Racing Toward the Siskiyou Challenge, 4/29

What has five legs, gives free beer, is seven years old and runs all over?

No, it’s not a rocket-fueled elderly starfish with a keg of beer on its back. It’s the 7th Annual Siskiyou Challenge Relay in Ashland, Oregon! We love this yearly race, so much so that we sponsor the event with free beer and food for racers at the finish line. The five relay legs weave all around Ashland on April 29th, from Emigrant Lake to the hills north of town, and then end at a big finale party at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.

The Siskiyou Challenge Relay benefits one of our favorite local organizations: Rogue Valley Farm to School. RVF2S educates children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden programs, and by increasing local foods in school meals. We love their mission, their programs and this race!

 

Here are the Siskiyou Challenge race legs:

 

  1. 3K kayak at Emigrant Lake
  2. 30K road bike around Ashland, over to Valley View Road, and back to Lithia Park
  3. 6K trail run above Lithia Park
  4. 13K mountain bike in the hills above Ashland
  5. 6K run to the finish at ScienceWorks!

 

Speaking of racers, watch out for our team on the course: the Common Block Fantastic Five. And when we say “Fantastic Five,” we really mean a group of moderately active people that hope to survive until the free beer at the end (less fantastic, more thirsty).

Looking for something for the whole family? There’s also a 1-mile fun run that begins and ends at ScienceWorks. Sign ups start at 9am on Saturday and the run begins at 10am. Everyone can enjoy finish line activities, including live music on the outdoor stage, vendors, exhibits and more.

Register now for the Siskiyou Challenge!

You can still register online through 4/27 at 11:59pm (late fee of $20 after 4/25)! Grab your best athletic pals, come up with an awesome team name, and join us for the fun this Saturday. We’re serving up enchiladas, beer, cider and root beer at the finish line (if you need a little more incentive), and the weather is supposed to make for a beautiful race day. We hope to see you there!

 

A Brief History with Beer

April is beer history month.  You’ve probably never heard that because it’s not actually a thing.  UNTIL NOW.  We’ve made it beer history month for a few reasons:

  1. No one claimed April.
  2. We love beer. Duh.
  3. Nick wanted to prove his degree in History wasn’t completely useless. (see, Dad?)

We want to start things off with a little bit about people in beer history. For example, did you know that John Adams loved beer?  All alcohol, actually.  So much so he tried to use his diplomatic immunity with France to try and smuggle in 500 bottles of French Bordeaux duty free.  When that didn’t work, he just made his friend Thomas Jefferson and his connections do it for him.  Those founding fathers hated taxes.

But John Adams wasn’t the only one; far from it.  Check out our five picks for people in history who loved beer!

  1. Benjamin Franklin. Founding father, professional partier, often misquoted.

Appears both on the $100 bill and upset.

“Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Actually, the quote goes, “…wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves us to be happy.”  Perhaps one of the more misquoted men in history about beer.  That said, we don’t think Ben would really be upset with the change in vocab; the guy liked to have a good time.  We get the gist of what you’re saying, Ben: you like to imbibe and FRANKly (get it?), we don’t blame you.  Benjamin Franklin was known to party, known for his relations with loose women and also, you know, helped start America or whatever.  He was never one to shy away from having a good time, especially if spirits were involved. Some people call him America’s Winston Churchill – a man always quick with a retort, often at the opposing party’s expense.

He enjoyed imbibing spirits so much, he published The Drinker’s Dictionary.  A list of 228 “Round about ways” to describe drunkenness.  Seriously.

Our three favorites are: Sir Richard has taken off his Considering Cap, Nimptopsical, and As Dizzy as a Goose.

Call us crazy, but something tells us personal experience might have played into coming up with some of those names.

  1. Peter the Great. He’s pretty great. Also, Czar of Russia.

    A completely undoctored painting of Peter the great balancing his favorite beer with his favorite sword.

“Destiny may ride with us today, but there is no reason for it to interfere with lunch.”

Peter the Great was pretty great, but don’t take our word for it, just read the guy’s business card.  Like a proper royal, he was a fan of food and alcohol.  His beer of choice was Stout; an ale he first fell in love with when visiting England in the late 17th century.  He requested some be shipped to Russia for him to enjoy in his imperial courts, but when the beer got there it had spoiled.  The Barclay Brewery in London came up with an idea to increase the shelf life of the beer: increase the alcohol content and hops used in the beer.  Making it one of the first high abv. stouts to date.   Since the beer was enjoyed in Peter’s imperial court, it became known as the Imperial Stout.  The name is regal, so really it makes sense that it stuck.

150 years later, Catherine the Great (also a great person) would enjoy the same beer.  So much, in fact, she’d get special Imperial Stout imported much like Peter before; the beers supplied were brewed to last “as long as seven years.”  But somehow we doubt they made it that long; they just taste so darn good.  Those Russians know how to drink.

  1. Dionysus, God of Wine and Beer.

    “Who the eff put wine in my beer goblet?!” -Dionysus. Probably.

“I love booze.” – Dionysus. Probably.

What else can we say about this dude?  The guy was the Greek God intoxication, does he really need more of an explanation?  He was into being happy and partying, and even showed up in politics a few times.  So, in a way, he was a lot like Benjamin Franklin.

  1. Ernest Hemingway Professional Drinker with a Writing Problem

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

This one might be cheating.  Saying a writer enjoyed alcohol is kind of like suggesting Bob Marley enjoyed Cannabis.  They really go hand in hand.  What do you get when you combine a drunk with the ability to write?  A lot of great quotes about beer.  Seriously, the guy has dozens of them.

Like: “I drink to make other people interesting.” And “An intelligent man is often times forced to be drunk to spend time with fools.”

He liked to insult people, that’s for sure.

Ernest Hemingway was a man who enjoyed all spirits, beer included.  His drinks of choice usually centered around cocktails—extra dry martinis especially—but the Ballantine Ale was his favorite.  At least, according to an ad he appeared in where he talks about the best thing to do after catching a big marlin (something we can all relate to):

“…You are tired all the way through. The fish is landed untouched by sharks and you have a bottle of Ballantine cold in your hand and drink it cool, light, and full-bodied, so it tastes good long after you have swallowed it. That’s the test of an ale with me: whether it tastes as good afterwards as when it’s going down. Ballantine does.”

OK, the money he got (and rumored free beer for life) might have had more influence than the actual flavor, but we appreciate him gentrifying the beer culture.  Arguably one of America’s founding fathers of writing, it’s no wonder he’s made this list.  His works include For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea.

  1. George Washington Beer lover and all around nice guy.  Oh, and the first president of the United States of America.

“I use no Porter or cheese in my family, but such as is made in America.”

Shop local, folks.

Washington’s Distillery.

There’s been debate about how our first president felt about alcohol in general.  Certainly in all of his speeches (especially to his troops), he speaks ill of imbibing spirits:

“An aching head and trembling limbs which are the inevitable effects of drinking, disincline the hands from work; hence begins sloth and that listlessness which ends in idleness.”

But actions speak louder than words (he did admit to chopping down that cherry tree, after all).  Washington was the first president of the United States to start a distillery.  And it was no small time operation, either.  By 1799, Washington’s distillery barreled 11,000 gallons alone.  And during his presidency he spent an estimated 7% of his income on alcohol.

And what about beer?   He loved beer so much he became a regular customer with brewer Robert Hare and had dozens of cases of Porter sent to his offices during his presidency.  He even had that Porter sent ahead of him when taking a small vacation to his estate in Virginia.  In multiple letters, he described the beer as the “best Porter in Philadelphia.”

But his beer love didn’t stop there.  Our first president was a brewer. In his journal, he wrote down a recipe for small beer; an alcoholic beverage that didn’t exceed .75% that was meant for everyone.  Including the children.  Yes, children.  The 18th century was a different time.

The best part about Washington?  During a farewell party his troops threw for him before the signing of the constitution, he and his men accrued a tab over $15,000.  Which included 54 bottles of wine, 36 bottles of beer (including his favorite: Porter), and seven “Large bowls of spiked punch.” The guy knew how to throw a sendoff, that’s for sure.

 

Who knew history was so rich with beer?  The beverage has been a centerpiece for enjoyment in humanity for a very long time.  Some potteries indicate its consumption from as far back as 3,500 BC.  It’s no wonder there’s been some important people that have enjoyed a good ale every now and then.  And who knows, maybe one of you will be the next person in history who loved beer.

If you are, just make sure to use Common Block Brewing by name, so the future beer lovers of the world know where the good stuff was.

An April 1st R&D Update

It’s been a while since we checked in with our Research and Development Department.  Mostly because our R&D is located in the deep catacombs that run beneath the Hydronic Heating system of our restaurant.  To be honest, we forgot about them down there.  Well, Nick did.  He can be forgetful.  The good news is they have health insurance and are being treated by the doctors, so we’re hoping for a speedy recovery.

While we weren’t able to save all of their fingers, we DID get a hold of all the wonderful things they’ve been researching.  Frankly, we think the sacrifice was worth it, and we hope their lawyers feel the same.  Speaking of sacrifice, doesn’t it totally suck that you can’t have beer all the time?

Like, if you’ve ever been at work and thought to yourself, “Man, I could really use a beer right now.” Especially when it comes to paperwork.  Who hasn’t, right?  We’ve got some good news for you!  Common Block Brewing is happy to announce our newest merchandise item: Beer Flavored Post-it Notes.  I know, I know, we’re brilliant.  Now, whenever filing something or leaving a note for someone, you can choose that special flavor that’s perfect for the occasion.

Want to tell someone they did a great job and you think they’re sweet?  Go with the Chocolate Porter Post-it!  There’s nothing quite as good as getting a compliment and then being able to eat it.  That’s decadence as far as we’re concerned.

Leaving a note to remind Debbie that she needs to stop eating your clearly labeled tuna salad in the fridge?  Why not choose the IPA Post-it note to match the bitterness in your heart.   It’s called a bag lunch, Debbie.

Need to remember a bachelorette party?  Why not write it on our Blueberry Hangover Gose flavored Post-it?  It’s a little like pregaming.

 

Our team is also working on some Common Block Brewing Beer Goggles.  Perfect for weddings, blind dates or settling.

But our changes don’t stop there.  Taco eaters will be happy to hear that we’ll be serving all you can eat tacos between 4:45am and 5:03am on Tuesdays, 3:17am to 4:01am on Wednesdays and every 6th Sunday from 10am to 5pm during the month of Octember.  Whoa!  So cool.  Our chef is never happy about giving things away, but we feel like he’s wrong and we’re right.  Also we have the login information for Facebook where we post all of our special menus, so generally things go our way.  Also he doesn’t know  yet.

Photo of our vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free Flank Steak served with our current gluten free, nonalcoholic beer option.

Where were we?  Oh yes!  Menu changes. Don’t worry about your favorite food item getting the ax because we’re keeping everything on the menu the same, with one exception: we’re going to be modifying our Flank Steak (served with buttered mash and beer marinated vegetables) to allow for a Dairy free/Gluten free/Vegan option. (See photo >)

Finally, we’ll be drawing checks at random every week to give our customers some GREAT giveaways.  We don’t want to spoil all of the surprises, but the raffle prizes will include things like 99¢ Dollar Store Gift Cards, DISCOUNTED Blockbuster Memberships and a lifetime supply of toothpicks**. WOW! Those are some enticing prizes.

That’s all we’ve got for now!  But keep an eye out for future announcements.  We can’t give you all the details, but we will say this:

Post-it note flavored beer.

 

**Lifetime supply calculated using data from the American Dental Association study on toothpick consumption with denture dependent patients.

New Beer on the Block: Block & Mortar Porter

Tall, dark and handsome. That’s how we’d describe a 20 oz. pour of our newest house beer: Block & 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.

Block & Mortar Porter

Malt

  • 2-row
  • Crystal
  • Honey
  • Chocolate

Hops

  • Kent Goldings
  • Fuggle

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 30

 

From the brewer

“Block 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 Block & 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.)

‘Medford Beervana’ Package at Inn at the Commons

Alright all you beer-loving, romantic-getaway planners…you know how you’ve been looking for the perfect overnight stay that features beer and food in Medford? (We know, mind readers over here.) Look no further than the new Medford Beervana package at Inn at the Commons!

We’ve partnered with Portal Brewing downtown and our next-door neighbors at Inn at the Commons to put together a special treat for those wanting an all-inclusive experience of food and beer in downtown Medford. Everything is within walking distance, so you can enjoy your entire package without ever having to get in your car once you check in. Here are the details:

Medford Beervana

• Overnight stay for two
• Beer & Appetizer pairing for two at Common Block (Two 10 oz. CBBC Pale Ales paired with Fried Cheese Curds and House Marinara)
• Flight of 3 beer tasters at Portal Brewing for two
• $30 Dinner credit at LARKS Restaurant Medford located inside the hotel
• Continental breakfast
• Free WiFi and parking

Starting at $129. To book your Medford Beervana package, visit the Inn at the Commons website.

Looking for other fun places to check out downtown? We recommend Beer Works for an awesome selection of craft beers from around the world, Bricktowne Brewing for another great downtown brewery, or Jefferson Spirits for creative, unique cocktails to wind down the evening. The Craterian Theater is just up the street from Inn at the Commons and Common Block if you’re looking for a show, or you can cozy up at Limestone Coffee the next morning for a cuppa Joe before taking off back home (it’ll be hard, but we’ll still be here anytime you need more beer).

 

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?!

Progress Update: The Final Stretch!

dsc_0338You know how we’ve been saying we’re going to open “soon” for the last year and a half? We’ve had good intentions, promise! It’s just that we’ve really thought we were just months away this whole time, and then new projects and challenges pop up along the way. Such is the restaurant business. And we remained eternally optimistic all along that opening day was just around the corner, because, well, we’re really excited about it.

Now, we’re ready to say opening day really is coming up quick. We still don’t have an exact opening date yet (still waiting on final approval of the last permits), but we can tell you we are planning to open in the next couple weeks. That could mean anywhere from next week to New Years, but we’re definitely staring straight into that blaring light at the end of the brewery-building tunnel.

So what can you expect when we finally open our doors? Well first, it’s a big space. We have our bar area, a big, open main dining room, and mezzanine seating if you like sitting up high and people watching. Our small team built the entire second level out of steel and concrete, with plenty of room to seat guests and make beer.

Speaking of beer, while we won’t be opening with our brewing equipment on site, we do have our flagship Pale Ale on tap and ready to debut. Our brewer, John, contract-brewed our beer at another brewery, using their equipment to make our recipe. You’ll also find another sixteen (awesome, we think) craft beers from the region, as well as hard cider and wine, all on tap.

Our chef, David, has been creating some taste-erific recipes for the menu, and we even got to try some last weekend at our employee training party. We spent last Thursday through Saturday training our big, awesome opening crew, and they’re oh-so-ready to start serving up beer, food, and good times at our tables (see photos of our team and training weekend below).

So we guess what we’re saying is: stay tuned. Like, really tuned. We’ll send first word of our official opening date via our newsletter, so sign up at the bottom of our home page if you’d like to be on that list. And thank you to all for being so patient and supportive while we make our from-scratch brewery dream come true. Cheers, and we look forward to seeing you all over the holidays!