What a weekend! Late summer afforded Beervana more great weather after dropping about two inches of rain over night earlier in the week. Thankfully, the hops are looking healthy still, and as the daylight hours grow ever-shorter, the incomparable feeling of fall and all its festiveness begins to unfold.
Friday we got a sneak peak of Cascade Brewing’s Barrel House soon to open at the corner of Southeast Belmont and 9th Avenue. The pub will be the first of its kind featuring several sour beers on tap. Upon our inspection of the handsomely decorated new taproom, twelve delicious sours were ready for tapping, many direct from the barrels. These included Sang Noir, Bourbonic Plague, Vlad the Imp Aler, Summer Gose, Winter Gose, Nightfall Blackberry Ale, and more. Brewmaster Ron Gansberg provided us with wonderful samples from the barrel side of things that included a new Blueberry ale scheduled to be blended with a sweet wheaten base beer with a multitude of complexity. Gansberg informed us that Cascade’s focus will be to highlight the wonderful array of ingredients signature to the Pacific Northwest, especially locally grown fruit varieties. According to Cascade, if all goes as planned, the Barrel House might be open for business as soon as September 20th. We can not wait!
On Friday evening, we visited Laurelwood Public House & Brewery on Northeast Sandy Boulevard in Portland. Here we sampled their lastest Cascadian Kolsch brewed by new brewer Nick Phelps. Also on tap was their flavorsome Piston Pale Ale, that made a return after a hiatus away since being removed from the brewery’s regular lineup of beers. Laurelwood’s Bay Laurel Ale was pouring as well. This unique brew was produced using six different malts including, barley, rye and wheat as well as four varieties of hops and for its namesake, the addition of bay laurel made this beer rather unique. At Laurelwood we met local sports writer and radio personality John Canzano of The Bald Faced Truth Foundation, whose mission is to “inspire joy and growth in area youth through the support of the arts, education and athletics.” We also saw local beer celebrity and Laurelwood brewmaster Chad Kennedy who was in the house. After thoroughly enjoying the new beers at the brewpub, we returned to one of our favorite IPAs of all time, Laurelwood’s Workhorse IPA.
Saturday evening began with a visit to The Radio Room, where Natian Brewing was celebrating their First Nanoversary. The tiny brewery had five of their brews running the taps at the Northeast Portland pub: Lumberjane Stout, Honey Red, Undun Blonde Ale, Everyday IPA, and Big Block IPA. Brewer Ian McGuinness was in attendance with his partner Natalia Laird and several friends and fans. Congratulations to Natian for their first year in business and the hopes of many more.
After dinner and a pint of Everbody’s Lager at the neighboring Bye & Bye, we made certain to get over to Widmer’s Oktoberfest where a large crowd rocked the partitioned-off street in front of the brewery as well as the parking lot. Here we ran into several friends a brewing industry people. The highlight for us was seeing Kurt and Rob Widmer in attendance enjoying brews with their families. The featured beers of the evening were the seasonal Okto, Drifter Pale Ale, and the flagship Hefeweizen. Great work by Widmer in organizing another fun late summer gathering.
Saturday evening wound down at Vintage bar in the Montavilla Neighborhood of Southeast Portland. We had heard of Mt. Tabor’s beers pouring here, so we didn’t want to miss out on trying them again. Vintage had the brewery’s Sidewalk IPA, a sessionable yet hopped out lupulin beer, as well as their Little Bull Stout. The vibe at Vintage was great. The staff was friendly and the crowd was definitely enjoying itself. With a great tap selection consisting of beers from Upright, Dick’s, Hopworks, Laurelwood, Amnesia, Double Mountain, and more. It is sad to report however, Vintage serves their beers in frosted shaker glasses (cheater pints). We hope they will realize this is not acceptable for beer geeks and amend the issue soon.
Sunday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. We knew these kind of days were numbered here before fall settled in and gave way to familiar rain. In the early afternoon, we visited our friend Dan, a professional brewer by weekday, and a homebrewer by weekend day. Dan and his father Steve and their friends have an elaborate homebrewing system. On this fine day, they were brewing a heartily hopped fresh hop ale. brewed with hops picked earlier in the weekend. While we watched, we enjoyed a scrumptious Kolsch and a hoppy German-style Pilsner. Thanks to Dan and Steve for sharing your beers and showing us your killer set-up that could rival most pro breweries.
Sunday truly belonged to sweethearts Jeremie and Jenn. Two beloved figures in the Beervana brew world, they met at the Oregon Brew Crew and have been a perfect fit ever since. After being married by Lisa “The Beer Goddess” Morrison at Widmer Brewery earlier in the day, their reception was held at Laurelhurst Park’s Laurelhurt Club. A beautiful spread of food provided as a potluck with grilled favorites was coupled with a wonderful array of craft beer served on draught. Breweries featured included Walking Man, Double Mountain, Terminal Gravity, Full Sail, Oakshire, Widmer, Sierra Nevada, Ninkasi and more. Two special wedding cakes shaped as hop cones were also a highlight of the night. Several members of the area’s beer community were in attendance. As the sun set, bocce ball and hula hooping continued on. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend.