All posts by Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

Portland Oregon Breweries – Von Ebert and Little Beast

Von Ebert

Thanks to a tip from Jeff Alworth (known on Twitter and elsewhere as Beervana) I had Von Ebert on my list of spots to visit while in Portland. Since I had a day in Portland, I decided to visit a few Portland breweries after Pfriem rather than exploring other Hood River spots. Von Ebert has a massive indoor spot with tons of seating. As one might expect from the size, it gets loud quickly and can be a bit chaotic.
I ordered a very interesting sounding beer first, a smoked rye beer aged on coffee. In the wrong hands this beer could be overly smoky, have prominent rye character, or too much coffee. The beer was perfectly balanced with subtle notes of smoke, a mild rye bite, and light nutty coffee on the finish. I would have ordered a crowler of this beer to go but they ran out shortly after I finished my pint.
I finished with their dark lager, a traditional German style beer that I love when it is done well. The beer was a bit thicker and more chocolate forward than the traditional style but quite delicious; It had prominent notes of dark chocolate and raisins. I hope to visit Von Ebert again on a future trip. The two beers I tried indicated that the brewers are quite talented.

Little Beast

I decided to leave Von Ebert after two pints and made my way to Little Beast, where they had a variety of delicious sour and wild ales on draft. Little Beast is much smaller than Von Ebert, and has a more intimate vibe with a small bar area and some surrounding seating.
I started with a full pour of Field Folk, a brett saison. The beer was dry and balanced, with prominent brett funk and mild citrus notes. I then got a few half pours so I could try more styles. The Ferme Rouge was lovely with notes of cherry, mildly tart, with low acidity. It was nicely balanced and easy drinking. The Dutchy was a lovely restrained aged sour with notes of cherry and dark chocolate. My husband surprisingly enjoyed this one. The Belgian dark strong was thick with notes of chocolate. I would have preferred this to be less dry, but it was solid.
I really enjoyed tasting the beers at Little Beast and was glad to see how restrained in acidity some of the sours were. They are worth checking out for fans of Belgian styles and sours.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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The Haze Craze – A Response to Beervana

When I planned to visit Brooklyn for a weekend in May of 2019 I did not know Jeff Alworth (@Beervana) was also visiting the area. We both made a point of visiting Other Half Brewing Company. It sounds from his post like this was Jeff’s first visit and possibly first taste of Other Half beer. This was my third visit to Other Half and in the time since my previous visit I enjoyed their beer a few times at beer festivals. Typically when I see them at a beer festival, it greatly increases my interest because to me they are one of the top 10 breweries in the country.
Jeff asks an interesting question in his recent post titled “Brewers Aren’t Inspired by the Widget Model.” If this style is so successful, why is it not more widely adopted by breweries around the country? After all, Other Half charges between $16 and $22 for 4 cans of beer sold only from the tasting room. And on draft the beers are often $4 for a 4oz pour and $8 for an 8oz pour. People don’t question paying these prices because the quality is always top notch.
Tasters of two Oat Cream Triple IPAs at Other Half.
To answer Jeff’s question, I would say that the primary reason more breweries are not adopting the model of Other Half is that it is difficult to consistently brew high quality Hazy IPAs of the sort that Other Half, Tree House, Monkish, and others brew. I use these three as an example because each of them has beer that is exclusively sold from their tasting room and they sell through the beer fairly quickly. I have also personally tasted the beers to verify that yes they are consistently excellent. Tree House and Other Half have upped production to a point where you can more easily leave the brewery with cans without waiting in lines at Monkish, where the beers still sell out on the day of release every release.
I also would suggest that a lot of breweries are trying to cash in on the popularity of The Haze Craze and selling beers labeled as hazy IPAs while most of them miss the mark either occasionally or consistently. Of course this is all speculation on my part based on my observations in the beer market and what I consider a proper hazy IPA to be. Some would say that if the beer is cloudy it is a hazy IPA and that my definition is too strict. I respect that point of view but also respectfully disagree. The standard for hazy IPA exists and has been set by Other Half and Tree House. I have give up blind buying hazy IPAs from most breweries I can find in local liquor stores because I have gotten far too many that in one way or another don’t have the level of flavor or the creamy mouthfeel that I associate with the style.
There is a reason that people living in the areas around Tree House, Other Half, and Monkish drive to the breweries on a regular basis to buy a large amount of cans. There is a consistent quality these breweries have obtained that is not so common at other breweries. In the San Diego beer scene, many breweries are releasing hazy IPAs and some are usually hazy, but none are at the level of quality or consistency of Tree House, Other Half, or Monkish. Some have told me this has to do with the water that brewers have to work with in San Diego and that Modern Times brewery has become more consistent after they opened breweries in Portland Oregon and Downtown Los Angeles.
So far the one brewery I consistently buy Hazy IPAs from at my local liquor stores in San Diego is Seattle’s Fremont Brewing Company because they understand what Hazy IPA means and are committed to a certain level of quality for their beers. The majority of other breweries shipping their hazy IPAs into San Diego currently from throughout California have not achieved a consistent level of quality. A few breweries that have consistently produced excellent Hazy IPAs that I would love to see more of in San Diego are Fieldwork and Cellarmaker in San Francisco and Fort George up in Oregon.
Please feel free to correct me if you know more about this issue than I do. I may have some of this wrong. You may think this is much ado about nothing. My husband certainly does and is tired of hearing me complain about beers that aren’t properly hazy.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Pfriem Family Brewers – Hood River Oregon

Pfriem is in Hood River Oregon, about an hour east of Portland. It is a lovely drive along the Columbia River. I expect we missed some of the true majesty of the drive because it had recently snowed. Pfriem is a restaurant and so you may have to wait for a table if you plan to visit on a weekend. Thankfully we ended up in the upstairs area because it was a little bit quieter up there at least before it filled up.
I already expected excellent beer and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent food as well. For the hardcore beer nut, it may not be worth a visit given you can find so many of their  beers in bottles and cans around town. As of this writing the cans are expected any day now but they seem to have focused the initial runs of cans on their local market rather than distributing them to San Diego.
I visited having previously enjoyed the delicious pilsner and a few sours so I mostly wanted to enjoy the beers at the source. The pilsner was as excellent as I remember. It is a gold winning beer for a reason. The beer was easy drinking with light notes of honey and hay with a crisp dry finish. This is certainly a beer for drinking as opposed to sipping. The traditional saison was lightly sweet and chewy with notes of cloves and tons of Belgian yeast character. The yeast  dominated the beer here and any hops were barely detectable.
Given how high quality Pfriem’s other beers were, I ordered the hazy IPA without trying it. It was about as much of a miss as has become common in San Diego. While the beer was hazy in appearance it was not soft or pillowy as one might expect from the style. It had some notes of melon and tropical fruit but the boozy alcohol character dominated, making it mildly unpleasant. I don’t recommend you seek out this hazy when their traditional IPAs are so much better.
Known for: 
Come for excellent interpretations of classic styles including some lambic inspired barrel aged sours. You can find their beers in bottles and cans around Oregon and even down into San Diego.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Bosque Brewing Revisited – New Restaurant Location

When I first visited Bosque in 2017, they had only one location, which was a dark restaurant with solid beer. In the time since that visit they opened a much larger restaurant in Bernalillo, outside of Albuquerque, that I was told I had to stop by and visit while I was in the area.

I heard about the views at Bosque’s new location making it worth a visit. On the drive over, I started to wonder as I got closer whether I was lied to. Then I realized that the mountains visible before exiting the freeway are visible from their back patio. Despite the chilly time of year, with heaters and a few layers, it was comfortable to sit on the patio and enjoy a few beers. The view made it extra special with the snow on the mountains in the distance.
I started with their house lager, which came highly recommended. It was crisp and clean just as I would expect, making it a perfect beer to enjoy in a full 20oz pour. I then ordered their hazy IPA, which was properly hazy with notes of juicy citrus and light pine. Despite being labeled as 70 IBU, it was nicely balanced and not overly bitter. Though I didn’t try all the beers, they were much improved from my visit two years prior.
While at the brewery, a friend and I shared their vegetarian poutine. Though more accurately I had a few bites while he devoured it. They use a green chili sauce instead of traditional poutine gravy, giving it a great kick. I especially enjoyed the last few bites that were smothered in the sauce.
If you have the time while you are in Albuquerque, make sure to venture out to Bosque’s new restaurant in Bernalillo, a short ride outside of town. It is a lovely spot and worth a visit. They had a great lineup of beers including some delicious hazy IPAs.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Rowley is located in Santa Fe and if you are in Albuquerque it would be about an hour drive in between. I really enjoyed the atmosphere inside. It was rustic with wood on the walls and small enough that it didn’t get too loud. They also have a full kitchen. They did an excellent job both with my vegetable risotto and my husband’s impossible burger.
I started with the berliner weisse which turned out to be my favorite of the day. It was funky and complex with notes of bitter gourd and tropical fruit. I didn’t realize at the time but the bitter flavors that were subtly present in this beer were much more prominent in the various saisons. I got a flight for the rest of my beers, mostly because saisons are so hit and miss with me, but also because they price them so that they are almost the same price per ounce as ordering a larger pour, a rarity these days.
The two saisons both featured prominent herbal hop character. It took some adjusting before I could fully taste the beers. I generally don’t care for saisons that use herbal hops so take any criticisms of these beers with a grain of salt. Sarlac was dry and funky with prominent herbal hop notes and a bitter finish. The rye saison was the sweeter of the two also featuring prominent herbal hop character. Both beers were well made but not something I would order again.
Chantal was an interesting beer. They made an imperial saison and added raspberry. The beer was brewed as a fundraiser. It was surprisingly drinkable and dry for the higher alcohol but the raspberry was barely hinted at in flavor. I got some herbal hop notes with this beer as well though slightly covered up by the raspberry. I finished with the 2nd Anniversary, a dark sour aged in wine barrels with raspberry. The fruit again took a back seat to other more prominent flavors. The beer was thick with prominent red wine and oak notes finishing with hints of molasses and a prominent acidity. While a huge step up from the others in the flight, I did not feel like ordering more than a taster.
Overall, I found the beers at Rowley fairly underwhelming and average at best. If you like sours and wild ales, Bow and Arrow was much more impressive to me, and where I recommend you drink. Though if you are in the area and like a good Berliner Weisse I do recommend you try that one.
Known for:
Come for farmhouse ales and the occasional sour. They also have guest taps if you like other styles.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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