Yes, I know: I'm late.  Lauelwood's Megafauna was released in July but I first had a chance to try it only recently at The Hop and Vine this past Sunday for the final event of Killer Beer Week.  I'd heard the buzz about Megafauna...there was a lot.  Honestly, I was a little burnt out by then with the big, bold Northwest imperial IPAs.  They'd all started to blur and become conflated in my mind, all having a similar character: a powerful, intense bitter finish with a heavy, bready malt backbone - attempting to strike some tenuous balance, but becoming like syrup as they warm.  There would be one ideal and quickly fleeting temperature for these beers, at which point the malt and hop characters were perfectly balanced. Serve it too cold, and it was just bitter, serve it to warm and it was like drinking from a can of malt extract.  And my question always was: why?  What are they trying to hide with so much of everything but no space for nuance or complexity?

I will now apologize for thinking Megafauna would be another one of those.  How wrong I was. 

From the Laurelwood website:
This beer takes its name from the oversized animals of the Pleistocene Era, or Ice Age. Large saber toothed cats, hairy elephants, sloths the size of buses roamed the frozen tundras. Everything was big and/or hairy, with extra horns, tusks, teeth, etc. A tough time to be fighting for survival…Like those massive animals, this beer is huge with hop aroma and flavor. We used several new aromatic hop varieties to get a layered and hop oil soaked beer which, unlike the frozen tundra, isn’t bitter, and finishes dry. The Aroma and flavor are layers of Pine, citrus and tropical fruit and the beer is a pale gold. We hope you drink it in good health and keep warm.
9.5% ABV / 140 IBU / O.G. 20.5° Plato
At 9.5% ABV and with a whopping 140 IBUs, one would think this beer could be compared to the big, hairy beasts of the Pleistocene era.  But I would compare it more to a hummingbird: deceptively delicate, but powerful. It pours a pale gold with a lighter body - definitely NOT loaded down with those bready, syrupy malts.  The aroma is floral, citrusy and FRESH.  My friend described it well: it's the smell of opening up a fresh bag of hops.  And the flavor is similar: complex with fresh hops throughout - floral citrus, fresh fruit and pine and a very well-integrated, delicate and balanced malt profile.  Not overly sweet, a dry finish - and you would never know it packs such a punch as there's no discernible booziness at all.

Because Laurelwood brewer, Vasilios Gletsos, is a pretty good friend of mine, I think I haven't given him a fair shake because I didn't want to be biased.  But after recently trying Laurelwood's Pumpkin Ale - one of the only pumpkin beers I've ever liked (the other one being Propolis Mabon Farmhouse Pumpkin Ale, or Alaskan Pumpkin Porter for a delicious spiced chocolate take on the pumpkin beer) - and now Megafauna, I'm now, objectively, convinced: Vasilios is a master.  You need to keep an eye on Laurelwood because there will surely be more great things to come.

As of Monday night, Megafauna was still on tap at The Hop and Vine, so go out and get some before it's gone!
I know this doesn't have anything to do with beer, but given the circumstances...Listening to this makes my heart hurt.
#RIP #LouReed We will always love you.
John Harris - respected Portland pioneer of craft brewing - announced today on Facebook that his new brewery, Ecliptic, will be opening its doors next week.  This is very exciting.  Come down and check out the new space!

Ecliptic Brewing is at 825 N. Cook Street, near N Fremont and N Mississippi in Portland Oregon.

You can also follow them on their Facebook page or on Twitter
See you there!

@EclipticBrewing #craftbeer #beer #pdxbeer

Me, enjoying Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti
Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Great American Beer Festival (#GABF13)...

I just wanted to send a special shout-out to all the Oregon breweries who were able to get in this year.  Both Colorado and Oregon took home a lot of medals, illustrating that these two states are both at the apex of the craft beer renaissance. 

There were also a lot of great breweries from all over America - some of which (like 3 Floyds, which I've always wanted to try!) don't get distributed to Oregon.  BOO!  Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy the gold medal winner for the Chocolate Beer category: Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti.  Delicious, and certainly no surprise.

You can see the full list of winners.
Or the full awards ceremony on the Brewing Network.

Or you can check out my summary of all our Oregon friends who won.  You guys rock #craftbeer!

This toast is for you, Tea Party!
This isn't a political blog by any means, but this shit is gettin' REAL now. 

The Huffington Post came out with this article/video yesterday which highlights the fact that, while leaving the big-named brewing giants relatively unscathed, the paralysis of The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) due to the government shut-down has had a direct impact on the formation of new craft breweries and the production of one-off and seasonal craft beer. 

Not to mention many of us (including yours truly) have SBA loan requests sitting on a desk somewhere, collecting dust, indefinitely. 

If you haven't seen this video of Senator Elizabeth Warren tellin' it like it IS, you need to watch it.  She does not mess around as she very clearly pinpoints the reason behind this shut-down - a miniscule reason so important to a minority of extremist nut-jobs that it's worth stalling small businesses of all kinds in a number of ways, disrupting the economy, preventing military spouses from receiving death benefits, and eliminating countless government services who serve the young, the old and the poor...  And, oh ya, you are fucking with MY CRAFT BEER. 

How did we let this happen?  How are there not rules in place which prevent these myopic, soulless, anti-business, anti-government freaks to use real people and real businesses as pawns as they scream and stomp their feet in a grade school temper tantrum?  Oh ya, there ARE:

Can you imagine what would happen to the economy if someone put these Tea Party Republicans in charge?  Oh wait, they did. 

Good move, Other Republicans.  Now we have a lot of people out of work or unable to provide jobs to people by opening new businesses (and how much Bud Light would we have to drink to drown our sorrows when we can't get great craft beer anymore??  A LOT.).  Guess what, losers?  These are all people who aren't going to vote for you when you run for re-election.  But I guess that's the point - you've never really relied on the young, the old, the poor, women or minorities for your campaign contributions, have you?  Well, dig your own grave, then, and get out of our way.

#craftbeer and #Republican #Losers
Alaskan Brewing
Pumpkin Porter
7% ABV

An imperial porter brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Eleven pounds per barrel of Red Hubbard pumpkin, six different malts, Magnum and Golding hops and cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

Pours nearly black with a short, creamy head that dissipates quickly. Smells of spices, roasted malt, coffee and chocolate. A rich, creamy mouthfeel with a medium to full body, there is, at first, the sweet taste of chocolate and spices, then roasted coffee transforms into a slight oakiness, bitter chocolate throughout, then finishes with a perfectly - I mean, perfectly - balanced hops bitterness. This is a very complex and well-balanced beer, not at all too heavy to have another glass...or three.

Klamath Basin (Klamath Falls, Oregon)
Vanilla Porter, brewed with vanilla beans, 6.7%

Pours a deep brown, almost black with not a lot of head and not a lot of head retention. This one is pretty sweet with a medium body, as expected from a porter, with nice chocolate and coffee and a whole lot of beautiful vanilla.

There is some warm booziness. Craft beer enthusiasts tend to think that booziness in a beer is a negative trait – that a great craft beer should hide it's alcohol well. And while that may be true, I don't mind it that much, and I find it almost inviting on a cold, wet day like today. It makes me wonder what this beer would be like if it were aged in bourbon barrels. It would certainly ad complexity to the beer, and I think a little oakiness would integrate nicely with the coffee and chocolate. But then, this isn't about what could be but what is.

I don't drink a lot of porters because they're a bit sweet for my taste and this one is true to the style in that way. The thing that I like about this beer is that it has a sudden unexpected, bitter hop finish that creeps up on you. Not overpowering, subtle, but I like the surprise. Generally, not an overly complex beer, but it has some great flavor and a lot of potential. I really like the vanilla and the slight bitterness which adds a little balance.  I find myself wanting just a bit more balance, but don't get me wrong - this is a very drinkable beer.

#craftbeer #porter