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!

Into the Woods Part 2

My recent infatuation with barrel aged beers has continued.  The season of dark beers is almost over, but February in Oregon is Stout Month and that includes the Festival of Dark Arts this weekend at Fort George in Astoria.  My wife and I went last year and declared we would return every year.  Whether that holds true or not remains to be seen, but we are going this year.  There’s a lot of barrel aged beers on the menu for the fest this weekend, but until then, here’s a couple more I’ve enjoyed in the last couple of months.

Payette Brewing Hoop and Stave 3 (2014): Imperial Rye Ale aged in Whiskey barrels with cherries.  So, this was a very interesting beer.  I read several check-in’s on Untappd claiming the beer was infected.  It was a bit sour, I believe possibly from the cherries and may have picked up some natural bacteria as well.  Personally, it tasted like a Kriek (cherry lambic) and I really liked it, but it may not have been what the brewers intended.  Your mileage may vary.  (4 stars)

pFriem 2016 Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout: As soon as I heard about this beer I had to find a bottle of it. Dark black with a coffee colored head, dark fruit and strong oak aroma.  The bourbon really bursts in the flavor plus vanilla and coconut flavors from the oak.  Dark roast in the aftertaste.  Very smooth.  Very dangerous at 11.5% (4.5 stars)

New Holland Dragons Milk: I’ve read that this is the only barrel aged stout that is part of a year round lineup rather than a special seasonal.  New Holland recently started to distribute to Oregon, so when I saw it I had to grab a bottle.  Dark fruit and strong bourbon aroma.  Slightly sweet with a chocolate and whiskey flavor.  Not roasty, very smooth.  Thick mouthfeel that lingers long on the palate.  I remember this beer being very intense, almost too much so.  Certainly could have shared the 12 oz bottle.  (4.25 stars).

New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek (2016): Fruited lambics are my favorite style of sours, particularly cherry lambics (kriek).  This beer is a partnership between NBB and Oud Beersel in Belgium.  The lambic portion was brewed and wood aged in Belgium and then shipped across to NBB where they blended it with a golden lager and their own sour brown ale, Felix, and then aged in the foeders.  I tasted this at the tasting room in Fort Collins, but it is available in 22oz bottles.  Lightly tart, sweet cherry, very refreshing, not overly sour, but just enough pucker. (4.75 stars)

New Belgium 2017 La Folie Sour Brown Ale: I’m pretty sure I would have liked this beer regardless, but I got to taste this in New Belgium’s Foeder Forest as part of the tour.  I know words don’t do it justice but imagine drinking a sour beer, surrounded by the massive barrels it was aged in, in a room that smells like red wine and whiskey.  Got that? Definitely the highlight of the tour.  (4.5 stars)

Diebolt Vladislav Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout (2017): This one might require some travel, since I don’t know if they distribute much outside the Denver area, but it’s worth the trip.  We missed the release by one day while we were in Denver, but when we got there the next day they had the original version plus several variants.  Sweet dark fruit, sherry, chocolate aromas.  Roasty coffee, dark fruit flavor.  Dry finish with lingering bitterness, super smooth. Absolutely blew me away.  Another dangerous one at 11%.  (5 stars)

Diebolt Vladislav BBA RIS Variants, Coffee Chocolate and Vanilla Chai (2017): We tried two variants of the Vladislav while we were there as well.  My wife really enjoyed the coffee chocolate, which was a little coffee heavy for my personal taste, but execution-wise was nearly flawless, very well done. (4.25 stars).  The Vanilla Chai knocked my socks off.  Sweet and spicy with great flavor, certainly hides the alcohol very well.  You could drink a lot of this if you weren’t careful. (5 stars).