May 29, 2015

Be Cool Pale Craft Lager

One of the most interesting trends in brewing right now is the whole craft lager thing that is taking lagers beyond the constraints of the mass-produced lager or the delicious but stuffy continental European styles. The most prominent substyle of whatever we are calling the craft lager style is certainly the India Pale Lager, or IPL. It's unsurprising that American brewers went after transforming lager styles in the same way brewers in the 80s and 90s took English styles and transformed them into hoppy beers flush with American hop varieties. With the popularity of IPA it should be no surprise that commercial brewers went right for the gold mine in craft lagers with IPLs. However, there are lots of interesting and delicious craft lagers that are not so closely tied to IPA and fall more in line with APAs that feature the big hop flavor and aroma of APA but with the malt character and smooth hop bitterness of a German or Czech lager. This particular beer is designed to be in that amorphous APA-like craft lager (APL?) with a mix of American and European hops with a fruity profile.

The genesis of this beer goes back to GABF and an idea born at the end of some solid drinking during the members only session with my wife and the husband and wife team who own the majority interest in Denver's new Tiny Ass Brewery. BSG gave away samples of the Irish Stout pale malt and we decided since we had exactly the same grain from these samples that we would do a head to head brewing competition using the grain. The rules we set out were simple: only this grain can be used for the beer (which ensures a small one gallon batch of ~5% beer); the only manipulation to the grain would be smoking it (so no use of the oven to make specialty malts out of it); the only ingredients permitted are malt, water, yeast and hops; and it has to be a lager. He went straight for the idea of smoking the grain. That's something I would have done but I decided if he was going to take my route in the competition then I would take a page out of his book and brew something hoppy.

The recipe mostly speaks for itself with its lengthy hop schedule but I thought I would make a couple notes about the beer. The hop combination is an adaptation of the hop schedule from my kellerpils and Melting Point Saison which gave me some experience with Aurora and Celeia hops, which have a nice fruity character that seem perfect for a craft lager recipe. I thought those hops would pair nicely with cascade. There is also a small amount of dry hops out of my garden which is an unspecified blend of cascade and mount hood. (The bines were too intertwined to pick out which hops were which so I just dried them all together.)

The other issue to point out (if only for my future reference) is the balance of bitterness. I wanted to capture a firm bitterness in this beer but balance it against the malt to get a crisp character rather than the aggressive bitterness of an IPA. I agree with the general consensus that craft lagers, even IPLs, shouldn't have the same aggressive bitterness as an IPA as it defeats the delicateness of a lager. To accomplish that mix I am using a modified version of a Pilsen water profile with slightly more sulfate. Normally pale ales use a very hard water supply with a huge amount of sulfate but I felt like I got excellent hop character out of my kellerpils and felt like that was a better starting point than a harder water profile. There does not seem to be much discussion about the right water profile for the craft lager styles although everybody seems to agree it does not need the aggressiveness of an IPA or APA.

So with all that in mind, here comes the recipe.

Be Cool Pale Craft Lager

Batch size: 1 gallon
Est. OG: 1.052
Est. FG: 1.016
Est. ABV: 4.7%
Est. Color: 3.6 SRM

Grist

1 lb. Irish Stout Malt [2 SRM]

Water

1 gallon mash water
0.63 gallons sparge water
Water adjusted to custom water profile in Bru'n Water

Water Profile

Calcium: 7
Magnesium: 3
Sodium: 2
Sulfate: 19
Chloride: 6
Bicarbonate: -128
PH: 5.2

Mash Additions

Gypsum 0.1g
Epsom salt: 0.1g
Calcium chloride: 0.1g
Lactic Acid: 0.7ml

Sparge Additions

Epsom salt: 0.1g
Lactic acid: 0.3ml

Mash Schedule

1. Add 1 gallon at 130F for 122F rest for 12 minutes
2. Decoct 1.31qt and boil
3. Return decoction to raise temperature to 146F for 40 minutes
4. Decoct 0.89qt and boil
5. Return decoction to raise temperature to 158F for 30 minutes
6. Sparge with 0.63 gallons at 180F

Boil & Hop Schedule

60 minute boil

0.15 oz. Celeia [4.5%] first wort hop for 13.8 IBU
0.07 oz. Belma [12.10%] at 60 minutes for 15.8 IBU
0.20 oz. Aurora [8.25%] at 10 minutes for 11.1 IBU
0.20 oz. Cascade [5.5%] at 10 minutes for 7.4 IBU
0.10 oz. Celeia [4.5%] at 10 minutes for 3 IBU
0.30 oz. Aurora [8.25] at 0 minutes for 0 IBU
0.10 oz. Cascade [5.5%] at 0 minutes for 0 IBU

0.10 oz. Cascade dry hop for 3 days
0.20 oz. Aurora dry hop for 3 days
0.20 oz. Cascade/Mt. Hood home-grown hop mix dry hop for 3 days

Fermentation

Ferment with slurry of Budvar 2000 with oxygen at pitching
Pitch at 50F and begin raise 1 degree every 12 hours 3 days after fermentation begins until reach 60F.
Raise to room temperature at 90% attenuation and leave for 2 weeks with dry hopping the last three days.
Bottle and carbonate for three days. Then lager in bottles for three weeks.

Brew Day & Fermentation Notes

Brewed on 12/15/14.

First runnings: 1.063
Pre-boil gravity: 1.045
Pre-boil volume: 1.5 gal.
Mash efficiency: 93%
Post-boil volume: 1.2 gal.
Post-boil gravity: 1.055
Efficiency: 91%

12/30/14: FG: 1.015
1/1/15: Dry hopped

May 26, 2015

Proletariat Sour Rye Pale Ale with Tempranillo-Soaked Oak

This sour rye pale ale is the second beer in my new sour blending program. In the intro post I discussed my desire to add rye to the mix and to include a beer with some bitterness over strictly lactic acid production. This beer fits that role. It is designed closely upon Firestone Walker's Barrelworks Agrestic, which is a soured version of their flagship Double Barrel Ale (DBA). DBA is an English pale ale at around 30 IBU with a lot of vanilla-oak character from their union fermentation system. Thanks to the apparently alpha acid-resistant lactobacillus in their possession they have no problem souring this pale ale. Agrestic also has brett, further drying out the beer and transforming all that oak and hop flavor into an interesting complexity of funk. The bitterness in Agrestic is present but does not clash with the acidity. Instead it melds well and creates a more interesting acid profile. That is my goal here.

The recipe for this rye pale ale used the Can You Brew It? recipe as a starting point for this recipe. I substituted out some of the pale malt for a blend of flaked rye and rye malt for some complexity to the rye flavor with rye making up approximately 30% of the grain bill. For this first batch I opted for a lower IBU target at 24 just to make it a little easier on the mixed fermentation culture. For the flavor additions I have targeted 30 minutes and whirlpool. Firestone Walker uses lots of mid-boil hop additions, although they have mostly fallen out of favor in homebrewing, so I have followed suit with a 30 minute addition. Both the 30 minute and whirlpool additions will be experimental hops 4190 which are reported to be the mix of character from Fuggles and Cascade. I thought that split the difference between an English-influenced pale ale and an American-influenced pale ale. EXP 4190 doesn't seem to be too popular of a hop and that's probably because Fuggles isn't a very popular hop. I picked these up on a deep discount so if they aren't impressive hops I won't feel bad about sacrificing them for brett to manipulate.

The hard work in this beer will be performed by the dregs of a bottle of Firestone Walker Barrelworks Lil Opal (2013) aided along with some fresh US05. I am most interested in culturing the lactobacillus from the beer so I can take advantage of the hop resistant strain employed in their Barrelworks program. I also want the brett, of course. I believe I will end up with some saison yeast in the mix as well which is fine. I'm fermenting this beer far cooler than I normally ferment saisons and do not expect the saison yeast to be too dominant. The starter smells strongly of the cheesy acidity of lactic acid so I think the lactobacillus has held up and is hungry for a larger buffet.

I've long wanted to try to produce a wine barrel-aged sour beer (without the barrel) and picked the more neutral tempranillo for this beer. Tempranillo is predominately leather-earth and berries which I expect will play nicely with the brett funk and add some fruitiness to the overall flavor. I have some oak cubes that have aged in a mason jar with tempranillo wine for about eight months and plan to unload all the oak (I believe it is an ounce of cubes) and all the wine (the mason jar is close to full) into the beer as it goes into the fermentor with the expectation of getting back out of it a hint of the wine and oak. I can always add more if I want before bottling.

Proletariat Sour Rye Pale Ale with Tempranillo-Soaked Oak

Batch size: 5 gallons
Est. ABV: 5.5%
Est. IBU: 24.4
Est. OG: 1.054
Est. FG: 1.012
Est. SRM: 9.1

Grain Bill

57.1% 6 lb. U.S. pale malt [2 SRM]
19.0% 2 lb. Flaked rye [2 SRM]
9.5% 1 lb. Rye malt [4.7 SRM]
9.5% 1 lb. Munich malt [9 SRM]
2.4% 4 oz. Crystal 80 [80 SRM]
2.4% 4 oz. Crystal 120 [120 SRM]

Mash Schedule

75 minute mash at 152F
Infuse 13.65 qt at 166.6F
Sparge 4.62 gal at 185F

Water Profile

Calcium: 50
Magnesium: 16
Sodium: 10
Chloride: 50
Sulfate: 110
Bicarbonate: 33
PH:  5.4

Mash Additions

Gypsum 1.1g
Epsom salt 2g
Canning salt 0.3g
Calcium chloride 0.9g
Chalk 0.3g

Sparge Additions

Gypsum 1.5g
Epsom salt 2.8g
Canning salt 0.5g
Calcium Chloride 1.2g

Boil Schedule

60 minute boil
0.37 oz. Belma [12.10%] at 60 min 15.1 IBU
1.00 oz. EXP 4190 [3.6%] at 30 min 9.3 IBU
1.00 oz. EXP 4190 [3.6%] at whirlpool 0 IBU

Fermentation Schedule

Pitch 1/2 packet of dry US-05 and 12oz. starter from bottle of Lil Opal

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 5/12/15.

Accidentally substituted a pound of munich for pound of two row.

First runnings:1.079
Pre-boil volume: 6.5g
Pre-boil gravity: 1.046
Mash efficiency: 80%

Post-boil volume: 5 gal
Post-boil gravity: 1.051
Brewhouse efficiency: 68%

Pitched 1 l. acidophilus at 130F as wort cooled. At 100 pitched slurry grown from FW Lil Opal.

Pitched half packet of US-05 approximately 24 hours later. Added dregs from Jolly Pumpkin bottle approximately six months later.

May 17, 2015

Belgian Brown Sour Batch 1

This brown ale is the first brew for my sour blending project. It was originally crafted for a prior blended beer with brettanomyces that turned out pleasant enough that I thought it deserved a spot in this new project. This brown ale doesn't fit in any classic style. It's not quite a dubbel although it proudly uses a Belgian trappist strain (WY 1214) and special B but without candy syrup or other crystal malts typical for the style. It's not hoppy enough to be an American brown ale and lacks pretty much anything aside from the color that resembles an English brown ale. So it's a Belgian brown ale by default. I am unconcerned with the style identification of this beer; I only point this out to avoid misleading anybody into believing this is a sour dubbel recipe.

This beer will play the role of one of the core beers in my sour blending process by providing acidity, malt character and brett complexity. As discussed in the introductory post to the project, each beer brings distinct elements so they can be blended together across a wide range of flavor profiles, ABV, color and body. This beer will be the easiest to acidify as it is the lightest on IBUs and ABV although the grain bill and yeast flavor compounds will provide a flavor profile similar to but distinct from Flemish reds.

For this batch I am taking up a new (for me) approach to souring this beer. I am pitching WY 1214 and a starter of lactobacillus grown from lactobacillus acidophilus pills I picked up at a local health food store. I know a number of people have had good luck sourcing lactobacillus this way and it is good insurance that the beer will develop some sourness as I do not have enough sour beers on hand to culture enough dregs for a five gallon batch. I will be massively underpitching the brett, pedio and whatever else is in the dregs. I do not expect brett to find a problem picking up steam and fermenting out this beer but I am concerned that the beer won't sour sufficiently without some extra help and the lactobacillus pitch in the beginning will go a long way towards that goal.

The lactobacillus comes from a bottle of straight lactobacillus acidophilus in which each pill supposedly has one billion cells. I pitched four pills into a 500 ml starter of 1.030 wort approximately twenty four hours ahead of pitching everything into the wort. I am not entirely sure how much growth I will get but as long as I can get the cells active and healthy they will be in good shape to compete with the yeast.

Sour Belgian Brown Ale Recipe

Batch size: 5.5 gallons
Est. OG: 1.050
Est. FG:1.010
Est. ABV: 5.3%
Est. IBU: 13
Est. SRM: 16

Grain Bill

45% 4 lb. 12 oz. U.S. pale malt (2 SRM)
26% 2 lb. 12 oz. Munich malt (9 SRM)
23.7% 2 lb. 8 oz. Vienna malt (3.5 SRM)
3.6% 6 oz. Special B (180 SRM)
1.7% 3 oz. Black patent malt (500 SRM)

Water Profile

Water profile designed on amber malty profile in Bru'n Water

Mash Water - 4.49 gal | Mash ph 5.4

Gypsum 1g
Epsom salt 0.9g
Canning salt 0.5g
Calcium chloride 1.8g
Chalk 0.5g

Sparge Water - 4 gal

Gypsom 0.9g
Epsom salt 0.8g
Canning salt 0.4g
Calcium chloride 1.6g

Mash Schedule

Single decoction schedule
Mash in 4.49 gal at 158F for 150F rest for 40 minutes
Decoct 2.82 qt and raise to boil
Add decoction to raise to 158F for 35 minutes

Boil Schedule

60 minute boil
0.25 oz. Belma [12.10% AAU] at 60 minutes
0.15 oz. Belma [12.10% AAU] at 20 minutes

Fermentation Schedule

Pitch 1.7 liter starter of WY1214 and 500 ml starter of lactobacillus grown from four tablets of l. acidophilus at 65F and hold for 24 hours
Free rise to 75F for remainder of fermentation
Pitch bottle dregs when fermentation is complete

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 4/4/15
First runnings: 1.070
Preboil gravity: 1.035
Preboil volume 7.6 gal
Mash efficiency: 80%
Postboil gravity: 1.055
Postboil volume: 5.25 gal

Pitched lactobacillus around 120F during cooling and let cool at ambient. Pitched yeast when cooled to 70F approximately six hours later.

4/10/15: Gravity 1.009

5/6/15: Added approximately 50ml of slurry of Oregon Special (mix of dregs from Ale Apothecary Sahalie, Double Mountain Tahoma Kriek, Anchorage Andronomous, Deschutes Armory, De Garde Desay Petit)

May 9, 2015

Back at it in Oregon -- 2015 Part 3

In this final post I'll chat about my time at Ale Apothecary and the Deschutes production brewery. I'll hit off Deschutes first.

Our friends at Deschutes suggested we take the tour to see the new bottling line that spits out a six pack of beer in half a second (twice as fast as the old system). The tour begins at the original 50 BBL brewhouse at the production facility. It's still used to make a few of the beers, particularly the darker beers. I spied some interesting notes on a nearby whiteboard. The tour guide said they weren't trying to hide anything so I promptly took this picture.

These notes contain the mash and kettle additions used to create Obsidian Stout, Black Butte Porter, Abyss and Dissident. Thanks to the neutral water profile of Bend water, these dark beers are sufficiently acidified by the dark grains and as you can see only gypsum is added to adjust the water to hit appropriate mash ph with kettle additions on the two bigger beers. I thought I would take a minute to convert this picture into useful brewing information for people attempting to clone Deschutes beers or just trying to dial in a good water profile.

Bend's water supply is:

Calcium 7.8
Magnesium 6.7
Sodium 10.67
Sulfate 1.12
Chloride 2.6
Bicarbonate 85
Ph 8

(This data came from the most recent source I could find: https://thebeerdetective.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/bends-water-quality/.)

To adjust the water profile to match these beers on a five gallon batch you will need to add gypsum in the following amounts to the mash:

Obsidian Stout: 1.74g
Black Butte Porter: 1.29g
Abyss: 2.58g
Dissident: 1.93g

Plus Abyss has a 0.38g kettle addition and dissident has a 0.26g addition.

What's maybe most interesting is the notes for Dissident that discuss "sour wort." It appears that Dissident is soured in the mash and then again in the kettle. The brewery's website only mentions fermentation by brett so the combination of this information suggests Dissident gets all its sourness pre-boil with additions, scaled to a five gallon batch, of 5.36 ounces in the mash and 12.39 ounces in the kettle. That doesn't seem like much but keep in mind that this sour wort is going to concentrate through the boil (lactic acid boils above 212F) and it is already some sour stuff. Ale Apothecary, whose head brewer came from Deschutes, also uses a sour wort that is down around 3 ph so if Deschutes is using a similar sour wort then they are probably seeing a moderate sourness (the beer also receives cherries which add additional acidity). Something to consider, particularly as Dissident is a 100% Brett fermented beer.

The Ale Apothecary

The only two ways to visit the magical palace of Ale Apothecary is to either join a tour of breweries that goes out there or schedule a personal visit which Paul Arney, owner of Ale Apothecary, consistently refers to as a "quick show and tell." With CBC occurring the prior week I was concerned he might be behind on brewing chores and unable to make time for us. I invoked all sorts of despicable tactics to beg into a visit while we were in Bend. We exchanged some emails and texts but as the week went on it seemed like it just wasn't in the cards. Then the text came Thursday morning, asking if we could arrive at noon. Yes, obviously. But I was more like:


So we made the drive out to Ale Apothecary, which is located at his house a little ways outside of Bend. There are no street signs and we lost both GPS and cell service so figuring out where to go turned out to be a challenge. Eventually we found it on one of the side streets. There is a weather worn sign that quietly reads: "Apoth?" I guess so.

We pulled in to the gravel driveway and took a peak inside a barn door to a small building and found Paul at work using two pallet jacks to stack barrels in a very tight space. This building was actually the detached garage to the house. It's maybe 600 square feet. Everything is on wheels so he can maximize use of the space. It's tightly packed with upright barrels, barrel racks, the brewhouse, a rack of carboys, bottling space and blending tanks. The pictures on the brewery's website make it seem like there is a lot more space and that the sign is easier to read. Don't be fooled, he has this place filled with equipment like a game of Tetris. There is another warehouse hidden somewhere in town with more barrels where most of the aging occurs.

from thealeapothecary.com
The brewhouse is an unusual set up. The kettle is custom-built equipment of the most unusual combination.  The metal work on the bottom was crafted by an actual blacksmith. The brickwork was provided by a guy who makes pizza ovens and the top copper component was made by a still fabricator. Truly an unusual system.

Paul Arney is an incredibly nice guy who oozes passion about what he does and why he does it. He's a former brewer for Deschutes who turned down a promotion and decided to divert his knowledge and talents to his own business. It is readily apparent that he has all the technical knowledge of a pro brewer but the experimental mind and a willingness to trust his processes to produce the right beer. I've never heard a brewer talk about "magic" in his brewing process with such reverence and casualness. It seems at ease not knowing every detail of the biological processes going on in his beer (referring to it several times as "magic") but also understanding that those same processes are incredibly important. His processes, like his brewhouse, is unusual to commercial brewing.

His beers begin life in two upright barrels used as mash tuns. Previously he used Briess two row as the base for his beers (in his words, because it's the closest he could get to a small malting business) but has recently began purchasing grain from a local malting operation. The beers are mashed overnight. The mash targets the low 150s and overnight cools into the 140s. Paul says the mash works like sort of a reverse step mash with alpha-amylase activated first and beta-amylase as the beer cools. There is also a grey layer on top in the morning, which he attributes to microbial activity (or part of the magic) during the mash. There is no adjustment to the water profile. He just uses Bend's naturally soft water.

The long mash is an important component of the brewing process both for its scientific and magical properties. Part of it is a technical necessity because the deep and narrow mash tun design makes for poor sugar extraction. A longer mash helps the enzymes do their work. The long mash also allows greater color extraction and some oxidation, which adds to the sensory attributes of the final product. This effect is part of the magic. The wort is then drawn off and boiled as in any other brewhouse.

Overall the brewday is about forty hours from mash-in to transfer to the fermentors. (This includes the overnight rest.) There are a few reasons for this. The limited production space limits how much wort can be produced in the mash tuns or kettle at a given time. He also has to align bottling with brewing so there is fresh yeast available for reyeasting beers at bottling which means there has to be some transfers into his bottling tanks and/or barrels contemporaneously with brewing. His operations consist of himself plus two part-time employees so the work can be done only so fast.

Freshly boiled wort for most of the beers is fermented in two puncheons (84 gallon barrels) turned upright with the heads removed. The open top is covered by nylon netting and then later covered with the barrel head to limit oxygen exposure. The mixed fermentation culture in these barrels is a combination of yeast and bacteria that span homebrewing strains, strains from Deschutes and whatever has blown in from the ambient environment through open windows. It took approximately four months to develop this culture, which is balanced between sourness and funk. After primary fermentation the beer is transferred to barrels where it will age for around a year.

Some of the beers, like El Cuatro, are fermented in their own upright barrels. El Cuatro is fermented in a brandy barrel with lacto and brett. No hops are added to the wort so lacto has free range to acidify the beer. The beer comes out of the barrel with quite a bit of alcohol heat but full of a really great plum and cherry flavor. Newer batches of El Cuatro are blended with Sahalie to temper some of the heat. We were treated to samples of both the blended and unblended portions. The blended beer is a completely transformed beer. It is less acidic and Sahalie's citrus/herbal/pine notes blend with the plum and cherry flavors of the base beer to create an incredibly complex beer. I agree with Paul, it's impossible to say which version is the better beer. They are both just great beers in their own right.

Some of the beers are dry hopped. Those that are dry hopped, such as Sahalie, are dry hopped in the barrel. Ale Apothecary only uses cascade hops from a local farm and the hops are left in contact with the beer for a month. Brewing lore says hops in contact with beer for that length of time produces grassy and vegetal notes. Here, there is some truth. The Ale Apothecary beers with more hop character, particularly Sahalie, have a slightly grassy character but it is really more herbal like saaz hops than vegetal. The cascade grapefruit flavor is still there. It's pleasant and unusual.

When it is time to bottle, the beer is transferred into blending tanks where they are blended with the final components before delivered into bottles. Among the barrels of beer there are barrels of wort soured exclusively by lactobacillus. Paul was clear that this isn't beer--it's sour wort. The language was very similar to the sour wort mentioned on that Deschutes white board so I have to wonder about his connection to that process as Deschutes. The barrel aged sour wort on hand was about eighteen months old and down to a tart 3 ph. We were also given samples of the sour wort, which had the unmistakable cheesy aroma of lactic acid. It was incredibly complex for something fermented only with lactobacillus. I've had sour beers with less character.

The sour wort is boiled with various sugars and added to the bottling tanks at a rate of five gallons to 2BBL. The sugars prime the beer and the sour wort adds structure to the beer. I mentioned the sour wort addition as a ph adjustment and Paul was quick to clarify that he is not concerned with ph, just with the structure the added acidity provides. However, he did point out that he targets around 3.7 ph for most of the beers with a few going lower, like El Cuatro around 3.5. Many consider 3.7 a high target for sour beer, which can drift down to 3 (and occasionally a little lower), but balance and complexity are the goals for The Ale Apothecary. The tanks are then reyeasted and the beer is bottled. Paul isn't concerned with blending batches, aside from El Cuatro, for consistency. He is happy to let each release have its own distinct and evolving character.

The beers produced through this process are among the most complex I've ever come across, if not outright the most complex. They are not the most sour or the most brett-forward but the overall character of the beer is deep and unique. Unfortunately there is no desire to expand The Ale Apothecary so wider distribution is improbable and the prices will likely remain at the wallet-punishing price of $30/750ml. I'm glad I bit the bullet and enjoyed a couple bottles while in Bend and brought home the dregs in a mix of a few sour bottles picked up along the way.

May 3, 2015

Back at it Oregon -- 2015 Part 2

In the last part I reviewed my playtime in Portland and Hood River and now it's on to Bend. We spent a week in Bend--actually staying in a time share in Redmond just north of Bend. Last trip we conquered the Bend Ale Trail so this time we came equipped knowing what we wanted to enjoy and gave ourselves the opportunity to relax and just enjoy the scenery and the beers we wanted to revisit. The time share where we stayed was, like much of central Oregon, covered in juniper trees full of juniper berries ripe and at arm's length away. I plucked a couple ounces of berries and brought them home. I'm not sure what kind of beer I will brew with them but it's something to mull over (no pun intended).

10 Barrel Brewing

I have mixed thoughts about the 10 Barrel acquisition by AB InBev. Apparently so do people in Bend. After the acquisition, I'm told, the Bend pub dried out but people slowly came back. When we visited it was crowded and there were no protesters to be found. Bend is serious about its local-first attitude so I wasn't too surprised by people scurrying away after the acquisition and a little surprised that they were moving on like nothing had changed. The beers were still good. I still enjoyed the Night Ryed'r rye porter and cucumber berliner weisse. My wife tried out their peach pepper berliner weisse and although it wasn't what I was in the mood for it was an interesting beer. I wonder if all of the AB InBev acquisitions are coming out with more pumpkin and peach beers to spite the parent's advertising.

Good Life Brewing

We enjoyed a few of the beers at Good Life last year and decided to come back and revisit some beers. They have upgraded the taproom to a more service-forward model that featured fewer Good Life beers and more guest taps. I'm not sure if the decision to serve less house beer in the taproom was motivated by a desire to sell more beer to distribution (or a need to fulfill distributor orders) or attempting to improve sales through diversification. It looks as though a distillery is moving into the space as well--probably contracting wort production from Good Life--so that will be an interesting development. This trip we revisted the 29ers brown ale which is somewhere between an English and American brown ale and tried out G 2 imperial IRA collaboration with Terminal Gravity. We thought the G2 was a little thin and flat in malt flavor so we made a blend of 25% 29ers and 75% G2 and that made an excellent beer. I saw the waitress eyeballing us during our blending and she didn't seem to find it amusing.


Crux Fermentation Project

Crux has made good use out of the old ARCO transmission station they converted to a brewery and even if you don't like the beer the food made in the tiny kitchen in the corner is worth the trip to the Old Mill district. We revisted the Banished Freakcake oud bruin and hefeweissen but had a better time gulping down the black IPA American stout Let's Get Roasted and Banished wild golden sour ale collaboration with Crooked Stave. The golden sour ale was very interesting. When first served the flavor was somewhat muted with a cider-like taste. As it warmed the cider flavor mellowed into golden raisin and showed off more complexity with funk and oak. It's hard to say I've seen a beer change so much over the course of warming. I realized all of the beers at Crux are served way, way too cold. You really need to order a beer and give it a good 10-15 minutes to warm up to really enjoy it.

Boneyard Brewing

Boneyard makes interesting use of the taproom which only serves samples (or a flight of samples) or fills growlers to go. No pints are served and no bottles are sold. Growler fills are reasonable, particularly considering they are draft only and growlers are the only way to get their beer without drinking at a bar. Boneyard is best known for their hoppy offerings although they are no slouches to other styles such as their Backbone chocolate espresso stout or their habanero-infused rojo beers. We put down a full growler of Armored Fist imperial black IPA and a growler of Notorious triple IPA. There is good debate whether Notorious is better than Pliny the Elder at its own game and I tend to agree. There, I said it.

Deschutes Bend Pub

The Bend pub is Deschutes' original location where the pub continues to brew mostly pub exclusives including one of the original Deschutes beers, Bachelor Bitter, which can only be found at the Bend pub. The Bend pub produces an interesting line of beers in addition to offering the standard line up, including Bad Attitude baltic porter, Ranch House saison and a smattering of IPAs with new hops like Clemintina IPA with clemintina hops. The Bend pub also features cask ales and I sucked down a couple Bachelor Bitters on cask that were really pleasant. I also enjoyed Chucklehead, a berliner weisse with spruce tips, fir tips and juniper berries. It was nicely balanced and tasted a lot like my hike along the Deschutes River smelled. I also developed a solid half and half with Obsidian stout on nitro and Inversion IPA. All the roast of Obsidian with the herbal, woodsy hop character of Inversion.

One thing I find wise about Deschutes is that they interrelate some of their bigger beer offerings with their staples, for example, Mirror Mirror barleywine is based on Mirror Pond Pale Ale. It allows the brewers to work with the ingredients and flavors already known in the beers they brew every day and makes cross-selling the bigger beers easier for people who are already familiar with the core line up. This is true for Jubel 2015, recently released, which takes the winter ale Jubelale to greater proportions into a 10% ale with intense caramel, raisin, fig and spiciness that is reminiscent of Jubelale but also doesn't feel like it's just a scaled up version.

Following this same vein, Deschutes also releases bigger beers that are pub exclusives, brewed at the pubs and generally only available for sale at the pubs. This includes current release (with dwindling supply) The Specialist that takes Bachelor Bitter to barleywine status (imperial bitter, according to Deschutes) and then aged in a combination of bourbon, pinot and sherry barrels. It is wonderfully malty with a clear barrel influence. The pinot barrel is the loudest but the bourbon is in there adding caramelly sweetness and the sherry is rounding out the fruit flavors in the beer. I've seen reviews come down on this beer that it isn't terribly impressive but I think those reviews are wrong and will be absurdly wrong after a year or two of aging.

I'll put up a third post on this trip with some brewing info gleamed from the Deschutes production facility and my glorious trip to Ale Apothecary.