Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 Pumpkin Beer Tasting: Eylsian Dominates Once Again

After successful pumpkin beer tastings last year and the year before, Pumpkin Beer Night has officially become a thing.

This year we upped the ante in all ways possible. We're talking more pumpkin beers and ciders (24 to be exact), more decorations, and probably the most people that have ever been in our baby apartment at once.

As in years previous, everyone ranked the beers individually on a scale of 1 to 5... and just like the last two years, Elysian took the top two spots.

Here's some more detailed info about our group's Top 5 plus the rest of the rankings too:  

#1 Elysian Brewing Punkuccino (Seattle)

Doug and I tried this on our own a few weeks prior to Pumpkin beer night (thanks new Burnside Fred Meyer growler station) and had a pretty strong feeling that this beer was going to do very well at pumpkin beer night.

Elysian says, "Punkuccino packs a short shot of Stumptown coffee toddy in your pint with just a shake of cinnamon and nutmeg," so think of it as the best Pumpkin Spice Latte you've ever had that wants to get you drunk. So good. 

#2 Elysian Brewing Night Owl (Seattle)- Ranked #2 last year

Holding down the #2 spot for the second year a row, Elysian says this ale is "brewed with seven and a half pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice." Seems like that's a recipe they should stick to.

 #3 First Edition Brewing Champion Pompion *homebrew* (Portland)

Doug and I agreed that this year's Champion Pompion is much more deserving of its high ranking than last year's Good Lawdy Miss Gordy. For this beer, Doug upped the pumpkin flavor by supplementing pumpkin puree with lots of fresh squash.

#4 Seattle Cider Co. Pumpkin Spice Cider (Seattle)

Seattle Cider Co. ferments their cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. It's perfect for your friends that love pumpkin-flavored alcohols but hate beer.

#5 Two Beers Pumpkin Spice (Seattle)- Ranked #3 last  year

This ale is made with cloves, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and natural pumpkin. The ginger is definitely a nice touch.


#6 First Edition Brewing Good Lawdy Miss Gourdy *homebrew* (Portland)- Ranked #4 last year

#7 Elysian Brewing The Great Pumpkin (Seattle, 2014)- Ranked #1 last year

#8 Harpoon UFO Pumpkin (Boston)- ranked #8 last year

 #9 Oakshire Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter (Eugene)- #17 last year, but #9 in 2013

#10 Elysian Brewing Dark O' The Moon Pumpkin Stout (Seattle)

#11 Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale (Portland)- ranked #12 last year

#12 Ace Cider Hard Pumpkin Cider (Sebastopol, CA)

#13 Burgess Brewing DD Pumpkin Ale *homebrew* (Vancouver, WA)

#14 Propolis Brewing Pepon (Port Townsend, WA)

#15 Midnight Sun Brewing TREAT Imperial Pumpkin Porter (Anchorage)- ranked #18 last year

#16 Pike Brewing Harlot's Harvest (Seattle) 

#17 Elysian Brewing The Great Pumpkin (Seattle, 2013)

Doug saved this beer to see how it would age. The answer was not well. So drink your pumpkin beers now, kids!

#18 Nathan's Brewing Co. Booooo Careful II (Portland)

#19 Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale (Boonville, CA)

#20 Southern Tier Pumking (Lakewood, NY)

#21 Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela (Dexter, MI)

#22 Burnside Brewing The Dapper Skeleton (Portland)

I don't know if this one would normally be so low (Doug and I usually really like Burnside), but it's made with chiles and a spicy beer is kind of a shock when all the other beers you've been trying are on the sweet side.

#23 Uinta Punk'n Harvest Ale (SLC)- ranked last last year

#24 Buffalo Bills Brewery Pumpkin Ale (Hayward, CA)

This one is so bad that is deserves a warning. Do not buy it (unless you like things that taste like puke). 

 Any of your favorite pumpkin beers that we missed?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Portland Pop-Up: PREAM at Ned Ludd

What: PREAM at Ned Ludd
Where: 3925 NE MLK Blvd
When: Monday Nights
Honeys Heart: All the pizza

When Doug and I got married a few weeks ago, Kelly and Adam did us the huge favor of hosting our rehearsal dinner at their house.

To help say thank you (because we seriously owe them big time), we offered to take them out to dinner at the place of their choice. If you haven't noticed, Kel and especially Adam are huge sushi lovers (see here, here, and here), so we were a little surprised to end up at PREAM, Ned Ludd's Monday night pizza and hip hop pop-up. It did seem fitting though given that our rehearsal dinner had been a pizza night too!

There were already a few names on the list when we arrived, so we grabbed a spot outside. A server had told us that he would come out to take our drink order- but after awhile we wised up and just headed to the bar. Kel and I decided to split a $25 bottle of syrah, while Doug went with a beer. Adam chose the Craig & Cola ($10) with bourbon and haus cola and later the Cock & Bull Special ($10) with bourbon, benedictine, cognac, combier, and bitters.

About an hour later (no surprise in Portlandia), we headed to our table inside Ned Ludd's quirky little space.

We started things off with a Chicory Caeser Salad with breadcrumbs and ricotta salata. Adam and I both found the chicory a little bitter for our tastes but we forged ahead anyway (aka, we just ate all the ricotta).

Following our salad, we ordered three pizzas to share:

1) Smoked Pork Pizza with treviso, celeriac bechamel & pickled peppers

2) Sausage Pizza with gremolata, bechamel, chile & breadcrumbs

3) Weekly Special Pizza with eggplant and a bunch of other good stuff...

We were banking on having some leftovers but no such luck! And we all had a different favorite too which I think is always a good sign.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend checking out PREAM. The pizzas were crazy delicious and there was a fun informality to the night that made it seem like we were all just there to hang out, eat good food, and have a good time. Just be prepared to wait- especially if you have a group of 4 or more- and make sure you get there before 8pm. The last couple of groups that were seated didn't have a choice about what pizzas they got- they just had to be fine with whatever was left.

Now that Kelly, Adam, Doug, and I are on a weekly pizza kick (we also made homemade pizzas on Kelly and Adam's BBQ the week before), we're going to keep the pizza train rolling and try out Ken's Artisan Bakery's Monday pizza night next week. We'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Portland Pop-Up: Morgan St Theater

What: Morgan St Theater
When: Monthly
Honeys Heart: Watermelon sorbet, feta, basil oil & cherry tomato confit sundae

If you follow the Portland restaurant scene closely, you know that pop-ups are the next big thing. And if you follow this blog, you probably guessed that I would be all about that ish too (such a restaurant lemming... sorry not sorry).

I've been on Morgan St Theater's mailing list since I read about them in The Oregonian's pop-up roundup last June. Morgan St Theatre is a pop-up dessert club run by Jared Goodman that specializes in combining flights of nontraditional ice cream sundaes with storytelling and live music. Intriguing, right?

Each "performance" has a different theme and our night's was "It's My Party and I'll Make What I Want To"- essentially a compilation of Jared's favorite sundaes that he's made in the year since starting Morgan St Theater.

When we arrived at that night's venue, din din, we were greeted with a communal table set for 20, a live jazz duo, and a half dozen or so other guests who all already seemed to know each other. Let's just say it was not Doug's ideal scenario...

However, we were quickly made to feel more welcome by Jared who came over to introduce himself and explain a bit more about the night's proceedings. We would be served three different courses of ice cream sundaes with optional cocktail pairings. Jared would start each course with a short story that would provide some context for the dessert we would be trying. Mingling was encouraged as was taking the bartender up on his offer for a pre-dinner cocktail.

After choosing our seats and chatting with the other guests, it was finally time to get our ice cream sundae on. First up: Put a Bird on It made with wild huckleberry ice cream, buttermilk raspberry biscuit, lemon honey sauce, and huckleberry shrub. Everything on the plate was delicious but the lemon honey sauce was my favorite element. It was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet and if you force-fed me spoonfuls of it I wouldn't try to stop you.

That was paired with a Tennessee Orchard cocktail made with bourbon, campari, oregon cherry shrub, and soda. Yum.

Next up was Sofia made with watermelon sorbet, feta, basil oil, and cherry tomato confit. Doug and I agreed that this was hands down the most impressive dish of the night. It was very simple and refreshing,  and all the flavors paired perfectly together. Plus the cherry tomato confit was so rich and homey- you could just tell this sundae was made with lots of care and love.

Paired with Sofia was The Yakuza made with gin, garden herbs, ginger beer reduction, lemon, and honey.

Last up was Alma Mater, a peanut butter ice cream pie with chili chocolate brownie crust and cream. This was definitely the most traditional of the dishes we tried, but it still had that unique touch thanks to the chili in the brownie crust. Jared explained that it was inspired by Alma Chocolate's Thai peanut butter cups and I obviously need to try those immediately since Jared's take on them was so good.

That came with the Mucho Gusto made with rum, lemongrass-chili syrup, lime, "Don's mix", and Aztec chocolate bitters. The tiki feel of this cocktail paired well with the heat of the brownie crust.

We ended the night by paying by check and leaving a note in the comment box that was passed around.

Overall, we had an amazing time. The sundaes and cocktails were tasty and unique and the storytelling and live jazz added some extra pizzazz to the evening. And while chatting with strangers has never been Doug's or my strong suit and we definitely kept to ourselves more than some of the other guests, it was fun to be part of a communal experience.

Here's what Morgan St Theater has coming up in the next month:

Sunday, Oct 12- Sukkot: A Jewish Year in Ice Cream Sundaes

Thursday, Oct 23- A Night at the Opera

And if you want to join their mailing list, you can do that here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Portland Restaurant & Market: Prettyman's General

What: Coava Coffee
Where: 2631 SE Hawthorne Blvd
When: Weekdays 6am - 6pm, Weekends 8am - 6pm

When I work remotely (which is always...), there is a point in the day when it is so hard to focus at my house and I have to get out. I planned on lunch at Prettyman's General but they don't serve coffee, so first stop was next door's Coava Coffee. Just the caffeine boost I needed.

What: Prettyman's General
Where: 2637 SE Hawthorne Blvd
When: 11am - 11pm Daily
Honeys Heart: The vibe

Coffee in hand, I went to my final destination, which turned out to be the pretty much the cutest place. The little store has different spaces with couches, chairs, and a loungey vibe with specialty products, a small food menu, wine, and beer.

Too cute, right?

I settled in with the smoked steelhead (from Flying Fish Co. down the street) salad with kale, arugula, and a lemon dressing. The salad was fresh and there was a generous amount of fish!

Definitely a spot I would recommend spending some time in if you're looking for a change of scenery or an off-site lunch or drinks with co-workers or friends. 

Writing this makes me ready to go back, like tomorrow...