Montana and Idaho Breweries: Over the Mountains and to the Beer…

We made another trip out to Montana and Idaho for the holidays, drinking our way along. One of these years, we’re going to have to stop in Spokane, but this year we hit Wallace, ID, and Bozeman and Belgrade, MT, again.

(pictures coming soon — hopefully)

Wallace Brewing
During 2008’s snOMG (or Snowpocalypse), the missus and I ventured east to Montana for the holidays. We arrived at our halfway point — Wallace, ID — a little frazzled from crazy roads and a harried departure. There, we discovered a little restaurant called the 1313 Club, and its tiny neighbor brewery called Wallace Brewing. It wasn’t open, but this year, we made it back to Wallace before the tasting room closed.

Generally, the beer at Wallace felt weak compared to many of my favorite Oregon breweries. For one, I think most of their beers had an original gravity of under 1.045, translating to low ABVs. The body mostly wasn’t there. Their cream stout felt nice and bitter. The Red Light amber had a decent malty sweetness.
Continue reading Montana and Idaho Breweries: Over the Mountains and to the Beer…

33 Beers on the Radio Today!

Hey, Portland audiophiles! I’m going to be on Lisa Morrison’s radio show this afternoon talking about the 33 Beers books. The show, “Beer O’Clock” airs on KXL 750 (AM) from 3-4 PM every Saturday. If you’re not within radio distance of PDX and would like to hear what I sound like on the radio through an iPhone, you can download the podcast next Monday from the station’s website.

In other 33 Beers news, I restocked both Belmont Station and Saraveza last night, so be sure to stop by after you hear my colorful, rambling origin story on the radio. Bailey’s Taproom is also stocking the books and represents our flagship downtown location.

And of course, you can also purchase the booklets online if you’re outside PDX but inside the USA. I’ll guarantee pre-Christmas arrival for any books ordered online before 11 PM Pacific time on Sunday, December 20th.

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Still not sure about the books? Here’s some unbiased reviews from some of my favorite bloggers:

33 Beers: A Beer Notebook

We’ve been to a lot of beer festivals. A LOT of beer festivals. Mostly in Oregon, but earlier this year we made our way down to San Francisco Beer Week, and took on the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this fall (photo below).

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I’d like to say that the recap blog posts are forthcoming, but as every festival attendee can attest, the details tend to get hazy as the samples take hold, and SMS/Twitter reconstructions can only go so far toward recalling the flavor profiles and production details on some of the more obscure or original microbrews tasted.

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Our first product, 33 Beers, is an attempt to solve this “memory problem.” It’s a beer journal we designed for rapidly taking down the important details of a beer. A unique “flavor wheel” is included on each of the 33 pages of note-taking area, and it provides a quick, visual way to describe a beer’s flavor (and recall it later). Simple check-boxes for serving method (draft, can, bottle, etc.) and other key information further speed up the process. The idea is to take notes for later recall, but do so rapidly so you can, you know … enjoy the actual beer?

Best of all, it’s highly portable, unlike the 11×17-sized, color-coded Excel spreadsheets we used to tote around to beer festivals. It easily fits in the front or back pocket of a pair of jeans, and is thinner than most mobile phones. It’s printed in the Northwest on 100% Washington-recycled paper using US-grown soy ink, so it should satisfy even the hippiest of hippie beer drinkers.

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We’ve set up a web site to sell the book at 33beers.com, and it’s available in a few stores in the Portland, Oregon area (Saraveza, Belmont Station and Bailey’s Taproom as of this writing). It’s been largely a labor of love, and we’d love it if you’d help us spread the word to the other beer geeks in your life. It’s pretty inexpensive, too; it retails at $4 each or a three-pack is $10. Wouldn’t these look great under your tree?

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NAOBF 2009 Preview

North American Organic Beer Fest officially started yesterday, but I haven’t seen much in the way of reviews from other local beer bloggers. Perhaps, like me, they’re waiting until today to get down to Overlook Park.

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This is year three for the festival, which has quickly secured a place in my heart. There are a lot of beer festivals in Portland, particularly in June-July, and each has its merits. NAOBF is outdoors in a spacious local park, with easy access to transportation (there’s a Yellow MAX stop across the street from entrance). Kids are welcome, a surprisingly unique feature at most festivals (WTF, Zoo Brew?), and one I am newly appreciative of. There’s a stage with what I’d broadly call live “semipro” music. None of he bands I’ve seen have been remarkable, but they are a nice complement to the festival’s relaxed vibe. There’s usually an eclectic food cart area, too … everything from falafel to African food. In short, it’s the kind of beer festival that could only happen in Portland.

There are more interesting beers on tap this year than last, so I’ve had to compile a shortlist.

  • Captured By Porches: Invasive Species IPA. This brewery started in the Clinton Street theater, and I haven’t tried an IPA from them yet. Should be interesting, as I hear this brewery steel bootstraps with the best of them.
  • Bison Brewing: Honey Basil Ale. I’ve long considered making a Rosemary IPA, so I’m curious to see how basil works in beer. Thai basil might be a nice variant.
  • Eel River: Acai Berry Wheat. I know nothing about this apparent health craze, but if you put vitamins in beer, I’ll likely take them.
  • Elliot Bay: Hop von Boorian, a Belgian IPA. Love the Belgian IPAs.
  • Fort George: Spruce Ale. This ale was brewed with fresh spruce tips gathered by brewery staff in the manner of Lewis & Clark. Can’t wait to try it, as I really, really like these guys. Check out our video interview and you’ll see why.
  • MateVeza: Yerba Mate IPA. I bought a bottle of their better-known Yerba Mate Pale awhile back, but a friend drank it before I could. Maybe it was fate telling me to try a hoppier version.
  • Nelson Brewing: Paddywhack & After Dark. File these under “maybe.” I enjoyed my trip to Vancouver, B.C. last year, but the beer wasn’t very impressive, and each bottle I brought back has held down my low opinion of the beer quality in our Northern cousin.
  • Oakshire: Watershed IPA. Don’t know much about this brewery, but I’ll try almost anything once.
  • Roots Gruit/Rotating Tap. I really hope the rumors about Roots closing aren’t true. I hope to get a taste of the medieval style of fruit beer and the answer to that question if I see Craig Nichols, Roots’ co-owner.
  • Sam Smith: Cherry Ale. Also in the “maybe” column. As in, “maybe one of my friends will try it and save me two tickets.” Saw this at QFC the other day and was tempted, but I fear it may be a sugar bomb.
  • Standing Stone: Double IPA. Hard to go wrong with this one. See our video interview with the brewer here.
  • Upright: Reggae Junkie Gruit & Seven. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I may be the last beer geek in Portland to try Alex Ganum’s newest incarnation. Open-fermentated beer!
  • Widmer: Teaser XPA. Call this a bonus. I’m generally a fan of Widmer’s more experimental efforts.

The Weather Channel’s predicting a high of 84 today, which sounds like perfect beer drinking weather to me. Hope to see you there!