Beer cocktails at Portland Cocktail Week!

We’re just a few days away from the booziest week in Oregon, Portland Cocktail Week. Bartenders and drinks enthusiasts from all over the country are descending on the city for several days of parties, seminars, competitions, and the Great American Distillers Festival. Get all the details here.

For the opening seminar on Saturday I’m teaming up with bartender Ryan Conklin from Euclid Hall in Denver, Colorado. Denver is another great beer city and Ryan has been leading the way on beer cocktails there. We’re going to give an hour-long presentation about mixing with beer. Attendees will enjoy four cocktails made with Averna, Damrak Gin, Galliano, Novo Fogo Cachaca, Upright Four, Rogue Ales, and a surprise beer that Ryan’s bringing up from Denver. Tickets are available for $15.

The Oregonian offered a preview of Cocktail Week, including this interview with nine local bartenders. I’m in good company there discussing Portland cocktail culture with some of the city’s top talent.


Fresh hopped picks

One of the fun things about living in the Pacific Northwest is fresh hop season, the time of year when breweries can brew beers with hops picked fresh from the vine. Last night I was invited to a preview of the Portland Fresh Hop Tastival where about 40 different fresh hop beers are on tap. I couldn’t taste anywhere close to all of them but here are some standouts from the ones I had:

Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond — A tasty, fresh hop take on Mirror Pond. Mirror Pond is ubiquitous in Portland but this version is worth seeking out.

Double Mountain Killer Green — A good, hoppy IPA with plenty of aromatics.

Logsdon Fresh Hop Sezoen — I couldn’t actually tell that this was fresh hopped, but the banana aroma on this Belgian style ale is huge. A great change of pace amongst all the pales and IPAs.

The festival is today. Details here.


Beer and cocktails, sittin’ in a tree


The latest issue of MIX Magazine has a great story about the various ways the beer and cocktail communities in Portland are drawing inspiration from one another. Our Brewing Up Cocktails events, the Kopstootje Biere collaboration between Bols Genever and Upright Brewing, and the cocktail beers created by Ben Edmunds at Breakside Brewing are all featured. I got to try Ben’s Sazerac beer a few months ago and it was delicious. Read the whole thing here.

One of our cocktails at Metrovino, the Averna Stout Flip, was also mentioned in article about beer cocktails in this month’s Beverage Media magazine. It’s here in PDF.

[Photo of Ben Edmunds from MIX Magazine.]




The Caipirinha, a simple mixture of muddled lime, sugar, and cachaça, lends itself to infinite variation. Different fruits or syrups are often added to it. A German friend tells me that the Hot Caipi — a Caipirinha made with hot water instead of ice — is popular in the winter there. At Metrovino we give the drink a Pacific Northwest twist, finishing it with a hoppy Oregon ale.

Ezra from The New School came up with the idea of making a Caipirinha with beer. We tried out several variations, but I decided I like this simple one the best. It’s a basic Caipirinha topped off with about an ounce of IPA. The beer adds a lightly bitter backbone and some length to the cocktail, making it a perfect summer patio drink.

2 oz cachaça
1/2 lime, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon sugar
1 oz IPA

Muddle the sugar and lime, add the cachaça, and shake with ice. Dump everything into a rocks glass, top with the IPA, and give it a gentle stir before serving.

For the cachaça we of course use my favorite Novo Fogo Silver; our beer is Ninkasi Total Domination IPA. The flavors work wonderfully together.

[Thanks to Brenda from Food Shed for the excellent photo.]

Crystal Caipirinha and Cleared for Departure


Brewing Up Cocktails Anniversary Party


One year ago Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Yetta Vorobik, and I put together the inaugural Brewing Up Cocktails beer cocktail event at the Hop and Vine. Little did we know that the events would become so popular that we’d be taking them on the road from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada, and teaming up with breweries like Ninkasi, Oakshire, and Hopworks. We’re celebrating with a one year anniversary party this Saturday, featuring some loosely tiki-themed beer concoctions, an outdoor tiki bar, and an entire roasted pig. Join us and our sponsors, Groupon and Kona Brewing, from 6-10 pm at the Hop and Vine for a brand new batch of beery cocktails.


Mixology Monday: Beer!


I’d be stupid not to take part in this month’s Mixology Monday hosted by Cocktail Virgin:

This month the chosen theme will be beer cocktails.

While beer being used as an ingredient in modern cocktails has gotten a lot of press as of late, this is not a new trend. Beer has played a historical role in mixed drinks for centuries. For example, it can be found in Colonial drinks like the Rumfustian, Porter Sangaree, and Ale Flip. While many of these drinks are not seen in modern bars save for craft cocktail establishments, other beer drinks are though, including the Boilermaker, Black Velvet, and Michelada. And present day mixologists are utilizing beer with great success including Kelly Slagle’s Port of Funchal, Jacob Grier’s Averna Stout Flip, and Emma Hollander’s Word to Your Mom. Bartenders are drawn to beer for a variety of reasons including the glorious malt and roast notes from the grain, the bitter and sometimes floral elements from the hops, the interesting sour or fruity notes from the yeast, and the crispness and bubbles from the carbonation. Beer is not just for pint glasses, so let us honor beer of all styles as a drink ingredient.

Coincidentally, July is Oregon Craft Beer Month and we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the first Brewing Up Cocktails event put on by me, Yetta Vorobik, and Ezra Johnson-Greenough. In the time since we’ve been experimenting with themed beer cocktail events, whether that be creating a menu around a specific brewery (Ninkasi, Oakshire, and Hopworks) or a type of drink (nothing but flips!). For our anniversary party we’ll be serving beer cocktails with a loosely interpreted tiki theme. Details are coming soon, but in the meantime here’s a preview of one of the new (and thus far unnamed) drinks:

2 oz Maui Brewing Coconut Porter
1 1/2 oz English Harbour rum
1 1/2 oz coconut milk
1/2 oz Galliano Ristretto
1/2 oz allspice or pimento dram
Angostura bitters mist, for garnish

Shake the first five ingredients, strain into a rocks or wine glass, and garnish with the Angostura mist.

This is a weird drink. The idea of mixing coconut porter and coconut milk was Ezra’s, and I was skeptical at first. However this comes together really nicely and has a rich flip-like consistency. The pimento dram adds big spice flavors, the Galliano Ristretto espresso liqueur adds depth and sweetness, and the coconut milk puts this in the running for the most unhealthy cocktail we’ve come up with yet.

Stay tuned for more info about the Brewing Up Cocktails anniversary event on Saturday, July 30, at The Hop and Vine.


Portland’s inaugural Fruit Beer Festival


My friend and Brewing Up Cocktails collaborator Ezra Johnson-Greenough has teamed up with the recently opened Burnside Brewing to organize a new festival devoted to fruit beers. While I like an occasional fruit beer as much as the next guy, I’ll admit that the idea of an entire festival devoted to them seemed a little overboard. However last weekend I got to preview some of the beers on tap and they’ve won me over. The participating brewers have created a strong line-up that avoids the sickly sweet connotations of many fruit beers, using ingredients in subtle ways to complement a wide variety of styles. There will be 31 different beers available throughout the fest; here are three that stood out for me:

Hopworks Chupacabra Chili — Do chili peppers count as fruit? By the strict botanical definition, yes, and I give props to Hopworks for playing that card to sneak a savory beer into the festival. Ben Love infused their Seven Grain Stout with six different kinds of chilis. Most of the chili beers I’ve tried have been lagers or pale ales, but the stout works surprisingly well.

Fort George Badda Boom Stout — A rich stout flavored with cherries and raspberries. Cherry is one of those flavors that can completely dominate a drink if you’re not careful, but Fort George pulled this one off perfectly. I get more flavor the raspberries in this beer. It’s deep and complex, with a good combination of roast and dark fruit.

Upright Brewing Barrel-Aged Pure Wit with Orange and Tangelo Peel — It’s no surprise that Upright shows up once again in my list of favorites. This barrel-aged version of their Pure Wit with extra citrus peel is a delicious summer beer.

The festival runs 11-9 this Saturday and 11-6 on Sunday, outside at Burnside Brewing. Complete details here.


Celebrate Easter with Brewing Up Cocktails


Put a bird on it? No, put an egg in it! The next edition of Brewing Up Cocktails will take place this Sunday in collaboration with Spints Alehouse and Oakshire Brewing. In honor of Easter (or at least the fun, secular aspects of the holiday), we’ll be serving only flips. That’s right, every drink on the menu will incorporate beer, liquor, and a whole egg, making this one of the most unhealthy cocktail menus ever devised. We promise it will be worth it. Join us 5-8 at Spints to find an egg in your glass.


Upright and Bols introduce Kopstootje Biere!


It’s been almost a year since I started working for Lucas Bols and I’m not going to lie, I’ve gotten to do some fun things on this job. However none of them is more exciting than the project we’re releasing tomorrow, a collaboration between Bols and Upright Brewing to create the perfect pairing of beer and spirits, the Kopstootje Biere!

The Kopstootje, or “little headbutt,” is the Dutch version of beer and a shot. A tulip glass is filled to the brim with genever and served with a beer back. Since the glass would overflow if moved, the drinker takes the first sip by bending down to take the first sip off the top and then following that with a sip of beer. It’s a surprisingly good match, with the maltiness and botanicals of genever complementing the malt and hops in beer (Bols Genever actually includes hops as one of its botanicals).

A crisp lager would be the usual choice of beer for a Kopstootje, but Oregon is better known for its hoppy ales. So my boss, Tal Nadari, suggested approaching one of Portland’s many local breweries about coming up with a Portland twist on the traditional Dutch drink. I knew right away that Upright is who I wanted to team up with; their farmhouse ales are among my favorite beers and brewer Alex Ganum loves taking on experimental brews, from oyster stouts to sour ales aged in Pinot Noir barrels. Alex also loved the idea of creating a beer designed specifically to par with Bols Genever, so I was thrilled that he decided to collaborate with us.

A few weeks later Alex, fellow Upright brewer Gerritt Ill, and I say down to taste genever and plan the beer. Alex decided on a biere de garde. This a rustic French beer that uses lager yeasts fermented at warm temperatures, fitting into Upright’s farmhouse style. Yet Upright’s beer diverges from the traditional with the addition of many of the same botanicals that go into Bols Genever, including aniseed, ginger, angelica root, licorice, and juniper berries. The result is a dry beer with subtle notes of spice. The beer came out just like we hoped it would and perfectly lives up to its name, Upright Kopstootje Biere.

We’re holding a release party for the beer tomorrow, April 1, at Circa 33 in southeast Portland. Tal, Alex, and I will be on hand and we’ll have $6 Kopstootjes on offer from 5-8. If you can’t join us then, we have a small number of kegs going on tap at some of Portland’s best bars and restaurants: Beaker and Flask, Broder, Clyde Common, Cruz Room, Grain and Gristle, Hop and Vine, Irving Street Kitchen, Spirit of ‘77, Spints Alehouse, St. Jack, and Temple Bar. Get your Kopstootje Biere before it runs out!

For more information:
Ezra Johnson-Greenough on the brewing of Upright’s Kopstootje Biere
David Wondrich on Dutch drinking culture

[Photo by David Lanthan Reamer.]


In memory of Don Younger

horsebrass 021

Last night Portland lost one of its legendary figures, Don Younger, owner of the Horse Brass Pub. If you enjoy Oregon beer, you should raise a pint to him tonight. As a relative newcomer here the story’s not mine to tell, but suffice to say that he and his bar did a great deal to nurture the brewing community that’s made Portland justifiably famous for beer. Imbibe wrote about that history in one of their first issues. John Foyston has more in the Oregonian, and Ezra is collecting memories of Don at the New School. Many more tributes will be rolling in.

I’d read about Don and the Horse Brass before I’d moved to Portland and made a point to visit the bar on my first trip out here several years ago. When I finally did move here the Horse Brass became one of the first local bars where I felt at home. I loved beer, but it was also one of the best places to enjoy a cigar. Knowing few people in the city, it was a place I could visit anytime and strike up a conversation with whomever else was there at the end of the bar where the cigar smokers gathered. On one of these early visits Don was holding court at his usual spot, and though I didn’t meet him then I still remember the night. There was a young guy a few spots down from me nursing a beer and reading a book alone. Don called him over: “What are you doing, you don’t come to a bar to read a book!” Just like that the guy was introduced to the group and welcomed into the pub community.

A few weeks later I tried to meet Don myself. The statewide smoking ban was about to go into effect and I wanted to talk to Don for some articles I was working on. Many bar owners privately opposed the ban, but he was one of the few who actively fought against it. I had no luck getting an interview though: The bartenders informed me that Don was sick of talking to people about it. I ended up writing about the ban in the Oregonian anyway, not expecting to hear from Don. Then I saw him at the Horse Brass a few days later and introduced myself. Amazingly, he knew exactly who I was, said he loved my article, and that if he’d known who was asking for him he would have gladly talked to me. I’ve never been more flattered to find out that someone had read something I wrote. As intimidating as he was by reputation, in person he was as friendly as could be, the perfect publican.

A few months later I noticed something that cracked me up: He’d posted a clipping of the article in the hallway of the Horse Brass, right by the bathrooms, with some patron adding a graffitied mustache to my headshot. It stayed there for about a year. I may never win a Pulitzer, but how many Pulitzer winners can say they’ve had their writing displayed outside the men’s room of the Horse Brass? I’ll take it.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to know Don well after that. I spent less time at the Horse Brass after the ban, and reportedly so did he. But I do have one more story. The final night of smoking at the Horse Brass was not, in fact, the last night one could do it legally. A few days after the ban took effect Don allowed his regulars one more chance to light up in defiance of the law. Though I hadn’t arrived for this part, I’m told by others that Don called for patrons’ attention a half hour before we lit up to let everyone know what was going on. He said he knew that smoking is illegal now, but that he’d promised his friends they’d have one last session together. Anyone could leave if they wanted to, and he gave them the phone number they could call to report him, but this was going to happen. The bar burst into applause. And, of course, nobody called the number.

What a man. What a bar. Long live the Horse Brass.


Beer cocktails in the Associated Press

I’m telling you, 2011 is going to be the year for beer cocktails. Today the AP picks up on the trend:

Something new is on tap on the bar scene as adventurous mixologists brew up beer cocktails.

“Beer as an ingredient can offer such a wide variety of flavors,” says Jacob Grier, a drinks blogger who tends bar at Metrovino in Portland, Ore. “They can be sweet and malty. They can have chocolate roast-y notes. It can be a great complement to a cocktail.”
For most people, beer and liquor have never been more than nodding acquaintances.

Sure, maybe you’ve had a shot with a beer chaser here, or, in more reckless moments, a boilermaker — in which the shot glass of liquor is dropped directly into the pint of beer.

But the new trend goes far beyond that, with mixologists looking for creative new ways to blend beer and booze.

Read the whole thing here
. And for the Brewer’s Bramble recipe, see this post from last year.


Averna Stout Flip at Daily Candy

Averna 003

Today’s Daily Candy has a great feature on beer cocktails, including an Averna Stout Flip from me:

2 oz Averna
1 oz stout
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 egg

Stir in the whole egg, shake vigorously with ice, and double-strain into a wine glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. For the beer, go for a stout with a smooth, rich mouthfeel. St. Peter’s cream stout is perfect here; Samuel Smith’s oatmeal stout is also good.

[Thanks to Lush Angeles for the photo, who also offers a non-flipped version of the drink.]


Ales and cocktails for holiday imbibing

My December column for Culinate is up and this month I recommend seven notable holiday beers worth trying. The focus is on widely available beers rather than obscure — but often delicious! — local ones. This was a fun article to research, pretty much requiring me to buy lots of high-alcohol ales and invite friends over to try them.

On the spirit side of things, one of my favorite men’s lifestyle websites, Magnificent Bastard, invited me to contribute a few recipes to their holiday cocktail guide. As an aspiring magnificent bastard myself, it’s an honor to be included. Follow their main page here.


Brewing Up Cocktails returns!


This Saturday night Ezra Johnson-Greenough of the New School, Yetta Vorobik of the Hop and Vine, and I are hosting the sequel to our event dedicated to mixing with beer, Brewing Up Cocktails. We have six drinks on tap this time, ranging from a cheeky deconstruction of the Irish Car Bomb to a traditional wassail made with Deschutes Jubelale. Ezra’s presenting a cocktail per day over at his blog, so head over there for all the details.


My favorite drink on the menu is the Hot Scotchy, a treat enjoyed by homebrewers combining whiskey and hot, unfermented wort (the sweet, malty mash that is eventually fermented into beer). For our event the wort is provided by Upright Brewing and the whisky is the peat-heavy Ardbeg 10. Jeff Alworth of Beervana sampled a version of the Hot Scotchy with Talisker last week and pronounced it “the greatest beverage in the world.” How can you say no to an endorsement like that?

The event runs from 6-10 this Saturday at the Hop and Vine. All drinks are individually priced. A few of the ingredients are in limited quantities, so I’d suggest arriving early if there’s a particular drink you’re eager to try.

Previously: See MIX Magazine’s coverage of our first Brewing Up Cocktails event.

[Photos by “SNOB” Ritch.]


Beer cocktails in MIX


This month’s MIX magazine includes an article by John Foyston taking a look at the growing interest in beer cocktails:

Good beer, it can be pretty easily argued, is perfect and complete by itself. It’s complex and flavorful and doesn’t need anything else … except that a band of intrepid young mixologists see good beer as a starting point for something better — beer cocktails.

Straight-ahead beer fan that I am, I have to agree that beer cocktails open up a brave new world. I recently got to taste and talk about beer cocktails with some of Portland’s most ardent proponents: mixologist Jacob Grier, New School blogger Ezra Johnson-Greenough and Yetta Vorobik, owner of the Hop & Vine, where Grier and Johnson-Greenough held an event in the summer called Brewing Up Cocktails. They plan to repeat it this month, also at the Hop & Vine.

Portland bartenders Jabriel Donohue, Neil Kopplin, Christian Rouillier, and Kevin Ludwig also make appearances. Read the whole thing here.

The drink in the photo is the Quatro Blanco, made with a Farigoule rinse, Herradura reposado tequila, and a special keg of Upright Four wheat farmhouse ale aged in a Hungarian oak barrel with yarrow flowers and rose petals. It was probably my favorite drink from our Brewing Up Cocktails event, but since it was a one-off beer it will probably never be made again and you will never be able to try one.

There’s one other drink that went understandably unmentioned in the article, the notorious Furburger:

3/4 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
1/4 oz Chartreuse
approx. 5 oz Oak Aged Yeti Chocolate Imperial Stout from Great Divide

The name comes from the beer, because Yetis are furry, and from “bur” as in bourbon. So Furburger. See, nothing dirty about it. At least that’s what I thought when a friend jokingly suggested the name assuming I knew what I meant. I didn’t know what it meant and so passed the idea on to the owner of Hop and Vine. It wasn’t until two days later that I learned what it really referred to. We talked about finding a new name for the drink, but after that incident we couldn’t think of it as anything but a Furburger. The lesson? When coming up with new cocktail names, be sure to look them up on Urban Dictionary before submitting them to your prospective boss. Or not: The Furburger was one of our bestsellers of the day. And since the word has been approved for use in schools by a federal judge, why not for a beer cocktail menu too?

Two other cocktails from the event, the Dutch Devil and Brewer’s Bramble, we’re covered previously here. Brewing Up Cocktails II is in the works and we’ll announce the date soon; stay tuned here and at The New School Blog.

[Photo by Ross William Hamilton.]