinking 3-4 coffee beers, I found that my palate needed a quick reset, and these beers did exactly that!

Besides the beer, there was a lot to like about NW Coffee Beer Invitational. The Goose Hollow Inn is right on the MAX line, so transportation doesn't get any easier. Although the festival tents (in the parking lot) were relatively packed, the beer lines were short and moved quickly. The event had a great vibe and the live music added to the ambiance. See my video below to check it out.

I won't get into specifics about the beers, but I was impressed with how the brewers used coffee, in different ways, to enhance each beer. I added a few pics of the tasting list. Take a lookit'll whet your appetite! If you missed the 4th installment of the NW Coffee Beer Invitational, don't worry. It'll be back next year, and I expect it will be even better!

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4th Annual Beer Cider Love: February 14th

Can't decide between beer or cider for your Valentine? Do the best of both! On February 14th, Beer Belly will host the 4th Annual Beer Cider Love. At this special event, you'll be treated to five pairings of beer (from Fort George Brewery), cider (from Finrriver Farm & Cidery), and delectable bites prepared by Beer Belly.

For more details, check out the news release below.

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Photo courtesy of Jana Daisy-Ensign

Beer Cider Love with Fort George + Finnriver @ Beer Belly 2/14

Celebrate Pacific Northwest craft with two of the region’s most beloved beverage producers and their ambassadors at the fourth annual Beer Cider Love event 5-9pm Tuesday, February 14th at Portland’s new downtown hot spot Beer Belly. Fort George Brewery’s Tim Ensign and Finnriver Farm & Cidery’s Jana Daisy-Ensign join forces for one incredible evening, featuring a specially curated draft list paired with fare by none other than Lardo and Grassa co-owner, Rick Gencarelli at Beer Belly. Five mouth-watering pairings match a selection of five artisan beers and ciders including an exclusive, one-off draft only collaboration. No reservations required, food pairings available until sold out. Food Pairing Flight $15, Beverage Pairing Flight $15. Beer Belly is located at 1205 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205.

Featured Pairings:

Fort George Beta IPA
Citrus Salad, Chicory, Fennel & Honey Goat Cheese

Finnriver Habanero Apple Cider
Hush Puppy, Habanero Jelly

Finnriver Oak & Apple Cider
Smoked Pork Loin Crostini, Apple Butter, Cheddar

Fort George Matryoshka Stout
Prosciutto Wrapped Fig, Gorgonzola Dolce

Fort Gorge Matryoshka & Finnriver Sour Cherry Collab
Black Forrest Cupcake

Additional draft offerings:
Fort Coffee Girl Stout
Fort George Vortex IPA
Finnriver Black Currant Cider
Finnriver Solstice Saffron Cider

Fort George Brewery - Established in 2007, Fort George crafts original beers distributed only in the Pacific Northwest. Whether in cans or kegs, at the pub in Astoria or on your front porch, our beer brings people together in aromatic headiness and lupulin ecstasy.

Finnriver Farm & Cidery - Finnriver is honored to be on the forefront of the Pacific Northwest cider revival and committed to producing both traditional and innovative ciders using premium, organic ingredients while maintaining an authentically farmcrafted and land-based operation. Finnriver is certified Salmon Safe and a certified B corporation, sourcing organic apples from across Washington state and growing their own organic orchard of over 5,500 trees, with 20 varieties of heirloom and traditional cider apple varieties. Finnriver aspires to serve the land with cider, by caring for soils, watershed and community while crafting award-winning premium ciders.

Beer Belly - From the founders of Lardo and Grassa, Beer Belly a newly opened Portland beer bar and bottle shop, rounds out this ChefStable West End hot spot with 30-taps, a focus on local brews and a menu that boasts geeky aged beers and a crowler machine, that makes it possible to fill 32 ounce cans to-go from the draft lines! The ambience is set by cassette-tape music, televisions airing select sports and the ultimate hipster vending machine selling artisan salts and salami. Housed in Southwest Washington Avenue's Indigo building at 1205 S.W. Washington St., Portland, OR. Beer Belly is open daily from 12noon to 10pm.