Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Downtown Irish Stouts Derby

My reader will recall that I have been on a mission to find a good dry Irish-style stout in Bend, a mission this reporter embarked upon over a year ago.

It has become clear that most stouts hereabouts are sweet, toffee messes, sometimes (intentionally, it appears!) made even more icky by the addition of coffee or, even chocolate. If I want a dessert I'll order a cake.

For this St. Patrick's** day, the local brewers have come up with drier offerings and Jack has tasted a couple for you, my reader, and can say that the dry stout at Bend Brewing Company is darn close to Guinness, the gold standard for such things.* It's a bit bigger than a Guinness, coming in at 6.5% abv (for non beer-geeks, that's "alcohol by volume," and Guinness clocks in at 4%) so use caution if you are used to quaffing pints of the imported Irish stuff), but it has the same dry quality for which the Dublin brewer is justly famous.

Addendum: BBC's brewmaster, Tonya Cornett, tells me that making a dry stout is not that difficult though it does require an expensive yeast. Speaking of yeasts, she is experimenting with sour ales, a personal favorite of Jack's. The secret facility is offsite because we don't want the wild yeasts that help create the distinctive qualities for which sour ales, "lambics," are famous to contaminate BBC's more traditional ales and beers. BTW, her "Desert Rose," on tap right now is a sour, a "baby step," as she puts it, is in the direction of a full sour, a la the offerings from Cascade Brewing/Raccoon Lodge up in Portland who are the only folk making interesting fruity, sour ales in the PNW near as I can tell. I am hoping that sours will take root here in Bend. Tonya calls them dessert ales because they are as every bit as sip-able and complex as any fine wine, but Jack thinks they are swell any time.

Here at McMenamins (where I am blogging this right now) they have an Irish style stout with a somewhat sweeter flavor than BBC's offering; it's nowhere as sweet as your usual American stout. Mike "Curly" White, McMenamin's brewmaster, tells me that they don't call their Irish stout a "dry" because of "that roastiness," which results in a little more residual sugars.

Beer drinkers in America think that dark beers, especially stouts and porters, should have high alcohol content. Which is really a pity, because a brewer can easily create flavorful ales with low alcohol content, and sell more of them before their clientèle fall on the floor or get into a fight ... or both.

McMenamins's Irish stout clocks in at a lowish 5% abv.

Cascade Lakes is said to be offering an Irish stout today, too, but they are not downtown and I find the place a little too cavernous and cafeteria-like to be comfortable.

Jack Says that if you are looking for a genuine dry Irish stout, I commend to you the BBC, but watch out for that higher alcohol content. If you like your stouts on the dry side but with a bit of roasty maltiness, hie thee to McMenamins.

Either way, with careful timing you will hear pipers and drummers tonight.

* Murphy's is a good example of a dry Irish stout, too.

** For reasons of senility I originally wrote "St. Francis's day." I have no excuse. I even studied how to possessivize "Francis." See Robert's comment at


  1. Sure, and that lovely picture makes me pine for the Ould Sod, that it does.

  2. If you are really under the delusion that you like that crap I have about 5 gallons of used motor oil that ought to do ya. Some of it's even Vanagon flavored.

  3. Jeepers, Robert. Ever got anything nice to say?

  4. Wow... outed me on the list! Or were you just trying to drum up another reader for your blog? heh

    Ok, I have a ...shall we say "caustic" sense of humor, and I guess I have been laying it on a little thick with you, but it's supposed to be in fun, or at least funny- I only poke at people I like (insamuch as you can like somebody you've never met). I apologize.

    You gotta wonder, tho, what it means that the two people that most often comment here are myself and blackdog. He ain't exactly a ray of sunshine either. : )
    Must be something in your personality, eh? hehe

    Y'know, I did compliment your writing once. Doesn't that count for anything? :/

  5. What a minute . . . I know who this is. The creepy photo is a dead giveaway. P-mail on its way.

  6. Geez, now who has nothing nice to say? What's creepy about it?

    My wife and at least two other people have said the same thing, btw. : /

    One guy said it made me look gay (because my beard was neatly trimmed), but he's one of those homophobes that sees queerness wherever he looks.

    "Anonymous" was probably me; I couldn't remember my blogger password- just in case I said something then that yanked your chain as well. ; )


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