Monday, March 22, 2010

One Last Time: Cinder Cone Red, People!

I’ll confess: if I was ever seriously inclined to switch this blog to a fan site devoted solely to one brewer, I think that brewer would be Deschutes Brewing in Oregon. (Sorry local guys – I love you too though.) But with that said, I swear, this will be the last time I go on at length about Cinder Cone Red.

Since no side-by-side comparison is possible, I’ve gone back and compared notes for both the Cinder Cone Red and the Red Chair.

The first entry I have for the old Cinder Cone Red is dated June 28, 2008 and it reads simply:
“Deschutes Cinder Cone Red. 5.4 abv. Seasonal ale. Vegetable smell in the bottle. Dark red, active beading. Nice cream colored head. Sweet taste with hints of caramel or maybe licorice? I like everything I’ve tried from this brewer!”

The next entry for CCR appeared on August 2nd, 2008 under the heading “Beer Pairing.” I evidently thought it would be a good idea to try CCR with chocolate. My notes read: “Cinder Cone Red and Norwegian chocolate. Tastes a bit like chocolate pie! Very good.”

My first sampling of Red Chair is noted in an entry dated November 22, 2009, wherein I wrote:
“Deschutes Brewing Red Chair IPA* (Bomber 1 pt 6 oz). Beautiful orange amber color with a foamy beige/orange head (aggressively poured). Correct pine-citrus smell. Dry from the start and definitely hop driven but (as the label claims) not overly bitter. Despite a relatively low 6.4% abv there is a warming characteristic here. I didn’t originally like IPA’s when I began paying attention to beer. Now I find I like IPA’s if the abv is within a reasonable range and even if a particular IPA isn’t something I like, I can now at least tell if it’s a faithful representation of the style. Red Chair IPA is both: it’s a great beer and it represents the IPA style. Another hit for Deschutes!”

(*You’ll note that the first entry was for a sampling of the Red Chair IPA, not the Red Chair NWPA. The IPA was part of Deschutes’ Bond Street Series.)

The next entry for Red Chair (this time the Northwest Pale Ale) is on March 15, 2010 wherein I wrote:
“Light bronze with ample off-white head. Smells fruity but not of citrus. More like a faintly sweet apricot or peach. Quite malty. Mouth feel a bit thicker than you might expect. A faint hop bitterness emerges at the finish.”

I should point out that this entry was made after I learned that Red Chair was replacing Cinder Cone as Deschutes’ spring seasonal.

I’ll miss Cinder Cone and I’d be less than honest if I said I was going to be as diligent in my efforts to track down next year’s Red Chair as I have been in tracking down past year’s Cinder Cones – eh, that’s just me. Perhaps as time and distance insinuate themselves into what was once a great friendship between me and Cinder Cone, then perhaps you’ll see me doggedly pursuing six-packs of Red Chair…next year.

Up next: Perhaps a search for Woody, the Deschutes traveling beer wagon, rumored to be in the Phoenix area in honor of Spring Training baseball!! Yeah.

For those of you who are really into beer blogs (you’re here so you must be), Deschutes has a nifty BLOG of their own. You can noodle around here and find out what’s going on at the brewery and with their beers.

Free Stuff! In my previous post I noted that the first two followers to post a comment with their mailing address would receive a complimentary copy of the documentary film Eddies: The Documentary. I won't post addresses, but I'll pass them along to the filmmaker who will mail you copies directly from Canada.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coming Attractions...Eddies: The Documentary

The Padded Envelope, Please

A few weeks ago a gentleman (Mike Peterson) posted a comment here regarding a documentary film he’d made entitled Eddies: A Documentary asking if I’d be willing to view a copy and post comments here on Beer Rant.
“Free stuff?” asked I.

Well a padded envelope arrived from Calgary, Alberta, Canada today and, I opened it over a glass of Guinness (left over from St. Patrick’s Day and in the process of doing a head-to-head tasting between Guinness Stout and Obsidian Stout. The research never stops here at Beer Rant HQ, folks.)

In the brief cover letter, Director/Producer Mike Peterson indicates that Fresh Dog Productions will have a website “up and running soon,” but in the meantime, here’s some of the dope on Fresh Dog and their film Eddies: The Documentary:

Big Rock Brewery is the sponsor of the Eddies competition. I’m putting out feelers to see if their beer is available in the States. If not, I feel a beer trade coming on!

There’s a nice (and very recent) review of Eddies: The Documentary at the wonderfully named Bad Lit. Read it and be jealous that I have a review copy.

IMDB has a listing for Fresh Dog Productions but Eddies: The Documentary is not listed there.

The Event

I’m thinking I really need to stage some sort of slick screening, maybe invite some other drunks and a couple movie buffs that I know, have them fill out comment cards, swig Canadian beers and then I’ll post the results here along with embarrassing photos. Hmmm. Let me think that over. (I haven’t had to do a drywall patch since my kids moved out of the house. Hope I still know how. Well, with grandkids coming up through the ranks, I need to practice, right?)

The Deal

In the letter Mike Peterson also indicates that he’ll send “one or two copies” of Eddies: The Documentary to readers of Beer Rant. I think that’s pretty cool. So, here’s what I’ll do: the first two Beer Rant Followers who post a comment with their mailing information will have their mailing information forwarded to Mr. Peterson and he’ll mail you a copy of the documentary. Your address information won’t be published in the comments section, I promise. (That’s a hint for all you non followers looking for free swag: if you want a copy of the documentary and you’re not one of my roughly 2 dozen followers, you need to sign on as a follower before you chum for the free copy of the documentary.) I’m throwing this deal out before having actually seen the documentary myself; that way you’ll go in with an open mind just as I am going in with an open mind. If nobody steps forward to claim the generously offered copies of the documentary, I’ll try to secure a couple copies for the folks attending the screening.

Stay tuned…..
(Spoiler alert: I liked the Deschutes Obsidian Stout a great deal more than the Guinness.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day (tomorrow)!

Since one never knows what may happen on the ‘morrow, I’ll wish you a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day today!

I’m a descendant of the John Moriarity and Catherine O’Hoolihan of County Curry and County Cork so I understand. You’ll forgive me if I get a bit pissed tomorrow. (I should also point out that tomorrow is my grandson's first birthday! Oh blessed day!)

I sampled a bit of Rogue Kells Irish Lager and (of course) some Guinness (brewed in Canada for cripe’s sake) today.

It occurs to me that I’ve not done a sampling for Guinness Extra Stout. I’ll do one later. Meantime, here’s one for the Rogue Irish Lager.

Pours apricot yellow and a bit cloudy. Lager thin head with a faintly sour smell. Slightly thicker mouth feel than I expected. Absolutely no distinct taste up front at all. The label says “…apple crisp finish,” but I’m not feeling it. Only a bit later did I detect a faint hint of apple in the finish.

Not something I’ll rush out to buy again, lads and lasses.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Farewell Cinder Cone Red....

...we hardly knew ye!

Just as I was preparing to post my last set of Quick Riffs, I learned that Deschutes Brewing has discontinued production of their stellar Cinder Cone Red seasonal ale. To me this is big news because my discovery of Cinder Cone coincides roughly with my new found appreciation of beer and I believe I waxed effusively about it in one or two posts and I snapped dozens of pictures, of which, only two or three survive. My scant photographic record does note that I spent one Fourth of July grilling with Cinder Cone.

As I’ve already pointed out, my first instinct was to get pissed off. Then, very quickly came the impulse to fan out and scoop up as much Cinder Cone Red (let’s call it CCR) as I could and hoard it. (Ironically, that was my first impulse when I first discovered CCR and learned it was a seasonal. I kept 12 of them stashed in the back of the closet for more than a month!) Now, in my zeal, I immediately sought out the local distributor, the local Total Wine outlet and Deschutes themselves. I neglected to bother with much detailed research on line at places like Beer Advocate; an oversight that would eventually prove significant.

Cutting to the chase:
Last Monday I visited no less than three Walgreen’s outlets, a Fry’s grocery store, a Trader Joe’s and a BevMo in search of some Deschutes CCR. I was helped in my quest by kind assistance from the customer service folks at Republic National Distributing Company, the go-getters at Total Wine and ultimately the gurus at Deschutes Brewery and the brothers at Beer Advocate.

The Outcome:
I returned from my sortie, bereft of any CCR. I logged on to the Beer Advocate site and found that the 2010 batch was only released in Oregon, parts of Washington State and Hawaii. Sigh. That’s that.

An email from the very kind people at Deschutes allowed as the entire stock of CCR was gone and none is even available in their hometown! Never mind that some lucky squirrels managed to get sample sets of both the CCR and the Red Chair to try out. One nice fellow even videotaped his experience and put it on YouTube for the rest of us poor saps to watch. Cruel bugger.

The scribe at The Brew Site also got one of these mystical, mixed six-packs of Cinder Cone and Red Chair – and on Christmas Eve no less? Christ, I’m not living right.

Then you’ve got some underachiever at The Beer Guzzlers who evidently took the time to track down or stumble upon what will be some of the last CCR ever made and all he can manage is a four-sentence complaint. I realize that I’m long-winded, but talk about understated. God, I worked harder to find Cinder Cone Red than he worked on reviewing it.

One of the reasons Deschutes has given for halting production of Cinder Cone is that it’s one of their least popular seasonals. So I found it a bit ironic that Drink Hacker rated Cinder Cone higher than its replacement Red Chair NWPA.

Finally, I found a post at Seattle Beer News interesting not simply because they evidently send beer samples to this guy too, along with some smoked salmon (Good lord what do I have to do to get beer samples mailed to me?) but because one of the folks leaving a comment indicated that Lagunita’s makes a beer that resembles Cinder Cone.

Which puts me in a great spot to close this out. While at BevMo last Monday looking for bottles of Cinder Cone that do not exist, I settled for a six pack of Rogue's seasonal Santa’s Private Reserve and you know what? It reminded me somewhat of my beloved Cinder Cone Red. Wishful thinking? Hallucination? Perhaps, but I sure didn’t imagine all those nice people who responded to my frantic emails seeking out Cinder Cone in Arizona. My quixotic search came to nothing, but the search was half the fun. I’m going to miss Cinder Cone a lot but I’ve gained a new appreciation for seasonals. Enjoy ‘em while they last and know that you may not see them next year!

Now, I’m off to chat with Mrs. Beer Rant about putting in a beer cellar.

Next time: Perhaps a review of both the old Cinder Cone Red and the Red Chair NWPA and the Santa’s Private Reserve, which I seem to think resembles Cinder Cone. We’ll see.

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