Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bring on Summer with S.M.A.S.H.

The recent weather has been a preview of the beautiful Portland summer ahead so it was only fitting that a bottle of Portland Brewing S.M.A.S.H. Pale Ale arrived on my doorstep. You know I love to find beer and food combinations that work together so the wheels started turning almost immediately about what might be a fit for it. Coincidentally the current issue of Cooking Light had also just arrived and the recipe for esquites (creamy corn salad) caught my eye. Last night as I finished making the recipe, topping it with avocado and sautéed onions and garlic, thoughts of summer flooded in and those wheels that had been turning stopped in their tracks, urging me to crack open the bottle of S.M.A.S.H.

Knowing that the food would color my palate I tried the beer first and found it to be mild, perfect for summer drinking, perhaps on the sweet side. Then it was time to see how it would work with my summery corn creation. All of the sudden the Simcoe hops jumped to the forefront. Unable to resist a bit more experimentation, I gave S.M.A.S.H. a try with the roasted potatoes only to find the Goldpils Vienna malts strong-arming their way back to center stage.

It was one of the more eye opening experiments I've done recently and as a hop head I highly recommend making a big dish of esquites (preferably with the addition of avocado and/or sautéed onions and garlic) and grabbing a bottle of S.M.A.S.H. Even if the weather isn't cooperating as fully as it was for me last night you can make your own summer with this combination.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day Trippin': Into the Gorge

We continued our day trippin' explorations last weekend setting our sights on a few Gorge breweries. Buzzing east on I-84, taking the Cascade Locks exit we wound our way through town and to the end of the road where Thunder Island Brewing sits. Walking up we took in a good sized patio with nice view of the water...or it would have been nice if it had been sunny and warm instead of cool and wet. Inside we found a small but cozy place filled with more people than I had expected (and the cutest little fermenters ever) so we quickly claimed two seats at the bar and keyed in on the beer menu.

Don't you just want to hug the little buggers?
Sticking with our new places M.O. we ordered up a sampler tray to get the best feel for their beers as possible. Of the nine we tried Under the Radar, a 4.5% session pale ale, and Beliz Chocolate Stout hit the highest notes for me. Pale ales and session beers often don't do it for me but this was a highly flavorful beer. As for the Beliz, it was like drinking a 70% cacao bar - roasty without being overly dry and just a hint of sweetness. I haven't seen a lot of Thunder Island in the Portland market to date but you can bet I'll be keeping my eyes out for them from now on.

Finished and ready to hit the road we headed out into the wet, having concluded that any thoughts we might have had about a little hiking we'd save for another day. Passing up the parking area at the Dry Creek Falls trail head, we crossed the Bridge of the Gods (which is guarded by trolls) into Washington. In minutes we were in Stevenson, home of Walking Man Brewing. As we descended the stairs to the pub I again cursed the weather as they, too, have a great patio set up that I suspect sees plenty of use and live music in the summer.

Equally as full as Thunder Island, we wasting no time grabbing seats at the bar, followed by an inspection of the beer menu. The difference here was that we'd had quite a few of Walking Man's beers in the past, but there were still enough on the menu we hadn't had to have to require the making of the "what to have first" choice. Both the Pale Strider, a single hop (Topaz) pale ale, and Iron Man IIPA clicked for me. In addition we ordered a basket of garlic herb fries served with tartar sauce, which seemed an odd condiment choice but was surprisingly good. If you're a garlic lover like I am these are a must order!

As we finished up our beers we revisited the idea of cruising up the road a bit more to Backwoods Brewing in Carson but ultimately we decided it was probably better to start making our way back. No need to rush as if we're on vacation trying to fit everything in. We'd simply figure out a way to work that stop into a future day trip, which things continue will be a regular weekend or every other week(end) occurrence.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baker's Dozen Event Gets Saturday's Drinking Started Early

Saturday Brian Yaeger is providing you the perfect excuse to start your weekend day drinking early (if you and your liver are still functioning by then) with his Baker's Dozen event. Taking place at Culmination Brewing it will feature 13 coffee beers and an equal number of doughnuts, although it will be up to you to decide your own pairings. All but one of the beers is from an Oregon brewery and was made using locally roasted coffee. The one exception is from Funky Buddha from Florida, a brewery not currently distributed in Oregon, who is sending a keg of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. Beers will be served in 3-ounce size and doughnuts will be quartered.

Boneyard The Backbone - chocolate-espresso stout with Backporch Coffee
Breakside Salted Caramel Mocha Stout - Salted Caramel Stout with Stumptown Holler Mountain Coffee
Cascade Oblique Stout - golden ale with Oblique Coffee
Coalition Loving Mug - Loving Cup Maple Porter with Ristretto Coffee
Culmination/Kells collaboration - coffee cream ale with Bridgetown Coffee
Falling Sky Coffee Table Bier - 3% ABV table beer with Global Delights Coffee
Feckin Top o’ the Feckin Morning - chocolate espresso stout with Happyrock Coffee
Gigantic Too Much Coffee Man - Belgian Black ale with Coava Coffee
Hopworks Double Shot Survival Stout - Survival Stout with twice the usual amount of Stumptown Coffee
Laurelwood Organic Espresso Stout - made with Portland Roasting Coffee
McMenamins Crystal Brewery Turkish Brown - brown ale with McMenamins’ own roasted coffee and cardamom
Oakshire Orange Mocha Frappuccino - special request beer from brewmaster Matt Van Wyk taking Oakshire’s Overcast Espresso Stout and adding cocoa nibs, orange zest and Wandering Goat Coffee
Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter**

Annie’s - apple fritter
Blue Star - blueberry basil bourbon
Coco Donuts - chocolate espresso raised
Delicious - blueberry cake
Donut-o-rama - crème brulee
Fleur de Lis - potato doughnut
Helen Bernhard Bakery - glazed raspberry jelly
Moody’s (Rocking Frog Café) - cinnamon cake
Tonalli’s - banana buttermilk bar
Tulip Pastry Shop - half & half
Voodoo - Oh Captain, My Captain
Stacatto Gelato - Migration Brewing Terry's Porter glazed

Sweetpea Baking - lemon-pistachio chocolate (vegan)

Baker's Dozen Coffee Beers & Doughnuts
Saturday, April 18, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Culmination Brewing, 2117 NE Oregon St.
Tickets are $20 ($10 if you're a CBC badge holder ) and limited to 300.

**IMPORTANT UPDATE: At 2:40pm 4/16 I received word that there is only a 1/6bbl of this beer, meaning there is only enough for 200 samples. So if you're going make sure to ask for it right away.