Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Lets imagine, if you will, a scenario. Imagine you wake up for work, like always; shower, dress, eat... It's a normal day. You ride your bike to work, it's a beautiful morning and you are ready to do your job because after 30 years, your training and experience has allowed you to do your job PERFECTLY.

You walk into your work place and notice that it smells different. The kind of "different" that you can't get used to. You almost feel sick so you head to the restroom but it's no longer there. It's just a wall where a bathroom used to be. Then you start to notice that the entire place is off, just slightly different than you remembered it to be yesterday.

You find your office. It's been rearranged, organized differently, illogically. You can't find any of your files on your computer because the file names have been changed. You walk into the hall to find that you are not the only one who's head is about to explode from confusion. A panic sets in.

Walking outside to clear your head from the smell and chaos, you notice that their are others, from neighboring businesses, confused and panicking. Your boss calls you over and explains that you, as well as everyone else in the city, need to be retrained and as fast as possible.

What businesses can afford this sort of loss in efficiency? Especially in this economy. Imagine who much money would be lost, how many businesses might have to shut down. Scary don't you think?

Well, this could happen in Portland if all of a sudden the water supply were to change chemically by filtration. The "confused worker" is the workhorse of the brewing process: yeast. Those "businesses" are the breweries who have trained their yeast to work as efficiently as possible in "workplace" the live in.

All of the great beer being brewed in Portland is 95% water. Would you gamble, unnecessarily, with over 30 years of brewing culture, a culture that is the life-blood of this town, to hunt down a microbe that hasn't been found in the water supply to begin with at the cost of almost $400 million dollars? What if the same "hunting" could be done using UV, at a quarter of the price? I read that it can.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


So as I continue with my endless searching for gainful employment here in Portland, I must take a break. It's 104 degrees. I have no A/C, no fan, no job. To keep my spirits up, I must reflect on all the wonderful beer that I had tasted last Thursday afternoon at the 22nd annual Oregon Brewers Festival.

My rules at a beer festival are simple; don't drink anything that you have tasted before, start light and end big and drink as much water as beer. It being my first time at the OBF, I was excited to say the least especially because it was the first day and it wasn't the weekend. I was be able to try anything that I wanted and without a shit load of people ("it's not the heat, it's the stupidity"). What is to follow will be very brief and personal interpretations of the 13 beers I tasted.

Amnesia Brewing's "GoldyHops": One of Portland's best brewpubs in my opinion, brews a very drinkable English-style IPA at 5.2% and not overly hopped. I was so refreshed by the complete balance of this ale. The only aspect that I didn't care for was the "bubble-gum" yeast character.

Caldera Brewing Company's "Hibiscus Ginger Beer": Brewed specifically for the OBF this year, Oregon's first brewery to distribute in cans brought a nice, "dry-flowered" ale to the table. At 4.2% it is a perfect session drinker. My only complaint is that the ginger didn't pop for me. I could only find it in the first initial touch on the palate. A very light, refreshing and interesting beer.

Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen's "Dortmunder Lager": This Bellingham, WA brewery had me at "Dortmunder". A very historically accurate representation of my favorite lager. This beer is all about the malt with it's almost amber color and balance that would make Shawn Johnson envious, wishing that she had as clean of a finish. At 5.5%, this one is definitely worth seeking out.

Deschutes Brewery's "Miss Spelt": In all honesty this was my first spelt brew and I am defiantly a fan. This 4.8%, light amber ale reminded me of a wheat-nut cereal breakfast with a side of marmalade toast. Damn tasty!

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's "Festina Peche": I have to be honest, this ale reminded my of bile after drinking too muck white wine sangria to the point that you could feel the acidity eating away at the enamel of your teeth after one vomits. So if you are into all things extreme, Sam never disappoints.

Eel River Brewing's "Organic Acai Berry Wheat": I am not into fruit beers. I like the idea of fruit in my esters. With that said, I would actually buy this beer for my home. With a huge berry nose, the taste of the acai never got in the way of the wheat and the finish was perfect.

Elysian Brewing Company's "Loser Pale Ale":This beer was originally brewed for the celebration of Sub-Pop's 20 anniversary. As a musician, I get it; 7% with just a hint of ganja. Sorachi Ace hops, a Japanese hybrid grown in Yakina Valley, gives it that quality and I know a lot of people who would live this pale ale.

Fifty-Fifty Brewing Company's "Manifesto Pale Ale": Hands down, the best beer I had all day. The kind of beer that you drink and you swear it was designed just for you. This 5.5%, dark amber pale ale is all about showcasing the 6 different malts. Caramel and bread with just enough hop bitterness for balance and a beautiful whirlpool hop edition for aroma! I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Great Northern Brewing Company's "Wheatfish Wheat Lager": My guess is that this is a lagered ale, or more accurately, a lagered American wheat ale. Very drinkable with a "banana bread" aroma that was rather nice.

Lagunitas Brewing Company's "New Dogtown Pale Ale": One of my favorite California breweries has "updated" their pale ale and I love what they are doing. I have been noticing recently a trent in hop aroma that lends itself to the "peachy" side of things. Im not one to describe beer in very colorful, fruity or even slightly imaginative ways but when I say "peach" I mean peach. Keep it up brewers, I like where you are going.

Laurelwood Brewing Company's "Double Oregon Hefeweizen": I'm not very big on the wheat beers myself and when I do drink one, I prefer it to be wit, but finally, a brewery has produced the best American wheat beer that I have ever had. Probably because it's a "double" and it clocks in at 6.9%. It is substantially better than the average Pacific-Northwest wheat.

Mt Shasta Brewing Company's "Mountain High IPA": I admit, that sometimes, my initial expectations of a beer can be off. I was way off with this one. I was expecting a 7% glass of bong water but what I got was a wonderful pine and citrus aroma with a nice caramel malt center. I love nice surprises.

Sprecher Brewing Company's "Mai Bock": Ahhh yes, the driest sibling in the bock family. I admit that I had this too late in the game to really appreciate it BUT... this was the driest lager I have ever had. My only complaint is that I felt that the malt profile could have been bigger and might have balanced out the dry finish.

So, this has been MY experience of this years OBF. I hope that you got to make it but if not, maybe this helps. Cheers!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Just getting ready to attend a wedding but promises to post my thoughts on the fifteen beers that I tasted on the first day of the Oregon Brew Fest. For those of you in Portland this weekend, please do yourself a favor and check it out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blog Post 07.21.2009

I am starting this blog out of necessity. My name is Denver Mark Bon and I am a Certified Cicerone who has moved to Portland, OR from Los Angeles, CA. For those beer-advocates out there who happen to stumble upon this blog, you might think that this was an easy transition. You are wrong. L.A. might completely lack a "beer culture" and Portland may be steeped in one, but neither are completely true. Yes, Portland has been considered "Beer City West, USA", Asheville considered "Beer City East, USA", while Los Angeles is widely viewed as lacking a "true beer community". But there is much more to be deconstructed.

I have been visiting Asheville for over 20 years now. When I was a kid, my family rented a time-share on Lake Lure. I fell in love almost instantly with the beautiful mountain town. My most recent trip, last December, involved experiencing all that Asheville had to offer a newly certified cicerone. Beer. Lots of amazing, well crafted, locally brewed beer. 70,000 people in this town and they are about to open their 7th brewery! Do the math kids, Asheville is nipping at your heals, Portland. With breweries like Highland Brewing Company, Green Man Brewing and Pisgah Brewing Company producing some of the most serious ales I've ever consumed, it is east to deduce that Portland is not alone.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, is the other side of the proverbial "beer coin" which misses the most important ingredient in a beer culture; a sense of community. Everything is a fucking competition there and everyone hates everyone else. Two of the biggest names in LA's weak beer scene, who shall remain nameless, actually detest the very people who make them successful; the people who sell, serve and drink/eat their product. On a positive note, for anyone who enjoys the great beers of Belgium and other European countries, you have David Farnsworth to thank.

I am 5 weeks into my "Portland Beer Experience", 20 or so brewpubs and bars have my resume and I have only landed one job interview. I realize that the economy, as it currently is, and the overwhelming unemployment rate that Portland has has a lot to do with that. So I try to be patient, or I was until tonight...

I went to my first "Meet-the-Brewer" night very recently. I was truly excited because I was about to meet the head brewer of Oregon's best brewery. I got there early because, as you will learn, I cycle EVERYWHERE. I have no car. I sold it 3.5 years ago when L.A. broke me of that ideal. I was excited because of all the beer that I have had in the Pacific Northwest, this brewery has been the most consistent and most readily available in Portland, as far as regional craft brew is concerned.

I started out with their playful variation on an English style, the ESB, and it was great, everything that you would expect from an American-English style bitter. It was full of a melon-type flavor with light body, perfect carbonation and vanishing finish. Beautiful to say the least because I feel that there are very few drinkable, and different, representations of this style. I was impressed and feeling good about the beers to come.

My next half-pint was his pale ale. When the bartender placed the glass in front of me, it was to the rim with NO head to speak of. As it turns out, it wasn't that the bartender was trying to give my my money's worth, there was no carbonation to speak of in this ale. I even asked a waitress to give me a cocktail straw to see if I could induce some head from vigorously stirring this beer. For a moment I wondered if this keg was intended for a swan necked hand pump. Other than the carbonation issue, the beer itself had an amazing and refreshing peach aroma and citrus finish. I thought this was an overall great take on the American Pale Ale style that most of us have taken for granted.

Then shit really went south. I ordered a half-pint of the stout and realized, from first whiff, that this was not even close to balanced. I am sorry, but I have a have a really hard time with ales that are over-the-top and secondary flavor heavy. You have no business calling it a "stout" if their are no obvious "stout" points of reference. If it were to be classified as a "stout vanilla ale", my opinion would be different. It tasted like a homebrew.

Now, as all of this is going on, the brewer is talking with the owners of the pub. They are all talking about this very limited release. The brewer described it as an IPA that smelt of "dank" weed. This is a style of IPA that I am totally familiar with. When done badly, it tastes of bong water. When done well, it's called Green Flash's Imperial IPA. This well-hopped IPA reminded me of nothing even close to cannabis. It smelt like every other "uber-citrus" Imperial IPA but had an initial taste of mustard/collard greens with a nice dry finish.

I'm sorry, but I'm gonna be that asshole that can't understand why a brewer would continue to "sell" a beer with the description of his intentions. He obviously intended this IPA to smell like pot. He listed up to 8 different hop verities that he used. I know as well as any brewer that while beer is designed, in the end, it ends up being what it is, yeast are crazy little fuckers. Why he would continue to describe his beer as something that it is obviously not, is beyond me.

I am sure that Asheville has it's faults, just as LA does, but I expect a lot from Portland, it's brewers and it's bars. We are talking over 30 years of beer culture here. I think I have a lot to offer Portland and the beer world in general.

Just to clarify: I'm not anti-Portland, I think this city is amazing, I am just PRO-beer.

I'm just calling it like I taste it!
Love me or hate me,
Portland's first Cicerone