Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Going Rogue in Portland

Our Midwest Correspondents are back - this time with a review of the wonderful offerings of the Pacific Northwest; arguably the best part of the country for microbrew geeks.  Sarah Palin has nothing on today's post.  Oh, and you cannot see Russia from this blog.

Portland, Oregon has more breweries than any other city in the world, so what better place to spend Memorial Day weekend.  Following is a brief rundown in order of the breweries and pubs we hit in a 2 1/2 days - so many more we wanted to try but our livers said otherwise.

Deschutes Most breweries are all about the hops in Oregon but Deschutes has a large and diverse selection of beer.  One of my favorite beers of the weekend was also my first - Bee Gone Saison, a fruity and just-malty-enough farmhouse ale.  We also really dug Miss Spelt Hefeweizen with its aroma of bubble gum and banana.

Rogue The original mecca for beer geeks does not disappoint.  You enter a messy storefront area stacked with cases of bomber bottles.  As it was Friday afternoon, there was a steady line of patrons lining up to buy beer for the weekend.  At the bar, there were over 15 Rogue beers on tap.  I tried a tasting of Mom's Hefeweizen (a bit too pithy), Tracktown Honey Orange Wheat, Issaquah White Frog, and John John Juniper (both Tracktown and Issaquah are breweries owned by Rogue in the area.)  Expected John John to taste like a Christmas tree but it was quite refreshing with just a hint of pine.  White Frog, on the other hand, tasted like a cup o' Christmas with its heavy nutmeg flavor - a bit jolting for the summer.  This location also brews award-winning gin but we decided not to risk adding spirits to our intense drinking schedule.

Henry's Tavern  Although not a brewery, Henry's is a haven for beer lovers with over 50 craft brews on tap.  I fell in love with Vertigo Brewing Apricot Cream Ale.  From the subtle fruity scent to the smooth yet hoppy apricot flavor, this was a winner.

On Saturday we drove down to Corvallis so the husband could see the quaint little Beavers football stadium.  We then drove up through Willamette wine country as I do love a glass of Pinot almost (but not quite) as much as a beer.  What was cool about visiting the small wineries was that many of the wine guys also love or brew beer - when they saw the husband's Rogue t-shirt,  we received helpful (and varied) suggestions on what breweries to check out in Portland.

Golden Valley Brewery Before we hit the wineries, we stopped at this brewpub in McMinninville.  In addition to brewing beer, the owners also have a farm and provide the meat for the pub.  We had an amazing pork sandwich accompanied by a tasting of their 9 brews on tap with Muddy Valley Oatmeal Stout standing out.

Heater Allen We found Heater Allen in an industrial row of what looked like storage units that were only open for the Memorial Day festivities.  We picked up 4 big bottles to drink that evening while we watched the Blackhawks.  The beer wasn't as interesting as the game except for the Isarweizen.

Hopworks Urban Brewery  After the big win, we hit this recommended organic brewpub for dinner and another beer to celebrate.  The entire facility is green, down to the recycled bicycle lighting and excellent, local ingredients pizza we had for dinner, accompanied by a malty Velvet ESB.

Lompoc  Woke up Sunday morning and hit the divey New Old Lompoc bar and brewery.  Amidst the smells from the previous evening, had a refreshing Heaven's Helles and tasty guest brew Caldera Ginger Pale Ale.

McMenamins Rams Head  Down the street, hit one of the numerous McMenamins locations in the city.  Had their delicious and beautifully-colored raspberry ale, Ruby.  Usually I am not a fan of this fruit in beer because of its cloying sweetness, but Ruby is tart and yummy.

Migration  After lunch we hit the newest microbrewery in city, just opened a week earlier, with only one beer on tap so far - MPA (along with a nicely edited guest brew list).  They have a great patio so the place will be rocking during the summer.

Lucky Labrador  This is my favorite brewery in Portland, not because of the beer but because of the laid back vibe.  They have a great dog-friendly patio in back and you can throw peanut shells on the floor inside.  The beer is a bit too heavy and hoppy but we made do with the Hellraiser ESB and Black Lab Nitro Stout.

Green Dragon  This is an amazing place to try Northwest craft brews that you don't see in the Midwest or Eastcoast.  They have a front 20 and a back 30 of only the most interesting beers on tap.  By the time we hit Green Dragon, we could only try one, our last beer of the trip.

We ended our stay with an amazing dinner at Le Pigeon and some wine.  I could also go on about the farm-to-table mantra of so many restaurants in Portland but that is for a different blog.



Fire Ron Guenther said...

Heater Allen didn't have much flavor.

Tougher to get stouts and porters because most of the beers are hoopy, due to the cheaper cost of getting hops in the Pacific Northwest.

My favorite beer was Sockeye Cream Stout at New Old Lompoc. 4.9& ABV, 12 IBUS and smooth! Very little coffee taste.

I'm glad we visited Oregon State so I could see what it's like to have a college with a competent football program.

jerome said...

You and HH really ran a tight schedule. I'm impressed you can hit that many breweries in one weekend and remember any of it.

T.J. said...

Welcome to Twitter, Dumbartons Beer...

Kristen said...

Doug, are you sure on the Heater Allen? I loved their Weiss last year!

That Ruby is a stunner. Also, three cheers for Miss Spelt from Deschutes. I wish it was distributed in the Midwest.