By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ah, the can. Its history began when Napoleon in 1795 offered a prize to anyone who could invent a method of preserving food for his soldiers. According to the Can Manufacturers Institute, by 1809, Nicolas Appert had invented food preservation by sterilization in bottles, and the following year, Englishman Peter Durand developed iron cans coated with tin to prevent rusting. Cans, easy to transport and less likely to break than glass, soon became the cure to scurvy-plagued sailors and soldiers, not to mention countryside pillagers.
The process for packaging carbonated beverages in cans didn’t come to the fore until about 1930 when researchers developed coatings that wouldn’t dissolve under pressure. The first soft drink cans appeared in 1938, because it took a few years to work out the bugs. But beer wasn’t afraid of sissy glitches. In 1935 there were steel cans of Krueger in Virginia. The new packaging was so popular that by 1950, a quarter of all beer sales were canned. The lightweight aluminum can and the pull-ring bumped up can’s popularity in the 1960s. Today, the Brewers Association estimates that about 55 percent of all beer sales are in cans.
In Oregon, canned craft beers had a short hurdle to jump: Discerning drinkers often associated cans with macro-breweries. But that misconception is quickly passing in a state where craft beers accompany us everywhere we go, from hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness to biking the mean streets of Portland.
Last month, our tasters chose these favorite summer beers, all available in cans:
McMenamins Ruby, Statewide 4% ABV; 5 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A popular standard since 1986. Ruby is a light, crisp and refreshingly fruity ale made with Great Western Premium 2-Row, 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberries, and a touch of Chinook hops in every colorful batch. Simple, but delicious.
Consumer Comments: Unusual flavor. I could drink this when I want something out of the ordinary. Fruity! Almost a fruit Belgian, but not sour. Nice fruity flavor. Rootin’ tooty. Fruity and yet citrusy too. Lambic? Belgian? Raspberry flavor!
Burnside Couch Select Lager, Portland 5% ABV; 14 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a helles-style lager brewed with quality pilsner malt, German Tettnang hops and fermented with a Bohemian Lager yeast strain. Cold fermentation produces a nice, crispy snap to a beautiful hop flavor and subtle hop presence.
Consumer Comments: Good beer for sitting on the deck after work. Easy drinker. Good for all-day drinking. Fresh, slightly tangy, great balance. Refreshing! Crisp!
Silver Moon Get Sum Pale Ale, Bend 5.6% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Redefine your love of pale ales. Get Sum has a light and clean golden body backed by a refreshing citrus hop flavor.
Consumer Comments: An IPA I could drink and drink and drink … Very good. Super. Tickles my nose and my tongue. This was my favorite. Hoppy, but easy to drink. Light and tasty.
Rogue Pendleton Pale Ale, Newport 5.2% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A light, refreshing pale ale brewed with Delta and Rogue Farms Alluvial and Rebel hops grown on Rogue Farms in Oregon, Rogue Farms Risk, Sacchra 50 and Dextra Pils malts.
Consumer Comments: Great grilling beer. Nice long hoppy aftertaste. Beautiful amber color. Nice hop flavor for a thirst-quenching beer. I could wash down a few tacos and burritos with this beer.
Boneyard Skin N Bones ISA, Bend 4% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This India session ale is a single-hop beer showcasing Mosaic hops. Brewed with pale and pilsner malts, it’s light-bodied and golden in color. Perfect to quench your summer thirst!
Consumer Comments: Good chilling beer. Great lawnmower beer. Good bite, hoppy and citrusy, my favorite so far! Good balance. Bike ride beer. A great, light IPA. Drink and run then drink again.
Laurelwood Mother Lode Golden Ale, Portland 5.1% ABV; 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest ale is crisp, dry and refreshing, making it a great introduction to craft beer. This recipe has earned gold at the World Beer Cup as well as silver and bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.
Consumer Comments: Good after-dinner beer. Rich flavor. Oregon’s snappy answer to Bud: “Drink this, big beer.” This was the best. Beautiful beer.
Oregon City Brewing 8-Bit Blonde, Oregon City 4.8% ABV, 25 IBU
Brewer’s Description: Plug in your controllers and hit that power button - it's time to go up a level! This blonde ale sits atop a crisp pilsner malt backbone, and Sterling hops give it a grassy, herbal note that takes down that final boss in one fell swoop.
Consumer Comments: Good summer-break beer. Very good for the style. Tastes light, like a lager. Oh, yeah. All day long. Floral and euro herbs.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Reds and Ambers Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
On a recent day when the mercury hit the 80s, I was standing in my booth serving tastes of Oregon’s pale ales to thirsty visitors at the Hammer N’Ales Brewfest fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity in Canyonville. Pale ales are the perfect beer for a hot day — a great Oregon refresher.
In addition to fests, how about a pale ale on a lake after the cast, on the bank of a river after floating the rapids, behind a lawnmower, after weeding the garden or on your shady porch watching the neighbors sweat it out in their yards. They’re not too strong (official range is from 4.5 to 6.0 percent ABV), so you can drink them for a happy session. Also, pale ales tend to be less hoppy than the India pale ale, so your tongue may be less tarred after a few beers. Pale ale hoppiness usually ranges from 30-45 IBUs, according Beer Judge Certification Program standards. Oregon pales are a bit hoppier, but mildly fragrant and fresh. This popular English style landed in the New World with a hearty “huzzah,” and is ours now.
Here are the Oregon pale ales chosen as favorites in the blind tasting by visitors to the festival:
Vertigo: Closer Pale Ale, Hillsboro 5.3% ABV; 55 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This ale gets its light copper color from 120 and 60L caramel malts. Magnum and Amarillo hops added for bittering, flavor and aroma give this beer a balanced profile.
Consumer Comments: Smooth, crisp and slightly hoppy. I could be happy with this one because I don’t like overly hopped beers. Great floral flavor. Made my mouth feel like a velvet slipper dipped in rosewater and lemon rind. Crisp, dry, firm bitterness. A beer for beer drinkers. Great for a long afternoon barbecue. Light, nice and bright. Nice summer beer.
Ordnance: RX Pale Ale, Boardman 5.6% ABV; 32 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Pouring a light straw color, this ale gets its spicy flavor from a healthy dose of rye malt. The rye spice combines nicely with Citra and Mosaic hop aromas to create a beer that is perfect for day's end, be it after work or a long day of outdoor pursuits.
Consumer Comments: Light, interesting, mild fruity hop flavor. Hoppy! Nose outstanding. Taste is OMG. Drama in my mouth. Well done! Very nice and exceptionally smooth, and not bitter. Clean and refreshing. Dry. I need to figure out how to get a keg of this into my RV. Light and crisp.
Rogue: Pendleton Pale Ale, Newport 5.2% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A light, refreshing pale ale brewed with hops and malts grown on Rogue Farms, including Rogue Farms Risk, 2-Row, Sacchra 50 and Dextra Pils Malts; Delta and Rogue Farms Alluvial and Rebel hops.
Consumer Comments: Malty highlights. Crisp and clean taste. Easy drinking. Get out the fried chicken, we’re taking this one on a picnic. Better than most. Light hop and clean taste. Refreshing! Fruity!
Laurelwood: Piston Pale Ale, Portland 5.8% ABV; 37 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our seasonal pale is the Northwest interpretation of a classic British style, which essentially means — yup, you guessed it — more hops! We have updated our recipe to please the palates of our current crowd of beer drinkers. Expect refreshing citrus hop flavors and aromas.
Consumer Comments: My perfect pale ale. Drinkable and refreshing. Love the floral notes. Hoppier and hoppier! Dude! Smells like killer bud. Hint of sugar and spice. Eat it with simple carbs and cheese. Piney. Nice hop notes. Great aroma — a real winner. Fruit. A drink for a sunny day. Take it to the cabin and drink it in front of the fire.
Big Horse; Badfish, Hood River 5.5% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Blond-colored pale with intense hop flavors of tropical citrus and pine. Finishes dry without a harsh lingering bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Well-balanced hops and malt, great drinkability. Not as hoppy as the others. Burst of flowers. Put me in the rose garden. Subtle almost lager-ish mellowness with a satisfying bitter accent. Clean and fresh. Crisp and dry. Best one so far. Nice blend of bitter flavors. Pale ale, as it should be. Not too hoppy, not too light. I loved this beer.
Arch Rock: Pistol River Pale, Gold Beach 6.0% ABV; N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This recent gold medal winner is robustly dry-hopped, giving way to the intense hoppy aroma and flavor. Subtle bitterness and drinkability set this beer apart. Its resinous, citrusy and fruity character comes from CTZ, Chinook, Nugget and Centennial hops. Even with the hop-forward flavor of this beer, it’s well balanced with medium bitterness.
Consumer Comments: Intense flavor for a pale. All about the hops. Bold and strong flavor. Beautiful nose, almost Donald Trump arrogant bitterness presentation. Well played! Sweet up front — hop party in the back. Solid and easy drinking. Good flavor.
Hop Haus: Dr. Bob's Periodic Pale Ale, Gresham 5.8 % ABV; 40 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A tribute beer to the late Dr. Bob, this pale ale is true to the style — easy drinking with a subtle malt backbone and smooth balanced hop finish. Made with 2-row, C40, aromatic and Victory malts; Chinook and Cascade hops.
Consumer Comments: Perfect amount of hoppiness. Yes! I’d share this one with my friends. I like this like sunshine. Subtle nose. I would date this beer! Goes down well with a little bitterness on the aftertaste. Tasty! A good all-around beer that could be a staple for the ‘fridge.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s IPA Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th, Portland.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sometimes, just to engage the thirsty crowds that show up for the monthly Oregon Beer Growler tastings, I quiz them like a beer-serving schoolmarm. “What is a double IPA?” I asked. The answers included: “More hops, more alcohol!”
That response does prompt the question, though: more hops and alcohol than what? Certainly in Oregon, an IPA 7 percent and higher — even without the “double” designation — is not unusual. International Bittering Units above 80 in a pale ale are also common in hop country.
Double IPAs, sometimes called imperial IPAs, are in the category foremost for their palate-jacking hop characteristics. And, despite its official designation as an “American” style, the double probably originated in the hop-centric West, especially in Oregon and Washington, where most American hops are grown. Because we’re hopheads, many Oregon brewers don’t even bother to designate their high-alcohol, high-hopped beers as “doubles,” preferring instead to list the hoppiness on the label and let the drinker beware. I had no idea until recently, for example, that one of the first hoppy beers I ever loved — Lompoc’s C-Note, featuring seven hops that start with “C” — is considered a double.
Oregon hopheads also know that “hoppiness” does not always mean “bitterness.” The hops in doubles are sometimes floral and fragrant, complementing the extra and often sweet malts required to push up alcohol content, and sometimes tricking your tongue into thinking this beer is less alcoholic than it seems. Don’t be fooled! Read the label. Pour wisely.
Our tasters chose the following Oregon double IPAs as their favorites. All are available now on tap, at the breweries, or in stores:
Rogue: 8 Hop IPA, Newport 8.88% ABV, 80 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: These aroma hops are grown at Rogue Farms in Independence. Then brewmaster John Maier selects and blends eight varieties to create the brash and burly flavors of this IPA, the boss of Rogue’s IPA family.
Consumer Comments: Bubblegum yeastiness! Well balanced and not overwhelming. A true IIPA, yum! McDreamy in a glass. Multiple hop flavors blend together. Floral, like a field full of flowers. Sage and pine. A bratwurst kind of beer. Woodsy and yummy … a lumberjack beer. Tongue-tingly goodness.
Gigantic: Ginormous Imperial IPA, Portland 8.8% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Developed in a secret testing facility deep in Southeast Portland, Ginormous is powered by seven mighty hops. His mission is simple; to deliver a massive hop punch to those in need.
Consumer Comments: Refreshing, apricot and peach. I want a pint! Smooth — I’d bathe in this. Interesting flavors. Nice malt and nice balance. The best so far! Spicy! Great river beer, when you are looking to get lost on a beach. Deep flavor, fairly smooth with light bitterness. A good starter beer. Lingering pleasant aftertaste.
Silver Moon: Maui Wowie Double IPA, Bend 8.2% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This small-batch beer, brewed only a few times a year, is not your average hop bomb. The “Big Three C’s” — Chinook, Centennial and Citra hops — create a high-gravity, hazy copper ale with an intense pine, pineapple and citrus flavor.
Consumer Comments: Killer beer! It’s my favorite so far. A hot beer for a cold day. A delicious amount of hoppiness. One taste is not enough. I’ll have a pint, please. Juicy and tropical. Are we on the islands? Super easy to drink.
Two-Shy: Ignition Double IPA, Roseburg 9.5% ABV, 115 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This has a balanced, but mildly sweet malt profile with Nugget, Simcoe and Cascade and dry-hopped with Citra and Cascade.
Consumer Comments: Peaches! I could drink this with a meal, especially with pork. Light, fluffy — something to drink on a patio in the sun. Not overly bitter. Nice and fruity. Bubbly and refreshing with a light kick. A poolside beer for sure. A good winter solstice, curl up by the fire during a blizzard beer. Strong, but smooth. Drink by a roaring fire in a cabin in the snowy woods.
StormBreaker: Triple Double IPA, Portland 8.5% ABV, 90 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Achieving a triple double in hoops is impressive, but achieving it in your beer is even better. Ten hop additions of three hop varietals — Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo — scores on your palate, rebounds with big aromas of grapefruit citrus and pineapple, and is assisted by citrus flavors to balance the slight upfront bitterness and big ABV.
Consumer Comments: Roasty with a nice finish. Nice, light and malty. Yummy perfume for the tongue! Semi-sweet finish. Mellow taste with great finish. No strong bitterness, something you can drink in a relaxed setting. Nice mixture of citrus and tea. Anytime! Citrus upfront, good flavor, I dig it!
Barley Brown’s: Tank Slapper Double IPA, Baker City 9.2% ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Intense pine and citrus notes in this double IPA come from massive amounts of Simcoe and Chinook hops. At more than a half ounce of hops per pint, this is not for the faint of heart.
Consumer Comments: Good smell with bitter hops. Well-rounded flavor. Malty flavor that has a nice bitter front taste that goes away nicely. Honey-like. Yogi and Boo-Boo climb a cedar tree on a hot day to get to the honey. Wahoo! Cantaloupe melons and butterscotch. Solid gold grapefruits.
McMenamins: Major Threat DIPA, Portland 8.39% ABV, 62 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A true West Coast DIPA in which hops were incorporated at every step of the brewing process from mash to keg. Nugget hops were used for bittering while Chinook and Simcoe were used for the main hoppy flavor. Simcoe and Mosaic were then overloaded in the back end of the boil for a great tropical aroma. Finally, Mosaic was used again to dry hop each keg for a huge burst of hoppy dankness.
Consumer Comments: Bitterly delicious. Not overly hoppy. Very good, some sweetness, pleasant bitterness, drink in winter and early spring. Delicious and refreshing beer. Hoppy, earthy hops. Caramel and pomegranate. Mango! Nice and fruity, slightly sweet.
Ninkasi: Tricerahops, Eugene 8% ABV, 100 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Double IPAs are noted for their hop profiles. Earthy, floral hop aroma and flavor are abundant in Tricerahops. The bigger body and higher alcohol balance the large volume of hops to create a beer that is very flavorful while still being balanced and drinkable. The beer can be deceiving, as it is very smooth.
Consumer Comments: I really like this one! I could drink some more of this! This feels like a day of cutting pine trees. The pine flavor resonates in the mouth. Basically good. A bubbly tongue blaster. Nice hops, lightly malted, but still balanced. Nice malt. Oddly delicious.
Plank Town: UnObtainium, Springfield 8.6% ABV, 100+ IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our mad scientists added eight varieties of hops combined with U.K. Maris Otter and Crystal malts to make this an unforgettable third version of our annual double IPA brew.
Consumer Comments: Really nice. Magical brew made of fairy dust! Hooray! I’d pair this with a spicy meal. Hands down favorite. Good anytime. Strong beginning and great finish. It’s weird, but awesome.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Porter is a complicated beer, but drinking it is really easy. Porter was one of England’s first beers blended in the 1700s to please consumer tastes, first in pubs and later in breweries. Although accounts vary, publicans blended various amounts of the regular brown ale, young beers and stronger aged ales or sour beers according to consumer tastes. The blends became so popular that breweries began producing aging and then pre-mixing them before sending them off to the pubs as “porters.” Before porters, beer aging had been done in the pubs.
For more than a century, porters were the drink of choice in England in the 1700s and 1800s, finding fans in Russia and the Baltic countries and eventually in America. Wherever they went, brewers adapted the style to regional tastes. Stouts, by the way, began as shortened monikers for “porter stouts,” the stronger version of porters.
In America, porters and stouts enjoyed a popular following, with the name “porter” falling off in the early 1900s in favor of stouts, and then completely disappearing during and after Prohibition.
But obviously, that’s not the end of the story.
A few experimental Western U.S. breweries began brewing porters again as early as the 1970s and several British breweries also revived the style. Today, dozens of Oregon breweries produce porters seasonally.
Is there any difference between porters and stouts? Yes, and no.
According to BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program), there are three kinds of porters: brown porter, robust porter and Baltic porter. Porters are described as more malty and full-bodied than stouts, but alcohol content, top or bottom fermentation and color can be the same for both a porter or a stout.
In Oregon, the dark palette of the porter invites as much experimentation as pale ales, prompting vanilla, chocolate, coffee, coconut and, of course, hop additions to the mix.
My advice? Forget the complicated history that brings this delicious style to our shores and enjoy your porter for what it is.
Following are a few Oregon porters recommended by the participants in our monthly blind tasting:
Deschutes: Black Butte Porter, Bend 5.2 percent ABV, 30 IBUs
Brewery Description: An extremely smooth and drinkable porter with notes of rich chocolate and coffee, a luscious creaminess and a roasted finish. Cascade, Bravo and Tettnang hops with chocolate malt.
Consumer Comments: Complex flavors; best of the bunch. Multiple flavors, you just gotta love it. Bright and refreshing. Is there such a thing as a lawnmower porter? It’s this one. This is the best! Could drink this anytime. Malty without overt sweetness. Tastes the way a porter should taste. Outstanding. Bananas, cola, smooth and creamy.
Hop Haus: Cocos Nucifera Porter, Gresham 5.5 percent ABV, 34 IBUs
Brewery Description: Creamy mocha head. Coconut flavor doesn’t overpower. Hints of cocoa and coffee with a creamy finish.
Consumer Comments: Intense, great with Indian food. Nice and sweet. Rich and creamy; a night by the fire. Nutty, smooth. A comfort on a rainy evening. Interesting taste: sweet but not chocolate. Sweet notes. Simple and tasty. A delicious breakfast beer.
Rogue: Mocha Porter, Newport 5.3 percent ABV, 54 IBUs
Brewery Description: Ruddy brown in color, a bittersweet balance of malt and hops with a light cream finish.
Consumer Comments: Lively, sparkling. I’m waking up with this one! The perfect afternoon delight. Crisp and smooth. I could drink five of these. Refreshing. Crisp and good.
Ordnance: Of Chimpanzees Porter, Boardman 5.3 percent ABV, 27 IBUs
Brewery Description: This full-bodied porter showcases locally roasted coffee from Home Town Coffee Roasters. Tasty any time of day.
Consumer Comments: Well-crafted coffee notes. Bitter in the best ways possible — not like writing my alimony check each month. Light coffee and malt flavors. Good coffee flavor.
Silver Moon: Snake Bite Porter, Bend 5.5 percent ABV, 40 IBUs
Brewery Description: A robust porter, Snake Bite continues to win awards with its rich and creamy body, English hops to blend with the toasted malt bitterness and a deep chocolate finish.
Consumer Comments: Light and bright. A little flowery effect. This one would be good with a meal. Nice and balanced. A winner: smooth, crisp and complex. Unique. Enjoying this — toasted marshmallows.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.