The Evolution of the Craft Beer Renaissance: Deschutes Red Chair NWPA

August 16, 2012

1989: {Calling Mr. JK on the Phone} Dude, I had the best beer ever! Deschutes Red Chair Pale Ale! It is amber colored, has all these cool flavors, and tastes like nothing I have ever had before! And get this: It comes from the Pacific Northwest where all those cool bands that Hag listens to come from! Awesome! What? Fuck you, I know the Cowboys suck, Jerry Jones is an asshole, and Jimmy Johnson doesn’t know what he is doing…they are on TV now? Damn it, the phone cord is not long enough for me to reach the remote, I gotta go!

1998: {AOL Instant Message to Mr. JK} Hey, I tried this beer the other night, Deschutes Red Chair Pale Ale, from Oregon, so you know it was great. Some brewery called Deschutes. Lots of hops in it. Bitterest beer I have ever had. It was excellent. …Sorry, someone just called my phone and my internet connection was lost for a few minutes there. What do you think of this Lewinsky chick?

2003: {Email to Mr. JK} Hey, I tried this beer from Deschutes called NorthWest Pale Ale. I think they are trying to establish ‘Northwest Pale Ale’ as a specific genre. It is ok, I have had better, but I would definitely drink it again. Lots of hops, and lots of malts, nice color to it too. On another note, the Return of the King reviews are awesome, we need to go see it soon.

2007: {Text Message to Mr. JK} Pckd up 6 of Dschutes NWPA, ok stuff, not much else at bodega, sort of wild card to find. Need anything else for bbq/

2012: {Mr. JK reads my blog} I recently tried Deschutes Red Chair Northwestern Pale Ale. It pours a somewhat hazy copper color, with a strong aroma of grassy bitter hops. It tastes a bit sweeter than it smells, but that initial sweetness gives way to a soapy burnt flavor on the back end. This is a beer that has most of the component parts to be a decent drink, but does not quite put it all together. Everything seems to be operating at cross purposes, and it just never tastes quite right. It is not awful, 5.5/10, but it is a beer I will not be revisiting any time soon, as there are many better beers out there to drink.


I would have loved this in the past, but now it is just Meh

Best Beers of 2011

December 31, 2011

I had a good 2011 when it came to beer. I probably drank less beer by volume than any year in recent memory, but the quality of the beer I did  drink was much better than in years past. I decided this year to not drink beer just for the sake of drinking beer, but to drink only if the choices were genuinely appealing. No more knocking back a Shiner Bock just because that was the best beer available at the taqueria; I went with water (or sometimes soda) if that was the case.

Drinking only good beer meant less time spent like this

My 2011 Best Beer list is Texas-centric. There are two reasons for that: First, I live here now, and these beers are readily available to me. Second, Texas is home to some damn fine brewers, although most are relatively unknown outside the state. Texas is the best kept secret of the craft brewing world, but the better brewers are starting to get some attention elsewhere.

Here are the best beers I had in 2011:

8.5 Scores:

1. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

2. Deschuttes Black Butte XXIII

3. Super Des Fagnes Brune

4. Dogfish Head Burton Baton

9.0 Scores:

1. Real Ale 15th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout

2. Ithaca Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale

3. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11

4. Mikeller Chipotle Porter

9.5 Scores:

1. Jester King Wytchmaker Rye IPA

2. Real Ale Barrel Aged Empire IPA

3. Real Ale Sisyphus 2009

If forced to choose one beer as the best of 2011, I’d go with Jester King’s Wytchmaker Rye IPA. That is one tasty beer. Jester King has a busy and creative 2012 planned, so much so that it would not shock me if one of their new beers knocked out the Wytchmaker to take the title in 2012. On the other hand, at the beginning of 2011, I had not even heard of Jester King, so there may be some as yet unknown brewer who will take the crown. We will have to see how 2012 plays out.

*Photo courtesy of Aaron Goldfarb, Author of How To Fail

The Second Day of Christmas: Full Sail Brewing Wreck The Halls Brewmaster Reserve

December 15, 2011

I do not have any Christmas Party nightmare stories. I never got drunk and made a pass at the boss’ daughter.  I never tried to grope the secretary. Never dropped my drawers to photocopy my naked ass. There are no pictures of me with a lampshade on my head nor dancing shirtless in a fountain in sub-zero temperatures. I have never stumbled home and passed out beneath the Christmas tree.

While I have never wrecked the halls, that did not stop me from enjoying the heck out of Full Sail’s Wreck The Halls Christmas Ale.* Generously hopped with Centennial Hops, giving it a nice citrus bitterness, this beer has a nice caramel malt richness for balance. It has none of the spices traditionally associated with Christmas beers, and I am ok with that.  Think of it as a rich, malty, India Pale Ale, and you will be close to the mark. It is only 6.5 % ABV, so feel free to knock back a few of these as you trim the tree, 7/10.

Earlier Post: The First Day of Christmas

*Holy Cow! That transition was AWESOME! Seriously, read that again: While I have never wrecked the halls, that did not stop me from enjoying the heck out of Full Sail’s Wreck The Halls Christmas Ale.* Do you see what I did there? Do you!?!? I crack myself up sometimes.

The Twelve Beers of Christmas

December 24, 2010

The First Beer of Christmas: Full Sail Wassail, Hood River, Oregon – I had this on tap at the Ginger Man.  Dark velvety brown with ruby highlights and a fluffy white head.  This was mildly sweet, with a caramel taste and some dried fruit and spiciness as well.  Very good, 7/10.

The Second Beer of Christmas: Anchor 2010 Christmas Ale – The Grand Daddy of American Christmas Ales, with an ever evolving recipe.  I had this on tap at the Ginger Man, and this year’s version has a spicy ginger aftertaste, which I liked, but everyone else who tried it with me hated.  Not as good as years past, but still a fine Christmas Beer, 7/10. Read the rest of this entry »

Bridgeport Hop Czar

October 18, 2010

Oregon is the Bourdeaux region of American Craft Beer.  There are just so many great breweries in Oregon, and they are churning out so many great beers, that it is hard to keep up.  Hop Czar is the only beer from Bridgeport Brewing that I have had, and it is a good one.  The color is a bright, almost weird orange.  As soon as you pour this, you get hit in your nose with some strong citrusy hops.  Those hops carry over into the flavor, balanced with some breadlike malts and a slight burn from the 7.5% ABV.  Me likey this Imperial IPA very much, 8/10.

The Bars of My Life: The Fort George Brewery, Astoria, Oregon

March 29, 2010

Sorry about the crappy cell phone pic

I have previously written about my trip to Oregon here, but I want to revisit the trip one more time to discuss the Fort George Brewery. Astoria, Oregon is a couple of hours north of Portland.  It is a quaint town on the water.  We wandered around and came upon the Fort George Brewery.  The brewpub is located in an old Ford dealership and has an industrial look to it.  BB, JPE and I grabbed a table and ordered up some beers and food.

I had the Vortex IPA.  I did not take notes (my beer dorkiness had not fully bloomed at that time) so I cannot give you any tasting notes.  All I can say is that I had one sip and knew that I was in the presence of greatness. The one thing I clearly remember about this beer is that it had a creamy mouthfeel.  The jar on the right in the picture that serves as the masthead of this blog is the Vortex IPA.  I remember having a pale ale as well, and the picture above looks like a stout or a porter, though I must confess that I do not recall which.  The hot sauce in the picture is made by a local kid who started bottling it and selling it to local businesses.  Good stuff.

We were getting ready to leave when I noticed that they had some guest beers, including Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.  I had heard of Pliny the Elder, but being an East Coast guy, I had never actually seen any.  I whined, stamped my feet, and threw a temper tantrum until I was allowed to try it.  Again, I have no tasting notes, but I do remember loving this beer.

BB has since moved from Portland, and as far as I can recall I do not know anybody in Astoria, or Oregon for that matter, but if the opportunity arose, I’d move to Astoria in a New York Minute just to be close to the Fort George Brewery.

Full Sail Pale Ale

March 12, 2010

About a year ago, I flew out to Portland, Oregon to visit BB.  JPE came out a few days later, and the three of us drove around Oregon, sampled beer and seafood, and generally enjoyed the unique culture of the Northwest.  Let me clarify that: BB drove JPE and me around and tried to keep his BAC below the legal limit, while we guzzled beer, gorged ourselves on whatever grub we could lay our mitts on, and generally made a nuisance of ourselves.

The Pacific Northwest (I am including Northern California) is the Bourdeaux region of American Brewing, and I would love to go back with more time and a bigger budget, and explore the region again.  Every podunk town we stopped in had at least one outstanding craft brewer.  Every dive bar we stumbled into had a tap selection that would be the envy of the Blind Tiger or d.b.a. I would describe myself in Oregon as being like a kid in a candy store if I was not trying to avoid cliches like the plague.

One morning, we made a trip out to Mount Hood, which is a must do trip for anyone who visits Portland.  The only downside was that JPE could not get service on his iPhone, and the GPS on my phone was out of service, so we got a bit lost. We eventually found our bearings and made our way to the town of Hood River, which sits on the river at the end of a mountain passage, creating a natural wind tunnel, and which makes windsurfing in Hood River like climbing Mount Everest.

As none of us had thought to bring our wetsuits, we decided to grab some beer instead.  The Full Sail Brewing Company was our first stop.  The bar had a fantastic view of the river, and the beer and food was decent as well.   As we were leaving, BB said “we need to head back to Portland now.”  JPE and I agreed, but only after stopping for a quick three at the  Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom, which was a few short blocks away.  I was not taking notes, so this is strictly on memory, but the beer there was outstanding, with the India Red Ale being a particular favorite.

I came across a six pack of the Full Sail Pale Ale when I was visiting my sister in Texas, and having fond memories of the trip, grabbed it.  It strikes the right balance between hops and malt, crisp and dry, and you could drink several of these without being overwhelmed.  I have yet to see it ’round these parts, but I’d drink it regularly if I could. 7/10.

Rogue Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale

February 11, 2010

Whenever I am staring at the selection at the beer emporium, Oregon’s Rogue Brewery presents a quandary.  Their beers are uniformly good, and some are excellent, but none that I have tried so far are truly great.  Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale is another one that falls into the good but not great category.  It is very good, more than just drinkable, but I wanted it to break through into the sublime category, and it fell short.

It pours a ruby red color with a nice frothy head.  Nice hoppy flavor offset by rich malt undertones.   Remember that girl that you went to school with who just missed being good looking?  That is this beer. It has all the component parts, it just missed being good looking.  It gets a 5/10.

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