Monthly Archives: August 2018

A Religious Experience at Monkless

I had a religious experience (in the bathroom) at Monkless Belgian Ales this weekend. And I’m having another while typing and listening to Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert from 1975. But that’s not what I heard in the bathroom.

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Let there be beer!

Monkless Belgian Ales is just four years into production, and only two-and-a-half years on a 10-barrel brewing system. The shiny, clean brewery has a tank capacity of 100 barrels, and it’ll push 1,000 barrels of production this year. While that’s not very large for a production brewery, it is remarkable that 100% of the beer is fermented with expressive Belgian-type yeast. This model is an extreme rarity in the U.S., and deserves attention because the brewery has been quite successful selling its canned, bottled, and draught beer in Oregon.

When Monkless first came to Eugene, while I was working at The Bier Stein, the Imperial Peppercorn Wit and Capitulation, a dry-hopped Tripel, seemed a bold first move to push into a new market. But once the pint cans of Shepplekoffegan Wit, Peppercorn, and Capitulation hit the shelves and started selling, it seemed that Monkless had discovered a sect of beer drinkers who appreciated the balance of its characterful beers. It helped that Shep’ became an easy, affordable domestic alternative to Blue Moon.

In 2017, 500ml. bottles of Friar’s Festivus, a Belgian Strong Dark ale spiced with mace and cardamom, spent a brief layover on the shelves before being scooped up. That compelled the brewery to shift its schedule and brew more while customers continued to seek it out. As far as I remember, it outsold the perennial favorite St. Bernardus Christmas Ale; at the very least it generated more fervor. This year, it won a Gold medal at the Oregon Beer Awards.

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Monkless turns water (& malt & hops) into beer!

I was treated to a flight of all eight of Monkless’ current beers at the brewery’s tasting room on a hot Saturday afternoon. Somebody had kindly set up water misters in the garage doorway. A Mexican food truck was serving tasty street food. Folks trickled in; most ordered flights. Some came back for a full glass, others got their Bend Ale Trail passports stamped and continued on.

The flight was arranged on two barrel staves, in order from lightest to heaviest, starting with Shepplekoffegan and ending with Meet Your Maker, an un-spiced Belgian Dark Strong. With the exception of the Maker and Dubbel or Nothing, all of the beers lay in the pale-to-golden realm, but the shared traits more or less ended there. The brewery keeps four yeasts for its various beers, and even blends a couple of them for one of the beers (can’t remember which).

If you’re curious about the difference between a Tripel and a Belgian Golden Strong, Monkless has you covered; the Restitution and Trinity are quite different, with the former, a Belgian Golden Strong, showcasing fruity, apple-pear-peach esters with a bit of spice, honey, alcohol, and a full body without being too sweet. The Trinity, an Abbey-style tripel is spicier and a bit drier, with some pale stone fruit and pepper/cinnamon notes, all from yeast. Capitulation, which is Trinity dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Citra, pairs the vinous German hop and now-classic IPA hop to lend bright fruitiness and some extra bitterness to the Tripel, which is a lovely addition that’ll surely get a hop-head’s attention.

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A little beer church on a hot day

Being a fan of sessionable beers, the Shep’ did me right, and paired perfectly with my pork tacos and spicy salsa verde. I’ve found that witbiers made as one-offs lack the fluffy wheat body, and are often too dry feeling; Shep’ is a well-practiced wheat beer with a good dose of the traditional orange peel and coriander.

 

Samaritan’s Saison was a recipe from one of the assistant brewers, and had the distinct ganja aroma that I remember from my first bottle of Dupont Saison; that was very pleasing to recall. It’s dry, a little scratchy, but not as carbonated (on draught) as a bottle-conditioned saison so the pils-like malt sticks around for the next sip.

The bartender, cellarman (and also homebrewer and cheesemonger) Nick gave us an educated tour of the brewery, which is well set up and seems ready to receive more tanks if necessary. The brewery currently hires a mobile canner, but the cork & cage bottles (packaged with priming sugar and yeast for natural carbonation) are done by hand.

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Thou shalt wash thy hands after peeing.

After the tour, finishing the flight and chatting about cheese, I felt the familiar urge. Entering the bathroom is a step back in time, to a Renaissance-era cathedral – especially if you close your eyes. A single speaker in the corner was playing Miserere, the Gregorian hymn based on Psalm 51, at a high enough volume that all other sound disappeared. I guess I found where the monks went.

One of the hardest things about brewing Belgian-style beer is attaining a balance between yeast, malt, and hops. All beer obviously requires yeast management, but the flavors in American-style ales and lagers are mostly expected to be “neutral.” Utilizing yeast’s potential for flavor contribution is a tough game, and means really getting to know how it acts under various conditions. Monkless gets it right.

Growl to Garden Beer Fest & Road Mile

If you’re hankering for something to do this weekend, and to burn ‘n earn the calories for your next round, check out Tap & Growler / Beergarden’s Second Annual Growl to Garden Beer Fest and Road Mile on Saturday, August 18th from 12-8 PM. The concept is simple: combine Eugene’s enthusiastic running community with beer. Sounds like a real arm twister. 

The one-mile race starts at 4pm at Tap & Growler, goes down 5th Ave., and ends at Gray’s Garden Center right next to Beergarden. Race registration is $25, and includes entry to the beer festival, a commemorative glass and 4 beverage tickets. Entry to the Fest, which runs noon-8pm, is $10. There will be food provided by some of the carts that serve at Beergarden, and live music from local acts Corwin Bolt & the Wingnuts and Etouffee. The race awards ceremony will take place at 5:30 at Gray’s.

Beer, cider, and wine will be served from over 20 producers – the list is posted below. Check growltogarden.com or the Facebook page for volunteer opportunities, and more fest and race details.

Beat feet and then hang out among the flowers, shrubs and trees… doesn’t sound too bad for a Saturday afternoon.

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This could be you! Photo by Trask Bedortha, courtesy of Tap & Growler/Beergarden.
Brewery Beer
Agrarian Dryad- Spruce Tip Sour
Agrarian Pineappleweed
Ballast Point Aloha Sculpin
Ballast Point Tart Peach Kolsch
Coldfire Kite String IPA
Coldfire Tangle of Tigers IPA
Deschutes New Fresh Haze IPA
Deschutes New Grapefruit Rose Sour
Goodlife Give’m Helles
Goodlife Descender IPA
Hop Valley CryoClassico
Hop Valley Bubble Stash
Lagunitas SuperCluster IPA
Lagunitas Sumpin’ Easy
McKenzie Hopasaurus Rex Imperial IPA
McKenzie G2G Lager
Ninkasi Yours Truly Easy Drinking Ale
Ninkasi Raspberry Lime Gose
Oakshire Hazy IPA
Oakshire Sun Made Cucumber
Pelican Peached on Deck
Pelican Hazy Rock
Vagabond Victory Pils
Vagabond Attack Owl
Wild Ride Let’s Go Hazy IPA
Wild Ride Tarty to the Party Watermelon Lime Sour Ale
Yachats Ten Mile Saison
Yachats Blackberry Sour
Cider House Cider
2 Towns Pacific Pineapple
2 Towns Easy Peasy
Avid Cider Dragonfruit
Avid Cider Apricot
Portland Cider Sangria
Portland Cider Apple Pie
Wildcraft Strawberry Spruce
Wildcraft Elderflower Quince
Wine
Eugene Wine Cellar
Pinot Gris, Rose, and a Red
Kombucha
Elevate Summer Fling
Elevate Lavender Lemonade

Publichouse is Open in Springfield

publichouse_barSpringfield has a downtown beer bar! Colby Phillips and Patric Campbell, the owners of Tap & Growler and Beergarden in Eugene took over the building that was home to SPROUT Food Hub into Publichouse. It is much more than a beer bar, though. The transformation of the church building begs for irreverent jokes– Head to the altar for some holy water! Does everybody drink from a communal chalice? The power of IPA compels you!– but also provides a variety of neat spaces to drink great beer.

The showstopper is the sanctuary. Order your beer front and center at the stairs to the altar, and find a seat at booths along the walls or custom picnic-style tables down the center. Or head upstairs to the choir section and enjoy the stained glass-tinted “God’s eye” view. There are 24 beers on tap there, which run the gamut of styles. For the grand opening, Publichouse staff brewed collaboration beers with a couple Oregon breweries. There is a cooler with select bottles and cans as well.

From the sanctuary, you can access the 100 Mile Bakery. My friend Leda Hermecz was one of the original members of the NEDCO business incubator and SPROUT food hub there, and her locally-sourced food is hearty and fantastic. She makes a killer wedding cake, too…

Outside of the sanctuary, the three food businesses that have been serving for a couple years are still there. La Granada, Pig & Turnip, and Cascade BBQ provide food anywhere on the grounds (you can take beer anywhere, too).

Down the hall past the kitchen is a door that leads to a grass courtyard with–you guessed it–more beer! A dozen or so beers are on tap at the Arbor Bar under a small awning next to the stage, and there are picnic tables scattered about. This is my favorite spot at Publichouse, as it feels like a real beer garden. It’s a perfect family friendly spot as well.

On the other side of the building, the soon-to-open Whiskey Bar will open in what was Claim 52 Abbey. The cozy space will be a good winter hideout, and will have two beer taps as well: one for a lighter, beer-back sort of beer, and a tap of rare or vintage barrel-aged burly brew.

All beer orders are made at the bar(s), and if you’ve started a tab you can order from any bar; food is separate. The staff are kind folk, happy to oblige inquisitions from budding craft beer drinkers.

Publichouse offers downtown Springfield residents an opportunity to expand their beer horizons close to home, and is a great complement to Plank Town Brewing just around the corner. The vibe at Publichouse stops short of “urban” or “modern” by way of the building’s inherent flow and separate spaces. Rather, it feels homier; you can drink in the space of your choice. It bears similarities to The Bier Stein (as a beer hall) and McMenamins (for the diversity of spaces and atmospheres), but has an aesthetic that’s present at Tap & Growler and Beergarden too; maybe it’s the Marie Callendar’s furniture.  Some of the wood used to make the tables came from an old Pabst brewery (a cheeky touch), and the long center tables in the main hall were custom made by Stonewood Construction, which did the build-out.

Springfield is on the up-and-up culturally and businesswise, and is not without existing craft beer joints. McKenzie River Taphouse serves the Thurston area to the east, and Hayden Bridge Taphouse has a good taplist, killer street tacos, and a surprisingly good bottle selection, just north of Highway 126 on Mohawk Blvd. Though those are far-flung for a proper pub crawl, the beer scene in Springfield just got a huge boost with Publichouse. The 3 block strip of Main Street downtown has grown from Plank Town and the Washburne Cafe to include Bartolotti’s Pizza; Dark & Stormy, a new bar from the owners of Hayden Bridge; and the (hopefully) soon-to-open second location of Cornbread Cafe. (Sprungfelders, don’t be mad if I missed other good spots (like Noodle ‘n Thai!); just take me there sometime.)