BridgePort Supris took me a bit to warm up to, but after a couple tries I can see it becoming a constant summer companion, like barbeques, sunburns, and brassmonkeys down by the river. Maybe it’s because the weather’s warm and I just got back from riding my "authentic" Peugeot 10 speed, but today its bright yellow color and sunny character seem about perfect. It makes me feel nostalgic for a summer paradise that’s a mix of all my favorite mental associations. Just imagine…
Felecia and I had three pints at the new NW Lucky Lab yesterday when we discovered something similar, an impossibly yellow Summer Ale; the yellow-est thing I’ve ever seen. Supris shares a similar dry, yeasty fruit flavor, and both have some subtle spice, but it lacks Labrador Summer Ale’s full wheat finish.
Supris is sour and satisfying. I admit to trying one with lemon; don’t do it, it tastes good but covers up the intricate flavors that taste like the spring breeze blowing in my window, or something else they show in a commercials for fabric softener.
We’ve been hitting the new Lucky Lab on NW Quimby all we can (like ghetto booty) the last week or so. It’s no great departure from the one on Hawthorne. There are some good pictures of the place on Personal Telco. Pints are $2.50 on Tuesdays and the tapmaster told me all the beers they serve are brewed in the building. It’s the sweetest thing that’s ever happened to me; I’m considering quitting my job so I can wash dishes there.
The guest tap at the Lab is still regular price Tuesday. Right now they have Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic that's worth an extra buck for a try.
EDIT 6.24.06: Daren told me today that Roots Summer Soltice Kolsch Release party is indefinitely postponed due to lack of Kolsch. I'll let you know when I hear more.
If you live in the Portland area you should check out an excellent public access show called Drinking with Daren. He goes around to local breweries and beer festivals, samples the beer and talkes to the brewmasters. I think he's a genius; imagine all the free beer. A Google search for the show yields disappointing results but Daren's my MySpace friend, which makes me really cool. You can checkout his profile or drop him a line. Right now he' promoting Roots Organic Brewing Summer Soltice and Kolsch Release party and at their brewery at 1520 SE 7th Ave. in Portland on Friday, June 30th. Roots is one of my very favorite breweries and great proponants of craft beer and organic brewing. Make an appearance and maybe you'll end up on Daren's show.
"Drinking with Daren revisited" is on every Tuesday at 10pm and Thursdays at 11pm on comcast channel 21.
Here's the schedule for brand-new episodes of Daren's show for the next few weeks.
Felecia and I walked over the Broadway Bridge to Widmer Brothers Brewing in North Portland for lunch and beer reconnaissance. We walked down Interstate Ave along the MAX tracks in one of Portland’s most stark, industrialized neighborhoods. There’s a plaque outside the brewery that says the neighborhood in north Portland used to be its own city, Albina, but merged with Portland in the late 1800's to make the third largest city in the American West.
It was our first time at Widmer. The pub has a couple rooms that wrap around the part of the brewery separated by huge windows. Across the street is a distribution center. The whole thing matches the neighborhood well; cargo ships load up Oregon grain a block away in the Willamette to ship across the Pacific as Widmer ships another great export, cases of Oregon beer, across the country.
They have a good selection of new interesting beers on tap; much more than you can find at the store. 4 oz. tasters are 99 cents, so we shared six new brews. We agree one of the best at Widmer is Summit Hop Pale Ale. It’s light, with liberal aroma hops for a nice chewiness without an overwhelming bitter.
It’s a really great beer. Besides seasonal and yearly releases, Widmer teams up with local homebrewers via the BrewCrew with the Collaberator project. The current offering is awesome. It’s the Pre-Prohibition Lager; and I think beer like this could remove the stigma surrounding anything light among beer geeks. It's an incredible insight to what an American lager can be… compared to PBR. Better than Session? Probably, but everything’s more tasty on tap.
Pints are $3.50 except on Mondays after 4 and Sunday afternoons, when they’re only 2 bucks. The only thing missing is something really strong and interesting, like an imperial IPA or barleywine.
They have a stout on nitro that’s fine but unmemorable. So my advice to the Widmer Bros is brew me up something thick and dangerous.
2006 North American Organic Brewer's Festival: done right
I woke up at 7:15 this morning with a 100% organic hangover, a souvenir from last night when Felecia, Patrick, and I celebrated Jennifer’s birthday by getting pleasantly sloshed at the North American Organic Brewer’s Festival. Happy birthday, Jen (it’s almost as if it were my birthday).
The Forestry Center was packed by the time we showed up around 7. The elevator from the MAX station was full of dreads and patchouli, forecasting the demographics at the festival above. As we waited in line, pleasant traces of burning buds wafted over us. The band, Adair Village, played some hip-hop/reggae hybrid with a wicked bass groove.
I wonder if the guys at Roots were surprised by the turnout. The space was clogged with brewery reneges, rebels of funk, and my giddy drunk ass.
The beers and the atmosphere were great. My only suggestion for the next NAOBF is overhead signs above the taps, because its hard to tell which line your getting into at first. But who can complain?
While the keg taps were hard to reach sometimes, the soft-drink area was slightly less popular. Har, har.
As 9 approached the beer variety grew sparser; no one wanted to tap a new keg so late. Red shirted alcohol monitors stalked around all evening like they were expecting an insurrection and cut off the beer at 8:45. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that the OLCC is an institution of our homey little state, they carry an air of federal goon-ery.
I made some new friends I’ll never speak to again and even got to meet Laurelwood brewers Chad Kennedy and Dustin Kellner, as they closed the taps. Chad looks pissed either because I’m a truly pathetic drunk or he can’t wait to get out of there and have a beer himself.
My first sample was an awe-inspiring IPA by Alameda Brewhouse, which is so bitter it dominated my palette through the next beers. And eventually at these things everybody gets wrapped up in having a good time, tasting beers gets usurped by drinking beers as beer festivals soon turn into an exploration of who pours the most generous samples. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble but there’s one particular brewery that one might call a ‘Fortunate Companion’ that's mucho bueno. There’s a particular brewer for said brewery that’s my new personal hero.
Patrick got the last glass of Lucky Lab’s No Pity Pale, it was all head but pleased him all the same.
Finally, here’s proof everyone had a good time; some dude is shaking his ass at the alcohol monitors; a good way to fight the system after 10 beers.
Widmer W'06 tastes like candy. I actually got a sugar high. It has two very distinct flavors, super-sweet maltiness and a gruff hop bitter borrowed from Broken Halo IPA, that don't meld very well. Their website lists the bittering hops as Alchemy, which I've never heard of. The first sip was surprising, but after that it seemed over-done. Blah.
Incidentally, my critiques must be put in perspective. I drank a PBR tall boy after a couple of these and it almost made me gag. W'06 is a hell of a beer, and only inferior in the context of the craft beer deluge surrounding my little Portland apartment.
The beer log has waited languorously the last few days as final week approaches and a semester of beer-enabled procrastination comes to term. The next days I’ll be writing about the Classic Maya collapse (or was it?), the scientific method (or is it?), and urban dystopia (it is).
Of recent interest in the world of Bridger’s beer drinking is Deschutes’ Twilight Ale. It’s light, noticeably hopped with a full fresh flavor, a little estery I’d say. I’m sure it’s designed by those marketing geniuses in Bend with to capture the summer market, and it’s a good fit. Here’s how Deschutes describes it on their website:
"Twilight Ale will be a happy passenger in your ice chest when floating the river, at concerts in the park or wherever your summer adventures take you. As you will soon discover, Twilight is best enjoyed when chilled and consumed outdoors."
Try it from a paper bag on W. Burnside, but make sure it’s properly chilled.
If you need something light and yellowish orange buy Twilight before, Pete’s Wicked Rallycap, Bluemoon, and Henry Wienard’s Summer Ale cause that shit sucks in my opinion.
Felecia got paid on Tuesday and we celebrated by investing her money in our first IPA-day. It began with a pitcher of C-Note Imperial IPA on the patio at the New Old Lompoc. C-Note is relatively dark, cloudy, and the beer definition of bitter; quite a contrast to the Broken Halo that keeps finding its way to my refrigerator. It’s boozy too, but the hops are so strong one can’t tell. The outside deck at Lompoc is great except for chicken smoking near the door to the kitchen. The chicken smoke kept wafting over our table and stinky chicken smoke smote my clothing. Or… That smoky chicken smoke sot and soaked my cloak with smoke (I’m sincerely sorry for making you read that, but it begged to be written).
This didn’t worry me until after my IPA induced 2 hour nap when I woke up groggy and smelling of burning bird flesh. Other IPA’s enjoyed that day were Broken Halo, predictably, and Deschute’s Inversion IPA. I’m sure no one reads this blog for my beer descriptions, so suffice to say this beer smells like Humboldt’s chief export.
I often ponder what makes organic beer a superior beverage. Could it really be that a lack of pesticides and poisonous fertilizers is evident on my tongue as I knock back a glass? Maybe it's just the idea that I like, but I present as evidence my favorite breweries: Laurelwood, Roots, Otter Creek, Fish. All four will be on the hill this Saturday at the 2006 North American Organic Brewer's Festival along with many craft breweries unheard of in these parts. Wholly Shit.
The celebration is organized by Roots Organic Brewing which offers one explanation for organic superiority on their festival webpage:
"Up until the last century, hops and barley, as with most crops were grown organically, without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It is only appropriate that the historical beer styles revived by the craft brewing movement be brewed organically."
Some intrinsic aspects of brewing and beer culture remain valid in my idealistic perspective; community, craft, artistry, commerce, good times, building positive relationships through healthy interaction. Organic craft brewing to me is a natural extension of the best beer ideal. Corporations consider best management practices; organic craft beer is a best practice for living. It's sad that products need to be certified by the government as free of pesticides and other chemicals, but if that's what it takes to inform consumers it's probably worth the hassle and expense.
OK, if you’re still not convinced to meet me at the Forestry Center on Saturday consider this. You can take the MAX to Washington Park, the continent’s deepest train station. An elevator pops you out 260 feet above in beer Eden where you’ll sip some of the world’s finest liquid sustenance in a forested park overlooking downtown Portland.
If one brought a bike, one could conceivably hurtle down the Westhills at ridiculous speeds after organic beer imbibation, angering old aristocrats and barons of industry in their mansion fortresses with fervent whoops and howls. Such activity would be reckless, illegal, ill-advised, but inimitably Portland. I do not condone such behavior.