Zwickelmania: a backstage pass to breweries around Oregon. It’s an event I’ve known about for quite a while, but have never gotten a chance to take part in the past due to work and school priorities. President’s Day in 2013 was a much different matter. That day was a marathon, not a sprint, and drinking beer was the road we were running on.
Yaicha, Ryan, and I started our morning at the Green Dragon where we filled ourselves with buffet-style bacon, ham, and eggs. This food was not for the foodie looking to get a good breakfast; this food was purely fuel for a long day of drinking. The Green Flash Brewing 7th anniversary Belgian red rye ale went very well with the breakfast fuel and got me in the mode for a day of tasting the many beers to come. After our friends Crystal and Erick arrived, we took a refreshing walk to the second brewery of the day — Cascade Brewing Barrel House.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House specializes in sour beers and has some of the best in Portland. Two of my favorite beers I tasted straight from the zwickel were the Rum Tangerine Spice Quad weighing in at 10% ABV, which boasted two distinct flavor profiles between a sweet tangerine flavor and a bold rum aftertaste, and the 12% ABV Bourbonic Plague that was much too easy to drink for its strength and had a flavor that I’d be willing to spend good money on in the future. This is a brewery every person should visit when they come to Portland due to its specialty in beers and its location near so many other places to eat and drink.
Next, our group took a short walk over to Base Camp Brewing where they were giving a small presentation of how Base Camp came to be and the types of beers that they specialize in. The beer I was particularly impressed with was their flagship bottled beer (in a can) called an In-Tents IPL or India Pale Lager, which I again had straight from the zwickel. After the tour, we settled out on the porch where we could bask in the winter sunlight and quaff our tasty beverages we got from their new tasting room. Since this day was a marathon, I chose the Base Camp Belgian session ale, which hits at 4.9% ABV and was light on the stomach. Of course, I had to try a little bit of Crystal’s S’more stout, which had a toasted marshmallow on the rim of the glass (the mini tasters have a mini marshmallow, which had to be the cutest thing I saw that day).
The next stop on our tour was Burnside Brewing, where we quickly found that the lines were growing ever longer as the day progressed and that our patience grew ever shorter for waiting in those lines. As a result, we didn’t take a tour of the brewery, but had a beer while waiting for the shuttle and chatted with some other nice Zwickelmaniacs outside. The Burnside IPA was especially nice to sip on during our half-hour wait for the free shuttle to arrive and take us to our final destination — Hopworks Urban Brewery.
As the shuttle arrived, we beer-loving revelers filled the cabin close to capacity and continued on to Hopworks Urban Brewery, thankful to be in a shuttle and not out in the freak rain storm that struck on the way over drenching every person unlucky enough to be out in it. As luck would have it, the rain subsided close to our arrival at Hopworks, where we were greeted to small snacks of breaded pretzels, sauerkraut, and dipping sauces. We migrated upstairs to the bar and found the most epic place to continue our drinking: an enclosed room where we had total privacy and could drink our $2.00 pints of Abominable winter ale and eat our monster-sized calzones in peace. It was a gluttonous experience to say the least.
After all of that, Zwickelmania was winding down, but we needed to take care of one last errand, which involved us going back to the Green Dragon to meet a friend from Eugene. Yes, we went full circle and I ended my day with an ACE apple hard cider. I’m pretty sure that was the final line to cross, because as soon as I got home, I fell into a deep slumber.
Zwickelmania is an experience that every beer lover should witness with their own eyes (and taste buds). If there’s one reason to plan a trip to Oregon in the early part of the year, there isn’t many better excuses than for Zwickelmania on President’s Day weekend. Cheers to Oregon beers!
Have you ever eaten something that made you remember a time long gone? When I was a kid, I remember going to the houses of my grandma, Hazel, and great aunt, Evelyn. Whenever I’d go to my grandma’s place, I’d get a small, orange jar of marinated carrots out of her fridge and devour them almost all in one sitting. I’ve never had something like this before—like a cross between pickling and marinating—with a tomato base, but with vinegar, oil and seasonings added to it.
Although my grandma and great aunt have both passed away, this recipe is one of those ways I can remember the times of visiting them. Since I’ve never seen this recipe in a store-bought version, I thought I’d share it with you.
A recipe from Evelyn Pentico
5 cups of sliced cooked carrots or baby carrots
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 can of tomato soup, 10 ¾ oz.
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
½ tsp. garlic salt (optional)
Cook carrots to the point where they’re soft, but just have a bit of snap to them. While cooking the carrots, combine bell pepper, onion, and all of the other ingredients in a medium pot.
Bring the sauce to a boil and then pour over the carrots. Marinate for at least 12 hours and keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
I have a dessert recipe of my great aunt’s that I will post in the next week after I make it, so keep your eyes peeled for this yummy goodness.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Do you have any recipes that remind you of times long lost?
One of the best things about living in Oregon is how quickly you can go from enjoying the pleasures of the city to enjoying the great outdoors. A great example of this is what some friends and I planned on a whim—snowboarding at Mt. Hood.
Evan, his sister Kala, and her boyfriend Matt drove from Eugene to Portland to pick me up. The plan was to stay at a bed and breakfast named Panorama Lodge outside of Hood River, which included the price of the lift ticket in the night’s stay.
On our way to Panorama Lodge, we stopped at Double Mountain Brewery, one of my favorite breweries in the Portland area. This is a little hidden gem in Hood River with some delicious pizzas and even more delicious beers. If you ever plan on visiting Portland, I highly suggest making a trip to Hood River and enjoying what Double Mountain has to offer. (Full disclosure: Double Mountain is a client of mine at Watershed Communications).
We arrived at Panorama Lodge fairly late in the night, but the caretaker of the estate—a nice older lady—was very welcoming to the three-story building that was all ours that night. The lodge had a human touch to almost every room with self-shot landscape photography and odd trinkets in various cabinets and we were sad to hear that her husband had passed away a few years back. She explained that he was the one who made the place what it was and I felt humbled by how fragile life can be sometimes.
The next morning we awoke to the smell of pancakes, omelets, fresh-brewed coffee, and the ever-growing excitement to go snowboarding. As soon as we finished breakfast, we packed our gear and began our 30-minute drive to Mt. Hood on a foggy Saturday morning. However, it didn’t stay foggy for long and we all feared that the mountain was going to be an icy playground.
We parked at HRM, which is just south of the main parking lot, and prepared for whatever snow we would encounter on this balmy 42-degree Fahrenheit day. Evan and I rode up the lift with a girl who worked at Mt. Hood and she told us that it hadn’t snowed in over a week-and-a-half, which made me afraid that we were going to be riding on ice. Boy, were we wrong.
I don’t believe that I could’ve asked for a better day to snowboard. Between the clear skies and soft snow, it was exactly what one asks for when snowboarding for his or her first time that year. In between runs, we’d go back to the truck to snack and re-hydrate, and I discovered a little bird that likes to snack as well.
Oregon is one of those places that has something special to offer in every season of the year. Whether it’s snowboarding at Mt. Hood in the winter or hiking Smith Rock in the summer, it’s always made better with great friends and some good brews.
New Year’s resolutions—in the last few years, I’ve found them to be an entertaining way to change myself. I believe it started with a lighthearted resolution to never repeat myself when someone heard what I clearly said the first time. It was a fun resolution that I was aware of all year long. My resolution in 2012 was to be more fit and strong, which I feel like I’m still working on and with positive results. Now we’ve entered 2013—the year of creativity—and I’m already dead-set on that path.
I want to do so many different things in 2013 and I found that the common theme between all of them is creativity. Whether it’s improving my creative writing skill, utilizing new recipes in my cooking, beginning to paint, or trying out homebrewing and pickling for the first time, I want to be more creative.
I’ve made it a goal to publish writing on my blog or elsewhere at least once a week. In January alone, I’ve created a marinara sauce and a sharp cheddar cream sauce from Martha Holmberg’s cookbook Modern Sauces, which is full of delicious sauces. I’m halfway through Dan Amrich’s book, Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living, which has given me plenty of insight on how to write better reviews for video games as well as offering great tips for writing in general. I definitely recommend both of those books! (Major props to Yaicha for buying the book and getting it signed for me)!
The year has started off nicely and I only expect it to get better. Do you have a New Year’s resolution for 2013?
Sleigh Bells’ first release was a big favorite of mine, so I had high hopes for their sophomore debut. When NPR had an early preview of it, I had to listen to it immediately. My metal self was immediately sated with True Shred Guitar and the latter Demons. But the catchiness of Crush and Road To Hell was what kept me coming back. The mixture of Alexis’ breathy vocals with Derek’s abrasive guitar hooks, makes for an band that I can love for years.
The Devin Townsend Project returns with Epicloud, a progressive metal album that tends to evoke a feeling of goodness and love. Sounds kinda’ strange for a metal album, right? Fortunately, with Hevy Devy at the helm, each track offers the variety that you should come to expect in a Devin Townsend Project album. Liberation rocks me like an Andrew W.K. song would. The way that Effervescent transitions into True North made me continue to appreciate what Devin Townsend decides to do for each album, evoking positivity into the world of metal. I vote this album “feel good metal album of the year.”
Everyone who remotely knows me understands that I have a deep passion for video games, so it should come to no surprise that I’d throw a game soundtrack on the list. Disasterpeace’s Fez soundtrack is how I love chip tune music composed. Each track evokes the emotion of the environment that I’d expect in this 2-D meets 3-D world. Although I’m not a huge fan of Disasterpeace’s other music, this album is well worth buying. If you remotely like chip tune music, I think you’ll cherish this album in your collection. I’ve also heard that the music you download has hidden secrets within it, but I’ll let you search that out on your own.
Bear in Heaven’s album I Love You, It’s Cool was one of those albums that came out of nowhere. After seeing a review on Consequence of Sound, I decided to give them a listen on Spotify. Since that first listen, I’ve repeated I Love You, It’s Cool many times over. The songs all remind me of The Smiths meets Depeche Mode if you gave it more of a contemporary synth-pop sound. It’s one of those albums that I found too catchy to let go of and it’s definitely stuck with me throughout 2012. If you had to check out two tracks off the album, I’d go with The Reflection Of You and Sinful Nature.
Grimes’ album Visions was another one of those that I arrived a little late to the party, but which hooked me right away. As soon as Genesis began playing, I felt the great combination of her pop vocals with the whimsical nature of the instrumentals. Circumambient shows a difference in vocal styling that definitely doesn’t lead you to believe that you’re going to hear a similar song, track-by-track. This was one of those albums and artists that I have recommended to people all year long and have had no complaints from those I’ve given the recommendations to.
I’ve come to the conclusion that craft beer and Delta blues music goes well together like peanut butter and jelly. Yaicha and I traveled to Eugene for Thanksgiving and we were treated to a fine performance at Oakshire Brewing from one of my best friend’s in his band, Breakers Yard. Jordan “Slim Bones” Trio plays suitcase percussion and kazoo in this band and it’s been interesting to see him mature musically throughout the years of knowing him. We’ve been friends for over half our lives and I’ve seen him go from listening to rap and metal to electronic dance music, blues and jazz. It was our first time at Oakshire Brewing, but I’ll definitely go back.
The atmosphere was buzzing when we entered the tasting room. I’m not sure if everyone there was for the live music, but it looked like Oakshire was having a Black Friday sale on their beers, because the place was packed. We enjoyed some exclusive ales served mainly at the brewery and took two special bottles with us back home: the Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter and the Perfect Storm Imperial IPA. Both of those were fantastic beers and worth the price of $7 per 22 oz. bottle.
Breakers Yard plays at Oakshire fairly frequently, so I recommend checking them out if you’re ever in the Eugene area. Buy a CD and help support local music!
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how lucky Oregonians are to have access to so many great craft beers year-round. The 2012 Holiday Ale Festival just recently finished serving heavy, spiced winter ales to thousands of people in the Portland area, with me being one of them. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a festival that people love and hate, but one I recommend if you’re a craft beer lover.
Access to a variety of beers that you wouldn’t be able to find at your local supermarket is one of the best reasons to go, but use caution, because some of those beers are not always what you’d expect. The festival began on Wednesday, November 28 and ran through Sunday, December 2. The hefty price of $30 included a tasting mug and 12 tickets, if you paid in advance, but grants you access to the festival for the full five days. If you want to have easy access to a majority of the brews next year, I recommend going on Wednesday and Thursday, because the lines on those days were slim to none. Wait until Friday to get full glasses of the brews you liked the best, because the beer lines will be huge over the weekend and the space in Pioneer Courthouse Square can make some people feel claustrophobic. Plus, if you go early, you can get sweet pictures like this!
I enjoyed many of the spiced ales, even though I’m more of a hop head. My favorite, by far, was Rusty Truck Brewing’s Cherry Chocoholic Baltic Porter (quite a mouthful). It’s one of the first beers I’ve ever tasted that had a nutty, chocolatey taste that closely resembled a peanut buster parfait from Dairy Queen. Gigantic Brewing‘s Old Man Gower’s Holiday Tipple had a nice subtle spice compared to some of the more intensely flavorful beers that circulated the huge beer tent. Trying Deschutes Brewery’s The Abyss vertical offering is one of those things you just can’t pass up in life. I was pleasantly surprised at the difference in taste between the 2008 and 2009 versions of The Abyss, with a much more straightforward drinkable beer from 2008 than the thick and heavy weight of the beer from 2009.
Had I not been able to go to the event Wednesday through Friday, it’s probable that I wouldn’t have paid $30 to enter. But if you have the time and the money, I definitely recommend coming to the heart of downtown Portland and quaffing some fine beverages from so many of the local breweries in Oregon and on the west coast.