Hootenanny Ribs

Hootenanny Ribs
3-2-1 rib perfection on my Traeger Pro 34 wood pellet grill

Monday, December 30, 2013

Blue Lou's Top 10 in Music 2013

Music is my comfort and joy.  It is my medicine.  I have enjoyed many genres of music since I was very young.  It is the soundtrack to life.  These are my favorite releases of 2013.  Of course it is blues heavy but not all blues.  You may be surprised at my favorites of the year.  Listen with me now to the best of 2013.  Enjoy the musical journey.

10.  Buddy Guy - " Rhythm & Blues"

Buddy Guy is the torchbearer for incendiary blues.  He is the Godfather of it.  Buddy Guy is what Jimi Hendrix would be if he had lived longer.  "Rhythm & Blues" shows that Guy's blazing chops are still in fine form.  The Chicago Blues are alive and well, thank you very much, thanks to Buddy Guy and his wonderfully young seventy-seven year old soul. Lots of good ones here and some very interesting guest appearances:  Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Beth Hart, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, and Gary Clark Jr.   Buddy's still got it.

9.  Tinsley Ellis - "Get It!"

Atlanta bluesman Tinsley Ellis' instrumental release "Get It!" is old school.  Blues, surf, chicken pickin', Southern rock all on a fun and at times intense release that showcases Ellis' guitar brilliance and his various influences.  This one shines. 

8.  Moreland & Arbuckle - "7 Cities"

I swear Moreland & Arbuckle are straight out of North Mississippi.   Turns out they're from Kansas.  How does this hot Hill Country Blues-Roots-Rock trio not come from the Delta?  Blues is universal.  So is very good music.  Aaron Moreland on cigar box guitar absolutely kills it on "Tall Boogie".  Check them out for yourself.

And maybe the most interesting cover for 2013 for "7 Cities" is Moreland & Arbuckle covering Tears For Fears'  "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", seen and heard here:

7.  Tedeschi Trucks Band - "Made Up Mind"

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks' super group maintains excellence with "Made Up Mind".  Beautiful vocals from soulful Tedeschi, brilliant slide guitar from Trucks, a big horn and percussion section, funky, bluesy, rock and soul all mesh to form a near perfect CD.  Check out one of the Tedeschi Trucks Band shows if you get a chance - brilliant!

6.  The Avett Brothers -  "Magpie and the Dandelion"

A lot has been written about The Avett Brothers in the last couple of years.  Audiences have found their live shows riveting and lively.  They have an extremely loyal following.  And no wonder!  Superb song writing, beautiful harmonizing, masterful musicianship, great chemistry all abound in this North Carolina band.   Roots, folk, bluegrass, rock, country all rolled into one to create a great American sound.   This release harkens to some of their earlier efforts and has a very earthy feel to it. 

5.  Shawn Holt and The Teardrops - "Daddy Told Me"

Shawn Holt is the son of the late, great Magic Slim (Morris Holt).  Magic Slim's band, The Teardrops, back Shawn on this debut effort, and man does it sizzle and pop.  Gut wrenching blues with tight and heavy guitar licks, big on the Chicago gut bucket sound.  Thick and swirling with his legendary father's influences, Shawn Holt hits a home run with this one, featuring some blues standards and some great originals.  (Favorite lyrics, from "Hold You Again", "My tears are my only friend...")

4.  The Civil Wars  -  "The Civil Wars"

Simply the best duo in any music genre today.  Haunting harmonies,  virtuoso musicianship, deep soulful and heart-wrenching songs... and they are not speaking to each other?  Joy Williams and John Paul White comprise The Civil Wars and yet they have been uncivil to each other since Williams took a "maternity leave" from touring late in 2012.  Yet they still managed to record a deep, melancholy and reflective self-titled CD.  Even the artwork for the cover is bleak.  This release features a fantastic cover of Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm".

Their future is not bleak though.   We can only hope that they work out their differences.  They are simply phenomenal.

3.  JJ Grey & Mofro  -  "This River"

JJ Grey & Mofro hail from Jacksonville and their sound is decidedly Southern.  Rock/blues/soul/funk and a little jam band thrown in for good measure.  Sprinkles of the Muscle Shoals sound and Stax Records are heard.  Grey's voice is gritty and honest.  His lyrics reflect a great wit with a slower pace, then he gets funky and you must boogie.  One of my favorite songs of the year is the title cut "This River".   I love this release; was played constantly over the summer when I was down on Watts Bar Lake on the Tennessee River.

2.  Southern Hospitality  -  "Easy Livin'" 

Southern Hospitality.  That says it all.  This Southern Super Band is made up of regional stars of Southern music.  On this debut release they blend blues, soul, funk, swamp, Southern rock, gospel and reggae all into a giant tasteful biscuit of Southern Love.  Shades of Little Feat, Dr. John, and CCR all echo in their gritty Southern soulful sound, yet it is still fresh and tasteful.  You feel Memphis and New Orleans all over this release.   Get me some sweet tea and butter my biscuit 'cause this is one the best releases of any genre in 2013.  Bonus:  this release was produced by Tab Benoit.  Win.

1.  The Wood Brothers  -  "The Muse"

The Wood Brothers are Oliver (guitars) and Chris (upright bass) along with percussionist- instrumentalist Jano Rix.  The brothers grew up listening to blues and roots music, which is the base of their sound now, forming a Folk-Blues-Roots trio that conveys the Americana musical form to perfection.  Solid, witty and thoughtful songwriting paired with extraordinary musicianship provided for my favorite release of the year.  Reflective ballads, country blues-based boogies, strong stories reflect in their songs.  Fantastic chemistry and professionalism are conveyed in their recording and live shows.  Oliver carries the weight with an earthy vocal style that harkens to a simpler time while remaining contemporary.  His style eases the soul and captivates the mind.  The Wood Brothers are simply one of the best Amercian bands recording and performing today.  If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to them or enjoying one of their live shows, do yourself a huge favor and indulge.  You will find your muse.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Twelve Beers of Christmas 2013

The holidays are a great time to select your best beers from your cellar or fridge to share with your family, friends, or savor by yourself by the fireplace.  For the past few years I have enjoyed assembling a "Twelve Beers of Christmas" to enhance my holiday beer experiences all while giving me another good reason to acquire rare and highly rated beers during the year to save for this event.  The 2013 lineup is no exception.  These beers are all offerings that I have not yet tried giving me yet another reason to enjoy the season.  The tastings start on Christmas day, one of these exquisite beers per day, and goes twelve days, following the Twelve Days of Christmas festive tradition.  I give you my Twelve Beers of Christmas for 2013:

1. The Bruery Oude Tart


"Oude Tart is a Flemish-Style Red Ale aged in red wine barrels for 18 months. Pleasantly sour with hints of leather, dark fruit and toasty oak."

I'm very fond of this style and this is a great brewery so I know this will be epic.  Thank you Matt R for acquiring this one for me.

2. Engelszell Gregorius Trappistenbier 

"The Trappist monastery of Stift Engelszell is located in Engelhartszell, in the northern part of Upper Austria, on the Danube, in a valley with wooded hills.  This monastery has been a member of the International Trappist Association (ITA) since 2008.  In 2009 the ITA granted Stift Engelszell the right to use the 'Authentic Trappist Product' label on its Trappist liqueurs.  The Trappist community have launched a dark Trappist beer, the 'Gregorius' (9.7% ABV). This name refers to Dom Gregorius Eisvogel who was the abbot of Stift Engelszell Abbey for 25 years (1925-1950)."

This is the only "Authentic Trappist" brewery from which I have not tried at least one of their ales.  One of my beer goals for 2013 was to track down one ale from the remaining Trappist Monasteries that I have not tasted.  Mission accomplished. 

3. Williamsburg AleWerks Brewmasters Reserve Café Royale

AleWerks Brewmasters Reserve Café Royale

"We age a stronger version of our CoffeeHouse Stout in Virginia Gentlemen Bourbon Barrels for 3 months. This aging adds layers of complexity including notes of vanilla and Bourbon to this big coffee beer." 

This beer is from a beer trade with BeerPal Melanie Wiscount who attended my annual  Hootenanny in 2013 by riding down on her Harley-Davidson from Washington, D.C. with FoamDome.  Aged in Bourbon barrels; what's not to like?

4. AleSmith Decadence 2012

"Decadence is the ongoing anniversary ale from the amazing AleSmith, unquestionably one of America's top five breweries, and this 2012 is a real show-stopper: a Belgian-style Quad that serves up a completely hedonistic richness and velvet-like creaminess that just tastes special; a beer obviously brewed with consummate skill and obsessive care. The lush fruits and boozy notes present themselves powerfully and the brawny 12% ABV is absolutely undetectable. This is a masterful ale from a world-class brewery and a perfectly delicious treat!
Raisins, milk chocolate, burnt sugar, molasses, treacle, yeast-driven spices, and rum fruitcake notes make this a titanic, memorable limited ale!"

Really looking forward to this one.  This will be my first in the annual Decadence series.

5. 3 Fonteinen Intense Red Oude Kriek

"Intense Red is an artisanal, unsweetened, unfiltered old kriek. It contains a higher amount of cherries, making it slightly less sour than a traditional 3 Fonteinen kriek. The new beer is the result of a collaboration between 3 Fonteinen’s Armand DeBelder and Manu De Cort of PuPil, a creative marketing company in Halle."

3 Fonteinen Intense Red Oude Kriek

I simply love most kriek ales I've tried, especially the higher quality Belgian offerings.

Scaldis Noël

"It is the custom in Belgium custom to brew a beer a bit bolder and stronger as a holiday gift to loyal patrons. At 12.5% ABV, the little Scaldis Noël bottle contains one giant beer. It has a burnished ruby-copper color and a spicy aroma with notes of caramel and marzipan and peach. The taste is round, with hints of anise leading to a long warming finish. If it is snowing and you have a Yule-tide log—fire it up and sip a Scaldis Noël—Pieter Breughel couldn’t paint a more Belgian scene!"

Merry Christmas to me!

7. Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine (2011)

"A barleywine ale aged for a full year on used bourbon barrels, this beer has flavors of dark fruits and wood, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival."
PfoxyJohn, aka Beer Santa, gifted me this beer in 2011.  It is time to enjoy this puppyThank you Mr. Pfister.  You are indeed Beer Santa.

8. Bells Third Coast Ale (2012)

"Third Coast Old Ale focuses on malt, offering notes of burnt caramel & other earthy malt flavors. Designed with vintage aging in mind, the malt aspect is matched to a heavy complement of hops. Sharply bitter at first, this will fold into the malt character over time and balance out the maltiness."

Another top rated beer acquired in a beer trade, this one with BeerPal kinger.

9. The Abyss (2012)

"A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.  As for the great "drink it now or let it age" debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure a year on."

The Abyss Interview video 

Another gift from PfoxyJohn. Huge thank you. 

10. Struise Pannepot

"In the early 1900s, the village of De Panne, close to the French border, was famous for two things — the ‘Pannepot,’or fishing boats, that could be seen along the coast, and the unique dark ale enjoyed by the local fishermen. Our Old Fisherman’s Ale is a tribute to these hardy sailors and their rich, flavorful brew.
Pannepot is an unfiltered, unpasteurized, bottle-conditioned dark ale with an intense, complex chocolate malt aroma, roasted accents, and subtle hints of spice."

One of the top beers in the world.  Surprise find.

11.  Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout

"Big Bear is a big, black, stout you can really sink your teeth into. The bold, roasty, caramel malt flavor is balanced by Centennial and Cascade hops."


One of the best stouts in America. On my wish list for quite a while. 

12.  Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel 

"Péché Mortel (French for "Mortal Sin") is an intensely black and dense beer with very pronounced roasted flavors. Fair trade coffee is infused during the brewing process, intensifying the bitterness of the beer and giving it a powerful coffee taste. Péché Mortel is brewed to be savored; we invite you to drink it in moderation."

This Canadian beer has also been on my wish list for quite a long time.  Purchased at Belmont Party Supply in Dayton, OH.  Ending my Twelve Beers of Christmas with this one because it has evaded me longer than any of the others.

These magnificent dozen are certain to greatly enhance my Christmas spirit.  No "Bah, humbug" from me.  I'm going to be like that Jolly Old Elf by the time my Twelve Beers of Christmas have been enjoyed.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year to you all. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I'll play the Blues for you

On occasion, I get to guest host a blues radio program,  Johnny Mack's Friday Night Blues Attack, which airs every Friday from 9:00 pm - 3:00 am on WDVX-FM in Clinton/Knoxville, TN and online live through webcast.   It is a passion and hobby for me and great fun.   On Friday night, April 5, was one of these occasions.   Johnny Mack brings me some newer blues releases and ole Blue Lou supplies the rest of the nights tunes from my personal collection.

A couple of highlights of this past show was my daughter Ashlyn dropping by the WDVX downtown studio to check out the show and a phone call request from Billy Bob in New South Wales, Australia - great to hear that Aussie accent.  He requested to hear some Sonny Terry and (Knoxville's own) Brownie McGhee.

Blue Lou in the WDVX studio (courtesy Ashlyn Kittrell)

I heard from lots of friends and listeners through emails, texts and phone calls.  Since the show, several folks have requested a playlist of the songs that aired during the broadcast.  I'm always glad to oblige.  It's a long list; I was on for six hours!

Play list from Friday Night Blues Attack, April 5, 2013:


Muddy Waters
I Can't Be Satisfied
The Chess Box

Blind Lemon Jefferson
Match Box Blues
The Story of the Blues

Jimmy Reed
Bright Lights, Big City
Live at Carnegie Hall

Slim Harpo
I'm a King Bee
The Best of Slim Harpo

Taj Mahal
Fishin' Blues
Big Blues: Blues Music For Kids

Muddy Waters
Good Morning School Girl
Folk Singer

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Bring It On Home To Me
Sonny & Brownie

Albert King
I'll Play The Blues For You, Pts. I & II
I'll Play The Blues For You

Guy Davis
Shaky Pudding

John Lee Hooker
Boom Boom
Essential Blues 2

Louis Jordan
Saturday Night Fish Fry
Barbecue Blues

B. B. King
Three O'Clock Blues
King of the Blues Box Set

Son House
Preachin' Blues
The Original Delta Blues

Albert Collins & His Rhythm Rockers
The Freeze
Texas Blues

Buddy Guy
When My Left Eye Jumps
The Very Best of Buddy Guy

Tab Benoit

Magic Slim & The Teardrops
Bad Boy
Bad Boy

Jimmie Vaughan
Dengue Woman Blues
From Dusk Till Dawn Soundtrack

Michael "Iron Man" Burks
Show of Strength
Take A Chance On Me, Baby

Susan Tedeschi
It Hurt So Bad
Live From Austin, TX

B. B. King
To Know You Is To Love You
Greatest Hits

Moreland & Arbuckle
Legend of John Henry

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Bound For Glory

Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King
Out of Body, Out of Mind
Have Blues, Will Travel

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Sonny's Thing
Sonny & Brownie

Joe Bonamassa
Stones In My Passway
An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House

Deanna Bogart
Blues at 11

Pinetop Perkins/Hubert Sumlin
Hoochie Coochie Man

Larry McCray
Same Old Blues
Born To Play The Blues

Paul Oscher
32-20 Blues
Down In The Delta

Garry Moore with Albert Collins
Too Tired
Still Got The Blues

Big Walter Horton with Carey Bell
Can't Hold Out Much Longer
Big Walter Horton with Carey Bell

Big Bill Morganfield
That Same Thing
Rising Son

Tab Benoit
Standing On The Bank
Best of the Bayou Blues

Tinsley Ellis
Freddy's Midnight Dream
Get It!

Albert Collins
I Ain't Drunk
Deluxe Edition

The Fabulous Thunderbirds
She's Tough
Different Tacos!

Jimmy Thackery
Rocks Off
Exile On Blues St.

Bo Diddley
Hey Bo Diddley
His Best

Duane Allman/The Allman Joys
Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective

The Allman Brothers
Statesboro Blues
At Fillmore East

R. L. Burnside
Rollin' & Tumblin'
Burnside on Burnside

Big Jack Johnson
Breakdown Blues
We Got To Stop This Killin'

Willie King
Jukin' At Bettie's
Jukin' at Bettie's

Walter Trout/Jeff Healey
Workin' Overtime
Full Circle

Tab Benoit

Bonnie Raitt
Angel From Montgomery

Otis Taylor (with Mato Nanji)
My World Is Gone
My World Is Gone

Albert King
Born Under A Bad Sign
Born Under A Bad Sign

John Lee Hooker
I'm In The Mood
The Healer

Robert Cray
I Shiver
Shame + A Sin

Clarence Gatemouth Brown
Gate Swings

Muddy Waters
Mannish Boy
Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live - Legacy Edition

Albert Collins
Lights Are On (But Nobody's Home)
Live at Montreaux 1992

B. B. King
How Blue Can You Get
Live at the Regal

Otis Rush
I Can't Quit You Baby
Essential Blues 2

Bobby Blue Bland
Turn On Your Love Light
Essential Blues 2

Jimmy Thackery and Tab Benoit
These Arms of Mine
Whiskey Store Live

Big Joe Turner
Shake, Rattle, And Roll
Jump Blues Classics

Sean Costello
Have You No Shame
We Can Get Together

Sean Costello
Rub A Dub
Cuttin' In

Big Jack Johnson
Too Many Rats
Roots Stew

Johnny WInter
Mojo Boogie
Third Degree

R. L. Burnside
Let My Baby Ride
Come On In

North Mississippi AllStars
Shake 'Em On Down
Shake Hands With Shorty

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials
Check My Baby's Oil
Full Tilt

Ronnie Baker Brooks
Bald-headed Woman

Tab Benoit
I Smell A Rat
Live at New Orleans Jazzfest 2005

Steve Earle
My Old Friend The Blues
Ain't Ever Satisfied

Carlos Del Junco
Amazing Grace
Steady Movin'

Joe Louis Walker
Where Jesus Leads
In The Morning

It's always a blast to guest host the show.  Hope to do it again as soon as Johnny Mack calls or emails.  When I do host again, I'll play the blues for you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beer Love, PDX style

My buddy Travis, a great friend and beer brother, recently moved to Portland, OR.

"Lou," he says, "you have to come out and visit me!  I'm working at The Commons Brewery in Portland and could provide a place to stay and weekend beer tour..." 
No brainer.  So I plan, with our mutual friend, Wisconsin beer guru John, to meet in Portland Feb. 1-4 for suds and fellowship. Travis promises many brewery visits, great food, a cool vibe and a generally fun beer and food centric long weekend.

Arrived @ PDX around 3:30 pm PST Friday, Feb.1 to sunshine and mid 50s, and Travis ready to go to The Commons for his work shift that Friday evening with me in tow.  I'm game.  Friday afternoon/evening at a brewery? Yes, please.

Met lots of very nice locals while Travis poured pints, lots of good conversations.  That and GABF Award winning beer: The Commons Flemish Kiss.  Another Win for me.  I sampled ALL of The Commons fine brews Friday evening without over-indulging.  We waited for John to arrive, then off to some breweries and dinner.

l-r: The Commons owner/brewer Mike Wright, brewer Sean Burke, and my host Travis Sandoval

The Commons Board of Selections

These little medals don't just fall out of the sky!

More local guests outside the tasting room, waiting on the pretzel truck

First dinner at Lardo; Pork Heaven.  I had the Cubano sandwich, Dirty Fries (with fried pork belly bits!) and a Heater Allen Schwartz bier.  Boom!  The Dirty Fries were a huge hit with all of us.  Too much.  I'm full.  More places to visit.

Lardo Dirty Fries with fried pork belly bits

Next up, Base Camp Brewing, a very cool newer brewery with great branding.  Owner Justin Fay gave a late night impromptu tour of the entire facility.  Big, clean, vision.  I love their direction and branding.  They even have a S'more Stout with which they top with a roasted marshmallow to create ultimate S'more experience!  After Base Camp, we headed back to Travis' place to try just a couple of more bottles: Russian River's Redemption and Pliny The Elder.  Now to rest up for the full Saturday ahead.

Base Camp owner/brewmaster fashioned this one-of-a-kind "Growler" - quite awesome

Saturday we were up decently early to depart first to Deschutes Brewery & Public House in Downtown Portland.  Great place.  Sampled most everything on tap, ate a good lunch, then got a private tour of the brewing facility from Jason Barbee, which included a couple of experimental batches not available in the brewpub.

l-r: Travis, Wisconsin Beer Guru and good friend John "PfoxyJohn" Pfister, Deschutes brewer Jason Barbee

Another GABF medal, this one just hanging around in the Deschutes brew house.

Feeling great after Deschutes tour and many samples, off to Occidental Brewing for some decidedly German selections.  Straight up styling with seasonal offerings: a nice change of pace from all of the in-your-face, West Coast styles of many of Portland's breweries.  Scenic drive to arrive, which was an added bonus.  We sampled ALL of their beers then headed over to Upright Brewing, in the basement, down the elevator, on the corner.  Really.  Would have never found it if Travis wasn't driving.  John and I tried the BushWhacker Blend: a pear cider/saison blend aged in gin barrels.  Exquisite to say the least.  Loved their offerings and their styling.  Vinyl LPs spinning in the taproom; I spied Stevie Ray Vaughan's album "Couldn't Stand The Weather" and it gets played loud and proud so I got my Blues fix during my visit.  More samples here then off to Cascade Brewing Barrel House, renown for their sour ales.  Very impressive lineup here.  Many more samples tasted.   Wow, just wow.  Great place with fantastic beers. 

Some of the taps at Cascade.

Dinner time means another brewpub; this time we headed over to Burnside Brewing for dinner and just a few more samples.  More GABF award winning brews here too.  Ate dinner, tried some samples and picked up a bottle of Sweet Heat "a wheat ale with an addition of 200 pounds of Apricot puree, then dry hopped with imported Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers. Reminiscent of a Caribbean chutney, Sweet Heat has a subtle tartness from the fruit with a slight spiciness from the peppers which also adds a fruitiness to the aroma,"  also a 2012 GABF  Gold Medal winner in the Herb and Spice Beer category.  Booyah!

Time for re-hydration and sleep. Back to Travis and Brittany's for some shut eye then up Sunday for a much anticipated visit to Hair of the Dog Brewing and their selection of big beers, and met up with Brian Bailey, founder of BeerPal.com.   BeerPal is how Travis, John and I all met so we owe a debt of gratitude to Brian for that happening.  Hair of the Dog:  we got there as the doors opened for business on Super Bowl Sunday.  Nice and spacious tasting room with plenty of tap and bottle offerings.  These were big beers, as in high alcohol content so caution was needed.  I tried several vintages of Cherry Adam From The Wood (2009 and 2011) and dang near everything else they had to offer, but only shared samples as not to overwhelm my palette (nor pass out).  Bottles and swag purchased.   Good to go to next place.

Tasting glasses at Hair of the Dog

After Hair of the Dog, we traveled to Gigantic Brewing.  In an industrial district, Gigantic had plenty to offer, including a taco truck parked outside to serve hungry patrons.  I got the Kiss The Goat Black Bock first; very nice.  Then Ume Umai Black Rice and Plum Beer, a different but tasty treat.  Now we were ready for late lunch, we piled into Travis' little car and head back out for more adventures.

Gigantic Kiss The Goat Black Bock

Quick trip to Belmont Station, one of Portland's finer bottle and tap shops, where I had an AleSmith Speedway Stout on tap and purchased a couple of bottles.  Then we walked down the block to the famous Horse Brass Pub for our lunch and some Super Bowl viewing.  Fish and Chips along with a Russian River Pliny The Elder draught for me.  Yes, Pliny The Elder on tap; a first for me as I've only had it from the bottle before.  Super Bowl and the Beyonce halftime show and we headed back to the Casa de Locos Revolucion Fuego for rest and recovery. 

Last call and I'm spent.  Great trip.  Travis and Brittany are the most gracious of hosts.  Meeting up with John is always a pleasure.  Any craft beer lover should take a trip to Portland.   It is beautiful, quirky, and full of excellent breweries and restaurants.  Everyone I met was extremely friendly and accommodating.  Travis has the best job in the world: he pours pints and helps out at a top notch nano brewery for great owners, and he's an even better friend and Beer Pal.  I will return to Portland sometime but for now I leave great memories and tired taste buds behind.

Until the next beer trip...

Interested to see all the of different beers that I tried in Portland?  Check out bluesandbarbq's Untappd list.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Baker's Dozen For 2012

Reflection.  It is what we do at the end of each year/beginning of a new year.  2012 was another great year for trying new beers, meeting new friends, discovering new music, tasting new foods.  Of the nearly 400 new beers tried in 2012, these were the best.  Some had been on my Wish List for quite some time.  Others were total surprises or newly released brews.  Each left a lasting impression. 
  1. Russian River Supplication
  2. Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout
  3. New Glarus Serendipity
  4. Foothills Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
  5. Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA
  6. Duchesse De Bourgogne
  7. Firestone Walker Parabola
  8. Sixpoint Resin
  9. Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
  10. Southern Tier Imperial Crème Brûlée Stout
  11. Deschutes The Dissident
  12. Thomas Creek Banana Split Chocolate Stout
  13. Van Twee

Quite a few different styles are on the list.  These beers came from different sources: friends that shared them at tastings, beer festivals, beer trades, out of state beer runs, gifts.  I have discovered that I am a Sour Head too.  I love those good sour beers; they are not for everyone but once you try the better ones you are hooked.  If you are hesitant to try a new style, find one of the more highly rated beers of the category that you want to try then give it a shot.  

Cheers!... And remember - good friends, good music and good food all make the beers taste better!