Support Local

I’ve always advocated for supporting local on this blog, but in these strange times it’s even more important to find some way to support the businesses we want to see still in business when this is all over.  I wanted to make a list of the places we’ve gotten take-out or delivery from in the last couple weeks. A few of the places have told us they weren’t sure if people knew they were still open so I wanted to highlight them in whatever way I could.  Obviously, based on delivery range this will be focused on Southwest Portland and the Tualatin/Tigard area where we live, but hopefully some people will find it useful.

Hops on Tap – This taproom/growler bar has quickly become our “local” since moving to this side of town. Pat, David and Jo are amazing people and they keep a interesting and fresh rotation of beers on tap.  Focusing only on “West of the Rockies” they feature predominately Oregon and Washington beers with an occasional California, Utah or Colorado handle popping up.  They also have a fantastic selection of wine, mead, cider, seltzer and kombucha on tap.  They have light bar food (quesadillas, sandwiches, chips and salsa etc).  They are open Noon-8 daily for take-out food and growler fills.

Sanchez Taqueria y Panaderia – This place is a local institution that just celebrated 20 years in Tigard.  The food here is not only amazing, it’s the closest thing we’ve found that matches the food we ate in Mexico. Very authentic. The bakery is amazing as well. It used to be self serve with bins and tongs, I doubt that is open anymore, but I saw a job posting on their Facebook page for the bakery, so it would seem it’s still open and you can order things from it.

Roxy’s Island Grill – Hawaiian food at it’s finest! I can’t speak for the other locations but the one in Tualatin is still open.  This is one of the places that told us they were slow and weren’t sure if people knew they were still open. The food here is really good, and priced a little bit cheaper than some of the other plate lunch joints in town. For 12-14$ you can get the normal plate lunch with meat and two scoops of rice and it’s enough to have leftovers.  You can’t beat that.

Ancestry Brewing – They have closed their Sellwood and Hawthorne locations, but the main brewery in Tualatin is still open.  We got dinner and a growler from them the other night and it was great. We got the mushroom bacon burger and the teriyaki pineapple chicken sandwich and both were amazing.  They are literally around the corner from us and before this is over I’m sure we’ll order from them again.  Also, highly recommend the Jerk Lime fries. Really good, and not super spicy.

Hip Chicks Do Wine – This is an urban winery in Southeast Portland that we joined as members when we lived in Woodstock and we continue to be members.  They make really good wine that’s super affordable and not pretentious. They also support things like Pride and New Avenues for Youth and things that we support as well. They are open for curbside pick up or free delivery of 4 bottles or more. There’s a link for online ordering on the website.  I recommend the “Wine Bunny” series (Blanc, Rogue, Blush). Those are my favorites. They also do an amazing Tempranillo, which is a varietal I had never heard of before.  It’s a Spanish grape that grows really well in Southern Oregon.

WinCo Foods – Don’t get me wrong, we love Fred Meyers and shop there all the time, but let’s be honest, the Kroger Corporation is going be just fine when this is all over.  WinCo is a “local” (Northwest/West coast) chain that is Employee-Owned. In fact, WinCo stands for “W”ashington, “I”daho, “N”evada, “C”alifornia, “O”regon. Their prices tend to be a little cheaper than Freddie/Safeway and their store brand stuff is perfectly acceptable. Even at Freddie we buy mostly store brand over name brand. We’ve shifted our grocery shopping to reflect a more local community.

Grocery Outlet – We happen to have a Grocery Outlet very close to us in King City. The prices are very good, since most of what they carry is closeouts. Most of their stores, including our in King City, are independently owned and operated by a local family. So the money we spend there stays in the community. Plus, lower prices make it a good place to shop for those on fixed income (like the seniors who live in King City).

Labyrinth Forge Brewing – Our friend Dylan from the Brew Crew opened this brewery shortly before all this madness started.  He’s quickly transitioned to online ordering and delivery to continue selling his beer.  He brought us a couple growlers the other day and it was frustrating we couldn’t hang out and talk.  He’s busy of course, and then the whole social distancing thing. Basically he knocked on the door and then stepped back around the corner. We waved and yelled thank you!

Petco – Like Grocery Outlet, our local King City Petco is independently owned and operated.  We’ve met the owner and he’s friendly and passionate about serving the local community.  We could get food and litter at the grocery store, but we adopted our kitties at a Petco (through a separate agency, but we met at a Petco) and the food the kitties started on was a brand from Petco, so we continue to buy it there.

I feel like there is something I’m missing but that’s all I can think of at the moment. Make sure to get out into your community (SAFELY!!) and find out what businesses are still open and how you can support them.

2018 Brews for New Avenues

This past weekend was the 7th annual Brews for New Avenues.  This unique beerfest benefits New Avenues for Youth, a non-profit fighting teen homelessness.  This was our third year attending this event.  It’s one of our favorite fests of the year.

While one of the smaller fests in town, it certainly pulls it’s weight bringing in breweries like de Garde, Cantillon and Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen as sponsors and contributors.  As would be expected with the above mentioned sponsors, portions of the event lean very heavily on lambics and sours, particularly the live auction and VIP tastings.  However, the draft portion of the event has a little bit of everything for everyone.

This years event brought in some big guns.  I got a chance to try Iowa’s darling, Toppling Goliath with a tasty IPA.  IPAs from Oregon City Brewing and Ruse Brewing were also on the menu.  Sticking with the lambic/sour theme I tried several really great beers including a Sour Red from Cascade Brewing, a blended American Wild Ale from Block 15, a barrel aged “lambic-inspired” beer from pFriem, a Saison from Jester King and a fruited sour from Firestone Walker.  The two beers that (in my opinion) stole the show were both darker beers from Tioga-Sequoia Brewing out of Frenso, California.  The first was their 10th Anniversary Ale, which is a blend of barrel aged stouts, barleywines and brown ales.  This was amazing, but the second one really knocked our socks off.  The Mocha Midnight is an Imperial Stout with Brazilian coffee, Ecudorian cocoa nibs and Madagascar vanilla.  Thick, creamy, delicious and this is one of their year round beers. Wow.

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Of course, the other highlight of this event is the beer wall.  Random blind bottles for $10.  Pay your money take your chances (although, the odds are most definitely in your favor).

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Very happy with this years picks.  Crazy Mountain Cherry Lime Sour, de Garde Saison Première, Breury Terreux La Démence (a blend of sour ale and bourbon barrel aged ale with white wine grapes) and 2013 Deschutes Abyss.  Ironically, one of the expressions of Abyss I haven’t had yet, although this one may be past it’s prime. Still interested to try it though. I don’t know about the Crazy Mountain, but I know for a fact the other three bottles all retail for well over $10, so the value of the beer wall is unquestionable.  If you’re willing to take a chance you might end up with something remarkable.  We’ve already had the Crazy Mountain and it was a winner.

What’s really impressive is to take a look at the past event’s on Brews for New Avenues website.  In 2015, they raised $58,000.  In 2016 (our first year, although I’m not taking credit for the increases), they raised $150,000.  Last year, they raised $240,000.  During this year’s event they announced that in 6 years they had raised a half a million dollars, realizing that nearly half of that had come last year.  A couple days after the event they announced that this year they raised $280,000.  What an amazing growth curve.

A lot of the big money comes from the live auction, which includes rare bottles (3L bottles of Cantillon, etc) and brewery experiences.  This year’s auction had fewer items, but included three brewery experiences.  Paid airfare, private tours, tasting, etc, the whole nine yards.  One was at pFriem here in Oregon, one was at Jester King in Austin, TX and the other was at 3 Fonteinen in Belgium.  My jaw was on the floor for the Belgian one just thinking about what an awesome experience that would be.  I was very jealous of the person who got to go on that trip, although the winning bid was $12,500… so not that jealous.

In the end, the real winners are the kids.

Cheers!

2018 SheBrew

I had intended to write something beforehand and never got around to it, so this becomes a recap rather than a preview.

This past weekend was the 2018 SheBrew festival.  This unique beer festival highlights female-identified brewers in the industry.  The beer industry is still very heavily male dominated, but it’s changing.  Perhaps faster here than elsewhere since Portland tends to be pretty progressive about such things.  Last year’s festival featured 20 or so beers from companies that employed a female brewer, with about 10 (so I heard) actually brewed by that brewer.  This year there were 22 offerings, 15 or 16 beers, 5 or 6 ciders and 1 mead, all brewed by female brewers.  The festival is a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign and is organized by the Portland Branch of HRC.

Last year, the HRC approached the Oregon Brew Crew (of which I am a member) about running a homebrew competition in conjunction with the pro festival.  This year we had about 130 entries from 22 states and, in only it’s second year, SheBrew became the largest female-identified homebrew competition in the country.  My wife served on the planning committee and also on the day of the comp organized entries for judging as Cellarmaster. 10 homebrewers were also selected to pour beer at the Festival for people’s choice style judging.

For the second year, I volunteered to help run the festival.  The night before I went to help set up tables and jockey boxes and then the following morning we helped finish setup.  I poured beer for the first two hours of the festival, while my wife sold raffle tickets.  After that, I got to enjoy the festival, which was awesome! All the beers were fantastic.  A lot of creativity of styles and ingredients, including two beers with glitter in them (glitter beer is apparently a thing now) and one of the glitter beers was green! Inspired by Todrick Hall’s take on the Wizard of Oz it was just the right amount of flashy.  It sure got people talking.  I have no idea how many people came through the door, but it was packed! I hope they sold a lot of beer and a lot of raffle tickets.  All the money raised goes towards the fight for equality.

I neglected to take any pictures, but there’s some great shots from the Festival (and brewer bios) on the SheBrewPDX Instagram page HERE. Big thanks go out to Buckman Coffee Factory for hosting and Chicks of All Trades flagging company for sponsoring, both local female-owned companies.

I’m honored to have played even a tiny part of helping this fest go, and I’m already looking forward to next year.  March 2, 2019 is already on the calendar!

2016 Beer in Review

2016 was a very good year for beer travel and beer education, so I thought I’d take a look back.

My wife and I rang in New Years 2016 in Savannah Georgia, which included a trip to Moon River Brewing.  Right on the main drag, the building is reportedly haunted in typical Old South fashion.  The third floor is vacant which otherwise would be primo Savannah real estate so even if you don’t believe, enough people do that they refuse to go up there.  This concluded an East coast trip that included trips to several breweries in North Carolina and Georgia.  The original post is HERE is you want to revisit it.

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After we returned from vacation I jumped into my role on the Board of Directors for the Oregon Brew Crew, our homebrew club.  I served as Festival Coordinator, which involved recruiting volunteers to work the OBC info booth at beer festivals, coordinating with festival organizers about when and where we could set up, actually setting up the booth and making sure it stayed occupied (which included myself at the booth for an entire day at one festival).  It was fun and rewarding, but also very taxing.  It took me well out of my comfort zone as far as being a leader and working with large groups of people.  I learned a lot about myself and about group leadership and while it was very healthy for me to push and expand my boundaries, I’m very excited to step away and rejoin the club as just an average member.

In March was a very exciting event, the first annual Pacific Northwest Homebrewers Conference (PNWHC).  Held in Vancouver Washington the conference was meant to emulate the National Homebrewer Conference, but focusing in on the PacNW.  This years NHC was out on the East coast and a lot of us couldn’t make the trip, so perfect timing for something local.  The conference was set up pretty much exactly the same as the national one.  There were lots of seminars on every imaginable topic, an expo with equipment and ingredient vendors, a lot of whom are already based in this area anyway, a pro night banquet of all the local breweries and a club night banquet for all the local homebrew clubs.  Members and clubs came mostly from Oregon and Washington, but there were representatives from Montana, Idaho, Northern California and even Canada.  My wife volunteered to help run the conference since (at the time) she wasn’t brewing and not as interested in the seminars as I was and now is helping plan the 2017 PNWHC which should be even better!

In April, my wife graduated with her Masters degree and we went to Disneyland to celebrate.  We only visited one brewery while we were there, but it was a pretty cool one.  The Anaheim Brewery was in the Anaheim Packing District which is full of old citrus warehouses close to the historic downtown area.  It was neat to walk around a quieter section of Anaheim, even though it wasn’t really that far from Disney and the Convention Center area.

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June brought about perhaps the most exciting beer related event of the year as I started my new job as a Quality Analyst at Portland Brewing! One of the original Portland microbreweries along with Widmer and Bridgeport, PBCo has grown and partnered with Pyramid Breweries out of Seattle into a fairly large regional brewery.  I’ve learned a lot in the last 6 months and continue to learn daily, but the coolest thing is I get to make beer for a living! I don’t do any of the actual brewing, but I work daily with the brewers and monitor the fermentations from brew day to bottling day to make sure everything turns out as it should.  It’s amazing to see the difference between homebrewing and commercial brewing, especially large scale commercial brewing.

In July we celebrated my wife’s birthday with a trip out to Bend, which is a great beer town if you haven’t been.  We visited two breweries while we were out there, one small and one very large.  The small one was Cascade Lakes brewing, which we discovered by accident while we were out riding bikes, the large one was Deschutes.  We took the tour at Deschutes which was really cool and left there with a super nice growler full of beer, compliments of a friend who works there as a birthday present for my wife.

In September I had the opportunity to meet Jamil Zainasheff, who came to speak at one of our homebrew club meetings.  Jamil is pretty much a rockstar in the homebrew community.  Long time homebrewer with many gold medals in the National Homebrew Competition and several homebrewer of the year awards, went on to found Heretic Brewing, where true to the name he pretty much does whatever the Hell he wants.  I got two of Jamil’s books (and had him sign them) and got to speak to him briefly.  I hope to learn from him and it was a super cool experience.

In October we traveled to San Francisco on a very non-beer related trip (friends wedding) but I managed to sneak a couple places in.  While a large group went off of to be pampered at the spa, I took a stroll through the SoMa neighborhood headed towards AT&T Park.  I stopped at 21st Amendment on the way, which was much smaller than I was predicting it to be.  They obviously have a production brewery somewhere else for all those cans that make it as far as the East coast because the SanFran pub was small.  Not a bad thing, just a little shocked when I got there.  They didn’t have Back in Black on draft, although my coaster said otherwise.  I got the Brew Free or Die! IPA and it was quite nice.  As we were leaving San Fran (since it was near the airport) we stopped at Armstrong Brewing Co in South San Francisco, which is a brewery run by an NC State classmate of mine.  We took several of our food science and bioprocessing classes together.  I didn’t get a chance to see him, but it was super cool to stop by his place.

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Also in October, my wife brewed her first batch of homebrew and joined the American Homebrewers Association, so that was exciting.  She just brewed her second batch and is slowly dialing in a recipe for a Chocolate Orange Stout.  It’s already good and just going to get better.

In November, I started a small beer cellar and taking some detailed tasting notes on beers that I want to drink now, and then drink again a few years from now and see how they evolve.  This is a pretty drawn out, long term project, but the results will eventually make their way here on the blog.

2017 already has some pretty epic stuff lined up, so stay tuned!

Fred Eckhardt – RIP August 10, 2015

I never got the opportunity to meet Fred Eckhardt but he is a legend around these parts and for good reasons.  He was an author, educator, National ranked beer judge and overall beer guru.  He was a champion of homebrewing and wrote one of the definitive beer guidebooks in his 1989 publication of Essential Beer Styles: A Catalog of Classic Beer Styles for Brewers and Beer Enthusiasts.  He is much beloved in the Portland homebrewing community.  He has a festival named after him that is on his birthday: Fred Fest and he has a beer named after him, “Fred” from Hair of the Dog.

Fred was 89 years old.  He’ll be sorely missed.

Be sure to raise a glass tonight to the “Dean of American beer writers”.

#cheerstofred