I know I’ve not been around too much lately. I’ve been trying to secure employment, and my journeys over the last two weeks have brought be all over the State’s of Oregon and Washington. I told you about the Cascade Barrel house in Portland a while back, but I also went to Good Life Brewery in Bend, and had a very tasty Porter they are making and saw their operation up close and personal. We then took a look at Bend Brewing, a very small micro brewery in downtown Bend. After that we hit up Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters, Oregon on our way to Eugene. Three Creeks was very nice, but seemed to pay more attention to the restaurant side of the house than the beer side. Unfortunate, as their space is beautiful, but their beer is just kind of Meh…
Once we got to Eugene we went to a couple other local breweries, Steelhead brewing was on the edge of Downtown and wasn’t much to write home about, even their food sucked, however I think you all know how much I like Ninkasi Brewing, and we went to their brew house and enjoyed a pint of Barrel aged Renewal Porter. Very good beer. But the highlight for me was Hop Valley.
This is a relatively new brewery that really nails the Northwest hop flavor profile. I sampled all their beers, and with the exception of one, was pleased at each offering. They all have a hoppy bite, but unlike some where the hop profile is almost exactly the same for every style of beer (lookin’ at you Rogue) they mix it up very nicely so there is a hop presence and most brews are even hop forward, but the the use of them never becomes tired or redundant. This is a great brewery, and one I’m sure you will be hearing more about.
While at Hop Valley we got to meet Trevor Howard the Brewmaster. He was great to take us back into the brewery and show us around. One thing he did for us special was he had kegged a one off Bourbon Barrel aged old ale style brew and he got us each a sample. This brew blew me away. It was so boozy and that great Northwest hop combined with the Bourbon forward nose and flavor was just what this beer and whiskey guy loves! They are canning some of their brews, and are still local to the Oregon market, but have intension to expand, and when they do buy their beer, its awesome!
On our way home we went through Portland and did our visit with Cascade Barrel House, then went to Coalition Brewing, on the outskirts of downtown. This place was a young start up and hopefully will hit their groove soon, but they weren’t quite there yet. I had a session ale that tasted like bubble gum. Probably not infected, but definitely not my kind of beer.
After Portland, we began our trek homeward but made a pit stop in White Salmon, Washington. White Salmon is right across the Columbia River from Hood River, Oregon. This is the home of Everybody’s Brewing. This is a great brewery that brews beers in classic German styles. All brews are session beers, and even though they are lower ABV they still manage to coax a lot of flavor from their brew. I had their ISA (India Session Ale) which wass a 4.4% beer and packed a lot of flavor and a great hoppy bite. Their brewery is perched atop a bluff that overlooks the Columbia River, and the pub is a great place, taking full advantage of their view and their location, with deck views that are to die for! Awesome little place, and one I hope we hear more from in the near future. Presently they are just kegging their brews but eventually they want to bottle or can. When they do, I will be first in line to try them all!
The following week I had a job interview in Bellingham, Washington and was there for 3 days and two nights. After a harrowing trip through Snoqualamie Pass I was ready for a meal and a beer. One of our loyal blog contributors Evan came to my rescue and told me about the two micro pubs they had in town. That night I headed to Boundary Bay Brewing on the edge of downtown. This is a beautiful little brewpub with great food and even better beer. I had their Oatmeal Stout which was an imperial at 8.8% but didn’t state that on the tap handle! It was boozy and oaty and delicious and I enjoyed every taste with my Ruben Sandwich. I then picked up a bottle of their IPA to go. This was a great beer with a smooth and easy drinking quality that could make it very dangerous. I actually stopped into the brewery the following night and picked up another bottle along with their Barleywine which I will be cracking into for the next ungettables gathering this weekend!
The next night I went to Chuckanut Brewing, also on the outskirts of downtown Bellingham for dinner and a pint. This place was another German style brewery and made mostly session brews, although they did have some that pushed the 7% ABV range. I first had their Kolsch which won gold at GABF this year. It was a very easy drinking beer with a very crisp flavor. Great representation of the style. I followed it up with their very light Oatmeal stout. 3.9% ABV, but it packed a ton of flavor! For those of you back east it reminded me of Victory’s Donnybrook Stout. Big roasty malt presence, lighter mouthfeel and a very clean finish. This was a great beer, and I wanted to bring some home with me, but unfortunately they only keg, and I didn’t want an entire growler of the stuff. Had a great burger here too, made with local meats and emphasizing the locavore movement.
It has been a great couple of weeks and I hope to participate a bit more now that I won’t be travelling quite so much.