We were out of town a good chunk of last week getting a little R&R on a family fishing trip in northern Minnesota but now we're back and ready to catch up with a double edition of Best Things. Grab a beverage and settle in!
June 19 - 25
Being back in the Midwest we couldn't help but seek out some old favorites but also took the opportunity to try beer from some of the newer places that have sprung up since we left seven years ago. The former was rewarding, the latter was hit and miss.
Bell's Kalamazoo Stout - Bell's, which has seen some exposure in the Portland market, is extremely skilled when it comes to stouts and this beer is a Bell's classic. Roasty and smooth, this 6% stout is one that can be enjoyed year round.
Summit Saga IPA - Summit is similar to Widmer in that it has been around since the early days of craft beer in its respective state and like Widmer, has its standard lineup but has also managed to remain relevant with new offerings. Saga is newer (in the last five years) and is hoppy enough for NW IPA lovers to enjoy, a profile that comes from the combination of hops, both in the brewing and dry-hopping stages.
Fargo 1.21 Gigahops (2017) - This is the first beer that we've had from Fargo Brewing Company and although a bit sweet, it is appropriately so considering that it's an imperial IPA clocking in at 9.5%. The 12oz can size is just right for enjoying one. Interestingly, the founders and the brewers they hired have been influenced by the Pacific Northwest (give their history a read if you're so inclined).
Rewinding to the week before we headed out to Minnesota, it is a bit interesting to see that our top two beers actually hailed from that state. Those beers were enjoyed when we were invited to join in a bottle share with friends of a friend who were visiting Portland.
June 12 - 18
Lift Bridge Commander Bona Fide Barleywine - We've enjoyed Commander on numerous previous occasions and are proud to call the Lift Bridge guys friends. This, however, was the first time we'd had a "bone fide" version wherein the 12.5% beer is aged in Heaven Hill barrels. So smooth without any trace of heat, this is one to savor with friends.
Indeed Wooden Soul Cherry Dust - Indeed is one of the older of the newer breweries in MN and while we've had some good things from them, we haven't been 100% sold. This sour beer definitely improves our view of them and makes us hope they continue to produce sour beers. At a sessionable 5.4% the wild yeasts, tart cherries and wood aging mingle to produce a beer we'd happily drink a full 22oz bottle all on our own.
The rest of the beers that hit high notes for us that week hailed from Portland and California.
Great Notion Double Dry Hop Hop Dry Double - One of the beers at Eclicptic's Masters of IPA event during PDX Beer Week, we'd heard in advance that this was a good'en. They call it an "imperial session IPA" that is "a verbal assault on your palate." We call it juicy and drinkable. Now only if we had more of it to drink!
Montavilla I-205-PA IPA - Fans of Montavilla in general, on our most recent visit, this was the beer that really spoke to us with the combination of Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. As much as other styles try too woo us, the hops always lure us back to IPAs.
Fire on the Mountain Galena Goodnight - We go to Fire on the Mountain for their wings (the best in town we say!) and have been pleased to find that their beer has continued to improve as the brewery has come out of its infancy. Labeled as a CDA the mouthfeel is more like a porter or stout with a deliciously roasty flavor.
Modern Times Oneida - We might sound like a broken record with the consistency that Modern Times has been making the Best Things list but dang it, the hits just keep coming. A complex pale ale, the flavor shares some characteristics with Fortunate Islands, another one we quite like although it is more aggressively bitter, which speaks to our hop-loving taste buds.
Lagunitas Dark Swan (2017) - Found in the sour section of The BeerMongers cooler, this 8.5% sour ale was a steal at $2.90 for a 12oz bottle. Lightly sour, the wine-ish flavor (with gorgeous grape color to back it up) drank more like grape juice. Adult juice box anyone?
Now a few days back in the Portland saddle we're finally feeling caught up from being gone and looking forward to what July, Oregon Beer Month, will bring.