Sunday, February 20, 2011

Too Comfortable?

A couple weeks ago I told you how I realized that I was starting to take some beers here for granted. Now it’s time to confess that I might be getting too comfortable as well. Possibly even lazy. Let me explain a bit so you don’t think that I’ve stopped showering and found a service to deliver beer to my door.

With no plans yesterday afternoon or evening and a plethora of things going on for Portland’s Zwicklmania, we pondered our plentiful options. The night before we had been to one of our favorite places, Coalition, and there were things going on I was interested in at Green Dragon and Cascade Barrel House. In the end, though, we decided with it being a Saturday we should take the opportunity to travel a little farther afield.

Our destination was Breakside Brewing. We had been to once before, when the McG’s were in town. That first trip was a little disappointing because they had just opened and due to permit and equipment issues, they only had one of their own beers on tap (a Wit). The place itself was nice but we only stayed long enough for a couple of beers. Had we not just come from lunch at Saraveza we might well have tried some of the interesting looking items on the food menu.

Last night however, they not only had a full line up of their beers on tap, but also had their Belgian Royal Brown going through the Randall with vanilla and dried cherries. The place was packed when we got there but luckily there were two seats at the bar, our preferred place to sit. Although I dislike Belgians in general, I had enjoyed a Belgian Brown from Green Flash a few weeks ago and the pull of the randallizing was too strong to resist. I wish I could say I was sold, but no. It was good to try but one tulip glass was more than enough.

With my curiosity satiated, it was time to move to more familiar ground – the land of hops. For the next round Mag picked the IPA so I went for the Hoppy Amber. Both were very good beers and I waivered through the next few rounds which I preferred. The Hoppy Amber had a good hop stank to it and lingered on my tongue. In contrast, the IPA was a brighter, more citrusy beer that finished very clean. Being only 8 IBUs apart from one another they both made this hophead very happy.

Of course the beer was the focus and the impetus for the visit, but I can’t wrap this up without a quick food note. If you have any room in your belly for some food when you visit I can’t recommend highly enough their Rogue Smokey Blue Waffle Fries.

So you might wonder, what was this talk of laziness? Living in SE Portland, with the aforementioned places, and many other great options, it’s easy, especially during the week when traffic is a consideration, to go to some place close. So on the weekend, when there are less time constraints and less traffic, I need to remember that I’ll be well rewarded by going just a few more miles down the road.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Settling In

For anyone who has been checking in on the blog lately will notice the lack of posts. I apologize. It’s not that I’m not drinking plenty of good beer, but there just hasn’t been anything that I’ve felt has been interesting enough to write about. I think I finally am finally able to pinpoint why.

We’ve been in Portland about seven and a half months now and although there are places on the list yet to visit and the local/regional breweries are turning out new or seasonal beers we’ve never had before at a greater rate than we can keep up with, we are getting settled in. Settled into our favorite places to drink, our favorite places to eat, and settled in to a set of go-to beers. Don’t get me wrong, getting settled in feels good but it also means that there’s a good chance the majority of beers I’m drinking are ones I’ve had before. I may have told you about them when I found them, or maybe they are ones, like Rogue Dead Guy, that I’ve had access to for years, that like Summit EPA, are just good, solid beers. Yet they are neither earth shatteringly great or so incredibly bad that I feel compelled to tell you about them.

This weekend I had beers from two local breweries that I’ve put into the go-to brewery category and in doing so, have discounted a bit. It was wrong of me to do so and drinking these beers has reminded me not to gloss over offerings from these places just because you can find their beers at most places in Portland. So who has been getting the short stick in my mind? Laurelwood and Deschutes.

About a week ago I picked up a bomber of Laurelwood Organic Portland Roast Espresso Stout. You know how much I love coffee and how much I love finding a coffee beer that does justice to both the coffee side and the beer side of the equation. I had seen this beer around and finally decided I’d better try it before I realized I was no longer seeing it around. Good thing, because this coffee beer goes on my short list of the best coffee beers out there, right next to Surly Coffee Bender. This is the kind of coffee beer that you’d drink with your breakfast (if drinking before/at work wasn’t frowned upon).

Next up was Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale. The first problem for me was the name. Red Chair immediately, although incorrectly, makes me think that it is a red. Being a hophead, I don’t generally think much of reds. They are middle of the road beers that are fine but aren’t good enough to register for me unless they are not true to style (like Coalition Kitty Kat Red – Meow!), usually with a stronger hop profile. The second problem was that it is billed as a pale ale, albeit a Northwest pale ale. Similar to my issue with a red, rightly or wrongly, I’ll take an IPA over a pale any day of the week. In this case I was wrong, just plain wrong. This is an outstanding beer and I understand why there has been so much buzz about it.

To rectify the error of my ways, I’ll be making a trip to one of my favorite bottle shops in the very near future to pick up more of both of these great beers. If you happen to be able to get either beer in your neck of the woods, DO IT!