Thursday, June 27, 2013

Walking Around, Enjoying Beer

A walking pub crawl is nothing new but who wants to be the guide, gathering up people and making sure the bill is paid when it's time to move on to the next stop? Brewvana, that's who. Starting in July they'll be offering walking tours Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in The Pearl visiting Deschutes, Pints and Rogue. I had a chance to be part of the dry run for the tour and just like hopping on the bus, the tour was all inclusive, well planned, led by a knowledgeable tour guide and above all, FUN.

Starting with a full six-beer sampler tray at Deschutes right when they opened at 11:00 am was a heck of a way to start a Tuesday. I'm pretty sure I've had most of these beers before but since they're more mildly flavored than what I usually drink, they tend to get lost in the shuffle. This time, however, I was able to evaluate them with a fresher palate and found that I really enjoyed the Chainbreaker White IPA. The hoppiest of the bunch, Inversion IPA, still won out as my favorite however.

In addition to tasting the beer, brewer Ben took time to tell us about their beer and answer questions. One bit of trivia that I got out of it was that 95% of the hops Deschutes uses are whole flower hops (as opposed to hop pellets). And I was reminded of my first glimpse at this place. It was right when they opened, back in 2008 when we were in town on a vacation. It seems hard to believe it's only been five years.

Before long it was time to finish our beers and meander to the next stop, Pints Brewing. Along the way our tour guide, Margot, talked about places we were passing, adding a bit of Portland historical education to our beer enjoyment.

Arriving at Pints we were ushered to their back space, which is open to the brewery, where tables were set, waiting for us to sit down and start sampling beers. Brewer Alan Taylor talked us through the three beers - Grissette, Kolsch and Triple Whammy.

Grissette had more banana aroma than I prefer and appropriately described as "grey." The Kolsch was much more my style yet more flavorful than many Kolsches I've tried. The yeast strain was one Alan had brought back from his time brewing overseas. The third beer, Triple Whammy, was a departure from the first two with the raisins and prunes that went into the whirlpool evident. Interestingly, those dark fruits didn't weigh down the beer and at only 7% ABV and it remained very drinkable.

Our time at Pints over, our group was pointed toward Rogue, with the history of the city's Benson Bubblers covered, among other things.

At Rogue we sidled up to one of their surf board-esque tables for appetizers and three more beers. The first was their Irish Lager, designed to float Guinness. Not a lager fan, it wasn't up my alley, but the next beer was. Brutal IPA was Rogue's first IPA and is its bestselling. The final beer, Rogue Farms Dirtoir Black Lager had a huge chocolate-y, boozy aroma and a very smoky flavor. It's not one I would drink on its own but I think it would be great with red meat.

Three hours and twelve beer samples later the tour concluded. Even though all three breweries were ones I had been to before and their beers were familiar to me, I enjoyed visiting and learning more about each. So if you're looking for some mid-week, mid-day fun for yourself or perhaps for visitors, check 'em out

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