Zwickelmania ~ An Oregon Beer Tradition.

Waiting for the bus.There are many terms in the beer world, terms my hubs has learned, terms I hear other brewing friends make fun of because of their redundancy. At one point, a good friend pointed out this very fact, the fact that everything you might do in your regular life is called something different when you are brewing beer. For example, when you rinse something in the non-brewing world, you call it rinsing. When you do this to grains during brewing it is called sparging. When you boil water, add grains to it and allow them to steep at a specific temperature for a set amount of time, it is not called steeping as it might be with tea, instead it is called mashing or mashing in. I could go on, but I will spare you and get to the point.

In brewing, once the beer has fermented, the fermentation tank is crashed (yup another one, also known as getting the tank really cold with food grade coolant to stop yeast activity and allow the yeast to sink to the bottom of the fermenter before the beer is moved to the conditioning tank) at this point, when the beer is no longer in suspension (i.e. the yeast has settled and the beer is clear), the tank is no longer known as the fermentation tank. Now it is called the bright tank, because the clear beer is called bright beer. What I am describing is often used in commercial settings. It speeds up the clearing of the yeast and creates a bright beer much more quickly. At home, we just let the yeast eat itself until it is no longer fermenting and hope most of it settles to the bottom. Though we are not going for an overly clear final product.

Alright, alright, again back to the point. So this weekend there was an annual event in Portland. It is an event we like to go to every year. It is called Zwickelmania. What Zwickelmania is, is a chance, here in Oregon (Portland for us) to go around to the dozens of microbreweries, get a tour of their brewing facility, often given by the brewer themselves and then taste bright beer, right off the zwickel (the spout that the beer comes out of).

@ The bus stop.

It is a really fun and awesome opportunity, not only to learn more about each brewery but to meet the faces behind the beer. And to ride the bus/walk around the city and have a little to drink. Yesterday we made it to seven places. Not all of them poured directly off the bright, some served kegged beer instead, but in all it was a really good time and we got to see several new breweries and meet some very cool brewers.

To give you an idea of what bright beer tastes like, think flat, un-carbonated and rough around the edges. The beer has not been conditioned so the hop bitterness is much hasher and the yeast creaminess is much more prevalent (almost chalky). This is the same beer that home brewers taste when the “thief” (yes another phrase that simply means to take a sample of!) beer to check the gravity of it.

Here is a tour of the tour we got to take.

1. Migration Brewing Co. ~ 7 barrel brewhouse, tour by head brewer and owner Mike. Served MPA (Migration Pale Ale) off the bright.

2. Coalition Brewing Co. ~ 10 barrel brewhouse, tour by head brewer and owner Elan. Served kegged Nut Brown and The Loving Cup Maple Porter off the bright.

3. Burnside Brewing Company ~ No tour (its ok, we got one last year and the brewery is quite open).  Served kegged Oatmeal Pale Ale and Kali Ma (Imperial apricot wheat ~ a spicy addition made this something I would like to cook with).

Fermentation tank.

4. Cascade Brewing Barrel House (always a favorite!) ~ Micro brewery, 400-500 barrels (the real ones, like oak and stuff) at a time, aging, tour throughout the barrel house. Served straight from the barrels, 1. Blended Tripel and Gold Yellar to make Noyaux, 2. Elderberry, 3. Figaro (aged with lemon peel in Chardonnay barrels), 4. Sang Noir (aged in Pinot and Whiskey barrels with cherries).

Beer with lunch after our tour/tasting. "Nightfall Blackberry starts as a soured blonde wheat beer aged for 12 months in oak barrels, then laid on blackberries for another six. It features intense fruitiness and a concentrated color and aroma."

7. Buckman Botanical Brewery ~ 15 barrel brew house, tour by head brewer Todd. Served Zwickel Bier from the keg. This was an un-lagered, lager that was brewed just for the event.

Beer after tour and tasting at Green Dragon (home of Buckman Botanical Brewery). Sockeye Red IPA: "Brewed in the bold spirit of Alaska, Sockeye Red IPA is a finely crafted Pacific Northwest-style India Pale Ale with a real bite. Ample pale two-row malt creates a fresh, firm body while specialty malts impart a spawning red hue. The predominant character of this fiesty catch comes from outlandish portions of Centennial, Cascade and Simcoe hops, giving this beer tremendous citrus and floral aroma and flavor."

6. Lucky Labrador Brewing Company ~ Full tour. Served Hawthorne ESB from the bright and kegged Ole Yellar Barleywine (2010).

Mash tun.

7. The Commons Brewery ~ 7 barrel brewhouse, no tour as we made it here too late and the event was over. Had pints, I enjoyed a sour saisson and the hubs had a farmhouse ale. This is a brand new location (previously Beejte Brewery) and we were excited to check it out.

Fermentation tanks.

I hope you all enjoyed my virtual tour of some of Portland’s finest, yet smallest breweries.


Filed under Beer

4 responses to “Zwickelmania ~ An Oregon Beer Tradition.

  1. this post rocks my socks :) LOVE it! thanks for the descriptions and for explaining this process to someone who has only ever just drank the beer and never really looked beneath the surface.


  2. katy

    I saw one of the labels said Elderberry! I am obsessed with Elderberry! And it is in a beer amazing! LOL!

  3. Very cool pics. Gotta love the small breweries.

  4. Come visit and have elderberry beer :)

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