BEER Styles – A Reference

Over the last year, we have been writing on the various styles of beer.  With the opening of our new shop, Jens was excited to expand the beer selection.  And boy, did he!  We have over 75 styles of imported and domestic beers.  There is also a few ciders in there too!  Compiled here are the educational and tasting notes.  Enjoy!!

Stout | Porter

By roasting malts and barley one produces a dark beer.  Stouts were a generic term for the strongest (stoutest) of porters- 7-8% ABV.  There are several different styles of Stouts, yet the Dry Irish is the standard.

beer_stout_roasted malts

Old World vs New World
Inspired from English & Irish Stouts, the American Stout has lots of innovation and originality.  Not tied down by tradition methods one could find barrel aging, coffee and chocolate additives, or even excessive hop.  Typically balanced, easy drinking with an average (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%

Dry Irish Stout is most classic with a lighter body, lower carbonation and typically a nitro system for creamy testure.  Bitter at times from roasted barely.

beer_stout_image malt

Imperial — Russian Imperial is the original term, coined for the export to Catherine II of Russia.  ABV is 9% or higher.
Baltic — another style or Imperial, however cool fermented (lager).  Found in the Baltic regions, especially Poland.
Oyster —  with the actual use of oysters, yes.  Traditionally, oysters were standard plates in public houses and taverns.
Chocolate — No, sorry, typically no chocolate additive here.  However, the malt is toasted until it presents a chocolately flavor and color.  There are a few brew houses that add chocolate flavoring, but it is not the common practice.
Oatmeal- with a maximum of 30% oats it lends to a bitter taste.
Irish or Dry — The standard for stout with a dryer taste.  Guinness is a prime example.
Milk — Residual sugar (lactose) that is not fermentable by beer yeast.  Sweet, rich and supposedly nutrious.

In Stock now:

Guinness Dublin Ireland  $2.19 bottle 16.9 fl oz
Stone Brewing Smoked Porter San Diego CA $5.49 bottle 18 oz
Reubens Robust Porter Ballard WA $5.69 bottle 16.6 fl oz
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Imperial Stout Fort Bragg CA $2.89 bottle 12 fl oz
No Li Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout Spokane WA $2.89 bottle 12 fl oz

For the Love of Belgian Beers

Aromatic, yeasty, spicy and fruity- Belgian beers are so diverse in their flavor profiles.  And rich!  What would be better for a time a year that we delve into feasting with our family and friends?!

Belgian history
Dating back to the Crusades as a nutritious and “more sterile than water” alternative beverage, the abbeys utilized the funds collected to take care of their lands and monasteries.

beer_belgium_ monk tasting

The brewery must be operated on and (partially) by a Trappist monastery.  These are Trappist breweries from around the world:  Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren

Abbey breweries have a bit more flexibility with the main clause that a portion of profits are under the abbey’s jurisdiction.  It can be produced by a non-Trappist monastery or under commercial arrangement with monastery as well as just branded with either a defunct or made up abbey and produced by a a commercial brewer.  Of course, these are all registered, and as of 2011 there are 18 Abbey beers produced.


There are several styles of Belgian beers from golden to brown to saison to lambic and each one has a style of glass to go with it!  The typical style is a tulip glass.  Lambics and fruit beers are served in flute style vessels.  Chalices and goblets are also common glasses- usually used with ales.

Currently in stock:

Rochefort Trappist $7.69 bottle | 11.2 fl oz– Amber-brown color, foamy head, fruits of banana, figs and  raisins; subtle black espresso, spice and bitterness
La Chouffe Ale $4.99 | 11.2 fl oz — Golden hazy with yeasty and bready aromas, spices of clove, cinammon and coriander, fruits of apricot, banana, summer pears and lemon citrus.
Huyghe Brewing– Delirium Trememns Strong Ale  $7.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Golden color with earthy notes such as grass, banana, orange rind and anjou pears, cloves and wheat.
Huyghe Brewing– Delirium Nocturnum   $7.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Dark brown with red hues, fruits of raison, fig plums and baked apples, intriguing notes of brown sugar, tobacco leaf, earth and cocoa.
Westmalle Trappist $6.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Dark brown with mahogny hints, layered fruit components of cherries, plums, raisons and sweet caramel fudge brownies; Notable hints of coffee, roasted malt and hazelnut as well.
Corsendonk pater Dubbel $4.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Dark brown with ruby red tones, very subtle fruit for a Belgian- prunes, cooked cherries, raisons; distinctive notes of toasted malts and toffee.
Chimay Premiere $12.99 | 25.4 fl oz — Dark brown with red hues, expressive fruits- raspberry, cherries, baked pears, plum with sweet notes such as fudge, caramel, toffee and brown sugar as well as rustic herbs and hops- tea leaves and yeast.

Image Credit


Lagern means “to store” in German.  Lagers are brewed with bottom fermenting yeast which works slowly at cold temperatures then is stored at cool temperature to mature. Lager yeast produces fewer by-product characteristics.  International (OLD WORLD) vs American (NEW WORLD) Lagers are distinct as the yeast and hops are a different style.

Old world hops and Saazer hops- spicy, herbal and earthy.  American hops and new world hops- more fruit= berries, melon, grapes.


Czechvar, Czech Republic– Golden, medium light body, moderate carbonation.  Grain, grass and dough
Dortmunder aka DAB, Germany —  Mild but bold.  Balanced of malts and earthy grains with a light touch of hops.  Clean and refreshing.  Originally, founded in 1868 by the businessmen Laurenz Fischer and Heinrich and Friedrich Mauritz together with master brewer Heinrich Herberz, the name was Herberz & Co Brewery (Bierbrauerei Herberz & Co.) until it went public in 1881.
NW Brewing Hawk One Pacific, WA — Grass and grainy sweetness.  Pale and unobtrusive.
OKOCIM or OK Beer, Poland — Sweet breadiness, corn and caramel. Pale golden goodness.
Primator, Czech Republic — Fresh hay, malt, bedding straw, honey and biscuits.
Staropramen, Czech Republic — Malt madness- skunky, herbaceous and bready.
Zywiec, Poland — Corn, grains, honey, light citrus and malty notes.  Simple.

image credit:

Amber Ale | New World

Originally a spin off of an American Pale ale, the American Amber ales have a high hop rate with a bit more body. Typically reddish with more floral hops aromas than an Irish red ales.

beer_ amber malt and summer hops

Tasting notes:  A  balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness, caramel/crystal malt flavor. Medium to high hop rate and aroma. Medium body. Light copper to brown in color. Moderate carbonation.

Pike Brewing Heirloom Amber Ale Seattle, WA  Balanced amber ale with biscuit malt and herbaceous hop character.  IBU: 32 ABV: 5.00%   $1.79 12 fl oz. 1989 and Charles and Rose Ann Finkel opened their own brewery in The Pike Place Market of Seattle. Having fallen in love with the many beers of Europe, they were inspired to bring back home a different style of beer. They also pioneered a beer & wine importing business.

Stone Brewing Company Leviation Amber Ale
  Escondido, CA   Grassy, fresh, hoppy nose. Bitter hop, with an smooth earthy finish, and a smooth slightly carbonated. ABV: 4.40%

Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale
Boonville, CA  Deep copper hue and contribute a slight caramel sweetness while the herbal, spicy bitterness from carefully selected whole-cone hops impart a crisp, clean finish.  IBU: 16 ABV 5.8%

Hilliards Amber Ale
Ballard, WA  A bit cloudy with a big, bright hop presence.  IBU: 46  ABV: 5.5%

Image credit:

Imperial Pale Ale

The golden hoppiness of the beer world under double rainbows of NW gladness…  all began from Englishmen attempting to transport beer to and from India in the 1800’s.  The beer of choice in those days was not  pale ale but porters.  But porters went flat or were consumed quickly by sailors.  Solution:  add some hops and increase the alcohol content!


Here is a tidbit of our IPA selection in the coolers at Portalis.

Reubens, Ballard WA IMPERIAL RYE IPA  ABV: 8.4% IBU: 80+ Intense citrus and floral aroma followed by a smooth medium full mouth feel. Citrus leads the flavor profile, with rye spice and bitterness coming through in the finish.

No Li, Spokane WA BORN & RAISED IPA  7% ABV IBU 85 Malt: 2-row, Crystal, Munich; Hops: Cascade, Columbus, Chinook, Northern Brewer, Cluster; Dry-Hopping: Columbus, Cascade  Big, bold copper supportive body with citrus and piney flavors, a hint of mint.

Fremont, Fremont WA INTERURBAN IPA, ABV: 6.2%  IBU: 80 2-Row Pale, Munich, and Honey malts with Chinook, Centennial, and Amarillo hops. Roasted pale malt swirled with flavor malts and filled with the rich spices.

Ninkasi, Eugene OR TRICERAHOPS ABV 8%  IBU 100  Malts: 2-Row Pale , Munich, Carahell; Hops: Chinook, Cascade, Summit, Centennial, Palisade Double everything you already love in an IPA.  Fiercely flavorful.  Earthy, floral hop aroma and flavor with body and higher alcohol however  the beer can be deceiving as it is very smooth.

ENJOY! History_ IPA History _ IPA

Weißbier or Witbier?  

Wheat Beers are produced with up to 60% wheat instead of barley (German law requires at least 50%).  Typically, they are cloudy and unfiltered.


Weißbier (German – “white beer”) is a light coloured top-fermenting beer.  Hefe Weizen literally, “yeast-wheat”- banana, vanilla, smokey and clove.  Notable producers are Erdinger, Paulaner, Franziskaner, Weihenstephaner, Maisel.  These can also be classified Dunkel/Dark Weizen (dark) or Kristall Weizen (filtered, crystal clear)

Witbier (Belgian – “white beer”) has flavors such as coriander and orange peel and are often made with raw unmalted wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat used in other varieties. Hoegaarden Original White Ale Brouwerij van Hoegaarden is an outstanding producer.

When serving a bottled unfiltered wheat beer hold the glass on an angle and pour slowly. With about 10% or 15% left swirl smoothly to suspend the yeast, then add to improve the flavor, scent and appearance.
Bavarian-style 500 ml, vase-shaped glasses. Berliner Weiße is often served in a schooner.
Kristallweizen (especially in Austria and American) served with a slice of lemon or orange in the glass; this is generally frowned upon in Bavaria.[7]
Witbier is usually served in a 25cl glass

Currently in stock:
Weihenstephan  Munich, Germany $3.79 12.9 fl oz
Pair with fish and seafood, with spicy cheese and especially with the traditional Bavarian veal sausage

Bavarian Monastery from the early 700’s lived through wars, earthquakes, the plague and industrialization.

Maisel Weisse Bayreuth, Germany  $3.19  16.9fl oz
Classic clove spices, wheat nuances and nutmeg.  Roasted meats, musky cheeses and sausage.
Erdinger Oktoberfest Weissbrau Erdig Germany $1.59 11.2fl oz
Bananas, cloves, citrus, bread-yeast and velvety character.  Clean finish.  Enjoy  on its own or with stew.


In the midst of this heat, the soft, clean and refreshing pilsner beckons…
Pilsner originates from the city of Plzen, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. The original Pilsner Urquell beer is still produced there.  As a pale lager, it is fermented slow and cool, producing delicately flavored beers.

beer_pilsner_ malt

Here are three traditional styles:
German-style Pilsner: light straw to golden color with more bitter or earthy taste:
Jever (2.19 11.2 fl oz)
Veltins (1.89 11.2 fl oz)
Warsteiner (1.69 11.2 fl oz)
Wurzberg (1.89 11.2 fl oz)
Radeberger (2.39 11.2 fl oz)

Czech-style Pilsner: golden, full of colors, with high foaminess and lighter flavour  Pilsner Urquell, Radegast

European-style Pilsner has a slightly sweet taste, can be produced from other than barley malt  Dutch: Amstel, Grolsch, Heineken. Belgian: Stella Artois (2.89 11.2 fl oz)

Wild and zany, lambics are beers that ferment spontaneously in Belgium.  That is, without brewers yeast, but with wild yeast strains such as Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus.  Once the wort is produced, it is set out to cool in the open air so to meet up with the yeast in the environment.  Typically done during the winter and spring months, as it is has a lengthily aging process and summer months are more apt to grow other organisms.  Once fermentation begins, the lambic is then transferred to barrels (sherry or wine) and aged for one to several years.

beer_lambic barrels

Styles of Lambic
• Gueuze: mixture of one year-old and two year-old lambics,  fermentation in bottle for a year.
• Mars: no longer produced commercially, this lambic is a seconds off of an original brewing.
• Faro: Brown sugar, caramel or molasses sweetened, this is a mixture of lambic and a lighter brewed beer.  Sometimes fresh herbs are added.  It is pasteurized to stop fermentation in the bottle.
• Fruit:  These do have secondary bottle fermentation.  Styles include:  Kriek (sour Morello cherries), Framboise (raspberry) and other fruit lambics

Brewery Krušovice

When Jens and I lived in Dresden in the mid-90s, we were only an hour away from the Czech border and we regularly would take little day trips into the Czech countryside, enjoy the beautiful scenery, the friendly people and we’d always stop for lunch at a little roadside café and have the local beer & fare.  On one of these days, we landed in Krušovice.  It had a pretty, quiet, little town square and just outside of town, we had a delicious lunch with braised pork, something akin to a knödel and what I remember as a noteworthy beer!  Today you can drink that delicious Schwarzbier at Portalis.  It’s a great food beer:  rich with lots of flavor without being heavy, smooth with a nice malty finish.  Get ready, Chef Tracey’s getting ready to put the perfect food pairing on the menu:  HOMEMADE PORK SAUSAGE with mashed potatoes and caramelized onion & apple … welcome fall!

If you’re interested in learning more about the beer and the brewery, which was established in 1517 by Jiří Birka, here’s MORE>


A tribute to a great beer: Radeberger Pilsner

When we first moved from Dresden to Seattle in the fall of 1999, I remember going to our little neighborhood pub, asking for a good local pilsner, and having the guy matter-of-factly say: oh, we don’t serve any light beer.  It was confusing.  The standard local drinking beer in Germany – village or city – is pilsner.  It is lighter in color, but it’s full of flavor & bite (the best part!), which is what makes it so good with food, be that bratwurst or BBQ.

Radeberger Pilsner is Dresden’s shining star of pilsners … or should I say Radeberg’s shining star, as Radeberg is a village (now a suburb) on the northwestern edge of the city, on your way to the Meissener wine country which is several more villages out on the same road.  Jens and I moved to Dresden at the end of December 1994 for him to start his residency in January of the new year.  It had already been 5 years since the wall had come down, but you would never have known it.  The East German autobahns were in the early stages of being rebuilt (since Hitler’s originals in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s) which was one of the first big capital projects (and one that had still not been completed when we left a decade later) and the city sat in its sad, gray, dilapidated state for several more years after we arrived before the funding came through for the rebuilding to begin. 

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-60015-0002 / Löwe / CC-BY-SA

We arrived in Dresden after dark that December day, and I remember Jens driving me down to the Altmarkt to see the famous ruins of the bombed Frauenkirche.  It was snowing, and the huge flakes were falling slowly over the partially standing walls of the church, still perched within the remaining fallen stones.  The Frauenkirche has since been rebuilt, an impressive technical feat as all the stones that were still in the town square at the start of the project (some 50 years after its demise on the evening of February 13, 1945) were chronicled in a sort of outdoor stone museum and then reused in the rebuilding in each of their original positions.

After stopping downtown, we arrived at our little student housing accommodations on Bodelschwingstrasse, the photos of Eric Honecker and Fidel Castro still hanging in the stairwell.  Most of the buildings in our area had not been destroyed in the bombing of Dresden, but through lack of money & upkeep during the ensuing years of communism, they were condemned, awaiting money from West Germany to arrive so that they could be renovated and made livable again.  (From the East German perspective they would be made unaffordable and therefore still  unusable for the locals.) 

Friedrichstadt, Fall 1995

There were few restaurants in the town when we first arrived, a legacy of not allowing public places to gather. But right in our neighborhood, next to the hospital, was Riesa Efau, an underground students’ club which had thrived as a meeting place under the old regime and continued to do so after German reunification.  It was small and thick with smoke every time you entered.  The mood (by Dresden standards) was generally festive, the food was cheap & good (with 2-3 items on the menu any given night), and the beer was Radeberger, served in tall, thin, upright German glass mugs.  Radeberger (along with Meissener wine) was one of the few items that the locals could sell to West Germans for hard currency during East German times.  And there was a reason it was so sought after as it’s some of the best out there:  fresh, with mild flavors of herb & citrus and a nice hoppy bite.  It wasn’t available in Seattle when we first moved back, but in the last years it has been imported to this area.  Whenever I drink beer (which isn’t that often anymore), it always takes me back.

Hope you get a chance to try it!  And better yet, I hope you get a chance to try it in Dresden.  You won’t have the experience we did in the early years after reunification (today, it would take some luck to see a Trabi), but the “Pearl on the Elbe” is still a jewel, closer now to its former, pre-World War II glory.


The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest – Ein Prosit zur Gemütlichkeit

Oktoberfest is one of the most famous events in the world… and by the way the world’s biggest fair on Munich’s Theresienwiese.  About 6 million people from all over the world attend the Oktoberfest.

Munich’s historic beer bash began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig (Neuschwanstein [the Disney Castle] – anybody?) in 1810.  The prince later turned into the Mad King, or if you ask my kids the “Nut” King, but don’t blame the beer!  This year is the 200th anniversary!  Since its beginning, Oktoberfest has been cancelled only 24 times due to war, diseases and other emergencies.

In 1880, electrical light illuminated over 400 booths and tents. (Albert Einstein helped install light bulbs in the Schottenhamel Tent (still exists) as an apprentice in his uncle’s electricity business.)  In 1881, booths started selling bratwursts. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892.

Visitors eat huge amounts of hearty fare such as grilled Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roasted pork), Schweinshaxe (ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstel (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzen (chesse noodles with onions), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut & Blaukraut (red cabbage), along with other special Bavarian dishes like Obatzda (a spiced cheese & butter spread) & the famous Weisswurst (white sausage).  Hungry yet?

This all goes down well with beer!  And Oktoberfest is all about the beer.   About 7 million liters of beer (127,000 liters are non-alcoholic) & 80,000 liters of wine are consumed.  As the days begin to shorten, here are some good beer suggestions you could check out at Portalis:

Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

While not quite among the top ranks of German brews, it’s pretty gulpable, which, after all, is the whole point of Oktoberfest.  Slightly malty with notes of caramel & toffee. Light spicy, bitter hops on the finish.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock $5.50
This is like a Grimm Brothers fairy tale: raw, meaty, tempting & dangerous (goes down way too easy). Flavors of roasted malts, caramel, molasses & dark chocolate. Sweet & tangy with the right amount of bitterness. Magnificient!

Ayinger Jahrhundertbier $6.00
A Helles Lager from the same brewery. Made for the 100 year anniversary of the brewery. Bright, grassy, floral, grainy, with slightly hop bitterness. Dry, crisp finish. This classic Bavarian beer leaves you craving more.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen (Weissbier) $6.50
Hazy golden Hefeweizen fom Bavaria. Flavors of citrus, banana, bread & spices , with a hint of cinnamon. Light & refreshing! Bring on the Weisswurst.

Thirsty?  Slap on your Lederhosen or your Dirndl & polka at Portalis!

Jens (owner of Portalis & yes, a native German!)

Stone Brewing Co. with Jeff Porter

Stone Brewing_Jeff Porter_052009_mediumWith nice weather around the corner (hopefully), we’re heading into beer season.  I’m thinking big fans of Stone (and there are plenty) are year round beer drinkers, but for many of our customers, warmer weather puts them in the mood.  Something like what happens with rosé.

We were pleased to welcome Jeff Porter to lead us through the tasting.  He’s the NW Regional Brewery Representative and a knowledgable beer drinker who led us through the tasting as the best of the wine guys would.  Lots of swirling, sniffing, (low key) talk of aromas, and even food pairings.  It was a lot of fun and kind of gave me (a hard-core wine drinker) the beer bug. 

A little on Jeff ...
He’s been with Stone Brewing about three years, the first two as a rep in San Diego and now as the NW brewery representative in our neck of the woods.  He was a home-brewer before going professional with his hobby, and he’s originally from Van Nuys (LA).

A little about Stone Brewing …
The Stone Brewing Co. was started by two beer-lovers: Steve Wagner (beer-lover/brewer) and Greg Koch (beer-lover/business guy).  They boast that between the two of them they have visited (and drunk beer at) over 140 different breweries in the US & Europe.  Long story short, they got some investors and in summer 1996 they tapped their first beer – Stone Pale Ale.  Since then they’ve developed a nice healthy cult following of people who love their brews.  Here are the beers we tasted & some tasting notes to go with:

Levitation Pale Ale (12oz)$4.00/case $3.20 
Notes: This beer is a new one for Stone Brewing and enjoyed its national release the same day as our tasting, and apparently it has taken off.  Jeff said that in the week since the launch that they’ve gone from producing 1 vat a week to 5.  It’s deep amber in color with big hoppy flavors and a solid malt backbone.  At 4.4%, it enjoys a lower alcohol content.  

Arrogant Bastard Ale (22oz)$7.00/case $5.60 
Notes: The first words Stone uses to describe this beer on the website, is: “You probably won’t like it”.  Jeff was a little friendlier, calling it aggressive. Now I only had a 1-oz sip of this beer, but I liked it.  It was a little in you face, but it was interesting and you knew where it stood. It’s classified as an American Strong Ale and it’s characterized by strong malty, hoppy flavors.
Stone IPA (22oz) $7.50/case $6.00 
Notes: India Pale Ale is by definition higher in hops and alcohol. Stone IPA has both strong aromas and flavors of hops creating a pleasantly bitter experience.
Cali Belgique IPA (22oz) ~ limited ~ $11.00/case $8.80 
Notes:  Stone’s brewers went and hung out at Duvel in Belgium and visited other Belgian breweries to see how they created this type of beer.  What they ended up with is their Stone IPA recipe with a special Belgian yeast strain, creating an interesting new beer, a fusion of Belgian style with American influences.  The Cali Belgique IPA is a little sweeter than the Stone IPA, with flavors of coriander & orange peel.   

Old Guardian Barley Wine (22oz) ~ limited ~ $11.00/case $8.80 
Notes: Barley wines can be sweet, and this one is, but the sweetness is offset by the bitterness of the hops, making for well-balanced experience. You also get nice orange, citrusy flavors from the hops. Can drink now or store for several years.  

Stone Smoked Porter (22oz) $7.50/case $6.00 
Notes: This was a rich, dark brown beer, with suble flavors of smoke from the peat smoked malt (similar to how scotch is made), chocolate and coffee. This is a great food beer. Delicious with roasted meats & BBQ(due to the smoky flavors), but also recommends going sweet.  They serve jalapeno blue cheese smoked porter cheesecake at the brewery that he says is killer.     

Stone Imperial Russian Stout (22oz) $11.00/case $8.80 
Notes:  This Russian Stout ranks top 3 in the world.  It’s a massive beer, hoppy (as all Stone’s beers are), but with lovely, slightly sweet flavors of licorice and chocolate.  At the tasting, we tried both a 2007 & 2009, to see the difference.  As with wine, the older vintage was smoother, more mellow.

A little tip that Jeff gave re: whether or not to lay beer down …
Drink IPA as fresh as possible.  Bigger beers with higher alcohol and higher hops content can be cellared for a few years.  Are they better after a little time?  That’s for you to decide …

Contributor:  Julie Howe