New Beer on the Block: Parkside Pilsner

Let’s do a little guided beer-mediation…

You’re on the back patio, and the sun is shining overhead.

You’ve got your sunglasses on, and you’re enjoying the view of the park across the street – a nice little oasis in downtown Medford.  

You reach for your cold beer (because what could be better in this scenario?!), and it’s the new Parkside Pilsner.

You take a drink, throw out an obligatory “ahhhhhhhhh” just like all the commercials, and smile because life is good.

 

We’re excited to announce the latest addition to our Common Block beer line-up: the Parkside Pilsner. This beer is here right on time for summer, and whether you love light-bodied beers or steer toward flavor-full options, this beer is here to make your daydream of lazy summer afternoons come true.

 

About Parkside Pilsner

 

Style: German Style Pilsner

ABV: 5.1%

IBU: 40

 

Malt:

  • Pilsner
  • Munich
  • Wheat (just a teeny bit!)

 

Hops:

  • Saaz (Czech style)
  • Tettnanger (German style)

 

Food Pairing Suggestions:

  • Cold Brew Chicken Tacos
  • Double Blue Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
  • Roasted Carrot Hummus Plate

 

We invite you to come enjoy this new specialty beer while it lasts! We think the name, Parkside Pilsner, says it all…sit back, relax, take in the view, and enjoy summer to the fullest.

New Beer on the Block: Deep Down Double IPA

We have a new brew on tap: the Deep Down Double IPA.  We call it ‘Deep Down’ because, deep down, we really love beer. Everything about it. Creating new recipes, pouring it fresh, pairing it with food, serving it at race finish lines (like the upcoming Siskiyou Challenge Relay), and drinking it (duh).

This beer, like all our Common Block brews, also pays homage to a beloved Southern Oregon landmark – Crater Lake. We named this beer in honor of the deepest lake in the United States, because that’s how deep our feelings for beer run. And now that we have Common Block liter growlers available, you can take your Deep Down Double IPA to the rim itself and look deep down while savoring a glass…or whatever vessel you choose to use for your beer to-go. We don’t judge if you drink straight from the bottle.

Here’s a bit about the beer from Brewer John:

Dee Down Double IPA has a mellow malty profile that lets the pounds and pounds of hops added to the kettle shine through. Generous amounts of Citra, Ekuanot, and Mosaic hops added after fermentation give this beer a fruity, floral, herbal and citrusy aroma and deep down hop flavor. Brewed for us by out friends at Climate City Brewing Company in Grants Pass.

 

Deep Down Double IPA

 

Deep Down Double IPAStyle: Double India Pale Ale

ABV: 8.5%

IBU: 90

 

Malt:

  • 2-Row
  • Crystal Malt
  • Dextrose

 

Hops:

  • Cascade
  • Chinook
  • Centennial
  • Citra
  • Ekuanot
  • Mosaic

 

Food Pairing Suggestion:

  • Bacon & Bacon Burger
  • Reuben
  • Beer Braised Pork Nachos
  • Usual Suspect Pizza

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!

 

New Brew on the Block: Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

We’ve got a new beer on the block!  Tunnel 13 is a unique, dark ale with a crisp, hoppy finish.  The laymen might call it a Black IPA or a IBA (India Black Ale),  but we’ve been told by our brewer, John, in no uncertain terms, that this beer is not a Black IPA or IBA.  It’s a Cascadian Dark Ale.

What’s a Cascadian Dark Ale you might be asking?  It’s called a CDA for short, and the beer typically has proponents of flavor, color and aroma from both an IPA and something like a Stout or Porter.  CDAs typically combine a dry hop finish with a sweeter, roasted malt body.  The color is usually either very dark brown or black, and the head of the beer should be tan or khaki.  Black IPAs, IBA’s and CDA’s all share similarities.  What makes the CDA unique is in the ingredients list.  Like the name would suggest, Cascadian Dark Ales should source most of their ingredients from the Cascadia Region of the US (The Pacific Northwest).  This means, a beer made in a similar style should not be called a CDA if the ingredients were solely sourced in Europe or on the American East coast or from Gibraltar.   It might sound like petty semantics, and perhaps it is, but hop flavors are affected by different climates in the same way wine grapes, peppers and coffee beans are.  It is a technicality, but technicalities are what help us make distinctions, people.

Additionally, it’s a bit confusing to be drinking a Black India Pale Ale, and India Black Ale brings to mind the strong hop finishes an IPA typically has.  So what we’re saying is, most breweries making this particular style of beer will worry about semantics and call their beer what it is: A Cascadian Dark Ale.

Whew, OK, that’s enough beer style background. Let’s get to the beer itself.

Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

 

7.1% ABV
65 IBU

Malts

  • 2-row malt
  • Carabrown
  • Chocolate
  • Carafa II

Hops

  • Columbus (bittering)
  • Cascade
  • Amarilla
  • Citra (dry-hop)

From the Brewer:

Common Block Tunnel 13 CDA balances the spicy, citrus, and piney hop flavors of the Pacific Northwest with a laid-back chocolate malt roastiness.  In spite of its dark appearance, Tunnel 13 CDA finishes light and smooth.  Dark as a tunnel, light as day!

That John, what a poet. We’ve debuted seven beers in the last eight months of being open, and we wont stop brewing now.  For further reading on the history behind Tunnel 13 (spoiler alert, there’s murder and robbery involved) check out our other blog post on the name behind the CDA. And keep an eye out for the next beer on the horizon –  we’ll be tapping our Session Bitter Ale come mid-September.

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.

 

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 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.