Early this morning (last night?) Audrey and I got back from a week in Portland Oregon. The weather was perfect (60s-70s), the people were friendly, and the beer and food were delicious (and cheap). I failed to take many beer related pictures, but I still wanted to post a few highlights from our travels.
The best hour of the trip was hanging out with John, Chris, and Beck in the brewery at Raccoon Lodge. In addition to letting us talk their ears off, they were kind enough to pull samples of Bourbonic Plague (soured and spiced imperial Belgian porter with dates) and Vlad the Imp Aler (soured blend of spiced quad/tripel/dubbel), which won first and second respectively in Wood- or Barrel-Aged Sour Beers category at last year's GABF. We tried several other interesting sour beers (Summer and Winter Goses, and Nightfall a strong pale sour aged on blackberries) including a sample of the first beer with Brett they've made. The rest of their sour beers undergo a clean primary fermentation before they are racked into barrels (which are only rinsed with cold water) and inoculated with a house lactic acid bacteria culture. Their beers get sick (ropy), so it sounds like there is Pedio at work, but the beers don't have a diacetyl character which is supposed to be the result of using Pedio without Brett. Hopefully the brewers enjoy(ed) the couple bottles of barrel aged homebrew I left with them.
The best night of the trip was having dinner with Sean White (the homebrew blogger turned brewer for Alameda Brewhouse) and Clarissa. Before dinner the four of us swung by Upright Brewing's tasting room and got to try some interesting variants of their house beers (Long Pepper Six, Dry Hopped Five etc..). Upright has been around for a bit more than a year and uses one of my favorite strains (Wyeast 3711 French Saison) as their house yeast. Alex, the brewer, mentioned that he had just brewed a beer with some redwood smoked malt. Back at Sean and Clarissa's we tried a couple great homebrews including a gruit spiced wedding ale, an aged dark saison, and a smoked imperial stout (plus some surprisingly delicious home-infused beet vodka). Just as good were the grilled salmon, and local corn/fennel/beets they made for dinner.
In general the beer we tried was well made and the prices were terrific compared to the east coast (Boston/New York/DC anyway). For example we went to Concordia Ale House for the tail end of the Concordia Cup which features13 Oregon made double IPAs for less than $5 a pint (with smaller pours available as well). In DC I'm lucky to get a 10 oz pour of a mediocre DIPA for $7. Even Lauro Kitchen, the nice Mediterranean restaurant we went for dinner had three local beers on tap for $5 a pint (the Ling cod with panchetta, baby artichoke, and peas was excellent as well). It was wonderful to spend time in a city that is so saturated in good beer that was new to me (although I was a bit burnt out on hops by the end).
There were plenty of other great places we visited, beers we drank, and people we met, but I wanted to restrict this to the highlights. Any one else have a favorite town for beer (not that I'm necessarily saying Portland is mine)?