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Sipping With Schonz': Pyramid's Brew Honors Portland Legend Bill Schonely

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Blazer's Edge visits a local brewery to discover the wonders of Schonz' Red Session Ale.

This week we sent intrepid news sleuth Gaz on a mission to Portland Brewing Company's Taproom, to try out the new Schonz' Red Session Ale from the Pyramid label. It's a hard life, but somebody's got to do these things, right? Here's the report from Gaz.

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Far from being 'Fear and Loathing in Portland: A Blazer's Edge Journey Into the Heart of the Craft Brewing Dream' this journey turned out to be a pleasant Saturday's drift into one of the industrial sections of NW Portland in search of the  Portland Brewing Company's Taproom. My wife and I set out to sample the new Schonz' Red Session Ale, named after Bill Schonely the play-by-play announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers who's tenure spanned 1970-1998 and coined the term 'Rip City'. Finding the brewery was a little confusing because the Pyramid Brewing Company that has created the new Schonz' ale is in the same building and uses the same equipment as Portland Brewing Co. They share a collaborative umbrella organization. Portland Brewing has full control over their own beers and when brewing one of Pyramid's beers they follow Pyramid Brewing's recipes. Pyramid also has facilities located in Seattle, WA. and Berkeley, CA.

Copper Kettles

The excellent tour of the on-location brewery includes information about the brewing process, the copper kettles brought over from Germany, barrel yield runs, etc. Yet most of the facts and figures drifted away after the tour had been completed and one began to sample their various products.

I must give a tasting disclaimer at this point. I usually drink Asian lagers or European pilsners for their light yet complex taste because they tend not to overshadow the flavors of the foods I eat. So shamefully I don't have a lot of experience with the locally crafted beers.

Happily, the waitperson in the Taproom has completed the second level of the Cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) Certification Program. Those who have achieved Certified Cicerone® have a well-rounded knowledge of beer and beer service as well as competence in assessing beer quality and identity by taste.

We selected three free samples after the tour from the broad beer menu. Naturally we chose the Schonz' Red Session Ale (limited release brewed from a variety of specialty malts and Northwest hops), also the Noble Scot (seasonal), and the Railroad Avenue Imperial Porter (limited release). Style notes of the Schonz' include caramel and tropical fruit flavors and a moderate head of foam. It was good and I'm sure it would have soothed Schonely's play-calling throat. For the edification of the true aficionados it is made with five malts: 2-Row Pale, Special Roast, Melanoidin, Crystal 120 and Black (Roasted Barley). Its' hop profile is Nugget, Cascade, El Dorado and dry hopped with Calypso. Truth be told, both my wife and I preferred the Noble Scot for its sweet subtle smokiness and ordered pints accordingly. The Railroad Avenue Imperial Porter was complexly robust but a little heavy for our food palate. The Taproom has a good food menu with Starters, Sandwiches & Burgers, and Brewer's Plates. We can attest that the rosemary garlic fries that came with the sandwich and burger are extremely tasty and prod the taste buds towards more beer.

Schonz' Ale

When attending a Blazer game you can find the Schonz' in the Pyramid Taproom at Schonely's Place in the Moda Center. Or to find where Pyramid's products are sold and can be consumed you can use this Global Pint Seeker.