Oregon is the Bourdeaux region of American Craft Beer. There are just so many great breweries in Oregon, and they are churning out so many great beers, that it is hard to keep up. Hop Czar is the only beer from Bridgeport Brewing that I have had, and it is a good one. The color is a bright, almost weird orange. As soon as you pour this, you get hit in your nose with some strong citrusy hops. Those hops carry over into the flavor, balanced with some breadlike malts and a slight burn from the 7.5% ABV. Me likey this Imperial IPA very much, 8/10.
I have previously written about my trip to Oregon here, but I want to revisit the trip one more time to discuss the Fort George Brewery. Astoria, Oregon is a couple of hours north of Portland. It is a quaint town on the water. We wandered around and came upon the Fort George Brewery. The brewpub is located in an old Ford dealership and has an industrial look to it. BB, JPE and I grabbed a table and ordered up some beers and food.
I had the Vortex IPA. I did not take notes (my beer dorkiness had not fully bloomed at that time) so I cannot give you any tasting notes. All I can say is that I had one sip and knew that I was in the presence of greatness. The one thing I clearly remember about this beer is that it had a creamy mouthfeel. The jar on the right in the picture that serves as the masthead of this blog is the Vortex IPA. I remember having a pale ale as well, and the picture above looks like a stout or a porter, though I must confess that I do not recall which. The hot sauce in the picture is made by a local kid who started bottling it and selling it to local businesses. Good stuff.
We were getting ready to leave when I noticed that they had some guest beers, including Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. I had heard of Pliny the Elder, but being an East Coast guy, I had never actually seen any. I whined, stamped my feet, and threw a temper tantrum until I was allowed to try it. Again, I have no tasting notes, but I do remember loving this beer.
BB has since moved from Portland, and as far as I can recall I do not know anybody in Astoria, or Oregon for that matter, but if the opportunity arose, I’d move to Astoria in a New York Minute just to be close to the Fort George Brewery.
About a year ago, I flew out to Portland, Oregon to visit BB. JPE came out a few days later, and the three of us drove around Oregon, sampled beer and seafood, and generally enjoyed the unique culture of the Northwest. Let me clarify that: BB drove JPE and me around and tried to keep his BAC below the legal limit, while we guzzled beer, gorged ourselves on whatever grub we could lay our mitts on, and generally made a nuisance of ourselves.
The Pacific Northwest (I am including Northern California) is the Bourdeaux region of American Brewing, and I would love to go back with more time and a bigger budget, and explore the region again. Every podunk town we stopped in had at least one outstanding craft brewer. Every dive bar we stumbled into had a tap selection that would be the envy of the Blind Tiger or d.b.a. I would describe myself in Oregon as being like a kid in a candy store if I was not trying to avoid cliches like the plague.
One morning, we made a trip out to Mount Hood, which is a must do trip for anyone who visits Portland. The only downside was that JPE could not get service on his iPhone, and the GPS on my phone was out of service, so we got a bit lost. We eventually found our bearings and made our way to the town of Hood River, which sits on the river at the end of a mountain passage, creating a natural wind tunnel, and which makes windsurfing in Hood River like climbing Mount Everest.
As none of us had thought to bring our wetsuits, we decided to grab some beer instead. The Full Sail Brewing Company was our first stop. The bar had a fantastic view of the river, and the beer and food was decent as well. As we were leaving, BB said “we need to head back to Portland now.” JPE and I agreed, but only after stopping for a quick three at the Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom, which was a few short blocks away. I was not taking notes, so this is strictly on memory, but the beer there was outstanding, with the India Red Ale being a particular favorite.
I came across a six pack of the Full Sail Pale Ale when I was visiting my sister in Texas, and having fond memories of the trip, grabbed it. It strikes the right balance between hops and malt, crisp and dry, and you could drink several of these without being overwhelmed. I have yet to see it ’round these parts, but I’d drink it regularly if I could. 7/10.
Whenever I am staring at the selection at the beer emporium, Oregon’s Rogue Brewery presents a quandary. Their beers are uniformly good, and some are excellent, but none that I have tried so far are truly great. Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale is another one that falls into the good but not great category. It is very good, more than just drinkable, but I wanted it to break through into the sublime category, and it fell short.
It pours a ruby red color with a nice frothy head. Nice hoppy flavor offset by rich malt undertones. Remember that girl that you went to school with who just missed being good looking? That is this beer. It has all the component parts, it just missed being good looking. It gets a 5/10.