The Dark Side: 5 Rogue Valley Stouts & Porters

Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, and it looks and feels like he may be right for once. No offense, Phil, but you’ve been known to fib before. Before the last of our chilly, dark season changes to its sunnier, warmer counterpart, we want to pay tribute to the dark and stormy beers our Southern Oregon breweries have to offer. After all, February is officially Stout Month. Yes, it’s a thing. Just ask Twitter (#StoutMonth).

SOB Pin Up Porter

We had to do some product testing, just to make sure the pairings worked. It was a really tough job.

Here are our five picks for great dark beers in the Rogue Valley (with their brewery descriptions). We like some with breakfast, some with dessert…heck, we’ll take them anytime. And if your cravings lead you toward chocolate for Valentine’s Day, these beers make great pairing matches. Go ahead, indulge in the dark side.

5 Rogue Valley Stouts & Porters

Wild River BrewingDouble Eagle Imperial Stout
As deep and dark as the Moscow Nights and strong enough to warm the Czar’s tootsies even in January! Based on an 1880 Whitbread Triple Stout recipe.

 

Climate City Brewing Co.Hyperion Porter
Tall, dark, and delicious.  A full bodied ale packed with roast, chocolate, and caramel malt flavors.  Perfect for breakfast or dessert. 

 

Caldera Brewing Co.Toasted Coconut Chocolate Porter
With over 100 pounds of hand-toasted organic coconut and over $275 of natural chocolate, this porter is a dessert in a glass.

 

Southern Oregon BrewingPin Up Porter
A dry finishing Porter with coffee and chocolate undertones and a hint of smokiness.

 

Opposition Brewing Co.Devastated Sky
Black as the devastated sky of the coming apocalypse, this American Stout style brew is deep and complex. Dry, yet robust, with a respectable hop presence. Brewed using our unique cold-steep process that provides a rich roasted malt flavor without the harsh tannin found in many other stouts on the market. If you’re up for a journey through the darkness…this is your brew.

 

Beer-Themed Valentine’s Dinner Inspiration

Dig out your Barry White albums, dim the lights, and get ready for a delectable Valentine’s Day with these beer-themed recipes. We went ahead and collected some ideas for a five-course affair, if you’re into that kind of thing (which we are). So go on, and impress your significant other with your beer cooking know-how. Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like whipping up a handful of courses with everyone’s favorite ingredient. We’re talking beer here, people. Chocolate’s already been done.

 

First Course: Shrimp Skewers with Spicy IPA Vinaigrette ~ from Craftbeer.com

Salad Course: Drunken Winter Farro Blood Orange Salad with Stout Balsamic Glaze ~ from The Beeroness

Soup Course: Brie & Cheddar Apple Beer Soup with Cinnamon Pecan Oat Crumble ~ from Half Baked Harvest

Main Course: Slow Cooker Beer Braised Brisket ~ from Bon Appetit

Dessert: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Flaked Sea Salt ~ from Broma Bakery

And because it sounds like a really good idea, we’re going to be making the Brie & Cheddar Apple Beer Soup. How can we not? Did you see that photo? Stay tuned to our Twitter feed to see how it goes, and how long it lasts. We’re guessing not long.

6 Local Races with Beer at the Finish Line

It’s New Year’s resolution time! While some of us have resolved to drink a huge variety of craft beer in 2016 (we’re so proud of you, Nick), lots of oath-makers pick exercise as their January 1st life-change of choice. So we’re making your dedication easier by compiling a list of races in southern Oregon that boast beer at the finish line. Training is just a little more palatable when you know you’ll be racing toward beer, don’t you think?

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The finish line party at the Wild Rogue Relay, 2015. And world’s best photo bomb.

Siskiyou Challenge Relay RaceApril

This five-leg relay in Ashland, Oregon features running, kayaking, road biking and mountain biking, followed by food, beer, and entertainment. The race begins and ends at the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, where racers can browse exhibits after they finish, peruse the outdoor Harvest Fest, or just relax in the big, open field. Common Block (that’s us!) is pouring a free pint and serving up food for all racers at the finish.

Wild Rogue RelayJune

Gather 11 of your best running pals for this 220-mile relay from Applegate Lake to Brookings, Oregon. Over the mountains and through the woods, racers trek all day and night to get to the finish line where craft beer and food await. Local coffee maker, Dutch Bros., also provides free beverages for racers along the way, in case staying awake for 30+ hours isn’t normally your thing.

Siskiyou Outback (SOB) July

We’re excited to jump on board as the official post-race beer sponsor for Southern Oregon’s favorite grueling and gorgeous mountain-top race. Runners can choose from 15K, 50K, or 50-mile options, all starting from the parking lot at Mt. Ashland. We’ll be cheering in the racers with free pints at the finish line – maybe after a little cool-down for those 50 mile folks.

Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Run August

This 13.3-mile footrace is not for the faint-of-heart (just look at the cover photo on their Facebook page). Runners climb over 5,600 feet to the summit of Mt. Ashland from Lithia Park. At least there’s cold beer for runners at the finish, provided by Standing Stone Brewing Co. in Ashland.

The Rogue Run September

The marathon, half-marathon, and 10K races end at a beer festival! After running along the Bear Creek Greenway, racers can browse the Southern Oregon Harvest Festival and BrewFest at the Jackson County Expo, with over 70 beer vendors. Plenty of options for beer-induced recovery, we’d say.

Running Dead, presented by Southern Oregon Goodwill October

This 5K race of mortals and zombies will end with an Apocalypse Party at Common Block’s parking lot in downtown Medford. Runners choose to either chase or be chased, with make-up artists on hand to transform everyday humans into running-dead, man-eating creatures. We’ll pour a free beer for all racers at the finish, because zombies drink beer, too.

Side note: Have you heard about this guy, 65,  from Massachusetts? He’s vowed to run at least one mile, and drink one can or bottle of beer every day in 2016. All 365 days! Cheers to taking your resolution to the next level, Tim.

Places To Stay & Walk to Beer in the Rogue Valley

During your holiday travels, you may find yourself overnighting in a hotel or two. If your mid-way stop happens to be in Southern Oregon, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a list of places to stay in the area that are within walking distance of local breweries. Because, heck, if you’re going to stay in a room for a night you should probably throw in a stroll and some local beer while you’re here.

Here’s our list of places to stay in the Rogue Valley with local craft breweries nearby:

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(photo: innatthecommons.com)

Inn at the Commons | Medford

Nearby breweries: Portal Brewing Co.

This downtown Medford gem is right across the street from us, so when we open after the New Year we’ll be able to add Common Block to this list, too! From Inn at the Commons, Portal is an easy jaunt just a few blocks away. You can also hit up Beerworks bottleshop on Main Street, or BricktownE Brewing Co. on Central, if you’re wanting to grab a selection for back at the hotel. Make it a downtown beer tour!

 

Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites | Ashland

Nearby brewery: Caldera Brewing Co.

Lounge in the pool and Jacuzzi and then walk a few minutes up the street to Caldera for food, beer, and great views of the hills. The brewery’s patio is dog-friendly, as is the hotel.

 

Redwood Motel | Grants Pass

Nearby breweries : Climate City Brewing Co. (.8 mi)

This brewery is a little further away from where you’ll stay, but worth the walk. Weather permitting, enjoy the patio (since you’ll have your walking jacket with you anyway), and munch on one of their several pizzas with your brew.

Safe travels to all over the holidays! While commuting to see family and friends, use the opportunity to visit craft breweries along the way. Grab some beer to-go, too, for gifts or parties, and be that person who shows up with great beer. We all love that person.

 

Rogue Valley Holiday Beer Challenge

Over the next few weeks, while we all get a little crazy with holiday parties, decorating, cooking, baking, book club meetings (if you’re cool like some of us), and photo ops, we want to take some time to remember why we’re here…beer, of course!

The Rogue Valley is teeming with delicious craft beer, and we know that we’ll be filled to the brim with things to do once we get ready to open the brewpub after the New Year. So, we’re dedicating ourselves to one month of tireless local beer tasting.

Welcome to the Rogue Valley Holiday Beer Challenge.

For December, we’re challenging our group of coworkers to visit one Rogue Valley brewery each week, AND enjoy at least one locally brewed beer at home. So, that’s one trip to a local brewery and one trip to a grocery store, bottle shop, brewery, distributor, etc. for a beer made in in our valley. Repeats are allowed, group visits are encouraged, and growlers, bottles or kegs are all fair game.

RV Holiday Beer ChallengeHere’s a list of local brewery choices:

Play along using our RV Holiday Beer Challenge Tasting Sheet, marking your two beers each week and taking notes.

On our quest, we’re using #HolidayBeerChallenge to document our collective journeys. We invite you to post your own photos for all of us to enjoy/drool over, too! Now go forth, and relish local beer responsibly with us in December… and then actually WITH US when we open after the New Year. Cheers!

amaroticosUPDATE: Due to popular demand for a prize, we’re doing a drawing at the end of the month for a Common Block t-shirt! Show us your completed sheet by using #holidaybeerchallenge on Twitter or Instagram, or share on our Facebook page. However you choose, we’ll throw your name in a hat – or whatever we have lying around – and pick a t-shirt recipient on Friday, January 8th. Now get out there and visit your local breweries!

How to Beer-Theme Your Thanksgiving Celebrations

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Cheers!

We’re feeling thankful for hops, malt, water and yeast…and a whole lot more (we love you, Mom!). For the upcoming and delightfully indulgent holiday on the horizon, here are three ideas for incorporating your favorite beverage into the celebrations.

  1. Support your local craft brewery – As if you need a reason to go beer tasting at your favorite local brew house, stop in and try a flight to pick your favorite beer for the big meal. Load up on several growlers to offer your group a selection, or consider a keg to reduce waste and let guests serve themselves on tap. Head over soon if you’re planning to go the keg route, as some breweries fill kegs to order and require advanced notice. A tip for quantities: at 1/6 BBL (5 gallon) keg will give you about 40 pints, so smaller could be a good option for intimate gatherings. And if there’s any leftover, see tip #3.
  1. Invite guests to bring a beer to pair with a specific course – To let your houseguests in on the fun, invite them to bring beer to pair with appetizers, dinner, or dessert. They’ll get to show off their beer-pairing know-how, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than preparing a side dish. Here are some of our pairing suggestions to get started:
  • beer tasting cardRoasted Turkey with Amber Ale
  • Stuffing with Pumpkin Ale
  • Pecan Pie with Imperial Stout

And for an extra activity, consider printing a beer tasting card, like this one from Create. Cook. Survive Law School.

  1. Cook with it (and leave some for yourself) – Mix in beer with your dishes and see if your guests can pick out the variety. Here are some of our top recipes for a beer-centric Thanksgiving spread:

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may your holiday be full of flavor, food, and fun!

Visiting with Ooblies in Downtown Medford

One of the best perks of working downtown has been the lunch selection at all of the area’s food trucks. Within walking distance of the brewery we can find teriyaki chicken, breakfast burritos, artisan sandwiches, and these guys: Ooblies Waffle Sandwiches. We love their tasty and quirky selection so much, and we invited them to join our brewery-preview Permit Party last August.

From the Ooblies creator himself, Tanner, here’s a bit about how Ooblies came to be, what to expect for upcoming waffle sandwich specials, and which beverages pair best with our favorite creations.

DSC_3829_edited-2What motivated you to start a waffle sandwich food truck?

Originally, I never planned on opening up a food truck. It was a spontaneous idea that stemmed from the suggestion of a friend. I came up with the idea for waffle sandwiches in 2012 when I was in Singapore and ate a Belgium waffle that was filled like a jelly doughnut with a sweet meat paste. When I observed the street vendor injecting the waffle with the meat paste, I thought it looked like a lot of work and wondered why they didn’t just spread it over the waffle, fold it up and make a sandwich out of it. From there on the idea of waffle sandwiches stuck in the back of my head, but it wasn’t something I thought about daily or ever really focused on until a few years later when I wanted to start a business my family.

The idea to do a food truck and sell waffle sandwiches came from a conversation with a close friend about starting and running a business, and my friend happened to mention that a food-truck might be fun and maybe I could start one, but they weren’t sure what I could sell. Well, they didn’t know, but as soon as they said it, the idea of waffle sandwiches came rushing back to me and it was waffles from then on.

 

DSC_3838_edited-1What would you say are the best places to take your sandwich and eat downtown?

We always say the best place is right where your eating it, because if your eating a waffle sandwich it can’t get much better than that!  We do have other suggestions though, like right outside our food truck. Sometimes, if your lucky, the magical, secret taste-test waffle appears in that area and you may get to try something new that no one else has ever gotten to try before! When not hunting for the elusive secret taste-test waffle, we suggest enjoying your waffle at the tables outside the Craterian by the water fountains during summer.

 

Tell us about your seasonal recipes, like the Pumpkin Spice Waffle. Are there any new ideas coming up for us to look forward to?

One of the best parts of making waffle sandwiches is that the possibilities are endless. Whether it’s savory or sweet, we always enjoy coming up with new sandwiches, and try to use what is in season or what sounds fun or festive for the time of year, like our Pumpkin Spice Waffle. That was October’s special waffle, made with my own mixture of hand-ground ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest and vanilla whipped into a sweet and tiny bit spicy pumpkin cream, topped with house made caramel, crushed walnuts and fresh pears right here from our valley…. though, sometimes I just get crazy and do something really odd for the time of year, like this month’s special: the Frenchy. The Frenchy, is an explosion of summer memories in your mouth and is made with French lavender whipped maple butter on a French Toast Waffle with raspberries and blueberries…a little odd for this time of year, but hey, we are a little odd here at Ooblies anyhow!

We also have a couple other specials this month, such as our Hot Mother Clucker (with a Buttermilk fried chicken breast, cayenne chili maple glaze and half sour pickles) and The Count of Monte Cristo (a lovely sweet and salty waffle made with turkey, swiss, ham and blackberry jam). Coming up in December, we’ll do a pulled pork waffle per customer request, and possibly a peppermint crème brulee waffle sandwich.

 

DSC_3907_edited-2We’d personally pair a coffee stout with your breakfast waffle. What are some other beverage pairings you’d suggest with your waffles?

A coffee stout is an excellent choice for the Breakfast Waffle. A vanilla porter goes quite well with any dessert waffle, except maybe our Berry Delightful. For the Berry, we suggest a sparkling champagne, which is also a killer with….wait for it….our Buttermilk Fried Chicken! An IPA is a good choice for the Hot Pastrami, and if your looking for something non-alcoholic a sparkling IZZE soda will hit the spot every-time

 

How did you come up with the name Ooblies, and what does it mean?

According to Larousse Gastronomique, the ancient Greeks (1100 B.C.E. to 146 B.C.E.) made wafer-like waffles called obleios. The wafers were cooked by pouring a thick batter mixture onto one heated plate and then setting another heated plate on top of that. These wafers were not exactly the waffles you think of today, but they created the foundation for modern day waffles. We derived Ooblies (pronounced oo-blees) from obleios, and since it’s a word we created, we say Ooblies means Waffle Sandwich!

So why did we pick Ooblie’s compared to other possible names such as the illustrious Two Jerks and a Waffle, or Waffletastic? Well, three reasons: first, it was derived from the ancient Greek word, Obleios, that helped create waffles, and our family is part Greek so that’s a big point for family heritage – booyah! Second, it makes the sound “ooo,” like ” Ooo that’s good,” and our waffles tend to leave that impression on everyone who tries them. Loved it! Third…. well, you know that googly eyed looking thing people text to each other? —> 0_o We liked how if you added a little line underneath Ooblie, it looked like a smiling googly eyed dude, and that pretty much sealed the deal.

There you have it!  Thanks, Ooblies, for taking the time to answer all of our questions.  And for making us hungry. 

Common Block 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.

Meet Common Blocker Andy Schow

As the weather gets colder in southern Oregon,  we warm up by having a one-on-one with our own our own slice of tropical living in Medford. Some call him the Resident Long Haired Hawaiian, or the Yeti, but if you’re asking him to sign his name on a check, it’s Andy.  Raised on the island of Kauai, Andy personifies easy living.  And go figure, he’s a pretty cool dude.  If you’re trying to remember which Common Blocker he is, he’s the one with dark Rapunzel hair.  When he’s not working, he’s testing out new food and cocktail recipes, and our efficient R&D department is always there to try whatever new inspiration he comes up with.

But enough exposition, why don’t we talk to the man himself?

Beer Pour Crew

Andy (center) pouring beer at our Permit Party in August

What is your favorite thing about bartending?

My favorite part about bartending…that’s a tough one. It would have to be a combination of answers. First and foremost, I love the interactions with customers. All the world is a stage, and that’s my stage of choice. I love the creative side of bartending, too – the development of specialty cocktails, the science behind the combinations of flavors, and the fun of experimenting and coming up with new, delicious ideas. Lastly, there is the moment when the customer tastes this beverage that I’ve made for him or her with my heart and hands, and gives it the first taste. This is always best when they really like it, of course.

What has been your go-to lunch spot in downtown Medford?

I lived in Medford before for eight years, so I have several go-tos already, but Medford has a lot more to offer now. So, the old faves are Squeeze-In Sandwich Shop and Organicos Bakery. The new faves have been the tasty chicken bento down the street at Jolie’s Bento Central, and that Ooblies Waffle truck makes a heckuva chicken waffle sandwich!

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We all see you snaking that full beer, Andy.

How long have you been growing that lovely mane of yours?

What, this old thing? I guess it’s been about seven or eight years now. And this here, folks, is 100% free-range, hormone-free, grass fed and finished!

Hypothetically, if a few of us poured some of the Rough Draft Ale into growlers and said we were headed over to your house for dinner, what would you make for us?

Well, hypothetically speaking, if that was going to happen with enough notice, I think John’s Rough Draft pale ale would go splendidly with a Granny Smith apple stuffed with grilled pork, raisins, jalapenos and blue cheese, and a little balsamic reduction drizzled over the top. But, if you were to come over right this second…well, let’s see…looks like I could do peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches, or…canned tuna fish!

But really, if we pour off beer and head over, will you please make something for us?

Heck yes, I will! Peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches for everyone!

Yeti walk

It wouldn’t be a Yeti spotting without a poor-quality photo series.

 

If you liked this bio, keep the fun going by reading about the rest of our stellar team!

 

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Brewer: John

Nick Rachel Danielle

Social Media: Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

Gina and Ashley

Graphic Design: Ashley

A man and his cat.

Cat Expert: Nick

6 Beer-Themed, Fall-Themed Recipes

Do you ever sit inside during the fall wondering, “How am I going to fit more beer into my day?” Us too! One great way to show your undying love for craft beer is whipping it into your favorite recipes. We add beer to soups, roasts, stews, marinades, desserts…freezing leftover beer in ice cube trays and storing them in tupperware is a great way to have it on hand any time.

from Beeroness

from Beeroness

We scoured the internet for fall-themed recipes to use your favorite flavored brews, or even the leftover keg beer from last night’s party. Here are our picks for fitting beer onto your plate all throughout the day:

Breakfast | Pumpkins Ale Waffles | from The Beeroness

Second Breakfast (c’mon, you know you want it) | Beer-Candied Bacon | from Tide and Thyme

Lunch | Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup | from Spoon Fork Bacon

candiedbacon

from Tide and Thyme

Afternoon Snack | Pale Ale Cheddar Cheese Crackers | from CraftBeer.com

Dinner | Beef and Stout Stew Over Mashed Potatoes | from Kitchen Vignettes

And for Dessert | Pumking Monkey Bread with Pumpkin Beer Caramel Sauce | from CraftBeer.com

Now farewell, and cheers to your upcoming cooking-with-beer adventures! Let us know how they turn out. Or bring them by. Either way.