Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grand Opening: Harvester Brewing

Harvester Brewing, one of the new kids on the Portland brewing block, held their belated grand opening last night. You may have already seen some of their bottles around town but my favorite part of the grand opening came out of a tap, not out of a bottle. Until now their line up consisted of Pale, Red, Dark and Raspberry Experimental. Last night they treated folks to a taste of their newest brew, an IPA.

Before we go much further, in case it has escaped your attention one of the things that sets Harvester apart from other breweries is that their entire line up is gluten-free. There are other gluten-free beers on the market, probably the most widely known in these parts is Widmer’s Omission. In place gluten-containing grain Harvester is using locally sourced chestnuts that are roasted in their Persian coffee roaster. Just like grain that varies from a lightly toasted blonde to a deep chocolate, so are the chestnuts.

For someone who doesn’t have a gluten intolerance drinking gluten-free beer isn’t high on my radar. However, just like organic beers, they’ve come a long way since they first hit the market and as long as it’s a tasty, well-made beer I’m happy to drink it. So in case you’re wondering, here’s my quick take on their five beers, all of which are approximately 5.8% ABV.

Pale – It’s just what it says it is. It’s not a NW pale packed with hops. It’s an easy drinking brew that’s great for warm weather.
Red – Most reds don’t do much for me. One exception is Coalition’s King Kitty Red due to the unusually high amount of hops. Harvester’s is another exception but instead of being hop-forward it’s the pleasing flavor of sorghum, reminiscent of molasses, that sets it apart from the average red.
Dark – I know, dark is not a style but that’s part of the point here. This isn’t a porter or a stout and it’s appearance might make you think you’ve been mistakenly poured a red. But you would be mistaken if you didn’t give this a try. It has that great, lingering roasty flavor one might find in a stout or porter without being heavy.
Raspberry Experimental – Fruit beers have been popular of late, with a whole, wonderful festival devoted to them. Many of those beers have a pale or wheat base whereas Harvester has wisely used their red. It plays very well with the raspberries, one of the harder fruits in my opinion to do correctly.
IPA – I’m a hop head and while this isn’t a knock you over the head IPA it is nonetheless a nice representation of the style. Cascade hops are used throughout the brewing process as well as Horizon, Willamette and Meridian.

Harvester is currently only open for dock sales on Thursday afternoons. Only cases are for sale but if you’re unsure what you want to buy they’ll happily oblige you with a sample. Gluten intolerant or not they’re worth a try.

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