Oregon’s homebrew community is in shock after the Oregon Liquor Control Commission resurrected an old law that forbids homebrewers from consuming their product anywhere other than where they brewed it. This has caused the closer of homebrew contests around the state and at various fairs.
It turns out that the issue may have come to light when Deschutes Brewing Company employees called the OLCC about the legality of a homebrew event on the brewery’s premise.
Here’s Deschutes Brewing Company owner Gary Fish’s explanation:
“The real story is that Deschutes Brewery contacted the OLCC to ensure that a homebrewers forum we were planning during American Craft Beer Week was legal. Given the rules we are bound to as licensee of the OLCC and as a responsible member of the brewing community, we always want to make sure that we understand the intricacies of the OLCC’s regulations. After a three-minute conversation with an OLCC representative, we were told that the agency would call us back with further information. This never happened, and the planned event was dropped as a result.
“The bottom line is that we were attempting to create an event celebrating homebrewing, and our roots in this culture. We were never contacted by any media outlets to clarify this story and the reasons for our inquiry. We hope that these OLCC laws will change in the near future, as recent coverage has suggested, and that homebrewers can continue to share their creations with the world.” – Gary Fish
Here is what I think. These ridiculous laws need to come to light. Without being aware of the laws, no one has any idea of how to work with the law or how to figure out how to change the law. The folks from Deschutes were covering their collective butts, which is a good thing. That it led to restrictions on homebrewers is unfortunate. However, now the lawmakers in Oregon that are promising change can focus in on these hangers on and change them.
Lesson for Montana: Well, this is where it gets sticky. Do you just not call for fear of awakening law enforcement, or do we explore the full Montana beer law to see if we can modernize it? I tend to lean toward the second. Let’s explore the full beer law and lobby for change instead of waiting around to see if someone will find that obscure law that could shut us down.
Worden’s Market has two new beers that’d be worth checking out. I haven’t tried either yet, but my buddy told me the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewing Company is a really drinkable pale with some good body and a decent hop note. Here’s the description from Worden’t website via Deschute Brewing Company.
It has a plush body with satiny caramel flavors derived from seven varieties of malt. Yet, despite it all, it remains a hop-forward ale with that distinctive citrusy punch. Just minus any mouth-puckering bitterness.
And the second looks like a contender for your Saturday Breakfast Beer. Here’s what Worden’s says about the Noir De Dottignies from Brouwerij De Ranke:
The heaviest ale on our menu with a very rich taste, coming from the six different kinds of malt we use. These malts also give it that rich, dark, nearly black colour. The royal doses of Challenger and Saaz hops bring the typical balance between sweet and bitter.
Pick up a few bottles of each and let me know what you think of them. I’ll be enjoying the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale tonight.
A controversial blog post by a beverage distribution company has stirred up the craft beer world with a question about how many breweries/beers is too many. In this blogger’s opinion, it’s a very good question. Here’s why: There is a big difference between distributed beer and breweries that brew only for on-premise consumption.
The list of American breweries operating currently comes in around 600 strong. That’s a lot of beer, but not too much. Unless you consider that every one of those brewery owners wants to become the next Sierra Nevada, New Belgium or Widmer, then it might be too many.
The craft beer distribution world is a messy place filled with an almost political sense of importance when it comes to product placement. Budweiser and Coors are known to pay off and even intimidate some distributors to give shelf-space favor to their products. When you consider that, the almost overwhelming number of craft breweries that have their beer distributed seems like a nightmare.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the American dream of taking your brewery from a small, local producer of craft beers to a national favorite. But if given the choice of touring a world-class brewing facility like the one at Sierra Nevada, or sitting back and enjoying a pint with friends in a small-town brewery like Blacksmith Brewing Company in Stevensville, Montana, I’ll always take the latter.
I can’t question the commitment to quality of the large-scale craft breweries, but I happen to know the smaller producers brew with the enjoyment on their customers’ faces in mind every day. You can see it in the progression of their products and the personal communication available at that level. Of course it’s unreal to expect every community to have a small-scale brewer that just serves the community, but I have to honor the ones that are out there doing just that.
Some exist in the shadow of giants, Bend Brewing Company comes to mind, nestled as it is under the all-powerful eye of Deschutes Brewing Company. And others, like Helena’s Blackfoot River Brewing Company, distribute very lightly in a few cities around the state of Montana.
All I really want to do here is weigh in on subject with the reminder that not everyone wants to become the next big thing. Some are content to be the best thing in their area. And I like that.
It wasn’t really an Oscar-night thing, but Beau brought over some Stone Brewing Company IPA and some Deschutes Brewing Company Hop Henge IPA round about the third quarter of the big show. Can’t fault him though, he’s a volunteer for Big Brothers & Sisters of Missoula, and he spent most of Sunday afternoon hanging out with his little brother.
While Jeff Bridges was thanking his mom and dad for raising him in the “business” and cradling his gold statue, Beau and I sniffed the two big West Coast IPAs to see which one had the bigger nose. By color, the Hop Henge had a bit of a burnt caramel edge over the ripe barley color of the Stone IPA. But in smell, the Stone held a bit of an advantage with a wonderful aroma of fruity and flowery hops. I’m guessing they achieve this by the two weeks of dry hopping the beer is said to go through.
But in the glass and on the tongue, the Hop Henge comes out a bit ahead of the Stone IPA. The body is bigger and able to handle the 8.75 percent ABV like a linebacker carries his weight. The rich burnt caramel color translates to malty sweetness that plays cloyingly with the massive amount of cascade and centennial hops. My personal feeling is that the Hop Henge is probably in a different category. Perhaps it should be compared to a Stone Brewing Company Ruination IPA instead. On it’s own though, the Hop Henge is an outstanding achievement in the big IPA category. Despite using the cascade/centennial combo, it’s a very balanced beer with some exciting citrus and ground fruits on the tongue. Particularly strawberry and maybe some pineapple with a bit of summer herb garden, though I couldn’t pin it down to one particular herb.
The Stone IPA is a slightly lesser beer, but it just might be put together better. The nose blows off straight flowers and citrus with what I swear was a breeze from Northern California’s eucalyptus forests. There is a breadyness on the tongue that is decidedly absent in the Hop Henge. But the balance is where this beer scores its points. Traditional citrus and pine sit atop a balanced body like a multi-discipline athlete. Some beers are built like long-distance runners. They are built for the long haul, but they are skinny to a fault. Other beers rest on a comfortable, well-trained frame.
In the end, the Hop Henge weighs in a little stronger and with a little more reach than the Stone, but this match might just be unevenly weighted. Who knows though, another person might decide that the Stone had more than enough to stand up to the big Hop Henge.
When a former co-beer blogger wrote that Deschutes Brewing Company’s Abyss was like drinking a stack of pancakes, I immediately wanted to go have one for breakfast. Ever since I heard that, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a breakfast beer review. They say your palate can change throughout the day, so I figure morning tasting could be just the ticket to learning even more about what tastes are going on in the beer.
And this has led me to starting a new feature post each Saturday called Breakfast Beer. Each week I’ll select a breakfast beer that I’ve tried on some other weekend and write it up from that perspective.
I realize Saturday has nearly ended here, but I wanted to write a brief note about a fantastic Saturday Breakfast Beer, which also happens to be from Deschutes Brewing Company. It’s the Jubelale 2010. Where Abyss is a huge beer with deep structure and great balance, Jubelale 2010 is slightly different. It’s good though, really good.
The smell coming off the tan foam right after it’s poured is slightly masked. It was almost as if this beer needed to open up a bit like a bottle of wine does. But the first taste on the palate was rich with dark molasses and black licorice. It had a sweet dank to it that was very interesting. After about 20 minutes, the nose on this beer came alive with the complex hop characteristics, most notably a perfect bitterness that seemed to really bring out a dark chocolate kind of scent on the nose.
This beer bears very little resemblance to Deschute’s yearly winter ale, but then again, it doesn’t have to. It says a once-a-decade beer right on the label.
We poured this beer on a Saturday morning after putting in an hour’s worth of work pulling up tac strip at a buddy’s remodel project. With the sun shining down and temps hovering around 60, it was a perfect setting for a beer than can instantly change your perspective about what a beer should be.
Here’s another review of this beer from the Seattle PI that I thought was entertaining.
Jubelale 2010 is available at Worden’s Market.
Deschutes Brewing Company is under the gun as State Farm Insurance has filed suit on behalf of a brewery employee who reportedly drank too much “free” beer and ended up hitting another car with his vehicle, which injured four people.
The part of this Statesman Journal article about the lawsuit that gets me is the fact that the brewery says employees are allowed to have one free beer after work, but that State Farm is suing because no one monitored how much beer the employee had. In essence, the employee was stealing beer, and to this beer blogger, it would seem he’s entirely at fault for the damages.
Just a thought,