Up a Kriek

Sour beer is an acquired taste that it took me a while to acquire. Much like black coffee and hoppy beer, it takes a while to grow on you.  I was lucky enough last summer to attend a “Sour Beer Camp” with my homebrew club where we brewed a lambic-style beer outdoors and then let it wild inoculate over night in a makeshift coolship.  Needless to say, people brought a lot of beer to try.

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This is only a portion of the beer that showed up that weekend, but it was basically “forced exposure”.  I got to try 50 or so sour beers, some I liked, some I didn’t.  It gave me a basis to work out which styles I liked and which I didn’t and what I liked about the ones I liked.

Over time I’ve begun to realize that I really enjoy fruited Lambics.  When you add cherries to a Lambic, it becomes Kriek (pronounced, to the best of my knowledge, very similar to “creek”).  I’ve tried 6 or 7 different Krieks now and I wanted to share my thoughts on them.

Devil’s Kriek (2014) and Tahoma Kriek – Double Mountain Brewery: I got bottles of both of these at the same time as a thank you for judging a competition.  This was long before I got into sour beers and my first introduction to the Kriek style.  I remember them being surprisingly enjoyable.  I scored the Devil’s Kriek 4 stars on Untappd, and I gave the Tahoma 3 stars and remarked “Not as good as the Devil’s Kriek”.  I’d be interested to go back and try it again.

Cerasus (2013) – Logsden Farmhouse Ales: They describe this as a Flanders Style Red ale with cherries, as opposed to a Lambic style, but it’s an American interpretation of the Kriek style.  I had this one at the Sour Beer camp, and despite only giving it 3.5 stars on Untappd, I labeled it as “Pretty Good”.  I had some other fruited sours that weekend and that’s when I started realizing I enjoyed that style.

Kriek Boon (2012) – Brouwerij Boon (Belgium): I was able to try this one at the Abbey Bar in NW Portland which specializes in Belgian and European beers.  I had this one in a bottle, which was disappointing, but not because of the beer itself.  I ordered the Oude Kriek Boon, which was on the draft list but it turned out they had run out.  They had a bottle of the regular Kriek in the cooler so I went with that.  The Oude is 6.5%, the Kriek is 4%, yet the bottle was more expensive than the draft. Oh well.  Regardless, the beer itself was marvelous.  Great cherry flavor, slight tartness, a little bit sweet.  4.5 stars on Untappd.

Lindemans Kriek – Brouwerij Lindemans (Belgium): This beer is a grocery store staple.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this beer everywhere, dating back to before I was old enough to drink.  I really enjoyed this, amazing cherry flavor, a slight tartness and a very sweet finish.  I gave it 4.5 stars on Untappd.  Had an interesting discussion later with some people how this is back sweetened and not very traditional for lambic, but is still a very remarkable beer on it’s own merits.  Considering it’s found nationwide (to my knowledge, I’ve seen it everywhere) I imagine it’s designed to be very enjoyable to a mass market audience, perhaps even specifically a North American/US audience.

Kriek Mythology – Culmination Brewing: Labeled as a Lambic-inspired Sour American Red Ale on Cherries, this is another American interpretation of the style.  This was a limited edition bottling from Culmination and I had to try it.  It was phenomenal! Lightly tart, very balanced, great cherry flavor. 4.75 stars.

Yachats Kriek – Yachats Brewing and Farmstore: Last but certainly not least, the Kriek I had last night.  I picked this bottle up a couple weeks ago when we were down in Yachats.  They also list their Kriek as a Flanders style red ale with cherries.  This was a very nice beer, the least cherry flavored, but well balanced.  Tart but not bracing. No sweetness at all.  Surprisingly refreshing. 4.75 stars.

I was looking on Wikipedia just now to see if there was a significant difference between a Flanders Style and a Lambic style and I discovered this interesting paragraph at the bottom.

“Although fruit lambics are among the most famous Belgian fruit beers, the use of names such as kriek, framboise or frambozen, cassis, etc. does not necessarily imply that the beer is made from lambic. The fruit beers produced by the Liefmans Brewery, for example, use an oud bruin, rather than a lambic as a base.”

So, in essence, the Flanders style and American sour style cherry beers are still considered Kriek.  All Lambics with sour cherries are Kriek, but not all Krieks are Lambics.  Makes sense yeah?

The Lambic page also lists which of the breweries produce “Traditional” Lambics and which produced sweetened Lambics.  Seems to be about half and half.

So there you have it, my favorite style of sour beer, sour beers with cherries!

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Oregon’s Lush Coast

Portland is Beervana beyond a shadow of a doubt, but don’t overlook the Oregon Coast when it comes to good drinks.  Not only is the Oregon coast a beautiful place to visit and drive down, there’s plenty of good breweries and a handful of wineries and distilleries as well.  Starting from the north and working your way south down the Pacific Coast Highway (US 101), although I wouldn’t recommend doing it all in one day.

Astoria: Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, where it meets the Pacific and separates Oregon from Washington, Astoria has a solid and small, but growing, beer scene.  Fort George and Buoy are the two big names in town, they both can their beer and it’s available in the Portland market, but you should visit their locations.  Buoy is out on a dock, completely with a glass floor to watch sea lions, while Fort George is a little further up the hill with commanding views of the town and river.  Wet Dog Cafe and Astoria Brewing Company (which are run together) are right down on the waterfront boardwalk area.  They share a brewery, but both locations are unique.  Astoria Brewing has a simple tap room and bar, while Wet Dog is a full blown restaurant. On the Wet Dog side they have several dog named beers that aren’t available on the other side.  The food is also really good.  Worth a stop. The newest game in town is Reach Break Brewing, which opened about a week before we got to stop in there before Festival of the Dark Arts.  The beer was awesome, and ambitious, starting out day one with a barrel aged stout.  These guys know what they are doing.

Gearhart: There’s not a brewery in Gearhart (that I know of) but there is the McMenamins Gearhart Hotel.  It’s a really cool historic property, and of course you can find all the standard and special McMenamins beers there.

Seaside: Seaside is a pretty cool town, albeit very touristy.  It’s about as close to what I would think of as a “beach” from the Southern US.  Wide sandy beach, arcades and taffy shops, boardwalk etc.  Very “East Coast” style beach town.  I haven’t been to Seaside Brewing yet, but I see it every time we drive through there.  Maybe next time.

Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach is one of my favorite places along the coast.  It’s the first place along the coast my wife took me after I moved out to Oregon and home to the famous Haystack Rock.  The last time we drove through there (on the way home from Cape Lookout) we noticed two new places in town that we’ll need to visit next time we’re in town.  Pelican Brewing opened a new brewery and pub in Cannon Beach.  I had heard about that but finally got to see where it was.  Also, on the north side of town was Public Coast Brewing which, to my knowledge, is very new.  We didn’t have time to stop at either as we made our way home, but we said we would go next time we were in town.  Cannon Beach is also home to the Cannon Beach Distillery.  While we were camping in Cape Lookout our friends had a couple bottles from CBD.  One was Il Keyote, which is an agave liquor that’s barrel aged.  The website says they treat it more like a brandy than a tequila, and I remember it being very smooth and very delicious.

Tillamook: Tillamook is a bit inland from the coast, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention de Garde Brewing.  World famous for their wild fermented farmhouse style beers, absolutely worth the visit.  And let’s be honest, you’re going into town for the cheese curds anyway.  US 101 passes through town, so you’re still on the coastal highway, it just tucks inland around the large Tillamook Bay.

Pacific City: Pacific City is home to the main operations of Pelican Brewing.  They have a gorgeous brewpub located, quite literally, on the beach.  Located next to one of the public parking and beach access areas with great views of the beach and Chief Kiwanda Rock (which I’ve also seen referred to as Haystack Rock.. confusing yeah?).

Lincoln City: Lincoln City is a small town, and is geared more towards grocery stores and supplies than beach rentals and kites.  Lincoln City is home to the McMenamins Lighthouse Pub which, despite being very small, has it’s own brewery and supplies beer up the coast to Gearhart.

Depoe Bay: Depoe Bay is a tiny, tiny town and home to the worlds smallest working harbor.  This is a great place to do whale watching.  Depoe Bay didn’t used to have a brewery, but they do now.  Former Three Mugs brewer and OBC Member Chris Jennings is now the head brewer at The Horn Public House and Brewery located in the former Spouting Horn Restaurant location.  Haven’t been there yet, but it’s on the list.

Devils Punchbowl: So, not a town so much as a roadside attraction, the Devils Punchbowl Natural Area is home to the Flying Dutchman Winery.  A small winery, but with award winning wine.  When we stopped in to do a tasting they told us that the wines are open fermented and barrel aged outside and they pick up some of the salty, ocean qualities.  Not sure if you can really taste the difference, but it makes for a neat story and unique selling point.  The wines were also very good.

Newport: Newport is home to Rogue, which is very divisive, some people love them, some people hate them, but they are one of the largest breweries in Oregon.  They have several locations throughout the state, but their main operation is in Newport.  It’s worth visiting to take the tour, and hear the story about the “massive red erection”.  Across the parking lot is the Rogue Distillery.  They make whiskey and gin using a lot of the same ingredient as they use for beer.  Dead Guy whiskey uses the exact same grain bill as the Dead Guy beer.  Rogue also has a farm in eastern Oregon where they grow a lot of their own grains, hops, fruits and herbs, to use in the beers, spirits and restaurants.

Yachats: Yachats is very small, but home to Yachats Brewery and Farmstore, which my wife and I recently visited on the way down to camping in Florence.  It’s a great place and totally worth the visit.  It’s a bit out of the way but trust me, it’s worth the journey.  Great beer, awesome food and great people.  Go there.

Florence and points South: There’s not really a whole lot south of Florence.  Defeat River Brewing is in Reedsport, which we planned on going to while we were in Florence, but we didn’t make it.  7 Devils Brewing is in Coos Bay, which sounds vaguely familiar.  I feel like I’ve had some of their beers before, but I never been to the location down in Coos Bay.  To my knowledge, there are no breweries south of Coos Bay, but this is Oregon so I wouldn’t be shocked to find out there was.

So there you have it, your brewery tour of the Oregon coast (with a winery and two distilleries thrown in for good measure).  Head on out to the coast and drink in the view! (Sorry, the puns just write themselves).

Yachats Brewing and Farmstore

Last weekend my wife and I went camping down in Florence, Oregon with her family.  This is an annual tradition which happened to fall on one of the hottest weeks in record in Oregon.  Thankfully, it was much cooler down on the coast.  On the way down, we stopped in the tiny coastal town of Yachats to have lunch at Yachats Brewing and Farmstore.

 

I don’t write about every brewery we visit because that would be overwhelming, but if a place is unique, a special experience, or in my thoughts “unknown” or underhyped, I’ll write about it.  Yachats was all three.

Before the visit, I was only vaguely aware of Yachats Brewing.  I had a barrel aged version of their Marbled Murrelet Stout at Festival of the Dark Arts.  It was “on the way”, so we decided to stop in.

Camping is always a food-fest so we decided to split a sandwich, which was a good idea because it was HUGE! BBQ chicken, onions, peppers and cheese, it was great.  Warm polenta and fermented veggies on the side to round it out.  Highly recommend the food.

The two beers we tried were the Coastal Dark Ale (4.5 stars), their version of a CDA, my wife’s favorite style, and the Hyphyweizen (4.5 stars), their version of a German Hef.  Both beers were really good and we ended up taking a crowler of the CDA camping and I got a bottle of their Kriek (which I haven’t tried yet).

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The location was really cool.  Obviously not the original use of that building.  We sat on the side patio, which was half indoors/half outdoors and used to be a greenhouse/plant area.  You could see into the brewery with some tanks back in the back, as well as mics and speakers for live music.

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We got there shortly after they opened, so they weren’t very crowded and the staff was very friendly.  Quick to recommend a beer, ideas about food, pointed out seasonals and special items.  Overall a great experience.  If you’re on the southern Oregon coast, I highly recommend swinging by Yachats Brewing and Farmstore.  They are located right on 101 (Pacific Coast Highway) about a half hour south of Newport.  It’s worth the drive.