Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub's Pagan Ale

Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub
Pagan Ale on draught
Tigard, OR
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On another cold, rainy night in Portland we decided to get out of the house.  What better excuse to do so than to review another beer.  At first glance of the menu I knew exactly what beer I was choosing:  the Pagan Ale.  A sacrilegious pale ale?  Score and double score!  Described on the menu as "A big floral hop aroma greets you at the rim of the glass.  A well-balanced, full-flavored Northwest style Pale Ale at 5.4% Abv and 46 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).  The true "little brother" of our IPA."  Despite the slightly flowery description, this beer is really good.  I like the "little brother" description because it is smooth, light bodied and lightly hopped pale ale.  Not quite in the IPA ballpark, but somewhere around the parking lot of the ballpark.  Not an empty parking lot but a full one, teaming with tailgaters and lots of flaming beef and pork.  This Pagan Ale is lightly carbonated compared to other beers, making it go down fast.  That combined with the great flavor made it last shorter than a box of Double Stuff Oreos on Rosie O'Donell's nightstand.

Conclusion:  A great light beer with good flavor.  A good introduction to bitter beers.

A max rating of five beers.  I liked the light body combined with the light hops and full flavor.  Next, I will have to go back and have the Reverend's Daughter.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prost's Bayreuther landbier dunkel on Draught

Prost German Pub
Bayreuther landbier dunkel
Portland, OR
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Let me start by saying that I have not yet met a German beer that I like.  OK, perhaps I can drink a Hefeweizen or two, BUT only if they are made in Portland.  So they don't count.  Yes, the Germans do make many kinds of beer:  lagers, pilsners, dunkels, bocks, altbier, goses, koelsches, martens, rauchbiers and many variations of each.  This helps explain their reputation as having the best beer in the world.  But I really don't like any of them.  I suppose I cut my teeth in the beeriest place on earth, Portland, so I am true to Portland beers.  Who's with me?!  Sorry about that, I'm done now.  Because of this strong and perhaps irrational bias, this review is ALL Jeff.  I am removing myself completely because it is impossible for me to be properly subjective.  Or fair, or reasonable, or anything that has to do with faking it. 

The dunkel is a frothy, medium bodied, low carbonation beer that goes down easy (when not gagging on it!)  Sorry!  I'm trying hard not to interject.  Really, I am.  Let's just get to what Jeff said:  "If this was a wine I would describe it as light and not a lot of complexity.  It's smooth.  It's a quaffing beer."  Well great!  Because we are here to quaff beer after all.  So we quaffed and licked away our froth mustaches until our beers were empty.

Conclusion:  A quaffing beer.

Two jugs, uh, I mean, steins.  

Amnesia Brewing's Slow Train Porter

Slow Train Porter on Draught
Amnesia Brewing
Portland, OR
Sunday, March 11, 2012

My buddy Jeff called to go sample and rate a beer for the blog.  So we did two!  (The next one is coming after this one which, ironically, you will have read first since blog posts are displayed from newest to oldest.)  Slow Train Porter is the dark beer seen above next to its good friend, Dusty Trail Ale.

The first taste was strong, which is right on queue with most other porters.  Really good first impression.  It has a caramel and woody flavor.  Which type of wood?  I don't know.  I haven't spent any time licking two by fours at Parr Lumber so I can't tell you which type of wood.  For that matter I don't know what wood tastes like.  Let's just say that it tasted like what I think wood tastes like based on the smell of wood.  Fair enough?  Good.  Back to the beer.  As my glass got emptier the beer tasted less like a porter and more like a dark ale.  I like dark ales, but this is supposed to be a porter.  Sometimes a beer changes flavor for the better.  Unfortunately, this one got worse.  So it would have been a bad dark ale even if it had been called a dark ale.

Conclusion:  First taste was great, just like the porters I like.  Quickly degenerated into a weak dark ale flavor.

Two beers.  In the end, this slow train was the little engine that couldn't.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lucky Labrador Brewing Company's Organic Golden Ale

Organic Golden Ale on Draught
Lucky Labrador Brewing Company
Portland, OR
Sunday, February 26, 2012

Knowing that we have a yellow lab and a black lab mix, I will try my best to be completely objective during this breview.  But how can we not love anything about a pub named the Lucky Labrador?  Man, this is going to be difficult.

I ordered the Organic Golden Ale expecting that it would be in the neighborhood of a rich flavored but less hoppy IPA.  As the beer was being carried over to me I noticed the light, clear color that resembled a macro beer.  Before it was even set in front of me I thought "Crap, I ordered the wrong freaking beer".  But since I am blogging about this I have to remind myself to keep more of an open mind about the beers that I normally do not prefer.  Yes, let's give that a try.

My first taste reassured me that this beer resembles macro beers too much and that I would not like it.  My second through seventh tastes did nothing to change that.  However, I pressed myself to see through my bias and find positive traits about the beer and perhaps even enjoy it.  After drinking the beer for a while I did finally convince myself that this beer is a considerable step up from bad beers like Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select, Budweiser Select 55, Bud Ice, Bud Ice Light, Budweiser Brew Masters' Private Reserve, Bud Dry, Bud Silver, Bud Extra, Budweiser Chelada, Bud Light Chelada, Budweiser American Ale, Budweiser NA, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Golden Wheat and even the renowned Budweiser 66.  I would not say that I enjoyed the beer but I can see the merits of it.

Conclusion:  I cannot kill this beer because I think that for someone that enjoys light flavored, clean beers this is a good choice.  But since I typically dislike this kind of beer I have to cap the rating at three beers max.


Two beers.  Even though I can see how others might enjoy the light aspect I can't help but think that it could have more flavor and still maintain the light and clean feel and taste.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Old Lompoc Brewing's LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft)

LSD on Draught
New Old Lompoc Brewing
Portland, OR
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lompoc has been around a while.  They have five bars around town and we chose New Old Lompoc on trendy-third.  We sat next to an outdoor window with a neon sign hanging in the window and a nice stained glass lamp with one compact florescent bulb, one orange colored incandescent bulb and one empty socket hovering above.  Uh... OK.

After scanning the menu I chose the LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft).  You know, I think there is a play on words in there somewhere.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  L.S.D.  Louisiana State Dump?  No, that doesn't sound quite right.  Anyway, Lompoc describes LSD as "A Portland Classic!  This strong ale has a deep mahogany color and is crafted with seven different specialty malts.  A touch of smoked malt gives it a complex aroma and incredible flavor.  LSD is also generously hopped with six hop varieties to help create an awesome beer."  More pretense in a dive-y place.  Ugh.  

The first thing I noticed about this beer was its dark color despite being an ale.  I have tried a few other dark ales recently and I really dig them.  LSD is medium bodied, rich flavored and middle of the road hoppy.  Basically, it tastes like a an offspring of a stout daddy and an IPA mommy.  (Could LSD stand for Loser Starts Drinking?  Nah,that can't be it.)  It is served warmer than other beers and this helps subdue the carbonation.  I liked every part of this beer and have no knocks on it.  (Lousy Stinking Day?  Nope.)

Conclusion:  Great beer.  I liked the warmer temperature, low carbonation and rich and hoppy flavor.


Five beers.  I cannot think of a reason why I do not like this beer.  Which, to me, means five beers.  (Lucifer Satan Devil?  No.  My memory is so bad I feel like I am on drugs.  Oh well, it will come to me eventually.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Old Market Pub & Brewery's Black Magic

Black Magic on nitrogen
Old Market Pub & Brewery
Portland, OR
Friday, February 17, 2012

Old Market is a green business, meaning that they use organic ingredients and have a 27kW solar panel system on their roof.  It has a family friendly environment and is a good place to meet a large group of friends.  Most importantly, they have good beer and good enough food.

We selected Black Magic stout on nitrogen.  Let me start by saying that any stout on nitrogen automatically starts with a three beer rating and goes up from there.  They are one of my favorite beers, especially in the winter.  Old Market describes this beer simply as "Black Magic (Creamy Nitrogen Stout)".  Sold.  Twice.  

This beer did not disappoint.  It was creamy, as you can see.  It was dark, as you can see.  And it was a tasty stout, thick bodied and rich.  You will have to take my word for that.  The only knock is that it had a strong coffee flavor and a stronger coffee aftertaste.  I am not a coffee drinker so the aftertaste was not pleasant.  I am guessing that even for people who enjoy coffee, they do not enjoy it for the aftertaste, so this may be unappealing to them as well.  That said, I will go back for this beer again and again.

Conclusion:  Winner.  It will be hard not to order this beer when I go to Old Market.  Perhaps in the summer I will try one of their ales.

Four beers.  The only knock is the more-than-a-little coffee flavor and the strong coffee aftertaste.

Cascade Brewing's Red Eye Rye

Red Eye Rye on draught
Cascade Brewing (Raccoon Lodge)
Portland, OR
Friday, February 16, 2012

Cascade Brewing shares the same building as the Raccoon Lodge, which has a restaurant upstairs and a bar downstairs.  We chose the downstairs bar since we were only there for a beer.  The bar is quite unappealing since it is harshly lit, poorly decorated and littered with video poker machines.  But we were there for the beer and not the ambiance, so no worries... right?  We read over the beer menu and were quite surprised to read the most colorful, flowery descriptions I have seen for beer.  Being in this bar reading these descriptions was like being in a car wreck with one car being Napa Valley pretense and the other a run down casino.  Bizarre.

We both ordered the Red Eye Rye, described as "A splash of Rye and Crystal hops give this hop forward but balanced red ale notes of pine resin, spice and toasted malts in the nose.  A sharp, though not aggressive hop bitterness from the Fuggle, Delta & Golding hop medley intermingles w/the malts to finish off with a slight hop spice."  See what I mean?  Here is a list of words that should NEVER appear on a beer menu:

(That one is worth repeating) INTERMINGLES!

Red Eye Rey is 4.7% alcohol, which is on the low end for micro brews.  The taste of this beer was bland, light and flat.  It was like a cross between a Miller Lite and a good beer.  It is not what I expect from a craft beer.  I would categorize this beer as an introduction-to-good-beer beer or a beer-ish beer.  It didn't have much flavor so I can't really describe it.

Conclusion:  Big loser.  Perhaps one day I will try another beer from Cascade Brewing but I am not in a hurry to do so.

One half beer.  The lowest rating north of Budweiser.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hair of the Dog's Adam

Adam on draught
Hair of the Dog Brewery
Portland, OR
Saturday, February 11, 2012

This is my first official brew review, or breview.  I'm excited!  I've heard a little bit about Hair of the Dog Brewery over the last few years and finally got around to trying it on for size.  They are known for unusual craft beers, some of which are aged 6 months in an oak barrel.  I didn't try one of those this time since I was too cheap to pony up $15 for a 12oz. glass.

I selected Adam, which is described by Hair of the Dog as "Our first beer, dark and rick with notes of chocolate, leather and smoke.  10% abv".  Adam IS dark and rich, too rich. It has a strong chocolate flavor, including the sweetness, which is unfortunate.  At first taste I thought, wow, this is really good.  But the chocolate and sweetness quickly became overpowering and it took me a long time to finish it.  I only was able to finish it by drinking water in between.  I can't say I tasted any leather or smoke either, not that that's a bad thing.  For a moment I thought this would be a good dessert beer.  Then I realized the silliness of that thought since I never have beer for dessert.  I blame it on that stinking wine influence.  It's going to take a while to deprogram me from that.

Conclusion:  I won't order this beer again.  Too bad for a first review.  The good news is that I have many, many beers to go and it can only get better.


One beer.  It would have been half a beer but I did enjoy the first taste.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Brand spanking new blog about BEER!

Brian's Brew Blog
Brian's Blew Blog
Brian's Blow Blah

That is really difficult to say fast three times.  This new blog is to pile on the "About 299,000,000" options offered by Google to follow a link when searching for "beer blog".  My goal is to be in the top 100,000,000 by my birthday in June.  Wish me luck.

I love beer and I am done pretending that I really like wine when the main effect it has is make me sleepy.  I have mostly drunk wine the past several years since all of my friends drink wine at gatherings.  That's what happens when you hang out with a bunch of gay guys.  Be warned.

You will not find pretentious comments like "has hints of peach tones" here, just slightly less pretentious comments like "full-bodied" and "strong coffee flavor".  I am going to mainly post reviews of individual beers with perhaps an occasional beer related commentary thrown in.  (Your cue:  start playing sappy music in your head and read the next line slowly with emotion)  If I can help one, just one, person from drinking a macro beer then this site is worth the hours upon hours of effort.  Not!  (End music)  This site is primarily for my own benefit so I can remember beers I like the most.  If someone finds a good recommendation from this blog then that is an added bonus. Comments and other opinions are welcome.  But only if you agree with me.

Note that I do not like pilsners and lagers (no offense meant to the German readership) so no reviews of those varieties will appear here.  Well, unless I have a guest reviewer, so I won't say never.

Enough rambling... onto the beer!