of the Lazy Literatus

Tag: teabeer

A Pre-Super Bowl Kombucha Beer?


Alright, I’ll make this quick. Most of you have a sports event to go to. At least, most of you in the States, anyway. Why am I posting a blog on Super Bowl  Sunday? Well, this story sort of ties into it – a tea(ish) one.

I have this friend – we’ll call him…uh…ah, hell with it, his name is Jeremy. Anyway, Jeremy and his wife throw Super Bowl parties every year. They are quite well-renowned for their nachos. Oh lord, the nachos.

epic nacho

Moving on.

This year, I didn’t think I would be able to attend because of my work schedule. The best I could hope for was getting off early. That was the case last year, and maybe such a miracle would occur this time as well.

On Friday, my boss pulled me aside to show me the new schedule, and said, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t get you two days off in a row this week.”

I took a deep breath and looked. My eyes widened.

“You gave me Sunday off?!” I practically yelled. “Sweet! There’s someplace I have to be.”

I relayed the good news to Jeremy, he texted back with the address (since I never seem to remember where he lives).

I asked if he wanted me to bring anything.

He said, “The brew of your choosing would suffice.”

Mission in hand, I hit one of my nearby specialty beer haunts – Birra Deli – to do some hunting. Jeremy had a preference for ciders and red ales. Finding the right ones would be a chore, though. That and I was a horrible judge of cider quality. If it tasted anything like apple and not – well – ass, I generally liked it.

Birra Deli

Image mooched from Birra Deli’s Facebook page.

My search, though, was sidelined when I looked at the beers on top. Topping the list was something that made my eyes glaze over. Four words: “Kombucha Mama Apple Sass”. Eureka! A teabeer! I thought. As some of you well know, I’m sort of an amateur expert on the subject.

I ordered one, took a sip, and was greeted by something that tasted like a hard apple cider only more syrupy and…well…fermented. It almost reminded me of an apple ale I tried months ago, only sweeter. Like someone had taken several Red Deliciouses and plopped them in a boiling keg. I sipped lovingly as I continued my search.

Six beers bought, and a pint swigged, I left there with only the slightest hint of a buzz. I wondered how much alcohol that supposed kombucha ale had. Well…

Kombucha Beer

I arrived home, stuck the six-pack in the fridge, and went online to check out Kombucha Mama’s website. What I had drunk was just…regular kombucha. No alcohol in it. At all. Well, save for the .01% ABV caused by the fermentation. But why did it taste different from other kombuchas I’d tried? And what the hell was it doing in a bar?!

Turns out the way Kombucha Mama did their “tea” was slightly different. That and they marketed to bars as part of their business model. Not sure what alchemic process they administered, but their kombucha had more in common with mulled cider than the cold-brewed tea-‘n-bacteria cocktails I was associated with. Sure, the main process was the same, but there was something they did that shook it up a little. Most kombuchas have a hint of vinegar to them; the Apple Sass did not.

I had normal kombucha, and my brain had thought I was actually buzzed on beer.

Scumbag Brain

Nay, I was tea-drunk. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but no brain cells died in the process. Just pride.

I amended a tweet I’d made about the supposed kombucha beer.

I received a reply that went like this:


An image of sixty Scoby mothers coalescing into one being and doing this came to mind.

Hello, my honey!

I’ll take my imaginary beer buzz, thanks.

“Tea, Beer and Bingley” – The Teabeer Trilogy, Book 1


This last Friday was the rarest of occurrences. It preceded an actual weekend off. I hadn’t had a weekend off since…uh…a long time ago. For once, a Friday was my Friday. While I did have plans on Saturday and Sunday, I hadn’t planned on any activity for Friday night.

Then my friend, NinjaSpecs, chimed in via text with, “Informal birthday thing tonight at the Green Dragon.”

Well, so much for no plans.

The Green Dragon is one of those bars where you take people to get a crash course in local Portland culture. Want a wide variety of breweries to choose from? Green Dragon. Want to play “Spot the Hipster”? Green Dragon. Want a teabeer? Green Dragon.

The last one was my reason for going. I was on a mission to track down a certain teabeer, and – hopefully – run into other things by accident. It was a reliable enough assessment.

The rest of the party were running late, but the moment I checked out the beer menu…I knew what I was having. The Green Dragon has an aptly-dubbed “botanical brewery” attached to it called Buckman. They’re often known for doing teabeers and other concoctions, including a to-die-for green tea mead. Today, not only did they have the mead, but they were also featuring a Roobios Red Ale.

I ordered a pint.


It tasted exactly as the name implied. The introduction and top notes were all red ale with no hoppy kick, followed smoothly by a wood-sweet finish – a red rooibos requisite. Rooibos is not my favorite my tisane, and red-style ales are usually a good standby, but the combination here worked really well. Another beer boast for Buckman.

The rest of the birthday gathering arrived about an hour later. I was already one pint in. Drinks and dialogues flowed throughout the night. I even welcomed a teardrop glass of the Buckman’s Green Tea Mead. It was different this time; it tasted like a sweet apple cider. Took me a moment to figure out what was different about it, but then it hit me – no jasmine!

Such a decision could only stem from the fact that Rogue – the folks that owned The Green Dragon (and Buckman by proxy) – were putting out their own jasmine green tea mead dubbed “Rogue Farms 19 Colonies”. No matter. This was better than their previous exploits, anyway.

I hadn’t “college student” partied like that in years. It also didn’t help that the waitress was hot, and told me of a “secret tap” that was not on the menu. Said worst kept secret was a triple-IPA named “Notorious”, from Boneyard Brewing out of Bend. It tasted like grapefruit and…awesome. What a way to cap the outing.


The birthday party had extended from The Green Dragon to one of the party participant’s houses, and some whiskey was involved. I only did one shot…but that was enough. The rest of the night belonged to water, and a vial of aspirin I had on hand as an emergency.

Still didn’t prevent the feeling of “uuuugh” the next morning. The worst part? I was supposed to attend a neighborhood beer party that evening.

By “neighborhood”, I don’t mean my neighborhood. Well, it used to be mine before I had to move over the summer. When I lived with my brother – prior to his marriage – there used to be monthly beer parties at the neighbor’s place. Sometimes we would host as well.

I hadn’t attended one since June because I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore. However, my brother informed me that he was hosting the October gathering, and that the other folks were wondering about me. I decided to give it a go this time. Kinda had to, since I was also the one that helped come up with October’s theme: “Dark beer”.


After running a few errands, picking up the beers per my contribution, and finding a quick bite to eat, I headed to my brother’s a little early. I even passed on a reminder to NinjaSpecs about the gathering. He was the dark beer sort. More the merrier.

The night was…a blast.

It was good seeing the old neighborhood gang again, and encountering a few new faces at the table. The biggest surprise was the quality of stuff everybody brought. Bourbon barrel-aged Velvet Merkin, regular Velvet Merlin, Back in Black…it was like a pantheon of all the best darks I’d ever had. All in one sitting.

Before everyone parted ways, we agreed on a theme for November: “Anything but pumpkin beers.”

Because…f**k pumpkin.


Thanks to my brother, I was able to epilogue the night with some chamomile to chase down the aspirin. This was in preparation for the last leg of my weekend. The arrival of one “Lady Bingley” (or at least that’s what I’m calling her) – purveyor Bingley’s Teas. I was due to pick her up at the airport that morning. After that, the goals were twofold – have tea and track down teabeer. She’d never had teabeer before.

Our first stop was the Tao of Tea’s main shop in S.E. Portland, one I hadn’t been to in a few years. She ordered a roasted Taiwanese oolong (of some sort), and I opted for an Darjeeling-ish offering – Kali Cha. The Indian black was light but pretty good, the roasted oolong was…well, let’s just say I was tea drunk by the end of it.


The second stop was an attempted teabeer jaunt to The Green Dragon. They’d told me there was going to be a pumpkin ale fest that day, but had informed me that they would allow growler fills of anything not pumpkin. I had wrongly assumed we could nurse a growler on the premises if we did so. Unfortunately, the bartenders informed us that was not possible for fear of “chaos”.

I said it once, I’ll say it again: “F**k pumpkin.”

We opted instead for the brewery adjacent to the Dragon – Cascade Barrel House. They specialized in Belgian-style sour ales, and Lady Bingley hadn’t tried one before. I don’t quite recall what we had offhand, but we both took a liking to the bourbon barrel-aged offering.

So did Mini Jane Austen.


Last on our “list” was a jaunt to the Belmont Station, a bottle shop/bar with a pretty decent selection. I was too stubborn to admit defeat on our teabeer quest, and hoped that Dog Fish Head’s Sah’Tea would be there. The cashier, unfortunately, told us they stopped carrying it.

Luckily, they did have an iced tea mead I’d never heard of – from a meadery in Portland, Maine! Ram Island. Both Lady Bingley and I agreed that it tasted like a lemon-wedged iced tisane. No detraction by any means. I’ve liked my fair share of iced tisanes, and this one had a kick. Oh yeah, that was the alcohol.


Lady Bingley’s friend (and host) for her Portland trip met us at Belmont, and we retired to her residence for one last tea leg. Lady B had in her possession, a 30-year-old black tea from Taiwan. What can I say; it was nothing short of exquisite. It calmed the caffeine and alcohol tussle going on in my head, returning me to some sense of Zen after the frenzy of the weekend.


But this was just the beginning…

Continued in Book 2.

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