Monday, February 2, 2015

2nd NW Coffee Beer Invitational (Portland, OR)

The Second NW Coffee Beer Invitational was held at Goose Hollow Inn in Portland, Oregon, on January 24, 2015.

Having attended the inaugural event last year, I was stoked to return this year. $15 got you access to the event, a complementary taster glass (which you got to keep), and eight taster tickets.

In all, 16 beers from 16 different breweries. Ideally, you can take a friend or two with you so that everyone can share and sample everything.

The lineup this year included:
  • Barley Brown's "Imperial Breakfast Stout" (8.5% ABV)
  • Buoy Beer's "Brown Coffee" (5.5% ABV, 20 IBU)
  • Burnside Brewing's "Cafe Negra Limello" (5% ABV, 28 IBU)
  • Chetco Brewing's "Black Thunder" (7% ABV, 28 IBU)
  • Coalition Brewing's "Jumpy Juice" (7% ABV, 20 IBU)
  • Elysian Brewing's "Cthulhu Imperial Oak Aged Coffee Stout" (8.6% ABV, 48 IBU)
  • FOTM Brewing's "Spanish Coffee Mud" (6.7% ABV)
  • Gigantic Brewing's "Sabotage! Coffee Baltic Porter" (8% ABV)
  • Grain Station Brew Works' "Sidamo Coffee Stout" (6.96% ABV)
  • Lucky Labrador Brewing's "Irish Coffee'd Red Ale" (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU)
  • McMenamin's "Onward Caravan Turkish Coffee Ale" (5.68% ABV, 19 IBU)
  • Migration Brewing's "Odilicious Strong Ale" (7.8% ABV, 75 IBU)
  • Pints Brewing's "Mocha Banana Split" (7.6% ABV, 18 IBU)
  • Sasquatch Brewing's "Wired Whale" (9.5% ABV, 90 IBU)
  • Walking Man Brewing's "Happy Feet Coffee" (5.5% ABV, 22 IBU)
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing's "Demitasse Coffee Pale" (5.1% ABV, 52 IBU)

First up for me, the Mocha Banana Split from Pints Brewing. Basically a high recommendation from author and fellow blogger Steven Shomler.

A huge hit with me overall. Sweet, dessert-y, with notes of banana bread in taste and smell. I didn't get much cocoa nib in there. The whipped cream and maraschino cherry, while great for presentation, wasn't really needed in my book. Probably an 8/10.

Maraschino cherry sunk to the bottom. Oops.
Second, the Barley Brown's Imperial Breakfast Stout.

Medium body, chocolaty and vanilla smell. Taste included a noticeable coffee experience. At 8.5%, you'll start feeling the alcohol after a few sips. Overall a middle-of-the-road beer, in my opinion. 5/10.

Third, the McMenamin's Onward Caravan Turkish Coffee Ale.

Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this one. Cardamom was too overpowering, drowning out every other flavor in there (including the coffee). It is a smooth beer, but for whatever reason, this batch felt watered down, with no other experience to speak of. My friends also did not care for this. Very sad panda. 2/10.

Fourth was Coalition Brewing's Jumpy Juice.

Immediate Belgian ale flavors and a bit of sweetness. Slightly refreshing. However, not much coffee in this experience. This one is a creeper; it'll feel more alcoholic than 7% ABV after a while. 5/10

Fifth was Burnside Brewing's Cafe Negra Limello.

Solid beer here. The smell brought memories of walking into a kickass coffee shop. Slight coffee flavors. The beer finishes smoothly; very easy drinking experience. A great beer for spring/summer. 7.5/10

Sixth was a beer my friend got: Widmer Brothers' Demitasse Coffee Pale. Yay for not having to use a tasting ticket!

This was one of the best I had at the event. Immediate coffee notes on the smell. Slight coffee flavor, medium hoppy, very refreshing. Could easily drink a couple pints. 8/10

Seventh was FOTM's Spanish Coffee Mud.

Another personal favorite during the event. Lovely aroma of coffee and vanilla. Medium body. Pleasing flavors of vanilla, citrus, and rum came through for me. Probably just a tad too heavy for me to drink more than one of -- because pandas cannot hold their alcohol like hardcore people. Yes, I would enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 7.5/10

Eighth was Chetco Brewing's Black Thunder.

A full-on experience here, folks. Aroma was mostly smoky notes and slight coffee. Chocolate and smoky flavors. I detected slight alcohol flavor in there as well. Again, probably not one I'd have an entire pint of. Very good overall for being a coffee beer. 7/10

Last on the list was Sasquatch Brewing's Wired Whale. Most alcoholic and hoppiest beer on the list.

And folks, we have a winner. This beer provided a slight coffee smell, but it was the intense, hoppy flavors that reeled me in. For 9.5%, I probably would down a couple pints and not regret a thing. 8.5/10

"Wired Whale" was my personal favorite this year!

Afterward, we headed to Fire on the Mountain for Jamaican Jerk wings and Deep-Fried Nutter Butters. Because that is totally panda logic.

I can't wait for next year's NW Coffee Beer Invitational event!

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