Friday, February 17, 2012

Preview: Lucky Lab Barleywine Festival 2012

[Editor's Note: I'm happy to add Pub Night stalwart Lindsey -- developer of It's Pub Night's Six-Pack Equivalent Calculator Android app -- to our ever-expanding roster of guest writers.  Thanks, Lindsey!]

On Saturday I had the distinct pleasure to represent It's Pub Night at an exclusive event for Portland beer glitterati: taste testing the beers for the Lucky Lab's upcoming Barleywine Festival. Beyonce and Jay Z were there. Jay even had their new baby in one of those front facing slings. True story.

The 2012 Barleywine Festival will be held next Friday and Saturday, March 2nd and 3rd, 2012, at the Quimby Street Lucky Lab, from noon to 10 PM both days.  It's one of the more relaxed festivals in town, and the early Friday opening gives you a great opportunity to beat the crowds if you can make yourself free that day.  Since it's held right in the pub, food, water, and seating are all abundant.

Many of the barleywines at the festival are vintages from previous years, stashed away in the Lab's vaults.  Because the kegs are stored over long periods of time, each one has to be tested to make sure they are still drinkable. That was our job. Unfortunately two or three didn't fare so well and will get dumped.

I recorded 27 different beers and there will likely be a few more vintage editions plus a selection of new beers, which weren't on hand to try.  While no beer is older than '07, each day of the fest will feature a changing set of vertical tastings whenever possible.

Here are a few of my standouts -- you should try them if you attend the festival:
  • '11 North Coast Old Stock: very nice and quite sweet
  • '10 Ninkasi Critical Hit: mellowing nicely but still hoppy
  • '09 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot: aging nicely but still has a nice hop presence
  • '10 Anchor Old Foghorn: a longtime favorite of mine didn't disappoint
  • '09 Salmon Creek Brother Larry: a nice and mellow trippel
  • ?? Terminal Gravity Bucolic: well-balanced hop presence
  • ?? Three Creeks Brewdolph: very nice Belgian
  • '11 Anchor Old Foghorn: "oh f*** yes"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Portland Beer Carts

Today's Oregonian has a front-page article about the new Cartlandia food cart pod on 82nd applying for a liquor license from the OLCC.  Since the modern style of news reporting mandates that every story must convince you that you are in grave and immediate danger, the article sets the scene with phrases like "the issue has new urgency now", "waves of concern among Portland officials", and -- the pièce de résistance -- "they envision alcohol flowing from nearly all of the 700 carts across town, creating a new source of public drunkenness and neighborhood disorder".  Run!  You are in great danger!  Your neighborhood is being overrun by barbarians right now!

What the article glosses over is that there are already beer carts quietly operating alongside food carts, with no apparent ill effects.  Captured by Porches has been selling beer from their beer buses for a year and a half now, and Buckman Brewery (a.k.a. Rogue's Green Dragon) has a cart at the food cart pod just up Belmont from the Horse Brass.  The article does mention that "carts asked the OLCC about regularly selling beer and wine" two years ago, but it fails to point out that carts are already selling beer under temporary licenses, though the online version links to an earlier story about CbP's cart near 33rd and Division.

The online version has a fairly staid headline, but in the print edition today it is "Alcohol with food carts gives city indigestion".  What gives me indigestion is the podunk worldview of our local paper -- and friends, I lived most of my life in Oklahoma and Texas.  The Oregonian is an unending source of disappointment for me in many ways, though their declining beer coverage -- they're cutting back John Foyston's The Beer Here column in the Friday entertainment section to once every two weeks, and last year they referred to Colorado as "Beervana" -- seems ill-advised when the local beer culture is continuing to grow at a healthy pace.

I mentioned the CbP and Buckman carts.  Are there any other beer carts around town right now?  [Update: Jim points out in the comments that there is a Lompoc beer cart at 51st and Foster.]