Thursday, December 29, 2011

Breakside Brewery

820 NE Dekum St.
Portland, OR 97211

First night in Portland and I explored a new brewery, I am a very lucky girl.  I know I've said this before, but it's very hard being away from Portland when all these new breweries are popping up.  When I moved away from Portland in 2009 I had been to every brewery in Beertown, now I can't keep up - even with multiple vacations south every year. 

Mr. Peter Price picked me up from my lovely airport hotel.  (I'm in town for my job with the Copper River Salmon Association.)  My family lives in Southwest and Jonah's in Southeast, therefore accessing Portland from the Northeast made a handful of breweries much more accessible.  In no time, Peter and I were in the Woodlawn district, walking up to the brewery.  The first thing I noticed was the architecture; I am a BIG FAN of the melding of industrial and organic, a mix of metal and wood.  The second was that Breakside Brewery is the essence of a neighborhood brewery.  Man I wish I had a neighborhood brewery!

Peter and I sat outside on one of the many picnic tables.  They had the garage doors open, letting the warm fall air into the building.  We started with an IPA and the Dark Mild.  I won this round, the Dark Mild was DELICIOUS: light, crisp and full flavored - I could drink a hundred of these beers.  The IPA is no slouch though; maybe the opposite of the Dark Mild, it's a big beer with dramatic flavoring.  Second round was the Oatmeal Stout for Peter and the Farmhouse Golden for me; Peter won this round.  The Oatmeal Stout had a royal flush of flavors: coffee, chocolate, and a smokiness.  The Farmhouse Golden was a little intense for me; I'm still working on my saison knowledge. 

When I first came into the brewery I questioned the bartender about the beers on tap to figure out my game plan.  After two beers, I think the bartender was worried we weren't going to get to all his suggestions - he brought us out samples of the Aztec and the Dry Stout.  Ah!  These were the best beers we had!  Both of these beers are on their VERY short year-round list so count yourself lucky when you visit Breakside.  When I visited in October, the brewery was a year and a few months old and had already produced 37 beers.  The BEERS page of their website is by far the most extensive section with tabs for YEAR ROUND, SEASONAL, BEERS OF THE PAST, UPCOMING RELEASES, and most excitedly, there's a tab for the current beers on tap.  Usually that wouldn't be big news, but the list changes so often the tab is a blog, less than a week in between the posts. 
Here's what it looked like the day I visited:

I wonder what it will look like when I visit next!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

With Love, The Hyatt PDX

There's the bomber of Na Zdravi I thought I brought home for Jonah!  I forgot I couldn't wait until I got back to Alaska.  Amy and I barely survived the long drive to Portland, so we celebrate with some crisp brews and a game of cribbage!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Continuing on the Oregon Brew Crawl

Oh my god, it is taking me FOREVER to tell you about my trip to Oregon.  Hopefully I will finish before I visit Beertown again in February!  I could give you a hundred reasons why it’s been 22 days since I last posted, but nobody really cares about the reasons.  So, here I am!  I’m back.  Plus, I’m working on a surprise for all of you who have been putting up with my flakiness.
Anywho….  Amy and I left Southern Oregon Brewing with hopes to camp on the coast in Crescent City.  Yet again, our plans didn’t turn out the way we hoped.  We enjoyed our drive to the Northern California coastline via Highway 199, stopping at Kate's to use the bathroom, which is only for paying customers... 2 famous Kate's Bloody Marys please!  Probably one of the best Bloody Marys I have ever had (which reminds me, I need to add "invent my perfect Bloody Mary mix" to my bucket list.)  We were offered seats at the bar and conversation quickly sparked with the request to see my [Alaskan] driver license.  This is one of the best conversation starters ever, people always have questions about Alaska and what it's like to live there.  Have trouble getting to know people?  Totally get a fake I.D. or move to Alaska, we're pretty friendly up here.  Amy earned high marks when a fellow patron was super bummed Kate ran out of salsa, she bolted out to the truck and produced the container we had been living off for the last two days.  After our Bloody Marys, it was time to go, we needed to make it to Crescent City before dark to set up camp.

Swing and a miss...  this is the view of the sunset that welcomed us to Crescent City.  (And the best photo I got, too bad Jonah's not on the trip.)  We drove around the area, hungry and grumpy, and could only find closed campgrounds.  Finally came across a motor home campsite and drank our worries away with all the bombers and growlers we had been collecting.  The next morning our breakfast view made up for all the frustrations.

From Crescent City we made the long drive to Portland to drop me off. 
Next on the tour....
Breakside Brewery
Hopworks Bike Bar
Tugboat Brewing Company
Bailey's Taproom
Widmer Brewing Company

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Beer

Seasonals!  I love seasonal beer.  (I also love year-round beer, I must just love beer.)  Every time another season rolls in, I think to myself: I think [insert current season]'s beers are my favorite seasonals.  Christmas seasonals are no exception, they might even be my favorite ;)  Big beers with lots of flavor, belly-filling and cheer-bringing.  This is my first Christmas season without my family and lineup of Oregon beers, how will I survive?!?  I bet a big hug from my husband and some tastings of a few Alaskan seasonals will do the trick. 

What seasonals are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Southern Oregon Brewing Co.

1922 United Way
Medford, OR

Amy and I drove from Ashland to Yreka, CA in a vain attempt to get closer to Redding CA, our destination.  Waking up the morning of Amy's birthday, after checking the distance to our second day destination, we realized it would take 2 hours less to back track through Medford rather than continuing down to Redding.  What a lucky circumstance!  After checking my BreweryMap app on my iPod, I found our next mark on the Oregon Brew Crawl: Southern Oregon Brewing!

Amy with the SOB lineup.

Go visit this brewery!  Amy and I had so much fun.  Not only did we get to chat the entire time with the lovely bar manager, Jenn Brown, also the #1 of the Mug Club and the owner.  We started with samplers, quite an excellent lineup.  
Gold Digger is a crisp, classic "Northwest lager."  The owner, Dr. Tom called it his gateway beer, introducing people who aren't convinced of the power of craft brews to the SOB lineup.
SOB Pale is in the works to be renamed then bottled into 22s.  The Pale is subtle, definitely a second step in the introduction to the brews.
Nice Rack IPA is a "British style IPA," also Jenn's Mug Club moniker, a mellow IPA with a kick of bitterness at the end.
Na Zdravi, a "Czech-style Pilsner" was my favorite.  I fully intended to bring a bottle back for Jonah, but lost it along the way :)  It's a strong pilsner with full-flavor and a lot of kick.  The name means cheers in Czech, which I love.
Pin Up Porter, a "dry finishing Porter," is very complex; nutty with a clean aftertaste.  The Pin Up is the #1 seller in the Rogue Valley; Amy agreed claiming it her favorite.
Old Humbug, a "Traditional British Winter Ale" is yum yum yum good.  Be careful though, this beer is very sneaky.
Jenn Brown, the wonderful bar manager.
Not only does SOB have great beer, the taproom is a great place to be.  I got to chat with Tad, the #1 of the Mug Club, his dedication to the brews was clear.  When asked which is his favorite beer, his response: "that's like asking a parent who their favorite child is."  SOB puts a genuine effort toward green practices that you can read about on their website.  My favorite part of the taproom is even though they don't have a food service, you can order to-go dishes from local restaurants to munch on while you drink.  Have dinner at home and need beer to-go?  SOB will fill other breweries growlers, a definite plus for me and for the Eco-conscience practices SOB strives for.

Touring the brewery.
We left with full arms.  Jenn filled our quart growlers with Old Humbug and Na Zdravi.  Amy even got a free 22oz for her birthday!  We were well taken care of and had a hard time moving on, but we needed to make it to at least one camp destination on the trip!  The check was paid and we were on our way to Crescent City.

Crescent City, CA

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Katie!

Congrats on making it through the teenage years!  To 20 more!

Best Lady!

Monsters and the Lemon Tree (a favorite children's story)

Action Movie Stars!

"Ya, I'm talking to you"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Speechless in Seattle

Hey guys! Sorry I have been absent this week. I'm in Emerald City, visiting many excellent breweries. It has been an excellent time, however I haven't figured out how to use blogspot to my liking on my iPad. Suggestions anyone?

I will be back in Cordova next week with the rest of my Oregon Brew Crawl and some great breweries of Seattle.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Standing Stone: To Go

101 Oak St. 
Ashland, Oregon 97520. 
Around the block from Caldera Tap House is Standing Stone Brewing.  Since there was no way we were going to make it down to Whiskeylake, CA, Amy suggested we stop by for a beer before heading out of Ashland.  The place was packed!  We decided to grab some growlers and head to the hotel instead.  I must say that Standing Stone's growlers are kick-ass!  We got a few to celebrate Amy's birthday the next day.

The Oatmeal Stout was a great breakfast beer.

The Octoberfest was a great celebration for an October birthday.

The Farmer Brown was a great fall seasonal.

Caldera Brewing Company

Caldera Brewing Company
31 Water Street
Ashland, OR

Camping gear... check.  Chocolate for the smores... check.  Hangover... check.  For the trip down south, Amy and I had the truck packed, the dog settled and all by 3pm, only 4 hours after our intended leave time.  Cursing ourselves for going out the night before, we cruised down I-5 at a leisurely pace. 

We pulled into Ashland, ready for a quick in and out: the sun was going down soon and we were hours from our intended destination of Whiskeylake, CA.  Caldera's Tap House is right off the main drag, easy walk from the downtown area, and opens at 4pm daily (good thing we didn't leave Eugene until 3pm, right?).  The tap-house has a big porch to enjoy the sunny Southern Oregon weather, and a cozy tavern inside.  

Before visiting, I had only sampled Caldera's tri-fecta of canned brews: Caldera Pale Ale, Caldera IPA, and Ashland Amber.  Caldera IPA was a staple in my life when I lived in Eugene and I miss having the access to these brews up in Alaska.  Once we entered the tap-house, it was clear that a sampler tray was the only option with so many brews on tap.  Amy and I each got our own, 5 beers each, and didn't repeat any style, nor did we sample everything on tap! 

Well, our quick in and out turned into a 2.5 hour session.  We slowly sampled the beers and enjoyed the ambiance of the little local tavern. 

Here are some highlights:
Lawnmower Lager - Excellent, solid lager.
Pilsner Bier - A pilsner with girth.
Hibiscus Ginger Beer - Surprisingly subtle, sweet & spicy.  Great specialty beer.
*Old Growth Imperial Stout - Full flavor that you don't want to leave.  
Rauch ur Bock - Super smokey, would be a great pairing beer.
*Mogli - Tastes like ice cream!
*Brought a bottle home for Jonah.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Let's Shout "Hey" for Stout Day

 Actually, shout "YAY!" for Stout Day.  Last Friday, November 4th, I helped the Reluctant Fisherman host a Stout Day.  The Reluctant Fisherman is my favorite local watering hole in my town, Cordova, AK.  I have written about the bar manager Adam's love for finding new beers for his patrons in these posts, check them out:
The Reluctant Fisherman + Fish On! IPA = Happy Jessyka
Alaskan's Rough Draft Series 
Rotating Tap At The Reluctant
When I heard about Stout Day coming, it wasn't hard to get Adam on board for an event.  Starting with the stouts he already had in the cooler, Alaskan Brewing's Perseverance Ale and Denali Brewing's Chuli Stout, we decided there needed to be a third to obey the golden rule.  Adam did some investigating and came up with Kassik Brewery's Roughneck Stout. We ended up with three great Alaskan stouts that offered quite a bit of variety even though they belong to the same style group.

Photo by Jonah Dart-Mclean
The stouts came in pitchers and pints, of course, but Adam also put together a taster tray of all three options that I saw at many tables.

Photo by Jonah Dart-Mclean
There was a prize drawing, every stout purchase earned you a ticket!  We raffled off a LTAB shirt, a Reluctant tee, some Alaskan sifter glasses, and a lovely tee from Denali Brewing Company that they sent to us as soon as they heard we were featuring the Chuli Stout at the event.

Photo by Jonah Dart-Mclean
Overall it was quite a success!  Everyone at the event got excited about trying and comparing the different stouts offered.  Many enjoyed the event for the sake of celebrating beer, which put a smile on my face!

Photo by Jonah Dart-Mclean
Jonah and I had a wonderful, snowy walk home talking about all the fun we had.  I hope we can do it again!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stout Day: Almost Here!

Stout Day!
Technically (according to, Stout Day is November 3rd, so crack one open and toast to that delicious, dark brew that keeps us warm on cold winter days.  

If you happen to be in Cordova this Friday, November 4th, come to the Reluctant Fisherman!  I am helping Adam with a Stout Day celebration for the town.  Here's the line-up + 3 facts:

Denali Brewing Company's Chuli Stout.
1. Is a dry Irish stout with coffee-like flavors.
2. Was named after the Chulitna River, one of the 3 rivers in the Talkeetna area.
3. Won Best Ale in Alaska at the 2011 Alaska State Fair Microbrew Invitational.

Alaskan Brewing Company's Perseverance Ale
1. Is a Russian Imperial stout.
2. Was brewed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the brewery.
3. Uses fireweed honey from Delta Junction for delicate sweetening.

Kassik's Roughneck Stout
1. Is an Oatmeal Stout.
2. Was brewed as a tribute to the oil industry workers.
3. The brewery is located in the woods of Nikiski, next to the home of the brewer.

Hint: these facts might come in handy.
See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eugene City Brewery

844 Olive Street 
Eugene, Oregon

I'm back in Eugene, my old stomping grounds, home of the mighty Oregon Ducks and delicious Willamette Valley beer.  When I lived in Eugene, I really enjoyed going to Eugene City Brewery.  It has great food, a relaxed atmosphere, and a wide variety of Rogue beers.  ECB is not technically owned by Rogue; it is a Rogue brewery.  That's where I was confused before, I thought that ECB was a brewery that had its own beers and was acquired by Rogue, this is not the case.  The name Eugene City Brewery is a historic name of a brewery that was established in 1866 and was open for 7 years.  The pub, now named Rogue Ales Public House, was the location of Eugene City Brewery in 1866 and housed a Henry Weinhard's distributor from 1890-1914.  This space, furthering its beer history, was revived as a brewery by West Brother's BBQ restaurant in 1996.  In 2004, Rogue Ales purchased the building, renovated the facilities, and restored the brewery's historic name: Eugene City Brewery was reborn.

So now we're here in 2011 and at Rogue's Public House: Eugene City Brewery.  While researching for this trip I asked the question "Does anybody care about Eugene City Brewery anymore?"  Even though I got little response through my social networks, the answer was overwhelming when I stepped into the pub: it was packed!  Trivia night + the eve of a Duck game brought hoards of people in.  This includes my own hoard of lovely Eugenians (and Portlanders) I miss so much: Shannon, William, Erik, Amy, Spencer, Brandy, and Joy.  Then Amy's roommate Adam popped by, followed by my parents, and Shannon's friends Jenny and Scott.  It seems more and more like people love it here!

What's not to love?  This place has a ton of beer to choose from.  Track Town Ales are the beers that are brewed in-house by Nate Sampson.  Nate loves to experiment, so if you're looking for something out of the ordinary definitely choose a Track Town seasonal.  The other beers are obviously Rogue ales; these ales are brewed on at Rogue's flagship brewery in Newport.  Lots of beers to choose from, all of them sounding delicious after a day of plane travel.  I went with the Wet Hop Ale; it had the earthy, fresh taste that makes the wet hop season something to look forward to.  Our waiter informed me that Rogue and Track Town both brewed wet hop ales with the same recipe but differing in type of hops used.  Rogue used cascade hops while Track Town used crystal hops.  In the end, I preferred the Rogue version; I'm a sucker for darker beers.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Oregon Brew Crawl

Oregon, ah Oregon, the beer lovers favorite state.  Yes, I know I'm biased but 97 breweries in 54 cities makes Oregon a true beervana.  Oregon has the largest number of breweries in the U.S. and the largest number of breweries per capita.  ALSO it has the largest craft brewing production AND craft brewing consumption!  Do I have you convinced?  Yes?  Alright then, let's move on.

I started my trip in Eugene, Oregon.  An hour after leaving the airport, I was within the walls of a brewery, Eugene City Brewery.  I came with a question "Does anybody care about Eugene City Brewing anymore?"  I definitely received an answer from the people of Eugene that night.

The next morning the race around Southern Oregon began:  3 breweries, 2 days, 1 birthday.  Interest piqued?  Awesome, tell you all about it later, we're trying to do a summary here for goodness sake.

Ok, so now that I've asked questions in Eugene and ran around the bottom of Oregon, it's time to visit Beertown herself, Portland.  How many times do I need to go to Portland before I've written everything you need to know?  A million.  Seriously.  First of all, mine and Jonah's family live in Portland so it will be a frequent stop for us.  With that aside, Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world and is constantly gaining more so it's definitely a great place to explore.  This visit I stayed entirely on the Northside: reapeating some favorites and finding some new ones.

Check back this week and next to hear about each brewery I visited on my 10 day/ 8 brewery (+ 1 beer bar) Oregon tour.


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