I enjoy beer. However, I don’t usually enjoy drinking beer very often. In a normal week, I probably have 3-4 beers and in fact, I love brewing beer ten times more than I enjoy drinking the stuff.
However, this past week my brother came into town. I live in Portland, OR and well, we have a few brewpubs in town. We didn’t make it an aim to drink as much beer as possible, and in fact we were with our wives and our mother, so we knew drinking exorbitant amounts of alcohol wasn’t even an option.
So, how did we end up drinking 70 beers (each!)? Here’s the fun part…
First of all, my brother and I were imbibing in Seattle this past January, walking around town, having a great time, and we discovered that Elysian was coming out with a series of beers called Beers of the Apocalypse–with a new beer coming out each month in 2012 (with gorgeous art from Charles Burns’ Black Hole). So because he can’t get that in the midwest, we decided I’d buy all 12 and whenever we’re together, we‘ll split a bottle and re-bond over our great time in Seattle. It’s early June, and I have all five bottles that have been released thus far.
Secondly, we both homebrew. This means that whenever we see each other we always have a case (or more) of each others’ beers to try. We exchanged everything from a chocolate stout and funky Berliner-weisse to a Belgian-style triple and a pumpkin pale ale with Brettanomyces. They were all delicious and for the most part were the best homebrews I’ve had. It’s definitely good to see the both of us improving on our brews as time passes. Along with our homebrews, we traded a few regional brews that the other cannot get (he lives in Kentucky, so he brought me some Three Floyds and Founders; I got him some Russian River and Cascade). Also, it’s just always good to catch up with him and share tricks of the trade, knowledge about brewing science and different techniques, and talk about upcoming releases and hard-to-get bottles.
Thirdly, I’d planned a few brewery visits and tours for his 6-day, whirlwind trip in Portland. My favorites are Deschutes, Cascade, Pelican and Amnesia, so those were the ones we made sure we scheduled right away. At most of the places we visited, we ended up getting flights (tasters of many different types of beer)–sometimes of 10 or more brews too. And at Amnesia, they happened to be holding the second annual Single Hop Fest (which was amazing!) the day after my brother got into town.
And lastly, Belmont Station. It’s a terrible, horrible place and one of the most wondrously beautiful businesses in Portland. Terrible, because it takes half of my paycheck each month and wondrous because they not only have 1000+ bottles of beer from all of the world, but they also have a rare beer cafe as well. We showed up for Pliny the Elder on tap and ended up having half a dozen different beers, all of which I’d never tasted before.
Anyway, it wasn’t until day 4 or 5 when it hit me just how many different beers we’d each tried throughout the week, so we sat down and tried to remember all of them. I honestly think we’re still leaving out one or two (or ten), but the following beers I know for sure were each sampled by the four of us (me, my brother and our wives).
[I'll provide short descriptions for a few of them, but if you want more specific/thorough tasting notes, just ask.]
70 Different Beers in Under a Week:
- Elysian 12 Beers of Apocalypse #1 – Nibiru Yerba Mate Tripel – A light triple with a lot of apple in the nose and a large amount of tea in the aftertaste
- Elysian 12 Beers of Apocalypse #2 – Rapture Heather Ale – Very floral and drinkable
- Elysian 12 Beers of Apocalypse #3 – Fallout Green Cardamom Pale – Oregano-like flavor but very smooth
- Elysian 12 Beers of Apocalypse #4 – Peste Chocolate Chili Ale – Crazy-dark with much more spicy chili flavor than chocolate. Good, but nothing I would order more than a taster of.
- Elysian 12 Beers of Apocalypse #5 – Ruin Rosemary Agave IPA – Great hop aroma and flavor, sweetness from the agave, definitely my favorite of the series.
- Cascade Razberry Wheat – This ruby pink wheat beer is crisp with a refreshing tartness and aroma of fresh raspberries.
- Cascade Apricot – Our Apricot has the intense aroma of Goldrich and Rival apricots, slow-ripened before being introduced to the beer. Based on a Belgian Tripel, this beer went through 16 months lactic fermentation and aging in French oak wine barrels, then rested on the fruit for four months before finishing.
- Cascade The Vine – This NW style sour blends soured tripel, blonde and golden ales that were then fermented with the juice of white wine grapes. It’s a delicious offering that appeals to both beer and wine drinkers.
- Cascade Blueberry – This NW style sour ale blends wheat and blond ales that were oak aged in barrels for sixth months, then additionally aged four months on fresh blueberries. Huge herbal notes of dense blueberries in the nose give way to hints of oak and a dusty floral note. Rich earthy notes of dark fruit on the palate lead to a tart finish that dries out to a base note of blueberry skins.
- Cascade Nightfall – Nightfall Blackberry starts as a soured blonde wheat beer aged for 12 months in oak barrels, then laid on blackberries for another six. It features intense fruitiness and a concentrated color and aroma.
- Cascade Winter Gose – This traditional German, slightly sour, spiced beer features a seasonal twist from the brewers, with additions of cranberries, hibiscus flowers and orange peel. It’s a dark wintery version of our take on the Gose style.
- Cascade Sang Noir – This deep, dark double red was aged over a year in Pinot and Whiskey barrels, then blended with a barrel of Bing cherries. This deep and rich NW double red is one of our most complex winter offerings.
- Cascade Strawberry
- Cascade Rye IPA
- Cascade Saison de la Maison
- Cascade Rouge Saison
- Cascade Saison Minuit (Black Saison)
- Cascade Chocolate Raspberry
- Cascade Barrel Aged Bruin
- Cascade Strawberry Cream
- Cascade Spiced Red Apple – They tapped this barrel soon after we arrived and it was definitely a sight to behold.
- Pelican Doryman’s Dark Ale
- Pelican India Pelican Ale
- Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale
- Pelican MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale
- Pelican Tsunami Stout
- Pelican Ankle-Buster Ale
- Pelican Surfer’s Summer Ale
- Pelican Winema Wit
- Pelican Cider – Dangerously drinkable, high-ABV
- Pelican Mead – Sweet and bready. Wanted to curl up next to it with a good book.
- Pelican Cask Ale
- Pelican Grand Cru de Pelican – A disappointment. Good, but not really “Grand Cru” worthy.
- Clever Girl Chocolate Coffee Bourbon Barrel Stout (mine) – Best homebrew I’ve made so far.
- Belgian Golden Strong Ale (mine) – Very happy with how this turned out. Apple notes on the nose and saison-like spices in the back (thank you Wyeast 3711).
- Three Floyds Dreadnaught – A delightfully fresh double IPA (not quite Pliny, but hey, pretty damn good nonetheless)
- Three Floyds Blackheart
- Russian River Consecration (2011) – Had this on draft at Belmont Station. One of my all time favorites and the first time I’ve had it on draft.
- Russian River Pliny the Elder – A Cilurzo Classic and inspiration for my latest homebrew…
- JW Lees Harvest Ale (2011) – Insanely drinkable, hef-like wheaty flavors
- New Belgium The Trip XII Pink Peppercorn IPA – How my brother described this beer: “I would take this beer on a date, we flirt a little, and we would have a wonderful time.”
- Flat Tail Raspberry Beret
- New Belgium Lips of Faith: Tart Lychee – Easily my favorite of the day at Belmont (not the same day as Consecration)
Dogfish Midas Touch – Like eating these. So freaking good.
- Saison Brett (my brother’s) – Damn, I love Brettanomyces.
- Trappist Westvleteren 12 Clone (my brother’s) – Never had a real Westy 12, but this is one of the most complex, high-ABV, yet thoroughly drinkable beers I’ve ever had. With each sip, I tasted something different. Nutty, fruity, deliciousness.
- P-Funk: Pumpkin with Brett and Pedio (my brother’s) – More frunk than punk.
- Upland Raspberry Lambic – My brother snagged this puppy last month when their entire spring lambic line sold out in under a minute. Well done, bro. Easily the most sour beer I’ve ever had, but I couldn’t get enough of it.
- Deschutes Mos Eisley – Best beer of the trip. A very sour, lip-puckeringly tart, kriek-like NW sour ale. Delicious.
- Deschutes Chainbreaker – My favorite new beer of 2012 and happy to see that it’s a year-round release for them.
- Firestone Walker Wookey Jack – My first FW and a great introduction to the brand!
- Rogue Rose Festival Ale – A very disappointing release from Rogue. I love Rogue, really I do, but this was just a Budweiser with some very slight hints of rose in the nose.
- Amnesia Saison De Soleil
- Amnesia Copacetic IPA – My favorite Portland IPA.
- Amnesia Tripel (Mt. Hood)
- Amnesia Goldie Hops (U.S. Golding)
- Breakside Belgian Bitter (Opal)
- Burnside Meridian Rye (Meridian)
- Double Mountain Cluster F#@k (Cluster)
- Migration The “Ace” (Sorachi Ace)
- Lucky Lab Summit IPA (U.S. Summit)
- Terminal Gravity Double IPA (Columbus) – This one and the following one were great mixed–basically a Pliny the Elder clone (minus the CTZ and Amarillo of course)
- Terminal Gravity Double IPA (Simcoe)
- Brew Brothers Homebrew on Draft: Smoked Wheat Ale – This is my new favorite Portland homebrew shop. Great selection/prices, but very personal staff and they always have a few homebrews on tap.
- Brew Brothers Homebrew on Draft: High Octane Cider – An astonishingly drinkable 35% ABV cider (iced to up the ABV)
- Brew Brothers Homebrew on Draft Jalapeño Ale
- Oregon Spirit Distillers Black Mariah Cordial (marionberry liquor) – I know this one and the following aren’t “beers” but hey, they were all delicious and had substantial amounts of alcohol in them…
- Homemade White Russian
- Homebrewed Wine – A delicious Sauvignon blanc, thanks to my sister-in-law
- Hennessy Cognac – A nice Hennessy with a cigar. The best way to end a week of delicious drinks.
And while I’m sure I’m probably leaving a few out, this is a pretty dang long list. And it’s about 67 beers more than my usual week. And because we either shared with 4-5 people, or they were tasters (or both), I never got buzzed once. Gotta love it.
I will miss Portland.