Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Holy Trinity

For my money, Oregon is blessed to be the holy ground of three great breweries, breweries that stand high on a hill to be praised and respected. Is every beer they make perfect? No. Is every beer they make good? No. Is every beer they make unique, special, and make with a gifted creative vision? Yes.
Now to say this is cause for battle, I am sure. Oregon has a few breweries to choose from in case you haven't heard. So many in fact, I think a lot get lost in mediocracy. Then we have our mega-micro brews. They release consistently drinkable and enjoyable beer. We know what to expect from them, and we are pleased by their seasonal releases that show a little boost of interest from season to season.
The Holy Trinity is Ft. George Brewery in Astoria, Upright Brewing in Portland, and Double Mountain in Hood River. The beers flowing from these sacred tanks, for me, stand apart. The best beers I have had in the past few years come from all three of these. They make amazing beer, and they have made some, well, less good beers too. But even Gordon Ramsay dropped a steak here and there.
Upright’s Billy the Mountain is a big, brave, bold brew that causes instant silence, then contemplation, and finally an overwhelming thirst for more. But the Kiwi Cask Four, however, was hard to finish. But you have to respect the attempt.
Ft. George’s Illuminator may be the finest beer I have ever had. It was an accident that went right, and last year’s release causes me to count the minutes until the 2010 version. The beer they make with rhubarb?? Not so good.
The cause for this post, my recent trip to Double Mountain. A pint or four after a hike in the Gorge. A great mezza platter and darts. A beer that poured as sexy as a naked super model holding a pint in one hand, and a piece of smoked Coho in the other.
The Imperial Chaos, an amazing stout that pours with a cappuccino colored full head, and has a slight oak and coffee nose. The body is heavy, smooth, and every taste should be lovingly enjoyed. You can taste coffee, oak, the candi sugar used, and the subtle use of Summit, Challenger, and Warrior hops. I can think of no better 9.5% ABV beer to wrap up a day of January hiking.
So that is the good, now the bad. New to the brew list is a short offering of Jumping Jack Flash hard cider. Without going on some long rant of it’s faults, I will say it is cool they tried, but a great cider it is not.
Another bummer, the most excellent Devil’s Kriek seems to have lost something. It was a delight when it came out, as anyone that waited in line at Belmont Station’s sour fest can attest to. There is only about a month's supply left, and it has lost the charm it had. The cherry flavor has morphed into raspberry, and the sourness is all but gone. It still looks beautiful, but the taste is gone.
I have never gone to any of these three breweries without boyish anticipation, and I have never left without complete satisfaction and an experience that, well, causes me to write on my little blog.

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