Monday, August 20, 2007

This piece is plodding along slowly, but will be done in full soon. Here's a sneak-peek, since I know you all have been losing sleep the last few weeks in anticipation...


Far away to the east, tucked up against the borders of Washington and Idaho, are the Wallowa Mountains. Jagged, alpine, they rise up out of the desert sere. These steep slopes wring what moisture has survived the traverse of the Cascades, and thus are covered in lovely pine forests and starry montane lakes. The highest peaks are crowned in glaciers, from whose feet streams gush out, pouring through flower-jeweled meadows and rocky washes on their way downhill.

One of these, named for the winds that flow up and down the canyon, is Hurricane Creek. This is a stream in a hurry; the water kicks and froths along, taking very few pauses on its way. Far from a lazy coastal river with swimming holes and rope-swings, this is a wild, semi-frozen churn- water that only hours before was ice. It dashes along under the sharp-needled pine trees and out onto the plain, where it is parceled out in charming little canals that irrigate the lush pasturelands and grain fields at the foot of the mountains.

But before the thirsty wheat takes it all, this little stream gives its bounty to the glowing little community of Enterprise, Oregon. This is the water responsible for one of the best beers in the state. You can taste the gush and froth of wild Hurricane Creek in every pint of Terminal Gravity.

...stay tuned for the rest of it, at least two paragraphs more...

Caldera Pilsner and Journeys in Multnomah Village

This weekend my lady and I were a-prowl in the Village, and, scared away by the acrid clouds of yellowtooth smoke at the otherwise charming Ship, we found our way over to Journeys, a newish watering hole right on Capitol Highway. Journeys is located in a converted house, and is filled with what the Germans call "gemutlichkeit," or coziness. It's a lovely place, with nice outdoor seating and great ambience inside, and, happily, is a smoke-free environment in which to enjoy their excellent beer and wine list.

When I walked in, my eyes immediately focused on one thing: a tap handle, gleaming golden in the soft yellow light, labeled CALDERA PILSNER.

The beer was perfect, snappy, crystalline, and light, with a soft curtain of hops on the finish. Impeccably true to style, this is the finest American pils I have ever tasted, edging out the excellent Prima Pils from Victory (and, as a Pennsylvania Dutch boy, that's traitorous talk!). Almost unbelievably crisp and refreshing, this beer demanded a revisitation. Needless to say, I aquiesced to her gentle demands.

It's a good thing I live four blocks away from the place...

Monday, August 6, 2007


at John's Marketplace, PDX, OR, USA

as selected by Chris and Riggs

Caldera IPA- in a can! $1.45/ 12 oz. (Oregon)

Caldera is the first microbrew in the state to make the jump to the dark side: opaque aluminum cans. They’re lined, so the beer has no metallic taste, and is completely protected from light. Hoppy, crispy, and delicious.

Weltenburger Kloster Hefeweizen Hell $2.79/ 1 pt. 9 oz. (Germany)

We’ve had this beer for some time, but I just discovered it last week. Wow! Light and refreshing, this filtered Hef backs off the banana flavors, but is still unabashedly German in style and complexity.

Boulder “Cold Hop” $3.99/ 22 oz. (Colorado)

Well-hopped, with a solid malty core, this is Boulder Brewing’s stab at an English-style ale. We find it more NW than UK in flavor profile, but it’s a damn good beer, however you class it.

Morland “Tanner’s Jack” $1.99/ 12 oz. (England)

Now here’s an English-style beer. Copper-colored, smooth, and fairly hoppy for an English brew, this is just one of the delicious brews from Morland. If you don’t know it, you should.

Hale’s Kölsch $3.59/ 12 oz. (Washington)

Chris the Beer Guru says this is absolutely the finest Kölsch -style beer brewed in the States. Light, refreshing, and delicious; and pretty darn authentic, too.

Spaten Premium Lager $1.99/ 12 oz. (Germany)

Spaten is a relatively large brewery, and their beers are widely distributed, so much so that you may have begun overlooking some great stuff. Premium is an ultra-clean lager, all bright, pure flavors and perfect carbonation. The finish is completely dry. This is what American macro-brew “pilseners” wish they could be.

Hop Rod Rye $3.29/ 22 oz. (California)

The biggest, baddest rye ale ever known to God or man! I’m only exaggerating a little bit there (God brews an awesome rye), as this beer belies the notion that all rye beers are light and snappy. It’s dark amber in color, with aggressive, peppery hops. Great with spicy Mexican food!

Brasserie de Blaugies “Saison d’Epeautre” $7.99/ 750 mL (Belgium)

This beer might as well be named Saison d’Epiphany for the effect it had on me. When I discovered that all the class, complexity, and pedigree of a Belgian ale could be delivered without any heaviness or sweetness, I cried tears of joy for three days. Actually, I just bought another bottle… and another… Brewed with spelt, this beer is a true “micro-brew,” as Blaugies is located in a garage in Belgium. Amazing.

Hebrew “Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.” $4.99/ 22 oz. (New York)

The other biggest baddest rye ale; Lenny’s is dedicated to none other than Lenny Bruce, and this beer is similarly revolutionary, packed with massive, integrated flavors. Gargantuan hops on the finish make Northwesterners smile.

Coopers Sparkling Ale $1.69/ 12 oz. (Australia)

If Foster’s is Australian for beer, maybe Coopers is Australian for really good beer (I dig Foster’s Bitter, admittedly). Everything they make I love, but the Sparkling just rings a sunny ole bell here in the summer swelter. Slightly cloudy, with superfine carbonation, it’s dry and eminently refreshing, but still has a nice complexity to it.

Yulesmith Holiday Ale $6.65/ 22 oz. (California)

Its name notwithstanding, this is a summer beer (your clue is the cluster of fireworks on the label). The beer inside is wonderful, absolutely gigantic, brimming with nutty malts and topped off with a landslide of bitter, white grapefruit hops. A massive, very well-made beer.

Rogue Half-a-weizen $4.55/ 22 oz. (Oregon)

If given the option to have only one beer with me on a desert island, this is the one I'd choose. Lay the bottle gently on its side prior to opening to “relax” the yeast. Fully clouded, this beer sings like sunlight down through a cloud, floral and light, but with ideal weight under the snappy citric flavors. There are no sweetness or banana flavors to mar the impeccable finish of Rogue's take on a Belgian witbier. This beer is just perfect.