2 Towns Ciderhouse

Just a few feet from Mazama Brewing is 2 Towns Ciderhouse, conveniently enough, but since we’d spent longer than expected at Mazama we only had time for one of the wild cider flights they were offering as a Corvallis Beer Week special. They had something like twenty ciders available, and most of them sounded pretty cool. Only got to try four, though. I’ll definitely have to re-visit 2 Towns next I’m down there. I’ve seen a few of their ciders here in Seattle so I’ll be able to add a few to the list (e.g. their Rhubarbarian), but none of it’s the really interesting stuff.

wild cider flight at 2 Towns

2 Towns Ciderhouse — Corvallis, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Newtown Pippen Sour – 6.9% – Very slightly sour with sweet apple balance. Easy drinking.
  • Cidre Bouché – 6.5% – Barrel aroma. Dry apple with a bit of sweetness. Slight funk and alcohol edge. Very interesting.
    The Rest

  • Afton Field Farm – 6% – Funky apple. Dry, with unfiltered mouthfeel.
  • Marionberry Sour – 6.9% – Berry flavor with sour/funky edge and a bit of sweetness.
  • Rhubarbarian – 6% – Very light, but good rhubarb tang over the apple. Bit of dryness. A little too light on the tongue for me.

And thus concludes the brewery and ciderhouse visits on my September 2014 Corvallis trip. Maybe next time I’ll take a couple more days and hang out in Portland, too. Bend would also be great. And Hood River. The coast would be nice, as well. Hmm, maybe two weeks would be better. Or three.

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Mazama Brewing

The second day of my 2014 Corvallis trip had a leisurely start, but we eventually made it to Mazama Brewing, located in an industrial park on the eastern outskirts of town. Nice taproom, and they were doing periodic brewery tours as part of Corvallis Beer Week. Maybe a dozen people were on the tour we joined, and there were quite a few questions — so, it took a lot longer than I expected, and reminded me why I haven’t done too many official tours lately. But oh well. The brewing space was nice enough, and I did learn that the barrel aging they’re doing is all in a separate area. And we got a taste of their new bock they had not yet kegged.

Mazama sampler flights

Sampler flights at the Mazama Brewing taproom — Corvallis, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Wizard Island Wit – 4.8% – Light, with good coriander and light orange flavors. Touch of breadiness. Very light but very drinkable.
  • Belgian Style Blonde – 7.7% – Fairly assertive banana/clove flavors and breadiness. Light alcohol edge and a touch of spiciness. Long lingering flavors.
  • La Gaule Du Matin – Herbal hops with honey flavor. Light funk, a little bit of spiciness, and a touch of caramel. Aged in port barrels with a bit of lacto, but didn’t really notice that. Hmm.
  • Grand Cru – 10% – Light alcohol aroma and flavor. Herbal hops with honey flavor, and a touch of caramel. Fairly smooth for 10%. Similar to La Gaule Du Matin but with little to no funk and a bit heavier body.
  • Belgian Style Dubbel – 8.4% – Brown sugar and plum aroma. Brown sugar, dark chocolate, and bit of plum flavors. A little bit dry, too.
  • Pyroclastic Porter – 5% – Big coffee/chocolate aroma and flavor. Roasty malt, too. Little bit of citrus hops. Medium body.
  • Hop Eruption – 6.8% – Sharp boozy maltiness like a triple IPA, but not as intense. Big herbal and earthy hops. Interesting.
  • Mazamafest Bock – Preview taste during the brewery tour. Light and lagery but with some breadiness, bit of alcohol, and honey sweetness. Good body.
    The Rest

  • Rasplendent – 5% – Raspberry aroma and flavor, plus light orange and hibiscus. Touch of tartness. Light and clean, but not my thing.
  • Saison d’Etre – 6.3% – Interesting melange of flavors and ingredients. Coriander, orange, and juniper. Lightly peppery, very light funk, and a hint of bubblegum.
  • White Wedding – 5.2% – Belgian Wit and Northwest IPA hybrid. Sharp tropical fruit/mosaic hop aroma. Flavor balanced by coriander and breadiness from the wit half. Bit of funk, too. I’m doing my best to not make a halfwit joke, but it’s hard. So so hard.
  • Mosaic Eruption – 6% – Sharp tropical fruit, catty, and touch of pine aroma and flavor. Light malt. Lingering flavors to a bit of bitterness.
  • Mazamanator Doppelbock – 9.9% – From a bottle bought at Corvallis Brewing Supplies. Caramel aroma and flavor. Lots of malt flavors. Caramel, brown sugar, to a roasty finish. Slight alcohol edge that increases as it warms. Touch of spiciness on finish. Interesting but a bit too malty for me.

I hadn’t known much at all about Mazama before going in, and yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. They’re doing some good stuff, and I’m looking forward to visiting them again next time I’m down in Corvallis.

Sky High Brewing

It had been a while since my last visit to Corvallis, and so I went down for a three day weekend to visit a couple friends, drink some beer, eat some great food, drink more beer, drink a little cider, and drink even more beer. As it turned out, the day I showed up was the start of Corvallis Beer Week, so Kappy and I hit the kick-off event on the roof deck of Sky High Brewing. Tried a few beers from other breweries, then headed downstairs to the pub level where we did the full taster thing. Sky High occupies an entire three or four story building, with pretty nice views of the ground floor brewing operation as you walk up the stairs (not to mention the pretty nice views from the roof deck).

Sky High samplers

Sky High Brewing — Corvallis, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Beet Helles – 4.8% – Bright red. Light, bready, bit of berry flavor. Earthy beet flavor shows up in the finish.
  • Korn Kölsch – 4.8% – Made with rainbow corn. Nice and light. Some honey, with light citrus and some herbal hops. Rainbow corn very subtle, but mixes well.
  • River Cross IPA – 6.2% – Tropical fruit and earthy hops. Solid malt base.
  • Panorama Porter – 5.8% – Coffee, some chocolate, and roasty maltiness. Nice citrus edge. Light and drinkable.
    The Rest

  • Base Jumper Amber – 6% – Lots of caramel, some breadiness. Bit of herbal hops at the end. Not bad for an amber.
  • Bavarian Hefeweizen – 6% – Banana/clove and honey sweetness. Too much of the honey sweetness for my tastes, though.
  • June Bug Wheat Ale – 4.9% – Light and bready. Touch of spiciness. Not much else.
  • Dream-On Pale Ale – 5.4% – Caramel malt and floral hops, with some earthiness on the finish. Standard pale ale.
  • Linus Pauling Ale – 5% – Made with orange and lemon. Citrus flavors are present but not as big as I’d like. Bit more of the citrus peel bitterness than citrus flavor. Light and drinkable, though.
  • Freewheel IPA – 7% – Citrus, herbal, earthy, maybe some floral hop flavors. Quite bitter finish. Underlying caramel. Would really like it if not so bitter.

Yeah, so, not quite sure how to wrap up this post. If you have a few days in Corvallis, it’s worth the trip to Sky High for a beer while enjoying the views. With limited time, though, it might be better to visit Block 15, Mazama, Oregon Trail, and/or Flat Tail first.

Nanobrewery Gretta

There’s a very tiny brewery in the West Hills of Portland that’s not on any map — you have to know the brewer in order to sample some of his fine creations. Some people call this “homebrewing,” but it’s more fun to call it Nanobrewery Gretta. It shares space with the nanowinery Chateau Gretta, but as yet there is no Nanodistillery Gretta.

new brews at Gretta

Brewmaster Robert with his latest creations — Portland, OR

Over the course of the weekend, I was able to try five of his beers, and I’m looking forward to visiting again when his two new brews are bottled and ready to drink.

Update! 8/15/2012:  I haven’t been back to Portland, but last month Robert and his wife came up to Seattle, and they brought a few new brews with them.  It’s really quite convenient when the beer comes to you.

    Rob’s Picks

  • Smoked Märzen – Quite smoky, and a bit creamy on the tongue. Sort of like drinking smoked gouda. Good malty base, subtle banana/clove flavor, great balance.
  • Lichtenhäner – Smoky/floral/sour aroma. Crisp, with a somewhat sweet start. Smoky and slightly sour finish. Also very subtle banana/clove flavor.
  • 2007 Cabernet Lambic – Awesome aged lambic, with that pure sour lambic flavor. Cabernet grapes give a good tannic and subtle grape flavor. Great balance.
  • 2008 Fresh Hop – Last bottle! I love me some fresh hop beers, and this one was no exception. Strong hop aroma and great flavor, with subtle caramel notes.
  • Irish-Style Stout – Nice and creamy, with coffee/smoky flavor and a slight dryness. The aroma seemed a little bit off, but everything else was on.
  • Framboise – Strong raspberry aroma, great raspberry flavor. Good sour edge. Not as tart and tannic as the Cabernet Lambic.
  • Gueuze – At first I tried Robert’s Gueuze neat, and while I thought it was a very drinkable gueuze, after the Cab and Framboise, I felt like it was missing something. Robert had mentioned a few times about adding a little brown sugar to the glass, which he had done, and I finally followed his lead. That did the trick — it balanced out the gueuze and added a whole new level. Yum!
    The Rest

  • Gose – Not too sour. Coriander and salt flavors, bit of maltiness. Lingering salty finish. A little too salty for me.
Gretta's Brewmaster Robert

Nanobrewery Gretta’s Brewmaster and his beer — Portland, OR

Robert’s wife wanted a picture of the two of them kissing in front of the beer, and although I did take said picture, I have since decided to add a new BreweryTreks rule: No kissy-kissy pics. I’ll be happy to send them a copy of the kissy-kissy, and they can create their own blog and post it. So here instead is my preferred alternative:

Team Gretta

The Brewmaster, his wife (Brewwife? Brewbabe?), and their Brewcat, Hypatia — Portland, OR

And that concludes my whirlwind Portland brewery tour. Whew! What will I do now? Will I let the blog go silent for another couple months? Will I finally visit some more Washington breweries? Will I take a trip to some other state or province? The suspense is killing me!

Upright Brewing

I feel a little bad for Upright Brewing because it seemed like my taste buds hit the wall at this point, kind of like beer tasting fatigue. Oh well. Maybe I’ll give them another shot next time I’m in Portland.

horizontal Upright samplers

Upright Brewing sampler set — Portland, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Seven – Saison. Lemony aroma. Interesting flavor: kind of sweet, not very malty, somewhat bitter.
  • Scotch Ale – Nice maltiness, nice bitterness. Pretty crisp, too.
    The Rest

  • Four – Saison. Bitter, bready, astringent.
  • Five – Pale Ale. Floral aroma. Hoppy, not much of a pale.
  • Six – Rye. Sweet but hoppy. Kind of bock-like, but not bad.
  • Engelberg Pils – Pretty light, but still interesting. Wouldn’t want a whole pint, though.

This was the last brewery on the tour. I said goodbye to the rest of the folks who headed off across the bridge to the train station. Then the hail started. Doh! Fortunately for me, I had a warm, dry car ride to Robert and his wife’s house.

Lompoc Brewing

Lompoc Brewing seems to consist of two breweries, the first at New Old Lompoc, and the second at Lompoc 5th Quadrant, which is where we visited. They both brew pretty much the same stuff, but the first does most of the seasonals, and the second creates the supply for their distributor. Or something like that. What it means to me is that I only have to visit one to do an “offical” Lompoc Brewing post.

After a welcome walk from Breakside in the brisk sun, I was ready for either a late lunch or an early dinner along with the fine Lompoc ales. The portabello sandwich hit the spot. Robert and his wife rejoined the tour here, and he got a comprehensive taster tray to complement the various pints others had ordered.

Lompoc taster tray

Taster tray at Lompoc 5th Quadrant — Portland, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Centennial IPA – 6% – Malty start, lingering floral finish. Nice and drinkable.
  • C-Note IPA – 6.9% – Really nice! Smooth maltiness and good strong floral/bitter/citrus hops. Slight sweetness, too.
  • Proletariat Red – 6.2% – Good nutty maltiness, lingering hoppiness.
  • LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft) – 6.9% – Alcohol aroma. Dry and smoky, sort of stout-like, but with slight alcohol flavor and bit of sweetness. Interesting.
  • New Olde Ale – 7.5% – Smooth, well-balanced, touch of sweetness. Sort of amber-like, but nice. Very drinkable.
  • Batch 69 Baltic Porter – 7.7% – Alcohol aroma. Smoky, chocolatey goodness. Yum!
  • Jolly Bock – 7.2% – Really nice brown ale. No bocky sweetness.
    The Rest

  • Fool’s Golden Ale – 5% – Lemony, hoppy aroma. Light and somewhat sweet, crisp, slight breadiness.
  • Sockeye Cream Stout – 4.9% – Pretty creamy, but somewhat watery, oddly enough. Not too flavorful.
  • Oregon Special Bitter (OSB) – 4.2% – Some bitterness, some maltiness, but a little watery. Light.

At the end of the visit, I tried to buy a logo glass, but they had just run out of their selling stock, unfortunately. Should’ve pinched one of the glasses that had been on the table. Next time I’ll know better than to try and be honest in my logo glassware acquisitions…

Breakside Brewery

Robert, Morgan, and I lingered at Fire on the Mountain after the others set off on foot to Breakside Brewery, but they had already arrived and ordered a few beers and free samples by the time Robert dropped off the two of us (he had a few things to do other than hang out and drink — weird). So I spent some time playing catch-up with the beers on the table and giving the glad eye to one of the waitresses, but she never even looked my way.

Breakside has a cool space: two levels, lots of light, modern feel. Nice neighborhood brewpub.

Papa beer and baby beers

Papa beer and baby beers at Breakside Brewery — Portland, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Hoppy Amber – 5.5% – Hoppy aroma. Great citrus hoppy bite and good malty base.
  • Aztec – 9.4% – Nice amber color. Great spicy maltiness and good alcohol edge.
  • Alanbier – 8.2% – Nice brown with slight nuttiness. Good body and dryness.
    The Rest

  • Dry Stout – 4.7% – Good chocolatey aroma. Very dry, but kind of watery. Flavors are kind of weak.
  • BLT Gose – 4.6% – Watery, bready, slightly lemony. Odd.
  • Triple – 9.1% – Slow start to sweet caramel finish. Doesn’t taste strong. Not the usual tripel, not too sharp.
  • American Wheat – Kinda blah. [Not the best tasting notes, I know…]

What else to say? Only three more Portland brewery posts to go — can’t wait till I’m all caught up!

Fire on the Mountain

After Saturday’s seven or so brewery visits, it was kind of hard to wake up Sunday morning. Ugh. I was moving way too slowly to make it to the first stop of Day Two of the Portland tour: brunch at the Columbia River brewpub. Instead, Robert and I joined the attenuated tour (about half the participants had returned to Seattle that morning) at the more civilized time of 1:00 pm at Fire on the Mountain.

This is a curious place. It’s a Buffalo Wings joint, and this one (the Fremont location on NE 57th — there are three) started brewing its own beer sometime around the beginning of December 2011 (and they already have an oak aged stout!). No wings for me, but I did have a taste of their hottest sauce, El Jefe, and yeah, The Boss slapped the hangover right out of me.

Fire on the Mountain tasters

New brewery offerings at the Fire on the Mountain wings joint — Portland, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Shocks of Sheba IPA – Nice hoppy aroma. Good malty base and decent hoppy bite. Very drinkable. Not the hoppiest, but nice.
  • Electric Mud Stout – Oak aged. Pretty light on the start, then the stoutness kicks in. Not bad at all.
    The Rest

  • Wonderin’ Rye – Pretty smooth, but a little watery.
  • Pancho Pale Ale – Somewhat bitter, somewhat malty, but a little too light on the tongue for me.
  • Lefty Lager – Like the Pale, but less hoppy. Drinkable but not too memorable.

Not the usual brewery visit, but it was a fun way to start the day, and they even had FotM Brewery logo glasses for sale.

Tugboat Brewing

After Migration, the brewery tour headed off to the Deschutes Public House. I’ve been to the Deschutes brewpub in Bend many times, and when I finally do an “official” visit for the blog, I want it to be from that one. So I went rogue and left for Tugboat Brewing with Robert, his wife, and their friend.

Tugboat is a cozy little pub. Lots of bookshelves with odd titles for a bar (The Nursing Mother, From Here to Maternity, iMac for Dummies, Internet for Dummies) and retro lamps on the tables. They had three of their beers on tap, but unfortunately the Chernobyl Stout (13%!) was out.

good picture of bad beer

Great atmosphere at the Tugboat brewpub. Wish I could say the same for the beer… — Portland, OR

    The Rest

  • Hop Gold/Wheat – Hop craziness. Superstrong grapefruit/tangerine citrus flavors that overpower everything else. Intense face-puckering bitterness that just doesn’t go away. None of us could drink more than a couple sips. One of the worst beers I’ve ever had. Robert suggested re-naming the beer “Fool’s Gold.” We returned the two pints, and the bartender replaced them with the Hop Red, mercifully pouring the Hop Gold down the drain.
  • Hop Red – Malty aroma. Hoppy, malty taste, but very bitter. More manageable than the Hop Gold, which isn’t saying much, but still too bitter for me. Got through about a third of the pint before giving up. None of us finished this beer.

We also ordered a plate of nachos. Robert described them as “good for washing away the bitter memories.” To be fair, though, the various reviews we looked at after the fact had good things to say about the Chernobyl Stout and their IPA, and one of the Portland brewery tour organizers had great things to say about their visit to Tugboat. But that doesn’t change the fact that the two beers we tried were horrible. Maybe next time they’ll have decent stuff on tap.

Migration Brewing

When we arrived here, I thought this place was pretty great, but by the time we left it had gotten so crowded and loud that it just wasn’t very enjoyable anymore. Better to get to Migration Brewing early, or go mid-week. The curse of success, I suppose.

Most folks on the tour ordered individual pints here, but Robert, who rejoined us here with his wife and a friend after a post-Green Dragon hiatus, got a comprehensive sampler of the Migration ales. So I was able to try everything on tap. After a whole day of sampling beer, however, my notes were somewhat sub-par. Oh well. Just go meta with this one.

Migration Brewing

Migration beers migrating to our bellies — Portland, OR

    Rob’s Picks

  • Migration Pale Ale (MPA) – 5.2% – Floral aroma. Broad malty base with some floral hoppiness. Very drinkable.
  • Luscious Lupulin IPA – 6.5% – Floral/citrus hop blend — quite nice. Subtle maltiness. Good lasting hoppiness.
  • Black Hearted CDA – 7% – Seasonal. Great blend of roasted maltiness and bitterness.
  • Terry’s Porter – 6.7% – Malty and dry, with bitter undertones. Really good porter.
  • Deuce Double IPA – 9% – Seasonal. Good hoppiness, but maltiness really shines. Awesome balance. Bitter but smooth.
    The Rest

  • Clem’s Cream Ale – 4.6% – Very bready, pretty crisp. More like a blonde.
  • Glisan St. Dry Hop Pale Ale – 5% – Sweet aroma. Pretty good, but kind of sweet instead of extra hoppy.
  • Old Silenus Strong – 7.2% – Malty sweet aroma. Doesn’t taste strong, more like a good bock. (Too bad I’m not a big fan of bocks…)

Usually the intros and outros are fairly easy to write, but after so many breweries in one day, and so many posts in a short span of time, they’ve been getting harder and harder to come up with and make entertaining (although the next one will be easy). Sigh. My life is so hard!

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