Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Zwickelmania 2019: Vagabond Brewing Portland

Once again, I happened to be in Portland for this great event.

Once a year, breweries across the state of Oregon host free tours in an open house format. Participants take short tours and receive samples given directly from the conditioning tanks.The tap near the bottom of the tank is called a "zwickel," and hence the event name.This event takes in the Portland metro area on one weekend, and then in all other parts of Oregon state on the following weekend. This year, in Portland alone, 65 breweries participated.

Five of us went off across the city in search of some of the newer breweries, or some in cases newer outposts of established breweries: Vagabond Brewing Portland, West Coast Grocery, Ruse Brewing, Von Ebert East, Migration Brewing - Gresham, and Threshold Brewing & Blending.

First up was Vagabond Brewing Portland. This is a new brewpub location for Salem-based Vagabond Brewing.

They had a soft opening earlier in the month, and Zwickelmania was to be opening day.

... and indeed, the smell of fresh paint was in the air. The staff were busy unpacking merchandise and stacking it up. The menu beer board was just being created, as we entered.

We had samples of two beers, an IPA and a Pils, that were being poured out by brewer Dean Howes.

The pub is a wide-open airy space...

... made to appear more open and airy in the mind by the Cessna aircraft hanging from the rafters.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Summing Up: New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2018 /日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2018: 結語

Over the past four posts, I reviewed the majority of new beers brought out by the four major Japanese breweries. If you like, have a look at the posts for Asahi (HERE), Kirin, (HERE), Sapporo (HERE), and Suntory (HERE).

The four major Japanese brewers produced 56 different beers, down by 18 from 2017.
They made 18 different styles of beer, four fewer than the 22 styles produced the year before.

The most common style (18 / 33%) was, of course, pale lager, with Asahi producing eight, Kirin six, Suntory three, and Sapporo only one.

The second-most popular styles, at five each, were Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager, Oktoberfest/Märzen, and Pilsener.

Judging from RateBeer average rating scores and my own ratings (out of a possible top score of 5.0), admittedly a limited sample, for all 56 new beers, Sapporo and Suntory produced somewhat more interesting and tastier beers than did Asahi or Kirin, pretty much the same as last year.

Sapporo: 11 new beers
RateBeer Avg. 2.87    My Avg. 3.09

Suntory:  14 new beers
RateBeer Avg. 2.87     My Avg. 2.72

Asahi:  18 new beers
RateBeer Avg. 2.83    My Avg. 2.59

Kirin:  13 new beers
RateBeer Avg. 2.82    My Avg. 2.56

Kirin's Grand Kirin series is the probably still the best of the "crafty" brews being produced in Japan. However, Suntory’s Premium Malt’s line continues to be the best series of Premium Lager made in Japan (especially the three beers in the Master’s Dream series, which can be considered ultra-premium).