By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Here’s the conundrum I offered as conversation to a handful of party stragglers sipping the last of their brews around a solstice campfire: This will be the fourth, maybe fifth year I’ve written up the results of our Oregon IPA tastings. Surely by now, I say, everyone knows the India story — that English colonizers living in that faraway place, thirsty for their ales, packed their barrels with preservative hops to get the beer to India so it wouldn’t spoil along the way.
Or, do they? One person tells the tale of a beer server in Portland who suggested that IPAs were actually invented there. We all snickered, arrogant in our superior knowledge of beer. Did the fool not notice the name refers to India pale ales?
Someone suggested: “Why didn’t they name it Portland pale ale if this hoppy beverage were actually invented in Portland?”
“Because nobody wanted to order a “Pee-Pee A,” delivered Kate, ever the one-line queen.
Ba-dum-bum. Cheers all around.
Here are some of our consumer tasters’ favorite Oregon IPAs:
Ordnance Full Metal Jacket, Boardman 6.6% ABV; 53 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Western Europe meets West Coast in this quaffable IPA. A fusion of New-World hops are held up with a malty backbone reminiscent of a maltier English-style pale.
Consumer Comments: Floral, malty and thick. Citrusy, floral, nice smell, slightly piney. Strong bitterness but not too much, with a nice balance. Molasses. Easy drinking. Flavorage! Flowery smooth flavor. Sunny hop delight! Lightly floral and malty.
StormBreaker Handful of Hops V. 3.0, Portland 6.8 % ABV; 78 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: V. 3.0 of this experimental IPA series has aromas of mango, citrus and pine. Hoppy finish blends nicely as the slightly sweet fruitiness and characteristics of orange
citrus and pine find their way across the palate.
Consumer Comments: Hop in the sun for some of this fun! Fruity and sweet and a little bitter. A light citrus flavor and a smooth ending. Floral with a nice balance of bitter and sweet. Nice head. A bit tart. I love the citrus notes. Easy drinking. Crisp backbone.
Widmer Upheaval IPA, Portland 7% ABV; 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This IPA has more than two pounds of hops per barrel, unleashing a huge hop flavor and aroma with serious bitterness and a balanced finish. Brewed with wheat, the result is a hazy, bold IPA that’s unfiltered. Hops: Alchemy, Simcoe, Chinook, Willamette, Brewers Gold, Nelson Sauvin.
Consumer Comments: Piney, citrus, hoppy goodness. Sweet and smooth. Lemony hints. Spicy aftertaste with a little bite. Malty, sweet, easy drinking. Sticks to your tongue! Pleasant drink. Refreshing. Mowing the lawn IPA.
Full Sail Classic IPA, Hood River 6% ABV; 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This Northwest-style IPA is generously hopped with Centennials from the Yakima Valley and brewed in the classic style with two-row Pale and Crystal malt. It has a full, malty body and a hint of fresh citrus. Perfect after your favorite water sport, even if that happens to be the grueling drag-the-poolside-lounge-chair-into-the-sun event.
Consumer Comments: Light and refreshing. Bubbly fun. Flavorful, nice crisp taste. Very good, balanced and good summer fun. Smooth drinking and easy flavor to savor. Citrusy and herbal, quaffable and simple. A good go-to beer.
Hop Haus Genie In A Bottle, Gresham 5.7% ABV; 70 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A well-respected Northwest-style IPA. It’s smooth drinking with a late hop addition. This medium-bodied, palate-pleasing beer is definitely something you’d ask for in
one of your three wishes!
Consumer Comments: Well-rounded, balanced, enjoyable. Zippy. Some pine and citrus. Nice! My favorite! Very easy drinking. Great beer. Very simple, which is nice. Pool party beer. Summertime fun beer.
Big Horse Paragon, Hood River 6.4% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The Paragon is a light and bright summer IPA. Made with a blend of Amarillo, Centennial and Azacca hops, the Paragon pops with fresh citrus flavors of candied mandarin orange and subtle flavors of star anise.
Consumer Comments: Subdued flavor and not too intense. Sweeter with a floral aftertaste. A food one for a spring day when the sun is out, but still cold. Nutty. Licorice? Nice level of bitterness. Great color, light, dandelion notes, good spring beer.
Hopworks Pig War, Portland 6% ABV; 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Organic Hard Red Spring Wheat grown on Twin Oaks Farm on San Juan Island imparts tart flavors, medium body and signature wheat cloudiness. Pig War refers to the 1859 standoff between American and British authorities over San Juan Island. The only casualty of this 15-year standoff was one wayward pig.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing. Great for a summer picnic. I wouldn’t hate myself for drinking too much of this. Flavor on the palate jumps like a kangaroo with hops in its pouch. The hops are very unique. Wonderful flavor. Would be nice with a burger. Real citrus flavor. A very pleasant beer.
Silver Moon IPA 97, Bend 7% ABV; 75 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Packs a punch with bold tropical fruit and citrus zest flavors, creating a light pine aroma.
Consumer Comments: Sound sipping with a Sitka spruce. Fruity body with a warm, hoppy after flavor. Perfect for a hot day on the river. Good and fresh tasting. Floral and slightly sweet. Would go great with Chinese food. Fantastic. The hop notes are spot on. Roasty, but light.
McMenamins Hillsdale IPA, Portland 7% ABV; 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The Hillsdale IPA greets your nose with the pungent, grassy aromas of Mosaic and Citra hops. A simple grain bill keeps the beer light in color and body, as sweet malts were excluded to avoid overshadowing any hop flavors. The name pays homage to the very first McMenamins brewery, opened more than 30 years ago.
Consumer Comments: Is it rude to ask for the recipe? Good basic IPA. Keep this one around for guests who love IPAs. Light and delicious.
pFriem IPA, Hood River 7.2% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: When the first pale ales arrived in India in the early 18th century, outcries of “Zounds!” “Jolly good!” and “Huzzah!” were heard across the East Indian subcontinent. Expect the same exclamations when sniffing the piney aroma and tasting the big hops, huge citrus and candy-like malt.
Consumer Comments: The champagne of IPAs. Very good. Get me some curry. Great flavor. Smells like tropical fruit. Golden delicious. Candy with a bitter back. Long-lasting hoppy taste, coats my tongue.
Sunriver Vicious Mosquito, Sunriver 7% ABV; 70 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The Sunriver Brewing Company’s flagship uses heavy handfuls of the finest Northwest hops (Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe), which define this pungent, resinous brew. This hop attack comes at you like the vicious mosquitos at our nearby Cascade Mountains.
Consumer Comments: Bitter like my sister-in-law after the divorce, but in a good way. Classic IPA with a nice balance. Easy drinking. Good taste with no lingering aftertaste. Yes! Light and refreshing. Great smell.
Portland Brewing and Double Mountain Subcontinental IPA, Portland/Hood River 7% ABV
Brewer’s Description: Brewed for Portland Beer Week, these two brewing giants collaborated on an IPA with pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron.
Consumer Comments: No way. Anise? This is Christmas on my tongue! It’s like running through a clover field on a beautiful summer day. Very good. Hint of cloves or some other spice. Low bitterness. Santa’s workshop IPA.
Wild Ride Electri-Fly, Redmond 6.3% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Prepare to lift off and experience an IPA that showcases a blend of premium two-row and honey malts, which lay a perfect perch for the addition of hops. Flown in from the Southern Hemisphere, the unique hops give this beer a pleasant flavor and the aroma of
Consumer Comments: Floral aroma. Pine cones. Slight butterscotch. Good and smooth. Smooth and fruity and not too bitter.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Canned Beer Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For Oregon Beer Growler
During the European wars and famines that marked the mid-1800s and early 1900s, Germans came to Oregon in droves — seeking farmland and rural life that mimicked their once-healthy homes. With them came beer recipes — most of which contained varying amounts of wheat. Witbiers, weissbiers, weizenbocks and hefeweizens were, and are still, a German mainstay.
In 1914, Prohibition in Oregon put a stop to that until the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933. Unfortunately, Prohibition knocked the ale sense out of an entire generation of beer drinkers, a bleakness that continued for almost a half-century beyond the repeal. The craft beer revival here began in the mid-1980s, closely followed by a revival in wheat beers, thanks to Widmer. The brothers found a welcoming trade in their Hefeweizen, a flocculent golden brew that has pleased ancestral palates for centuries. Other breweries followed. Today, wheat beers are as common in Oregon breweries as daffodils in the spring.
Hefeweizen is literally translated as “yeast wheat” beer. Beyond those two ingredients, brewers in Oregon are likely to use the mild flavors of wheat as a stage on which to exhibit too many other delicious additions: Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and other fruits; rye, barley and pilsner malts, roasted grains, honey — the list goes on.
Our tasters gave a thumbs up to seven Oregon wheat beers during our monthly tasting. As it is each month, the Perfect Pints tasting is blind. Here are their choices:
Full Sail: Session Wheat, Hood River 5.7% ABV, 24 IBUs
Brewery Description: This premium, American-style hefeweizen is medium-bodied with aromas of malted wheat and a citrusy hop finish. As with all great hefeweizens, there’s just enough residual yeast to give it a hazy, golden pour.
Consumer Comments: This beer was put together well. This might make a good radler beer. A nice hop aftertaste. Light. I could drink a lot of these. Like having sex in a canoe. Lawnmower beer. I smell fresh grass! Crisp!
Fat Head’s: Grapefruit Goggle Fogger, Portland 5.4% ABV, 12 IBUs
Brewery Description: This hefeweizen has light aromas of wheat, bubblegum, clove and spice. Infused with fresh grapefruit zest.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing, especially on a warm day. Very tasty. Butterscotch! Great for summer! Eat it with fresh or dried fruit. Yummy and light. Bring on those hot days — this is the beer for it.
13 Virtues: Woozy Weizenbock, Portland 8% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewery Description: This German-style wheat beer is the darkest and strongest in the “hefe” family. Half wheat and half specialty malts are fermented with classic hefeweizen yeast to produce chocolate and banana flavors. A Great American Beer Festival medal winner!
Consumer Comments: Nice caramel color. Malty, but not too heavy. Sweet and different. You wouldn’t guess this is a wheat beer. Nice and crisp — for a darker beer. Not like most darks. A little taste of smoke or roasted grains.
Deschutes: Chainbreaker White IPA, Bend 5.6% ABV, 55 IBUs
Brewery Description: Brewed with wheat and pilsner malts, this white IPA displays beautiful citrus aromas from Cascade and Centennial hops that meld with the esters of Belgian yeast. A thirst-quenching, hopped-up wit that deserves the IPA name.
Consumer Comments: Mild beer with hops. Spicy! Long-lasting hops in a great basic beer. The spice adds great flavor. Peppery! Nice rainbow of flavors, just perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. Traditional weissbier. A golden cloud with hops floating on it.
Golden Valley: Third Street Wheat, McMinnville 5.1% ABV, 18 IBUs
Brewery Description: This American-style wheat ale contains more than 50 percent malted wheat in the mash for a fresh wheat aroma. Crystal and Willamette hops contribute floral and citrus notes.
Consumer Comments: Spicy. Nice. Peppery hops. Maybe good with smoked salmon? Bright, light flavor. Mild. I could drink too many of these.
Hop Haus: Fruit Fly Triple Berry Wheat, Gresham 5% ABV, 28 IBUs
Brewery Description: An amber to red-colored, very refreshing, easy-drinking, slightly malty wheat ale with a smooth and mildly sweet berry finish. The triple berry blend of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is added at the end of the boil, which provides some pectin haze. Willamette hops are added to complement the wheat.
Consumer Comments: Great color and nice body. Summer pickings. Nice and sweet wheat. Very nice blend, perfectly rich. Hop berries! Hoppy sweet — eat it with a bowl of fresh raspberries … if you can wait that long! Tastes good with raisins and spicy sausage.
Hopworks: Nonstop Hef Hop, Portland 3.9% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewery Description: This new, year-round beer is a low-alcohol, dry-hopped American wheat beer created for drinkers with active lifestyles. The beer has the taste and feel of a Northwest pale ale without the extra weight of high alcohol. Contains Northwest hops and red spring wheat grown on the Hopworks estate on the San Juan Islands, Wash.
Consumer Comments: Nice citrus flavor. Nice and bright, gentle hoppy flavor. Floral? This is growing on me — I think I’ll have another. Easy drinking. Fruity hops. Pretty beer! Refreshing. Take a run, take a hike, sweat a bit, then kick a couple back … heaven.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Fruit Beer Tasting, 2 p.m. Saturday, April 9 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Defining an Oregon stout is like trying to define art. Both are defined in the eyes, or tongue, of the beholder. As a result, the variety of art and stouts in Oregon is endless. Therefore, it is fitting that the Oregon Beer Growler’s annual stout blind tasting was at an art center, Frame Central Macadam in Portland, and that the tasters were interspersed with those who came to see artist Ron Pomeroy’s “BeerColors” show of art that uses beer and paint.
Although stouts were traditionally the term for the stoutest or strongest porters beginning in the 1700s, the written references to “stout” actually preceded porters by nearly 50 years to indicate a strong beer, no matter the color. According to 1700s criteria, most Oregon beers are “stouts.” But I digress.
Eventually, as porters lost favor and pale ales and lagers rose in popularity, stouts took over as a catchall name for dark beers made with roasted malts and barleys, usually weighing in stronger than most lagers and ales. Today, stouts have returned, bringing with them the international varieties that have been made for hundreds of years. Russian imperial stouts, dry Irish stouts, English and Belgian stouts, even oyster, milk and oatmeal stouts have found their way into Oregon craft breweries.
You wouldn’t have guessed from the crowd that gathered last month to taste stouts, but less than 50 years ago, there weren’t many breweries left making stouts in the world. Now, it’s a rare brewery here that doesn’t have one on tap year-round.
And in case you try all of the stouts below and still can’t find one you like, keep trying! Stouts can range from bitter to sweet, tan to black, dry to milky. There’s one out there for you!
Our tasters, who sampled each stout “blind,” chose the following Oregon stouts as their favorites.
Stickmen: Does A Body Good, Lake Oswego 6.7% ABV, 19 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This milk stout is brimming with big notes of bittersweet chocolate and mild roastiness. On the dry side for the style — keeps it far from cloyingly sweet.
Consumer Comments: Light and tasty. Nutty, smoky and a hint of beef jerky. Very smooth, great flavor with a mild aftertaste. Slight sharp finish. Mildly pleasant. Coffee, tobacco and chocolate.
Ordnance: Blackfisk Imperial Stout, Boardman 9.5% ABV, 58 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This imperial octopus ink stout is not one to be taken lightly. This stout boasts a full body that coats your mouth with every sip. Malt sweetness counters the heavy roasted grains perfectly, making this imperial stout surprisingly drinkable.
Consumer Comments: Slow-sipping after dinner beer. This beer was fantastic for me. A good beer to finish on. An after-dinner, bittersweet chocolate fix.
Pelican: Tsunami Stout, Tillamook 7% ABV, 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Midnight dark color and rich dark-roasted aroma created by Magnum and Willamette hops combined with unmalted barley and roasted malts. Full-bodied, dense, creamy head and espresso-like finish.
Consumer Comments: Mellow and dark with a smooth finish. Notes of chocolate. Smooth at the front. Tangy, citrusy, light and minty. Coffee flavor. I can taste the hops!
Elk Horn: Nutella Stout, Eugene 6% ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This stout includes flavors that occur in Nutella, a popular spread made from hazelnuts and chocolate.
Consumer Comments: Would be a great dessert beer, like a float. First thing I thought was ‘Cookie!’ Dark with a hazelnut, nutty flavor. Yum. Order it for dessert. Smooth chocolate and hazelnut. After-dinner drink. Great! My favorite!
Baerlic: Noble Oatmeal Stout, Portland 6.2% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A dense, chestnut head floats atop rich aromas of cocoa and shortbread that unfold into a full body of milk chocolate and coffee. Brewed with Bob's Red Mill rolled oats for a luxurious texture.
Consumer Comments: Sweet, but balanced. Rich and loaded with flavor. Dark, bittersweet and chocolaty. Breakfast beer! Wakes you up, but not too alcoholic.
Natian: Cease & Desist Imperial Milk Stout, Portland 9.2% ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Formerly named McGuinness (after the owner), but asked to cease and desist by the similarly-named brewery, this stout now has a different name, but maintains the same great flavor. Aged on Kahlua-soaked oak.
Consumer Comments: Dark chocolate with slight bitterness, cherry undertones. Dry. Very good. A real stout! Smooth and perfect lingering flavor. I would definitely order a pint and sit by the fire with this. This would go great with bacon. Smooth and smoky.
Worthy: Lights Out Stout, Bend 7.7% ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A vanilla cream extra stout with vanilla beans and milk sugar added. When coffee and chocolate cravings call, this is your answer. Smooth, creamy, rich, sinful and sip-worthy.
Consumer Comments: Sweet and caramel. I’m thinking vanilla latte with a splash of something-something. Lighter-bodied stout with a sweet finish. This would be good with ice cream.
Hopworks: Motherland Russian Imperial Stout, Portland 9.8% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Rich and smooth, black as a Siberian winter night, but warming enough to weather it. Anise and cherry aromas mingle with bittersweet chocolate flavors. Warming, spicy finish.
Consumer Comments: Very strong. I think I could only drink one! Big, bold brew brightens bad days! Nibbles at your cheeks. Oh, yeah that’s lighting my fire all the way down.
Fort George: Bourbon Barrel Cavatica Stout, Astoria 9.9% ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Aged in Kentucky’s Willett Distillery bourbon barrels. The brewers dutifully filled each one with rich, dark Cavatica Stout and aged them until the brewers determined it was time. Pours jet black with a lacy caramel head. Strong, welcoming aroma of bourbon and roasted barley and a lingering warmness.
Consumer Comments: Layers upon layers! Delicious flavor in this stout. Would be my go-to on any night I’m looking to make my mouth happy.
The next consumer tasting will feature Oregon Double IPAs (IIPAs) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
What is a winter warmer? It’s an enigma wrapped in a label and poured in a glass. The answer, in Oregon anyway, is best left to poetic interpretation.
But perhaps the experts can help us. When I looked up winter warmer’s definition on the BeerAdvocate website, I found a description including “malty sweet,” “low hop bitterness” and some allusions to wassail-like spices.
Some of the beers judged by consumers at the Oregon Beer Growler’s winter warmer tasting fit those descriptions, but more often, winter warmers in Oregon lodge themselves firmly in categories all their own. Oregon’s winter warmers occupy a wide range of styles and innovation. Olde ales, IPAs, barleywines, brown ales, farmhouse ales and CDAs are all perfect winter warmers, as far as Oregon brewers who entered this tasting were concerned.
What’s this mean for you, craft beer drinker? It means a wonderful variety of seasonal beers are now in your local bottle shop or on tap in your brewpub. These brews can be enjoyed with a holiday meal, on the slopes, in front of a fireplace or at a New Year’s celebration.
As always in our blind tastings, our non-professional tasters were asked to indicate what beers they liked as a winter warmer. Their choices and comments are as follows:
McMenamins: *565 Strong Ale, Eugene 9.3% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A big-time beer for big-time fans. This beer was brewed in the fall of 2014 and aged with Billy Whiskey-infused oak, giving it plenty of time to grow up and work its way into your glass. Plenty of Chinook and Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Tastes like a prized bottle pulled from the cellar and slowly sipped. Smells like barleywine teen spirit. Tequila! Full-bodied, flavorful brew; easy to sip by the side of a fire. James Joyce’s Chamber Music XXXVI. This is the beer you bring home to mom and dad if mom and dad respect beer, bourbon and liquid blankets. Great for winding down after Christmas or family gathering shenanigans. Bourbon, heavy, malty.
Uptown Market: Beeracle Off 92nd Street, Portland 9.5% ABV, 49 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Believe in Beeracles! Cold-steeped, roasted malts lend complex flavors without any acidic bites. This warmer also boasts a complex blend of chocolate, tobacco, fruit sweetness and is that a hint of toffee? Yes, yes it is.
Consumer Comments: Flavor explodes in my mouth at first taste. Very good … I enjoyed this one. Reminiscent of raw cocoa, so it’s good for me, right? Is it barrel-aged? Coffee strong.
Wild Ride: Nut-Crusher Peanut Butter Porter, Redmond 6.0% ABV, 18 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Wild Ride brings together two favorite flavors, peanut butter and porter, in this nutty, chocolaty and caramel beer. It’s a true liquid peanut butter cup.
Consumer Comments: Like a liquid chocolate truffle treat with a strong nuttiness. Tastes like semi-sweet baking chips. Very chocolaty. Makes me want to drink it with ice cream. Peanut butter explosion in my mouth. Drink this with a brownie. Sexy candy. Tremendously dangerous. Drink this for dessert after every meal. Dutch Bros. Can I drink this for breakfast?
Cascade Lakes: Slippery Slope, Redmond 6.4% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This beer is one smooth, wintery ride. Full-bodied and well-balanced, this seasonal ale uses crystal malt and generous amounts of Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Not heavy, but good for a mellow Oregon winter. I loved it. Nice and mellow. Kind of takes you by surprise. Fragrant like a Christmas candle. Hoppy and floral. Piney.
Hop Valley: Festeroo Winter Ale, Eugene 6.8% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: When it’s cold outside, wrap yourself up in this Northwest take on an English-style old ale. It’s brewed with a slightly spicy combination of malts and hops.
Consumer Comments: A respite from the season: bright, hoppy and a break from the rain. Super enjoyable winter sippin’ brew. Really enjoyed this winter brew. Lemon bread with jam. I could drink this in the summer, too.
Sunriver: Shred Head Winter Ale, Sunriver 8% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A robust, Northwest-styled ale brewed with dark brown sugar, packed with the finest American and European malts and fortified with the a hearty helping of Northwest and British hops.
Consumer Comments: Sweet warmth. A winter treasure. Perfect for winter. Bready and malty. Christmas candy. Burnt sugar.
Montavilla: Old Fellowship Barleywine, Portland 9.8% ABV, 60+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Big malt aroma rides side by side with a figgy, caramel-toffee aroma. Centennial hops balance out this mighty barleywine with citrusy, dank notes. Young, but still smooth and drinkable.
Consumer Comments: This brew would be great to sip in an igloo. Spicy like an IPA but soft and syrupy. Malty and boozy. Big, but easy to drink. Zippy aftertaste.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Belgians Tasting, 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th St., Portland.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Can you smell football in the air? Then it’s time for tailgaters, the best part of football season for some of us. The homemade snacks come out. The barbecues are lit, and relit, and lit again — never mind the rain! The jokes become ribald. In Oregon, the coats take on garish hues of orange and neon green. The true Oregon flag — a blue tarp — waves proudly in both Duck and Beaver parking lots. And best of all, craft beers reign at tailgaters.
For the past three years, we’ve delivered papers to Oregon’s Civil War tailgater events, and I’ve always been amazed at what great taste in beers Duck and Beaver fans have. They raise their glasses full of local craft beers, and like good cheerleaders, defend the practice. “My beer comes from my neighborhood,” says one Beaver who lives down the street from Flat Tail Brewing. “I wouldn’t drink anything but this,” said a Duck fan as he raises a glass of McMenamins beer. Then he adds: “Today.” And his crew laughs.
Because why choose just one when you live in Oregon? The world is your glass. Fill it up.
In honor of the Civil War between the Ducks and Beavers Nov. 27 this year at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, the Oregon Beer Growler has gathered seven beers from Eugene-Springfield breweries and seven from Corvallis-Albany breweries. We presented the beers this year at The Bier Stein in Eugene at a blind tasting and let consumers choose their favorites. Block 15’s Sticky Hands in Corvallis won the most votes, besting Eugene’s High Street McMenamins Grandma Betty’s Quilted IPA by one vote. Oakshire’s Line Dry Rye from Eugene was a solid third. The rest are listed in no particular order with comments from the tasters.
Block 15: Sticky Hands, Corvallis 8.1% ABV, 110 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This ale features ample additions of sticky, resinous, lupulin-packed hop buds grown in the Pacific Northwest. Aromatic blast of tropical fruits, citrus and dank herbs; luscious hop flavor with a balanced bitter finish, pale malted barley and fermented with our privately banked brewer’s yeast.
Consumer Comments: Yum! Ba da da da da, I’m lovin’ it. Great Taste. Best flavor. Hoppy beer for game day. Infused with leaves and footballs — in a good way. Hoppalicious.
High Street McMenamins: Grandma Betty’s Quilted IPA, Eugene 7.1% ABV, 80 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Mosaics, Mosaics, Mosaics. A patchwork blanket of Superior Pilsen, Pearl Pale and C-15 malts woven together with an insane amount of Mosaic hops.
Consumer Comments: Grapefruit. Great on a hot day. Great game day beer. Not too heavy tasting. Great IPA with great flavor. I’d drink more. A pretty decent beer. Citrusy, fruity and delicious.
Oakshire: Line Dry Rye, Eugene 6.3% ABV, 66 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A crisp, aromatic, honey-orange colored IPA is crafted with 15 percent rye for a complex malt profile that adds a touch of spice. Balanced by a generous portion of American hops for a snappy bitterness with a slight citrus grapefruit flavor and a piney aroma.
Consumer Comments: Love this one! Very mellow, but not too light. Perfect for drinking with tailgater snacks. Smooth and full-flavored. Very hoppy and delicious. Good flavor and a really good beer. Complex.
Ninkasi: Lux Helles Lager, Eugene 5.3% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The lightest of the European lagers, this Munich-style beer has a clean aroma with just a touch of grassy hops leading to a sweet, toasty malt flavor. This sustains to a crisp finish with just a hint of noble hop aroma.
Consumer Comments: Light and easy to drink. Yes. People would like this. Good lager. I could drink a lot of this. I really enjoyed this beer. Drink often!
Oregon Trail: Brown Ale, Corvallis 4.8% ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A multiple award winner at the Great American Beer Festival in 1994 and 1995, this brown is medium-bodied, yet slightly dry, with a nice hoppy middle and roasted finish.
Consumer Comments: Coffee? Good for an early game. Breakfast beer. Nice light stout? I’d drink it — a lot of it. Sort of smoky or roasty. Enjoyable winter beer.
Flat Tail: Tailgater Kölsch, Corvallis 5.5% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest brew. A bright straw-hued, crisp, lager-like ale with German Tettnanger hops adding a spicy bouquet and firm bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Seems like a good tailgate beer. I could drink this all day. I could drink 10 of these. I don’t like beer, but I do like this. Tastes like a complex lager. Good smooth flavor. I could run a 10K on this.
McMenamins on Monroe: Liberty Harvest, Corvallis 5.9% ABV, 23 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: An Oktoberfest beer made with German Kölsch yeast, a third of the grains are Vienna and Munich malts with Victory malts lending a light toasted flavor. Made to be quaffable!
Consumer Comments: Tasty. Pears. Nice Finish. Complex. Interesting. A lot going on. Easy to drink. Good flavor. Smooth.
Plank Town: Oktoberfest, Springfield 5% ABV, 22 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our salute to the classic Oktoberfestbier. The spicy, sweet, herbal hop aroma draws your tastebuds deep into this malty beer.
Consumer Comments: Fruity and sweet. Easy-drinking and flavorful beer. Definitely something I could drink a lot of!
Elkhorn: DBR (Ducks Blue Ribbon) Kölsch, Eugene 5% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This light refreshing ale is composed of entirely German-sourced ingredients. It has a classic pilsner-like profile of light grain, spicy hops and unsurpassed drinkability. Straw in color, light in body and light on bitterness, a perfect beer for any occasion.
Consumer Comments: Very light session beer, I like it. Smooth and drinkable. Light and fresh. Dry and crisp.
Mazama: Mosaic Eruption, Corvallis 6% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This IPA showcases Mosaic hops that give it a bold grapefruit twist. This beer is triple-hopped with a blend featuring Mosaic, Amarillo, Citra and Centennial hops.
Consumer Comments: Great taste. This beer would go great with tailgate foods. Floral. Grows on you. I’d be the star of the tailgater with this one. I usually don’t like hoppy beers but this one is great. Delicious and fragrant.
Mancave: Exalted IPA, Eugene 8.2% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Weyermann Pale and cara-type malts give this beer a uniquely sweet flavor — like the cheesecake of IPAs. GMO-free barley, Simcoe, Cascade, Citra, Amarillo and Columbus hops.
Consumer Comments: Fruity! Caramel and rich. Strong-tasting.
Deluxe: D-Lite, Albany 3% ABV, 19 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This German Leichtbier is under 100 calories, a truly bold craft light beer. It is bright and refreshing with light citrusy notes and a hop character that the “big” domestic light beers can’t match.
Consumer Comments: Buttery. Light. Very light and super easy to drink. Tasty for such a light beer.
Calapooia: Paddle Me IPA, Albany 6.8% ABV, 72 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Paddle Me IPA is a spicy brew with Maris Otter Pale imported malts and loads of high-alpha hops, including Summit and Simcoe for a pungent tickle of front-of-palate grapefruity flavor and aroma. An extra dose of Nugget and Centennial hops provide a playful slap of mid-range to back-end bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Tastes like fruit upfront. Delicious, hoppy and rich and pretty strong. Bitter or almost sour — I like it. Good bold flavor.
Claim 52: Claim House Weizenbier, Eugene 4.6% ABV, 10 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This hefeweizen-style beer is perfect for the pregame tailgater or anytime.
Consumer Comments: Love it! My favorite. Light but not watery. Is it hefeweizen? Full of flavor. Surprisingly good. Light with a good aftertaste.
NEXT FREE TASTING
Belgians: 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Red ales are a beloved style in Oregon and in the Northwest, so you would think it would be easy to find an official description. But alas, no. Even the almighty Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), the oft-cited, standard-bearer of beer styles lumps red ales in with ambers, classifying them together in one broad category.
Part of this confusion is rooted right here in the Northwest, where we traditionally call our red-hued ales “red ales,” as opposed to American ambers. Our great region has restarted the red ale madness, and we expect BJCP to follow our lead. Whether they do or not, red ales prevail here.
Let’s agree with BJCP that Oregon reds, like ambers, can vary in color from dark orange to a brownish-red. And like many Oregon ales, they can have a range of hoppiness — both bitter and aromatic — depending on the hops used. But where reds differ from pale ales, aside from the color, is in the malty, sometimes caramel flavors that can add sweetness, fruitiness and froth to the beer. This malty goodness in reds can be surprisingly bold or a subtle balance to a hop-forward beer. In Oregon, reds just can’t be pinned down. Every brewer seems to take on the style with a fresh hand.
So here’s the challenge: You can’t pick up a red ale in Oregon and know exactly what you’re going to get, just from the style. You have to try them all and then decide. So get busy.
Here’s a good place to start. Our consumer tasters, a different group each month, chose and commented on the following eight Oregon red ales in a blind tasting at F.H. Steinbart Co. in Portland:
13 Virtues: Rip City Red, Portland 6.0 percent ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewery Description: This beer is for people who love IPAs but like a little more malt sweetness. Malts include American two-row, Munich, Carapils, Crystal 15 and Crystal 120, with a little chocolate malt to add some oomph. We then throw in Palisade, Amarillo and Centennial hops for a balanced, drinkable beer.
Consumer Comments: Malty oatmeal, crisp and pleasant. Good clean beer. I would drink this again. Full-bodied. Very good. That’s a hoppy taste I can handle. Slightly hoppy -- not too bad!
Lompoc: Proletariat Red, Portland 6.2 percent ABV, 32 IBUs
Brewery Description: Deep chestnut in color, this beer has a toasted malt quality with biscuit undertones leading to notes of caramelized pear and cinnamon. This complex brew ends with sweet malt flavors that mellow into a mild finish.
Consumer Comments: Solid! Sessionable red. Malty nose, great esters, smooth! Hoppy and strong. Very good! Hoppy with a honey taste that helps cut the hops. Candy, yum. After-dinner drink. Girls?
Boneyard: Diablo Rojo American Red, Bend 5.5 percent ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewery Description: This deep amber ale is extremely well-balanced and very drinkable. It appeals both to the hop lover and non-hop lover. This beer is double-hopped with Cascade and Delta hops.
Consumer Comments: Good refreshing beer for a hot summer. Light and well-blended with the hops. Nice, not too hoppy and a good red beer. Very pleasant. Could drink all day. Dark fruit, jam and hops. Mild and drinkable. Hot day, good beer. Gets me in the nether regions.
Wild Ride: 3 Sisters American Red Ale, Redmond 6.5 percent ABV, 45 IBUs
Brewery Description: Faith, Hope and Charity. The backdrop of Central Oregon features these lovely sisters which are three of the highest peaks in Oregon. We use three main types of malt and hops to represent these landmarks. This beautiful beer has a sunset red appearance to remind us of their presence at the end of the day. Like many peaks you might aspire to climb, these sisters can be both bitter and sweet, as the select hops represent the Northwest in every way possible.
Consumer Comments: Good refreshing beer for an Oregon hot summer. Good beer, clean finish, nice hops. Bright clean citrus flavors without bitter. A-OK. The best so far. Great!
Hop Haus Brewing: Route 66 NW Red Ale, Gresham 6.3 percent ABV, 48 IBUs
Brewery Description: A slightly malty, somewhat sweet finish with good hop flavor and subtle bitterness. This is a lighter version of the style with the signature red hue provided by the melanoidin malt. It’s balanced and drinkable for all food pairings and occasions.
Consumer Comments: Beautiful, light and refreshing. Smooth, malty and refreshing. Great for a hot afternoon on the back porch. Fruity, light raspberry. Complex flavors. Smooth and delightful. One of my favorites.
McMenamins: Red Rhino, Portland Crystal Brewery 6.32 percent ABV, 82 IBUs
Brewery Description: Brewed by Stephen Harper and Drew Phillips, Red Rhino is a red ale, rich in color and flavor, with just the right combination and amount of crystal malt to give this ale its signature, deep red hue. It’s hopped with pungent Centennials and Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Clean, very classic light red ale. Drink this one cold. Creamy and hoppy. Kind of milky smooth texture. Good.
Burnside: Too Sticky to Roll, Portland 6.2 percent ABV, 78 IBUs
Brewery Description: Quaffable yet chewy India red ale (IRA).
Consumer Comments: My name is smooth. Nice summer ale. Peppery and dry. Would go great with barbecue. Hop-forward with a smoky finish. Hops, hops.
Ninkasi: Dawn of the Red IRA, Eugene 7.0 percent ABV, 75 IBUs
Brewery Description: An IRA bursting with tropical notes, this beer finishes with a subtle malt backbone.
Consumer Comments: Light, floral, refreshing. Hoppy and fresh. Nice. Fruity but not too sweet. This beer takes me to paradise.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
If you’re a hophead as I am, you drink Oregon’s India pale ales (IPAs). I enjoy almost any of Oregon’s good beers — from sour to sweet, light to dark, warm to cold, tapped or bottled. But the variety of flavors, colors and smells available in Oregon’s IPAs brings me back to them, inspires me to visit the hop farms, squeeze the flowers, sniff the aromas, and even grow my own. Did I tell you about the 12-foot, 6-by-6 inch beams that make up the hop trellis in my garden, bearing the weight of my incredible obsession? I love hops. Mostly I love them because they make good beer. If they weren’t so itchy, I’d marry them.
I’m not the only one, of course. Oregonians love hops and brewers have splashed them across the greatest canvas on which to display hop flavors: the pale ale. Luckily for us, hops grow like weeds in the Willamette Valley, and even manage Central and Eastern Oregon climes.
Because Oregon has so many IPAs, we staged two consumer blind tastings for this month, one at Independence’s Three Legged Dog and the other at F.H. Steinbart Co. in Portland. As always, our consumers are untrained tasters who don’t see what they are tasting until after they have chosen favorites. Listed below, in no particular order, are their top selections.
Pfriem: IPA, Hood River 7.2 percent ABV, 65 IBUs
Brewery Description: You’ll exclaim “Zounds!” “Jolly good!” and “Huzzah!” when sniffing the piney aroma and tasting the big hops, huge citrus and candy-like malt of Pfriem’s own IPA. Drink up, Guv’nor.
Consumer Comments: Good finish. Deeply satisfying. Smooth and flavorful, and a little sweet. Mild and fragrant. I like this one, lots! Smells like pineapples. My favorite so far. Drink this one on the river. Refreshing and tasty.
Alameda: Admiration IPA, Portland 6.8 percent ABV, 65 IBUs
Brewery Description: A tribute to the farmers and the brewers, this IPA has a rich malt backbone that supports an intense hop character of earthy pine and citrus derived from massive amounts of Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops. Well balanced, yet intense, this dry-hopped IPA pays homage to its origins.
Consumer Comments: Root beer spicy! Mellow and quaffable. Soft on the tongue but spicy enough for pizza. I would drink this every day! Crisp and tart. Lively.
Vertigo: Uno Mas IPA, Hillsboro 7.3 percent ABV, 73 IBUs
Brewery Description: This Northwest-style IPA -- brewed with an abundance of Mosaic, Amarillo and Simcoe hops -- has a bold, citrusy-hop character and aroma. Finished with 8 pounds of dry hops, this IPA will leave you asking for Uno Mas!
Consumer Comments: Nice color and toffee taste. My favorite so far! Malt dominates. Smooth and silky. Good with bacon and eggs. Grapefruity. Tangy and almost sweet.
RAM: Big Red IPA, Salem 6.2 percent ABV, 65 IBUs
Brewery Description: Assertively hoppy, boasting a bold, citrus hop flavor and aroma. This award-winning beer is reminiscent of grapefruit.
Consumer Comments: Smooth. Fresh bouquet and slightly bitter. Sink your teeth into this one. Classic! Is it double-hopped? Hoppy, spicy, citrus and melons. Squirt you in the eye.
Salem Ale Works: Stump Humper IPA, Salem 7 percent ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewery Description: This single-hop IPA is made with Columbus hops grown in the Willamette Valley. Light bodied, with a biscuit malt note, this approachable IPA has a balanced bitterness with notes of resin, pine and subtle citrus.
Consumer Comments: Smells like black licorice. Nice! Light, great flavor. Great for a day with no rain! Yum. Vanilla smooth. Taste the bitter with the sweet.
Gigantic: IPA, Portland 7.3 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: True to its name, the Cascade, Centennial, Crystal and Simcoe create a citrusy-hop confluence that continuously “embiggens” with each drink. This beer is the embodiment of our brewing philosophy to “Never Give An Inch.”
Consumer Comments: Very piney. Is it English yeast? Good balance and flavor. This shows off the breadth of the Northwest beer scene. Good citrusy hop. This is the best so far. I could drink it all day.
Worthy: IPA, Bend 6.9 percent ABV, 69 IBUs
Brewery Description: Clean, crisp and refreshing, this beer is a tribute to our friends at Indie Hops. This amazingly balanced beer is bursting with the finest hops Oregon has to offer: Nugget, Centennial, Meridian, Crystal and Horizon. Renowned for his IPAs, brewer Chad just raised the bar.
Consumer Comments: Some tart lemons! Refreshing. Smiley face. Heart picture. Smooth. Goes down nicely. Goodness! Snappy! Light and crisp and fruity.
Unicorn Brewing Company: Grapefruit IPA, Portland 6.2 percent ABV, 80 IBUs
Brewery Description: This beer, produced at Portland U-Brew & Pub’s commercial brewery, has a light citrus flavor, thanks to one fresh grapefruit per 1 1/2 barrels.
Consumer Comments: Very interesting! Starts with malt taste and then the hops come in later, almost as an aftertaste. Good balance. Grainy smell. Strong hops with great flavor. Light and easy to drink. Light and crisp. Light bodied and nicer than most. Dry and clean.
McMenamins: Citra SMaSH IPA, Tigard 7 percent ABV, 65 IBUs
Brewery Description: John Barleycorns’ brewer, Tim Proctor, has created this single-malt, single-hop (SMaSH) beer with Citra hops and pils malt. The result is a clean, crisp beer with strong citrus flavor and tropical tones like passion fruit and lychee.
Consumer Comments: I like this one! Great for the sun! Smooth. Good flavor. Bright. Good lawnmower beer.
Hopworks: IPX Single Hop: Organic Simcoe, Portland 6 percent ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewery Description: This single-hop ale series highlights signature aromas and flavors of specific hop varieties that are further multiplied through our unique dry-hop process. Study the bitterness, flavor and aroma of the brewers spice and geek out on the signature nuances of each hop variety. Science homework never tasted so good!
Consumer Comments: Well-balanced. Session beer. Fresh and tingly! Just stepped on a green onion. A long walk on a hot day through a shady pine forest. Hoppy but not bitter.
Rusty Truck: Road Wrecker IPA, Lincoln City 6.9 percent ABV, 75 IBUs
Brewery Description: This IPA is hopped with Chinook, Zythos and Nugget and then dry-hopped with a burst of Columbus and more Zythos.
Consumer Comments: Rich and deep. Very hoppy. Crispy. Very nice. Aromatic and full-flavored. Smells like flowers. Smooth.
Barley Browns: Ratchet Strap, Baker City 7 percent ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewery Description: This golden-hued IPA has aromas of melon and citrus. Barley Brown’s combines Simcoe, Mosaic and Hull Melon hops with a light-bodied beer to come up with this refreshing summer IPA.
Consumer Comments: Smells like grapefruit. Love it! Is that Fresh Squeezed? A warm-weather treat. Grapefruit and melons. Soft and smooth. Mild and refreshing. Nice fragrance.
Widmer: Upheaval IPA, Portland 7 percent ABV, 85 IBUs
Brewery Description: This IPA is the result of our brewers’ relentless pursuit of the perfect IPA. With more than two pounds of hops per barrel, Upheaval IPA unleashes a huge hop flavor and aroma with serious bitterness and a balanced finish. Brewed with wheat, the result is a hazy, bold and unfiltered beer, unexpected and unapologetic.
Consumer Comments: Good lord! Tastes and smells like pineapples. Good mix of bitter and citrus. Smells like flowers, tastes like hop candy.
Sunriver: Vicious Mosquito IPA, Sunriver 7 percent ABV, 70 IBUs
Brewery Description: Awesome hops include Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe.
Consumer Comments: Mild and refreshing. Okay, now we’re talkin’! I would give this to my dad for Father’s Day. Has bite. Good with spicy food. Big aroma. Hoppy but smooth.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Saying you love pale ales is like saying you love beer. But of course you love at least one rendition of this versatile style. An American pale ale might be a blond, a red or amber, an India pale ale or even a farmhouse ale. Almost anything made predominantly with grains that have been dry roasted to a pale-colored malt is a pale ale, even if added grains make it dark.
Most pale ales have British roots, but Oregon brewers graft those roots with delicious oddities. Where British pale ales might feature European malts, hops and yeasts, American pale ales feature American-grown hops, two-row malt and fewer yeasty flavors. In the Oregon favorites listed below, rye malt, orange peel and a variety of hops are featured on the smooth canvas of the pale ale.
This month’s consumer tasting was staged during the annual Big Brew Day at F.H. Steinbart Co. homebrew supply shop. While their beers brewed in the sunny Portland parking lot, homebrewers dropped by to sample Oregon pale ales donated by commercial brewers.
Ordnance: RX Pale Ale, Boardman 5.6 percent ABV, 34 IBUs
Brewer Description: Pouring a light straw color, this extra pale ale gets its spicy flavor from a healthy dose of rye malt. The rye spice combines nicely with Citra and Mosaic hops to bring you a beer that is just what the doctor ordered.
Consumer Comments: How good is that? Lingering hoppiness. Happiness. Spicy and light. Balanced backbones. Solid. Slight Nelson. Earthy and piney. Drinking this on a hike through Forest Park. Juniper?
Elk Horn: Protestant Pale Ale, Eugene 6 percent ABV, 40 IBUs
Brewer Description: A light-bodied pale for the warm summer daze. Brewed with Summit, Cascade and Amarillo hops.
Consumer Comments: The perfect summer beer. Floral and hoppy. Strong. Smooth, light and easy summer beer. Fruity and floral. Mango sweet and not too bitter. A great beer for people who don’t like IPA. Full Nelson. Nice sweetness. Dry finish. Less bitter.
Hopworks: IPX Mt. Hood Single Hop Ale, Portland 6 percent ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer Description: This single-hop ale series highlights signature aromas and flavors of specific hop varieties that are further multiplied through our unique dry hop process. Geek out on the signature nuances. Known for clean bittering and mild aromas, the Salmon-Safe Certified Mt. Hood hop was used in this IPX beer.
Consumer Comments: Nutty! Nutty, smoky good. Refreshing! Fruity! Is that a noble hop flavor? Balanced and clean. A super session beer. Fruit -- are those oranges? Way too easy to drink -- can I have more?
Columbia River: CRB Pale Ale, Portland 6.5 percent ABV, 52 IBUs
Brewer Description: A very well-balanced strong Northwest-style pale ale with refreshing and hoppy characteristics all supported by the correct amount of malt. Light in color -- big in taste!
Consumer Comments: Fruity and smooth. I liked how it went down, from my tongue to my belly. Spicy, herbal, light and hoppy. Good head! Grapefruit. Nicely rounded. Best so far. A bouquet of hoppy goodness. Great hop nose and wonderful balance. Zesty. English?
13 Virtues: You Down With OPP?, Portland 5.0% ABV, 40 IBUs
Brewer Description: Are YOU down with our orange peel pale ale? The name says it all -- we've combined the zest of sweet orange peel in a hoppy Pacific Northwest pale ale. This beer is easy drinking, finishes dry and has great orange-citrus flavor.
Consumer Comments: Sweeter. Very smooth. Sweet and slightly hoppy. Good balance. Fruit and pine. I can taste the hops, too. Really good. Light hops and solid flavor. Light as a summer day.
Stormbreaker: Right as Rain Pale Ale, Portland 5.6 percent ABV, 36 IBUs
Brewer Description: We set out to make our pale ale a pale ale, and not a baby IPA. It’s crisp and easy drinking with mild herbal, floral and citrus notes. The wort is hopped with U.S. Goldings, Centennial and Summer hops, which lends a smoother, less harsh bitterness for a clean finish that is indeed “right as rain.”
Consumer Comments: Lager-y finish. Skunky, in a good way. Hoppiest by far. Great pine bitterness. Run me up a pine tree and call me “beer.” Is it saison or farmhouse beer or is it just good? I like this taste. This is my favorite.
Ninkasi: Spring Reign, Eugene 6 percent ABV, 38 IBUs
Brewer Description: A lightly toasted British-style malt flavor balanced by bright Northwest-style hops. Spring forward with this refreshing seasonal ale. Notes of toasted malt up front, with a bright and crisp Northwest hop finish. It’s a session beer that everyone can enjoy!
Consumer Comments: Hoppy! Smooth, light and very nice. Malty. Good, sharp hop finish. Very nice balance. Sessionable, great beer. Second flavor wave, good! Simple and delicious. Pleasant fruit aroma. Smooth finish. Golden flowers and ocean spray.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Fruit has flavored beers for centuries worldwide, in styles from Belgians to hefeweizens. Internationally loved, fruit beers can be found flavored with extracts, purees or whole fruit — fresh or dried.
Oregon brewers have a particular advantage: they have quick access to fresh fruits grown in the Northwest that range from rhubarb to pumpkins. This month’s Perfect Pints features, for example, include raspberries, cherries, prunes and blackberries grown in Oregon.
This region’s connection with fruit also makes its annual Portland Fruit Beer Fest, set for June 12-14 this year at Burnside Brewing, a natural. Dozens of breweries will feature fruit beers, some made specially for this event. Watch for updates and ticket sales at the website, www.fruitbeerfest.com.
Meanwhile, the following fruit beers are available now. The beers were chosen by our consumer judges at our monthly blind tasting at F.H. Steinbart homebrew shop in Portland.
Twisted Snout: Raspberry Squeal, Toledo 4.6 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: It's a crisp golden ale brewed with real raspberries.
Consumer Comments: Like jam and beer … awesome. Raspberry! Oh, there’s a party in my mouth and every-berry’s invited. Makes my lips smack. Fruit pie from grandma’s secret recipe. Love to share this with grandma as we sit on the porch and watch the river flow by. Would serve this to my wife on Valentine’s Day and hope to get lucky. I might need to try a whole glass of this...
Coalition: Space Fruit Citrus IPA, Portland 7.0 percent ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewery Description: Space Fruit is a West Coast IPA with a citrus twist. Coalition uses five different citrus fruits to create unique flavors and aromatics that mingle with the hop character.
Consumer Comments: Carmen Miranda with her tropical fruit hat! Juniper fireworks: Gets you ready for the 4th. Love this beer -- yum, yum. Call me a cab, I would like to overindulge in this one. Rosemary? Pineapple? Yeah, this is a good beer. I tend to like the hops.
Golden Valley: Italian Prune Bomb, McMinnville 8.5 percent ABV, 54 IBUs
Brewery Description: Golden Valley’s Tannen Bomb was aged in pinot noir barrels with 75 pounds of fresh Italian prunes harvested from the brewmaster’s family orchard. Two fermentations later, this pink-colored beer has a lively floral, fruit blossom nose.
Consumer Comments: Boozy, vanilla. For a high-alcohol beer, it’s tasty. It’s got a brandy feel. Sugarplum fairies dance in my head! Ready to chill out with the peeps. The sun coming out after a sudden rainstorm. To quote Justin: “I can drink the shit out of this beer!” Delicious and less beer-like with an interesting aftertaste. This is my favorite so far. I’d love to get hammered on this one and see how I feel the next day.
Rusty Truck: Moonlight Ride Blackberry Ale, Lincoln City 5.3 percent ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewery Description: The aroma of ripened Oregon blackberries on a crisp moonlit September night is what inspired this blackberry ale. This ale is aged on 126 pounds of pureed blackberries per 10-barrel batch.
Consumer Comments: I’d be interested in finding out how much is too much of this beer. Pink lemonade city. Berry fruit cocktail with farmhouse essence. Nice flavor. Grapefruit? Raspberry?
Stickmen: Dark Cherry Wheat, Lake Oswego 6.0 percent ABV, 23 IBUs
Brewery Description: This American wheat beer with cherry is a simple wheat recipe with a secondary fermentation on 168 pounds of Oregon dark cherries. It finishes dry with a hint of tartness.
Consumer Comments: Wow. I would drink this on my lunch break and then deny it to my boss! Strawberry jam on crack. Strawberry jam slathered on pepperoni. Refreshing! A lot of Brett, like a farmyard in a good way. Unripe melons.
McMenamins: Ruby Ale, Oregon 4.39 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: One of McMenamins’ standards since 1986, it is still a light, crisp and refreshingly fruity ale. Great Western Premium 2-row and 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberry puree are used to craft every colorful batch.
Consumer Comments: Delicious! Yum, raspberry soda. Light and wheaty summer day beer with mixed berries. Perfect summer sipper (or slammer!). Berry heaven. Strawberry shortcake — no whipped cream. Berry goodness as you are wandering the fields. Refreshing, light, deep and pretty. Would like to fill my CamelBak with this and suck it down while cutting the grass.
Widmer: Hefe Shandy, Portland 4.2 percent ABV, 12 IBUs
Brewery Description: The original American hefeweizen gets a bold, new citrusy aroma and flavor from lemon drop hops and natural lemonade flavor.
Consumer Comments: Super citrus, smells like lemonade. It’s a radler and it’s delicious. Key lime pie eaten on a veranda at sunset. Get out the bikini and spray tan. I’m replacing my after-dinner cup of lemon ginger tea with this. Awesome summer taste. Lemonhead! I love how dry. Would love to listen to country music while drinking this. Okay we have a winner. This is my favorite.
NEXT FREE TASTING:
Oregon Beer Growler’s IPA Tastings:
Friday, June 12 at 5 p.m.
Three Legged Dog, Independence
Saturday, June 13 at 1 p.m.
F.H. Steinbart Co., Portland
By Andi Prewitt and Will Oberst-Cairns
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
The Northwest is full of hop heads, which means IPAs are all the rage and pushing the boundaries when it comes to IBUs is now the norm. Enter the double or imperial IPA, where increased bitterness is expected and a stronger alcohol flavor usually comes through. According to Beer Advocate, the term “imperial” is borrowed from the Russian imperial stout that was originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s. The double IPA was the focus of a blind and random tasting competition held in February at homebrewing supply store F.H. Steinbart Co. in Portland. Only consumers are allowed to participate, no one who works for any participating brewery is allowed to vote. The top seven beers are listed below. The following descriptions and comments come from the participating breweries and consumer tasters who attended the event:
Lompoc: C-Note Imperial Pale Ale, Portland 6.9% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewery Description: This highly-hopped ale has a deep copper to orange hue with a bold aroma of pine and herbal spice. Hints of toffee and caramel are followed by a citrus finish that is dry and refreshingly bitter.
Consumer Comments: Things that make you go hmmm. Rich and luxurious, this should be served in a fine wine glass. Would be perfect for Thanksgiving or even just with a turkey sandwich. Subtle, sneaky delicious. Beautifully red like an Irish minx. Great aroma and flavor. Like the flavor. A bit too bitter, but I would order more than one. Smooth, relaxing, light, refreshing.
McMenamins: Major Threat (Edgefield Brewery) Double IPA, Troutdale 9.29% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewery Description: The latest installment in our double IPA series is a true West Coast double IPA. Hops were incorporated in every step of the brewing process, from mash to keg. Nuggets were used for bittering and provide a smooth, mellow bitterness. Cascade, Centennial and Santiams were added during the boil to deliver a piney and citrusy burst of hop flavor. Simcoe and Chinook hops were added late in the boil to give a nice citrusy hop aroma. Finally, a mighty dose of Centennial hops were added during fermentation for a blast of hop aroma. Malts: 2-Row, Dextra Pils. Hops: Nugget, Cascade, Centennial, Santiam, Simcoe, Chinook.
Consumer Comments: You’ve got to hop me up. Great to drink while watching the home team play, even if they don’t win. Best so far, strong hops. Slightly syrupy like your grandma’s down-home pancakes. Balanced. I like mouthfeel for a slower-drinking beer. Like the fruitiness, but too bitter for my taste.
Wild Ride: Brain Bucket Imperial IPA, Redmond 8.5% ABV, 90 IBUs
Brewery Description: Buckle up your chin strap and enjoy the ride! This beer breaks free from the pack and cranks it up a notch. We give IPA lovers more malt and hops, ascending Brain Bucket to imperial status. Classic Northwest hops, pine and citrus tones will knock your senses senseless! It wouldn't be a bad idea to wear a helmet while drinking this big, bold delight.
Consumer Comments: Smooth and balanced. East Coast-style, but fits in perfect on the West Coast. Perfect rainy-day beer. Sweet on palate, tasteful. I’d pair this with fruit and cheese, maybe make mussels with this as the base. Dry finish, full flavor. Finish is very pleasant. More please, more please. I need some beer for an expedition to watch the aurora borealis. Smooth. Refreshingly hoppy. It’s like a unicorn prancing on your mouth. Good aroma, crisp clean taste.
Pelican: Imperial Pelican Ale, Pacific City 8% ABV, 85 IBUs
Brewery Description: Pelican’s mascot, Phil the Pelican, has recreated the flavor of the British Empire with his own American twist. Enjoy the huge Cascade and Centennial hop aroma, the subtle malty sweetness, and the floral, citrusy flavor of this robust, gold-colored ale. This brew began life as a seasonal beer during our first year and was so popular while we had it, and so frequently requested when it was gone, that we turned it into our fifth regular beer style our second year.
Consumer Comments: Summer here in Portland. Really pleasant ride. Love the hops. The hops never stop, brings the flavor to the top. Lots of floral and not too bitter. I’d order another. Light and refreshing, second favorite.
Laurelwood: Megafauna, Portland 9.5% ABV, 140 IBUs
Brewery Description: This beer takes its name from the oversized animals of the Pleistocene Epoch or Ice Age. Large saber-toothed cats, hairy elephants and sloths the size of buses roamed the frozen tundras. Everything was big and/or hairy, with extra horns, tusks, teeth, etc. Like those massive animals, this beer is huge with hop aroma and flavor. We used several new aromatic hop varieties to get a layered and hop oil-soaked beer which, unlike the frozen tundra, isn’t bitter and finishes dry. The aroma and flavor are layers of pine, citrus and tropical fruit and the beer is a pale gold. We hope you drink it in good health and keep warm. **2013 National IIPA Champion**
Consumer Comments: Was my favorite by far. Interesting pine flavors. Not gulpable, but fun to drink. Great flavor, great aroma, would drink this all day. Put on your spacesuit and prepare to blast off with flavor. Excellent flavor hops. Finally, a nice piney sticky (in a good way) IIPA. After a 60-hour week, this is perfect to start the weekend with.
Burnside: Project Ale, Portland 8% ABV, 99.5 IBUs
Brewery Description: An Imperial IPA with a clean, silky malt presence that is loaded with hop flavor and aroma. It’s extremely well balanced, thus maintains its ability to pair with food. Project Ale is not your average hop bomb!
Consumer Comments: Great color. Great aroma. Loved the fruit notes. Crisp and peppy. Want to pair this with chiles. You’ve got to be hopping me.
Coalition: Double Dog Dare Double IPA, Portland 8.2% ABV, 80 IBUs
Brewery Description: The imperial version of our popular IPA, Double Dog Dare, comes in at a very drinkable 8.2 percent ABV. Notes of caramel and biscuit make up the malt profile, while a distinctive Northwest hop profile round out this beer. Bittered with Nugget hops; Sterling, Cascade, and Simcoe provide flavors of citrus, flowers and tropical fruit. A dry hop of Chinook brings the aromatics together in this deliciously big, but balanced IPA. Try some. We dare you. We Double Dog Dare you.
Consumer Comments: Lots of floral which I like, but a bit too bitter. Don’t know if I’d order more than one, very drinkable. I’d have six on a summer day, nice smooth bitterness, great rich flavor. Nondescript, decent.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.