Blog reviews

olympia beer, the paul newman effect

I will do anything to narrow the chasm that separates the kind of man Paul Newman was and the kind of man I am.I jumped at the chance to drink the same beer Paul Newman was drinking in the movie Sometimes a Great Notion (based on a novel by one of Oregon’s trippiest natives, Ken Kesey).
Olympia Beer was a Pacific Northwest staple for many years.  Originally brewed in Tumwater, Washington, a town in the same county as Olympia and located near the mouth of the Deschutes River.  Olympia was the beer of choice around these parts before Portland became the microbrewing capitol it is today.

Just look at how much Paul Newman enjoys his bottle of Olympia.  The bottles are brought out:
He takes a swig:
And can’t help but grin:
I wanted to have that much fun.  The next time I was at my local organic grocer, I spied a six pack of the beer featured in the 30 year-old film and snapped it up.  It took every ounce of self-restraint I had to keep myself from cracking one open on my drive home.  But I stayed safe, opting to speed home, screech to a halt outside my house, ignore the bags of groceries sweltering in the trunk, grab the six pack and sprint inside, landing with a thud on the couch.  When I popped the tab on my very first Olympia beer, my expectations were sky-high.

How did it rate?  Well, I found myself let down by the taste of what could charitably be described as Near Beer.  After a few sips, though, I began to wonder if what I was being disappointed by was, in fact, my own Portland-dwelling beer snobbery.  I finished the thin, metallic brew.  Was it me?  Am I so used to beer with bizarre spices, aged in bourbon casks, that I cannot enjoy a simple American brew?

After inspecting the label, I was vindicated.  Olympia Beer is no longer Olympia Beer.  It is PBR.  Check the website:
Like so many small old breweries, Olympia was bought then bought again until it was only a label owned by one of the three major beer companies.  My disappointment was not so much for a beer I didn’t especially like, but for the fact that I’ll never get to be Paul Newman by drinking the same beer he drank.  At least I still have his salad dressing.

Blog friday robot

friday robots

There are some really well-designed beer labels out there.  I like studying the labels on the bottle between sips.  It got me a-thinkin’, what would Friday Robots ale look like?  I couldn’t decide what kind of beer it would be.  Amber?  Wheat?  Porter?  I’ll let the internet chatrooms decide.
As a special bonus, I’m including the entire, uncropped image from last week’s Robots.  I stitched this together from three photographs of the interior of a decommissioned submarine currently floating in the Willamette River.


hopworks urban brewery, 7-grain stout: a review

hub-bottlecap I’ve learned much about microbrews in my four years as a non-native Portlander.  Between the rain, the hipsters, and the abundance of wheat grown in the state, Portland  is a vortex of good local beer.  A “Perfect Storm” of brewing, if you will.  When I was asked to do a guest post for Bula’s Best, my thoughts immediately turned to that bastion of organic brewing just over the Ross Island bridge, Hopworks Urban Brewery.

Hopworks Urban Brewery is a special place, and not just because you go there to get drunk.  They cater to the bike lifestyle of Portland, offering plenty of bike parking and being conveniently located near the popular trail, the Springwater Corridor. Hopworks is a biker bar for bicyclists.

Organic isn’t just some passing fancy at the HUB, whose slogan is “Organic Beer For All.”  When you belly up to the bar, get ready to save the planet while you drink.

This time I tried their Organic Survival “7-Grain” Stout.  Clocking in at 5.3% ABVs, 15 Degrees Plato, and 35 IBUs, the Survival Stout lives up to its nickname: it is brewed with barley, wheat, oats, amaranth, quinoa, spelt and kamut.  If you’re thinking “breakfast beer,” you’d be right, because it has been topped off with Stumptown Hairbender espresso.  It’s like cereal that gets you drunk.

I tried Survival Stout as a midday snack during happy hour, and it certainly did the trick.  After two pints you can wobble home on your bike, but visit when it isn’t raining and you’ll have a much happier ride.

A natural dark brown (like the trunk of the ubiquitous Douglas Fir), Survival Stout has a pleasant nutty aftertaste.  You definitely notice those grains; like bread, the Survival Stout is better with more.  Can we get a 12-Grain version someday?

If Survival Stout were a person, he would be a deliriously mellow hippie, lazing on his front lawn soaking up the summer sun.  He’ll always smile as you pass his house and if you ever get to talking he’ll pepper his language with words like “sustainable” and “auspicious.” Of course I mean that in the best possible way.hub-bottle

Cost: $4.99 for 1 pint 6 oz at your neighborhood grocer, $3.50 per glass during happy hour.