Obligatory Year-End Thingy
Well, it is the end of 2009 and, as is customary at the end of any year, the media has thrown at us 2009 year in review after 2009 year in review. Recaps of the past year's events fill almost every television station, every website and every newspaper. Covering everything from the year in celebrity gossip to the year in natural disaster gossip, these 365 day highlight reels come at us with almost punishing frequency. It is enough to make even the most patient of us want to scream out "No more!" and retreat to the farthest corner of the Earth to seek sanctuary from the onslaught of year-end media coverage. I for one have had just about all I can take of the "top 10s", "best ofs" and "favorites" of 2009. They are nothing but cheap, lazy, pandering journalism. Anyway, here is the portlandbeer.org Favorites of 2009 article.
Now, it would be pointless to try and recap every festival, tasting or beer release that happened this year. I did not attend every beer related event in Portland, nor did I try every beer released this year by Portland breweries. To do so would take more effort and more money than I am able to invest in my craft brew hobby. Gaping holes would fill my year end review due to my inability to be there for everything that was reviewable. What I can bank on though, is the fact that the majority of you reading this drank quite a bit of Portland beer and attended many beer-centric events in this fair city and amongst all of us, every event was attended and every beer sampled. So, in hope that no favorite is left unmentioned, I pose to you, faithful portlandbeer.org reader, these four questions:
- What was your favorite Portland beer of 2009?
- What was your favorite beer related event of 2009?
- Which Portland brewery most impressed you in 2009?
- What was your favorite beer based memory of 2009?
Answer one or answer them all. One of the best parts about drinking beer is discussing beer and any input on what impressed you this year is welcome to the discussion. To get things started, here are the answers to these four questions from two fellows named Matt and one named Ian. The one named Ian is me.
Matt Wiater (portlandbeer.org show runner, often wears a hat)
What was your favorite Portland beer of 2009? 2007 Bourbon Barrel Cask Moose and Squirrel from Laurelwood. Technically, this beer was released in 2009, so I hope I can get away with this answer. Patience is the ultimate respect you can pay to the right beer. Letting it sit for two years in a barrel, in plain view, every day, takes a lot of willpower. In conjunction with varying amounts and types of malt, hops, and yeast, aging is another dynamic that can take a beer in a much different direction over time. Fading hops, blending malt flavors, and wood flavors leached from the barrel, can all add to a complex yet smooth creation. A surprise and quiet release of this aged beer on cask is just one example of what lurks in the dark corners of Portland.
What was your favorite beer related event of 2009? Holiday Ale Festival. A mixture of different (mostly strong) beer styles, as well as a mixture of different (mostly strong) personalities makes for a great afternoon under a tent on a cold, rainy day in Portland. The early afternoon crowds consist of a lot of beer geeks using up a vacation day to drink and talk beer. All of the beers aren't for everyone, but if you can't find several outstanding offerings, you may want to ask yourself if you like beer at all.
Which Portland brewery most impressed you in 2009? Cascade Brewing. Ron Gansberg and Curtis Bain have been somewhat quietly doing their own thing just over the West Hills. During the great onslaught of IPAs and DIPAs and other floral monsters making Portland synonymous with hoppy beers, Cascade Brewing was quite content at creating a mixture of fruit beers, sours, belgian-style beers, and barrel-aged beers. Well, not I guess they weren't too content, since many of these beers were used in immensely complex blends such as Cuvee Du Jongleur, Bourbonic Plague, and Drie Zwarte Pieten. Cascade Brewing is always inventive and releases great beers all year long.
What was your favorite beer based memory of 2009? Baltic Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing. Beer is social. Hanging out with other people involved with the Portland beer scene--from drinkers, to writers, to brewers--is almost always a good time. Spending time in a newly opened Upright Brewing, tasting Baltic Porters from around the world, and hanging out with people who enjoy beer, is a great experience, not to be taken for granted.
Matthew DiTullo (Guy who makes videos about beer for BREWPUBLIC, wears hats less frequently)
What was your favorite Portland beer of 2009? Bourbon Fred from the Wood. This year seemed to contain a lot of big releases from Hair of the Dog. Michael, Matt, Bob, and a handful of one offs (which may make their way into bottles). During Oregon Craft Beer Month, Alan Sprints hosted an open house at the Hair of the Dog Brewery. Portland was introduced to the "Four Freds." The two standards, Fred and Fred From the Wood, as well as Bourbon Fred From the Wood and a Fred Flanders aged with a high bacteria yeast. The Bourbon Fred From the Wood was not only one of my favorite beers of 2009, but one of the best bourbon aged beers I've had. The Fred base seemed to mesh well with the oaky, vanilla, smooth and warming alcohol notes that the barrel aging applied. Man, would I kill to sip on another Bourbon Fred during these colder months.
What was your favorite beer related event of 2009? Holiday Ale Festival. As with every year, I always look forward to the Holiday Ale Fest. I love big brews and this is one of the best showcases in the Northwest. You'll find many great and unique Barleywines, Sours, Barrel Aged Beers, Imperial IPAs, Baltic Porters and more; all usually made especially for this event. You can't beet the good company of fellow beer drinkers under the city lights and lit Christmas tree protected by a heated, cozy tent with some of your favorite brews.
Which Portland brewery most impressed you in 2009? Upright Brewing. Alex Ganum started this brewery at the beginning of the year in the Left Bank Project on NE Broadway. Within his less than a year of running he has established himself well within the beer community. Alex has been producing unique, farmhouse style beers inspired by those from Belgium and northern France. He uses a French Saison yeast that gives his beers a dry, refreshing edge and allows him to stand out from the rest of the hop bombs we find around here. His tasting room is a delight, where you can find one offs that are experimental as well as successful. One of my favorites was the Turkey On Rye, a rye malted saison aged in barrels with chocolate and dried, Turkish peppers.
What was your favorite beer based memory of 2009? Not remembering the Barleywine and Big Beer Festival. Held during the weekend of my birthday this past March at the Lucky Lab on NW Quimby. Barleywines are my absolute favorite style, so I was super excited this was offered over my birthday. A wonderful variety of Barleywines, both fresh and vintage as well as Imperial Stouts, Belgian Quads and other Strong Ales. To cap it all off, after the fest we did a pub crawl in SE making it from The Morrison Hotel, to The Green Dragon, and ending at Roots Brewing. And to further cap off my birthday weekend a trip to Higgins was in order to enjoy a rare bottle of Hair of the Dog Cherry Adam From the Wood -- Yum!
Me (Ian Seniff, portlandbeer.org contributor, enjoys the convenience of wearing hats)
What was your favorite Portland beer of 2009? Bourbonic Plague. When I saw this on the list at Annibrew 2 at Bailey's Taproom I was fairly skeptical. A sour porter did not seem like something I would have any interest in. However, after trying it my skepticism turned to elation. This was a huge eye opener for me as to what beers could be. Honestly, like nothing I had ever had before. My tongue had trouble trying to comprehend what was happening. That is why I had several tastings.
What was your favorite beer related event of 2009? Holiday Ale Festival. I figured I would make it unanimous for HAF. The cheerful setting and excellent big brews made it the perfect end to my beer year. A close second was Annibrew 2 at Bailey's Taproom but the fact that the Holiday Ale Fest was 5 days long put it on top. I was also lucky enough to attend the Belgian Brunch on the final day and got to try a beer made with weasel poo (Mikkeller's Beer Geek Brunch Weasel).
Which Portland brewery most impressed you in 2009? Cascade Brewing. So none of my answers are very creative, so what? Not only is Cascade a great Portland based brewery, but Cascade showed me this year that they are one of the finest breweries in the country. Cuvée Du Jongleur, Sang Royal, Sang Noir II, Vlad the Imp Aler, and Bourbonic Plague are some of the best beers I have ever had and from the looks of things, Cascade seems to have a dynamite 2010 ahead of them as well.
What was your favorite beer based memory of 2009? Porno Sweatpants Fellow and general people watching at Bailey's Taproom. Due to Bailey's location and my desire to sit outside whenever possible, I have seen a variety of strange things this year at Bailey's. Drifters and people just out of Mary's Club are frequently enjoyable viewing fodder and the day that the Insane Clown Posse played the Roseland gave me the chance to see a variety of people all ages freakishly painted and in various states of shirtlessness wandering around while I enjoyed a cask conditioned IPA. Some even stopped in for a brew before the festivities. While all of this would be very interesting for a people watcher like myself, Porno Sweatpants Fellow was the ultimate sight to see. It was August 1st and I was in line for Annibrew 2 at Bailey's. I had arrived about a half hour early in order to get a nice place in line as well as a seat at a table. As my friend and I patiently waited in the summer heat for the tasting to begin a man exited the convenience store across the street and began walking toward us. The man, weighing in at about 240 and no taller than 5'7", mustachioed and with stubble galore, proceeded to remove his recent purchase from its black plastic home. He then opened it to the center-fold and inserted one hand down his rampantly stained sweatpants. As he passed us, and all 30 or so people in line, he gave a little head nod that suggested that he knew exactly what he was doing and he could care less what this line of beer enthusiasts thought about it. Porno Sweatpants Fellow then headed down Broadway and into our hearts. Good-bye, Porno Sweatpants Fellow. You are remembered fondly.
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