ales

Weird & Beered

As I write this, I’m currently nursing a beer called “Kill Devil” from the Brothers Widmer – a rum barrel-aged brown ale. I was brainstorming – pint in hand – and itching for something to write about. I happened to be yacking with a fellow Facebook friend, and consulted her on one of three topics to write about. Given that I was already drinking a beer, she said I should choose that topic. And indeed I have. Since I’m currently drinking an odd ale, I figured, “Why not focus on odd ales I’ve tried?”

And here they are:

I “Seaweed” Beer, I Drink It

A few years ago, I attended an event dubbed Fringe Fest at a specialty beer shop called Belmont Station. I encountered some folks with whom I knew mutual people. While I had been there for a particular tea-beer, they recommended another ale from out of Scotland. They had me at “Scotland”.

The Williams Bros. brewing op resides in lloa, Clackmannanshire…wherever that is. All I know is that it has the word “shire” in it, which instantly makes that place awesome! Seaweed was an actual ingredient included in their Kelpie ale, which instantly made it doubly awesome! If I remember it correctly (and that’s debatable), I found the ale to be smooth, light, but sweetly vegetal. Like actual kelp. Whatever the case may be, I remember liking it.

Bacon Beer

I don’t remember in what context I heard about bacon as a recipe in beer, but it had something to do with a brewfest. One that I couldn’t attend, no less; I was in ire of that fact. Some brewery out of the East Coast had concocted a bacon beer. While I’m allergic to the stuff, I have been known to risk life and limb to try different bacoriffic permutations. Beer was my next phase.

A year or so later – after (you guessed it) another brewfest – a friend of mine had the drunken “jeenyus” idea to go to the Rogue Public House for dinner. Keep in mind, we were already three-to-four strong pints in, and I’m a lightweight by genetic design.

Anyway, Rogue had put out a hot pink bottle on the market called the Bacon Maple Ale. And, I’ll be damned if it didn’t taste exactly like that. Sweet, syrupy and…uh…bacony. It also made me sick to my stomach, but that could’ve been the pints prior. We almost got kicked out, for good reason.

Another year after – while enjoying some quesadillas at a specialty shop called Birra Deli – I had the opportunity to try another bacon beer. Instead of risking an entire pint, though, I went for a simple 5oz. taster instead. It was from Uncommon Brewers. I can’t remember what it was called, though. It was majestic…and it didn’t make me sick in my tum-tum.

Worst-Best of Both Worlds

On a random outing for happy hour at the McMenamins Imbrie Hall, a friend and I saw mention of a beer release event. One of the wares being whored was an unlikely combination – a lager aged in a tequila cask. If there were two more unholy ingredients, I couldn’t think of them. I hate lagers, and I loathe tequila. I have a few collegiate “porcelain god” memories (or lack thereof) thanks to “ta-kill-ya”.

When the day finally came, we sampled all they had to offer. All of them were “meh”, save for the darker ales and…*sigh*…the tequila-casked lager. Seriously, it was to die for. It was slightly spicy, incredibly crisp, containing only a partial liquor bite, and deceptively strong. And again, it didn’t make me sick in my tum-tum. I guess – as the old cliché goes – two wrongs can make a right. Or at the very least, a “right now”.

That’s just a smidge of the strange things I’ve sipped and usurped in recent months/years. The pattern isn’t likely to change anytime soon. If there’s an odd alcoholic combination out there, you’d better believe I’m going in once. Like a donkey show.

Hrm…donkey –flavored beer.

Wait…no…

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Friday, October 26th, 2012 Beverage Blog 4 Comments

Beerendipity in a Mormon City

Sometimes the Fates want me to drink beer. There, I said it. Every once in awhile the cosmic cards align allowing me the chance to imbibe something I haven’t before. This was one of those times. It was the tail end of my vacation in Wyoming – a time of lament. A wonderful respite from reality was going to end the next day. A relative passed along a parting gift – a bottle of Wasatch Pumpkin Seasonal.

I wasn’t much into pumpkin ales. The last one I tried in Portland had left me with a week-long stomach ache. After that, I was fully convinced that pumpkin is something only meant for pie…and nothing else. Imagine my surprise when the seasonal not only turned out decent, but also delectable! And for the next hour, I spent time on the couch nursing it like a Zen-filled beer Buddha.

What I found peculiar was that the edge of the bottle read: “Bottled and brewed in Salt Lake City, UT.” Color me ignorant, but I was always under the impression that SLC was Mormon country. I did what any self-deprecating beer snob would do – I took to Twitter and mentioned trying the beer. A funny thing happened, the brewery’s Twitter page responded back.

I replied that I was only going to be in Salt Lake City for a two-hour layover on my way back to Portland. Squatters chimed in on this lively Twitversation by reminding me they had a restaurant in the airport. See what I mean? Fates.

My arrival into SLC was not heralded by angels, but I did catch a glimpse of several women that could’ve passed for angels. Whatever was in the water in Mormon country, I wanted it by the friggin’ growler. The first question I asked the gate attendant was where Squatters was. She looked at me a bit dumbfounded, but pointed me in the right direction.

One thing I noticed upon reaching their restaurant outlet-type-thingy was how crowded it was. Apparently, they’re a big deal out in Utah – like McMenamins is to Portland. Secondly, they had a very attractive clientele – young, hip, and bathed. While I’m usually clean-cut, I’d been traveling late at night; I looked rather disheveled. And I was wearing a “Pot Head” t-shirt. (For the record, it was a teapot.)

First order of business was to…uh…order a sampler. The server brought it in a timely fashion – as they should for the newly thirsty. Initially, I was disappointed that there wasn’t an IPA among the six samples. (I’m a Portlander, IPAs are like beer candy to us.) That nitpick didn’t last long, though. Their oatmeal stout and American pale more than made up for the lack of IPA. However, that wasn’t the particular standout. Dare I say it, my favorite of the bunch was a pilsner!

Most who know me have a fair idea of what my beer palate is – I’m pretty vocal about it. I tend toward hoppy, dark, cask-conditioned and barrel-aged beers. That leaves no room for lagers, pilsners, most Belgians, and piss-tasting domestics. But there was something special about their Provo Girl Pilsner. Maybe it was the model they used for the bottle’s insignia, or maybe it was something about the beer itself, but for a split second, I wanted to marry a girl from Provo.

Once I finished the sampler – and a bourbon-onion burger from Heaven – I realized I still had forty-five minutes to kill. To any traveler, that translates to, “Time for ‘MOAR BEER’!” And…that’s exactly what I did. On top of their custom drafts, they also carried bottled beers from their sister brewery, Wasatch. Custom-made bottled blends were also available. Since I was mainly in a straight-from-the-tap mood, I zeroed in on the one I hadn’t tried yet – a porter. For the life of me, I can’t remember what it was called. All I know is that it was a seasonal, and it was quite burly for its type. I like burly…in a totally hetero way.

Duly fuzzy and fully sated, I returned to the Delta gate to wait for my flight. Sometimes serendipity works in my favor. Beerendipity definitely works in my “flavor”.

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Friday, September 28th, 2012 Beverage Blog 4 Comments

I work for tea money.

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