Leapbeer Fieldtrip – Portland Oregon, Day 2
Before I start recounting my second day of escapades on the Leapbeer to Portland trip I wanted to share another tip that I found helpful. This tip about PDX is when you travel down here, know your wifi hot spots. We spent an inordinate amount of time at Powells Book store downtown and thankfully they have wifi there. In fact they have wifi on all levels. I really bemoaned the exorbitant rates my cellular provider wanted to charge me for data & roaming to the states. What we did instead was search for wifi spots where we were when we could use it, and for talk we bought a cheap Tracfone pay-n-talk cell phone for making calls when we were down there.
Places with free wifi that I found: Starbucks, Stumptown Coffee Downtown, Powells Books, Shari’s Restaurant, Hair of the Dog Brewery, OMSI Oregon Museum of Science and Industrty
We started our day at Stumptown Coffee for an artistically sculpted Cappuccino and Latte.
Even though it wasn’t on our list of places we wanted to go to, we happened to be walking by Voodoo Doughnut’s and stopped to give them a try.
And similar to the lackluster beer based on it, the Maple bacon bar was unimpressive. In fact all the doughnuts we tried from there were pretty lame.
In making our way to Powells, I found a parkade near the book store. It also happened to be close to a Whole Foods. I remember reading on another BC bloggers plan of attack for Portland that it included a trip to Whole Foods for beers. We went in there and I was impressed. I filled up a basket and left with two bags of assorted bottled beer goodness.
My wife spent her time perusing the book store and I entertained my daughter in the children’s book section. After some time there we needed a place to eat some lunch. Despite suggestions from Thirsty Writer Mr.Wiebe to track down a 5 star delicatessen (which for the record was equally close), We ended up going to Deschutes Brewpub (just a block away from Powells) for lunch. And I want to add, it was a great choice. The food was great, and the beer was even better.
As mentioned in my post for Portland Day 1, I missed out on the fresh hop festival by a couple of days. Thankfully Deschutes, like many of the other locations I went to, had fresh hopped beers on site to drink. We all ordered lunch and I got the Fresh Hop Flight and I set to tasting.
Set Taste Buds to Yum
First up in the flight is their Archer Ale, a golden style ale with 45 IBU’s and a sessionable 5.6% ABV. I found it to have a resinous and floral character to it along with a very crisp finish.
Next up was the Hop Trip, one of the Pale ales of the flight. I found this one to have a real lingering bitterness to it. It has 46 IBUs and a 5.7% ABV.
Third up is the first IPA of the flight, their Chasin’ Freshies IPA. Looking at the menu, and the mention of 60 IBUs and 7.4% ABV I expected this to have a strong alcohol taste to it. It did not. Not only was it deceptively smooth but it was also a really great tasting IPA. While not my favorite from the flight it definitely deserved an honorable mention.
Crossing over the mid point of the flight now I move on to the Fresh Hop Deschutes River Ale. This, in my opinion, was the perfect session ale of the bunch. Low bitters (28 IBUs) and low alcohol (4.0% ABV), along with a light and lovely taste and body. I could have easily spent the day sitting and sharing this beer with friends. It proved to be my 2nd favorite of the flight.
Second to last on the flight, but number one in my books, is the Fresh Hop Fresh Squeezed IPA. When I was reading through the write up on this beer I was shocked. Here’s the notes from the pub. “A fresh hop take on one of our favorite Portland pub beers. Three types of malt, nuggets for bittering, 100 pounds (holy poop!) of fresh mosaic hops and 200 pounds (double holy poop!) of fresh Citra hops. That’s over 15 lbs of fresh off the vine hops per barrel of beer!!! Put your belt on” First sip of this and I said “Wow!”. This is my kind of IPA, big bold flavours and a nice crisp and balanced character to it. This beer has 49 IBUs and a 6.2% ABV.
Last, but not least, we have their Fresh Hop Porter. I’m still not sold on using fresh hops in this style of beer. Even a milder porter, like the one they used in this beer, doesn’t seem like the right canvas for fresh hopping to me. Despite that, it had some nice malt character to it, and a crisp finish. It has 39 IBUs and 5.3% ABV.
The choice I made to eat is their Yellow Belly Burger. It was a monstrous looking burger that had the perfect blend of spice, meat and luscious bacon fat to it. Here’s the write up from the menu “Yellow Belly Burger: Seared Coleman Ranch beef, root beer braised pork belly, jalapeno pesto, whipped goat cheese and candied yellow tomatoes on fresh baked sourdough roll” It was a whole lot of yum.
Now I only tried the six fresh hopped beers, but there was a whole lot more options available at the pub. All told there were twelve other beers on tap and 2 reserve offerings that were available there. It may have pained me to leave, but I wanted to keep our trip balanced so we ventured forth to enjoy more of Portland.
Later that day we decided to dine at a restaurant called the Farm Cafe. I had found a website called Tv Food Maps that allows you to search towns for restaurants featured in tv shows like Diners Drive ins and Dives, Man vs Food and so on. The Farm Cafe had (supposedly) the best Veggie Burger Evar (as per The Best Thing I Ever Ate).
I decided to pair that with the Fort Garry Vortex IPA from Astoria, Oregon.
It was somewhat of a strange circumstance that the Farm Cafe happened to be across the street from Burnside Brewing Company. While the ladies ordered desert, I hopped over there for a quick flight. I didn’t want to do anything stupid, but I had a plan. I ordered the beers they had in bottles in the bottle to take with me, and tasters of the other tap offerings. That way instead of drinking all ten of their tap beers, I tasted six (and a half). That allowed me to keep my wits for driving back. I wasn’t sure about what their beers would be like, so I arranged them from light to dark and went to tasting.
From left to right there was the Wild Plum Gose, The Burnside Gratzer, The Fruity Monk, Fresh Hop Pub Draught…On Nitro!, Alter Ego Imperial IPA & the Burnside Stout. The server also gave me a half taster of Sweet Heat (the bottle with the yellow label), because they also had bottled an imperial version of it available. I chose to decline for that, because the one litre bottle was a hefty forty dollars. More than the whole flight plus the bottles I took home.
The first beer, Wild Plum Gose, was extremely surprising for me. Having had the sours from Cascade Barrel House the night before I knew what to expect from a sour beer. However this beer was so much more than that. The inclusion of the Garibaldi salt to this heirloom plum sour was a delightful touch. An easily sessionable (4.9% ABV & 10 IBUs) sour that would be agreeable to all beer drinkers.
Next I went to the Burnside Gratzer. Had I have read the label before hand I would have drank this one last. They smoke 600 pounds of white wheat themselves over applewood and mesquite chips. Despite its low bitterness (9 IBUs) and reasonable alcohol content (5.4% ABV) I feel this is much more of an acquired taste for beer drinkers. The smoked beers are something better shared with others in my opinion.
After that it was The Fruity Monk, their “silky Belgian ale aged over Papaya, Mango and Pineapple for maximum fruitiness“. I really liked this beer. It smelled like a tropical fruit bowl, like something you would expect a plantation in Hawaii or St Lucia to smell like. Add to that fruit the taste of a slightly peppery Belgian yeast. It was almost saison-like, something I would have called a saison derivative beer. 24 IBUs and a healthy 5.9% ABV to this beer.
On to the Fresh Hop Pub Draught … On Nitro! If you’re asking (like I did) what does the On Nitro mean? Instead of carbonating with CO2 some beers are carbonated with a mix of Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide instead. The result? “The nitrogen displaces quite a bit of the dissolved CO2 in the beer and creates a thick, creamy head (think Guinness) and a very smooth, creamy mouth feel.” (as per the Growler Fills Blog) How did it fare with this English-style Mild ale? This beer smelled piney and sweet. It tasted really mild (4.5% ABV) , except for the piney hop notes at the end of the taste. It definitely was not my favorite of this flight.
After that somewhat lackluster beer I went on to the Alter Ego Imperial IPA. This is a big time IPA, with a measured 99.5 IBUs and a weighty 7.9% ABV. You get a big citrus hit on the smell of this beer. The taste is big as well, there’s a strong hop punch and bitterness to follow it. It rounds up with some malty notes in it as well. Surprisingly drinkable considering the high alcohol content.
Lastly I had their Burnside stout. This isn’t a motor oil thick stout, but a clean and refreshing one. It has a respectable 51 IBUs and a drinkable 5.8% ABV. I really liked it this stout. I’m curious if they are planning an imperial version of it. I asked my server and he told me that they do plan on doing an Almond porter soon which sounded interesting. More information about this brewery is available on their website. I still have the bottles that I took with me. Perhaps they will take up one or two more spots on the blog later on.
I finished up the night with a bottle of the Bridgeport Hop Harvest Pilsner that I picked up at the Whole Foods earlier on. The cool thing about this beer is that the hops are literally harvested and into the brew within one hour. The pilsner is a very nice style to showcase the fresh hop character as well. I quite enjoyed this beer.
The two beers from this day I chose to add to the blog master list are the Fresh Hop Fresh Squeezed IPA by Deschutes (#268) and the Wild Plum Gose by Burnside (#269). These two beers stood out to me as both very different and delightful for the day.
That concludes my second day in Portland. Next up is Day 3 with visits to Hair of the Dog (my #1 have to go to from the planning stage) and my dazed visit to Belmont Station.
Thanks for reading