During our one-and-only previous trip to Portland (I gave you the link to that blog last time), you may recall they were closed for a bar mitzvah when we arrived. Luckily, we had time to visit the following day, and I'm glad we did. Hair of the Dog crafts some of the best strong ales I've come across in our travels. They also make an insanely underrated DIPA called Blue Dot. If you ever see a fresh bottle on the beer shelves, do yourself a favor and buy a few bottles.
|Gotta love them dogs!|
While they don't brew a ton of different styles, they've carved out a niche for themselves over the years as a pioneer of barrel-aging and brewing tasty strong ales in the vein of... well, themselves. Founded in 1993, I was surprised to learn that Hair of the Dog only produces about 600 barrels of beer each year. This absolutely floored me, if only for the sole reason that I'd heard of them and enjoyed their beers for so long. It's refreshing to see a veteran brewery that's not all about world domination these days.
Now, onto the beer. We perused the beer menu and realized there was much to try. Quickly, we realized that most of our afternoon would comprise of Hair of the Dog and Cascade. First up, we chose two beers: Pig Dog (from the Stone... huh?) and Cherry Lila. Upon further investigation of the beer menu, I discovered they featured a rotating roster of beers "fermented or aged in a concrete egg." The bartender (who waited on us five years ago... good memory Brewslut) informed us that this process adds interesting earthy and mineral-like qualities to the beer. Sold. Give it to me. Cherry Lila is a cherry version of their Maibock, which is also dry-hopped with Saaz hops. Two down, several to go. For our next selections, we went with the aforementioned Blue Dot as well as Bourbon Matt from the Wood. I've had a few beers "from the wood" in the past, and they have been fantastic. Obviously "from the wood" indicates the beer has been barrel-aged. Here's the description of Matt taken from the HOTD web site:
Matt was inspired by Matt VendenBerghe and Matt Bonney (Bottleworks and Brouwers in Seattle), who personify the spirit and dedication that has helped craft beer become the vibrant industry it is today. This beer was originally brewed to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Bottleworks, and will be released every few years from the brewery. Matt is made with two Munich malts, two smoked malts and two types of Belgian candy sugar. It is aged in Kentucky Bourbon and Apple Eau de Vie barrels from Clear Creek distilling.Matt is deep and lush with notes of apple, chocolate and smoke. Alcohol: 12.5% by volume.
|The deliciousness that is Matt.|
|Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?|
|It drink pretty good, don't it?|
|What to choose? How 'bout all of 'em!|
|Pleeps digs his sours, but he's waiting for a banana sour.|
|My kind of decor. I found this cow udderly intriguing.|
After a pleasant one-and-done visit to Green Dragon, it was off to The Commons, a relatively new brewery just down the street. This place had a great rustic vibe to it, with a lot of weathered wood, exposed brick, and high beam ceilings. Indeed, an ideal atmosphere to match its well-crafted beers. Sadly, this was the only photo I snapped while we were there:
Born out of the ashes of Beetje Brewery (a 1-barrel nano system in the garage of owner Mike Wright), The Commons emerged in 2011 with a brand new 7-barrel brew house and a new location. This eventually led to its current location in Portland's Central Eastside area complete with a commercial 15-bbl brew house. With a knack for brewing rustic farmhouse ales and sours, The Commons has established itself as a favorite among Portland's ever-growing craft beer scene. Both of the beers we samples - the Hibiscus Barrel Saison and Lemongrass Berliner Weiss - were outstanding. We wanted to try more, but we were a bit fatigued from our lengthy visits to both Hair of the Dog and Cascade Barrel House (and rightly so). But a longer stay at The Commons during our next visit to Portland is definitely in order.
|Our only pic of The Commons. Fail!|
|The wall at Base Camp.|
- Ultra Gnar Gnar, a popular IPA I found to be a bit underwhelming despite its bitchin' moniker.
- S'more Stout - If you like S'mores (who doesn't?!) this beer is for you.
- R.C.T.I.D. (an acronym for Rose City 'til I Die... I don't get the reference), an Imperial Milk Stout aged on Oregon white oak with Burnside bourbon featuring coffee beans from Trailhead Roasters and Ranger Chocolate cacao husk. Damn. Sounds like the credits of a rap album!
- Bretta Livin', an American Wild Ale brewed with apricot, provided some sour relief amid two rich, potent stouts.
|Pleeps chillin' at Base Camp among his throng of fans.|
Roundabout this time, we were in need of some refueling. Caffeine, that is. We found another cool local coffee roaster - the aptly named Good Coffee - situated in the same neighborhood as the breweries we were visiting. In addition to drinking a lot of water while imbibing, it's also a good idea to stay awake. Coffee helps.
We're almost done for the day... I promise! Up next, we hit a cool place called Hopworks Urban Brewery. With its bike theme and yellow logo, it reminded us of Crank Arm, one of our favorite breweries from a recent trip to Raleigh/Durham, NC. (Sorry, but you can't read about that particular trip due to the fact that I was on beer blogger's hiatus at the time.)
We perused the chalkboard and noticed a veritable cornucopia of different IPAs. Surely we had to try a few. On our agenda was four beers: Massive Peach, Survival Stout, IPX Azacca, and POG IPA. Three of the four were listed as IPAs. Massive Peach was described as "a big IPA with loads of peach." Sold. To quote Polonius, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Sadly, I've been seldom described as "wise" according to Bill's old, long-winded character. But I digress. POG was pretty damn tasty too. This one was brewed with a truck-load of tropical fruit including orange, pineapple, and guava. IPX was a single-hopped IPA featuring the relatively new American hop variety called Azacca. We've used this one quite a bit recently at Tröegs (most famously in our brand new DIPA, Nimble Giant), and it's becoming a favorite of mine. On the palate, it is a bit spicy with plenty of musky tropical fruit and hint of citrus. Despite being an American variety, it has been likened in nature to some New Zealand-bred varieties.
The odd man out - Survival Stout - is a year-round offering from Hopworks. Described as a "multi-grain stout," it's brewed with barley, wheat, oats, amaranth (an ancient grain rarely cultivated in modern times), quinoa, spelt, and kamut (another ancient grain twice as big as wheat and known for its rich, nutty flavor) as well as 1 lb. of cold-pressed organic Stumptown coffee per barrel. Whoa!
|Feelin' good at Hopworks Urban Brewery!|
|Bike frames as far as the eye can see at Hopworks!|
We had it in us to make one more stop before we took to the road, so it was off to Gigantic, and I'm glad to say that this was a great last stop of the night! The locals here were extremely friendly and chatty (as was the bartender), and we felt right at home chatting about everything from beer to extreme metal to travel. I always enjoy sitting at the bar and getting lost in conversation with fellow patrons. It's one of the best things about visiting local breweries while traveling. I find you can learn a lot about a specific region just chatting with the locals on the bar stool next to you.
Beer-wise, we enjoyed poured of Scrilla (hoppy pale ale), Amerikölsch (Kölsch with Citra hops), and Pipewrench (DIPA aged in Random Old Tom gin barrels for 3 months). I'm not a gin guy at all, but I was intrigued by the Pipewrench and ordered it. So glad I did, because this beer was delicious! The botanicals from the gin barrels played nicely with the citrusy hops and subtle woody and vanilla tones from the barrel. Super complex!
|Pleeps visits Scrilla Villa. J-ROC, baby!|
We arrived at the Quality Suites in Salem pretty late that night, but we felt we still had one more beer in us. So, we cracked open the bottle of Devil's Cuvee Kriek we picked up the day before in Hood River at Double Mountain. Nothing like a complex sour beer poured into a plastic hotel cup. We probably should have saved this for another night, but we knew we had to finish it before we headed back to PA, so what better time than the present, right? So down the hatch it went!
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Oregon! Up next: Eugene and Corvalis. Until next time...
|Kriek out of a plastic cup?! The Devil made me do it!|