Each year, from the day after Thanksgiving to the day before Christmas, one of my two daily posts will showcase a different holiday seasonal. So it is appropriate to start with a beer from Hopworks Brewery in Portland, Oregon.
“This Cold IPA is light and crisp. Seamlessly blurring the line between a refreshing lager and a bright, aromatic IPA. Notes of pine sap, lemon zest, and grapefruit with a dry, crackery finish.”
You knew I was going to make a stop in Portland for my Blazers who are not doing too bad despite the youth and the injury bug that has hit them with Simons, Henderson and a freakin’ Time Lord getting hurt.
And as the Blazers remake a roster so too has Labyrinth Forge Brewing has taken the former Hair of the Dog space on the Eastside over.
Here is what I would pick for a taster flight…
Heinzelmänn Kölsch-style ale – “In northern German folklore, Heinzelmänn was a lucky household spirit… so long as he was appeased. This is our take on the traditional kölsch .”
Noble Citizens Pale Lager – “In honor of the 14 noble citizens of Athens that were sacrificed to the minotaur in the Greek myth when King Minos’ son died, we brewed this limited edition, tasty beer. It was brewed with Imperial Yeast’s Cable Car, all pilsner malt and the noble Styrian Celeia and Northern Brewer hops.”
Hoptaur PNW IPA – “Deep in the heart of Labyrinth Forge resides our hero and inspiration, the Hoptaur. This fearless Northwest IPA is the spawn of locally sourced craft malt and heroic amounts of Bravo and Centennial hops to add classical citrus and pine flavors and aromas. Dare to get lost with Hoptaur, and tell your tale at #getlostwithyourbeer! Watch out for the Fresh Hop versions of this every fall!”
Juløl Winter Ale – “
Collaboration with Ridgewalker brewing in 2022 for the Scandanavian Fest.
In 1075, the King of Norway decreed that all farmsteads must supply their employees and slaves with Christmas beer. In that tradition this beer does not fail. Dark malts combined with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. All the ingredients to warm you up.”
The American Cider Association has settled on the location and dates for CiderCon®2024. It will take place in Portland, Oregon from January 16-19, 2024. It is the cider event of the year with “more than 1000 attendees to the city and surrounding areas for tours, tastings, educational workshops, networking opportunities, a trade show and more.”
As a bonus, the conference “coincides with Oregon Cider Week (January 13-21, 2024), a statewide celebration of cider, featuring events for both aficionados and the cider-curious, hosted by the Northwest Cider Association (NWCA).”
I am not a spooky season guy but Wayfinder Beers Decocted Pumpkin Strong Ale aged on Westward Whiskey barrels could make me change my mind. L.A. gets a fair supply of their beer, so maybe I will see Corpo Seco on shelves. Plus Frank looks good on the can.
When I travel and beer is on the agenda, I research new places, places getting buzz, beers that do not come to my neck of the woods. Usually that means driving all over to hit the spots that most interest me.
Or, both breweries could be within 4 blocks of each other on one street.
Both Grand Fir Brewing and Fracture Brewing sit on the north side of East Stark Street and I popped into both and came away impressed by both the beer and the atmosphere.
Grand Fir is two floors with a small amount of outdoor and first floor seating. Upstairs is the bar along with the kitchen so you can get beer and lunch / dinner. Touches of green and wood are everywhere.
I tasted four beers from their line-up and bar one that was fine, the others from brewer Whitney Burnside were great including the Lichen West Coast IPA and the Ember Schwarzbier.
Next door to a small food cart pod is Fracture where the vibe is cocktail bar (which it is) but with great beer.
I tasted two beers both IPA, both oat cream hazy and both simply fantastic. Their Anniversary IPA had a little sharp edge to it but was fruity and soft on the palate. Hype Machine V1 was somehow even more pillowy and more tropical fruity. I didn’t sample the lighter or darker stuff but based on the first two, my expectations are high.
Sometimes a beer vacation takes you exactly where you planned to go and other times, you scramble to Plan B. Or if you are on vacation you in Oregon, you just walk a little to the next place.
I wanted to stop at Gorges Beer Co. outside Hood River in Cacade Locks. But as I walked to the door, I was told they were closed because an employee didn’t make it back from Las Vegas. So, to nearby Thunder Island I went. And the view of the island and the Columbia River was fantastic on a cold and rainy July day.
The beers were tilted to light and Belgiany which was cool. I had a Belgian IPA and a regular IPA. A saison and Kveik Pale Ale. The Belgians were strong enough to overpower the others. Solid overall if not spectacular.
I should backtrack though. Fresh off the plane from Burbank, the first stop was Belmont Station to grab a 4-pack of new to me Oregon beers.
I picked up Via, Fracture, Hetty Alice and Away Days.
The Rachel and Rose Double Decker is half coffee shop and half pub. It is in Portland but if a sibling were here in Los Angeles, the upper half would be open all the time and you probably wouldn’t need the heated seats much.
In a patented Beer Search Party move, read THIS about 2023 Oregon and SW Washington breweries about to open first, then you can see below my picks and if you agree with my choices as the most interesting newbies.
Oak Union – hey, hey might be landing in my hometown of Milwaukie
Breakside – big plans for three locations including Astoria
Upright – adding a second location in a former corner gas station
Little Hop Brewing – a brewery and a mobile Tiny Hop House truck