So, I knew this whole parenting thing was going to impact my craft beer imbibing. What I didn’t realize was that the activity that would take the biggest hit would be my time on the ol’ blog. It’s one thing to find time to enjoy a beer, but getting the hour or two that it takes me to sit down and bang out 500 words, in between naps, changings and what I was sure was an Earth-ending plague (but my wife assures me is just a common cold), is proving to be one of my more difficult post-baby tasks. To illustrate, I started writing this post last Wednesday and it is now Sunday afternoon. The other interesting phenomenon that has developed in the seven weeks since Archer was born is the rapid change in my craft beer preference. An oak-aged, dry-hopped Imperial Belgian Kamut Red still sounds great, but who has the time? A nice crisp Alt, that I can enjoy between the above-mentioned naps, changings and Earth-ending plague – now that is something I can wrap my lips around. And with that beautiful image in mind, here are a few of my standout lighter brews of early 2012.
Widmer – W’12 Dark Saison
While Saisons are no longer the style of obscurity they were a few years back, it is still a rare occasion to find one in a six-pack. Great Divide’s Colette is the only one that jumps immediately to my sleep-deprived mind. So, props to Widmer for tackling the style with this year’s W-series brew. And a few more props for creating a tasty little beer in the process.
W’12 is clean and crisp, with the distinct spicy Saaz hops and phenolic French farmhouse yeast. The high percentage of wheat malt gives the beer a nice roundness, despite its dryness and low final gravity. The sprinkling of crystal and roasted malts not only adjust the color, but also flesh out the flavor with a hint of toasty sweetness.
Flat Tail – Tailgater Kolsch
What is the recipe for a tasty, authenic Kolsch? How about : Pilsner Malt + Wheat Malt + German hops + Decoction mash + Kolsch yeast + 1 month lagering = man-crush on Dave Marlaive.
Flat Tail’s Kolsch is a no-nonsense, by-the-books interpretation of the classic German style. Big grainy Pilsner aroma, sweet malty flavor and a crisp, clean finish. I still haven’t had the opportunity to take my Corvallis beer road trip, so it didn’t hurt my feeling one bit when my former employer started carrying this beer at the location down the street from my house for $3.39 a bomber.
Southern Oregon Brewing – Na Zdravi’ Pilsner
I haven’t been the biggest SOB fan, and this beer flew well-under my radar the first two times it was released. A friendly staffer at 16 Tons turned me onto Na Zdravi’ recently, which happens to be the Czech word for “Cheers”.
The beer is a fine balance of Bohemian malt and Saaz hops. Maybe a touch sweeter than necessary, but still a crisp and refreshing Czech Pils. The biggest complement I can give this beer is that it now has me wanting to give the rest of SOB’s offerings another go.
And speaking of going, the little monster has once again woken, so I’m going to need to wrap this up in a hurry. How about a hearty Na Zdravi’!
The KLCC Microbrew Festival, Eugene’s first big beer event of the year, returns this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 10 & 11) to the Lane Events Center. The long-standing fundraiser for KLCC, Eugene’s public radio station, brings with it a few changes this year. First, I am proud to announce that, after a year hiatus, the homebrew festival is back. When I dropped off my beers shortly before the deadline last Friday, I was the 52nd entrant, with entries 126-128. Not a bad turnout following bye-year. Oh, and I should mention that this year’s Best of Show gets the opportunity to brew their winning recipe at the newly-opened Falling Sky Brewing.
This is also the first year that the festival will have extended Saturday hours, running 5-11pm Friday night and 1-11pm Saturday. Tickets are $12 at the door and include a single beer ticket. Advance tickets can be purchased through Thursday for $10 (plus a $1.54 service charge). Buying an advance ticket not only saves you $.46, but also nets you express entry into the event and 3 beer tickets instead of one.
The last big change of this year’s event is the annual Collaboration Brew. Past collaborations have focused around a single style, but this time around, the theme is simply, “Beers Aged in Bourbon Barrel.” Each brewery aged the beer of their choice in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, resulting in the following, widely varied list of Collaboration Brews.
- Hop Valley – Ladder to Heaven
- Hop Valley – Stairway to 11
- Maui – Heaven & Hell Barley Wine
- McMenamins High St. – Hammerhog, Whiskey Aged Hammerhead
- Ninkasi – Bourbon Aged Imperiale Imperial Stout
- Ninkasi – Bourbon Aged Renewale Robust Porter
- Oakshire – Bourbon Barrel Aged Very Ill-Tempered Gnome
- Steelhead – Oak Aged Break Action Porter
- Track Town Ales – Whiskey Barrel Aged Common
Any bets on whether or not these beers make it to Saturday?
The complete list of 120+ beers can be found HERE, on the KLCC website. A few of the beers that have grabbed my interest are:
- Blue Moon – Vintage Chardonnay Blonde Ale – Yep, Blue Moon. So crazy I’ve got to try it.
- Falling Sky – Twisted Branch Juniper Rye Amber – First chance to try a brew from the new kids in town.
- Fort George – Spank Stout Pepper Stout – Not sure if this sounds good or bad to me, but it has my attention.
- Phat Matt’s – Phat Snowman – Been meaning to try a Phat Matt’s brew and a strong winter ales seems like a good place to start.
- Widmer – Kellerbier – A cloudy lager with some fruity Australian hops, I’ll bite.
I hope everyone has a great time at this year’s KLCC Microbrew Festival.
That’s right kiddos, last year’s Inaugural Eugene Beer Week was such a smashing success (and a direct catalyst for Portland and Corvallis Beer Weeks – Humbleness Editor), the event is returning for a sophomore run. And this year’s EBW promises to be better, stronger, faster! Well, maybe not faster… not really sure how that even relates, but definitely those first two things I mentioned. In any case, come May 7th, lil’ ol’ Eugene will once again be drenched in a solid week of beer revelry.
Of course, an event of this magnitude cannot occur without a truckload of hard work, planning and general behind-the-scenes monkey business. Oh, and money too… Yep, money sure helps. Remember those fantastic posters, hand bills and advertisements from last year’s EBW? Well, they didn’t design, print and distribute themselves… although with NASA’s budget getting hacked to pieces, we should now have some top men and women with some free time on their hands. I wonder if they can be convinced to work for beer? But I digress…
Last year, EBW had just over a dozen official sponsors, and Mike and crew did a fantastic job stretching every sponsorship dollar to its fullest extent. Those posters, hand bills and advertisements I mentioned above were the result of sponsorship monies. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, well, then you can see one of the reasons we need more sponsors this time around. With this in mind, official planning for EBW 2012 got underway last week, with a meeting to discuss the marketing of this year’s event. While we are busy working on our list of potential sponsors, I thought I would get the ball rolling with a call-to-arms to the craft beer community.
Do you have a favorite brewery, bottleshop or watering hole? The next time you visit your establishment of choice, ask them if they are aware of Eugene Beer Week and ask them to get involved. Or perhaps, like our NASA friends, you have a little extra time on your hands too? Well, volunteers are always nice… especially those with server permits. Happen to be an artistic individual? We’d love to see your ideas for a new EBW logo.
You can get involved by contacting EBW through the official website at www.eugenebeerweek.org, or the event’s Facebook page. And keep an eye on both for more information on this year’s event.
Cheers and stay tuned!
If any of the three people that read this website are wondering where I’ve been for the last several weeks, let me proudly refer you to the picture below.
Archer Kevin Williams was born January 3rd, 2012 at the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center in Springfield, OR. 8lbs 2oz, 20″ long and, like his father, a head like a melon. Sorry wife.
Archer’s arrival was a lightening-fast adventure. We arrived at the birth center around 9:30 a.m. At 10:11 a.m., we had a baby. No time to call any family, no time to set up the laptop we had loaded with 8 hours of music to soundtrack the journey of birth. Again, sorry wife, next time we will leave earlier.
So, how did I celebrate the arrival of my first child? I started by opening a bottle of Hellshire I. And not just any bottle of Hellshire I, mind you. I opened the very first bottle of Hellshire I that was sold at the release last May. A bottle I acquired by being the first to arrive at the event, a bottle tucked away specifically for this occasion.
A big night for my father too; first grandchild and first barleywine, though the baby trumped the beer somewhat.
Well, that’s all for right now. I have a bunch of stuff coming down the pipe; Ninkasi Renewale 2012 and Critical Hit Barleywine, Falling Sky Brewing, Eugene Beer Week ’12 planning, a bunch of Active Directory Group Policy stuff and a DIY guide for building a custom FightStick with genuine Sanwa arcade parts (Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom III is doing a number on my Xbox 360 controllers). Oh, and when I got home from work today, I found a couple packages waiting on the doorstep – Widmer W’12 Dark Saison and Redhook Nut Brown.
Now I just need to find some time between the coffee grinding and diaper changing…
Man, it feels nice to have my Christmas shopping done early for once. With the baby being a big, late-December question mark, my wife and I had everything bought and wrapped weeks ago. In fact, I was done so early that I almost forgot to post my annual gift guide. So, in the spirit of down-to-the-wire shopping, here are some last-minute picks for the beer lovers you haven’t yet crossed off your lists. (Note: this is going to be an Oregon-centric, Willamette Valley-specific post)
Block 15 – La Ferme’ de Demons
Nick does some amazing things at Block 15 and La Ferme’ de Demons is a great example of beer-wizardry. This dark Saison, aged in Pinot, Bourbon and Oregon oak barrels with cherries, was my pick for Oregon Beer of 2010.
Batch one was unfortunately draft only, but in October batch two was released in handsome, corked and caged 750 ml glass. Expect one to set you back about $15.
Oakshire – Hellshire II
Hellshire I flew off the shelves so fast it quickly became one of those beers of legend. By comparison, Hellshire II’s sales have been a little languid. The beer is still readily available around Eugene, but is starting to develop a story of its own.
There is much talk right now on Beer Advocate that Hellshire II is infected. Matt replied in the thread that analysis is currently being performed, and offered some tasting notes of his own, but neither confirmed nor denied the presence of that sneaky bugger Brett. Of course, human perception being what it is, once the “wild” fire alarm is pulled, hysteria ensues. And we all know the logistical problems associated with unringing bells.
So, let’s call this my gambler’s pick. Maybe it is infected and will worsen over time. Or maybe it will turn out to be a happy accident, like Abyss ’09. Or maybe, just maybe, the labs will come back clean and all the stone-throwers can try again… assuming they didn’t dump the rest of their bottles in outrage and can get the taste of foot out of their mouths. In any case, this feels like another legend in the making… a bet worth $15.
Ninkasi Winter 4 Pack
As I mentioned in my last post, this thing is a hell of a deal. Total Domination, Believer, Sleigh’R and the new Imperiale Stout, all packaged up in an easy-to-wrap box and all for about the same price as the other two beers on this list ($15). Perfect for Ninkasi diehards and new inductees alike. And since I am completely failing at nicking relevant images from Google tonight, I’ll finish with another label shot.
Cheers and Merry Christmas!