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Portland Wows, Upright Stuns And Le Pigeon Haunts My Dreams

Four Play teases my better senses. Want to steal, need now.

Sunday was quite the trip. It lingered through Monday, but no regrets. Upright Brewing rocked my world. Le Pigeon made me redefine the word “burger.”

Upright Brewing was celebrating their 2nd Anniversary, so we made it a point to get their early to taste the new release. But, we couldn’t help but to shuffle around the city to visit some other favorites.

 

Top of the Morning with Imperial Workhorse

 

I won’t jump right into Upright’s display of greatness, because we had some other amazing visits that I’d like to share. First off, we visited Laurelwood’s production brewery in NE neighborhood of Hollywood.

Laurelwood Brewing recently released its first ever batch of Imperial Workhorse, a larger than life version of its iconic Workhorse IPA. The big brother is 9.9% and almost 100 IBUs. At first sip, it immediately wakes you from whatever slumber you might be residing within. The beer is incredibly flavorful, sharp and non-boozy. Lots to like about that beer, and the brewery will be bottling a limited amount in swing-top bottles that will be available at the brewery. Hint: Do not miss the Bourbon Barrel Aged Moose & Squirrel Russian Imperial Stout – I actually preferred this beer to the Imperial Workhorse.

 

Upright’s Rise to the Top

 

We left Laurelwood to head over to Upright Brewing, where we spent an hour crying in the last drops of each beer. Its that good. Watching it reduce to nothing was so incredibly painful.

Upright Brewing decided to release a sour version of its Four, a 4.5% wheaty farmhouse ale. The beer, appropriately named “Four Play,” uses a combination of fresh Oregon cherries, brettanomyces and lactobacillus yeasts aged in Pinot Noir barrels. This beer is right now, my beer of 2011. Drinking this beer reminded me of standing in front of Jean Van Roy in Cantillon’s tasting room, drinking one of their more celebrated Lou Pepe lambics – its that good. Incredibly smooth, yet refreshingly tart, the cherry flavor is subtle enough to keep this from being a kriek, but pronounced enough to not be forgotten. Do not miss, if you can find it.

To prevent a one-sided affair, Upright also decided to pour its last remaining portion of its christmas ale, Noel. This spiced farmhouse ale is aged in Pinot barrels and spiked with cherry juice. The wood really works well on this beer, because the alcohol is barely noticeable and it goes down very smooth. The spice is unforgettable, hitting you with concentrated dosages of black pepper and herb. Had Four Play not knocked me out of my boots, Noel would have stole the show.

To end our visit, we had a great talk with owner/brewer Alex Ganum. If you want to meet a great brewer and better guy, chat with Alex. Ganum hails from the ballyhooed ranks of Ommegang and certainly knows how to make incredible beer. Despite his incredible success (they made the Rate Beer Top 50 Brewers in year 2), he remains a normal guy, more than happy to stand and chat with his customers over a beer.

 

Some Old Favorites

The remains of duck wings, flanked by Fred.

 

After leaving Upright, we had quite the whirlwind trip around the east side. We visited renowned bottle shop Belmont Station, who was holding its 14th Anniversary sale (Congrats). There we got our first tastes of Corvallis brewers Block 15 and Flat Tail Brewing. Block 15 poured several bourbon barrel aged brews, including the rare Pappy’s Dark Ale. Pappy is a Strong Ale aged in 10 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels for 2-4 months. While a few other Block 15 barrel aged beers were surprisingly unimpressive – this one blew our minds. The Pappy wood is noticeably more rich and flavorful than other bourbon barrels, and we agree its worth the extra dough.

After Belmont, a visit to Hair of the Dog was simply nostalgia and routine. Why the hell would you ever go to Portland and not get indulge in Alan Sprints’ craft? The house flight of Greg (a spiced pilsner?), Blue Dot, Fred and Adam, will warm the cockles.  If you are lucky, Alan might be serving the duck wings, a stack of 3 full wings smothered in a rich gravy. Get it.

 

A Burger for the Ages

 

Last but not certainly not least – a visit to Le Pigeon. While we were waiting for this renowned eatery to open, we ran over to Burnside Brewing and tried the Oatmeal Pale. I was surprisingly impressed by that beer, as Pales typically do nothing for me. The oatmeal was absolutely noticeable and really changed the body of this otherwise simple beer. But, 5:00 PM rang and we ran back to Le Pigeon.

Nothing to say. Look and admire.

Why are we running? Rumors of Le Pigeon‘s incredible burger have haunted my dreams for weeks. I have seen glaring images of this burger in nightmares in the previous few nights. It was seemingly stalking me – and for good reason. Le Pigeon makes 5 of these bad boys each night. Thus, its incredibly important to get in there when they open at 5 PM. By 5:15 PM, all 5 orders had been placed.

Le Pigeon has an earthy, classic gastropub feel. Sitting at the bar, you feel part of the kitchen and the decor makes you feel right at home. It only took about 60 seconds to order our burgers with greens ($13) and our $4 Pilsner Urquells (they also have $2 High Life – got to love it).

The icon of glory arrived before me in less than 15 minutes. I had ogled at its creation, built from the implements of success, beauty and wonder. Its time. I sliced the perfectly charred ciabatta bun in half and dig in. What followed was a protein orgasm smothered in pickled specter. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the best burger I have ever tasted – and my companion agrees. The meat is top notch, cooked to a perfect medium rare, maintaining its juiciness. The pickled slaw on top is such an added treat that you barely notice the perfectly melted cheese that covers 100% of the burger mound. Perhaps most important is the fresh powdered ciabatta roll that was charred to perfected, giving the burger an “off the grill” flavor.

Its not often when a Sunday in March results in my favorite beer of the year and my favorite burger of all time (and that is saying a lot). This past Sunday, Portland floored me. Well played, PDX.

 

 

Today in Portland: New Old Lompoc Throws a Holiday Beer Release Party

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Lompoc is seriously underrated.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or choose to not partake in religious festivities- you can still drink damn good beer. This holiday season, New Old Lompoc is releasing 8 beers.

The Lompoc brewers have been as busy as elves preparing for the holiday season. This year, they are releasing eight different holiday beers – including two for Hanukkah. Come join Jerry, Dave, Bryan, Zach & Sam at the Lompoc Holiday Beers Release Party today – Tuesday, Nov. 30th – from 4 to 10 pm at the Lompoc Sidebar, located at 3901 N Williams Ave. next to Pix Patisserie.

This year’s offerings include Blitzen Golden Ale, Brewdolph Belgian Style Red, C-Son’s Greetings Imperial IPA , Holiday Cheer Porter, Jolly Bock German Style Bock, Old Tavern Rat Barley Wine, 8 Malty Nights Chocolate Rye, and Bourbon Barrel Aged 8 Malty Nights.

All beers will be on tap at all five Lompoc pubs (New Old Lompoc, Hedge House, Oaks Bottom, Fifth Quadrant and Sidebar) November 30. Two of the beers, C’son’s Greetings and Bourbon Barrel Aged 8 Malty Nights will also be available in 22 ounce bottles – great stocking stuffers!

Also, Lompoc will be pouring a special brew at the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland this Wednesday through Sunday.  If you go, try the Franc’ly Brewdolph, a Belgian style red ale brewed with the Belgian Ardennes yeast strain in October ’09 and aged in Cabernet Franc barrels for 13 months. It was then blended in a tank with the this year’s Brewdolph.  It has a malty and creamy body, a mild fruitiness, and a spicy, oak flavor.

What better gift than the gift of beer? None. Below is the list of beers being released:

Blitzen is a holiday golden ale brewed with figs, cinnamon and nutmeg.  It’s light bodied with fruity and spicy flavors and an aroma reminiscent of bread pudding (4.9% ABV).  Brewdolph Belgian style red ale features a malty and creamy body. Brewed with the Belgian Ardennes yeast strain, it boasts a mild fruitiness and a spicy clove character (7.7% ABV).

C-Son’s Greetings is the big brother to the brewery’s popular C-Note.   It features a rich caramel malty body with an endless developing hop presence from all seven of the “C” hops – Crystal, Cluster, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus and Challenger (8% ABV).  Holiday Cheer is a robust vanilla porter that combines big chocolate flavor and a full body with mellow vanilla notes, compliments of whole vanilla beans in the conditioning tank (6.8% ABV).

Jolly Bock is a lager brewed with a generous amount of Munich malt to develop the deep amber color and rich malt flavor. The malty flavor is balanced with a spicy hop bitterness (7.3% ABV).  Old Tavern Rat is a dark amber colored barleywine that was aged for almost a year prior to its release.  The beer’s strong bitterness is balanced with the sweetness of caramel and toffee flavors (9.4% ABV).

Portland’s first Hanukkah seasonal, 8 Malty Nights is a Chocolate Rye that features a roasted chocolate flavor and a sweet finish. It is dark brown in color and lightly hopped with English style hops (6.5% ABV).  Bourbon Barrel Aged 8 Malty Nights was brewed for Hannukah 2009 and aged in bourbon barrels for nine months.  It features a roasted chocolate flavor with hints of bourbon and oak (6.5% ABV).

We’ll also be pouring a special brew at the Holiday Ale Festival this Wednesday through Sunday.  If you go, try our Franc’ly Brewdolph, a Belgian style red ale brewed with the Belgian Ardennes yeast strain in October ’09 and aged in Cabernet Franc barrels for 13 months.  It was then blended in a tank with the this year’s Brewdolph.  It has a malty and creamy body, a mild fruitiness, and a spicy, oak flavor.

Hair of the Dog Celebrates Its 17th Anniversary!

The best taster glasses on earth. Only HOTD.

 

Wow! 17 years. Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. and owner/head brewer Alan Sprints have been up and running for quite some time. Through the boom of the micro-brewing industry, Hair of the Dog continues to impress and grow.

From November 19th through November 21st, HOTD will celebrate with all of its loyal patrons (and maybe some newcomers) at the new tasting room.

A direct message from Alan reads:

 

I am pleased to announce my 17th anniversary celebration. This year it will be November 19th thru the 21st. We will have special Beers on tap all weekend long and two Beer releases. I will be selling 2010 Doggie Claws and 2010 Matt starting on November 20th, at 10:00 am.

There will be a limit of six, 12oz bottles per person on the Matt, no limit on Claws. Hope to see you here – Alan

 

I almost have to laugh at the “we will have special beers on tap…” as I truly feel that ALL HOTD beers are unique and a cellar worthy addition.

So stop by and celebrate this momentous occasion in Portland as HOTD tacks on another year of success!

 

Portland on the Horizon: Apex, Saraveza, County Cork – Oh My!

Saraveza's Imperial IPA festival is on tap for this weekend

You might have seen our editor’s “24 Hour Guide” to drinking in Portland. Its pretty incredible, so please check it out.

But we are at the dawn of a new trip to the PDX playground of beer. After visiting the city several times over the past few years, we are running out of new places to visit.

Now hold up quick before you start the attack: we know that you could visit a Horse Brass, Concordia Ale House, Belmont Station, Green Dragon, Deschutes, and Henry’s Tavern about 1000 times. I could stand another trip to Hopworks Urban Pub (HUB), The Beermongers, or New Old Lompoc’s barrel room – Sidebar. Seriously, we know.

But I thrive on new experiences and I am going to be in one of the best beer cities in the U S of A. So what are a few other places we might explore?

 

Saraveza – Imperial IPA Fest

 

Ok ok ok – this one is not new at all. I’m somewhat ashamed that I have been to Portland at least a half-dozen times without even a “pop in” to this Northeast Portland spectacle. Saraveza is one of the more celebrated Portland beer pubs and deserves better than a “Trip #7″ scheduling.

But, as it turns out, we might be right on time. This week Saraveza is holding Imperial IPA Fest. The festival began yesterday (July 14) and runs through Sunday, July 18. It features over 30 different imperial IPAs, including offerings from Oregon brewers Laurelwood, Deschutes, Beer Valley, Oakshire, Alameda, Ninkasi, Lucky Lab, Double Mountain and even Gilgamesh (making a debut). Thursday showcases Pike Brewing and our boys from Everett, WA – Lazy Boy Brewing.

We’ll be there on Friday, tasting favorites from Hopworks!

 

County Cork

 

Another classic Portland beer bar that has escaped us – County Cork. The Cork is a classic English-style pub with a rumored connection with Columbia Distributing. Because of the connection, they appear to have Russian River beers on tap the majority of the time. A pint of Pliny or a pint of Blind Pig are generally in the cards.

On top of those beers, the Cork has an excellent menu. I’m fairly excited to try their scotch egg, hoping it exceeds the fried and battered monstrosity over at Horse Brass.

We’ll be by there tonight.

 

The Mother Load – Apex – A Beer Bar

 

Last, but certainly not least, is Apex. Apex is an attempt at creating the perfect beer bar experience for the NW. Tons of taps, incredibly rare beers, outdoor hanging space, and bike-centric, Apex meets the needs of the new world beer bar.

What built our immense excitement for this place? Its real-time tap list, which currently shows me that I should be there drinking their beer – right now! Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Alameda Yellow Wolf 2x IPA, Double Mountain Vaporizer, New Belgium/Elysian Trip III (this still exists!!!) & Orgone Peppercorn IPA (what!?). Its pretty damn impressive.

A great description of Apex and its aura was posted at the Beer Cave recently. We also received a glowing endorsement from Seattle Beer Week & Brouwer’s Cafe‘s Ian Roberts, one of our most respected beer sages. Its safe to say that we will be visiting Apex this weekend. Expect a 52 Weeks writeup on this grog spot soon!

Anything else new? Please let us know at beerblotter@gmail.com

 

In Portland this Weekend? Check Out a Rare Old Lompoc Release

Oh yes the Sidebar - home to Lompoc's best beer.

In the past, I had a very strange almost uninterested attitude about the New Old Lompoc Brewery down in Portland, Oregon. To me, the brewery was a random neighborhood novelty that made a pretty impressive hoppy ale (Lompoc’s C-Note Imperial Pale Ale).

I was wrong. I know that now. I am sorry to you Lompoc, you deserve better than that.

Last year, I took a trip down to Portland to check out some of the places that I had left off of past tours. One of those places was Sidebar, one of the five locations that Lompoc maintains.

Sidebar is at their brewery. Its essentially the Williams St. entrance to the brewery, a small, relatively hidden portal to beer barrel heaven.

Upon entering you smell malt and bourbon. The back wall is lined with bourbon and wine barrels used by the brewery for their limited line of barrel-aged ales.

When we were there Sidebar was pouring its Oak-Aged Doppelbock and its Black Dawn Imperial (SUPER) Coffee Stout. Both of these beers were shockingly amazing. The Doppelbock is still to this date, my favorite Doppelbock on earth.

So, I received notice today that they are going at it again. Lompoc will release Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Side Porter and its Spring Bock this Friday, over at Sidebar.

From their release:

The Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Side Porter was originally brewed July 7, 2009. Aged in bourbon barrels for eight months, then cellared for an additional two, it features a strong vanilla aroma with hints of oak and chocolate flavors, 7.5% ABV.

Our Spring Bock is an amber colored strong lager with a smooth malty flavor profile and a sweet finish, 8.1% ABV.

Sounds good eh? Wait there’s more. They are also pouring a few other interesting ales:

We’ll also be pouring Flamingo – our Condor Pale Ale fermented with 35 lbs of sour cherries in a wine barrel and aged for three months, 2008 SaazAll Pilsner, Bob’s Memorial Braggot and Centennial IPA. And, as with all of our release parties, there will be delicious Lompoc grub to nosh on – hope to see you there!

Go if you can, let us know how the beer tastes!

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