Spring Beer & Wine & Cheese & other crap.

Posted Sat Apr 11, 2009, 18:11 PM by Tracy | |

This spring event started out with just beer. Then they added wine. Now cheese. And whole lot of other crap. I like to keep my beer tasting and wine tasting separate, but not everyone is so picky.

I was relatively restrained, limiting myself to only a few beers. I have things to do tomorrow.

This is my first beer review posting since getting the iPhone, which makes no difference to anyone but me.

Cascades Lakes Brewing Co
Redmond OR
Blonde Bombshell
Blonde ale
4% alcohol
26 IBUs
Fizzy, sunshine yellow, citrus overtones with a subtle finish. Refreshing without being insipid.

Lost Coast Brewery
Eureka CA
Tangerine Wheat
Wheat ale
5% alcohol
No question why they call it Tangerine. Very fizzy, a little sweet but not overwhelmingly so, the flavor drops off rather quickly.

10 Barrel Brewing Co
Bend OR
Summer Ale
Golden ale
4.7% alcohol
26 IBUs
Color of light honey, a touch of carbonation and a light hoppy flavor. As promised by the name, perfect for summer.

Silver Moon
Bend OR
Panty Dropper Ale
5.9% alcohol
64 IBUs
Flavorful and flowery, not overwhelming. Drops off quickly to a lingering finish on the sides of the tongue. Hoppy flavor without being excessively bitter.

Big Sky Brewing Co
Missoula MT
Moose Drool
Brown ale
4.3% alcohol
The first time I had Moose Drool was bottled and it was true to its name. On tap, a much better experience: malty and rich, a tad dry. Too sweet for me to drink in quantity, but alright in small doses.

Mad River Brewing Co
Humboldt County CA
Steelhead Double IPA
Double IPA
8.6% alcohol
95 IBUs
High IBUs but not bitter at all. Good balanced flavor with a long finish. Very tasty.

Sierra Nevada
Chico CA
Pale Ale
Pale ale
5% alcohol
33 IBUs
Tasty, amber colored, more flavorful than your run-of-the-mill pale ale. Closer to an amber, really. A rich rounded, mouth-filling flavor.

Bavaria Germany
12% alcohol
An aroma of wine and the alcohol content to match. A chocolaty mouth feel, this double bock is made like an eiswein. Just wow. Made in an authentic Trappist monastery they say.



Vegan baked goods ain't half bad.

Posted Sat Feb 28, 2009, 18:11 PM by Tracy | |

It’s good to learn something new every day. Today I learned, done right, vegan baked goods are downright tasty. What’s more, they don’t weigh you down and make you feel slightly sick when you over indulge.

At least, that’s what I’m told. I didn’t eat a dozen cookies or an entire loaf by myself, but I did sample some banana bread (moist, not greasy) and oatmeal cookies at a bake sale.

The trick is to replace eggs with flax seed. That’s right, flax seed. I never would have guessed. Apparently, when crushed and mixed with water, flax seed whips up like egg whites. It adds appropriate body and moisture to the baked goods. Plus, there are good substitutes for butter.

Who knew? Vegans, that’s who.



Cocktails and basketball.

Posted Wed Feb 11, 2009, 19:53 PM by Tracy | |

We were hanging out the other night at our favorite bar, when the bartender mentioned he had been asked to invent some cocktails in honor of the NCAA.

As it happened, the martini I had just had him mix for me would fit right in that theme: Belvedere vodka with a splash of Clear Creek Distillery Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir and a twist of lime. I christened it The Tall Fir. The first NCAA basketball champions were the team from University of Oregon, nicknamed the Tall Firs.

We brainstormed a few more possible cocktails:

  • NCAA: *N*ocello, *C*offee, *A*maretto and *A*bsolut Vanil
  • Sweet Sixteen: something sweet and pink with a powdered sugar rim
  • Bracket Busters: regional cocktails to honor each geographic region of the NCAA



Winter Ales.

Posted Mon Dec 08, 2008, 12:27 PM by Tracy | |

A 180° turn from the flowery and fizzy concoctions of summer, winter ales are perfect for sitting by the fire, sipping in quiet contemplation. Definitely not driving, since the alcohol content of most winter ales is higher than what we’re used to.

We went to the Winter Ale Festival at Pioneer Courthouse Square on only the last day. It’s a mixed bag: a mellower scene, less crowded to be sure, but some of the beers we would have like to taste are tapped out.

Between us, E and I sampled some 15 brews.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co
Pasa Robles CA
Velvet Merkin
Oatmeal Stout
5.5% alcohol
Good flavor, not as rich or thick as some stouts I’ve had. Almost chocolatey with a touch of bourbon.

Cascade Brewing Co
Portland OR
Drie Zwarte Pieten Sang Noir
Flanders Style Sour Red
9.5% alcohol
6 IBUs
Is it wine or is it beer? E says it’s sour enough to take the tartar off his teeth. A collaboration with the beer steward of the Winter Ale Festival. Distinctive reddish color, flavor evocative of pie cherries.

Widmer Brewing Co
Portland OR
Nice malty, nondescript winter beer.

Hair of the Dog
Portland OR
JIM 2008
9% alcohol
Another collaboration with the Festival. Malty and thick with an initial flavor I can’t quite place and a lingering aftertaste. Is it cardomon?

Lagunitas Brewing
Petaluma CA
Black Pepper Stout
Imperial Stout
8.2% alcohol
Wow is that peppery. Try it with your favorite spicy foods. This stout won’t back down. Perfect with filet mignon with peppercorn sauce.

Bridgeport Brewing
Portland OR
Raven Mad
Imperial Porter
7.3% alcohol
45 IBUs
Malty and flavorful, with a touch of hops. An interesting flavor arc. Seriously, I experience the flavor of this ale as an arc.

Rogue Ales
Newport OR
Yellow Snow
7.6% alcohol
70 IBUs
After all thls malty ale, it’s a relief to get a palate cleanser like this IPA. Flowery aroma, good balance, a pleasant, lingering aftertaste.

Portland OR
Old Ale
7.2% alcohol
22 IBUs
The aroma of fresh oats dominates, very sweet, a bit thin.

Fort George
Astoria OR
North II
Grand Cru (Belgian-style barleywine)
8% alcohol
50 IBUs
Very sveet, rich, just a tad of hops to mellow the malt. Rather like drinking mead. Take in small doses.

Off the Rail Brewing
Forest Grove OR
Blizzard of Ozz
Belgian wit
8.1% alcohol
24 IBUs
Good head, good fizz, spicy, pungent and refreshing. A bit malty and sweet.

Full Sail Brewing
Forest Grove OR
Dry-hopped Wassail
Strong ale
7% alcohol
56 IBUs
A nice winter beer. Pleasantly malty with a dry finish, a balanced all-around winter ale.

Sierra Nevada
Chico CA
Big Foot
9.6% alcohol
90 IBUs
Big in every way. Malty, sweet, hoppy, strong.

Deschutes Brewing
Bend OR
Hop Trip
Nicely hoppy, crlsp and sharp, flowery and flavorful. A nice counterpoint to the heavily malted ales of winter. E detects a hint of uric acid.

Brasserie Dupont
Avec Les Bons Voeux
Like drinking a Lemonhead candy. Tart, not too sweet.

Golden Valley Brewing
McMinnville OR
Tannen Bomb
A solid winter ale – sweet with malt.



Less stress cookies.

Posted Mon Dec 01, 2008, 09:11 AM by Tracy | |

I got the Christmas cookies baked, decorated, and put up this year with the least amount of (self-induced) stress ever. E hit on the right strategy by suggesting we make bourbon balls a week earlier than usual. That was one less huge quantity of labor-intensive cookies to cram into one weekend.

I also shook it up a little by shifting around the schedule. Friday I made wagon wheels as usual, but didn’t have to make bourbon balls at the same time. Saturday I usually would make spritz, but since my dad was coming over, I wanted to do the less intensive lemon stars. I got those done by very early afternoon.

Since Dad wanted to try the spritz, I did one batch Saturday afternoon, as well. Not too bad. I did the second batch of spritz on Sunday, getting wrapped up by early afternoon.



Jump start.

Posted Sun Nov 23, 2008, 16:50 PM by Tracy | |

We are getting a jump start on the annual post-Thanksgiving Christmas Cookie-stravaganza. E suggested we make the bourbon balls this weekend. It will relieve some of my self-imposed stress and the bourbon balls may benefit from an extra week of curing.

My secret for top-notch bourbon balls? 101 proof Wild Turkey.



21st Amendment Brewery.

Posted Fri Jul 04, 2008, 11:32 AM by Tracy | |

As a self-proclaimed aficionado of beer, I couldn’t pass up a visit to 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, located just a couple blocks from the AT&T Stadium, home of the SF Giants. We visited this micro-brewery and cafe on Wed Jul 2, our last full day in SF.

Every year they bring their unique Watermelon Wheat to the Oregon Brewer’s Fest, but of course they had several other offerings to taste.

South Park Blonde
Blonde Ale
5.1% alcohol
17 IBUs
Light, bright, fizzy. Fairly long finish for a low-hopped beer. Good balance, refreshing, no one taste dominates.

Watermelon Wheat
Fruited Wheat Beer
5.0% alcohol
17 IBUs
Pretty shade of cloudy yellow. Good summer grilling beer with enough acid to cut the fat of a hotdog or burger. Taster presentation “cheats” by adding a watermelon wedge to the glass. Slightly bitter aftertaste. Perennial favorite at the Brewer’s Festival.

Amendment Pale Ale
Pale Ale
5.5% alcohol
28 IBUs
Golden amber in color. Malt springs to the forefront at first taste,followed by a low lingering undertone of hops. Pretty sweet for a pale ale.

Schweick’s English Mild
English Style Mild Bitter
4.2% alcohol
11 IBUs
Less carbonation than other offerings. Pleasantly creamy mouth-feel. A little on the malty side for an English mild bitter. Only the malt lingers, otherwise not much of an aftertaste.

Motor Oil
Dark Amber Ale/Strong Ale
7.8% alcohol
38 IBUs
Very malty, with enough hops for balance, similar to Paulaner Salvatore. Color is somewhere between dirty and clean motor oil with an initially creamy mouth-feel.

Dark Lager
4.8% alcohol
30 IBUs
Smokin’! The color of the sunset through the smoke of California wildfires. Very pleasant, flavorful with smokey overtones, not as heavy a beer as the color suggests.

Pomegranate Cider
6.5% alcohol
This fruit fermentation is made by Two Rivers Cider Company of Sacramento CA.
Aroma of pomegranate, the combined flavors of apple and pomegranate. A good palette cleanser before moving on to more beer.


Diet starts tomorrow.

Posted Mon Jun 02, 2008, 11:35 AM by Tracy | |

We had our friends Anne & Todd to dinner last night. Notice I did not say for dinner because that would suggest cannibalism. Which we do not do. But we did talk about. Whom we would eat and who would taste bad. It was that kind of evening.

Todd went duck hunting earlier this year, so he had a couple ducks for E to roast. Plus we had some duck breasts that one of my cousins gave us that needed to get eaten.

E wrapped the whole ducks in pancetta and stuffed them with pear. After roasting them, he finished them off with a cherry jam glaze. The breasts he marinated in sherry, then pounded them flat and breaded them before pan-frying them. He added mushrooms and cream to the sherry and pan drippings to make the sauce.

For dessert I made apple crisp and whipped cream flavored with Calvados.

Everything was so delicious, I was sucking duck meat off the bones. We all ate too much and polished off a couple bottles of wine. We didn’t even get to the blueberry dessert wine Anne & Todd had brought.

There’s always tomorrow for a diet.



Good Eats.

Posted Sat Mar 15, 2008, 12:15 PM by Tracy | |

You can learn a lot from watching the Food Channel on TV. For example, I learned how to turn red wine white (add ammonia – but don’t drink). The latest thing I learned is to crack eggs by tapping them on a flat surface, no on a sharp edge. That way you don’t get a bunch of shell pieces.



The cobbler's children.

Posted Sun Dec 30, 2007, 10:54 AM by Tracy | |

And the cookie maker’s husband has no cookies.

All those cookies I make I give away, and keep none for ourselves. I had quite the hankering for krumkake. Even though I was on my third beer (or perhaps because), I whipped up a batch of batter and cooked up about half of it. And ate about half of that. E had one.


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