For the last two weeks I have been in Oregon, visiting family and enjoying the holiday season. I did everything I could to check my email as little as possible and to not carry my phone everywhere. I did, however, visit a number of great beer destinations and so I used my phone (when I had it) and other people’s phones to snap a couple photos.
Over Christmas I visited Bend, Oregon where I went snowboarding and hung out in a cabin most of the time. One day we headed to town and I headed over to Deschutes Brewery to see what was happening there. Deschutes makes the beer that originally converted me to being a craft-beer drinker – the Mirror Pond Pale Ale. It was the first beer that I was able to drink a whole pint of. They estimate that this year they will be making 200,000 barrels of beer. Apparently these brewing vessels came in one piece and they had to shut down the highways and have a police escort to bring them into town. They were set in place and the room was built around them. Then we got to see the giant room full of fermenters and their bottling line.
Next we got to see all the original artwork from the Jubelale Series. The Jubelale is one of the main beers I look forward to every year, and every year another artist has been commissioned to create the artwork that will be on the bottle. The image on the left is one of the earlier pieces, and one of my favorite images.
At the tasting room they gave us four samples of our choice. Two of my samples were of the ’10 Abyss, and they said that was all The Abyss I was going to get for free. We headed about a mile down the road to the Deschutes Public House on Bond Street. They had a lovely sample tray and a whole slew of Deschutes beer that I can’t find in bottles, in Portland, and especially not in Colorado. It was fantastic.
We then headed over to 10 Barrel Brewing where I got a sample tray with all ten beers. I didn’t like the beer quite as much as I liked Deschutes, but it certainly had a more experimental edge to it. It was nice to try the Sinister Black Ale next to the Nitro version. My favorite beer was the Double Woody Cabernet, a brown beer aged in Cabernet barrels. The Big Black Stout was great. I was less into the IPA’s, but I think I’m in an IPA slump lately. This was an exciting little place with some good potential, although obviously firmly grounded in the community there. We also visited Silver Creek Brewing but I don’t have pictures and I did not like their beer. Boneyard Brewing was closed unfortunately.
After Bend, I spent the rest of my time in Portland. This is a bad picture to describe the next beer related event but it’s the best I’ve got. I brought a number of Colorado beers and had a number of beer blogging pals join me in tasting them. A quick shout out to Ezra of The New School, Brady of The Daily Pull, and Charley of an Ear for Beer. I brought Left Hand’s Fade to Black, Odell’s Isolation, Trinity’s TPS Report, Trinity/Black Fox’s Double Rainbow, Black Fox’s Diablo and Wanna Be Manor, and an Avery 2009 Czar. Ezra provided an Odell Sabateur that he somehow picked up. I do believe the major hits of the night were the Fade to Black, the Double Rainbow, and then I think the biggest crowd winner was the Black Fox Diablo. The beer that inspired the most conversation was by far the Double Rainbow, where we talked about the costs involved and the possibilities of bringing 14 adjunct ingredients together to make a beer that still tastes really great. We took stabs at guessing how some of the brewing took place.
Next I visited Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, currently the only brewery in the United States that is carbon neutral. Every beer they have is organic. I interviewed the owner, Christian Ettinger, about the Bike Bar for a publication that I will be a part of in the near future. The Bike Bar is literally a bike that holds two kegs, three pizzas, a bar top, and can play tunes off an ipod. I had a pint of the Single Hopped Pale Ale (Centennial Hops) which I very much enjoyed. It looks like they will regularly have a rotating Single Hop Pale starting soon, which I think is a fantastic idea. I also got a bottle of the IPA, and even though I’m in an IPA slump, this one was refreshing and was exactly what I needed. I’ve got a few bottles that I’ll crack open with some Colorado Springs people soon.
I also got to hit up two fantastic Portland breweries. If you’re ever in Portland, do not miss Upright Brewing or the Cascade Brewing Barrel House. I don’t have pictures of Upright but I got a sample tray of their beers, including an amazing Gruit that had been aged in gin barrels, a sour beer called Late Harvest, Fatali Four which has Fatali peppers that aren’t overwhelming and nicely spice up the back of your tongue, a number of different Saisons, and then one of their regular beers but with a Yorkshire Ale Yeast instead of their house Saison. Oh, I have some of their bottles. I’ll take a picture and post it here. The artwork on these bottles is always a real treat and is done by Ezra from The New School beer blog. Cascade Barrel House is a real treat too. They opened right after I moved to Colorado but I’ve visited both times I came back to Portland. Their specialties are sour beers and barrel aged beers. I had their Gose beer, which is a rare German style brewed with coriander and salt and a sample of an excellent aged sour beer called something like “The Barrel That Cannot Be Named.”
I would never dream of going to Portland without visiting the Horse Brass Pub. Out of all places I’ve ever shared a beer on the planet, this is my very favorite. There are just under 70 beers on tap, and about 30 of them rotate as “guest taps” on a daily basis. I love the menu, as every hour or so the server has to come to the table, cross off the beers that are gone and circle the beers that are newly tapped. Most of the beers are from the Pacific NW and California, and there are also some English beers. I’ve compiled a number of images together so you can see the entire Guest Tap Menu, excluding the last “Coming Soon” page. I ordered the Jewbelation Blend Ale from Schmaltz, which is literally a blend of a number of Vintage Jewbelations aged in Sazerac 6-year rye whiskey barrels. This was my favorite beer of the night. I also enjoyed the Double Mountain India Red Ale, which I always always order, the Widmer W11 Russian Imperial Stout which had a great roasted and coffee flavor, the Full Sail Wreck the Halls IPA/Strong Ale on Cask, and just for kicks I tried out the Caldera Brewing Cauldron Brew, which is listed as having 200+ IBU’s. It actually wasn’t as much of a bitter blow out as you’d expect. That’s just another night at Horse Brass!
The last thing I want to say is that while writing this post, I decided to take a break and start unpacking my luggage. I got a notice from the Transportation Security Administration saying they confiscated my 2 bottles of Star San, which I use to sanitize my homebrewing equipment. It’s earth friendly, biodegradable stuff but they called it “corrosive” so I’m currently negotiating with the airlines how to get these back to me. That’s some, but not all, of my beer experience in Oregon the last two weeks!