Our Top Picks for Medford Beer Week 2017

It’s like Christmas, but with beer and in June, and only in the Rogue Valley! Medford Beer Week is an annual Southern Oregon-wide celebration of our awesome region’s contributions to the craft beer world. Not only do we have world-class beers being brewed locally and regionally, we’re also home to top-notch establishments – both restaurants and bars – that understand the importance of quality beer and the food served alongside it.

For the celebration, June 1st-10th, we’ve teamed up with Climate City Brewing Co. in Grants Pass for a collaboration beer – Slow Row Single Hop Amber. This brew is made with smooth and floral Azacca hops and Mecca Grade malts, and you can come get a taste starting this Thursday, June 1st to kick off the celebration week!

 

Here are our top 5 picks for things to do during Medford Beer Week 2017:

 

Brews, Burgers & Bluegrass | Saturday, June 3rd | RoxyAnn Winery

This family-friendly, fundraising event includes more than a dozen breweries, five foot-tapping bluegrass bands, delicious BBQ, home brew classes, and kid’s activities all at RoxyAnn Winery. Ticket outlet and online sales at roguebbb.org

6th Annual Kickball Tournament | Saturday, June 3rd | The Schoolhaus Brewhaus, Jacksonville

Teams compete in a double elimination bracket for the coveted Deschutes Kickball Trophy (and of course bragging rights!). $50 per team, minimum 8 players fielded (teams are co-ed, 21+ only on the field – minors welcome in the audience). Sign up at info@theschoolhaus.com

Cornhole Tournament | Thursday, June 8th | Middleford Alley, Medford

Get your team together, and come downtown on Thursday night to try your hand at the Ninkasi and Summit Cornhole Tournament. Sign-ups and beer garden open at 5pm, and live music with Beth Henderson & Blowin Smoke starts at 6pm. Cornhole until 9pm, with prizes for the top three teams.

2nd Annual Hearts and Hops Food Truck and Brewery Competition | Friday, June 9th | The Medford Commons

Join your favorite food trucks as they compete for the “Best Pairing” with local craft beer offerings. Enjoy music by The Rogue Suspects and sample tons of specialty brews all evening long. 100% of the proceeds go toward community-based organizations dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence. For more information and tickets visit www.heartsandhops.com

9th Annual Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival | Saturday, June 10th | The Medford Commons

This is the mac-daddy finale of Medford Beer Week! With over 60 beers to sample, the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival is a “must attend” for Beer Week lovers. $20 gets you a commemorative pint glass and eight tasting tickets, with additional tasting tickets available for 5 for $5, or 12 for $10. Finish your week at Southern Oregon’s only beer-centric beer festival. Pre-sale tickets available at Beerworks Medford and Beerworks Jacksonville for $16.

 

Don’t forget to come by for the newest Common Block/Climate City beer on tap, Slow Row Single Hop Amber. It’s got a medium body, malty mouthfeel and light hoppy finish – we’re thrilled with how this beer came out! We feel ridiculously lucky to live, work and brew in this awesome place, and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone during Medford Beer Week 2017,

 

 

 

 

 

New Beer on the Block: Common Ground Collaboration Northeast IPA

There are so many things we love about the beer industry. Mainly, it’s the beer. But it’s also absolutely the people. Folks in the beer industry, in general, are super fun, helpful, and creative – we all love to brainstorm about a good brew or celebratory event with a beer in hand.

We’re lucky to have partnered with one such awesome group of people at Wildcard Brewing Co. in Redding, CA, where we’ve brewed our latest beer – a collaboration Northeast-style India Pale Ale. Our brewers put their heads together to create this recipe that has us begging for a cold glass on a hot day. Here are all the specs on the new Common Ground Northeast IPA:

About Common Ground Northeast IPA

6.9% ABV

44 IBU

Malts

  • 2-row malt
  • red & white wheat malts
  • crystal malt
  • rolled oats

Hops

  • Columbus
  • Centennial
  • Mosaic
  • Waimea

From the brewer

“Common Ground has a juicy, tropical aroma and flavor that comes from the
use of Centennial, Mosaic, Waimea hops and a unique fruity yeast strain; a
soft mouthfeel from the wheat malt and rolled oats; a less bitter hop taste
than a West Coast IPA; and a hazy unfiltered appearance.”

Take food with your beer? We recommend pairing Common Ground Northeast IPA with the Brussels Sprouts, Kale & Pear Salad (with bacon and blue cheese), Fish & Chips, Truffle Sea Salt Chicken Breast, or the Herbivore Burger.

This brew marks our fifth Common Block beer on tap, alongside a dozen other awesome beers from all over the region. Stay tuned for our next specialty beer (another collaboration) in June to celebrate Medford Beer Week. Cheers!

 

Beer History: India Pale Ale

We invite you to sit back with a cold one and enjoy a guest post by bartender, history major and story-teller extraordinaire: the one, the only, Nick Blakeslee.

There are many different styles of beer in the world.  Beer Advocate puts the number around 104, but styles are constantly being invented or improved upon, mixed or matched, tweaked or tailored.  Once upon a time, there were only a handful of selections: stouts, porters, pale ales and the like.   But where did those staples come from?  Great question, hypothetical inner monologue that brings up the perfect questions exactly when I need them.  Today we’re going to talk about a beer that has become a staple for breweries all over America for the past decade: the India Pale Ale – or as you probably know it, the IPA.

The IPA is a relatively new ale, one that’s only graced bars, saloons, restaurants, tap houses and my weird teacher’s secret cache, since around the turn of the 18th century, making it one of the newest ales brewed to date, considering beer has been consumed for the past several thousand years or so.

Now, before we get started, like many things in history it’s hard to say which story is true – which is legend and which is just a bold-faced lie. Humans are OK at record keeping, but they’re even better at telling stories. We have the uncanny ability to embellish, over-exaggerate or just straight make things up: for example, my uncle thinks he’s a good fisherman.

Artist’s rendition of what Billy McSchnockered might have looked like.

Which is where our friend, the IPA comes in.  In our research, we found that there’s no agreed upon origin story of the IPA.  There’s no clear document that says in bold typeface, “THE IPA WAS CREATED BY BILLY McSCHOCKERED, THE TOWN DRUNK OF LONDON IN 1821.”  Instead, like much of history, we have to piece together bits of a story—some truth, others fiction—in order to find the semblance of what really happened.

So we’ll start with a disclaimer: there’s no 100% agreed upon origin story of the IPA.  That said, there is one that highlights the most common history told of the IPA; a story that provides at least a bit of insight, as to how the iconic beer may have gotten its name.  It involves soldiers far away from home, an overreaching brewer and colonial England.

At the time of the IPA’s creation, pale ales were very popular in England.  Often floral, a milder flavor than the stout and porters, this beer was enjoyed year-round, but especially in the summer time in England—a season lasting about four days.

Though recently losing the thirteen territories, England was nearing the height of its empire – it spanned from Europe, to the Americas, to Africa, Australia and India.  Being a large empire means having a lot of peacekeepers, which is just a fancy way of saying, “people with guns.”  The Royal Navy was at its zenith, and it held the trophy for largest naval force since the sinking of the Spanish Armada in the late 16th century.  Having the largest navy meant England was able to plant loads of flags all over the world to claim territories for queen and country (kind of like a kid at a dessert buffet sticking his finger in every cake to claim them for himself).  Wealth, power and commerce flowed freely into the hands of England.  This tiny country had all the things it’d need to become the largest empire in the world and eventually hold sway over a quarter of the world’s population.

And this large population needed food and drink…and beer.  British soldiers were actually given a beer ration, because beer is a great way to keep people happy (especially those very far away from home).  India was a relatively new territory for England (who showed up early in the 17th century), and supplies were sent from all over for their soldiers, but one thing could never quite make it: a nice pale ale.

Route from England to India, before the construction of the Suez Canal.

Because here’s the deal with pale ales: they’re delicate, temperamental and arguably weak in constitution (basically me in middle school… and high school…and now.).  It was much too hot to brew a pale ale in India (remember: no refrigerators) meaning the beer would need to be imported from England.  But the delicate beer couldn’t make it; merchants had to go around the tip of South Africa (the Suez Canal wasn’t constructed until 1869), meaning the trip would take six months by ship, one way.  Ales only take 2-4 weeks to brew, so the beer would be sitting in barrels for 5 months.  That, compounded with dangerous seas and mankind’s uncanny ability to reason their way into drinking someone else’s beer, meant that the ales never survived the trip.

Porters and stouts could last the voyage – the heartier beverage is naturally more resilient, due to many things (like its color, inherent ingredients and abv.).  But having a porter on a hot 115 degree day isn’t exactly what many would call refreshing.

English soldiers wanted beer, specifically refreshing English beer.  So a London brewer by the name of George Hodgson took up the case.  They decided to prolong the life of the beer by changing one simple thing: adding freshly picked hops, and lots of them.  The increase in hops elongated the brewing process while also bittering the beverage and increasing the alcohol content.  This allowed the more delicate pale ale to be resilient to natural beer-destroying things like bacteria.  He called it the “October Beer.”  Rumor has it that Hodgson steeped the first test brew in a tea kettle, though that can’t be confirmed as a fact or simply a legend.

His idea for including more hops originally came from barley wine, a style of beer rich in both color and alcohol content that used just-picked hops for the brewing process. These beers lasted years, and sometimes lords and ladies would brew a batch for a newly born child and tap it once that child turned 18.

Using this method of brewing—incorporating fresh hops and plenty of them—Hodgson sent off his first batch of beer late in 1821.  That first shipment showed up on the shores of India in January of 1822.  It was a historical event even then, “Hodgson’s warranted prime picked ale of the genuine October brewing. Fully equal, if not superior, to any ever before received in the settlement.”

For a time Hodgson and his sons had a monopoly on the beer style, being the only brewery that made and shipped this style beer to India. They also let merchants pay for their beer shipments after reaching India and returning, meaning merchants were more inclined to take his goods because they could pay him after they’d seen a profit and made the voyage back.  But after overreaching for a price deal, other breweries threw their hats into the ring.  Burton-on-Trent and Bass breweries both created a similar style of ale and thus the style of beer was popularized.  That said, Burton-on-Trent was the first to designate it by its modern name: the India Pale Ale, or IPA for short.  Before long, it found its way back to Europe and became another popular style alongside porters, stouts, pales, and the like.

And that’s where things begin to differentiate.  Some sources say an IPA style beer had been brewed in England for decades prior to Hodgson ever conceiving the idea.  Others say Hodgson wasn’t even the first one to send it off to India.

Whatever the origin is, there is truth to Hodgson’s creation of his beer.  It happened.  It was sent.  It was loved by the British Peace Keepers.  He just may not have been the first, but it was certainly the most romantic of them all; and if history has taught us anything, it’s that we humans love a good story, even if it’s a bit exaggerated.  We like the idea of this beloved beer having a romantic origin story: of being created in a small kitchen, in something as iconic to British culture as a tea kettle, and sent off to imbibe soldiers in a faraway land.  That sounds a lot nicer than, “It just kind of showed up, no one really knows.”

Since then, the IPA has become a staple for breweries to have on tap.  Frankly, we love it.  It’s a beer that goes great with any season, and its relative flexibility means there’s a style of IPA for everyone: a Ruby Grapefruit IPA from Wildcard brewery in Redding for some summertime citrus, or perhaps Ninkasi’s Tricerihops for the masochists out there that love their beer to taste like the Dead Sea.

And that’s all I’ve got on the IPA.  Look at that.  You learned something today.  Feel free to gloat about it and be that person at the dinner table that shares a bordering-inane piece of triva.  Better yet, appreciate the men and women before us who made it possible for us to enjoy such a delicious beverage.

New Beer on the Block: Brick & Mortar Porter

Tall, dark and handsome. That’s how we’d describe a 20 oz. pour of our newest house beer: Brick & Mortar Porter. It’s also how we’d describe Jon Hamm, but who wouldn’t?! This traditional-style porter goes great with outdoor fireplaces, jackets with shoulder pads, and an extensive library collection. If you don’t have the jacket or books, don’t worry. We at least have a fire pit, and you’re welcome to use it.

Brick & Mortar Porter

Malt

  • 2-row
  • Crystal
  • Honey
  • Chocolate

Hops

  • Kent Goldings
  • Fuggle

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 30

 

From the brewer

“Brick and Mortar Porter is a substantial, malty dark ale made with traditional English hop varieties and yeast.  The blend of crystal, honey, and chocolate malts create a complex and flavorful roasty character.”

 

If you like food with your beer, we’ve got that too! We recommend the Beer-Braised Pork Nachos (for an appetizer), Bacon N Bacon Burger (for dinner), Porter Chocolate Cake (for dessert), and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (for second dessert).

We think this porter is a fabulous, delicious addition to our house beer collection. But maybe come try Brick & Mortar Porter for yourself, because can you really trust what blog writers say anyway?

 

 

Where to Walk to Beer Downtown Medford

We’ve got some good news. At least, if you like walking from brewery to brewery without ever getting in your car, it’s good news. Maybe even fantastic news. By doing a very extensive, scientific, comprehensive search (a.k.a. typing in locations on Google Maps), we’ve found that you can walk to all three breweries and one bottle shop in downtown Medford, and it’s only ¾ of a mile total! Under a mile to cover all four awesome places to grab beer!

At a walking pace of 3.1 miles per hour (apparently that’s average), it’s just 15 minutes of travel time between beers. It would take more time to get in the car, drive, and park at all these places. If that’s not motivation to trek from beer to beer on foot, we don’t know what is.

With that said, if you feel like some more exercise then trek on over another brewery in the downtown area that just popped up: Osmo’s Alehouse. The tap house is located at 522 S. Central, just 1/3 of a mile from BricktownE Brewery.

Our recommendation: bike or bus to downtown (we have lots of bike parking available to be your home base), and then meander around all the great beer-centric places within a few blocks. You can also call on our friends at Pint Rider if hopping on a group bike with dance music and a chauffeur is more your style.

To recap, here’s our suggested route:

  1. Park your bike, and yourself, at Common Block for your first stop. Maybe grab a bite to eat to lubricate your belly and get ready for the adventure ahead.
  2. Stroll over to Portal Brewing Co. for their Coconut Cream Ale and Peanut Butter and Jellyfish Sandwich.
  3. Head South to Beerworks for your choice of over 300 beers, in bottles and on tap.
  4. Walk up to BricktownE for a game of pool and their Table Rock Red Ale (a local favorite).
  5. Tighten your laces and high-tail it to Osmo’s for a taste of something new in southern Oregon.
  6. Make your way back, slow and steady, to Common Block, where you hop on your bike or have us call you a cab, depending on how much tasting you’ve done.

There you have it. Probably the best way to spend your next day off.

So, Where’s the Brewing Equipment?

In the past two months since we opened, we’ve gotten loads of questions about our brewery and our building’s history.  We’ll be writing a post in the future about our building’s very cool, rich past (as well as some other FAQ’s), but we wanted to take the time to talk a bit about our most common question: “Umm…where’s your brewing equipment?”

That’s a great question.  Thanks for asking.  We’d like to have an exciting answer.  You know, something like, “It was on the way, but it got stolen by a rival brewing crime syndicate in Northern Oregon.”  That would be a fantastic story.

We found our Common Block Pale pairs well with a warm fire and good company.

Currently we don’t have any brewing equipment in the building because we wanted to open our doors first and deliver on our promise of opening in 2016.  We recognized that we needed to get things rolling, and so we concentrated all of our construction efforts and funds on finalizing our building so we could do what we love doing best: serving food and beer to the masses!

Also, just because we don’t have equipment here, doesn’t mean we don’t have our own beer!  If you’ve been in, you’ve seen that we currently feature two house beers: the Common Block Pale Ale and Rogue Runner IPA.

How did we do it?  It wasn’t from Santa Claus, though beer was certainly on our Christmas list. Instead, we’re contract-brewing our beers through Wildcard Brewing, an awesome brewery in Redding, California (we also server their delicious Ruby Red IPA). The recipes and sourcing all came from the brain of our brewer, John Donehower.  He’s been brewing at home and commercially for over twenty years, so he’s got some good ones saved in his little black book.  We’re continuing to grow our beer list, too; expect to see a new specialty beer each month as we play with more house recipes and get feedback on people’s favorites and go-tos.

And if you’re curious about what it’s all going to look like when our brewery is finally installed, you can check out our video about our planned construction.

So if anyone asks you: “Are they brewing their own stuff?” the answer is irrevocably and unequivocally yes.  Just not on site.

Not yet.

 

New Beer on The Block: Rogue Runner IPA

There’s a new beer on the block, and its name is Rogue Runner IPA. This generously hopped ale officially marks our second house beer, brewed with our own Brewer John’s recipe. You can count on Rogue Runner IPA and the Common Block Pale Ale gracing our menu from now on…until the end of time. Really.

For all you knowledgeable or curious beer fanatics out there, here’s a bit about the Rogue Runner IPA:

Malt

  • 2-Row
  • Crystal
  • Dextrine
  • Biscuit

Hops

  • Columbus
  • Cascade
  • Centennial
  • Chinook
  • Mosiac

Abv: 6.7%

IBU: 65

 

From the brewer:

“This beer’s malt profile is mild and nutty, with a candy-like sweetness. Generous hop additions create a spicy and floral blend of piney, citrus and tropical fruit flavors.”

That John, so eloquent.

Love having food with your beer? We recommend pairing the Rogue Runner IPA with the Chefslayer Burger, Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Grilled Cheese, or the Farmstead Pizza. Or whatever your favorite food is, because, dangit, it’s up to you.

Come try our newest addition to the Common Block beer family, and reminisce about running, the Rogue River, running along the Rogue River, rafting the Rogue River, or a reddish version of Wile E. Coyote’s arch nemesis.

(That’d be the Road Runner.)