Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sweet Release! Mother of all Storms, Dissident, Matt

This was a pretty busy weekend for me. It started with an early morning drive out to Pacific City to attend the Mother of all Storms release at the Pelican Pub. A few buddies and I hopped into a rental car since none of owned a vehicle with more than 2 seats, and we were off through the forest well before sunrise.

We arrived in Pacific City just before the rain started; about 20 minutes before the pub opened. The line was short, so we checked out the surf, then walked across the street and warmed up in the coffee shop for a bit until the doors opened. We were excited about being early, not because we felt it necessary to secure our bottles, but because we wanted a table with a great view of the waves coming in during the storm.

We got a great spot, ordered bottles, breakfast, and the vertical tasting flights they were offering for the event. The verticals included one each of the following beers, served in snifters: Stormwatcher's Winterfest 05, 08, 09, 10, and Mother of all Storms 09, and 10. In addition to the flight, I tried a taste of Bad Santa, and a glass of Full House.

After we were full, warm, and brave, we loaded up the car, and walked up the dunes, enduring the pounding rain and wind-swept sand to the look-out to enjoy the power of the surf and the wonderful view. When we returned to the car, we were thoroughly soaked and gritty; and ready to head back to Portland for more beer releases.

We headed back on the 26, and my lead-footed friend passed a state-trooper, who later accused us of driving about 17 over the limit. Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, but this time it was especially humiliating. There we were, 3 city boys from Portland in a rented Toyota Prius, out in the woods, getting busted in front of a gas station, where locals in big diesel pick-ups and full camo outfits where gassing up their ATV's and getting ready to go out and kill stuff. On a lighter note, the entire gas bill for the trip was $15, which they probably spent on diesel just idling in the parking lot snickering at us.


Ticket in hand, we were on our way again, monitoring the speedometer a bit closer all the way back to the city.

Once the car was parked, we once again donned our rain gear, and walked north to Deschutes, where the Dissident had just finally been re-released. We grabbed a table, and ordered a round, which we made our way through and collectively decided wasn't quite good enough to hang around for a second of. We learned that bottle sales had been brisk earlier in the morning, and that if we wanted bottles direct from the brewery, we'd have to act quick, but with everything else going on, we decided to pass on the opportunity... despite having eagerly anticipated this release ever since running out of bottles of the 08, two years ago.

From Deschutes, we walked to the burnside bridge, and then down to the springwater corridor to Morrison, which dumped us right in front of Hair of the Dog. Inside, there were special samples of new beers awaiting us on the draft towers. Peach Fred, and Apricot Fred, both aged in oak barrels for 17 months. Sounded promising! I've enjoyed every other version of Fred I've ever tried, be it regular Fred, Fred from the Wood, Cherry Fred, or Bourbon Fred, but these fell short of the mark on all accounts. To be fair, I kind of liked the peach fred. It was very chunky, with bits of fruit suspended in the beer, but I've enjoyed chunky beer in the past, so that wasn't too much of a put-off. It tasted of peach ice tea. Not just the sweet peach up front, but also a perceived black tea like astringent flavor in the finish. I love peach iced tea. It was also still a bit hot, so there were essences of schnapps in there too. Again, not a bad thing, but it wasn't like any of the other times I tried a new Fred: it wasn't a "wow" moment.

The Apricot was a different story. The nose was of sharp acetone. Am I at HotD, or picking my wife up from a manny-petty? The flavor wasn't far from the nose. It burned. There were moments when you just went numb, and tasted a rich fruity delicious apricot booze, but those moments were fleeting, and it wasn't enough to salvage the experience.

To HotD's credit, the only way this beer was offered was in a small taster format. I didn't mind paying a few bucks to try a new Fred, but if I had to plunk down $7.50 for a 12 ounce pour and get stuck w/ it, it would have been a different story.

After the tasters, I had a 2010 Doggie Claws on tap, and then Alan brought out some cask 2009 Doggie Claws, which we got some of the first pours of. This is a beer that always hits the mark for me, and just gets better every time I try it. It was a nice way to finish the trip to the tasting room, as it reminded me why I love this place so much again.

From hair of the dog, we walked a block south the bunk bar, where we got some delicious sandwiches, and anything worth reporting on a beer blog ceased happening. Still, the night went on longer than it probably should have, and waking up the next morning early for the Matt release was a bit of a challenge.

After reading a quote from Alan about the Matt release earlier in the week on beeradvocate, saying "if you show up right at 10:00, you probably wont be able to get any", I decided to show up around 8, and wait in line for one last treasure of the weekend. I easily secured my allotment, and around 10:00 when I left, the line was gone, and there was plenty of beer to be had. Looks like I could have slept a bit more of it off after all!

Still, two hours in the cold was probably for the best. It certainly got me back to an even keel, which was required because I returned to a house full of in-laws, ready to go out and have a good time in our city.

I thought my beer trip was over, but in a few hours, I found myself sitting at Hopworks, with sampler trays and mugs littering my table. Beers of note that I really enjoyed were two seasonals: dark helmet lager, and pig war imperial IPA. The pig war, in particular, was a pleasant surprise for me. I've really fallen out of love for hoppy beers over the last year or so, but just when I thought I was out... this one pulled me back in! Very well balanced, incredibly smooth, not too bitter, and elegantly floral with soft citrus notes, I will certainly return to this one if the opportunity arises.

My in-laws scheduled a family portrait session (oh the horror!) at sears (the horror!) at the lloyd center (the... oh you get it) for an hour or so later, so we freshened up, drove over, and got a rosy-cheeked and rudolf-nosed shot taken. Things were stacked against me in this one too. Not only had my previous few day's activities put me at a disadvantage, but the only other white person in the family was visiting from California, which made me stand out like a pale-white-and-red sore thumb in the shot. Ce la vie.

Next up was dinner at Irving Street Kitchen. My brother-in-law's wife's sister is one of the chefs there, so we always get great treatment when we pop in for a meal. Usually we order what we want, but they bring us one of everything anyway. Among the highlights of the first course was a rabbit pate, duck mousse, crispy bone marrow, pastrami marmalade, and a shrimp and crab ragout. For my entree, I had a roast sirloin, accompanied by a 12 hour smoked rib. My wife had a whole roast trout, which I had to decapitate (and hide the head of) before she'd eat it, but we agreed, it was delicious. Everything else was great too. For drinks, I started with an old curmudgeon, a delicious peppery bourbon drink with grapefruit bitters. From there though, it was back to beer. Sleigh'r to the rescue!

I was in bed for much needed sleep shortly after.

At work now, who knows what the rest of the visit will bring.

p.s. speaking of "bring", my brother-in-law brought me a bottle of beer from Southern California that he said he particularly enjoyed. Lightning Brewery's Ionizer Lager. I'll report on that later.

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