Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter Beers

I've been having a really long cocktail moment but now it is undoubtedly time to welcome beer into one's life. Not the light and fizzy, down and dirty $2 tallboys of summer, but the heavy, creaky wooden ships: big-ass Belgians (that will give you a big ass), smoky Porters, stuff with coriander in it.

And yes, it's "holiday beer" time. Sometimes I don't really get what is so festive about the special releases other than their packaging and positioning, and a lot of brews that aren't marketed as "seasonal" say winter and holidays to me as much as anything (St. Bernardus ABT 12). More than anything though it's a good excuse to try something different which might end up being delicious, as happened last weekend at Spints, the ultimate setting for drinking winter beers. Here are my tasting notes that I took at the bar. Thanks Alyssa and Jacob for the research assistance.

Affligem Noel: A caramely winter warmer with a smooth body, brightened with a light carbonation around the edges and a surprisingly fresh-fruity-cherry nose. A high-ABV Belgian, it will fuck you up.

Heater Allen Seasonal Something or Other: Mostly marketing, a pleasant smokey-chocolate porter.

Then we continued the tasting at Victory.

Anchor Christmas Ale from 2009: Impressive for still existing, as well as for its remarkably mellow and blended flavor profile. A good argument for beer cellaring.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I was prepared to hate this place. First, it's owned by the people who own Perreira Creperie, where I once waited 45 minutes - for a sidewalk crepe - before finally asking for my money back. Second, the design is eye-rollingly trendy, with a mounted deer head, old windmill ceiling fan and laboratory stools. And finally, I thought the whole speakeasy thing was really pretentious. But someone told me they had good drinks so I checked it out.

And, they do have really good drinks, and good service, and those are pretty much the only two things I care about when I go out for cocktails. The bartender, Lydia, is fresh off a stint at PDT in NYC, and not only that but she's actually really nice and hospitable. There is a creative and well-executed cocktail list, respectable back bar, and of course crepes. It can be a cocktail geek bar if you want it to be, or it can be just somewhere you go for a drink with your friend or after work. And best of all, when I was there, there were no annoying people getting in the way of me enjoying my drink (a delicious flip with cognac, Benedictine, absinthe, orange bitters and nutmeg). All in all it's a great, laid-back but good-drink-producing place and I'm planning to go back. Exposed filament lightbulbs be damned.

220 SW Ankeny, Portland