Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inaugural Rare Beer Tasting

When I first read about the Rare Beer Tasting, I wondered if it would be worth it. I know its for a good cause and all, but there's already so many great beers at the GABF, do I really need to spend more money to drink even more beer? Then I saw the lineup of the beers scheduled to be at the tasting and I immediately bought tickets. I knew it would sell out and fast. There was only one or two beers on that list that I had ever tasted and those probably weren't even the same beers. Many were barrel-aged or imperial versions of their more common namesake and some were even the last of it that existed.

We had been at the industry party at the Sandlot earlier and arrived at the Wynkoop at around 12:45pm. The line was already a block long, but we were inside within 40 mins. The event was on the second floor and was basically setup the same way as the brewers gathering on Wednesday with the stations pouring beer spread around the edges of the room.

It was our goal to try them all, so we started at table one and moved on from there. I won't lie, there were a few beers that were hard to drink and maybe one or two we almost couldn't. However, if we had more time to sip and enjoy them, we probably would have been able to appreciate those ones a little more. Don't get me wrong, we weren't slamming them down (a little difficult with beers that have double-digit ABV), but there was a certain degree of urgency as it was obvious some beers would not last the entire event. At about a third of the way through, the affects could already be felt. It didn't help that some brewers were pretty generous with their pours and there was no way I was pouring out a beer I liked just so that I could sample the next one.

One of the beers that I was excited about getting a chance to try was the Utopias 2009 from Sam Adams. Since 2002, its held the record of "World's Strongest Beer" with an ABV of 27%. This is not a beer. I'm not sure what I'd call it, but its definitely not something you drink standing around at a beer tasting. Its something to be sipped slowly on a cold winter night. Glad I got the chance to try it, but wasn't able to really appreciate it. A beer that I really did enjoy was was the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel-aged Total Eclipse Stout from Foothills Brewing Co. It had wonderful smooth flavours of vanilla and bourbon without any residual harshness that can often be present with bourbon barrel-aged beers.

But there wasn't only great beer there, it was also the largest gathering of brewers in the same place at the same time that I've ever seen. As one attendee told me as he was asking Dan Carey from New Glarus Brewing to sign his Rare Beer Tasting Program, its like Comic-Con for the beer world. Hilarious, but he was right. Long lines formed at the Dogfish Head pouring station as everyone wanted to talk with Sam Calagione as he poured their beer and Garret Oliver from Brooklyn Brewing couldn't take more then two steps before before asked to have his picture taken (he's always friendly and a snappy dresser). Every which way you turned, legendary brewmasters were pouring beer and talking with people.

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon at the first Rare Beer Tasting and I hope it continues as an annual event. Its a great addition to the events during the GABF and benefits a worthy cause.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GABF Wrap-up

Its taken me a few days to finally get around to writing up a summary of this year's Great American Beer Festival. I needed some time to recover and return to a more normal lifestyle again.

Although we didn't get any medals, its always great to see wins for breweries from Texas. It was also the largest attendance of Texas breweries which hopefully helped people realize that we don't all drink Shiner Bock and Lone Star. Its old news by now, but here are the Texas winners:

Gold (Kellerbier/Zwickelbier) - Hell In Keller by Uncle Billy's Brew & Que
Gold (Munich Style Helles) - Summer Pils by Saint Arnold Brewing
Silver (German-Style Wheat Ale) - Weizenbock by The Covey Restaurant and Brewery
Silver (Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale) - 100 by The Covey Restaurant and Brewery

The full list of winners is available at the Great American Beer Festival website.

We arrived on Wednesday and after checking in to the hotel and convention, we headed down to the Wynkoop Brewery for the brewers gathering. Its almost like a mini festival with beers from various breweries available at different stations spread around inside. Since its industry only, its a great opportunity to chat with other brewery folk and you always run into people you haven't seen since last year's festival. Once that started to wind down, we wandered over to the Falling Rock Tap House which was a complete madhouse as it usually is during the festival. Its a great place to have a beer, just not during the GABF. However, we fought our way up to the bar and grabbed a few beers (always get two at a time, you don't want to wait again). I also got the chance to meet Amy and Tim Brady from Here For The Beer website which has some great video coverage of the festival.

On Thursday was my annual "Rock Bottom Summit". Basically, every year on the Thursday of the convention week, I meet some friends from Denver at the Rock Bottom Brewery for lunch... and typically stay for about six hours. An amusing story that a friend likes to tell is that one year he called me shortly after I got to the Rock Bottom to say that he was driving to the Houston airport to catch his flight to Denver. And when he finally arrived in Downtown Denver, we were still at the Rock Bottom.

The festival opened that night and I split my time between wandering the booths to sample winners from last year and pouring beer samples at our booth. Independence Brewing had its first booth at the GABF convention this year and it was fun talking to people about the brewery and the beer. Lots of current and former Austin residents came to chat as well as those who just know someone in Austin and wanted to say hi. The convention hall was larger this year and although there were all the same long lines at all the same booths, it was a lot easier to walk around inside.

Friday was another big day with several great events. Every year there is an industry event held at the Sandlot at Coors Field. The Sandlot (renamed to Blue Moon Brewing Company at the Sandlot) is basically a R&D brewery for Coors and is the place that developed Blue Moon and other variations of the Moon brand. Each year the brewmaster picks a particular style and brews different distinct versions of it. This year seemed to be Pilsners, but there were other styles available as well including some rauchebiers. We couldn't stay for all of it this year as a couple of us had tickets for the Rare Beer Tasting that afternoon (wrap-up of that in a separate post).

General fatigue was starting to set in as we arrived for the Friday evening session. We didn't spend a whole lot of time sampling on the convention floor after getting the opportunity to drink so many amazing beers at the Rare Beer Tasting. However, we did run into a old hero of mine and got my picture taken with him. George Wendt (Norm on Cheers) wandered into the Draft Lounge at the GABF and sat down at our table. As it turns out, he was there to promote a new book called Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional's Guide to Beer

After the Friday session wrapped up, we met-up with a few other Texas brewers and wandered down to the Great Divide Brewery and had a few beers while they were closing up for the night. Great Divide has really grown and expanded over the past few years and continues to put out some really great beer. We caught a cab back to the hotel and decided that some food was probably a really good idea. Unfortunately, not being from Denver, we had no idea where to get food after midnight in downtown. Otis noticed someone carry a pizza box for Mary Jane's Pizza which indicated they delivered from 11:00pm to 4:20am. I can't say that it was very good, but no one really cared or noticed at 3:00am.

We were a little slow to get going on Saturday morning. The drinking and standing around for hours and hours on concrete floors at the convention center and bars was starting to wear on everyone. However, this was the day the winners were to be announced so there's always some level of excitement about a potential win. The Saturday afternoon session is usually a little calmer then other sessions. A lot of people are here to watch the results being announced, so its typically quiet around the booths until the ceremony is over and there's a rush to visit the booths that got a win. Independence Brewing didn't get a win, but we got great feedback at the booth as people sampled the beer. The Stash IPA and Convict Hill Imperial Oatmeal Stout where very well liked. The Freestyle Wheat was always popular towards the end of the sessions as people were getting burned out on sampling heavy beers and wanted something light and refreshing.

I had a quick nap and a bite between the afternoon and evening sessions. This was the first Saturday evening session that I had ever attended. I usually skipped the last session, opting for a quieter evening at a local restaurant or bar instead. However, the rest of our group had to head back to Austin that afternoon, so I stayed around to wrap up the booth and pour beer for the thirsty masses. It was surprisingly very busy and not nearly the large "drunkfest" that I had always heard it was. By the Saturday evening session, all the popular and winning beers are typically long gone, but that's not to say that only bad beers are left. There are still hundreds of great beers to sample, you just may not get your first choice. When it was finally over, I made my way back to the hotel and collapsed on the bed, not sure if my feet were still attached to my legs or not.

For me, the GABF is not simply about drinking lots of different beers (although, its obviously a big part of it), its the overall atmosphere of being in place with so many great beers and people who are enthusiastic about those beers. Everywhere you go, people are enjoying good beer and talking about it which I'd say is the overall goal of the festival. If you've never been, I highly recommend going. If you want to start planning now, the 2010 Great American Beer Festival will be Sept 16th ~ 18th.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AllGoodBeer is off to Denver

I'm off to Denver and the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. I also have tickets to the Rare Beer Tasting and I'm definitely looking forward to that as well. I will attempt to post updates during the week, but the Twitter feed will probably be a better source of what we're up to. If anyone wants to get together in Denver, post a reply in the comments. Cheers!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Go Texas Beer Week at Opal Divine's

As part of the Go Texan Restaurant Round-Up, all three Opal Divine's locations in Austin (Freehouse, Penn Field and Marina) will be serving $2.50 pints of Texas-brewed beer from Sept 28th to Oct 2nd. The full list of the Texas beers being served is available here and includes the new Oatmeal Stout and Stash IPA from Independence Brewing.

The Go Texan Restaurant Round-Up is sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture to promote restaurants and chefs who are dedicated to serving fresh local ingredients. Participating restaurants will be serving special Texas menu items during the week and many will also contribute a portion of the day’s proceeds to food banks across the state. More information, including a full list of participating restaurants is available here.

GABF Medal Ceremony Being Streamed Live

Its only 3 days until the start of the 2009 Great American Beer Festival! If you can't make it this year, you can still watch the medals being handed out live for the beer judging. The medal ceremony will be broadcast live thanks to The Brewing Network. Go to to view the broadcast at 1:00 pm MST on Saturday. Who knows, you may even see me on stage.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day, me hearties!

Shiver me timbers, it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Although Captain Jack Sparrow seemed to favour the rum, I'm sure pirates drank plenty of beer while pillaging and plundering. So unleash yer inner buccaneer while quaffing a few pints of grog in the local pub.

A quick google search only returned two "pirate beers" and neither are available here. Any suggestions for other pirate related beers?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Even more beer events during the week of GABF

The Rocky Mountain Brewing News e-newsletter had a huge list of events going on in Colorado this month (as to be expected). In case you need a few more beer activities to fill your day during the week of the GABF, here's a few of the events that will be taking place in Denver:

September 23: Boulder Beer Brewer's Meet-n-Greet in Denver. Chow down on Hazed and Infused Fish-n-Chips and Buffalo Beer Cheese Soup and schmooze with the Boulder Beer folks at the Crown Plaza Hotel. 12n-2pm. (303) 444-8448

September 23: Whiskey Barrel Aged Mojo IPA Keg Tapping At Falling Rock in Denver. Boulder Beer gets their GABF off to a great start when they tap a special keg of their Mojo IPA that has been aged in barrels from Denver's Stranahan Whiskey. 3pm. (303) 444-8448

September 23: Boulder Beer Pool Party, Crown Plaza Hotel, in Denver. Come on up to the 6th floor of the Crown Plaza Hotel in downtown Denver as Boulder Beer hosts a pool party! 5 different BB brews will be flowing. Grab a brat and a spot by the pool. Don't forget your Speedo. 5pm (303) 444-8448

September 25: Beer Advocate Gathering at Great Divide Brewing in Denver. Instead of a walking tour of downtown Denver breweries, BA's are gathering at Great Divide for a day of brews and tours, starting at 11am (303) 296-9460

September 25: Firkin Friday with Left Hand Brewing at Jonesy's EatBar in Denver. Left Hand is bringing 4 to 6 different brews in 5 gallon firkins to Jonesy's today. Don't be late. These firkins won't last long. It starts at 3pm (303) 772-0258

September 25: Shmaltz Brewing Happy Birthday Party and Bar Mitzvah Beer Release at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. The makers of He'brew are celebrating the big 1-3 with a brand new beer. Bar Mitzvah is brewed with 13 malts and 13 hops and comes in at a whopping 13% ABV. Taste Bar Mitzvah at the Falling Rock Tap House tonight. 8-9pm. (303) 293-8338

September 25-27:Oktoberfest on Larimer Street in Downtown Denver. Nonstop live music, German foods and Paulaner brews. Watch them start "Das Hustle Hoff" 5k and 10K road race, "The Long Dog Derby" dachshund race, costume contest and the crowning of Mr. Oktoberfest.

September 26: Dr. Bill's Annual GABF Falling Rock Tap House Beer Tasting. Dr. Bill will take over the downstairs of the Falling Rock Tap House for his wonderful night of rare and exotic beers. He will be pouring over 100 amazing brews including Santa's Little Helper aged in Bourbon barrels, Angel's Share, Cuvee de Tomme, Duck Duck Gooze, Bottleworks 10th Anniversary Wild Ale, and much, much more. You can even bring beer that you want to share. A $20 contribution helps pay for the beers and tip the wait staff. 9pm-2am (303) 293 - 8338

You can check out more events on their online events calendar

Photos from past GABF's

I'm starting to get pretty excited about attending this year's GABF and the first ever Pints for Prostate's Rare Beer Tasting. I was looking back through photos from the last few GABF's and decided to post some since they're from before I started this blog. The first photo is of the enormous crowd of people waiting to get in. Although there is supposed to be a VIP ticket entrance for those who are members of the American Homebrewers Association, that won't help you for the Saturday afternoon session when EVERYONE is a member. My advice, get there early.

Here's a walk through a fuzzy memory lane...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The GABF is great, but what else is there to do?

You're in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, but what do you do when you're not wandering from booth to booth on the convention floor during one of the tasting sessions? Seek out more beer to drink, of course. Denver is one of the best beer cities and there are a plenty of breweries, brewpubs and beer bars in the area to visit. If you want an easy way to find everything and see it on a map, check out the City Beer Map for Denver and surrounding area on The Beer Mapping Project website.

Here's a few places that I recommend if you're staying downtown (in no particular order):

Rock Bottom Brewery (Brewpub) - Only a couple blocks from the convention center and on the 16th Street Mall, it makes a great place to meet up and grab a bite before and/or after the GABF tasting sessions.
Falling Rock Tap House (Beer Bar) - Probably one of the best beer bars in Denver. Located in the trendy LoDo area, its got a great selection of draft and bottled beer.
Wynkoop Brewery (Brewpub) - Colorado's oldest brewpub. Great place to grab a fresh pint and some good food.
Great Divide Brewing Co (Brewery) - Stop by their Tap Room for a sample of their beers and take a tour of the only micro-brewery in downtown.
The Cheeky Monk (Belgian Beer Cafe) - Great selection of Belgian beers on tap and in the bottle as well as good food.

There are also various beer bars and brewpubs scattered around the greater Denver area. The Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery is long time favourite of mine, particularly for the Sunday brunch.

If you have a car and a designated driver, you can also make a short road trip out to Fort Collins (New Belgium, Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins Brewing) or Longmont (Oskar Blues Brewery, Left Hand Brewing Company) or Boulder (Avery Brewing Company, Boulder Beer Company, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery) to name but a few places.

Anyone have any additional suggestions to mention??

Monday, September 14, 2009

GABF Event Networking Site and Tools

The new interactive website and tools that was hinted at when the list of attending breweries was announced a few weeks ago is finally available on the GABF website.  The GABF's new Event Networking Site will allow you to:
  • View an interactive map of the festival.
  • Review details about breweries and events.
  • View brewery listings by company name, booth numbers, or recently updated profiles
  • Filter brewery listings by Location, Judge Only, and Small & Independent!
  • Sort events by popularity, time, and name. Registered users can indicate which events they are attending.
Registered users can:
  • Build a personal profile.
  • Create a list of breweries they want to visit and their booth numbers.
  • Add an event, like a book signing or seminar, to their unique schedule. Schedules can be printed and/or exported to iCal or Outlook.
  • Leave comments for breweries and about events.
  • Post comments for other registered users to see.
  • Send messages to other registered users.
  • Create a list of contacts.

I've created a profile, but I haven't played around on it too much yet.  Looks like its got some pretty useful tools such as the ability to create a list of the brewery booths you want to visit.  Its only 10 days until the festival begins, so its good time to starting planning your time in Denver.

My Twitter Map from the Beer Mapping Project

I used the Beer Mapping Project's Twitter Map function for the first time during our trip to create a map of all the beer locations that I visited.  Basically, as I visited each beer bar or brewery, I created a twitter post from the Beer Mapping Project mobile interface that embedded a code for that location in my tweet.  The Twitter Map application uses those codes to post the locations on a map and notes the date and time.  It's a fun and easy way to keep track of when and where you've been.  You can checkout my Twitter Map from our recent trip here.  The locations are listed in reverse order, so the last place I visited (Rogue Ales Public House) is listed first.  Zoom in to the Portland and Seattle areas to see the locations I visited during our trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is that the Rogue Brewery down there?

"Is that the Rogue Brewery down there?"
"What? Where? I don't know."
"Looks like it. It says Rogue on the roof and there's a lot of big tanks around it."

D'oh!! How could we be driving through Newport, OR and I completely forget that the Rogue Brewery is located there?!? Thanks to my observant wife who spotted the brewery as we were driving across the bridge, the potential tragedy of missing out on fresh Rogue beers in their hometown was averted. Since we also wanted to grab some lunch, we went to the Rogue Ales Public House across the bay from the brewery instead of the brewery itself. Various beers from Rogue are available down here in Texas, but there were many listed on the board that I had never heard of. Knowing we were only there for a quick lunch before continuing our drive up the Oregon coast, I settled on ordering half-pints so I could experience a few more beers. The notable ones were:

Latona 20th Anniversary Ale - An American Strong Ale, it was brewed in honour of the first draft account for Rogue in Seattle. Its brewed using only one malt (a special aromatic malt from France) and one hop (a new variety of Mt. Rainier hops).

Sesquicentennial Ale - Brewed in honour of Oregon celebrating 150 years of statehood and designed to showcase Oregon-grown Ingredients. I really enjoyed this one and picked up a bottle of it to bring back.

Menage a Frog Ale - A Belgian Style Trippel that is actually brewed at the Issaquah Brewhouse in Seattle which was acquired by Rogue Brewing in 2000. It was fantastic and I bought a bottle of this to bring back as well.

As far as the food goes, I had the best fish and chips that I've ever tasted. The fish was moist and juicy with a light batter that had lots of dill mixed right in it. I think it may have ruined me for any other fish and chips.

At our server's insistence, I joined the Rogue Nation which then got us a discount on our bill as well as on the bottles of beer I bought to take home. In addition to the Menage a Frog Ale and Sesquicentennial Ale, I also brought back a bottle of their Smoke Ale. I had no idea they even made a Rauchbier. We can buy their Chipotle Ale down here and I often pair it with barbecue, so I'm looking forward to doing the same with their Smoke Ale.

I could have easily spent the rest of the afternoon working through the list of their beer, but we had more beautiful Oregon coast to see as we made our way up to Cannon Beach for the night.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Portland Beer and Pub Roundup

Portland truly is beervana. Thanks to clean mountain water and a perfect environment for growing an abundance of hops and high quality grain, Oregon has enjoyed a long brewing history. When I started looking at beer places to visit in Portland, I quickly realized that there was way more places then we actually had time for, so I had to narrow it down to the ones that were recommended and/or the ones I had already heard about.

Henry's 12th Street Tavern - Restaurant and bar with over 100 beer on tap. It was pretty crowded and busy when we arrived Saturday evening, and were told it would be a 20 ~ 30 min wait for a table, but we were seated in less then 10. I had been on the Brew Bus tour during the afternoon and was a little "beered out" for the day, but enjoyed a S1NISTOR Black Ale from 10 Barrel Brewing before dinner and a Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA with my steak. Located in the Pearl District of downtown, its a little upscale and reminded me of the Tap House Grill in Seattle.  Great food and a nice tap list.

Horse Brass Pub - A Portland institution that was definitely on my list of places that I want to visit. Traditional English pub atmosphere but with 50+ beers tap, most of them being beers I haven't tried or even heard of. We had just had dinner at Henry's, so we only stayed long enough for a couple of beers. Most of the reviews complained about surly staff, but our server was relatively friendly, just a little slow at bringing the check. Its a little out of the way, but certainly worth going to.

Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub - We originally attempted to go for lunch at a place across the street that had been highly recommended, but it was packed with a long wait. Parking is hard to find in dowtown Portland and it was pouring rain, so we decided to just run across the street to the Deschutes Pub instead and were were glad we did. Nice and open with high ceilings and lots of room between tables. The food was awesome, I had the split pea and ham soup and my wife had the french onion which was probably the best I ever tasted. The Black Butte Porter BBQ chicken pizza was awesome with a crispy thin crust. I've had a few of the Deschutes beers already, so I order a sampler tray and picked six that I hadn't had before:

Higgin's Restaurant and Bar - I originally found out about Higgin's on the Beer Nutz TV show. The hosts on the show were terrible but they did showcase some great beer places around the country and this was one of them. Small and quiet, particularly when compared to Henry's, we sat in the bar area instead of the main restaurant. The tap menu is not large at only 12, but the bottle menu is quite extensive. We shared an appetizers and what was probably the best burger I've ever had. Its made from spiced beef sirloin freshly ground at the restaurant each day.  It was here that I finally got to have my first Fred brewed by Hair of the Dog.

There are still so many more beer places that I want to visit in Portland and I'd love to attend the Oregon Brewers Festival at least once.  My wife liked Portland as well and loved the time we spent along the Oregon coast, so chances are pretty good that we'll actually get back up there again.

One extra thing I'll note is that there are Rogue Brewing and Laurelwood Brewing pubs located inside security at the Portland airport.  We had dinner and a few beers at the Laurewood pub as the Rogue was already closed (our flight left at midnight).  There was also a vendor cart outside our gate that sold almost every Rogue beer in 22oz bottles as well as growlers of Dead Guy Ale and you can carry your purchases onto the plane! Unfortunately, the vendor card was already closed as I probably would have purchased a few more bottles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brews at the Rare Beer Tasting Announced

Rick Lyke has announced the list of the rare beers that will be served at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting.  And after reviewing the list, there's maybe one beer (Alaskan Smoked Porter, but I don't remember the year) that I've actually had. Awesome!  If you were waiting until you saw the list before buying your ticket, its too late, its sold out.  If you do have a ticket, then I'll see you there!

Riding the Portland Brew Bus

Portland (and Oregon in general) is one of the best beer places in the country (if not the best). There are over 35 breweries in the Portland metro area and over 90 in the state. A few of them are located in the downtown area, but the rest are spread around and not easily accessible by public transit. My wife mentioned that I was interested in the beer scene in Portland while we were talking to the concierge after checking in at our hotel and she mentioned the Saturday afternoon Brew Bus tour. My wife was interested in wandering around the art festival and the Pearl District that afternoon and strongly urged me to go. I took the hint and a quick phone call later, my wife was dropping me off beside a school bus next to a guy with a long grey ponytail and wearing a shirt with beer mugs all over it. This was Jim Long, the tour guide as well as local historian, author and inventor of the blue pages in the phone book (for those who remember what a phone book is).

There was 24 of us on the bus, not including Jim and a first-time driver of the tour bus who spoke broken english and didn't know his way around Portland very well. The tour lasted 5 hours and we managed to visit 4 breweries, an average number, Jim said, based on the size of the group. As we drove between breweries, Jim entertained us with stories of the local brewing scene, historical facts about the area and general beer knowledge.

Hopworks Urban Brewery - Probably the most "green" brewery I've ever seen with all organic brewed beer and powered by 100% renewable energy. The beers were all very good with the stout and ESB (cask) being my favourite. Beers sampled:

  • HUB Lager
  • Crostown Pale Ale
  • Velvet ESB
  • Hopworks IPA
  • Seven Grain Stout
  • Deluxe Organic Ale
  • ESB (cask)
  • Ace of Spades Imperial IPA
Amnesia Brewing - According to our guide, Amnesia Brewing was opened about five years ago by a former brewer from Rogue Brewing. It's located in a small converted garage or warehouse, but the brewer who gave us a quick tour (guy in the red hat in the photo) said they're moving to a new location and expanding their operations. However, these were probably the beers that I liked the least during our tour and I was not alone on that feeling. They were all just okay at best and some had an odd sour like flavour in the finish. Beers sampled:

  • Goldie Hops Summer Ale
  • Dusty Trail Pale
  • Slow Train Porter
  • The ESB
  • Desolation IPA
  • Copacetic IPA

MacTarnahan's Brewing Co (Pyramid) - Formerly the Portland Brewing Company, it was bought by Pyramid Breweries in 2004 which was then purchased by Magic Hat Brewing Company in 2008. This location was named after Robert MacTarnahan who was one of the original investors in Portland Brewing Company. Although its located in the middle of a commercial warehouse district, it has a nice restaurant and bar that overlooks huge copper kettles, We were all provided with free orders of their rosemary and garlic fries as a snack, but a lot of the people ordered food as well. Their beers are generally good, but typically not well regarded by beer geeks as they're often thought of as being too mainstream. My favourite of their beers was actually one that was not part of our official sampling. On the way out, I noticed a stack of Lip Stinger Farmhouse Ale and asked one of the employees about it. Its a Belgian farmhouse ale spiced with black peppercorns. He was surprised we hadn't sampled it and quickly poured a couple of us a glass. Very tasty and the use of peppercorns were a nice change from the more typically used coriander. We were being rushed back to the bus, otherwise I would have bought a bottle. Beers sampled:

  • Audactious Apricot
  • Haywire Hefeweizen
  • Ale House Amber
  • Honey Beer
  • Curve Ball Blonde
Lucky Labrador Brewery - We visited the beer hall location which is in an old Freightliner Trucking warehouse. Its essentially just a huge wide-open space with long rows of tables and chairs. Their beers were all generally good, but nothing that particularly stood out from the rest. However, this was our last stop and we were pretty much rushed through the sampling in order to get back in time.

  • Crazy Ludwig's Alt
  • Super Dog IPA
  • Stumptown Porter
  • Brown Brown

Overall, I'd have to say that Hopworks Urban Brewery was the definitely the winner of the day. They had a good variety of styles on tap and I genuinely liked all of their beers that we sampled. Although busy, the brewpub looked liked a cool place to hangout and it actually reminded me of Austin (probably from the whole organic and green vibe they had going). I would definitely recommend it and I'd probably try to get back to it the next time I'm ever in Portland.

If travelling to Portland, I would recommend hopping aboard the Brew Bus Tour. The breweries that are visited during the tour can vary each time depending on the size of the group and how busy the various breweries are that day.  We got around to a few that I would have otherwise probably not visited and Jim did a great job of both informing and entertaining us. Here are a few more photos from the tour and of our tour guide: