Archive for September, 2008

Summer’s End

September 26, 2008

As much as I hate to admit it, Portland’s sliding into Fall if it hasn’t already locked firmly into place by now. The skies are getting cloudier, the weather’s getting colder, and the leaves are beginning to change color. Anyone hoping to cling on to that summer feeling should stop by Bailey’s for a few of our lighter beers. These are probably the last of the summer style beers for the foreseeable future, so get ’em while you can.

  • Cascade Lakes Rooster Tail– Though this is being advertised as a pale ale, it actually tastes like a cream ale… a really solid cream ale. That pseudo-vanilla flavor you would expect is certainly prevalent here, along with a light honey sweetness. This is a very quiet and clean beer with just a hint of malt complexity. Perfect for throwing back on days you need to convince yourself the sun is still shining.
  • Pelican Kiwanda Cream– Okay, so this is supposed to be a cream ale, but it actually doesn’t taste like one. Instead, there’s a slight hint of lime and a thinner, even cleaner body than the Rooster Tail. The hops are subtle, but they’re present and give this beer just a little bit of a bite to go with the citrus. I’d call this one a very refreshing summer ale.
  • Hopworks Alt– Haven’t actually gotten to this one yet, I’m sorry to say, but I’ve heard good things from Geoff. He’s told me that it’s got a caramel amber flavor. Alts are traditionally ales that are brewed like lagers at colder temperatures, which results in a cleaner, slightly thinner taste. I’m betting the caramel flavors are really subtle, which is a nice change of pace from all those rich red ales that come through our bar.

Any of these beers are perfect for slugging back, with relatively low ABVs, clean finishes, and subdued hops. For those of you eager to move onto the hoppier, maltier, darker beers of the fall and winter, at least remind yourself what you’ll be missing out on in the coming months.

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Get Sirius

September 25, 2008

It’s Cask Thursday, folks, which means that on top of the other ten beers I still need to catch up with, I have to add the Lagunitas Sirius on cask to my list as well.

I’m intrigued how this sweet, boozy cream ale is going to translate. What I initially liked about it on CO2 was how light it tasted for a beer that’s 7.6% ABV. It certainly had a punch, but it wasn’t nearly as strong, sharp or sugary as some of the other Laguintas strong ales out there.

Cask usually smooths out  beers while allowing other subtle flavors to emerge, so I’m expecting this one to be even more dangerously drinkable than it was on the regular tap. Time (and a pint) will tell whether my prediction turns out true.

Stop Drinking All My Beer!

September 23, 2008

You hogs drank all my Ninkasi Oatis! I go to all the trouble of telling you how it’s such a great beer, and what do you do? You start guzzling it so that I can’t get another one. I mean, it was barely on tap. It just… went.

And then after you vultures polished off the Oatis, you consumed seven more kegs, thereby forcing me to fall completely behind and have to start all over again.

Way to stab a brutha in the back!

So that’s it. I’m definitely not talking to you about the North Coast Old Rasputin. I’m not going to tell you that it’s on Nitro at this very moment and that it is MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE BEER ON NITRO. Not gonna say it. Won’t mention that it tastes of coffee and cinnamon, roasted chocolate and thick, milky cream. And maybe it’s both smoother and more filling than most milkshakes, or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s freakin’ 9% ABV but you’d never know it, or maybe I’m just making that up. I’m not telling.

So don’t bother drinking ALL of it. Or at the very least, just please–PLEASE!–leave a little for me!

Cask Reminder

September 18, 2008

I know what you’re thinking. “Another freakin’ blog post? Give it a rest already, man. Our eyes are getting sore reading all this meaningless beer prose.”

I just wanted to remind you guys and gals that it’s Cask Thursday! And this week it’s the Fish IPA!

You’re welcome, you ungrateful bastards!

Last Week’s Beers

September 18, 2008

There are a couple new, exciting beers that went on tap yesterday that I’d just love to talk about, but before I do, I have to give some love to last week’s greatest hits. There’s no telling how much longer some of these masterpieces will be on display at Bailey’s, so I want to get the word out before you miss out.

  • Leavenworth Oktoberfest—This is a brewery that just snuck up on me. We’ve had a number of their beers on cask recently, and I’ve been thrilled with all of them. So when I found out they were going to tackle an Oktoberfest style, I was intrigued. Oktoberfest beers are a sort of amber lager, usually very light with just a hint of caramel and sweeter malts and not too many hops. As far back as I can remember, I’ve never had an Oktoberfest that got me very excited; most of them are just kind of “meh.” But the Leavenworth fills a really nice niche—it’s light and refreshing but with enough malt complexity to keep you interested. It’s a step up from the Lagunitas Pilsner (another solid beer) in the flavor department but still great for anyone who’s really thirsty and needs something that won’t crush their delicate taste buds. This is the perfect beer to start on, like a warm-up exercise for your night of drinking.
  • Russian River Damnation—I swear to Beer God, I’m so sick of hearing everyone praise Russian River as the best thing to happen to beer since malt met hops. Alright, so yes, I’ll admit Pliny the Elder is one of the most incredible beers I’ve ever had, but there’s just so much hype around this brewery and their sudden presence in Portland that I just don’t see how they can live up to it all. For those not in the know, this California brewery has been long sought after up here for their artisan style beers that lean more heavily on Belgian traditions than English ones. And this beer, the Damnation, is Bailey’s first snag. And, well, it’s a damn fine beer, I have to admit. It’s a true Belgian Strong Golden Ale, in line with something like Duvel or North Coast’s Pranqster for those who aren’t familiar with the style. I’m thrilled whenever a good brewery takes on this style and this case is no different. It’s a little stronger tasting than I’m used to, and leans more sour and dry than sweet, but all those Belgian spices and tiny bubbles are intact. This stuff is the real champagne of beers.
  • Hale’s Rudyard’s Rare Barleywine—I held off on trying this one for awhile, mostly because I’m not a huge barelywine fan and secondly because it’s still the summer and I can’t really get my head around 10% ABV beer drinking when it’s 80 or 90 degrees outside. Despite my initial hesitation and skepticism, I have to admit: this one goes down pretty easy. Much darker in color than any barleywine I’ve ever seen, the Hale’s has a really nice roasted flavor that complements its sweet booziness so well, it led me to wonder why more barleywines don’t play with the roasted malts a little more. It’s remarkably tasty and well-balanced and so much more than the sugar bomb in your mouth that some barleywines turn into. Everyone who has ordered it seems to be pretty happy, too, especially after they get over the fact that it’s so dark in color. We’ve got very little of it left, though, so grab it while you can!

We’ll talk new beers tomorrow!

Death is a Bargain!

September 18, 2008

Jeez, what is Geoff thinking? He’s only charging $5 for a full 20 oz imperial pint of Double Dead Guy? Is he out of his mind? Hell, Rogue was charging $5 for just a 12 oz of the DDG at their own freakin’ public house!

Guess I just shut up and drink it before he changes his mind, right?

Doubling the Body Count

September 17, 2008

There will always be some small part of me that loves Rogue Dead Guy. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, it was my very first micro beer—or, at least, the very first one that I remember. Up until then, I’d only ever tried the occasional bland German lager, watery Irish stout, or macro schwill like Killian’s Irish Red. The Dead Guy was a work of art in the midst of all that mediocrity. I’d never tasted anything like it before. It had this incredible blast of sweet flavors with just a hint of bitterness, and a clean, refreshing finish. One sip invited a second, and that trademark Rogue drinkability meant that a third couldn’t be far behind. There was just enough to the beer to excite me without overwhelming me; while other beers could be too strong, bitter, or heavy, the DG was that perfect balance—the ideal beer.

Eventually, of course, I moved on. I began to appreciate IPAs and then Belgians, and eventually, the DG just didn’t do it for me like it once had. Whether it was the price, the competition, the lack of availability, the bad bar lines it was pouring from, or the fact that I just enjoyed other beers more, I’m not exactly sure, but it’s rare that I seek it out like I used to or order it when there are other beers available that I haven’t yet tried.

Fortunately, Geoff just did me a favor by tapping the Dead Guy’s sequel, the Double Dead Guy, at Bailey’s. While it’s not as revolutionary to me as that first Dead Guy I had so long ago, it certainly doesn’t skimp on the deliciousness factor and it really is twice the flavor of the original in one glass, maybe even three times. Clocking in at a whopping 9%, you’d expect it to dig a grave in your tongue, but it still retains something of Rogue’s session philosophy when it comes to beer-making; in other words, while I can’t imagine having more than one of these per night, it’s certainly not as harsh as I was expecting.

It’s got gobs of caramel sweetness, incredible booziness and retains only a little of that toasted “maibocky” background flavor, but the finish still manages to clean itself up tidily. The sweetness dials down, the booziness disappears, and you’re left with just the tiniest warming sensation on your tongue. And compared to something like the Deschutes Black Butte XX, it does actually taste like a more intense version of the beer it’s modeled after rather than something just entirely different.

While the DDG doesn’t quite surpass the brilliance of Lucky Lab’s 5-Ton for strong ale dominance on the current Bailey’s tap row, it’s an impressive beer nonetheless and well worth a try, especially for anyone who harbors an affinity for the original Dead Guy but has moved on to bigger beers. I don’t know how it’s possible for a Dead Guy to grow up, but this one certainly has.

The Perfect Oatmeal Stout?

September 16, 2008

Geez! I’ve been off my game! Apologies, ladies and gents, but with The Mom in town last week, I didn’t get much time for the usual doses of boozing and blogging. I’m back in the saddle this week, though, and rarin’ to go on some exciting brews that we’ve got on tap and a few kegs that I’m particularly giddy about which are currently just chilling in the cooler, waiting for something/anything to blow.

Yesterday, I stopped in early at Bailey’s and caught up on the latest. Of the six beers I had, there was a clear standout. The Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout. For anyone who’s ever been mauled by a Tricerahops, got whipped by the Total Domination, or became a Believer, you know like I know that the brewers at Ninkasi must have sold their souls to gremlins to make beer this freakin’ delicious.

So when I stepped up to the Oatis, I had high expectations. And it met them. And then it took those expectations, unraveled their golden layers and revealed a heart of platinum inside. Which is to say that this beer isn’t just good; it may very well be The Perfect Oatmeal Stout.

Is that dramatic enough for you?

Here’s where I’m coming from: as you take your first sip, you’re immediately immersed in the chewiness factor, like an oatmeal and granola bar in liquid form. Then the coffee and chocolate emerge in big blasts, calming down just as the silky sweetness smoothes out the first half of your drinking experience and carries you through to the creamy end. For a beer with so much stout-y flavor, by which I mean bitter coffee and chocolate, rough oatmeal texture, and roasted burnt malts, it’s just amazing how smooth the ride is. It’s like getting on a rollercoaster and getting all the ups and downs, but never feeling anything adverse in your stomach or head.

I mean, I’ve had plenty of stouts that went down easier than an IPA or a barleywine, but most of them were watery and bland; this is a beer that has everything you want in a stout, but doesn’t rape and pillage your taste buds in the process. I think I’m in love.

God, I can only imagine what this thing would taste like on Nitro… Mmmmm…

Ton of Fun

September 3, 2008

I finally got around to catching up with some of the new beers at Bailey’s last night with the ever-handy taster tray, and although I fully enjoyed four of the five beers, there was one standout that surprised me: the Lucky Lab Five Ton. If you haven’t gotten around to snagging a snifter of this yet, do yourself a favor the next time you come in. Described as a whiskey barrel aged strong ale, I was a little dubious; and Lucky Lab tends to be very hit-or-miss for me, too. But the Five Ton is a remarkably smooth, easy-drinking beer despite its boozy, sweet, roasted flavors. Somehow, it manages to juggle a lot of tastes back and forth over the tongue, giving you a remarkably subtle drinking experience for a beer that I’m sure is at least 8% ABV. I’m definitely impressed. I was expecting something sharp and abrasive, but this was a smooth surprise.

The Dumbest Things I Heard All Week

September 2, 2008

I don’t normally like to pass judgment about people… well, at least, not on an online blog… but every once in a while, someone says something so insanely stupid that it bears repeating. And since I was behind the bar twice as much as I normally am, the asinine comments couldn’t be shrugged off quite as easily as they usually are. They stuck around and clawed at my ear drums.

Runner-up for The Dumbest Thing I Heard All Week: “I don’t like British lagers like Guinness.”

If I have to explain that one, you’re hopeless, too. But at least that’s just ignorance about geography, culture, and the two most basic beer categories (lager vs. ale). This week’s winner either has no taste buds or doesn’t understand what words she should use to describe undesirable flavors.

Scene: A young woman who has been drinking at Tugboat arrives at Bailey’s with her friends, asks for a taste of the Roots Gruit Kolsch, sips it, and immediately scrunches up her face.

The Winner for the Dumbest Thing I Heard All Week says, “Ewww! This beer is too hoppy!”

A quick reminder, beer fans: the Gruit Kolsch has NO hops in it. None.