I am sure many of you have seen a Pelican 22oz at your favourite bottle shop, or tried it on tap at some point. Until last Sunday however, I had never actually been to the brewery and pub, located in Pacific City. So we decided to pack up, leave rainy Portland, and got to rainy Pacific City instead. Pacific City is one of those little coast towns that you swear you have been through before, but you might not have been. South of Tillamook, you have to drive a ways off of 101 to get to it. Once your there, coming from the North, Pelican Pub is the first thing you see as you enter town. Immediately you realize that Pelican Pub may have the best view of any brew pub in all of Oregon. The place was hopping last Sunday, we grabbed one of the few last remaining tables. As you first walk in you walk through the gift shop, selling everything form t-shirts and hoodies to little surfboard key chains. Ashamed of hawking anything that can fit a logo they are not. We decided to grab the tasting tray for the low price of $6. It included all of the regular brews, plus their seasonal offerings of Bridal Ale, Anglers Amber, and Paddlers Pale Ale. Using a scale from one to ten, I can rank the beers: Kiwanda Cream Ale - 3 MacPelicans Scottish - 4 India Pelican Ale - 3 (had some hard, overwhelming citrus flavors) Doryman’s Dark - 5 (nice and smoky) Tsunami Stout - 3 (weak body, watery, odd aftertaste) Bridal Ale - 6 (smooth, low carbonation, and slightly sweet) Paddlers Pale Ale - 4 (IPA-ish, bitter, watery finish) Anglers Amber - 5 (clean, easy drinking, nicely balanced)
So, my favourite was the Bridal Ale. Though not a Belgian, it is claimed to be inspired by the country ales of France, and a Belgian lover would find something of interest here. It was sweet, but not malty sweet, more fruity. It was smooth at 6.5%, and could get you into trouble fast. On the mouth feel, I picked up notes of malt, banana, and possibly berries way back there. This was the best by far. The food we had was very good, and I like that they try to use fish caught by the local Dory fleet when they can. The meals are in the 15-20 dollar range, but well worth it. Overall, except for the food, I was let down. I guess I may just be off, since they obviously have won a lot of awards, a fact you are hammered over the head with when your there. And good for them. They have won the large brewpub of the year award at the World Beer Cup, and have taken gold in Australia for their India Pelican Ale. I didn’t have any beer that I had to spit out or anything, but nothing, aside from the Bridal, stood out as anything great. I wouldn’t go there just to go there again, but who knows, if your in the area, you have a long drive to anything else, and hell, the view is good.
It’s always nice to find a surprise. I have passed Morrison Hotel Bar numerous times zooming down the one way Morrison St. on my way to down town. It always looked a little corny to me to be honest. I mean, as a Doors fan, to name a bar that and to make the logo look like that seemed like an amazing display of copy cat-ism. I was wrong. I hate when I am wrong. The bar does not have many taps, four or five, but they boat an impressive collection of bottle choices that number well over 100. Everything form Strongbow cider, to the limited release of Widmer Brothers Cherry Oak Doppelbock. Why this place is not known as a bigger hot spot escapes me. The food is also fantastic. We had a house made veggie pizza that come out piping hot and tasty. They even have a proper, steel tip dart board. Located in no ones way, and complete with a handy shelf for your drinks and food. As I was admiring this, my wife skunked me two out of three games. That hurt. My wounds were softened only by the pints of Alaskan White I was enjoying. We can not wait to go back, and turn Morrison Hotel into a sexy dart playing Ménage à trois with nearby neighbor’s Root’s and Lucky Lab.
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.
A big brew has rolled out of Bridgeport. Aged 33% in Bourbon barrels, Highland Ambush is a tasty scotch ale available now in 22oz bottles. I found mine at a surprisingly well stocked Fred Meyer. The nose was strong, giving up a sweet, malty and molasses odor. It poured dark and brown, with little head. The taste is what really pushed this Scotch ale past other offerings I have had. It was malty with a brown sugar and molasses flavor, which was to be expected both form the style and the nose. But there was clearly more going on. I, or maybe my imagination, tasted some grassy and hay notes in a pleasant Belgian style way. The feel was strong, crisp and had some intense bursts of flavor. All of this carried through the after taste, and made for a very satisfying experience. The beer is 6.8% ABV, and available at better stocked Fred Meyers, and also at Belmont Station.
Situation: You find yourself stuck in Beaverton. Either you are there returning some present from a friend at one of the hundreds of strip malls, or you died and you have, for your sins, been sent to hell. For what ever reason a place to find a decent, non McMenamins, place to hang out has up to now been hard to find. Enter Loan Oak Public House, and coming soon, brewery. It is a bit hidden on the back side of the Cedar Hills shopping center, just behind Powell’s books, and within sight of Century Theaters. Perfectly situated in the vortex of consumerism, Lone Oak has just recently celebrated its sixth week of operation. As of now they have an impressive bottle list, as well as a well selected three tap lineup that rotates often. During my visit the taps were Widmer Sled Crasher, Ninkasi, and the 10 Barrel Apocalypse IPA. The beer was served in a nice, frosty cold mug. Charming as that was, it was not a true pint. Lone Oak also has a full bar, and a 3-6pm happy hour. In March, they plan on starting up a small scale brewery on premises. Right now they are still looking for equipment, and going through the fun filled licensing process. I could not get much info on the styles, but they do have a passion for quality Oregon brews, so hopefully the product will be good. Yet another brewery coming into town. It is getting harder and harder to keep track. I hope this one takes off, giving the west ‘burbs a place to enjoy some local made brew.
Well, I do not know what Alex and the boys thought, but I would say that the bottle release party yesterday was a complete success. Upright was filled to the walls with people thirsty for the release of their Gose, and Billy the Mountain. We had an amazing time, and I was more than happy to spend a half an hour in line to get a bottle of Gose and Billy and a glass of each. I will talk about those of course, but there was also some hidden gems yesterday, one of which was my personal fav of the day. The Gose was pale in colour, but not in taste. It is a little spicy, light, and has a gorgeous Belgian flavor. The night before I had a Damnation from Russian River at Horse Brass. The Gose reminded me of it, but exceeded it in complexity and taste. Billy the Mountain. What a beer. It spent five months in Pinot Barrels, four months in the bottle, and tastes of it. They refer to it as an "English-style Old Ale." I will not disagree with that, but I will add to it. It was lightly sour, sweet, and had a wonderful delicate nose. Billy was one of the best Upright beers I have had, and possibly in the top ten for Portland brews in general. I am going to let the bottle I bought sit for awhile, as it will be interesting to see see how it evolves. According to the Upright Blog, "The finished beer is ready but will surely continue to evolve for some time to come as the brettanomyces continues to transform the existing aromas and flavors." Ok, the big ones covered. But, as is my nature, I prefer the more unknown and hidden. My favorite of the day was the Congo Pale Ale. Described to me as a Belgian IPA, it did not fail. Alex had three "experimental" beers off to the side of the main taps. I hope this beer comes out of the experimental stage to the bottled stage at some point. It was light, crisp, and had a underlying hoppiness that was embraced and enhanced by the Belgian flavors. Combining the Belgian flavor and the IPA bite is like some kind of dream world where beer cans would be made from potato chips. I know, it's crazy, but I spend my days thinking of these things. Cheers to the boys at Upright. I had a great time, and was happy to see so many people supporting a fine brewery.
There are two upcoming beer fests that I am thinking of going to, and I was wondering if anyone had been before. The Belgianfest in Seattle, and the Strange Brewfest up in Port Townsend. Obviously, I would like to go to both, but my money tree in back has but a few leaves left. I like the sound of the Belgianfest. It is located in a very cool part of Seattle called Georgetown. This southern section of Seattle also hosts Full Throttle Bottle, Georgetown Brewing, and the old Rainier Brewery. Add all of that to a Belgianfest, well, I would be as happy as a dog with two dicks. Now, the Port Townsend trip sounds good too. I can not find any line up of breweries, or styles, so I would be in for some surprises. That trip would also give me a chance to check out Water Street Brewing and Port Townsend Brewing. Although a bit further, it may prove to be very interesting. So, has anyone been to either one, or both?
I'm as happy as a 32 year old with a kegerator..oh wait..that's because I now AM the proud new owner of a Kegerator. It is empty now, but I am staring at it with a loving glaze that frankly creeps out my wife a little. I can not wait to get it going. I just had to share this.
Two beers I have had recently have really grabbed my attention. Ft. George's North III Triple, and Captured by Porches' Invasive Species IPA are brews that are so good, they make you stop, take note, and be very thankful we all live where we do. To Dylan and Chris, thank you! I had the Triple at Bar Avignon, a stone's throw from my apartment. Bar Avignon may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I will say, they have a fantastic, although small, tap list. I will admit, I was there during our little snow storm, and didn't have my trusty notebook with me, so I can't make specific notes. But...it was one of the finest beers I have ever had. This Tripple, god dammit, was so amazing. I do not know where else in town it is, but I would suggest you run over here and try it. It was dark, strong, and one of the best Triples I have ever had. Captured by Porches finally has room to grow since fleeing the miniscule brewery they had at Clinton St. Brewing and moving the operation to St. Helens. This beer is by no means new, but it is new to a bottle. Now, not only is this beer a beautiful IPA, the bottle they selected is bold, and sets them apart. It is a flip top bottle, adorned with a striking label, and contains 25.4 oz of some of the most unique IPA you will ever have. It does not blow your head off with a field's worth of hops. It pours with a nice head, and has little nose, but makes it up with a dark, intense red/brown color. The taste is what makes it truly special. It has a bouquet of floral hops, and has very low bitterness. It is slightly, and I mean slightly, sweet. Invasive Species does not taste like most NW IPA's. No. It tastes better. It tastes different. It is not some crazy IBU pushing science experiment. Dylan actually considered taste, mouth feel, and pleasure. What does this cost you ask?? It must be 8 or 9 bucks. Fancy bottle, 6.9% ABV, 100% Vegan, etc. No. At Beer Mongers, when it isn't sold out, the cost is a mere $3.80 plus a $1 deposit. You bring the bottle back, you get your dollar back. It is worth every penny, and the best beer you may ever have for under $4.