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!
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.
Facebook advertising is one of the biggest challenges marketers try to master in social media. Getting an ad to stand out among the busy layout of Facebook is a huge challenge in itself; getting a user to click on the ad and converting them to becoming a loyal customer is an even larger challenge. Humor is a very successful way of converting someone to at least “like” the page a company owns.
Recently, Bridgeport Brewing converted me with one of the first Facebook ads I’ve seen in a long time that incorporated wit and humor into their ad.
To me, the re-imagining of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song to a Portland beer lover was enough to get the sense that the company is light-hearted, loves craft beer and knows how to have a good time. I reached out to them on Facebook to let them know how much I appreciated that ad.
Later, I tweeted the ad and had a friend chime in with this response.
@JesseRad Chillin’ out drinkin’ before it was cool, be addin’ yeast right you know it’s gonna rule
— Jana Arts (@JaynaArts) June 29, 2012
That’s the sign of a successful Facebook ad.
In the past few years, I’ve had a close relationship with food. I’ve tasted some unique flavors attributed to foods that, I think, the normal everyday American wouldn’t bother to eat compared to the convenience of some other foods. Smoked cheese, Brie, organic farm-raised steak, and snack foods outside of the norm are some examples. These great foods probably wouldn’t ever have been introduced to me if it wasn’t one of my favorite unique flavors; the flavor of Craft Beer.
I used to be the typical college level domestic beer drinker. “Mmm… Pabst Blue Ribbon! They don’t give losers the blue ribbon,” I’d say with a smile on my face. After a while though, my tolerance grew and my stomach couldn’t take all the beer I had to drink in order to get a buzz. That’s when I tried one of my first India Pale Ales. Ninkasi IPA coated my tongue with its super hoppy flavor and light carbonation and I was surprised at how I didn’t have to tolerate a bad flavor for a change while gladly drinking it down. After that, domestic beer just never tasted the same. After convincing most of my close friends that paying the extra couple dollars at a bar for higher quality beer can go a long way, I started to take a bigger interest into the types of craft beer that is out there and how many other individuals are passionate about the same subject. What I found was astounding. I believe, craft beer is not only better for an individual compared to domestic beer but that it’s a drink worthy of any culture worldwide and has some cultural significance within our own culture here in the Pacific Northwest.
If you need any confirmation that craft beer has its fans, look no further than KLCC’s Brewfest in Eugene, Oregon. In February this year, I went to the Lane County Fairgrounds with a couple friends to sample some of the 48 different breweries’ beers and wade through the expected 3,700 people (Bandolas) to get to the good stuff before it ran out. I had a great time but was surprised when I talked about my experience in class later and only got replies from younger people bragging about how they drank over twenty cans of Natty Ice while playing beer-pong that weekend. While I believe we both got intoxicated that weekend, he was hung over while I was feeling fine. I’m sure there are many reasons why but I like to think it’s because I had to drink less beer to become intoxicated and the ingredients were better inside it. Before I explain some of the reasons why I believe craft beer is good for someone, I think someone should gain some knowledge in some key points in the history of beer and what makes Craft Beer what it is.
Even in the beginnings of ancient history, ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia worshipped Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer (Garrett Oliver 22). In fact many people within many cultures drank beer over water because of risk of infection. Much, much, much, later in the United States of America, beer and hard alcohol were being brewed. Certain people thought that some current social problems stemmed from alcohol consumption making people become morally corrupt, thus the Prohibition Act was enacted in January 17, 1920 (Oliver 34). Some recognizable breweries sustained within this dry period through other means, some of which are quite humorous (Oliver 34). One key highlight is the fact that these companies created malt extracts for people to buy so that they could homebrew. Finally on April 17, 1933, after 13 years have passed, the Prohibition Act was dropped. The New York Times’ headline read, “Beer Flows in 19 States at Midnight.” All isn’t fine and dandy though because a nation of soda drinkers had emerged onto the scene for the last 13 years and weren’t used to the intense flavors of beer nor were they too picky. New laws were also placed to which the alcohol percentage had to be below 3.2% and there were pressure to keep beer at a cheap price since the Depression was in full swing (Oliver 36). Some of these laws have created the soda-like domestic beers we have today in America which contain much less of the ingredients that make craft beers of today so great.
Most people have some knowledge that beer is made with hops, barley, and yeast. That’s just the basic part of the whole process though. You can have many different varieties of hops, barley, and yeast that all do different things in the process of brewing beer. The temperature of what you boil the brew at, the temperature and length of time you roast your barley and the amount of hops you put in all adds its own flavors to a beer. Did I mention the type of water used makes a difference as well? The process is complicated but I believe it makes for a drink that everyone can enjoy with any type of food. I mean, there has to be a reason why beer is the number one beverage in the world, right?
Within the Pacific Northwest, I can say that people really do appreciate craft beer. I’ve traveled to various cities in the U.S. such as Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, New York, and many other cities and I can tell anyone that the Pacific Northwest has many more craft beer lovers than in other regions of the United States. Why does craft beer hold such an affinity to people in the Pacific Northwest though? Chip & Christina, owners of The Bier Stein Bottle Shop and Pub, think that it’s because craft beer has integrated itself within our culture. The demand for it has reached far into the grocery stores that also carry mass-produced domestic brands and imports. They think because people have seen it so long, the name Deschutes is just as familiar of a brand name as Budweiser. On top of that, they think that people within Oregon are more educated to the way they consume their products, especially since we’re in a town with a University, which accounts for whether or not a person would want to drink domestic or craft beer. When they made their business plan, they had to take into account two major aspects in their target consumer market; Money and Education. Would people be willing to pay the extra three dollars for a six-pack? I think that in the Eugene area, where people are willing to bike than drive, mass transit by bus is available, and buying local is so popular, people are much more willing and have the extra money to spend on a higher quality alcoholic drink. Chip & Christina as well as Nikos Ridge, a Business / Marketing employee at Ninkasi Brewery think that a person who’s well educated usually will want to drink a higher quality craft beer, whether it’s locally brewed or an import, rather than a mass-produced domestic beer. Why would people really want to drink these time and time again and shell out a higher dollar?
Three years ago, I went to visit some friends in Illinois whom I’ve known for almost a decade. My friend, Brianna, had a keg of an import beer called Hacker-Pschorr which imbued a smoky wood flavor that was quite unique compared to many beers I’ve consumed before that. When I returned back to Eugene, I tried to relate the beer to friends around here and really couldn’t describe it especially when comparing it to other beers. Then one day, I found a similar beer at the Bier Stein that tasted almost exactly like it but with higher alcohol content. I knew I had to tell Brianna that I found a beer she would like if not more than Hacker-Pschorr. Chip & Christina tell me that this is one of the many reasons why people would go out of their way and pay more for a higher quality of beer. Generally, people who travel inside and outside of the country have an education and money to spare. So, whether it’s a student going abroad, a business person traveling outside the country, or just the casual traveler seeing the sights of the world, coming back home and drinking a beer that you had in the country you visited can recreate the memories of places visited thus, I believe, food and drink can trigger memories that can last a lifetime. What happens, though, when the tastes you come to associate with memories disappear?
At this moment in 2008, beer brewers and consumers alike are starting to see a trend in the raising of prices of craft beer. The shortage of ingredients that contribute to the making of beer is one of the main reasons why this is happening. Various storms in key areas that grow hops and barley ruined much of what would’ve helped the impending shortage (Brooks). That along with fires, pest problems and an abundant oversupply has created the shortage (Southern Arizona…). People also believe that with the introduction of alternative fuels, farmers are giving up their hop and barley crops for corn crops though this isn’t entirely true because hops and barley don’t grow in the same places and conditions as corn. Rather, barley is being used to feed livestock since corn can be used as an alternative fuel source (Brooks). The movement of where barley goes to make a consumer good is just one of the reasons why the cost of craft beer is rising. If you need any evidence, just go to Safeway on 18th and Pearl. A year ago, a six-pack of Rogue Dead Guy Ale was almost a dollar less than the now $10+ sticker price before deposit. Chip & Christina say that they doubt we’ll ever see the $20 six-pack but we will see a price increase that they speculate eventually will level off. Nikos agrees that is what will likely happen as time passes and crops grow healthy again. In the meantime though, there are beers that are disappearing from our shelves and pubs in the Pacific Northwest purely because of the type of ingredients used in the recipe of certain beers. Ninkasi’s Spank Dog is one of those beers (Nikos). Originally, it was made in tribute to the Wild Duck in Eugene, Oregon because they knew the former owners and brewers but because of the increase in price of hops and the lack of production of it, it has been discontinued. Imagine if a memory you had associated to a certain taste could never be appropriately reclaimed because of the discontinuation of the food or drink you love. I’d imagine that a piece of you had been snatched away. Now, all this information about craft beer has mainly been about the positive aspects of it but what about its negative effects attributed to the average human individual?
I understand that craft beer is not for everyone and some people are more susceptible to negative health side effects such as weight gain or alcoholism. Overall though, I think that a moderate amount of craft beer can be healthier for you because of the better quality ingredients inside it. Chip & Christina say that there are more vitamins in craft beer but there are also more alcohol and calories than your average American domestic. If you look at it on a level of having just one beer, the difference can be grand but if you’re drinking to get intoxicated, I believe that craft beer is better for you in the long run because you don’t have to drink as much to get drunk thus less overall calories entering into the body. Nikos explains that people who drink craft beer usually drink it because it has more nutrients and fewer additives. It’s like comparing real food to fast food. He also explains that the alcohol doesn’t normally create the alcoholic but rather it enables them. We both agree that people who normally drink craft beer drink it for different reasons than the person who normally drinks well liquor or domestic beer.
Overall, the future holds much in store for craft beer and the people who make it as well as the people who consume it. There are still many more things we will see in the Pacific Northwest and I think that Eugene has some great possibilities in store for it when it comes to craft beer and food. Every year, KLCC has its Craft Brewfest and there’s that Sasquatch Brewfest that occurs in Eugene yearly where they pair craft beer with craft foods, which is something I believe, should never be missed. Pairing beer with food is a trend that is catching on quickly within the Pacific Northwest and the owners of the Bier Stein are highly interested in starting food pairings at their restaurant though they have no time due to demand of their establishment currently. In 2006, the Portland metro area had 38 breweries in its confines, which is more than any other metro area in the world. In effect, that would almost make Portland beer capital of the world compared to its population. I think we should be proud of that fact because in turn it means we are an educated people and spend our money smartly by buying local.
Brooks, Jay R. “No Hops, No Barley, No Beer!” Beer Northwest. Spring 2008.
This article explains the possible reason why craft beer is being endangered with the shift in climate change as well as change in demand of agriculture for commercial use. Brooks also explains the fear of farmers growing corn over craft beer ingredients.
Gatza, Paul, Julia Herz, Cindy Jones. “2007 Craft Beer Industry Statistics.” Beertown.org 17 Apr. 2008. 29 Apr. 2008 http://www.beertown.com/craftbrewing/statistics.html
This webpage offers some interesting statistics of get increase of craft beer microbreweries and brewpubs that occur within the U.S. The comparison of 2007 to 2006 gives us a relation in the increase in almost all areas of craft beer making. The use of a pie chart and bar graph also help the reader comprehend the statistics.
Hardy, Chip & Christina Hardy. Pesonal Interview. 22 May 2008.
The interview conducted mainly focused on how their establishment has flourished in respects with the popularity of craft food and beer, how the ingredient shortage has effected their establishment, and any health effects they know of pertaining to craft beer.
Oliver, Garrett. The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer With Real Food. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003.
Oliver celebrates craft beer in this book on a large scale while explaining how it’s made, the history of it, brewing traditions, and other bits of knowledge. The history of beer within the U.S. and how Prohibition has shaped some of the mass market beers of today was of interest especially when there are so many independent brewpubs and microbreweries within the Pacific Northwest.
Ridge, Nikos. Email Interview. 20 May 2008.
I mainly focused on how a brewery located within the local confines of Eugene, Oregon has grown to its current size, how the shortage of hops has effected their recipes for their beers, and the health pros and cons of craft beer.
“Southern Arizona Brewer Wins Cheap Hops.” Beverage World. 29 Apr. 2008. 10 May 2008 <http://www.beverageworld.com/content/view/34721/92/>.