It's quite obvious at this point that BRIDGER'S BEER BLOG has dutifully served its purpose, and is no longer updated. Don't worry, I'm still drinking beer, I just don't have time to write about it anymore -- too many other projects. The lack of upkeep at this blog certainly doesn't reflect the beer scene in Portland these days. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I would say the pervasiveness of craft beer is expanding here and across the northwest. The same is true of spirits and food. Despite increased prices across the board, these are heartening trends. So consider this the last post. Thanks to everyone for the good conversation. Cheers! Bridger


Freshops Tastival and the flavor of beer

Felecia and I went to the Freshops Tastival at the NW Lucky Lab last week where 16 or so beers of seasonal Northwest bounty were available on tap. I think it's one the better beer festivals I've been to, There were hardly any lines, people were kind, and one got the feeling of sampling unique beers hardlyconceived of by the general beer-drinking public. It made me feel rich in local culture.

And though drinking at the Lab's never the same without our buds, Jen & Patrick, I say: "The beers were great."

Following the Great American Beer Fest in Denver, there's been an ongoing argument over at Beervana (a quality beer blog) about the quality of Oregon beers that started with their perceived lack of balance to the tongue of a particular comment-writer. As a man of humble pedigree there's not a lot I can say on the subject except that judging beer shouldn't be like judging a dog show. The beers I tried at the Freshops Tastival were bold, experimental, new, fresh, and local. Those are the qualities that mean something.

...As opposed to something completely meaningless like...

I saw this news article today about Miller and Bud producing flavored, seasonal beers. I didn't realize that regular beers were not flavored. This is clearly a breakthrough. Here are some choice quotes...
"Consumers have a broader drinker's set today and are looking for different options and different products," McGauley said. "We know they're going to be looking around and we're going to provide beers and products that really satisfy those needs.... According to Mintel Research, the top selling flavor last year was regular, but second was pumpkin, which brewers such as Coors Brewing Co.'s popular Blue Moon label roll out in the fall harvest season. Rounding out the top five? Honey, vanilla and nut, respectively.
Good night.

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Alt, not Kolsch at Laurelwood

I've enjoyed a beer style called Kolsch this summer that I had been completely oblivious to. Alaskan Summer Ale is a great example, and both Mcmenamins and Roots made seasonals this summer that I couldn't resist. I'll leave it to Jeff at Beervana to explain its history, but I will testify on behalf of its lustrous gold to orange color, drinkability, and unique roundness that is thick like milk and tastes like bread and citrus.

But summer's gone.

Last night Felecia and I rinsed out our growler and walked to Laurelwood in hopes of trying their Fresh Hopped Kolsch. I read recently, on a blog that now alludes me, that guys at Laurelwood drove south in the Willamette valley and picked up a truckload of fresh hops which they rushed back to the brewery to transform into beer that very same day. This little story is very exciting for me, and I longed to enjoy the exploits of their hops odyssey.

But to get to the point of this story; the Kolsch is all gone. We heard that the Laurelwood pub on Sandy is out too. Instead we got their new seasonal, an alt they call Sticke Altbier. It's dark red, roasted tasting, hardy, and bitter. It's great.


Lucky Lab House Ale Board

Here's the NW Lab's beer board as of last night, September 19.

If you stop in, the cask No Pity Pale Ale is awesome.

They have a new single hop IPA, Willamette. There's also a new "Dogtoberfest Lager" on the menu that's not available yet. It's subtle appearance must constitute the new beer's pre-product launch ad campaign. @ Lucky Lab marketing team: way to start the hype.


The New Old Lompoc revisited

Felecia and I strolled down to the New Old Lompoc after work last night for Miser Monday, which means $2 pints. The place looks like it's been around awhile but we first discovered it last spring and have neglected it for a few months now.

The Lompoc is dark and grimy, the kind of thing that makes for a really comfortable hangout. Walking in the front door you first encounter a small bar framed by a hops motif in tile. The walls seem encrusted with funny pictures, fliers, old brewery ads, news-clippings, and beer bottles. The look seems classically nostalgic at first, but I think its really just a big sarcastic joke. Ha! To the right is the main seating area, and to the left of the bar are a few tables that are non-smoking before 8 and a hallway that leads past the kitchen to a large patio in back.

Besides $2 (16 oz.) pints all day Mondays, Lompoc has happy hour food and drink menus.

The beers at the Lompoc are brutal and distinctive. Alcohol contents run high, as does flavor. There's also a particular feel that runs through all the beers that I can't describe. It reminds me of drinking mineral water, and maybe it's due to the brewery's plumbing or water source. They serve two IPAs, C-note, and Cenntenial. C-Note seems to be more in the vein of double IPA popular lately, but more bitter than delicate or floral. They serve LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft), a big monster of a beer, that looks dark and dirty and tastes mean. Both IPA's and the LSD have great potential to end one's night quick. A pitcher guarantees either a party or a nap.

My darling of all their brews is the Condor Pale Ale. It's mildly hopped, with just the right amount of bitter unique nutty flavor. It's really delicious, and almost subtle.

Lompoc also serves a stout that's hearty but unremarkable, a pilsner that the wait staff doesn't recommend and a couple seasonals. Right now they have a red and brown ale.

Overall the New Old Lompoc is an awesome little pub. The beers lack the refinement of other microbreweries in the nieghborhood, but are unique, cheap, and enjoyable. The atmosphere is authentic, smoky, comfortable, Portland. I think it's exactly the grail Mcmenemin's trys to achieve in some of their pubs. The food is spectacular pub fare.

The thought of coming in for beer soup and a sandwich in the chill damp evenings this winter is heartening. This place is comfy like an old quilt.

It's too bad that getting there, for me, involves a walk down NW 23rd Ave, which is irritating, or amusing depending on my mood. The first annoyance is all the fucking people in my way. I own these streets (I think), and I don't generally appreciate swarms of Abercronbie victims from Washington county and hordes of other undesirables that come between me and a cold drink. Last week a scabby girl across the street from Music Millennium accosted us with a CD she was peddling.

“What kind of music do you guys like? I'm like a singer-songwriter, and the music's kind of electronic and (directed at Felecia) its really sultry and something that I think, like, other women can totally understand.” This nearly ruined my appetite.

When we told her we don't have much money for purchasing random music people push on us on the street corner she said, “[scoff!] What are you doing on this street, then?”

As we were leaving we saw her drinking a beer a the Lomoc. She must have sold a CD.


Lucky Lab Beer Hall Update

As of last week the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall on NW Quimby in Portland is serving fresh batches of Five Ton Strong Ale and Superdog. All the beer served at the Quimby Beer Hall is brewed on site in small quantities so selection is highly variable.

I'd like to find out the magnitude of smallness that might describe the Lab's production. Does anybody know? Somethings are easily quantified, like volume or various other numbers and attributes used to describe beer and brewing. Goodness is more subjective but I would guess, “highly good” is a fitting designation for the Lab's beers.

Five Ton Strong, named after the industrial lift hanging from the hall's ceiling and served in a 10 oz. goblet, is sweet with a dark amber color and a slightly caramel taste. It's very smooth for its punch; I still found it refreshing during our summer heatwaves. Served, it looks like an overfilled glass of brandy. The new batch is notably darker in color and a little more bitter. Superdog has apparently increased its alc/vol. From 6.0 to 6.4. I haven't tried the new, Super[charged]Dog, but I'll probably give it a go tomorrow when its only $2.50.

The Lucky Lab's website hasn't been updated since the '80s and the beers listed aren't very accurate, at least for the NW location. I need to take a picture of the chalkboard next time I'm in, but for now here's some of the beers they might have from the top of my head:

Macleay's Summer Ale
Blue Dog
Single Hop IPA - Cascade
Five Ton Strong Ale
Stumptown Porter
Black Lab Stout
(?) Pilsner
No Pity Pale Ale (this one's organic)

hmm, what else...

Reggie's Red (a mere tease, I've never seen this one available)

One of the beers is always available on nitro and they serve one guest tap.


Emergency Beer Procurment Plan

It's a recurring theme in my posts. For one reason of another Felecia and I are broke until payday and must devise and implement strategic crisis budget beer procurement plan. Curiously, a plan of similar magnitude is seldom put into effect before crunch time. We manage money in a way similar to George Bush managing the national debt, which is extremely poorly.

The plan usually entails some combination of selling treasured items, eating only ramen noodles and redeeming the deposits from the mountain of empty bottles that have accumulated since our last income deficiency. But it also implies making wise choices with our remaining dollars to make sure we don't sit out too many dry nights. Ahem.

Here are some tips; some lessons I've learned about drinking beer with little dough:

Buy one microbrew six-pack and two six-ers of PBR (or similar swill) tall boys. After work drink a bottle of the good beer with someone you love, taking special care to note the characteristics you enjoy. Comment on them with your companion. Then drink a couple 16 oz. PBR's, noting how the flavor has little in common with beer. If you need more to drink after this, seek professional counseling. Hurry to bed, the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner you can start another day and enjoy another BEER.

Repeat the steps above, substituting Charles Shaw Cabernet, Shiraz, or Chardonnay for the swill beer. You may become hung over.

If it's Tuesday, and you happen to live in Portland, OR (you're a luckey sonofagun), collect all the spare change in your house, cash it in for dollar bills. Exchange two of these for a Five Ton Strong Ale at the Lucky Labrador NW Beerhall, and get an entire quarter back (save it to buy lunch tomorrow).

Finally, getting through a tough times isn't always about buying the cheapest thing in the beer isle. A 27 oz. bottle of Sheif's Stout, is the darkest, creamiest thing one can buy for $2.78. It will sustain you. Or, try buying a couple bottles of Killian's Irish Red by the bottle. The six-pack at Fredy's is perpetually on sale for $4.99, or $0.84 for a 12 oz. bottle. Sure, Coors is tricking you into thinking it's a microbrew, but... fuck it, at least you're not stealing.


Indian (PA) Summer

Double IPA (excepting BridgPort) marketers have some kind of complex about making beer labels extra intense with devils and lightning and scary stuff.  Left to right, Pyramid (Seattle/Portland), Widmer (Portland), Victory (Downington, PA), BridgePort (Portland), and Terminal Gravity (Enterprise, OR).   Hop Devil is my favorite, but it's also $10.39 for 6. Every summer has its own character. I don't want to talk like its all over, but it is September already and I think we're in the the last throws of warm evenings. Felecia's back in school (teaching) this week, while I have only a lonely couple weeks of laziness and masturbation still in the bank. I'll remember the warm months in 2006 as my summer of IPAs... and I'll be releasing a commemorative coin.

The Belmont Station Beer Forum reports that there will be a Fresh Hop Beer "Tastival" next month at the NW Lucky Labrador in October. Its a fitting harvest festival for a pleasantly bitter summer. I can't believe I spent the last one drinking gin and tonic. (I'd ask to have it refunded, but you should never ask back for the gin that's drank.)

The IPA-tion of summer was partially fueled by local breweries:

The Lucky Lab, besides having an exceptional IPA, Superdog (I claimed it as my favorite beer to the AP, I'll stand by it), serves a limited release of single hopped IPA's, for educational purposes, I assume. They change roughly by the month, whenever the old one runs out. Right now the Lab on Quimby has a Cascade hops IPA, which I haven't tried yet.

Other pivotal events were Laurelwood's brewers' IPA-off a couple months ago, Widmer Bros. permanent bottling of Broken Halo, my discovery of Terminal Gravity and Deschutes' introduction of Inversion.

I've consumed more super-hoppy ales this spring and summer than the rest of my years on earth combined. People from my generation are branded by our consumption I'm... damn trendy. My cells are constructed from molecules sold by Widmer, Deschutes, and the Lucky Labrador. So this summer has been a pretty good time.

Summer decadence - sorry

So it's been awhile since I've posted on this space...

and I guess any former reader who accidentally clicked an old bookmark to be surprised by this new post deserves some explanation. I wish I'd been busy on a beer tour of northern Europe, sharpening my Belgian beer whit, but the truth is I've spent the last couple monthes mostly lolling around town. Besides some short trips to California and MT I've been riding my bike a little, keeping the Lucky Lab in business, and monitoring six-pack prices at Fred Meyer. Though I've perchased, guzzled, and metabolized healthy quantities of micro-brewed-bottled-bliss, my fingers have failed in typing its virtues.

Sierra Nevada survivor at Zack and Shauna's in MissoulaThis blog fizzled , contrary to common sense,when I took summer term off school leaving little responsibility besides showing up to work sometimes. When I was busier, during finals week for instance, I couldn't wait to sit at my laptop and write about my favorite distraction, drinking beer. But confronted with a demands of an open schedule, it seemed like work.

It's funny how I completely loose motivation for tasks that I've come to perceive as responsibility. I stopped showering and brushing my teeth for the same reason (when I was 7; I got over it). And this little bout of summer laziness will end too.

It's also funny how drinking beer never seems like work, but I swear, the minute it does, it's over... I'll take a long break and have a beer.

This blog was a lot of fun when I was updating it, and I'd like to start again. For a while Felecia was buying my sixpacks of new microbews to get me to post again; I rode that gravytrain as long as I could. But now it's time to collect my remaining neurons and put them to use documenting their demise again.

I've missed my internet beer friends, let's catch up.


Redhook Sunrye on the Fourth of July

Last night Felecia and I had dinner at our buds, Jen and Patrick's house on the hill. Patrick made some huge blue cheese and bacon stuffed burgers (one might call them a vegetarian Jew's worst nightmare), that I assume celebrate iconic American decadence on this religious-toned national jack-off fest; what we call the fourthofjUly, Independence Day. They were delicious.

And I have to say that I think America is the world's greatest nation, but we have some issues. We are leaders of liberality and innovation, our culture says "be an individual, like the rest of us." We proclaim democracy as a global agenda while installing, arming, and then provoking despots worldwide. Our country distrusts and exploits the weak, poor, and dark-skinned. Our capitalist marketplace revitalized craft brewing with an explosion of styles, new and revisited, but most people drink Coors light, or generally trust global conglomerates responsible for beer-hate, self-hate, fat people and foreign wars. ...and the greed...

These troubles and inconsistencies are difficult for secular, morally-minded, individualist, rationalist students like us, with incredible and historically unprecedented college debt loads, to make sense of. This rant is too wide ranging to ever find a conclusion except that the 4th is a day when I contemplate my country, my place in it and that brings up mixed feelings and bewilderment.

We washed down to cheese, bacon, and beef sandwiches with Redhook Sunrye. Patrick says every beer should have a story printed on the label, the Redhook label doesn't say anything very captivating, and certainly doesn't relate their affiliation with the 'Kin of Beer', though a trip to thier website reveals some AB marketing glam seepage. If it did have a story maybe it would go something like this...

"After stumbling through temperate beaver-filled Cascadian rainforests for weeks, Meriwether Lewis lifted a mossy rock and out poured what might be the world's most refreshing drink, a Redhook Sunrye. Lewis stoked some coals, cleaned the grill and laid on some pork chops while Clark, Charbenoue, Pocha-honda, and even little Pompe swigged the newly discovered Sunrye with great satisfaction. Ever since, no Northwest barbeque is complete without a little Redhook Sunrye. That's what makes Redhook Sunrye an authentic Pacific Northwest refreshment expirience."

Can one Redhook Sunrye really satisfy 5 fictitious people? Certainly, and it tastes good too. The rye gives this bitter, but not overwhelmingly hopped, beer an interesting, smooth spunk. The yeast matches well, lending Sunrye a light fruity palette. Pretty good stuff for a warm summer evening.

After a few we sat on the lawn and watched fireworks while Felecia and Patrick recited, with heart, various songs of American glory and allegiance; it almost brought a tear to my sunrye.


Deschutes Inversion v. Lagunitas IPA

I little while back Felecia and I rolled up our sleeves for a tough task inspired by Laurelwood's great drinker's choice IPA-off. We conducted a back to back comparison of those especially strong and hoppy IPAs from Deschutes and Lagunitas. Like the Special Olympics, there are no losers in such a contest, unless you spill. Inversion is slightly darker than Lagunitas and has a denser flavor of both malt and hops. The hops bitter is very similar, with a little more aroma from Deschutes. Overall I preferred Deschutes at the time of tasting, but this reflects my mood and preferences rather than quality. I enjoy a little hops receptor over-stimulation sometimes. Although Lagunitas IPA is not as explosive on the tongue, it's no less a fine beer. It's rich and satisfying in a more understated way, while remaining totally fresh and delicate tasting. Overall, the similarities between these brews outweigh their differences.

Felecia and I enjoyed a near perfect combination six-pack after a single night backpacking trip on the Salmon River trail near Zig Zag, Oregon this week. The combo is just three Deschutes Obsidian Stout and three Inversion IPA, two of the beers that make Deschutes stand out among the big Oregon craft breweries in my mind. It's hard to beat the over-the-top flavors combined in symphonic ratio in both of these beers.

Black Butte Porter is probably Deschutes' most well known ale, but its chocolaty perfection is thicker and meaner in the stout, which I would bet on in a knife fight. Inversion might be the grassiest hay-bail in a bottle to be so widely distributed; surely a service humankind.

Larry Sidor, I swear you're not a giant douche, that was crass, and mistaken.


BridgePort Supris & NW Lucky Labrador

BridgePort Supris took me a bit to warm up to, but after a couple tries I can see it becoming a constant summer companion, like barbeques, sunburns, and brassmonkeys down by the river. Maybe it’s because the weather’s warm and I just got back from riding my "authentic" Peugeot 10 speed, but today its bright yellow color and sunny character seem about perfect. It makes me feel nostalgic for a summer paradise that’s a mix of all my favorite mental associations. Just imagine…

Felecia and I had three pints at the new NW Lucky Lab yesterday when we discovered something similar, an impossibly yellow Summer Ale; the yellow-est thing I’ve ever seen. Supris shares a similar dry, yeasty fruit flavor, and both have some subtle spice, but it lacks Labrador Summer Ale’s full wheat finish. Supris is sour and satisfying. I admit to trying one with lemon; don’t do it, it tastes good but covers up the intricate flavors that taste like the spring breeze blowing in my window, or something else they show in a commercials for fabric softener.

We’ve been hitting the new Lucky Lab on NW Quimby all we can (like ghetto booty) the last week or so. It’s no great departure from the one on Hawthorne. There are some good pictures of the place on Personal Telco. Pints are $2.50 on Tuesdays and the tapmaster told me all the beers they serve are brewed in the building. It’s the sweetest thing that’s ever happened to me; I’m considering quitting my job so I can wash dishes there.

The guest tap at the Lab is still regular price Tuesday. Right now they have Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic that's worth an extra buck for a try.