Thursday, September 16, 2010

Silently Doing Good Work

In a place where craft beer abounds around every corner it’s easy to overlook the solid, quiet players.  It’s especially easy for a beer geek like me who is always looking for the next new thing, the beer that will push the limits of hoppiness or ABV or uses some as of yet untasted ingredient.  Add to that a place that isn’t tweeting or posting on Facebook about what’s just been brewed or gone on tap and what you get is unintended, but not inexcusable, lack of attention and attendance.

Tuesday night, upon the suggestion of a friend, I made my way back to Alameda Brewhouse, one of the first Portland brewpubs I had the first hand pleasure of enjoying.  As I drove east on Fremont, I was surprised to find the neighborhood looked just like it had years ago and even remembered stopping in at the slightly sketchy looking convenience store.  Good memories of that trip came to mind and I was hopeful the beer would be as good as the memory.

Perusing the tap line up, there were numerous beers that caught my eye, including an imperial IPA and a barleywine.  Knowing better than to start off with one of those heavy hitters I defaulted to their less potent El Torero Organic IPA.  The aroma was less stanky than I was hoping for with solid floral notes and the flavor was well balanced, an IPA most lovers of this style would enjoy. The pint went down easily enough but as I thought about what the next one would be I knew there were others I needed to try.

A friend had boldly started off with the imperial IPA, allowed me to try it and thus I was able to scratch that itch without a full pint of that powerhouse to down.  No doubt, this was a very tasty beer, but one more suited to a different day.  Going back to the beer listing, my second pint was a no-brainer order.  Cascadian IPAs are abounding in this area of the beer world and I was eager to see how Alameda’s would stack up.  Presenting with a full dark hue, minimal head, and characteristic Cascadian flavor combination of hops and roasty malts, this was indeed an excellent beer!  As noted by a friend, who has an aversion to molasses, this beer offered stronger coffee notes from the dark malt than another recently enjoyed Cascadian, Pyramid Discord Dark IPA.

Just as I was wondering if I would make the next pint a repeat of one of the first two or possibly go down the lovely but treacherous path of the barleywine, our waitress arrived with one friend’s beer and an extra El Torero.  She apologized, offered it to me and deciding I was happy enough with the first pint to have a second, I accepted.  For as much as I had enjoyed the Cascadian IPA, going back to El Torero was no disappointment at all (and a bit of a bonus that she didn’t charge me for it). 

I’d like to think this lesson will stick with me and I’ll not be as neglectful of quiet, yet quality players like Alameda.  If nothing else, the enticement of a good happy hour is worth the trip with $3 pints and $4 eats. 

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