By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As I write this column, it’s late and I just returned from a fundraising dinner for a local nonprofit organization. Held in a ballroom, this formal event featured all the hallmarks of a well-staged banquet: live entertainment, good food, beer and wine, auction items. But since this all took place in Oregon, maybe it was a bit smoother than it might have been elsewhere.
In Oregon, we’re laid-back and we do things a little differently — including how we attend formal banquets. While some guests wore tailored suits and evening gowns, an equal number were clad in khakis and flannel shirts. I saw elected officials, business owners, physicians and lawyers who belonged in both dress camps. And the great thing? It was totally fine. Nobody cared. It struck me that, in addition to all the unique and quirky characteristics Oregon is known for, the best might be our ability to just chill. In other places, people may have felt over- or under-dressed, but not here. I love that about Oregon.
Every fall, when football season comes around, the storied rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State highlights our chill-ability like almost nothing else. Since I count friends of both the Beaver and Duck varieties, each year the good-natured ribbing and pranking that accompanies the Civil War game causes me to marvel. Duels of this sort occur all over the country, but not with the grace and good humor we exhibit here.
So here’s to Oregon (the state at large, not the school — wouldn’t want to show bias, after all). And here are four great Oregon tailgating brews to fill your raised glass!
Elk Horn Brewery: Vindeglas, Eugene
6.4% ABV; 65 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Fresh-squeezed Mosaic hops, picked right from the bines and tossed into the kettle, provide a juicy citrus and grapefruit flavor profile for this seasonal fresh-hopped IPA.
Consumer Comments: Notes of sweet, citrusy grapefruit and a little pineapple introduce the immensely refreshing Vindeglas from Elk Horn. While Vindeglas won the title from our tasting panel this month, we’re not sure it’s a predictor of the game. But it’s a well-balanced and clean brew, from start to finish. True to its nose, the easy-drinking Vindeglas is hop-focused without being obnoxious. Well done, Elkhorn!
Burnside Brewing Company: Couch Select Lager, Portland
5.0% ABV; 18 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a helles-style lager brewed with quality pilsner malt, German Tettnanger hops and fermented with the Bohemian Lager yeast strain. Cold fermentation produces a nice crispy snap to a beautiful malt flavor and subtle hop presence. It’s best drank in large quantities accompanied by a cheeseburger. Helles yeah! Burnside Lager, unlike other Burnside Beers, is filtered. Our new high-tech filter allows us to polish this traditional style to create a bright brew with a crisp finish to style. Prost!
Consumer Comments: If you’re tailgating, Couch Select Lager might be the perfect brew to take along. Honest and straightforward, this lively brew’s notes of green apple and easy hops are respectful to the palate. Our tasters uniformly stated this beer took them right back to their college days. Beer pong anyone?
Climate City Brewing Company: Hot Shot Smoked Helles, Grants Pass
5.1% ABV; 28 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a very pale, light lager hailing from Germany — but with a twist. There’s just enough cherry wood-smoked malt and hand-toasted cherry wood chips to impart gentle, intriguing smoky notes — perfect for quaffing next to the campfire!
Consumer Comments: What the helles? Climate City has an outstanding beer in its Hot Shot. Our panelists loved this affable lager’s easy palate and — yes, you can really taste it — smoky character. With robust carbonation, a bit of acidity and bright hops emerging on the mid-palate, this brew is masterfully balanced. Hot Shot finishes cleanly with a pleasant, lingering bitterness.
Flat Tail Brewing: Tailgater Kolsch, Corvallis
5.5% ABV; 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our authentically brewed kolsch starts with Weyermann Pilsner Malt and German Tettnanger hops and is lagered for four weeks after fermentation. Crisp, clean and easy drinking with just enough complexity to get your beer geek on.
Consumer Comments: Another collegiate classic, our tasters enjoyed Tailgater Kolsch, remarking on its fruity aroma, easygoing sweetness and well-balanced, medium body. Notes of wheat evolve to light hops and a crisp finish — altogether an honest and laid-back brew. Anyone up for a game of quarters?
Even though I’ve been known to gripe about a few things commonly found in Oregon — the rain and the slow driving might be my favorites — I recognize we live in a special place. I like to expound on Oregon’s natural beauty, but the state’s people are an even bigger part of why living here is so extraordinary. We’ve got it good, no matter who wins Nov. 25. Either way, we’re chill. That’s how we do things in Oregon.
By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
We live in a beta world. Back when companies put serious effort into beating their competitors’ quality, it was a big deal to be No. 1. It meant your product was better than the other company’s product. It meant your product would likely outlast or outperform the other guy’s. Now, No. 1 means you made the most money the fastest. It means certain careful steps in the testing and certification phase of product development have been sacrificed to hasten your product’s delivery to market. It means your shareholders are happy but your customers, well, not so much. If you ask me, this new No. 1 is a load of No. 2 (yes that number two).
In technology, we’ve witnessed amazing innovation and creativity flowing forth in an uninterrupted stream since the mid-1990s. But then we started seeing beta products — software still in test phase — released for public experimentation and scrutiny. Beta products became increasingly common until, today, pretty much everything is beta. Part of this is due to the dynamic nature of the industry — nothing’s ever really finished anymore. Part of it can be attributed to the speed at which events take place today — hesitation doesn’t win acclaim and make money.
Whatever the case, I don’t mind living in a beta world even though I’m occasionally frustrated by certain oafish flaws in my software — bugs that almost certainly would’ve been caught by a rigorous test protocol. But I’m grateful there’s nothing beta about beer. Sure, the Oregon brewing industry has seen a lot of experimentation and innovation. But in the end, I know I’ll have a great frustration-free product in my glass — like any of the five robust Oregon porters we explored.
Leikam Brewing: Hey Porter, Portland
6.4% ABV; 40 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Throw down your cash and grab our Hey Porter. You won’t be able to wait for a second pint once you taste this unique blend of coffee, chocolate and wheat malts. Created in honor of our third son, Daniel Porter.
Consumer Comments: A ruddy complexion and vigorous head introduce Leikam Brewing’s Hey Porter. This month’s favorite, the Hey Porter’s nose of blackcurrant, molasses and polite yeast yield to coffee and hints of juniper and a mildly bitter mid-palate. If it sounds complicated, it’s not. This well-balanced brew confidently evolves to a clean finish.
Long Brewing: Paul’s Porter, Newberg
6.2% ABV; 37 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Intensely black with a thick, tan head, this beer has layers of dark bittersweet chocolate, coffee and caramel aroma. Rich, complex malts create an almost chewy mouthfeel. Finish has some minerality. The porter is lightly hopped to highlight its soft malty sweetness. Little-to-no burnt roast, bitterness or astringency.
Consumer Comments: What he said. (It’s nice when the brewer’s notes nail the beer.) Paul’s Porter from Long Brewing demonstrates a double chocolate theme throughout, along with coffee, caramel and the barest hint of cherry. A lively brew with a big personality, Paul’s Porter is rich without being heavy — this is the funny guy everyone loves at parties, but he doesn’t cross the line. You’ll want to invite him back.
Hop Haus Brewing: Cocos Nucifera Toasted Coconut Porter, Gresham
5.6% ABV; 28 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Smooth, chocolate, slightly-sweet and roasted malt goodness is balanced with toasted organic coconut and late edition Willamette hops. Together, those flavors provide the basis for a wonderful porter without overwhelming the palate.
Consumer Comments: Coffee and caramel take the lead with Cocos Nucifera Toasted Coconut Porter from Hop Haus. Perhaps the perfect autumn brew, it serves as a segue from summer’s lighter flavors to the forthcoming stoutness of winter. Coffee-themed throughout, this brew’s malty character mellows its upbeat bitterness.
Rusty Truck Brewing Co.: Taft Toffee Porter, Lincoln City
5.0% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Named for Rusty Truck’s home in the Historic Taft District, Taft Toffee Porter is a dark and velvety ale with significant toffee and chocolate notes. Slightly lighter in color than mass-produced porters, our version is a tasty twist on the dockworkers’ old favorite.
Consumer Comments: A dark brew with a white frothy cap, Rusty Truck’s Taft Toffee Porter is complex and thoughtful, layered in both flavor and hue. Gentle notes of cherry and plum give way to a lingering orange-citrus finish. This porter is that rare brew that manages to remain true to itself while offering the taster diverse nuances all the way to the bottom of the glass.
Three Creeks Brewing Company: FivePine Chocolate Porter, Sisters
6.2% ABV; 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a robust porter that features 2-pounds-per-barrel of the finest Belgian chocolate, creating a slightly roasty pint with underlying chocolate sweetness.
Consumer Comments: Subtle notes of smoky leather rise above the rich depths of FivePine Chocolate Porter from Three Creeks. A hoppy character asserts itself on the mid-palate, buffered by a bit of nutty malt. A gentleman of a beer, the FivePine will mind his manners but you won’t forget the quiet strength beneath his charm.
As long as we’re on the subject of innovation and creativity, I want to suggest an idea for a beta product. I volunteer to exhaustively test this product myself: a built-in USB two-brew cooler with cup holder for my PC. Or maybe six-pack size. Surprise me. Until I get such a device, I’ll have to get up and walk to the fridge for my Oregon craft refreshment. But I’m anxious to begin the beta testing.
By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As a food and beverage writer for several publications, I usually try to write with humor, relating lighthearted anecdotes as I describe the enormous role food and drink plays in making life so enjoyable. But as the country grows increasingly polarized and people on opposite sides of controversial issues are no longer willing to speak with each other — other than hurling vile insults and screaming obscenities — I find myself emphasizing the potential eating and drinking have to act as bridge-builders.
I have been blessed to enjoy friendships with people of many cultures, religions and colors — and political beliefs spanning the entire spectrum. Although I disagreed profoundly with some of my friends’ positions, I am absolutely certain my life has been vastly enriched by the scope of these varied relationships. Maybe surprisingly, some of the people who blessed me the greatest are those with whom I disagreed most vehemently. Almost never did our hours-long discussions end with significant position changes for any of us. But every time — almost without exception — these dialogues resulted in mutually increased respect around the table. And it was a table invariably littered with crumpled napkins, food-spotted plates and empty pint glasses.
As we celebrate the harvest, it’s worth underscoring the importance food and drink play in bringing humans together. If you set aside your most dearly held beliefs just for a moment, you’ll find we have a lot more in common with each other than we have at odds. I’m not advocating compromising your principles; I won’t do that myself. But when two people with opposing perspectives put aside the issues separating them, they’ll find dozens of interests or tastes they have in common. Every time, guaranteed.
In the spirit of healthy discussion (and with apologies for preaching), we bring you several reds this month — perfect to get the conversation started.
Royale Brewing Co.: Inspektor Red Ale, Portland
6.0% ABV; 31 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Rich, malty, flavorful red ale. Deep crimson red in color. Ripe melon, bright berry and citrus aroma. Toffee caramel, fresh-baked bread malt character. Medium-bodied. Clean finish.
Consumer Comments: The favorite of this month’s panelists, our tasters spoke of the outstanding quenchability of Inspektor. Hints of lemon and hops on the nose yield gently to notes of caramel and a mild bitterness. Panelists overwhelmingly recommended pairing this brew with harvest barbecue.
Backside Brewing Co.: Axeman Red, Roseburg
6.3% ABV; 75 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A notorious Northwest-style red. Deep color and silky layered complex flavoring. If you like reds, Axeman does not disappoint. This beer is a tribute to our local logging heritage.
Consumer Comments: A frothy head and berry palate characterize the affable easy-drinking Axeman. A soft mouthfeel and notes of lemon suggest a broader appeal than a straightforward red — sort of a gregarious strawberry blonde, if you like.
Leikam Brewing: Grateful Red, Portland
7.1% ABV; 70 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our Grateful Red will ripple through your taste buds with the flavor and aroma of Chinook, Willamette and Columbus hops. We use five different malts and four hop varietals for this hoppy red.
Consumer Comments: Green melon and gentle hops introduce the tantalizing Grateful Red. This lively brew’s fruit yields to a more astringent hoppiness and notes of juniper on the mid-palate, finishing cleanly. An excellent pint, the Grateful Red is a beer-lover’s brew, through and through. I’ll have another Grateful Red, please!
Laurelwood Brew Pub: Free Range Red Ale, Portland
5.9% ABV; 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A Northwest-style red with a sweet caramel malty backbone, balanced by a smooth hop profile.
Consumer Comments: If ever a beer had perfect manners, it’s the Free Range Red. With easy notes of charred wood and a shred of butterscotch, this beer possessed a balance and drinkability that immediately earned it high marks. A happy brew, this one should satisfy both IPA lovers and those who prefer a more restrained pint.
Scout Beer: Jam, Portland
5.9% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The focus of Jam is on the beautiful and fresh marionberry flavor. Already bursting with fruit from the pounds and pounds of berries added to this beer, we then heightened the flavor by using Kent Golding hops and Scottish ale yeast. If you stop by the brewery, try it blended with Anaphylactic, our peanut butter porter. It’s a PB&J in a glass!
Consumer Comments: The brewers are right: Jam is a berry-centric delight. Tasters liked the fruit focus, noting its subtlety and simplicity heightened the brew’s enjoyability. A straightforward and honest brew, Jam is a perfect pint to drink after a day’s work or as a regular weekender.
Wild Ride Brew: 3 Sisters Red Ale, Redmond
6.0% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s 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 Central Oregon 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, the Sisters can be both bitter and sweet, and the select hops represent the Northwest in every way possible.
Consumer Comments: Notes of sweet apple and malt lead with a beguiling smoothness when a 3 Sisters Red Ale is pulled. Beautifully balanced, this medium-bodied and lightly hopped pint was described as easy to drink and a good “anytime brew,” perfect to serve when trying to please varied tastes.
So grab a pint and have a seat across the table from someone who belongs to the other political party or who practices a different faith or cultural tradition than yours. You don’t need to change your positions or compromise your beliefs. You just need to be willing to listen and to speak easily while enjoying a great Oregon brew. It’s a message I will continue to preach — a lesson I learned that can dramatically enrich your life. And since it’s a lesson best learned over a pint, it’s worth trying, right?
By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The headline of a recent article in the New York Daily News said it all: “Abandoned cars litter streets in Portland, Ore. after just a couple of inches of snow falls.” It reminded me of an evening in 1996 when I sat at my friend’s bar around 5 p.m., enjoying a nice post-work pint. Business was slow and some sports event was playing on the bar’s televisions. I was happy to relax with my beer, grateful to escape the wintry cold outside.
Then the snow fell.
Portland has a good measure of familiarity with two forms of downtown chaos: the political protest chaos and — you guessed it! — the snowflake chaos. As the first few snowflakes fluttered to the ground, Portland immediately panicked. Hundreds of evening-drive-time motorists abandoned their cars on Highway 26, trudging through the so-far-not-too-heavy snowfall and back up the first downtown on ramp which, as luck would have it, was located pretty much across the street from my friend’s bar. I would’ve been content to remain with my pint, but seeing as the joint went from dead to standing-room-only in a matter of minutes, my skills as a waiter and bartender were pressed into service and I found myself serving dozens of bad drivers who were also thirsty.
I learned several lessons that long-ago evening — mainly about Portland drivers, but also an important one about the value of a good adult beverage on a frigid, snowy, frustrating, winter night. Since we’re seeing some winter weather similarities this season, we thought we’d present five outstanding Oregon stouts, each of them a perfect companion for future frigid, snowy, frustrating, winter nights.
Rusty Truck Brewing: Pacific Grind Espresso Stout, Lincoln City
5% ABV; 33 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: We brewed this American-style espresso stout in collaboration with our local coffee roaster, Cape Foulweather Coffee Co. and Pacific Grind Cafe. With 3 pounds of ground roasted beans in the mash and 3.5 gallons of espresso added post fermentation, expect huge coffee flavors and a caffeine boost from this big-bodied stout.
Consumer Comments: Like the brewer’s description declares, the Pacific Grind Espresso Stout from Rusty Truck is built on a solid foundation of coffee. Panelists also noted characteristics of cocoa with hints of molasses and fig. While firmly full-bodied, this pint is eminently mellow and inviting. More than one taster commented on its “drinkability.” Ordinarily, I tend to like contrasting pairings but this brew might be fantastic with a really good brownie. The winner of this month’s group, the Pacific Grind Espresso Stout, is an outstanding example of its kind!
Fire on the Mountain: Electric Mud, Portland
6.6% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: After the concert, the long hike or while simply sitting around the campfire, you reach for that one stout. The one that has chocolate depth, silky oatmeal texture, and rich roasty flavor. The one that fortifies your smile as you share stories with your friends. This is that beer. FOTM Brewing encourages you to enjoy responsibly, late into the night.
Consumer Comments: With notes of coffee, caramel and molasses, Electric Mud from Fire on the Mountain is well-balanced and smooth with an abundance of flavor. The Electric Mud starts deceptively simple, a mid-palate of chocolate and oatmeal evolving to a full finish. Panelists suggested hearty meat dishes like burgers, meatloaf or barbecue as accompaniment to this pint.
Gateway Brewing: Wood Hill Stout, Portland
6% ABV; 56 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: The name celebrates Joseph Wood Hill Park, perched on top of East Portland’s Rocky Butte. Rich stout malt is balanced with Galena hops throughout and oats are added to help with a creamy, thick head.
Consumer Comments: Regular IPA drinkers might like Gateway’s Wood Hill Stout, with its hoppy personality and earthy character. Panelists noted hints of molasses, mushroom and a shred of olive (it may sound weird, but it works). Our tasters recommended pairing with dark meats or balsamic dishes, with one panelist stating that this brew stands just fine by itself. Appropriately, the Wood Hill Stout will warm you from the inside out.
Natian Brewery: Cease & Desist, Portland
9.2% ABV; 72 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Big, bold and full-bodied. This midnight-black stout incorporates oatmeal and unfermentable milk sugar, lending the finished beer a subtle sweetness and a full, creamy mouthfeel. The coffee notes from the roasted malt are further complemented by aging on Oregon oak, which has been soaked in Kahlua coffee-flavored liqueur.
Consumer Comments: Our panelists immediately observed notes of both oatmeal and Kahlua in Natian’s viscous Cease & Desist. This darkly intriguing brew also exhibits subtle notes of coffee and ginger with respectable bitterness. Perhaps more than any other brew in this group, the Cease & Desist is a slow-pull pint, perfect for enjoying in front of a crackling fire after a day in the snow. But be careful — you’ll want to treat this one with a little respect.
Three Creeks Brewing Co.: Frontier Justice Coffee Stout, Sisters
8% ABV; 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This collaboration with Sisters Coffee Company features 1-pound-per-barrel of their special roast. The base is a huge imperial stout brewed with 10 different malts and Cascade hops. The final beer is dominated by rich coffee aroma and flavor.
Consumer Comments: If there exists such a thing as an early morning beer, this is it. The cappuccino of stouts, Frontier Justice Coffee Stout from Three Creeks, might just be the best part of waking up — at least its nose says so. Anchored in coffee, this aromatic stout has a big personality that starts strong, but finishes surprisingly clean. Nutty and rich, pair this robust brew with over-the-top chocolatey desserts or, better yet, enjoy it along with a substantial cigar and a good story.
When our tasting panel gathers to sample pints for Super Brews, there are usually several standouts and this batch of stouts was no exception. But more broadly speaking, I was delighted to discover I enjoyed all five of these pints. It’s also worth noting that, more than any other Super Brews tasting, this group featured brewers’ descriptions that very closely matched the notes of the panel. (Remember, we do this blind — we have no idea what we’re sampling until we’re done.)
So when it’s cold outside and the skies are dark early, when the rain turns to snow and you think about leaving your car on the freeway, make sure you do so near a watering hole where you can order a belly-warming Oregon stout to take the chill off. Not only will you feel warmed, but it’s amazing how a pint or three can help with road frustration, too.
By Matthew Meador
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As a non-native Pacific Northwesterner, I am aware we live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I am usually attuned to others’ reasons for loving life here. One of the most colorful aspects of life in the Pacific Northwest is the changing of the seasons. Almost universally, the region’s residents mention the four distinct annual quarters that make up a calendar year. Never a fan of the rain — although I recognize the critical contribution of precipitation to our breathtaking landscape — seasonal change means something different for me than it does for people like my wife, who’s immensely fond of the autumn colors and the departure of summer. Where she enjoys the falling of the leaves, the return of the rain and the onset of winter, I’m already missing summer and looking forward to spring.
But fall brings with it other attractions, notably the start of football season. And when you’re talking about football in Oregon, the conversation never fails to touch on the endless Oregon or Oregon State debate and the epic tailgating gatherings which have come to define football in this area. So we thought a friendly little brews-made-for-tailgating competition between certain breweries located in the totally random towns of Corvallis and Eugene would be perfect. Totally random? OK, maybe not. But both of these Oregon football towns know how to turn out some great games — and champion brews!
Flat Tail Tailgater Kolsch, Corvallis
5.0% ABV; 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Mashed with Weyermann Malt from Bamberg, Germany, and hopped with German Tettnangers, this crushable brew is fermented cold with a traditional yeast strain to keep it light, crisp and perfect for an afternoon tailgate.
Consumer Comments: With the invitingly clean hue of fresh apple juice, the Tailgater Kolsch presents itself as a friendly, easy-drinking beer — exactly what it is. Panelists liked this brew’s easy-going nature, noting its mild malt and crisp finish. This one’s best served chilled — maybe a bit more than usual — in the company of friends.
Oregon Trail Wit, Corvallis
4.7% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Oregon Trail Wit is a zesty spiced wheat ale, brewed since 1992. Crafted with Oregon pioneer spirit, Mount Hood hops, coriander and orange peel for a citrusy finish, this naturally hazy beer is supremely refreshing.
Consumer Comments: With the barest hint of clove on the nose and palate, the Oregon Trail Wit starts out paradoxically light and earthy. It’s a great autumn beer, with hints of spice and a bit of nip without the stereotypical “pumpkin spice” attitude. Panelists thought this pint might be a great introduction to those who’d like to try a beer for the first time. Serve with brats or sausages.
Block 15 Gloria!, Corvallis
5.0% ABV; Unavailable IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Blending delicate malt character and zesty hops, Gloria! is our vision of the crisp, unfiltered pilsner. Brewed with floor-malted pilsner malts, Gloria! pours a hazy, straw-colored pint. European- and Oregon-grown hops impart citrus and floral spice, while select lager yeast finishes clean and refreshing. This immensely drinkable lager is our brewers’ choice after a long day in the brewhouse. Gloria!
Consumer Comments: Panelists pegged this pint a pilsner without hesitation. Gloria! is light, crisp and easy-drinking, exhibiting notes of lemon peel framed by a sweet-but-friendly bitter body. With its refreshing character, this brew will accompany game day treats like wings, onion rings or teriyaki skewers perfectly.
Ninkasi Helles Belles, Eugene
5.3% ABV; 28 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Helles Belles is a headliner for the masses. Light and flavorful, this drinkable Lager strikes a chord between satisfyingly crisp and deliciously crafted. It’s time to rock — all night long.
Consumer Comments: Characterized by malt with a hint of spice, panelists loved the affable nature of Helles Belles Lager. With comments like “sure to please everyone” and “crisp, easy to drink,” tasters thought this brew would go well with chicken or barbecue sliders. This pint is well-balanced and lively, a great addition to any tailgate party.
Elk Horn Oktoberfest, Eugene
5.0% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This brilliantly clear and orange-colored lager was brewed for our Oktobeerfest on Oct. 22. It showcases the delicate flavors of German Pilsner, Munich and Vienna malts that provide freshly baked bread and nutty flavors that are complemented by the subtle spicy flavor and bitterness from German Tettnang hops. This beer was cold conditioned during the summer and is undeniably crisp and refreshing. Cheers!
Consumer Comments: The easy smoothness of this brew was noted by panelists, more than one remarking on its “drinkability.” The Oktoberfest Lager sports a medium body, an unobtrusive spiciness and panelists imagined it a perfect companion for tailgating fare like burgers, dogs or even cheesesteaks. The brew’s honey hue and very subtle woodsy char make for a refreshing brew.
Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA, Eugene
6.5% ABV; 80 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This IPA features four different hops with the addition of grapefruit peel for a citrus, peach and tropical bouquet. Plus there’s enough Munich malt to give it a classic burnt-orange color.
Consumer Comments: The hands-down favorite of panelists, Citrus Mistress IPA is an aptly-named brew, weighty and maybe a little opinionated without being overbearing. With a bold color just shy of blood oranges, this brew has a body of delicate citrus blossom, framed by robust hops. Like its name implies, the Citrus Mistress will keep you warmly entertained on a chilly fall afternoon, but she won’t overstay her welcome. It’s worth noting that, among the tailgating beers, this brew was the odd man — or woman — out. While the others were amiable easy beers, the Citrus Mistress’ forward IPA character set it apart from the rest.
The good-natured rivalry between our two teams is undoubtedly underscored by a shared love of our beautiful state. After all, Northwesterners are known for their love of the land and sense of fair play. Regardless of whether you’re a Beaver or a Duck fan, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the tailgating beers crafted by the talented brewmasters at any of these Oregon breweries. Here’s to football in Oregon — and the beers which help us cheer on our teams!
By Gail Oberst
It’s a cold November day. To keep warm, and to toast the upcoming football game, you are gathered with your friends in a parking lot near the stadium drinking Oregon beers. Which one would you choose to bring?
If your favorite team plays in Autzen Stadium, you might show your loyalty by choosing a craft beer brewed in Eugene or Springfield. If your team plays in Reser Stadium, you might want to gather up beers from Corvallis and Albany.
Either way, you’re the winner for supporting local craft beers.
The question is, which beer is the perfect tailgater beer?
Consumers this year chose McKenzie Brewing Company’s Bombay Bomber Pale Ale, praising its lightness, balance and sessionability. As with all of Oregon Beer Growler’s Perfect Pints tastings, this one was blind – consumer tasters did not know which beer they were drinking and were asked to judge the various styles of beers as suitable tailgater beers. About 20 tasters gathered last month at Corvallis Brewing Supply. Following, in order of their preferences, were their choices:
McKenzie Brewing Co. Bombay Bomber American Pale Ale, Eugene 6.2% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Brewed with all Northwest hops and Munich malt and two-row barley, this deep gold-hued ale is given a heavy-handed Mt. Hood hop addition in the kettle and dry-hopped after fermentation, for a powerful hop flavor.
Consumer Comments: Good hop/malt balance. Light citrus, crisp finish. Tasty light beer – drink while playing cornhole! Delicious, refreshing hoppy beer. Tastes awesome. I could drink this all day (with consequences).
Oregon Trail Brewery Ginseng Porter, Corvallis 6.4% ABV, IBUs not listed
Brewer’s Description: As the name implies, this robust porter is infused with American, Korean, Siberian, and Tienchi ginseng for an earthy, rooty finish.
Consumer Comments: Light enough to drink more of, and dark enough to drink more of. Coffee-like, very good. Not too heavy – a reasonable choice for a tailgater. Smooth espresso taste. Great for a cold evening while the Beavs destroy the Ducks. Tastes like wearing snug sweater. Super hearty.
Sam Bond's Accelerator ISA, Eugene 4.9% ABV, 42 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This India-style session ale features Mosaic hops, which add a distinct aroma and smooth bittering to the light malt body comprised of dark wheat, Weyermann pilsner, rolled oats and biscuit malt.
Consumer Comments: Fruity. Just hoppy enough. I could drink it all day. Smooth hoppy finish. Not too bitter. Hops like ‘woah!' Is it dry hopped?
Plough Monday Northwest Strong Ale, Veneta 8.3% ABV, 60 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This malt-forward, deep amber ale features caramel flavors with Northwest hops that add lighter citrus notes.
Consumer Comments: Is it Scotch ale? Great beer. I’m not going blind, but if I did, I can still taste this beer. Definitely the most unique beer. It’s pretty good. Melted caramel ice cream with soda – excellent!
Mazama Brewery Saison D’Etre, Corvallis 6.3% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Spicy and aromatic, this ale has a dry, peppery finish. It is spiced with coriander, orange peel, juniper berries, and a hint of black pepper.
Consumer Comments: Super crisp, nicely hopped. I could drink this all day at a game. Bubbly. Fun to drink. Tasty Belgian character. Very good!
Deluxe Brewing Wild Beaver Amber Lager, Albany 5.5% ABV, 15 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This amber lager comes from an award-winning recipe. The bold, malt flavor is balanced by Mount Hood and Santiam hops.
Consumer Comments: Yum! Creamy sweet malty, like Easter offering in a glass. Good for starting pub conversation. Great for a day of long drinking. Good ‘gater beer. Excellent. Malty!
McMenamins Quack Attack IPA, High Street, Eugene 6.8% ABV, 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Lightly bodied and heavily hopped, this IPA showcases Falconers Flight 7 Cs hops, set aside for football season. Also featured: Simcoe and Amarillo hops, 2-row barley and Crystal wheat.
Consumer Comments: Good session ale. Clean, crisp hoppy flavor. Good lemony aftertaste. Malt and hops, versatile. Tastes like wandering into a cave full of magic hops. Easy on the palate. Solid and balanced.
Hop Valley Alphadelic, Eugene 6.7% ABV, 90 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: You can run but you can’t hide from the hops in this true Northwest IPA. Brewed by hop lovers for hop lovers.
Consumer Comments: Enough hops. Sweet and hoppy. Creamy and delish. I could drink it all day. Easy to drink. My favorite beer. Is it a thousand IBUs? I might drink at halftime if I’m trying to chase away the sensation of defeat. Nectary and delicious. Nice hop finish.
Claim 52 Kölsch, Eugene 5.3% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A clean, crisp German-style ale with light hop bitterness and melon and peach character.
Consumer Comments: Super sugary and malty. Light and sweet. Strong wheat flavor. Oranges and gin outlines with rye. Biscuity with spicy finish. Light citrus hops. Good for hot day while maintaining complexity.
Ninkasi Venn Dortmund-style Lager, Eugene 5.1% ABV, 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Venn represents the meeting of American craft with European tradition. Brewed since the 1800s in Dortmund, Germany, this style marries perceptible Noble hop bitterness with a rounded, sweet malt flavor. Venn is golden in color, clean and harmonious.
Consumer Comments: Banana and cloves with a soft pils flavor and a clean finish. Nice beer for cold and hot weather. Nice and light – easy to drink.
Flat Tail Tailgater Kölsch, Corvallis 5% ABV, IBUs not listed
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest brew, this bright straw-hued crisp and lager-like ale is brewed with German Tettanger hops, adding a spicy bouquet and light bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Bright and crisp like a lager. You could “pound” this. Damn good taste. I could drink it all day.
Plank Town Resinater, Springfield 7% ABV, 70+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This single hopped NW style IPA earned its name from the high oil content of Equinox hops.
Consumer Comments: Smells like my favorite beer. Enjoyable! Pretty big for a tailgater.
Next Free Tasting:
Oregon Beer Growler’s
Holiday Ale Tasting
Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.
F.H. Steinbart in Portland
234 S.E. 12th Ave.
By Gail Oberst and Will Oberst-Cairns
Dark, rich porters arrived on the beer scene in the early 1700s as the love child of London’s brown beer and strong ale. It was the first beer to be aged and mixed at any brewery. Before porters arrived on the scene, beers were delivered fresh to the pub, and if there was aging to be done, it was done because the patrons didn’t drink it fast enough. I lie. Sometimes, the publicans and distributors aged it on purpose.
I could talk about Harwood’s Entire Butt, and a lot of other geeky stuff (look it up!), but suffice it to say early porters weighed in at over 6 percent ABV, rather strong by historic standards. Early porters were also brewed with brown malt, but the invention of black patent malt in 1817 made it possible to brew porter with pale malts, as they still are. It was the porter that prompted the use of thermometers and hydrometers in brewing, to push the ABV. Thanks, porter!
For various reasons – I think it was because porters were growing weaker than their predecessors – the popularity of porters began to wane from the mid-1800s until the mid-1900s.
The 1970s saw a revival in the production of porters, including the Baltic porter, originally brewed with top-fermenting yeasts in the 1800s, and with lager yeasts later on.
American porters have followed both British and Baltic traditions. You may find them as lagers or ales. Oregon’s porters are no less various.
One of Oregon’s oldest porters, Black Butte, produced in 1988, is still Deschute’s flagship beer. Other Oregon porters, as you will see below, vary in strength and ingredients.
Our porter tasters included industry professionals, distributors, writers, and friends and family of Blake Crosby, who gathered at his hop farm last month to celebrate the hop harvest. Here are their favorites, chosen in a blind tasting.
McMenamins Black Widow, Oregon 7.35% ABV, 40 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Originally created at the Thompson Brewery over 20 years ago on Oct. 15, 1991, and made once per year by all Thompson Brewers to come after that, Black Widow has generous amounts of black and roast malts, Horizon hops and flavors of caramel and licorice.
Tasters’ Descriptions: Malty goodness, roasty chocolate. Sweet molasses with smoke. Ice cream with a candy aroma like an old-time hardware store.
Laurelwood Organic Tree Hugger, Portland 5.8% ABV, 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This porter features a chocolate malt flavor that finishes dry and roasty. Delicate organic Newport, Cascade, and Fuggle hop flavors round out this rich, full-bodied ale. Brewed with 100% organically-grown crystal, carafa and chocolate malts.
Tasters’ Descriptions: More malty goodness. Get my cigars and tobacco pouch out. Fresh and tangy. Classic and true to style. Excellent balance.
Twisted Snout Honey Oatmeal Porker, Toledo 6.9% ABV
Brewer’s Description: A smooth, roasted chocolaty porter made with whole grain oats and wildflower honey from Queen Bee Apiaries, a honey company in Corvallis.
Tasters’ Descriptions: Roasty delicious. Fresh green tobacco leaves with cardamom. Very creamy, thick and chocolaty. Is it bourbon-barrel? It’s sweet and complex.
Rat Hole Vanilla Porter, Bend 5.5% ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A mild, appealing aroma of vanilla and a soft creamy mouth feel with a chocolate finish. Madagascar vanilla beans, six malts and chocolate and flaked oats.
Tasters’ Descriptions: Mild coffee. Nice chocolate flavor with a light body. Smokey vanilla smooth with hops. Chocolate decadence. Just a hint of coffee with nice malt.
Long Brewing Paul’s Porter, Newberg 6.2% ABV
Brewer’s Description: Intensely black with a thick tan head. Layers of dark bitter-sweet chocolate, coffee and caramel aroma and flavors supported by rich complex malts. Lightly hopped.
Tasters’ Descriptions: Smooooth as molasses. Creamy. Clean. Vanilla notes.
13 Virtues Baltic Porter, Portland 8.0% ABV, 40 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This Baltic porter is a strong black lager that was given a healthy period of cold-conditioning to achieve its crispness. Chocolate and cocoa entice the taste buds for a moment.
Tasters’ Descriptions: Crisp. Good and clean. Pretty nice. Flavorful.
Mazama Pyroclastic Porter, Corvallis 5.2% ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This porter pays homage to the bean roaster of the Pacific Northwest. It combines roasty aromas with a dark cocoa finish. Brewed with Oregon hops, these balance the bitter- sweet chocolate malt.
Tasters’ Descriptions: More malty than the others. Good alcohol balance. Good bold flavor but not too heavy. Good body. Lots of chocolate. My favorite.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.