Thank goodness for Facebook…kinda. I heard about McMenamins 2008 Biere de Noel release tasting at the Roadhouse at Cornelius Pass from a group invite sent by brewer Corey Blodgett on the social networking site. The event was scheduled, according to the invite, to last from 5-10PM. I was happy to figure that if I scurried across the rivers, I could make it to the depths of Hillsboro in time. After the long drives. we arrived at the Roadhouse at around 9:30PM. Super duper. We followed the tasting signs to the octagonal barn. The doors were locked and the lights were out. Damnit! We went to the smoking shack next door and were informed by a friendly man that the tasting ended early for a lack of people left. Apparently things were hopping at the beginning, but a dying down of the crowd had them shut down earlier than scheduled. I was utterly disappointed with the seemingly fruitless results of my rush to get here on time.
As a consolation prize, we were at least going to meet my cousin’s family for dinner at the Roadhouse. Luckily, not knowing our way around this particular McMenamins, I tried to open another locked door around the side in another building on the property. While walking away, a man named TJ opened to the door. I explained our plight and the travel we made and the beer we were told was on tap. TJ was more than cool and led us back to the barn where he disarmed the alarm, set up the taps, and graciously obliged us samples of three wonderful beers.
2008 Bier de Noel: Here is the beer we’d come for. As far as I knew, it was the only beer on tap for this tasting tonight. A Belgian Style Farmhouse ale, Noel was a robust 7.3% ABV with a dark brown body and a small fluffy beige head. Claiming to have its fermentation temperatures reach 86 degrees, this badboy emitted a soft fragrance of dark fruit and nutty brown sugar. This could also have something to do with the ten pounds of brown sugar that was added to the brew kettle by Mr. Blodgett. An excellent warmer, the Noel, if it lasts, is sure to develop more complexities as it develops. But, we enjoyed it as it was, fresh and ripe for the season.
2007 Oak Aged Biere de Noel: This French Farmhouse style holiday warmer was featured at last year’s holiday ale festival. A lower ABV (6.6%) a gentler, lighter malt presence, employed American and French grain over a a distinct black pepper snap that coupled nicely with Brewers Golds. Aged in oak chips for twelve months gave this amber-bodied brew a mildly tart tannin tinge.
2006 Oak Aged Weizenbock: Here was a beer that stood alone. From 2006, a great year in Northwest brewing, the lighter colored wheat bock glowed a milky orange hue in the candlelight. Fruity yeastiness rose from the taster glass and was a precursor to the immensely flavorsome and complex body of this brew. Aged for 26+ months in oak chips, this standout beer was the brewery’s 4000th batch, with just two barrels in total remaining. Excellent. If you ever get to meet TJ at the Roadhouse, or anywhere around town, shake his hand and thank him again for us for the wonderful samples.
Angelo grew up in Maine and is proud to call New England his original home. Cascadia is now his home. He fell in love with great beer in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California.
He has been a correspondent for the Portland Tribune's Guest on Tap column, LivePDX.com, and has been featured in publications such as Beer Northwest and PDX Magazine. Angelo also has a great interest in independent music, and has been a booker and organizer for shows around the Portland under the name Pop Tomorrow! Angelo garnered much knowledge regarding beer from his experiences homebrewing, working at Belmont Station, Pyramid Brewing, Upright Brewing, By the Bottle, Beer Revolution, Olde Depot Public House, Falling Sky Brewing, Cascade Brewing, and from many many knowledgeable, passionate, and loving people along the way. It is Angelo's mission to bring "infotainment" and "edumation" to the readers of this website. If you have any questions or comments, or would like to contribute, please contact me at email@example.com