Ridiculous Beer Gadgets

There was a post on Dont Drink Beer a couple days ago about a device called the Beer Caramlizer(sic), which was a copper post you heat in a fire and then dunk into your beer to “caramelize the sugars for a richer flavor” or some such.  What followed what a hilarious DDB-style rant about all of the reasons that’s a bad idea.  Make the beer warm, make the beer flat, break your glass, get ash and dirt in your beer, and of course the coup de grâce, WHY?? On what planet is this a good idea? You should go read the post HERE and if you don’t follow DDB on Instagram, you should.

This reminded me of all the other ridiculous things I’ve seen that go with beer.  I see them all the time on Facebook and even in the pages of Craft Beer and Brewing and Zymurgy magazines.  Let this serve as my humble warning.  You don’t need these things at all.  They will not enhance your drinking experience and they will ruin your beer.  I’m purposefully not linking to the product’s websites since they don’t need the traffic from me, but you can find them if you Google.

First we have the “Chill Stick”.  A stainless steel rod, which I assume is filled with that blue re-freezable gel from ice packs, that you stick in a beer bottle, to keep it cold.


First question, how long does it take you to drink a beer? Second question, why is this a thing? Here’s the problems they don’t tell you about on the fancy website.  One, the beer has to be cold to start with.  It will “keep your cold drink cold for up to 30 minutes”.  If you stick this in a hot beer to try to cool it down it’s going to foam up all over the place and you lose half the beer.  Two, you have to make room for it.  You have to drink half the beer to be able to stick the damn thing in there.  Really, really pointless.

The price has been dropped from 29.95 to 19.95 for two of them… Gee I wonder why. (Also, that’s a case of beer right there).

Next, we have the Fizzics.


Tada!! The idea behind this machine is that it allows you to dispense a bottle or canned beer, as if it were on draft.  Not only is this completely unnecessary, but now that I read the website it’s even more ridiculous than I originally though.  I assumed it pumped CO2 into the beer to push it out.  Oh no, it uses “pressure” to dispense the beer (but does not require CO2 or Nitro cartridges, somehow) and then with the last two ounces of beer it runs a sonic wave through the beer to add the perfect head of foam.  There’s another technique that accomplishes this exact thing.  Opening a can and pouring it into a glass.  The website claims (and I quote) “Fizzics uses patented sonic wave technology to deliver the fresh taste of draft from any bottle or can”. Whoa whoa whoa.  I’m gonna stop ya right there boss.  A fluffy head isn’t going to save a bad beer.  Throw a two year old, oxidized and skunked bottle of Hienie through that thing and you know what you get? Skunked, oxidized nasty beer with a fancy fluffy head.  The other problem I have with this thing is you’re exposing your beer to air and lets be real,  after the novelty of the first couple, you aren’t gonna use for a while, you aren’t gonna clean it, some nasty shit is gonna grow in there and every beer after that you run through it will taste like bleu cheese.  Oh yeah, and this can be yours for the low, low introductory price of $169.00.

Next we have the Growler Chill.  This is the Fizzics, but for growlers (and three of them!).  Ok, so this is a bit of a novel concept, but also unnecessary.  To-go beer, be it growlers or crowlers are meant to be consumed the same day.  The beer in a growler doesn’t stay fresh, even if you keep it under pressure, as this machine claims to do. At least this one uses CO2, but still. It’s just not the same as a factory sealed bottle or keg.  The problems with this are similar to the Fizzics.  How the hell do you clean the thing? A growler full of water isn’t going to do the trick.  And then, well… it weighs 69 pounds, takes up 2 feet of counter space and costs $500 bucks! Do you know how many growler fills you can get for $500 and then drink them before they go flat? A lot.


Last, we have GrowlerWerks.  I almost hate to rag on these, because they are made in Oregon and they are absolutely works of art, but again I fail to see how it’s necessary.


They look good, I’ll grant you that.  But that copper comes at a price ($169.00!!).  This is a pressurized growler designed to keep beer fresh for “up to two weeks”.  Again, growlers should be consumed pretty much right away.  I can almost guarantee that when it’s half full it’s going to go flat.  The pressure needed to “serve” a beer is way lower than what’s needed to carbonate a beer.  It’s just not going to stay.  They also don’t work very well, in my experience, but some people like them.  To each their own, but the only way I’ll have one of these is if I win one, and even then I’d be hard pressed to actually use it.

A fool and his money are soon parted…. be wiser.

2018 Festival of Dark Arts

It’s that time again! Fort George’s annual Carnival of Stout was this past weekend.  My wife and I both took off Friday so we could go up the day before.  We decided to go up through Cannon Beach to swing by a couple new places there.

First stop was Public Coast Brewing.  Opened in 2016 and inspired by the 1967 Beach Bill that made the entire Oregon Coastline open and public land free for all.  The open brewpub has a very casual laid back feel.  Perfect for the beach.  Great beer too.


Next stop was Mo’s Seafood, because of course.  If we’re at the coast we’re going to eat seafood.  My wife got the bouillabaisse, which is essentially a seafood soup, and I got the fried combo with cod, shrimp and clam strips.  It was delicious as always, and you can’t beat the location, which is literally on the beach with a great view of Haystack Rock.


Even in the rain and fog, there’s just something about eating fresh seafood within 50 yard of the pounding surf.  Can’t beat it.

Last stop in Cannon Beach was the new Pelican Brewpub, which also opened in 2016.  Big open space with lots of wood similar to Public Coast and Pelican’s original Pacific City location.  I got the new Beak Bender IPA and we also tried a Oyster Stout, made with actual oysters.  After that we headed up to Astoria and got checked into our hotel and went to grab dinner at the Rogue Pub there, out on Pier 39, which honestly might be one of the most interesting Rogue locations.  We joined some friends for a night cap at Fort George and then called it a night.

The weather forecast for Saturday was nasty.  Several hours of 100% chance of rain, high winds with gusts up to 25mph, including some of the times we would be standing in line waiting to get it.  Thankfully, it ended up not being that bad. We got rained on a little bit, and a couple times had to duck for cover, but for the most part it wasn’t awful.  It was cold and windy but stayed relatively dry.  By the early afternoon, it was actually gorgeous.  The skies cleared up and the rain went away, which made the cold and wind a lot more tolerable.


View from Fort George’s new upstairs patio, looking across the river to Washington.

The made some changes to the Festival this year, which I believe really helped out.  First, they got rid of the Noon VIP and 2PM General Admission tickets.  They opened the fest at noon for everyone and severely limited the amount of tickets sold.  It was still super crowded, but the idea was the VIP experience for everyone.  This year they also set up stanchions and ropes to guide the lines up to the bars.  This was much, much better than what happened last year which was 5 lines headed straight out from the taps which turned into a mob, and no way to know which line you were even in.  The lines often extended well past the end of the ropes, but it still kept things organized.  The lines were long, but moved quickly.  They also blocked off one of the side streets with a tap trailer out there and some food vendors, which offered more taps and also spaced things out better.  There was more space for the crowds to spread out.  Along with more taps, they also had everything available from the moment the fest started.  In the past they’ve held back certain kegs and would list them as “Tapping at 3PM”, “Tapping at 6PM” etc.  Usually by the time we found where it was on, it would be gone.  So very early on I went for the couple of rare ones I knew I wanted, Founders KBS and The Breury’s So Happens it’s Tuesday.  I also didn’t notice a lot of kegs blowing.  I’m not sure if they had more kegs, or if it was a function of less people.  It was really crowded from Noon to about 1pm as everyone got in and got started and then it started thinning out.  From about 4-6 was actually pretty chill.  I think a lot of people left to go get dinner or something and then plan on coming back later.  We called it pretty early, leaving the fest around 6pm with no plans to return.  We grabbed dinner at Bouy with a group of our homebrew club friends and then headed back to the hotel.


Random crowd shot in the barrel room.

As in years past, I don’t take time to do detailed tasting notes, but there are always beers that stick out above and beyond the rest.  In my opinion, one of the best beers there was Block 15’s 2018 Super Nebula.  Some other standouts included Walking Man 2013 Bourbon Barrel Jaywalker (which I also had in 2017, it’s still awesome), Fort George ReclusaModern Times Rum and Bourbon Devils Teeth, and Stoup Night Night Imperial Stout.  This years Matrtyoshka Series was also very ambitious.  There was the base stout aged in bourbon barrels, Bourbon with Vanilla, Bourbon with Vanilla and Marionberry, Bourbon and Pinot Nior Barrel aged, and Bourbon/Pinot Barrel with Cocoa Nibs.  Between my wife and I we tried the Vanilla and Vanilla/Marionberry variants.  They were both quite good, I actually preferred the plain vanilla one slightly better than the marionberry one.  We weren’t that interested in the wine barrel variants. I’ve had wine barrel aged beers that are awesome, but I’m not sure about blending wine barrel and bourbon barrel.  We also didn’t stay for the bottle release this year, both for time and money reasons.  It was snowing Sunday morning as we left and the weather got worse as the day went on.  We were home before it got too bad in Portland.  There was only one beer that I tried that I would list as “bad”.  The Lagunitas Imperial Stout Variant with vanilla, chocolate and french oak chips.  This one had a pretty harsh astringent bitterness to it, I’m guessing from the oak chips.  Probably sat on the wood too long.  It wasn’t awful, but compared to the other stuff it certainly stuck out.  There were also a couple very interesting ones that weren’t bad, but not exactly my cup of tea.  Sour stouts from Jester King and Three Magnets that some of our friends liked and some didn’t.  Quite a few stouts aged in wine barrels which were some good, some very heavy on wine character to the point of being off-putting.  Always interesting to try them though.  Several places have made crazy stuff just for this festival.  Lots of creativity on display.


Well, that pretty much wraps it up for this year.  See you in 2019!