Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sample Stunt Follow-up

I'm always willing to blog a dead horse, so I'll write a little more about the brewed-on-premises marathon that Dave and I put ourselves through last Sunday. That's partly out of necessity: I don't have any new beer experiences to blog about. I was so tired of beer by the end of the marathon, that I didn't even consider having one for the next three days.

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The duration of our pub sprint was 6 hours, first pub to last, but we were out of the house for 6 hours and 35 minutes -- sorry Jill, it took me 4 minutes longer than Dave to get ready. According to Google Maps, the route between pubs was 6.7 miles, not 6 as I reported. But remember, I rounded down the number of samples we had in front of us. I counted 78, but we also sampled:
  • 1 Bend-brewed beer at Deschutes
  • 6 Hood-River-brewed beers at Full Sail
  • 1 mix of Ruby and Hammerhead at Ringlers
  • 2 duplicates at the Lucky Lab
  • 3 cask/nitro/keg overlaps here and there
  • 1 cider at New Old Lompoc -- there oughta be a law against that.
That makes 91 beer samples -- forget the cider, which they added as the 8th sample because they had no seasonals on. So depending on how you look at it, our velocity in beers-per-hour was between 78/6.5 = 12 BPH and 91/6 = 15 BPH.


I actually wrote down some kind of comment about every single beer we tried, though by the end my notes get a little confusing -- at Hopworks I wrote that the Original Organic Red was "stiffly OK" and that the 78 Steam was "as dribbly as Anchor", whatever that means. Since Jeff asked what beers stood out, I'll recap the highlights:
  • New Old Lompoc: We were surprised at how good Fool's Golden Ale is -- Dave called it "Kolschy" -- though of course the classics are still tops: C-Note and Lompoc Strong Draft.
  • Lucky Lab Quimby: Amazing variety: the 5-Ton Lager was dark, delicious, and 8.5 ABV. Black Sheep was a smoky black IPA which I liked almost as much as the Mai Bock. Dave liked the Baltic Porter, but I found it too syrupy.
  • Bridgeport: Their beers are so much better on tap than bottled. ESB and IPA were the faves.
  • Ringlers: The Belgian Tripel was sweet and nice. The Decent IPA was underwhelming at first, but grew on me as it warmed up.
  • Rock Bottom: My comment on the cask IPA was "Whoa", and I stand by that. Delicious, hoppy, and rich. American Dream IPA was very nice also.
  • Full Sail: The Nut Brown was just the right temperature from the cask, chocolaty and good. Everything else was good, too, especially the excellent Prodigal Sun IPA. Cheeseburgers for $1.95 at happy hour will give you the strength to go on.
  • Hopworks: Isn't it cool that we tried 78 different Portland beers, and at the last brewery they have a beer called "78 Steam"? And 78 is divisible by either 6 hours or 6.5 hours.
A word about Rock Bottom. One evening when we were first in Portland, Carla and I decided to try out Rock Bottom, but we were shooed away from the outside tables by a snooty hostess. That led to a years-long boycott until my fresh hop quest last year. On that visit, my waiter didn't know what I meant by "fresh hop" or "harvest" beer, even though it was one of the seasonals, and he went so far as to bring me the wrong beer at first. Of course I had heard that Van Havig -- the head brewer at the Portland RB -- is one of the most respected brewers in town, but those two chain-pub experiences kept me away. Sunday was only my second time there, but it won't be my last -- Havig is brewing some seriously good beer there. Just avoid the restaurant side and go straight to the bar -- the beer guys will take good care of you.

Alternate Realities

A sub-stunt that I wanted to pull, was to save a tiny amount of each sample, all mixed together in a growler. That was unlikely to taste good, but it would be an interesting conversation piece. Unfortunately I got slapped down at the very first stop: the New Old Lompoc bartender enlightened me about the OLCC beer-to-go rules. Beer to-go containers have to be filled to the top, by the establishment. Rather than bring the law down on the 12 breweries nearest my house, I let that little project go.

Maybe we could have gone for bigger numbers. When I told Dave we had actually sampled 91 beers, he was a little bit angry with me. "Why didn't we go for 100?" The short answer is because we had families to get back to, and we were already over our time limit. But more to the point, it was a long way from Hopworks to someplace new that brewed on site. We had paused for food about halfway through, and we were very diligent about keeping hydrated -- we drank about twice as much water as beer. We might have been able to make it up to Laurelwood, but I don't think we could have safely made it home from there.

Originally I had the route starting at MacTarnahans, about a mile from New Old Lompoc, but decided that a mile was too far between stops. Maybe if we had started at Mac's, and if we had tried more Bend beers at Deschutes, we would have cracked 100. Or we could have picked up various other Portland brews at Bailey's, Henry's, or the Green Dragon.

Whatever the case, I'm content with the 15 BPH pub sprint. If you try it yourself, be careful, drink lots of water, and be prepared to forsake beer for a few days afterward.


  1. Okay -hic!-, now you're making me -hic!- sound like an alco-hic!-ic.

    I'm not...I'm just a competitive drinker.

  2. Thanks for the recap--the Odyssey of Beers.

    BTW, here's a fantastic interview Angelo De Ieso did with Havig at the Belmont Station blog.