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Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Tapped into Tech, Eugene Beer Week, Sasquatch Brewfest, Ninkasi Expansion, Wine vs. Beer

Feb. 27, 2014, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Tapped into Tech

Image: Collin Andrew/The Register-Guard

Image: Collin Andrew/The Register-Guard

The latest edition of Tastings from The Register-Guard is out! In addition to some drool-inducing articles on Ninkasi’s Single Hop Series, local kombucha, and Full Circle Creamery cheeses, you can also check out my latest craft beer article, Tapped into Technology. Local pubs and breweries find new ways to engage customers through social media, innovative tap-list displays and more:

Tapped into technology – Tastings – The Register-Guard »

Save the Date for Sasquatch Brewfest & Eugene Beer Week 2014

Eugene Beer Week 2014

Mark your calendar now…

e coming soon about Eugene Beer Week events, Sasquatch Homebrew Contest and more.

Ninkasi Expansion

Image: Ninkasi Brewing

The massive expansion of Ninkasi Brewing’s brewery facilities continues and is getting much closer to completion. Folks at the brewery have said the new brewery space will give them brewing capacity for the next 10 years.

The expansion will also help the popular Eugene brewery expand their offerings, such as more lagers (like their recently released Pravda Bohemian-style Pils Lager).

Wine vs. Beer at Tap & Growler

Jonathan from J. Scott Cellars takes on Matt from Oakshire Brewing at the Tap & Growler’s Wine vs. Beer food pairing event, Wed., Mar. 5, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Michael from Noisette Pastry Kitchen is supplying 3 “savory” and 3 “sweet” food items to pair with 3 carefully selected brews presented by award-winning brewmaster Matt Van Wyk of Oakshire Brewing, and wines presented by award-winning winemaker Jonathan Scott Oberlander of J. Scott Cellars.

There will be a vote after every pairing to determine the winner of the Wine vs. Beer Food Pairing Challenge. The pairings are as follows:

Limited seats available, $35 per person, sign up at the Tap & Growler, 5th and Pearl, downtown Eugene. Learn more at

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Plank Town Brewer’s Dinner, Claim Viking, Homebrew Class, Ninkasi Northwest, Homebrew Meetup

Feb. 20, 2014, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Plank Town Hosts Their First Brewer’s Dinner, Feb. 23

Plank Town Brewer's Dinner. Image: Plank Town Brewing.

Plank Town Brewer’s Dinner. Image: Plank Town Brewing.

Plank Town Brewing has made quite a mark on the local craft beer scene. The most recent was the success of their recent Newton’s Pin Cask Ale Festival, featuring cask-poured beers from 11 area breweries (including Oakridge’s Brewers Union Local 180). Now the downtown Springfield brewpub has decided it was time you got to meet the brewer at their first-ever Brewer’s Dinner.

The dinner will be held at Plank Town on Sun., Feb. 23, at 6 p.m.

Described as “an informal yet decadent six-course dinner featuring beer pairings and a chance to chat with brewer Steve van Rossem,” Plank Town’s chefs planned a special menu of food and Plank Town beer:

  • Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with andouille sausage, paired with Optical Illusion – English Dark Mild ale
  • Warm shaved Brussels sprout salad with gorgonzola dolce and almonds tossed in a date balsamic glaze, paired with Foggy Scotsman Porter
  • Slow-braised rabbit tostada, paired with Reggie English-Style IPA
  • Persimmon granitas, paired with Odd Fellow Wit
  • Elk top sirloin with hunter’s sauce and parsnip puree, paired with Hobbit’s Habit Olde Ale
  • Orange blossom honey and filbert baklava, paired with the Contemplator Doppelbock

Cost: $40. Seating is limited. Call 541-746-1890 for reservations, which must be made by Fri., Feb. 21. Arrangements can be made for vegetarian options or dietary restrictions with advance notice.

Learn more at Plank Town’s Facebook page or at

Claim 52, Viking Braggot Team up for Collaboration Brew

Photo: Claim 52 Brewing

Photo: Claim 52 Brewing

While the Eugene/Springfield area is still shaking off its post-snow, post-KLCC-Brewfest bluthers, the folks at Claim 52 and Viking Braggot decided it was high time they teamed up at the brew kettle.

Weston Zaludek of Viking Braggot came over to Claim 52’s West Eugene brewery on Feb. 19 to brew up a collaboration beer. Details are hush-hush, but it’s said it’s gonna “BLOW you away.”

The beer will be available at the Claim 52 Tasting Room in a few weeks.

More at Claim 52 Brewing’s Facebook page »

Ninkasi Takes Over the Northwest

Ninkasi Great Tap Takeover. Image: Ninkasi Brewing.

Ninkasi Great Tap Takeover. Image: Ninkasi Brewing.

It was always a threat. Given the meteoric growth that Ninkasi Brewing has had since 2006, there was always a chance Eugene’s local juggernaut would one day up and take over the entire Pacific Northwest.

That day has come.

Throughout today, Thurs., Feb. 20, Ninkasi’s Great Tap Takeover conquers all taps at pubs throughout Washingon and Oregon, including Lynnwood, Everett, Lake Stevens, Stanwood, Burlington, Mill Creek, Seattle, Salem, Yakima, Richland, DuPont, Olympia, Spokane, Pullman, Renton, Tacoma, Puyallup, Lakeland, Florence, Medford and Ashland.

They claim it’s just for today. But I wonder. Today it’s the Northwest. But tomorrow? Tomorrow the planet will stopped being called “Earth” and will be called “Ninkasi” instead.

At least there’ll be plenty of good beer.

Homebrew Class, Feb. 25

Are you a homebrewer with a least a little experience but wanting to pick up some new skills?

Join Denny Conn on Tues., Feb. 25, 6-8:30 p.m., for an evening of advanced homebrewing:

The advanced home brewing class will teach experienced extract brewers to brew beers made entirely from scratch, starting from the grain. It will also show home brewers how to construct inexpensive equipment for mashing the grain. Participants should have a good understanding of the brewing process and experience in brewing beers from extract. Instructor: Denny Conn. Register in advance.

The cost is $36 in-district (ID) or $43 out-of-district (OD). The class will be held at Sprout Kitchen, 418 A St. (use west entrance), Springfield. Contact Denny or Willamalane for more info.

More information at Cascade Brewers Society and Willamalane Classes and Lectures for Adults 18+.

Register online with Willamalane or call the Willamalane Adult Activity Center, (541) 736-4444, 215 W. C St., Springfield, 97477.

Monthly Homebrew Meetup

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting Feb. 24

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The February meeting is Mon., Feb. 24, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at »

3 Rules in Search of Galway Pradesh Stout

The beery trinity of stouts: Guinness, Murphy's, Beamish.

In our world, there is a beery trinity of stouts: Guinness, Murphy’s, Beamish. But in the Rucksack Universe, there is just one stout to rule them all: Galway Pradesh Stout, or GPS.

It’s a hard life, creating a universe. When your wee world has a beer so rich and vibrant that it’s a character all its own, you have to find out what that beer is like in real life. With my work, homebrewing meets fantasy fiction, and there are 3 rules for searching out one beer in particular.

Second rule first.

Rule #2: Galway Pradesh Stout. It’s nothing at all like Guinness, Murphy’s and Beamish.

In case you didn’t know this already, stout is my favorite beer style for chilly weather (for warm weather, it’s saison. Preferring beers that start with “s” makes it easier to remember after a few pints). For as long as I’ve been building the Rucksack Universe, a key feature has been a beer called Galway Pradesh Stout, or “GPS” for short.

Galway Pradesh Stout is a dry Irish-style stout. Its history and recipe are older than Guinness. Actually, GPS is damn near older than Ireland itself, but that’s another story for another time. For now let us turn to the sacred words of the Beer Judge Certification Program, 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines, Category 13 — Stout, 13A. Dry Stout. And thus it was spake… (spaken? Whatever. Said…)

Aroma: Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas are prominent; may have slight chocolate, cocoa and/or grainy secondary notes. Esters medium-low to none. No diacetyl. Hop aroma low to none.

Appearance: Jet black to deep brown with garnet highlights in color. Can be opaque (if not, it should be clear). A thick, creamy, long-lasting, tan- to brown-colored head is characteristic.

Flavor: Moderate roasted, grainy sharpness, optionally with light to moderate acidic sourness, and medium to high hop bitterness. Dry, coffee-like finish from roasted grains. May have a bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate character in the palate, lasting into the finish. Balancing factors may include some creaminess, medium-low to no fruitiness, and medium to no hop flavor. No diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium-full body, with a creamy character. Low to moderate carbonation. For the high hop bitterness and significant proportion of dark grains present, this beer is remarkably smooth. The perception of body can be affected by the overall gravity with smaller beers being lighter in body. May have a light astringency from the roasted grains, although harshness is undesirable.

This is pretty much a description of beers like Guinness, Murphy’s and Beamish, which are the beery trinity of examples of the style.

Guinness is one of the world’s most iconic beers, and my travels in Ireland certainly left me with many fond memories of Guinness and its brethren. However, for my world, and as both an author and a homebrewer, I wanted to create my own beers.

So I came up with GPS. It ties in with some other things about my world and characters, and it is absolutely-tootly nothing at all like Guinness, Murphy’s and Beamish.

Which brings us to the first rule.

Rule #1: Authors lie.

Rule #1: The Doctor Lies

Rule #1: The Doctor lies, and so do I.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’re probably familiar with River Song’s important reminder from The Big Bang finale of reboot season 5 (thanks to Planet Claire for the quotation):

Rory: How could he have moved? He was dead. Doctor! Doctor!
Amy: But he was dead.
River: Who told you that?
Amy: He did.
River: Rule one: the Doctor lies.

Yup. The Doctor lies. And authors lie too. Probably even more than a 900-year-old time lord.

So I’ll say it again—and this time I mean it, I really really, timey wimey mean it—GPS is nothing at all like Guinness, Murphy’s and Beamish.

Rule #3: A beer described must be created.

GPS figures in all of my current Rucksack Universe stories, and it will feature in every story to come. (Think of it as a tasty drinkable version of the Death of Discworld. They both look best in black, only GPS doesn’t swing a scythe or SPEAK IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Plus, while Death helps you move on when you die, GPS helps you move on through life.)

The Death of Discworld, dark as a pint of GPS, but not quite as fun. Though to be fair, GPS doesn't have a horse named Binky.

The Death of Discworld, dark as a pint of GPS, but not quite as fun. Though to be fair, GPS doesn’t have a horse named Binky. Heya there Death, what’s that yer drinkin’?

Whether Ireland, Oregon or Australia, I’ve drunk many a stout in many a place. Each stout has contributed its own ideas for what GPS ultimately is like as a world-class iconic beer. After so much, ahem, field research, I’m also now working on my own rendering and recipe of Galway Pradesh Stout.

GPS will share many of the characteristics of the BJCP style guidelines noted above. I want it be a rich yet drinkable beer, the sort of think you could quaff by the pint all evening, and barely notice until you got up to pee.

Five gallons of my first attempt at a GPS homebrew—we’ll call it GPS, Mark I—were bottle conditioned a while back under a towel in my kitchen. The flavors are rich and roasted, with slight sour tangs to temper the bitterness.

I’m excited for this beer. It’s a true taste of my fiction.

Will it be all the way yet? Nah, not yet. Just like the world and characters of the Rucksack Universe itself, GPS is evolving.

But it’s a good start.

Images: anthony_thebest31 Keeping Calm in the TARDIS, Stuart B.

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Mr. IPA, KLCC Brew Fest, Homebrew Competition & Meetup

Jan. 23, 2014, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Hop Valley Pulls Mr. IPA Over Name Flap

Image: Hop Valley Brewing Co.

Image: Hop Valley Brewing Co.

Earlier this month, Beervana posted about Hop Valley’s Mr. IPA potentially being a shorthand for “Mouth Raper IPA.” In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of the issue in this week’s roundup, I’ve also written a followup about craft beer’s naming problems here. (BTW, the beer name has appeared as “MR IPA,” “Mr IPA,” and “Mr. IPA.” Hop Valley used “Mr. IPA” in their followup post, and I’m going to use the brewery’s spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.)

Here’s a bit from the Beervana post:

“I was at Beermongers about a month ago and saw that Hop Valley had a beer on tap called “Mouth Raper IPA.” I had always known that beer as “MR IPA” or “Mr. IPA,” but apparently the real name is–according to the bartenders there at Beermongers–Mouth Raper. That’s what it says on the keg and that’s what it says on the bill of lading (according to said bartenders).” (full post here)

A few days later, Jezebel picked up the story.

Hop Valley has since said on their Facebook page and Twitter feed that Mouth Raper is not the name of the beer, and that they were pulling the product. Here’s the Facebook post and replies:

Was it Mr. IPA, or MR IPA, or Mr IPA, or Mouth Raper IPA? I don’t know. A lot of folks have claimed there being credible sources backing up the beer’s name being Mouth Raper. Many, most notably Chip Hardy of Eugene’s The Bier Stein, have said that they’ve never seen any evidence the beer was named anything other than Mr. IPA:

“I think what one brewer calls it, and what a company calls it, are two different things. Officially, to the public, the beer is Mr IPA. Shame on any beer bar that calls it anything else than what is listed on the invoice. As a company, Hop Valley is doing no wrong. When we tapped our keg, it was called Mr IPA on our screens. For Beermongers to call it “Mouth Raper” is doing a mis-service to the industry.” (see Chip’s comment here)

I have no smoking gun to prove the name one way or the other. I hope to hell the name wasn’t Mouth Raper, and I hope Hop Valley would know better.

In the meantime, Hop Valley has pulled the beer. No word yet on whether or not the beer is coming back under a different name.

This flap reminds us of a bigger problem in the industry: stupid beer names based on sexually demeaning words and images. More on that in my follow-up post about getting beer names out of the locker room »

KLCC Microbrew Festival, Feb. 7-8

KLCC Microbrew FestivalLane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Ave, Eugene, Friday 5-11 p.m. & Saturday 1-11 p.m.

Fest time! The annual KLCC Microbrew Fest is almost here. Local beer fans can enjoy the beers of over 60 breweries from Oregon, California, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Illinois—even Vermont.

Breweries will pour samples of their most popular brews and many specialty brews, such as Tripp’s Hop Adventure from 21st Amendment of San Francisco, Pure Sin from Deluxe of Albany, Savant IPA from Elysian of Seattle, and Foggy Scotsman Porter from Plank Town of Springfield!

Over 150 microbrews will be on tap for tasting, plus ciders, mead, braggot, and gluten-free beers.

Each year also offers a Collaboration Brew, where local brewers each brew a beer based on a set style or theme. For 2014, the Collaboration Brew is a “Tour of Germany.” Thirteen local brewers each chose a different style of German beer and set a recipe based on the Reinheitsgebot, the 1487 German purity law specifying that beer may include only barley, hops, and water. Take your own tour of Germany at the Collaboration Booth.

Tickets are $12 in advance, on sale now at, or $15 at the door. Admission includes 3 beer tastings and a souvenir glass. 21 and over. Special $6 designated driver tickets are also available, with full paying customer; purchase at door only.

All proceeds benefit public radio station KLCC 89.7 FM.

Homebrew Competition at Microbrew Fest

Area homebrewers, you have until Jan. 31 to enter the KLCC Microbrew Fest Homebrew Competition!

Entry fee is $10 for the first beer and $5 for each additional beer you want judged. The fee also includes one ticket to the KLCC Microbrew Festival. Winners will be announced at the Festival on Saturday evening, February 8.

Judging follows 2008 BJCP Guidelines and is a BJCP sanctioned event. All judging will be supervised by certified judges.

Prizes and certificates provided by Falling Sky Brewing, KLCC, and other local businesses. The Best-of-Show winner gets to be “brewer for a day” and brew their winning recipe at Falling Sky Brewing, and potentially be entered in the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition.

Download the homebrew competition registration form (PDF) »

Monthly Homebrew Meetup

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting Jan. 27

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The January meeting is Mon., Jan. 27, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at »

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Best Nano, Winter Fest, Homebrew Meetup, Happy Holidays

Dec. 12, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Claim 52 Named Best Nano Brewery in Oregon

Claim 52 Brewing named "Best Nano in Oregon" by Northwest Brewing News readers. Image: Northwest Brewing News.

Claim 52 Brewing named “Best Nano in Oregon” by Northwest Brewing News readers. Image: Northwest Brewing News.

Congratulations, Claim 52 Brewing! One of Eugene’s newest craft breweries, Claim 52 was recently named “Best Nano in Oregon” in the Annual Reader’s Choice Awards from the Northwest Brewing News:

Claim 52’s reputation for good workaday beers has been growing and growing. This latest accolade says we have more good things to look forward to. Learn more at Claim 52’s Facebook page »

4th Annual Eugene Winter & Strong Ale Fest at 16 Tons

Eugene Winter and Strong Ale Fest

Warm up with winter ales at the 4th Annual Eugene Winter & Strong Ale Fest at 16 Tons Cafe, 29th & Willamette, on Dec. 13-14. The Festival provides a unique opportunity to sample seasonal, one-off, and rare beers from renowned brewers from Oregon and beyond. Eclectic and interesting beers will abound for both the novice and the experienced beer enthusiast

The 16 Tons crew serves up over 50 craft beers including…

  • Belgian Strong Ales
  • Barrel Aged Ales
  • Spiced Ales
  • Barley Wines
  • Imperial Stouts
  • Imperial Browns
  • Strong Sour Ales
  • Traditional Old Ales
  • Rare imports
  • Winter-style IPAs

The Winter Fest was the first festival 16 Tons held during their inaugural year of operation. “Of all of the beer events I take part in, the Winter Fest is dearest to me,” says Mike Coplin, owner and founder.

Headlining breweries include:

  • Ninkasi
  • Oakshire
  • Breakside
  • Plank Town
  • Deschutes
  • Hop Valley
  • Block 15
  • Flat Tail
  • McKenzie/Steelhead
  • Gilgamesh
  • Worthy
  • Elysian
  • Full Sail
  • Heater Allen
  • Hopworks
  • Laurelwood
  • Double Mountain
  • 10 Barrel
  • Midnight Sun
  • Gigantic
  • Alaskan
  • Widmer
  • Evil Twin
  • De Struise Brouwers
  • BrewDog
  • The Commons
  • Hair of the Dog
  • Brew Dog
  • Firestone Walker
  • Dogfish Head
  • Stone
  • Mad River
  • Fort George
  • And more!

The Winter Fest runs 5-10 p.m. each day, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13-14. Entry is free. Tasters: $1-$2, cash only. The 16 Tons Cafe is located in Woodfield Station at 2864 Willamette. More info at

Monthly Homebrew Meetup

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting Dec. 30

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The October meeting is Mon., Dec. 30, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at »

Happy Holidays!

Merry beery holidays to you! The Craft Beer Roundup will be on a holiday break for the rest of the year. I raise a glass to you, and wish you a wonderful holiday season, and a fantastic 2014.

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Civil War Tailgate Dinner, Mystery Wort Beer Judging, Coffee Ale Fest, Homebrew Meetup

Nov. 21, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Civil War Tailgate Dinner

At The Bier Stein, Nov. 26

A limited number of first-come-first-serve tickets have been made available ($40) for the next Bier Stein beer dinner, Tues. Nov. 26, 6-8:30 p.m. The theme? Civil War! Beers from Hop Valley (Eugene/Springfield) and Flat Tail (Corvallis) come together in the brawl of the ages… the Civil War Tailgate Dinner. (Tickets also include one pre-dinner beer from the current Bier Stein taplist.)


  • 1st Quarter: Stuffed Mushrooms with Parmesan, Cream Cheese, Garlic, Walnuts
  • 2nd Quarter: Salmon Cakes with Lemon Butter Cream and Asparagus
  • 3rd Quarter: Pork Ribs with House BBQ Sauce, Pork-and-Beans
  • 4th Quarter: Flank Steak Sliders on Challah Rolls with Fontina, Arugula, and Garlic-Roasted Tomatoes, Cracked Pepper and Lemon Aioli, Pepper and Red Cabbage Slaw
  • Overtime: White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Brownie Topped with Bacon Ice Cream

All beer pairings will be blind, and will be revealed by the brewers only after each course is complete.

Purchase and pick up tickets at The Bier Stein, 1591 Willamette St., Eugene.

Mystery Wort BrewHaHa People’s Choice Beer Judging

Claim 52 Brewing recently turned 1 year old! They also just added this snazzy new sign to their brewery, located at 1030 Tyinn St., Eugene. Photo: Claim 52 Brewing

Claim 52 Brewing recently turned 1 year old! They also just added this snazzy new sign to their brewery, located at 1030 Tyinn St., Eugene. Photo: Claim 52 Brewing

Sat., Nov. 23, 12-4 p.m.

As you may recall, back in September the folks at Claim 52 Brewing had 8 homebrewers of the Cascade Brewers Society brew beers with a mystery wort of unknown ingredients. The long-awaited tasting for those Claim 52 Mystery Wort BrewHaHa beers is now at hand.

The brewers took the unknown wort and added, well, who knows what? There were various combinations of hops, spices, fruits, sugars, yeast… you name it, they made a beer from it. On Saturday, Nov. 23, 12-4 p.m., there will be a People’s Choice tasting and judging at Claim 52 Brewing in Eugene.

Tastes are free, but to vote you must purchase tickets: $4 for 4 tickets. All funds raised will go to EWEB’s Customer Care program.

More info at the Claim 52 Brewing Facebook page and the Cascade Brewers Society.

Coffee Ale Fest

Coffee Ale Fest at 16 Tons Eugene, Nov. 22

16 Tons Cafe, Eugene, Nov. 22

Perfect timing. This week’s temperatures are scheduled to nip into the 20s in Eugene, so what better way to warm up than with coffee and beer?

At the 16 Tons Cafe (29th & Willamette), Mike and his crew are preparing cold brew coffees to blend with regular non-coffee beers at the moment before serving. Head down to try interesting combinations such as the Occidental Alt Bier with Cold Brewed El Salvador El Manzano (single-origin from Water Avenue Coffee) and the Planktown Brown Ale with Brazil Granja Sao Francisco (microlot single-origin from Water Avenue Coffee).

Over 20 coffee-infused ales will be on offer at the Coffee Ale Fest, Fri., Nov. 22, 5-10 p.m.

Monthly Homebrew Meetup

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting Nov. 25

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The October meeting is Mon., Nov. 25, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at »

Photo: Mike Chaput

The Solvent in the Glass: 5 Mistakes of a Homebrew Disaster

Homebrew Drain Cleaner

Homebrew Drain Cleaner. The weizenbock homebrew was a failure. It was so solventy, it wasn’t even worth dumping on the compost heap. The should’ve-been-beer just got dumped in the sink. On the plus side, at least the drains got cleared.

Weizenbock, I Hardly Knew You

In 2007, I took up homebrewing. In 2013, after dozens of successful (or at least drinkable) homebrews, I threw out my first batch. But as I watched 5 gallons of should-have-been beer disappear down the kitchen drain, tears on my face from failure and solventy fumes, I learned my lesson.

Five lessons, in fact.

So today, here is the cautionary tale of a homebrew gone wrong, along with the lessons learned so this never, ever, bloody EVER happens to me again—and hopefully never happens to you.

How It All Went Wrong

I confess. It was my own damn fault. And I knew it.

That brew day in May, I had high hopes. This batch of weizenbock homebrew should have been magnificent. The brew day went well. The yeast took a couple of days to kick into gear, but once they did, strong fermentation lasted for weeks.


May had given way to June, and with June came things like summer, trips, and being outside. The weizenbock was now ready to be bottled… but maybe that could happen tomorrow.

Funnily enough, tomorrow never came. The next day did, and so did the day after that, but never did the day dawn on that just-out-of-reach, never-quite-fit-the-schedule tomorrow.

A warm June gave way to a hot July and a hotter August, and still the weizenbock sat in the kitchen. By the time the August was tipping past its midpoint, after many days of temperatures in the 90s, I finally got around to bottling. After spending an hour or two sanitizing bottling equipment and dozens of bottles, I gently moved the big glass carboy of beer from the kitchen floor to the kitchen counter.

I pulled off the airlock, inserted the special tube that draws out a sample of beer, and poured a wee tasting glass of weizenbock.

Or, rather, paint thinner.

Would-be Weizenbock.

Would-be Weizenbock.

One sniff alerted me that all was not right in brewland. The beer never even got properly tasted; it stung my lips, reeked of a neglected garage and got spit into the sink.

The weizenbock was ruined. Irrevocably, not even-worth-pouring-on-the-compost ruined.

On the plus side, at least pouring it down the kitchen sink would keep the drain clear.

It was a sad day in the St. Clair kitchen. A lost beer, the end result of summer heat and steady procrastination. But as I reflected on the loss, I learned. I realized I had made 5 crucial mistakes, and I also thought of ways to make sure they wouldn’t happen again.

Mistake #1: Failing to think ahead

A batch of homebrew is a process that happens far beyond brew day. When getting ready to brew, think ahead to when the beer will be ready to bottle or keg. Are you going to be out of town for a while? Is something coming up that’s going to prevent your homebrew from bubbling to the top of the to-do list? Adjust brew day accordingly.

We had all these things going against us, especially when it came to trips out of town. If I’d thought ahead more comprehensively, I either wouldn’t have brewed the weizenbock until fall, or I would have done a better job of bottling sooner.

Lesson Learned: Think beyond brew day and adjust schedule accordingly.

Mistake #2: Not setting a date for bottling day

Brewing can be done on a strict schedule, or it can be done pretty laissez-faire. I trend toward the it’s-ready-when-it’s-bloody-ready approach, which usually works fine.

However, there’s a reason I don’t brew and bottle in the summer: the heat isn’t good for fermenting beer. During May the weather was lovely. However, I should have balanced making sure fermentation ran its full course, with making sure I also marked a must-bottle-by date.

Lesson Learned: Once you know when your homebrew is ready to be bottled or kegged, set a date, put it in your calendar, and damn well stick to it. Otherwise, it can far too easily keep getting put off, and put off, and put off—and then solvent.

Mistake #3: Trying to brew and bottle two batches at once.

I had grand plans:

  1. Brew a kolsch for summer enjoyment/
  2. Brew a weizenbock both to enjoy an occasional bigger beer over the summer, plus this stronger wheat beer would make a fine fall sipper.

The kolsch went fine (and has been damn tasty) and was bottled promptly. But it’s as if I’d lost all my bottling fizz, and I kept letting our summer activities prevent me from making time to bottle the weizenbock. (Well, summer activities, plus being a parent and running my own business.)

If I had brewed one batch at a time, I don’t think this would have been a problem.

Lesson Learned: Brew and bottle one batch at a time.

Mistake #4: Letting bottling day extend into summer

I like summer to be a brewing break, so I work really hard to plan my brews so I’m not brewing or bottling during the summer months. Summer is a good time for other activities, such as enjoying being outside without three layers of clothing.

Plus, summer’s higher temperatures mean it’s a good time to not worry about brewing under warmer conditions that make spoilage more likely.

Granted, if you have temperature control equipment for your brewing this is less of a concern, but I find it far simpler to just not brew during summer. (And no, we don’t have air conditioning in our home; living in Western Oregon, it’s rare that there’s a day where it’s really needed or desired.)

Without temperature controls, you are subject to the seasons. In our situation, higher summer temperatures kicked the yeast into a high gear, creating solvent-like higher alcohols that spoiled the weizenbock for human consumption.

Lesson Learned: Any homebrew in primary fermentation must be bottled before hotter ambient temperatures kick in.

Mistake #5: Prepping bottling gear and washing bottles before testing beer

You know what really sucked? It wasn’t just that the weizenbock had gone bad. It was that I had gathered, washed and sanitized all the bottling gear, prepared my priming sugar, AND had washed and sanitized about 3 dozen 22-oz. bottles.

Of course, that’s standard procedure. The problem is that I did all this BEFORE smelling and taste-testing the homebrew. Had I checked the batch first, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.

The only thing I can say in my defense? In all our years of brewing, we’d never had a problem with a batch.

Lesson Learned: Smell and taste beer before preparing bottling gear.

Brewing Closure

After the weizenbock homebrew failure, I was definitely bummed. Dumping a batch wasn’t just homebrew wasted, it was money down the drain. Our homebrew stores were running low, and August was too warm to brew. While tidying the garage one morning, one of my three carboys broke. September was probably fine for brewing, but I was in the midst of writing a new novella and had other projects going.

Come the end of October, though, I was ready. There was time. There was the right weather. And I had to get back on my brewing horse. So as I type this, a dry stout Guinness clone is going fermentation gangbusters in the carboy.

The weizenbock’s bottling day may have become drain clearing day, but into every homebrewer’s life a bad batch may fall. After years of brewing, I had mine.

But that’s just one batch. And that one failed batch taught me lots about how I can keep improving my brewing, so (hopefully) it doesn’t happen again.

Photos: and

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Learn to Homebrew Day, Agrarian Harvest Halloween, Heater Allen Brewing Pause

Oct. 30, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Learn to Homebrew Day at Oakshire Public House, Nov. 2

Learn to Homebrew Day is an annual event established by the American Homebrewers Assocation to encourage homebrewing. Photo © 2010 Cindy Jones.

Learn to Homebrew Day is an annual event established by the American Homebrewers Assocation to encourage homebrewing. Photo © 2010 Cindy Jones.

Have you ever wanted to learn to homebrew? On Sat., Nov. 2, head to the Oakshire Public House for National Learn to Homebrew Day!

Homebrewers from the Cascade Brewers Society will demonstrate homebrewing, different recipes and equipment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Oakshire Public House is at 207 Madison, Eugene.

Post to social media with hashtag #LTHD2013.

Learn to Homebrew Day is a national event established by the American Homebrewers Association in 1999 to encourage people to homebrew.

Agrarian Harvest Halloween

Harvest Halloween Party at Agrarian Ales

Harvest Halloween Party at Agrarian Ales

Head to Agrarian Ales (near Coburg) on Oct. 31, 5-10 p.m., for the Harvest Halloween Party 2013.

This 21+ event features Agrarian beers, an adult pinata, costume contest, pumpkin keg and a special themed menu. The Symbiotic Quintet plays, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Limited space available.

RSVP and Shuttle Requests:

Heater Allen Brewing Pause

Heater Allen

For now. But don’t worry—just stock up.

In an email to customers, Rick Allen reports that Heater Allen is installing a new brewing system in early November. While the brewery migrates from their old 6 barrel system to the new system, brewing is done, and will resume once all the new equipment is installed and checked:

“We don’t have much to report from a brewing standpoint, because we’re not! We brewed our last batch of beer on our old system a week ago, and in early November we will be installing a new brew system. This 15 BBL system is custom designed for the kind of beers that we produce, and will allow us to make more and better beer. We hope to be up and brewing again within a couple of weeks, although it may take us a little while to fine-tune our beers on the new system.”

Allen does note that while they have tried to brew sufficient Heater Allen supplies to last during this brief stop, there is a possibility Heater Allen beers won’t be available around late December/early January. “But over the long term,” Allen says, the expansion “should allow us to do a better job keeping beer in stock, increase the number of tap handles in the Portland area, and allow us to extend our reach at into Northern California and Washington.”

Heater Allen currently has a strong supply of Pils. Other beers such as Coastal, Dunkel, and Sandy Paws are expected to be back in stock by the middle of November. Bottle supplies are limited, kegs of Sticke Alt and Kolsch are available.

Learn more at the Heater Allen Brewer’s Blog »

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: New Oakshire Cans, Licks & Drinks, Bier Stein, Homebrew Club

Oct. 23, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Oakshire Now Canning More Beers, Celebrate Oct. 23 & 24

Oakshire Amber and Overcast Espresso Stout will now come in 12 oz. cans too, just like the Eugene brewery's signature Watershed IPA. Photo: Oakshire Brewing.

Oakshire Amber and Overcast Espresso Stout will now come in 12 oz. cans too, just like the Eugene brewery’s signature Watershed IPA. Photo: Oakshire Brewing.

So a while back, Oakshire began canning their beers. First up was their flagship Watershed IPA. Now Oakshire (finally) is canning their Original Amber Ale and Overcast Espresso Stout too. Distribution of the 12-oz./6-pack cans began on Oct. 21, and you’ll be seeing them where you beer up throughout the next few days and weeks.

From improved beer quality to recyclability, expanding canning to all flagship beers suits Oakshire brewmaster Matt Van Wyk just fine. (He’s also the barrelmastermind behind Oakshire’s recent GABF gold medal win.) “The bottom line is that cans are better for the quality of beer, and that’s what I care about,” Matt says. Canning “will allow us to have a great experience with fresh beer.”

In addition to single-serving cans, Oakshire Amber, Stout and IPA continue to be available on draught and in 22 oz. bottles throughout the Northwest.

Celebrate the release of Amber and Overcast in cans! There are 2 canning release parties in Eugene:

  • The Bier Stein, Wed. Oct. 23, 6 p.m.
  • The Barn Light, Thurs. Oct. 24, 5 p.m.

More info at »

Late Night Drinks & Licks at Red Wagon After Dark

Yup. Ice Cream Speakeasy. Photo: Red Wagon Creamery.

So, first there was the Red Wagon ice cream cart. Then there was the co-location in Eugene with Party Downtown/The Party Cart.

And now, there’s “late night drinks and late night licks” from Eugene’s favorite artisan ice cream folks:

Dubbed “Red Wagon After Dark,” the new late-night offerings at the ice cream speakeasy include dessert cocktails, beer floats and “milkshakes with a kick.” You know, like this:

Dessert cocktails feature Red Wagon ice cream and premium liquors, and beer floats all feature local craft beers.

Red Wagon After Dark happens Thursday through Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at Red Wagon Creamery’s 55. W. Broadway location in downtown Eugene.

More info at the Red Wagon Creamery Facebook page »

New Bier Stein Newsletter

The Bier Stein is at 15th & Willamette, Eugene. Photo: The Bier Stein.

The Bier Stein is at 15th & Willamette, Eugene. Photo: The Bier Stein.

Eugene’s The Bier Stein has not only a snazzy new website, but also a new free email newsletter for beer lovers.

To stay in the know about beers, events and other news and happenings with the popular Eugene beer hall, sign up for the email list here »

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The October meeting is Mon., Oct. 28, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at »

Eugene Craft Beer Roundup, Sept. 19

Governor Gifts, Mystery Brews, Single-Batch Fest & Fresh-Hop Releases

Ninkasi Gives Beer to Oregon Governor

22oz-Bottle-ORB-2013-200x800On Sept. 18, Ninkasi Brewing Company co-owner Nikos Ridge presented Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber with a custom-bottled Ninkasi beer. The beer is a collaboration between Ninkasi Brewing Company and Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency.

The beer will be used as a promotional tool, says Ninkasi, “something interesting to spark conversations at foreign and domestic tradeshows, follow-up thank you gifts to recruitment meetings, delegation gifts, business development events, and more.”

Mystery Wort Brew-off at Claim 52

Members of the Cascade Brewers Society homebrewing club are participating in a “mystery wort brew-off” at Claim 52 Brewing on Saturday, Sept. 21. Starting at 9 a.m., each brewer discovers the composition and strength of the 6.5 gallons of mystery wort that they each must use to brew a beer of their design.

Brewers may bring ingredients to use (such as hops, non-pumpkin fruits, yeasts, spices and sugars), with specific limitations. Once brewed, beers will ferment at home. Brewers must create a recipe on-site. Any additions or processes performed off-site, must be declared on brewing day.

Beers will age for approximately 2 months, and will be judged at a judging event at Claim 52 in November (date TBD).

Claim 52 is located at 1030 Tyinn St., Suite 1, Eugene.

Oakshire Brewing Single Batch Bierfest

The Oakshire Public House hosts their first Fall Bierfest. Approximately 30 breweries will converge on 207 Madison Street on Sept., 21 (the first day of Oktoberfest) to showcase their small-batch or single-batch beers, including fresh-hop beers, Oktoberfest beers and pumpkin/squash beers. The Fest runs 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and also includes live music and food for purchase.

Participating breweries include:

  • Hop Valley
  • Block 15
  • Ninkasi
  • Lagunitas
  • Tracktown
  • Rogue
  • Upright
  • Breakside
  • High Street
  • Silver Moon
  • Goodlife
  • Viking
  • 2 Towns Cider
  • Fifty/Fifty
  • Widmer
  • Base Camp
  • Hopworks
  • Falling Sky Brewing
  • 10 Barrel
  • Steelhead
  • Sky High
  • Mazama

For more information, see Oakshire’s Facebook event page

Ninkasi Releases 2 Fresh Hop Beers


Ninkasi Brewing has released 2 fresh hop beers as part of their Rare & Delicious (R&D) Series:

  • Total Crystalation IPA was based on the ever-popular Total Domination IPA, and adds in 500 pounds of fresh Crystal hops from Sodbusters farm in Salem, OR.
  • Hop Fraiche Fresh Hop Pale Ale was brewed with 500 pounds of fresh Sterling hops from Goschie farms in Silverton, OR.

Be the first to try Hop Fraiche! Ninkasi taps the first keg of Hop Fraiche at the Ninkasi Tasting Room (272 Van Buren St., Eugene) on Friday, Sept. 20. Join Ninkasi brewers and hop grower Gayle Goschie from 5:30-7pm.

Both beers available throughout Oregon (limited quantities available in Washington and California) for a limited time.

Fresh-hop beers are “our tribute to the harvest,” says Jamie Floyd, co-owner and founding brewer of Ninkasi. “We use fresh-harvest hops picked the same day they go in the lauter tun.”

Tap-Total CrystalationTo ensure the hops remain at their highest quality, Ninkasi’s team of brewers travelled to 2 local farms to select hops for each brew. Less than 80 miles from the brewery, the team harvested 1,500 pounds of fresh Crystal hops from Sodbusters Farm in Salem to produce 3 batches of Total Crystalation, and 500 pounds of fresh Sterling hops from Goschie Farm in Silverton for a single batch of Hop Fraiche.

“Over the years we have built great relationships with the farmers who cultivate our hops,” explains Floyd. “Fresh hop beers bring us together; we travel to the farms to select the hops and honor the harvest by spending time to see the hard work that goes into growing one of our most-loved ingredients.”


Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter

Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

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