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.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.