Rip City Brewery # 1 – Ruse Brewing

Portland has not blazed out of the NBA gates to start the season but a brewery that has gotten a lot of buzz is Ruse Brewing. Founded by Shaun Kallis and Devin Benware they are deep into the yeast having “custom Brett strains called Stargazer and Suburban Brett”

Here are the beers that I would put into a first taster tray…

Evertide Helles Lager, Phantom Shore Citra Extra Pale Ale, Dreamscape Blended Saison, Dream Language Vienna Lager and Stages of Sundown Imperial Stout.

San Diego Brewery # 1 – Toolbox Brewing

It seems like at least once, if not twice, a year, my monthly brewery feature travels to San Diego. 2015 is no exception as more breweries are firing up their kettles. So let’s get started….

I give extra gold stars to breweries that can incorporate multiple meanings to a name especially if it is a (to me at least) obscure reference to a city skyline which is the case for Toolbox Brewing in San Diego. I don’t particularly see it but others look at San Diego and see an “Allen wrench, Phillips Head and Flathead screwdrivers and a chisel.” It is also a reference to the military history of the area as well which is a cool nod.

Toolbox focuses on small and brett, in no particular order. And these are the beers that I would put in my taster tray (which I assume will have a tool theme):

GRASS FED LETTUCE – Dry Hopped Blonde Sour Brett

MINI MUDDER – Milk Stout

MY COUSIN, STRAWBERRY – Wild Brett Beer w/ Strawberries


THE VIRGIN CHERRY – Tart Cherry Wild Ale

Up From the Cellar – Supplication from Russian River Brewing


I finally broke down and brought up a Russian River beer, Supplication.  Which the brewery website describes as a “Brown Ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It is aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel. Flavors from the cherries, Pinot Noir and oak balance each other nicely with a little funk from the brett.”

This beer has a 100% rating on Ratebeer.  So it must be good.  Here is my thumbnail review from 2010, “All I can say is TART. A great sipper filled with cherries in every sip. Only downside to me is that it really dries out the tongue. Had to have water handy to re-hydrate.”


The aroma of this beer is big. Kombucha style tartness just fills the nasal passages. This is, for sure, not a gateway sour. There is a bit of pie cherry in the nose but it is second fiddle to the sour.

There is a bit of Sweet Tart powdery sour notes in the first sip. Cherry is there as well. But there is something in the nose that just tastes off. Too vinegary at this point. If you search past the sour, there is a tiny bit of tannic flavor and a smidge of oak. But you gotta hunt that down.


The Verdict? I think this one passed prime and is sliding inexorably downward. The various bugs have gone too far with this particular bottle. Adding one off flavor that upsets the balance.

Up From the Cellar – Brux Domesticated Wild Ale from Russian River & Sierra Nevada


Refermented in the bottle with Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brux will change and develop over time. Copper-colored, dry and complex, with slightly tart notes of green grass, pear, spice and lemon – this ale will progress in the bottle for many years.

That is part of the brewery description of the domesticated wild ale collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Russian River.


Back in July of 2012, I had these superlatives for the beer when I sampled it at the Surly Goat: “This is one tremendous beer. Pours a slightly hazy yellow. Barnyard funk greets the nose but does not overwhelm. The taste is sprightly with some funk and sour melding together. Some fruit notes tag along for the ride as well.”

But what do I think now that is has aged a bit.  Can it possibly get better?

Short answer.  No.  Not that the orange color that replaced the hazy yellow is an issue.  Nor is their a diminishment of barnyard funk.  What has changed and not for the better in my view is that last bit of fruit has faded off into the sunset and for sunrise there is a bit of a band-aid note at the back end that is a bit gacky on the palate.  And by gacky, I mean a flavor that erases the goodwill that came before and replaces it with a slightly rubber taste.  There is a nice tartness here though and the first 85% of the beer is fine even though it doesn’t reach the heights of 2012.

The Verdict?  Maybe this beer was in a trough.  Some beers go through phases (like a teenager) where they are unlikeable.  Would another year make this better? Or improve where it is?  Won’t know now but that is the fun of experimenting with beer aging.  The unknown.




Smog Collaborations

Smog City has (2) collaborations on shelves……

“We teamed up with the awesome people at The Bruery and the result is “Atomic Kangarue”: a dry-hopped sour ale brewed with 2 types of grape must and fermented with Brett.”


….and on tap is “the North vs. South “California Love” Collaboration with 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. This Imperial Red brewed with citrus and Pinot Noir grapes will be making a simultaneous return on September 9th (to celebrate the day California became a state!) at both our taproom and the 21 Amendment pub in San Francisco.”

Yeast + Mikkeller

Mikkeller is going back to yeast school for us. I have expounded often on my love of the single hop series of beers as well as the single barrel series. I have not, as of yet, had any of the yeast series that was done. But apparently Round 2 is coming.

One basic recipe that stays the same but the yeast changes from saison to lager to English pale to American Pale to two Brett strains. And even the label is cool.

The good kind of Shenanigans

In the last Session, I wrote of my fondness for the surprise beer. The one that comes out of nowhere and makes you sit up straighter. Well, surprises happens to brewers as well, and that is where Odell and Shenanigans comes into play…
“Our spirited brewers diligently cultivate recipes on our pilot brewing playground. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as planned…they turn out better. Destined for another adventure, this delightful crimson ale is aged in oak with just a touch of Brettanomyces. The subtle Brett tartness balances the rich amber malt with hints of dried fruit and light citrus. Our ode to the happy accident, Shenanigans was just too good not to share.”

Saboteur from Odell

What do you get when you create a brown ale then dose it with Brett yeast. You get this…

I like this type of experimentation. Maybe it will bring back people to simple, satisfying ales like the brown or amber.