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Upright Brewing Turns One and Throws A Party

March 31, 2010 No comments
Upright Brewing Alex Ganum Gives A Tour

Upright Brewing Alex Ganum Gives A Tour of Upright Brewing

Upright Brewing is marking its first year in business with the special release of two beers and an anniversary party featuring sweets from Kir Jensen, owner of one of Portland’s best dessert carts, The Sugar Cube, and model for Upright’s Four Play seasonal beer.

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek and taste these two new beers and was absolutely blown away by them.

One of the things you notice right away about Upright Brewing is how fanatical they are about detail. While typical Belgian farm-style beers are made in 1-2 weeks, Upright spends 2-3 months on their beers before they go out the door. A lot of this is attributed to a slow fermenting yeast that helps give their beers a unique flavor profile.

A big part of Upright’s success is their constant experimentation. Around the brewery are small carboys filled with things the brewmasters “just wanted to try out and see what would happen”.   One of these experimentations lead to a program they are calling “The Sixth Barrel Series” which includes the Four Play seasonal beer.

Four Play is unlike any cherry beer I’ve ever tried. While it does have a nice cherry undertone, the beer has an amazing complexity of flavors including flavors from the pino barrels it was aged in, funky yeasty flavors from the strains of bacteria introduced while in barrel, and a tropical current which includes coconut and banana flavors.  Four Play was done on a very limited run with only 80 Cases and 4 1/2 kegs produced. It’s a unique beer that will probably get snatched up extremely fast. The label of Four Play will certainly turn some heads as it features a bare-breasted Kir Jensen, a bold move for the beer and certainly something that will generate a lot of attention.

Upright's Four Play

Upright's Four Play Label

The other beer I tried was their new Apricot Anniversary Beer, a wheat beer with added apricot puree. It is by far my favorite fruit beer I’ve had yet. The beer captures the essence of apricot without being either too sweet or too tart, and it’s accompanied by a delicious bready yeast flavor. The beer has an amazing mouth feel which finishes dry and clean with a slight edge. It’s a remarkable beer and one that I plan on picking up before it runs out.

Upright Brewing draws most of their ingredients from hyper-local sources including Great Northern Grain malt from Vancouver, Mt. Angel hops, and local wine barrels from Oregon wineries (to finish some of their beers). This follows in line with their farmhouse style beer philosophy and it permeates throughout their entire business.

There are a lot of micro-breweries in Portland but none which produces as consistently delicious and exciting beers. Upright may not be on your radar screen, but they should be and their anniversary party is something to not to be missed.

Upright Brewing’s One Year anniversary party and beer release event happens Friday, April 9, 2010 from 4:30pm – 9:00pm at the Upright Brewing Tasting Room located at 240 N. Broadway, suite 2.  It’s in the Leftbank Project building downstairs in the basement.

Categories: Beer Tags: , ,

Doing Time at The Oregon Brewers Festival

July 24, 2009 4 comments
Volunteering at The Oregon Brewers Fest

Volunteering at The Oregon Brewers Fest

I’ve lived in Portland now for sixteen years and almost every summer I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Oregon Brewers Festival at Waterfront Park.   After enjoying one of the nation’s premiere beer festivals for so many years I decided this year it was time to give back to it and spend a shift volunteering.

Several months ago I submitted an application through the Brewers Fest web site and indicated I wanted one of the first shifts of the festival.  After a few months of waiting I finally got a little green card in the mail confirming my shift.

When I showed up the morning of the first day of the Brew Festival I was struck by just how many people had turned out to volunteer. I didn’t really realize just how much manpower it takes to fuel the event until I looked out over the sea of volunteers patiently waiting for their shift to start.

After signing in I was asked which tap I wanted to be at. I realized then that I had neglected to look over the complete list the night before. I sat thumbing through the possible assignments and decided to pick Stone Brewing Company. The beer at that tap was an interesting Belgium IPA hybrid so I knew it would be one that would draw true beer enthusiasts (although I didn’t know just how enthusiastic some people would be about Stone Brewing).

Stone Brewing Cali-Belgique IPA

Stone Brewing Cali-Belgique IPA

After a very short orientation talk which included how far to fill each cup, how to tell when someone is intoxicated and when to cut them off, we were lead to our taps.

Given how strict the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) is, I was surprised how short and informal the ‘training’ was, especially considering how rigidly controlled some of the other aspects of the festival were. For example, at the end of my shift I walked outside of the complex to check if the Burgerville food cart was still there (as I hadn’t eaten lunch) and I was told I had to dump my water bottle out as I reentered. Total insanity.

At the tap we were giving another brief rundown of how the shift would run, some simple do’s and don’t and then we waited, and waited, and waited.  A good fifteen minutes after the official start time we finally got the OK from the the OLCC guys to turn on the taps and start serving the beer… and then the fun started.

After pouring my first pitcher of beer I realized that I hadn’t been given an opportunity to taste the beer I was pouring. After shrugging my shoulders more than a few times when asked what the beer tasted like I started to grill each beer fest goer as to what they thought of the beer.  The wide variety of responses was amazing. Some people thought the Cali-Belgique IPA was very flowery, others really hoppy. One guy said, “‘It starts off tasting like a Belgian and then drops off to an IPA,” while another proclaimed, “Yeah, this is an IPA from the get-go”.  I heard the beer described so many different ways by so many different people that I wondered if I was serving the same beer to all of them.

Happily Pouring Beer at The Brewers Fest

Happily Pouring Beer at The Brewers Fest

After about an hour into my four and a half hour shift I began to see a pattern – a good majority of the people coming to try the beer came because of their affection for the brewery. “I’ll try anything that Stone does”, commented one festival goer while many just proclaimed, “Give me THE STONE”.  I also found that many people extended their affection for the brewery to me as if by proxy serving this beer I was connected to the goodness that is Stone Brewing.

One of my biggest challenges serving beer at the beer fest was that the Cali-Belgiue IPA is an extremely ‘heady’ beer. As I poured the beer from the tap into the pitcher a thick head of foam would form. Several volunteers and even the tapmaster tried to pull a pitcher of the beer without it being so foamy and none of us succeeded.

About two hours into my shift I realized another major mistake I had made. By taking the first shift of the festival I hadn’t had an opportunity to try or have any beers, so after serving twenty or so pitches of the Stone Brewing beer, I wanted a beer more than I had ever wanted a beer in my life.

One Extremely Foamy Beer

One Extremely Foamy Beer

As my third hour ticked by I continued to pour to an almost endless line of people, and I was extremely happy doing it. There’s something about giving people something that they enjoy that’s extremely gratifying. As each person happily sipped away at their beer I felt a sense of joy that I could be a part of that experience.

As the fourth hour ticked by we got slammed. One of the other volunteers keep a second pitcher going as I quickly drained the first. More people came up to get full glasses of beer so we were constantly battling with the foam to keep the beer flowing.

I was finally ‘relived of duty’ by another volunteer after four and a half hours of pouring. On one hand I was excited to be able to go off and enjoy the beer at the Brewers Festival, but another I was sad to to see the shift end. It was a remarkably enjoyable experience.

My very first beer of the Brewers Festival was the Bayern Brewing Dragon Breath Dark Heff. The beer had been recommended to me by one of the Rogue Brewing brewmasters. The beer was a tasty and unique beer that I quiet enjoyed. As I savored the beer I remembered that I had neglected to eat lunch before my shift and that even the small taste of beer was already having an effect. Unfortunately I made yet another mistake and plunged ahead.

Determined to make my way back to taste the beer that I was pouring all day I made a quick stop at Full Sail Brewing to taste their Full Sail TLD 03 , a remarkable light and crisp beer. Then to Scuttlebutt Brewing Company to try their subtle and drinkable Tripel 7 Belgian Style Ale.  Still working my way towards Stone Brewing I stopped at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery for one of the stand-out beers of my tastings, a Festina Peche, a brilliant, sour peach fermented beer. I then decided I couldn’t pass Ninkasi Brewing and try their Radiant Summer Ale. I’m a big fan of Ninkasi but I really didn’t care for their Summer Ale.

Sucess! Stone Brewing's Beer

Sucess! Stone Brewing's Beer

By the time I finally made it back to the Stone Brewing tap I was feeling little to no pain. Working a full shift (and not drinking enough water) and skipping lunch had brought my alcohol tolerance to near zero. But at last I had a chance to taste the beer I had been pouring all day. As I took a sip I savored every morsel of beer and then smiled realizing that I had been pouring one of the better beers of the festival.

Volunteering at the Oregon Brewers Festival far exceeded my expectations. It’s something that I plan to do every year, and I now have some key lessons that I’m going to share:

  • Go over the beer list the night before and pick a beer that interests you to pour
  • Show up early to your shift so you can get a good pick
  • Eat a good sized meal before your shift as there aren’t a lot of chances to take a break
  • Drink lots of water
  • Have A beer after your shift but come back the next day for the full tastings when you’ve had a chance to have some good food, water and rest
  • Volunteer!! The fest runs on the enthusiasm and generosity of local beer fans and you have the ability to contribute to that.

The Oregon Brewers Festival is always the last full weekend in July and this year runs 7/23-7/25 at the Waterfront park.

For more information see:

For the 2010 fest be sure to check out PDXPipeline who is giving away a $50 package to the Oregon Brewers Festival.

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Don't Miss The Abyss Beer from Deschutes Brewery

November 18, 2008 No comments
Deschutes Abyss Bear

Deschutes Abyss Bear

Great news for Portland beer fans, it’s time again for Deschutes Abyss Beer. If you somehow missed this gold medal winning Imperial Stout last year you absolutely do not want to make the same mistake again.

Considered by many to be one of the top Oregon Stouts, The Abyss comes in a wax dripped bottle containing one of the deepest and most satisfying beers of it’s kind. At 11% alcohol by volume it’s one you’ll sip, savor and enjoy!

The Abyss beer is only available in limited quantities and it tends to sell out quickly. Belmont Station (one of my absolute favorite Portland beer stores) is going to be selling The Abyss starting at 5pm Tuesday November 18. They are limiting sales to just 2 bottles per person and they expect to run out fast.  Belmont Station is located at 4500 SE Stark.

The Deschutes Brew Pub (210 NW 11th) also has an extremely limited number of cases of the Abyss (and they expect to sell out of them by the end of today).

Take our advice and simply do not miss The Abyss!  (Read some great coverage on this beer at Brewpublic)

Update: The Abyss is selling for $9.99 at Belmont Station and there was quite a line at 5:00.

Here are some pictures from The Abyss beer release:

The Line for The Abyss Beer at Belmont Station
The Line for The Abyss Beer at Belmont Station
My 2 Bottles of The Abyss Beer
My 2 Bottles of The Abyss Beer
Categories: Beer Tags: ,

Slaying The Green Dragon

November 13, 2008 4 comments
The Green Dragon Portland

The Green Dragon Portland

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about restaurants closing due to a dramatic drop in business (including the sad news that one of my favorite Portland restaurants Kalga Kafe closed).

This week we received news of an entirely different sort:

The Green Dragon, an extremely popular watering hole for Portland’s tech set, and the standing location for the ever growing Beer & Blog has been set to be sold to Rogue on Friday November 14th.

Initial response has been overwhelming negative to word of the buy out with some pretty harsh comments posted over the news the popular brewpub may be transformed into a Rogue Taproom.

The Green Dragon has made its name for the ever changing wide variety of brews on tap, regular ‘meet the brewer’ events and as the destination of choice for many Portland tech events.

To commemorate the slaying of the Green Dragon Beer & Blog will be holding a final sendoff for the beloved brewpub on Friday (reportedly the last day for the dragon).

The sale of The Green Dragon in such a challenging economic environment lends great weight to the view that the area surround The Green Dragon, Grand Central Bowl and Holocene is destined to be Portland’s next big hot spot

The Green Dragon will be missed. We hope other beer bars like The Horse Brass, Belmont Station, Bye and Bye will step up to fill the gap created by the sale of the Green Dragon.

Ed note: Read the good follow up piece in Draft Magazine about the Rogue purchase of the Green Dragon

Categories: Beer, Books, Food, Interview Tags: ,

Last Call for Fresh Hop Beer

November 12, 2008 No comments
Fresh Mt. Hood Hops

Fresh Mt. Hood Hops

2008 has been an unprecedented year for fresh hop beer. In October I attended the Oregon Brewers Guild The Fresh Hop Beer Tastivals at Hopworks Urban Brewery, there were so many people I had flashbacks to the Portland Summer Beer Fest.

Sadly, with the leaves now more on the ground than in the trees and the rains blanketing Portland, the time for these first fall harvest fresh hop beers is coming to an end. While many of the great fresh hop beers are tapped out, you can still find a few around town.

Your best bet right now is to pick up a few bottles of Deschutes Hop Trip.  I’ve seen bottles at New Seasons and the Deschutes Bewpub (210 NW 11th Avenue ) still has it on tap and has a few cases to sell.  Of all the fresh hop beers this year the Hop Trip is my absolute favorite. The beer is a beautiful blend of sweet, bitter and smooth, it’s magic in a pint glass.

Also on Wednesday, November 19th Belmont Station will be doing a “Last of The Fresh Hops Night” with a keg of Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Fresh Hop Ale alongside a cellared keg of Southern Hemishere Fresh Hop Ale. I can’t think of a more perfect way to close out the fresh hop season.

Categories: Beer Tags: , ,

Portland West Cafe's Daily Dow Specials

October 27, 2008 No comments

West Cafe PortlandI’m quickly becoming a fan of The West Cafe. My wife and I stopped in a couple weeks back for some drinks and Jazz. Excellent drinks, excellent music and perfect service.

Shortly thereafter I started following The West Cafe on Twitter and realized just how smart and cool the people running this cafe are.  First they offered an exclusive coupon for people who follow them on twitter.

Now they’ve got a regular Daily Dow Special where they take the point drop or percentage drop and make a drink special out of it! Tonight’s special:

Daily Dow Drink Deal: Down 2.42% so we’ll take $2.42 off call martinis all night!! Stop by for an extra dry one, shaken not stirred.

It’s great to see a business be so savy with new media and so in touch with its customers

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Oregon Brewer's Festival – Fresh Hop Beer Tastival

October 18, 2008 No comments
Oregeon Brewer’s Fresh Hop Beer Tastival

Oregeon Brewer’s Fresh Hop Beer Tastival

Packed! That’s the best way to describe the Oregeon Brewer’s Fresh Hop Beer Tastival at the Hop Works Urban Brewery this Saturday. Two tents filled with people enjoying the Indian Summer and a bounty of new beers with hops from the recent Oregon Hop Harvest.

$5 got you a nice pint glass and then each 4oz taste was $1. Unfortunately I was only able to taste 3 beers at the fest:

Hopworks Urban Brewery Parsec Pale Ale -I figured I had to give some love to the hosting brewery and that may Pale Ale days would be few and far between as we get into the winter. This Pale Ale is a light and tasty beer that is very clean with only a hint of hops.

Lompoc Brewing Proletariate Red – a sweet and hoppy beer with a nice clean edge,,very drinkable and if I had more time I would have enjoyed a full pint.

Beer Valley Brewing Black Flag Imperial Stout – WOW! They were only giving people 4oz tastes and that’s a shame because this is quite a stout. Super Dark, Bold, flavorful and hoppy. This was a beer that really got my attention, and I’d love drink again.

I also had a chance to taste Deschutes Hop Trip before the event, and I have to say it’s one of my favorite of the fresh hop bunch. I’ve also got a bottle of the Bridgeport’s Hop Harvest in my fridge which I hope to try soon.

There’s no question that Portland supports local brewery events and the excitment around the local brewers sceen is really exceptional.

Categories: Beer Tags: ,

Stout Time Has Arrived

September 23, 2008 No comments

Photo by david.nikonvscanon

Photo by david.nikonvscanon


For dinner the other night I went to the Bye and Bye (1011 NE Alberta St). I did what I always do: I stared at the menu for a long time and ended up ordering the exact same thing I always get – The BBQ platter. Rather than order an IPA to accompany my meal I realized that it was ‘Stout Time’.

Stout time comes when the air is crisp in the morning, the clouds migrate back into the sky and it begins to rain again. It’s a time when you retire the summer IPA’s and wheat beers and pick up the dark stuff.

The Stout I had was Alemeda Brewing‘s Black Bear XX Stout – an amazing chocolaty, coffee-esque, dark but clean beer that was the the perfect start to autumn and a fantastic accompaniment to my vegan BBQ platter.

Happy Hour runs 4-7 at the Bye and Bye and I plan to be drinking many more of those stouts in the weeks to come.

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