Open Thanksgiving Day at Common Block

Love beer with your turkey? We invite you to join us for Thanksgiving Day at Common Block!

Because we just can’t bear to be away from our beer for the holiday, we are open all day with a special three-course Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional fixings ($28 per person). We’ll also have our full menu available, with beer, wine, cider and hot drinks (you know, the important things) to pair with your holiday meal. So whether you’re hungry for a full Thanksgiving feast or simply want to grab a snack with friends in town, we’re here 11am-11pm to serve you and say thanks for being a part of Common Block’s first year open!

Here’s what’s on the menu for the big day:

And just for the holiday, we’re taking reservations for parties of all sizes! Whether you’re a group of two or twenty, you can make your reservation by calling us at (541) 326-2277 or emailing us at info@commonblockbrewing.com. Let us know how many people you have in your party and what time you’d like to come in, and we’ll set aside a table with your name on it.

We look forward to serving you on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the holiday season, and we’re so thankful for all of our wonderful customers who have made this first year of being open so fulfilling! We’re excited to spend the day with our favorite comfort foods, yummy drinks, and good friends, both old and new.

NEW! Online Ordering For To-Go Orders

Exciting news: you can now order your food to-go online! We’re making it even easier to take Common Block food (and beer) home with you – just visit our website, click the ‘Order To Go Online’ button, and add whatever you’re craving to your ticket. You can pay either online or when you pick it up, making it an awesome way to place an order for a work group, a hungry teenager or that one person you know who always forgets their wallet at home.

New Online Ordering Features

 

  • Schedule your order to be picked up right away, or hours into the future. If you’ve already decided during the mid-afternoon lull that you don’t want to make dinner tonight, place your order early and schedule for pick-up at 5:00.

 

  • Add special requests…if you don’t want cheese on your salad, just let us know. Want an extra side of ketchup? You can tell us that, too. You can type in your special message for each item, so your order comes exactly how you want it. Ordering for a big group? You can also use the feature to write people’s names on their orders. When we see a ticket with lots of names, we’ll write each one on their to-go box so there’s no confusion about who has what. That’s right Bill, keep your hands off Susan’s Reuben.

 

  • Order gift cards online, too! For the holidays or special occasions, just hop on our online ordering page, click ‘Start Your Order’ and then click on ‘Buy a gift card’ up at the top. You can have their gift card either emailed or texted, and send it right away or on a future date – you can schedule out gift cards for the entire year in one step (if you’re a Type A, get-er-done kind of person).

 

  • If you have your own gift card, you can also go to the online ordering page to check your card balance – no need to play guessing games with how much you have left.

 

  • Taking beer home in a growler, too? You can pay for that online all at the same time. Just ring in which beer you want to fill your half gallon or liter bottle with, and once you arrive it’s all paid for. Just make sure you bring your own bottle!

 

We hope you find our new online ordering system as convenient and easy-to-use as we have. Just add your order, choose to pay online or when you get here, and then head straight to the bar counter to pick up your food when it’s ready. Have any questions? Feel free to call us at 541-326-2277 and ask more about how it works!

New Beer on the Block: Last Cast Special Bitter

Greetings, beer drinker!  Yes, YOU!  We’ve got a new alcoholic beverage for you to try.  We’re calling it Last Cast.

Before we get into the details of the beer itself, let’s talk about the style of beer.  Our Last Cast is a Bitter Session Ale.  Remember the Brits?  You know, those guys who love tea, planting flags in foreign countries and making food that is somehow enhanced by vinegar?   Well, they’re responsible for a lot of modern-day beers, including IPAs, Stouts, Porters and Pales.  If the Brits were a Boy Scout, they’d be that annoying over-achiever who had a badge for everything and smugly told the rest of the world how they’re doing it wrong, like how beer is best enjoyed at room temperature.

So naturally, they’re responsible for the Bitter Session Ale as well.

The Session Ale is similar to the IPA in the sense that there’s no true history behind the name.  It’s somewhere between rumor, fact and hypothesis.  We have ideas, but no one wrote down the exact history as it happened.  Possibly because they were too busy drinking beer to write anything down.

With that in mind, here are some of the nitty gritty details of a Session Ale:

Technically called a Bitter Session Ale, this style of beer is characterized by its low alcohol content and drinkability.  A true session  is generally accepted as having lower than 4% alcohol content.  The point of the beer is to be able to enjoy its flavor over a plethora of pints, something not possible to do with a 6-7% abv. beer.  At least without stumbling into traffic.  Beyond the 4%, it’s broken down into two more specifications: a Special Bitter is between 4-4.9% and an Extra Special Bitter is anything 5% and above (but generally not higher than 5.9%).

Perhaps oddest of the name, a Bitter ale doesn’t necessarily imply bitterness.  Kind of like a pale ale.  A pale ale is a style that’s generally pale, but just because it might have a reddish or copper tone, doesn’t mean it’s no longer a Pale ale.  A Bitter Ale certainly has a hop flavoring to it, but it’s mild when compared to the heavy hopped Double and Triple IPA’s of the Northwest. The name is victim to the time in which it was created: at the inception of the Bitter Session Ale, the most popular ales in The United Kingdom were Stouts and Porters, a sweet and malty beer that could make just about any other style of beer seem bitter.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what does this all mean for flavor?  Well, we’ll step aside and let the Brewer and stats do the talking:

Last Cast Session Ale

Style:  Special Bitter (a British session beer)

ABV:  4.5% (easy drinkin’)

IBU:  30 (modest)

Malt: 

  • 2-row
  • munich
  • crystal
  • special roast (great malt backbone)

Hops:

  • Fuggle (traditional hop)
  • Goldings (traditional hop)
  • Amarillo (a little NW twist because that’s our jam)

From the John the Brewer:

Low alcohol, moderate carbonation, and round malt flavor finely balanced with modest hop bitterness create the easy-drinking effect.  In spite of its name, Special Bitter is NOT a bitter beer.  The British use the term metaphorically to refer to sessionable pub beers generally in the way one might use the word “pints” to describe “beer.” 

Pairing Suggestion:

Try this beer alongside our Pretzel, Herbivore Burger, or Stout Battered Fish & Chips!

 

A Tale as Black as our New Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

We released our Cascadian Dark Ale just over a week ago, one we’re calling Tunnel 13.  We wanted to give you all a little insight into how we came to the name the beer, so we’ve dragged back out our resident History Major, Nick Blakeslee. 

Oh, wow.  It’s great to be back.  Nothing says, “You’ve made the right decision” like being able to use your College Degree to write about beer.  Let me tell you, it’s pretty cool.  Anyway, I’m here to tell you all a little bit of history.  Wait!  Don’t leave.  I promise I wont be that boring history professor who wears nothing but mustard colored button ups and khakis.  My voice is much less monotone and I’d never wear socks with sandals.   Also, we’re talking about beer.  Not the Treaty of Versailles.  Specifically, we’re going to talk about our newest beer: our Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

You are wondering a couple of things: 1.  What is significance of Tunnel 13? and 2. How can Nick read my thoughts?  For the latter: I really don’t know.  And the former?  Well, that’s a bit of a story.  So take a seat, grab a beer and drink in our beer’s dark history…

Told you it looked spooky.

Other than the fact that it bears the unluckiest number in English culture, Tunnel 13 started as a seemingly normal tunnel.  It runs through southern Oregon, cutting through a portion of the Siskiyou pass.  Those that are familiar with southern Oregon’s past, might know it’s story.  Namely, it’s haunted.

Whoa, I know, I know, that’s a big claim, certainly for a brewery to make.  Our tagline is “Welcome to the Block” not “Common Block: Beers, Ghosts, etc.”  But guess what, Google says it’s haunted, and who is going to argue with that?  After all, Tunnel 13 is home to one of the last great train robberies in America.  You heard me, a train robbery. 

Let’s rewind the clock, and take us all back to another time, when alcohol was illegal and America had just given women the right to vote: The 1920’s.  The year was 1922, and some brothers were looking to make their family rich.  They’re names were Roy and Ray D’Autremont.  They decided they were going to rob a train of its gold, and they knew of one that ran right through their backyard: the Siskiyou Station.

The train in question was from Southern Pacific, and carried the nickname The Gold Special.  Clearly, someone looking to protect their assets sucked at naming their trains.  The Balsawood Special or Paperscraps, Dead Pens, etc. would have probably done a better job at averting prying eyes.  Rumor had it, the train carried half a million in gold bars and an inordinate amount of cash as well.  Making the hit worth the risk.

Tunnel 13 marks the end of a steep incline that runs through the Siskiyou Mountain range.  The tunnel itself stretches just over 3,100 feet.  Additionally, it’s the beginning of a steep decline, one where the engineer of the train was required to stop in order to test the brakes.  This marked the perfect spot for the D’Autremont brothers to jump on the train and steal their fortune.

So they set the date, and eventually recruited their brother, Hugh, as well (clearly not fitting into the rhyming scheme of Roy and Ray).  They stole some dynamite from a construction site in northern Oregon.

On October 11th, 1923, they set their trap.  At the height of the summit, while the engine stopped for a brake test, Roy and Hugh D’Autremont hopped on the train, while Ray waited at the end of the tunnel with the dynamite.  Roy and Hugh held the engineer, a man named Sidney Bates, at gun point and ordered him to stop the train at the southern end of the tunnel.

With the train stopped, the Brothers would be able to begin their work getting the Mail Car open, which was believed to carry the half-million in gold, cash, and probably some love letters as well.

There was a hiccup, however, when the Mail Clerk in the car, Elvyn Daugherty, refused to open up.  The car was secured, and it would take something big to get it open.  Like, dynamite for example.  The brothers slapped on the explosives and ran.

Unfortunately, at the time there were no YouTube Walk-Through’s or “Dynamite for Dummies” books, so the brothers packed too much dynamite on the door to the mail car.  When the fuse fired, the dynamite obliterated not only the entire contents of the mail car—including poor Elvyn—but damaged the railcar as well.  So when they ordered Engineer Bates, and Marvin Seng to decouple the mail car and move the engine forward, they found the train to be too damaged to move.

Not exactly Ocean’s 11 caliber of execution.

The mail car that was obliterated by the dynamite blast.

Their plans were ruined, the gold, if it had even been there at all, was nowhere to be found.  And all they had were a series of witnesses to their crimes.  In the ensuing chaos, the robbery claimed the lives of three more, Sydney Bates the engineer, Marvin Seng a fireman, and Charles Orin Johnson the brakeman.  Bringing the final body count to four.

$4,800 reward for each man. That’s the modern day equivalent of almost $70,000

The robbery chilled southern Oregonians – a crime this brutal was not common in sleepy southern Oregon.  It received nationwide news and a massive manhunt took place.  It wasn’t until 1927, when Hugh D’Aturemont was found in the Philippines shortly after enlisting in the Military (no good deed goes unpunished).  Less than year later, both Roy and Ray were reported and arrested in Ohio, marking the end of a half-decade long manhunt.  Hugh was paroled in 1958, but died less than a year later of cancer.  His brother, Ray, served time until 1961, at which time he was released after repenting his crimes.  He was on record saying, “For the rest of my life I will struggle with the question of whatever possessed us to do such a thing?”  He settled down as a janitor at University of Oregon in Eugene and went on to write a book.  Apparently, he picked up painting Oregon landscapes as a means to reflect.

And finally, Roy D’Autremont was diagnosed with schizophrenia while incarcerated, and later underwent a frontal lobotomy.  Spooky.

The case is historically important not only because of the nature of the crime, but also the use of forensic evidence as well.  Edward Oscar Heinrich, dubbed “The Edison of Crime Detection”, used ground breaking techniques to tag the men with the crime.  Including forensic analysis of handwriting, curing an old receipt to read a postal code, and the chemical testing of grease found on the killer’s trousers to indict the murderer while proving the innocence of another man.  He did some amazing things, but really, he deserves his own post.

Since then, Tunnel 13 has never been the same.  Locals stayed away from it for decades and in 2003 the tunnel burned to the ground mysteriously. Officials thought it could have been transients or trespassers, but we know what it was: ghosts.

Today, Tunnel 13 is open for business, but that hasn’t stopped Ashland locals and travelers alike from coming to the tunnel to investigate its haunted properties for themselves.  Some say if you shut off the lights to your flashlight, you can see the apparition of Sydney Bates, patrolling the south end of the Tunnel where he lost his life.  Others suggest that the howling wind sounds less like gusts and more like the ghastly moans of Elvyn’s disembodied soul.

And if you sit in the darkness long enough, they say you can hear the crazed laughter of the lobotomized Roy D’Autremont.

Whatever the truth may be, the place is creepy as heck, but cool as well.   Making it worthy of our Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale.

 

Progress Update: We’re Open!

Wow.  It’s been a while.  Sorry about that, but so much has happened in the last month!  Let’s see… Nick’s cat went on a diet, our Resident Long Haired Hawaiian left to visit the homeland—oh, and we opened the restaurant!  That’s right, for those who haven’t been in yet, we opened our doors on the 26th of December.  We thought it’d make a great late Christmas present to ourselves.  Or an early New Year’s present.  A belated winter solstice present?

Regardless, Chef David has put together an awesome menu that features loads of local choices and some downright delicious food items.  (If you haven’t read our post on him, check it out and get familiar with the man behind the curtain.)  So far, fan favorites have been the Farmstead Pizza, Stout Battered Fish and Chips and, of course, our burgers.  Especially the Chefslayer (featuring a fried egg and IPA onions, served with a side of Food Coma) and the Bacon and Bacon Burger (we weren’t content with just bacon, so we made a bacon jam as well, because, really, the best pairing with bacon is always more bacon).

 

We’re also featuring 20 beers and ciders on tap, 11 wines on tap, a stellar handcrafted specialty cocktail list and a full bar for all of you drinking connoisseurs out there.  So far, our flagship Common Block Pale Ale has received rave reviews, and we’re about to start brewing more beers!  Keep an eye out in February for our Common Block IPA and Porter.

We’ve been so excited with the support that Medford and our surrounding communities have shown, and if you’ve already visited us, we thank you!  We’re humbled and grateful for the enthusiasm and feedback from our guests as we get this brewpub show on the road. And if you haven’t visited, all we can say is…

What are you waiting for?!

2 Summer Cocktail Recipes, Because It’s Summer

While we’re working away to open our doors for all you lovely people, we’re still making time for recipe experimenting in our free time. Our brewer, John, has been staying busy brewing pilot recipes for Common Block on his own homebrewing system, and our bartender extraordinaire, Andy, has tirelessly tested cocktail concoctions to sling your way along the bar top. Did we say recipe experimenting? Maybe we meant drink experimenting.

Because we love Andy’s creativity and focus on local ingredients, we asked him to pass along a few of his favorite seasonal drink ideas. These two drinks are summer-inspired and include ingredients that you can find at our local Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market (like cucumbers, strawberries and herbs from the Saturday gathering next door at the Medford Commons). We also recommend using Immortal Spirits craft products made here in Medford, Oregon! This just-down-the-street distillery on Central Ave. puts out an impressive array of craft liquors – all handmade from scratch. Mix, pour, and enjoy!

Honeydew Cucumber Mint Cooler

honeydew cucumber mint cooler1 honeydew melon, peeled and chopped, seeds okay

1 cucumber, English or standard variety, peeled

1 cup of fresh mint

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 ½ oz. Immortal Spirits gin

1-2 thinly sliced lime wheels, for garnishing

 

Blend melon, one-half of the cucumber, and mint in blender until smooth, and then strain through a mesh sieve into a large pitcher. Add fresh lime juice. Cut the other half of the cucumber into slices, add to pitcher, and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Stir well and pour over ice in a rocks glass with Immortal Spirits gin. Garnish with the thinly sliced lime wheels.

Can’t find honeydew? Substitute watermelon or cantaloupe and prepare the same way.

 

Strawberry-Thyme Lemonade

RV Market Strawberries

Market berries! (photo: Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market)

1 cup of raw turbinado sugar

8 sprigs of thyme

1 quart of strawberries (hulled and sliced)

1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice

1 ½ oz. Immortal Spirits vodka

 

Make your thyme simple syrup using the sugar, thyme and one cup of water. Boil ingredients in a small saucepan stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and discard thyme sprigs.

Combine thyme syrup with strawberries, lemon juice and five cups of water in a large pitcher. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve over ice in rocks glass with Immortal Spirits vodka. Garnish with a sprig or two of fresh thyme.

Short on thyme? Substitute rosemary instead.

 

 

Common Block’s Second Beer: Blueprint IPA + Homebrew Recipe

You can take the man out of the brewery, but you can’t take the brewer out of the man.  Brewer John has whipped up another pilot beer, one we’re naming the Blueprint IPA.  This may come as a surprise… we love it.

Here’s how the tasting went down: First thing Nick noted was its floral aroma.  Then Rachel noticed its peachy front.  That was the moment when Alex stated the beer’s hoppy finish (he gets ahead of everyone else).  At this time, Nick took another sip, just to make sure he got all the tasting notes right.  The notes were right, but another pint was needed just to be sure.  Turns out the second pint tasted a lot like the first, but would the third…?

The main flavor/aroma ingredient in the beer are the Mosaic hops, a Simcoe Pedigree.  The Mosaic hop gives the beer an incredible peach and dried apricot aroma.  The nose compliments the flavor well, as this IPA has a slight fruity front. The Columbus hops create a hoppy finish that keeps you wanting more.

Since we can’t sell our beer (yet!), we wanted to share the recipe for John’s Blueprint IPA, for all you home brewers out there:

This is sized for a 3x5 inch notecard, so print it off and add it to your recipe book!

This is sized for a 3×5 inch notecard, so print it off and add it to your recipe book!

And since you’ll be making the beer at home, why not pair some food with it, too?  Here are a couple of dishes we fantasized about pairing with this beer:

Bangers and Mash
The hoppy flavor from the IPA cuts through the fat of this hearty dish.  Additionally, the bratwurst and mashed potatoes would help cleanse your pallet of the Blueprint’s hoppy finish.

Spicy Mango Salsa with Salted Corn Chips
If you’re a spice fan, then any beer with hoppy bitterness is the beer for you.  Hops amplify spice, increasing the intensity of heat.  Furthermore, the fruity mango flavor from this salsa goes with the fruit front we tasted in the Blueprint IPA.

If you brew Blueprint IPA, please let us know!  We’d love to hear how it turns out.

Until then, we’ll keep a rigorous schedule when doing R&D; these beers aren’t going to drink themselves.

Common Block’s First Brew: Rough Draft Ale

We may not have our professional brewing equipment yet, but that doesn’t keep us from making beer! Our head brewer, John, brought his impressive homebrewing set-up to our downtown Medford building, and spent a day making a pale ale recipe for us all to enjoy after a hard day of brewpub-building work.

We just tapped it last week, and – no surprise here – we love it! John’s beer, Rough Draft Ale, has us more excited than ever to jump into this beer-making adventure. Here are the notes on Rough Draft, and all the things it makes us want to eat and do.

Grain-Drop

Separating grain. Eat your heart out, MacGyver.

What’s in it

Malts:
2-Row, Victory, Wheat Malt

Hops:
Citra, Simcoe

OG: 15.5*P
AE: 4.0*P
IBU: 42
ABV: 6.3%

John waits for a boil.

John waits for a boil.

 

What it tastes like

The first thing we noted about this beer is the citrusy hop aroma. The mouthfeel is light and crisp, while the piney and fruity hop flavors give Rough Draft a solid kick. The hoppy finish is long and lingering, like an awkward cross-the-room stare.

What we want to eat with it

The first thing that comes to mind is a basket of fried calamari. We’d also like to have a pint with a rosemary-rubbed pork chop, or crispy fish with lemon tartar sauce. Foods with light-to-medium bodies, a bit of fat, and slight citrus characters are right up this beer’s alley.

And if you’d like to learn a little more about John (because we think he does a heckuva job), check out our Headbrewer Bio post from earlier this week.