A couple weeks ago Brian, another Portland beer drinker, tweeted that he “finally made it to Tugboat Brewery. I flippin’ love it”. I replied that my first visit, in 2008, was uninspiring and was the reason I hadn’t bothered to make a return visit. His tweet and subsequent post piqued my curiosity though, and I made a mental note to make it a point to go back soon. As it turned out, my schedule got the better of me and it wasn’t until this past weekend I had the opportunity to make it over there.
As I walked through Tugboat’s door the dim interior invited me in. Busier than it had been on that first visit, it still gave off the vibe of a place to relax and hang out for a while. But this visit wasn’t for that. This was about the beer and the most expedient way to handle the task at hand was to be accomplished by grabbing one of the empty stools at the bar.
The chalkboard above the taps announced five house offerings: Thunderbolt Pale, Golden Rule, Hay Fork Blonde Ale, Coffee Porter and Chernobyl Stout. Disappointed not to see the IPA (my relative favorite previously), but having had many good pale ales lately, Thunderbolt seemed the obvious choice. The bartender, before pouring a full pint gave me a sample. It turned out to be a very fortunate thing because the $4.50/pint beer was weak on the hops and strong on the cardboard. I politely declined a pint of it and went to Plan B, the Coffee Porter.
I like coffee. I like coffee beers. I really like well-made coffee beers. I wish I could say this was one of them. There was very little malt presence to balance out the bitterness that didn’t just linger, but loitered, on my tongue and had I not been a die-hard coffee lover I can’t imagine I would have made it to the bottom of the pint.
With the Pale being an absolute miss, the Coffee Porter not one I was interested in having a second pint of and my remaining options being a golden, a blonde and a stout that they only served in half-pints, I decided it was time for me to go. While disappointed that they hadn’t upped their game, I figured that I had at least given them a fair, second go around. Thankfully, I have a long list of other places I can go to quench my hop thirst.