Vegas Bartender Wins Top U.S. Honors

It’s a competition that starts with a “Purification,” includes a “Sacrifice,” “Beheading” and “Judgment; and for Las Vegas bartender Greg Black, it ended with a “Championship.” A bartender since 1997, Black, best mastered the nine-step Belgian beer pouring ritual Tuesday night to win the Stella Artois Draught Master Competition held at Lavo Nightclub.

Black will now represent the U.S. against more than 30 other countries at the World Draught Master Competition in Leuven, Belgium this October.

“Cracking open a can or popping the cap off a bottle is easy, but preparing a beer following the strict standards of the Belgian Pouring Ritual takes a lot more care and attention to detail,” said Black. “At the Draught Master Competition you know every step of the pouring ritual will be highly scrutinized. To be named champion and able to represent the U.S. in Belgium is incredible.”

The Draught Master Competition recognizes the best bartenders for their ability to adhere to the Belgian Pouring Ritual – a nine-step process that includes “purifying” the glassware; “sacrificing” the first beer poured and “beheading” the beer for the perfect head of foam. The timed competition took place in front of a panel of four judges as well as a large audience of consumers and industry experts.

Greg Black

Judges graded the competitors on their ability to pour a perfect glass of Stella Artois and Hoegaarden from draught. Competitors also were judged on how well they opened, poured and served bottles of Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe Blonde. Judges were looking for the perfect pour as well as a showcase of skills, style and personality.

“The Belgians have mastered the art of the perfect pour, which not only ensures the utmost enjoyment of the beer, but also showcases the pouring process itself,” said competition judge Cian Hickey, vice president of draught, Anheuser-Busch InBev. “The pouring skills on display in Las Vegas Tuesday were near perfection and would make any Belgian beer drinker proud. The strong competition also will prepare the U.S. champion to take on the best from around the globe at the World Draught Master finals.”

In 2008, U.S. champion Anthony Alba finished fourth in the World Draught Master finals. It was the highest finish for an American since 2005 when Jessica Waltz took first.


A Pint At the End of the Terminal

If you love beer and do any amount of traveling by plane, you’ll be happy to know that has just published a guide to beer at airports available for free as a pdf.

Airport Guide

The guide includes a look at sixteen U.S. airports, including most of the major one. The guide tells you what type of beer you can find along with the exact terminal and/or concourse where it’s located.


Sierra Nevada To Release Kellerweis

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is set to release Kellerweis Hefeweizen, their newest year-round beer. This is their second year-round release this year, and a great addition to their lineup of world-class beers.

The name Sierra Nevada is synonymous with hops, and lots of them. Kellerweis is an exception to that rule, but fortunately, no less exceptional. Several years ago, the brewers began working with a unique Bavarian hefeweizen yeast strain unknown in this country. This amazingly flavorful yeast was so exciting that they began working on a recipe for a traditional German hefeweizen with the Sierra Nevada twist. Traditional hefeweizen is a style that seems deceptively simple, but in reality is devilishly complex. For years the brewers weren’t satisfied with the beer; something was missing. In a flash of inspiration, an epic trip was arranged. The brewers took a whirlwind tour through the legendary Bavarian wheat breweries to see what they were doing. It was there they realized the advantages of making wheat beer using the traditional system of open fermentation.

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Sierra Nevada had been making a portion of their beer using the difficult and labor-intensive technique of open fermentation for years. Most modern brewery fermentation takes place in closed, stainless-steel tanks; this method is efficient, quick and clean. In closed tanks, however, the yeast doesn’t have the opportunity to coax as much complexity from the fermenting beer. Using shallow open fermentation, the yeast has space to build layers of flavors and aroma that would otherwise be impossible.

After seeing the technique in use in Germany, the inspiration to make Kellerweis in the open system took hold. The name is an homage to the German Keller, meaning cellar—the name breweries give to their fermentation systems, and weis, or weiss—the German name for “white” or wheat beer, hazy with suspended yeast.

Kellerweis is a light and refreshing beer with deep complexity of flavor. The yeast provides hints of fruit flavors and spices, including ripe banana and clove. This hazy-golden beer glows with suspended yeast creating a velvety texture; perfect for a sunny California day. Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis Hefeweizen will be available in 6-packs starting in early summer 2009.


Beer: An American Revolution

In 1920, the National Prohibition Act destroyed the beer industry in the United States, putting some 1,500 breweries out of business. When the “noble experiment” was repealed in 1933, beer lovers rejoiced, and the beer industry staggered back to its feet. The industry had lost much of its diversity, however, and the emergence of national brands in the 1950s and 1960s led to industry consolidation and fewer choices for American beer drinkers. By 1980, there were less than 50 breweries in the U.S.

By the 1980s, American beer had an international reputation as weak and watery as a case of Hamm’s. Most breweries only produced American-style lagers, a light and inexpensive style of beer typically made with rice or corn adjuncts in addition to barley, hops, yeast and water. In 1982, Monty Python’s Eric Idle famously quipped, “We find your American beer is a little like making love in a canoe. It’s fucking close to water.”

What American beer lovers didn’t know at the time was that a revolution was imminent. In 1979, a clerical error in the 21st Amendment was corrected, and for the first time in nearly 50 years it became legal to brew small batches of beer at home. Home brewers who had little interest in cutting costs or making beer with mass appeal began brewing big, flavorful beers in a wide range of styles. Many of these home brewers decided to turn their passion into small businesses, and microbreweries began popping up all over the country.

Today, although mainstream beers still dominate the market, more than 14,00 breweries in the U.S. produce more styles of beer than anywhere else in the world, and American beers routinely dominates international beer competitions.

So the next time you’re at your favorite brewpub, hold your glass up high and celebrate the American beer revolution.

Now playing, on Reason TV:

“Beer: An American Revolution” was written and produced by Paul Feine. Alex Manning was the director of photography and Nick Gillespie is the narrator. Approximately seven minutes.


Killing the Golden Goose: Oregon’s Proposed 1900% Beer Tax Increase Would Decimate Industry

Killing the Golden Goose — The 1900% Beer Tax Hike would be a knife in the heart of Oregon’s Craft Beer Industry.

I recently made a trip up to Portland to attend the “No New Oregon Beer Tax Rally” at the Green Dragon. What I found out about the tax hike proposed by Oregon House Bill 2461 shocked me and left me worried for the future of Oregon’s world famous craft brewing industry. HB 2461 was sponsored by five Oregon Legislatures (Representative CANNON, Senators DINGFELDER and MORRISETTE; Representative DEMBROW, and Senator ROSENBAUM) who will be referred to from here on as the “Fab-5” for purposes of brevity.

Rally Poster

I wonder if the Fab-5 ever heard the old adage “Every solution presents a whole new set of problems”? I’m don’t believe the Fab-5 really bothered to look at the problems their “solution” for funding additional state mental health, drug, and alcohol treatment programs would create when they sponsored HB 2461 which proposes a 1900% increase in the barrel tax on beer in Oregon. That’s not a typo! They would like to raise the tax on a barrel of beer from $2.60 per barrel to $52.21 which is a 1900% increase.

They downplay the bill as a reasonable and minor tax increase needed because Oregon’s beer tax, ranked 47th in the nation, is too low. Huh? Let me get this straight. Your main argument for raising the tax I pay on a pint of beer 1900% is “Well the tax hasn’t been raised in a long time.” Not because it is right or fair, or because there is a demonstrable cause and effect between beer and these programs they seek to fund with this tax, but simply because the tax hasn’t been raised since 1977.

Sorry that’s not a good enough reason to damage the states beer industry and the Oregon microbrewers that have grown into a vibrant Oregon success story that creates roughly 15,000 direct and indirect beer industry related jobs in this state. Not only does Oregon’s craft beer fill our pint glasses with world-class artisanal brew, it has created a “beer tourism” draw that many peripheral Oregon businesses’ benefit from.

You’re probably wondering “Since this tax is levied on all beer consumed in Oregon, why does it impact our craft brewing industry more than other states selling their beer here?” Though this tax is on all beer consumed in the state, Oregon Craft Breweries biggest market is Oregon. In 2008, 36% of the beer made by Oregon Craft Breweries was sold in Oregon. Out of all the beer consumed in the state, 11.4% was Oregon Craft Beer. This means our craft brewing industry, as a group, will be impacted most by the proposed 1900% tax increase.

If the Fab-5 insists on looking back to 1977, let’s take a look at how many barrels of beer were being consumed in Oregon then. Numbers are hard to come by but I did discover a study on Oregon’s bottle bill that puts the consumption in 1973 at roughly 1.5 million barrels (By the way, Blitz-Weinhard was the only brewery in Oregon back then). Using that as a starting point, the taxes generated by those sales were approximately $3.9 million. Last year Oregonians consumed 2.72 million barrels of beer, resulting in over $7 million in revenue from the current tax. Whereas the Fab-5 keeps waving the “no increase since 1977” flag, they seem to have completely missed the fact that tax revenues from beer have increased about 56% in that same time-span.

Of course that doesn’t add in the revenues they reap from having close to 90 breweries here in the state, providing jobs and paying business, property, and income taxes. They wouldn’t want to muddy the water with a bunch of facts that don’t support their position.

The other major point pushed by HB 2461 is these additional taxes are needed to pay for additional state mental health, drug, and alcohol treatment programs. Out of $155.8 million in net revenue from alcohol excise taxes in 2008 only $7.9 million was targeted to those programs. I do not dispute the fact that these programs are important, I do however wonder why these important programs are being so woefully underfunded and why Oregon’s beer drinkers are expected to shoulder the entire burden. Oh, and one other thing…Um…this may seem like a silly question, but that $155.8 million is NET revenue not gross revenue, could you tell me exactly where the other $147.9 million dollars you collected went?

Passage of HB 2461 would add another $135 million in Oregon alcohol excise tax revenue to the state coffers, effectively doubling Oregon alcohol tax revenues on the back of beer alone whose contribution would be $142 million at current consumption levels. Of course that won’t be the cost to the Oregon consumer, oh no. The Fab-5 keeps saying the new tax will only add an additional 15 cents per 12 oz. onto the cost of beer. It’s a good thing they’re in government because they’d never survive in business. Anyone who has been in business is familiar with the concept of acceptable profit margins a business needs to maintain to stay in business. If they aren’t they probably are no longer in business. (They’re most likely now working in government) Maintaining profitability margins through the system for all the players involved from brewery to glass puts the actual impact of that 15 cent increase at the wholesale level at a $1.50 per pint when it finally reaches the consumer. The overall impact on Oregon beer drinkers will be about $315 million at current consumption levels.

2010 Prices

This will be a boon for our border states who will see a dramatic increase in sales to Oregonians who will jump state lines to purchase their beer in bulk, or patronize pubs where they can purchase beer at a much lower price (even Oregon beer).
Those who follow the beer industry are aware the last two years have been extremely difficult due to shortages and huge price increases in the costs of raw materials. Those price increases have already negatively impacted the profit margin on each barrel of beer nationwide and resulted in increases in beer prices. What a great time to slap a hefty increase on the industry.

Was the Fab-5 paying attention during the recent gas price crisis? It’s simple economics. This is how it worked, the more the consumer was charged for gas, the less they purchased. The less they purchased, the less tax per gallon was collected for the Oregon coffers. What did this lead to? A state government proposal to raise the gas tax. If the HB 2461 tax increase impacts the industry in the same way, and many believe it will, then it will result in reduced beer, and more importantly to our states craft beer industry, drastically reduced craft beer consumption. What will the state do when this tax doesn’t achieve its goals because of reduced consumption? Hmmmm, history indicates they’ll probably vote to raise it again to make up the deficit. This will create a hostile tax environment for craft breweries and spell the beginning of the end for growth of the craft brewing industry in Oregon.

A timely article in the March 4th Guardian discusses the woeful impact of 2008’s 18% beer tax increase in the UK. To date “A record 2,000 British pubs have closed with the loss of 20,000 jobs since the chancellor, Alistair Darling, increased beer tax in the 2008 budget.” “A separate forecast by Oxford Economics that 75,000 more jobs in the drinks industry are at risk.”

The proposed 1900% increase HB 2461 mandates would make Oregon’s Beer Tax the highest in the good old USA. 37% higher than the current number one state, Alaska. (Yea for us, we’ll be #1!) Are Oregonians so prosperous the state government leeches need to bleed us of our excess income? Well let’s evaluate how Oregon ranks compared the other states.

The first category is, of course, number of craft breweries. We are rightly proud of the number and quality of craft breweries in our state but we are not number one. We are in the top 5, and 6 of the country’s top 50 craft breweries are here in Oregon, but this year Colorado opened its 101st brewery, taking the number one spot. Oregon has roughly 88 craft breweries. Except for a select few, most of the craft brewery owners I know aren’t making much more than a living wage from their business. A common adage in the craft beer industry is “If you’re getting into brewing beer to get rich you picked the wrong business.”

So what other categories does Oregon rank so high? There must be something that flips a switch in a lawmaker’s head to go down this road to ruin. Let’s see, could it be our personal tax burden is too low? No, looks like we’re 5th highest in the nation so that’s not it. What about our economy, are we on fire and need some additional taxes to slow it down and get our expansion under control? No, that’s not it either, the Oregon economy is ranked 35th. In case your calculator isn’t working, that means 34 states are in better economic shape than good old Oregon.

We do have the auspicious honor of being the nations 5th highest in unemployment, a number that I’m sure will climb towards that coveted #1 spot as our pubs close and our microbreweries move to other states with the passage of this poorly thought out legislative solution. If you agree this is a bad idea send Oregon Legislators a message through the Oregon Brewer’s Guild at


Karl Strauss Introduces Tower 10 IPA

Hop Heads rejoice! There’s a new IPA in town. Karl Strauss Brewing is excited to introduce Tower 10 IPA—a bold, flavorful American-style IPA and the latest addition to their core lineup. San Diego is well known for their IPA’s, and as a San Diego native, Karl Strauss wanted to release their version of what a great American IPA should be.

Tower 10 IPA is brewed with a blend of caramel and pale two row malts and large amounts of classic Pacific Northwest Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial hops. After fermentation, over a pound of Cascade and Centennial hops are used to dry hop the beer for extra citrus aroma and flavor. Tower 10 IPA comes in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs. “We’ve got a few hopheads around here and we wanted to brew an IPA that we were proud of. Tower 10 IPA is bigger and bolder than our previous IPA, and if you like hops, you’re going to love this,” said Brewmaster Paul Segura. The company announced that it will be replacing their Stargazer IPA, an English-style IPA, with Tower 10 IPA.

Karl Stauss Tower 10

Karl Strauss decided to name their new IPA after lifeguard Tower 10 in Mission Beach where founders Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner began drafting their plans for the brewery back in 1989. 20 years later, Tower 10 is still standing and the company thought it was a fitting name for a bold new release making its debut 20 years after the original idea for the company.

Tower 10 IPA is available on draft at all 6 Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurants as well as bars and restaurants throughout Southern California. Beginning in the first quarter of 2009, Tower 10 IPA will be available in six packs at supermarkets, liquor stores, and other retail accounts throughout Southern California.


Squeegee Your Third Eye PA

Aficionados of Steamworks Brewing Co.’s “high minded” brew, Third Eye Pale Ale (PA), now can “seek enlightenment” in a can — a 12-oz. aluminum can. The Third Eye PA is now being offered for off-premise sales in six pack cans, in addition to the 12-oz. bottle six packs.

The Third Eye PA, with its “spiritual” logo featuring a Third Eye PA patron in meditation, has emerged as one of Steamworks’ most popular beers, both throughout Colorado and with the brewery’s additional distribution networks. It is the second Steamworks beer to be packaged in a can, and will stand alongside its internationally-renowned brother, Steam Engine Lager.

Steamworks Third Eye PA

“Jupiter was correctly positioned in 2006, so we started bottling the Third Eye. And now the stars have re-aligned, so it was time to make the can commitment,” said Brian McEachron, Steamworks director of marketing and sales. “Seriously, for a brewery to begin canning any of its varieties, it is a big step purely because it requires a major investment of time in label approval, and in production and purchase of packaging materials.”

A complicated design, the Third Eye artwork required Steamworks to employ a new process for the cans’ production – called Iris – which allows for more colors to be transferred on to the can. Advance press checks were required before the run of more than 300,000 cans was launched. Initially the Third Eye in cans will be available throughout Colorado, Texas and Virginia.

Third Eye PA is reminiscent of the English ales that date back to the early 1800s and, in Steamworks’ extensive beer repertoire, is one of the most heavily hopped beers. The larger grain bill does, however, produce a residual sweetness, and the Third Eye PA features an appealing light, copper color.

“We’re pleased with the response to the Third Eye PA,” added McEachron. “Along with all craft brewers, Steamworks has endeavored to educate the consumer and garner enhanced appreciation of these more flavorful craft beers. Those who enjoy the Third Eye have definitely acquired a sophisticated beer palette. It’s the beer of enlightened patrons in Southwest Colorado.”

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2008 Craft Beer Sales Figures Announced

The Brewers Association, which tabulates industry growth data for U.S. breweries, announced that today’s small independent craft brewers are gaining alcohol market share due to a shift toward full flavor beer and increased support for local breweries. From 2007 to 2008, estimated sales by craft brewers were up 5.8 percent by volume and 10.5 percent in dollars. Overall share of the beer category from craft brewers was 4.0 percent of production and 6.3 percent of retail sales. More than 1 million new barrels of beer were sold in 2008, and close to half of those barrels were beer from craft brewers.

“2008 was a historic year for beer with the large brewers consolidating and imports losing share, while the top ten selling beer brands dropped in sales. At the same time, small independent craft brewers continued to gain share and attention,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association.


With total U.S. beer being more than a $100 billion industry, the Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales from craft brewers in 2008 were $6.34 billion, up from $5.74 billion in 2007. Taxable barrels of the total beer category was 1,210,018 more in 2008 with craft brewers producing 473,364 of those barrels. Total craft brewer barrels for 2008 was 8,596,971, up from 8,123,607 barrels in 2007.

Beer’s popularity as America’s favorite fermented beverage continued in 2008 with Gallup stating “beer is back to a double-digit lead over wine.” Taking into account the challenges in today’s economy, BevincoNielsen released a survey showing beer was faring better than spirits, with wine lagging. The Brewers Association emphasized trading across from wine and spirits to beer continues, with some of today’s wine drinkers discovering the affordable enjoyment and rewards of craft beer.


Wynkoop regular 2009 Beer Drinker of the Year

Cody Christman,, 2009 Beerdrinker of the YearCody Christman of Golden, Colorado, a longtime Wynkoop Brewing Co. customer, has won Wynkoop’s 2009 Beerdrinker of the Year title on Saturday.

Christman has been drinking at Wynkoop since 1991.

He won the title before a boisterous standing-room-only crowd of local supporters. Wynkoop founder and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and his son Teddy were among the locals on hand for the event.

Wynkoop began the competition in 1997 and annually invites three finalists to Denver for the finals.

To begin each contestant much submit a beer resume. In Christman’s he wrote:

Philosophy – To me beer is not a drink, it is a lifestyle.

Everything I do, and every decision I make revolves around beer. I am a tireless advocate of beer culture and the brewing industry. Beer is my passion. Beer is the most diverse and complex drink known to man. Beer’s history and roots are humble, making this fact seldom discussed, but it is true.


Samuel Adams launches Imperial series

Samuel Adams Imperial StoutNo matter how you want to define “extreme beers” all three members of Samuel Adams Imperial series must qualify. “The brewers are again answering drinkers’ thirst for bigger, more intense craft brews,” according to a company press release.

In the introduction of the “Eyewitness Companions Beer” the late Michael Jackson wrote “Tomorrow’s classics will evolve from the currently embryonic American brews categorised by their admirers as Extreme Beers. These are the most intense-tasting beers ever produced anywhere in the world.”

To understand “intense” look for a bottle of the pre-Imperial Samuel Adams Double Bock in your beer cellar and try it opposite the Imperial version. Taste the difference?

Daniel Bradford and company seemed to during a tasting at the All About Beer magazine offices. He writes about the experience in his blog: “Back to the Double Bock after a few minutes and it tastes much richer and fuller, with more candy, less alcohol burn, more texture, more toasted nuts, a greater sense of fireplace and armchair.”

The new Double Bock packs a 9.5% abv punch, comparied to 8.8% in the previous version. The Imperial White, brewed with ten spices, checks in at 10.3% abv, while the chocolate-rich Imperial Stout is a hefty 9.2% abv

“Today, the Big Beer segment in craft brewing offers drinkers a more intense drinking experience. The Samuel Adams Imperial Series, brewed with an aggressive amount of ingredients in each beer, is set to push beer’s boundaries even further,” said Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Co., which brews the Samuel Adams beers.

All three beers will be available year round, with a suggested price of $9.99 for a four-pack.


Bay Area Beer Writer Bill Brand Passes Away

San Francisco Bay Area beer writer Bill Brand passed away last night, surrounded by friends and family, according to Bottoms Up, the blog he wrote for the Oakland Tribune. The Tribune also has an obituary with a guest book for people to sign. According to a family friend, “a memorial service is planned and details will be announced later today.” This is a dark day for the beer community.

Bill Brand

William “Bill” Brand

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Deschutes Portland Brewhouse Goes Organic

Deschutes Brewery’s Portland Pub goes organic. Oregon’s award-winning Deschutes Brewery recently received Oregon Tilth certification for the brewhouse at the Portland Brewery and Public House and plans to begin brewing organic beers on-site, including Green Lakes Organic Ale.

“We are deeply committed to sustainability and when building the Portland Pub, we drew on the experience we gained during the Oregon Tilth certification of our Bend brewhouse,” says Deschutes Brewery founder Gary Fish. “We built our Portland Pub with the goal of going organic and our menu continues to feature local and sustainable products whenever possible.”

Nearly nine months after its grand opening in the Pearl District, Deschutes Brewery is Oregon Tilth certified and now the only organic brewpub in Portland’s trendsetting neighborhood. Brewer Cam O’Connor is itching to brew a batch of Deschutes’ popular Green Lakes Organic Ale, which uses Salmon-Safe certified Sterling hops, and experiment with recipes of his own on the pub’s 12 barrel batch system.

Deschutes Portland Brewhouse

In addition to its recent organic certification, the Portland Deschutes Brewery and Public House has built on its dedication to being environmentally friendly by collecting and giving the spent hops and grains from the brewing process to a local cattle farmer to be used as cattle feed and compost; the beef raised on these spent grains are then purchased by the brewery and used in the pub kitchen. Other environmentally friendly features include an energy capturing system in the brewery that reclaims heat, which is used to pre-warm the wort on its way to the kettle. Energy Star rated kitchen equipment and HVAC systems reduce the pub’s overall energy consumption. The Portland pub has also operated on 100% PGE renewable energy since the day it opened.

The Portland pub was recently recognized at the Oregon Chapter of the AIA/IIDA 2008 Annual Design Awards, where the project and Emmons Architects received a merit award in the restaurant category. The AIA/IIDA awards highlight outstanding design and architecture projects from across the city.


KLCC Brew Fest 2009

Last weekend, little old Eugene, Oregon enjoyed a bit of a mid-winter thaw with a cozy gathering of the beer community at the Lane County Fairgrounds for the annual KLCC Brew Fest. KLCC, our local public radio station, took over the festival in 2001, and it has since grown into one of their largest annual fund raising efforts with attendance approaching 5000 and almost 60 breweries pouring over 100 beers.

KLCC Festival

Strains of bluegrass music, my favorite kind of drinking music, drifted out the double doors, taunting me, as I waited my turn in line. I did a double take as I was handed my commemorative sample glass and two drink tickets. Two tickets? Oh no, this will never do, I immediately purchased another dozen tickets. That’s a good starting point. The best thing about having a radio station put on a beer festival is the quality of music they provide. The music I was enjoying, the Ashleigh Flynn Band, and the next day’s band, The Essentials, are great and their music adds a lot to the festival experience.

Personal tradition dictates I try the collaboration ales before venturing out to find new beers to add to my list. This year’s collaboration recipe was Sasquatch Strong Ale. Beer enthusiasts from the Northwest are familiar with the brewer Glen Falconer whose nickname was Sasquatch. Glen’s reign as brewmaster at Eugene’s Wild Duck Brewery produced a popular list of creative beers that were elevated to legendary status with his tragic death in 2002 followed a few years later by the demise of the Wild Duck Brewery.

Since Glen’s passing, a foundation was created in his name to help aspiring brewers with a scholarship fund that designates two worthy candidates each year and provides them an opportunity for a brewing science education from the Siebel Institute of Technology. One of Glen’s most popular creations was Sasquatch Strong Ale. This year each of Eugene’s breweries created their own version of Sasquatch.

KLCC Festival

The Players:

  • Eugene City Brewery
  • Steelhead
  • Oakshire
  • McMenamins High Street
  • Ninkasi

The Beers:

Tracktown Sasquatch: (Eugene City Brewery, Rogue) Good chestnut color, a sweet brown sugar nose. Excellent hops to malt balance. I could drink this on a regular basis. Not as powerful and in-your-face as the original.
Oakshire Sasquatch: Good color and head. A bit more hops in the nose and the mouth compared to the Tracktown, but still very drinkable.

Ninkasi Imperial Sasquatch: Of course Jamie HAD to make an Imperial. Beautiful dark appearance topped by a wonderful soapy tan head. As with many of Ninkasi’s beers, it was a hop heads delight and a bit of a face-tweaker for me, very bitter. Probably the closest to what I remember my first taste of Sasquatch Strong Ale at Wild duck was like.

Steelhead Sasquatch: I haven’t had a chance to try many of Brewer Ted Fagan’s beers so this was his chance to impress me, nice job Ted. Dark amber pour with excellent head retention. Good balance with plenty of floral hop notes. Nice clean finish. Guess I need to make a trip over the Steelhead and try more of Ted’s work.

High Street Sasquatch: Something bad happened here…nuff said.

Results: Ninkasi Sasquatch was most like the original Wild Duck Sasquatch Strong Ale, but I could drink more of the other three. Back to the brewery High Street.

All right, now that I’d gotten that out of the way it was time to work the list and see what’s new and wonderful in the world of the KLCC beer list. Most of the beers were standards I’d had many times (the curse of being around beer all the time) but I did find some new brews to try and a couple new favorites for my repeat sheet. I’m not going to try and give you tasting notes on every beer. That’s hard for me and boring for you. Taste is so subjective anyway. Here are a few notes on some interesting new brews and brewers I found at the fest.

KLCC Festival

Cumbrian Moor (Brewers Union Local 180): This was the only station pulling cask conditioned ale using beer engines and the new style plastic kegs. This was my first taste of Brewers Union Local 180. They opened in August 2008 45 miles outside of Eugene in the little mountain community of Oakridge. I heard they’d had some trouble setting up and had to fabricate something on the spot to support the beer engines because the tables were too flimsy to mount to. I also heard Ted Sobel, the brewer, was in the cast of a local theater production in Oakridge the festival nights. So, word has it, he had to make the hour drive back to Oakridge each night, go onstage and die (that was his part), then rush back to Eugene for the festival. That’s a Shakespearian level of dedication. All of Ted’s English-style ales are cask conditioned and the Cumbrian Moor was a dark brown, barely translucent pour, the beer was soft in the mouth and at the perfect temperature, I believe it was barrel-aged in a whiskey barrel but the notes seemed closer to sherry with a clean, dry finish. Very drinkable, I think I’ll have to run up the hill and sample some more of what Ted’s got brewing.

KLCC Festival

Le Pelican Brun (Pelican Brewery): Pelican brews seldom let me down and this beer was my favorite of the festival. Lots going on in this Belgian style ale. It pours deep reddish brown. A nice yeasty nose lets your tongue know something different is coming. A rich, slightly sour, combination of coffee and caramel malts with notes of burnt brown sugar and coriander fill your mouth and it ends with a lingering finish. Very nice!

KLCC Festival

Overcast Espresso Stout (Oakshire Brewing): The pour is black and generates a nice brown head. The aroma is malt, molasses, caramel, and coffee with just a hint of hops. The taste is freshly ground coffee, malt, and maybe licorice. Kind of a dry finish, but excellent.

Brown Eyes Brown (Silver Moon Brewery):
I met Tyler Reichert, head brewer/owner of Silver Moon Brewing way back when he was all dreams and a little homebrew shop in Bend, Oregon. His attendance at the festival was due to a bit of last minute serendipity so he was pouring from an assortment of his new bottled brews he was delivering to the local Market of Choice. Brown Eyes Brown is an American Brown Ale. Since brown ales are my favorite I had to give it a try. The pour was deep chestnut in color. The taste was sweet molasses, malty and a little tart with a big hop finish. Interesting…Not your regular brown ale…I’ll have to try it again…soon.

I didn’t sample everything by a long shot at KLCC. There were many other stellar beers, like Block 15’s Aboriginale, and Wakonda’s Black Elk Stout, etc, etc, etc, but I’m only allotted so much space for my ramblings. At 9pm the festival hall was getting a bit crowded and loud so we decided it was a good time to finish up. I rewarded my photographer, Bonne, with a glass of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (delicious) followed by a sample of Rogue Chocolate Stout (excellent as usual). Then we cleansed our palettes with a couple pours of 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat (ahhhh, a perfect finish). I love my job. Next weekend, the Confluence Beer Festival on the Oregon Coast. See you there.

KLCC Festival

To find the winners of the KLCC Festival’s Peoples Choice awards and Homebrew competition winners go to this link.

More pictures from the KLCC event can be found here at the KLCC Beer Festival 2009 Flickr Gallery.