Barrel-aged Weekend in Review

Knock, knock…Who’s there?…Monday morning, and a hard liver.

90 degree days seem comforting following last week’s string of triple digits. It helped to justify the kind of beer we subjected ourselves to, like it was the heart of winter and we needed a warming glass of strong beer.

Friday evening we started off our weekend at Roots Organic Brewing to say goodbye to July, soaking in every last drop of Oregon Craft Beer Month. It was Christmas in July at Roots, as some of the fantabulous beers of winter reared their bodacious heads. The 2007 Epic Ale rose from the coffers and crushed any idea, at least momentarily, that the brewery was done for. The bold, brown-bodied Festivus remained for the rest of us. And, a snifter of Flander’s Red aged to perfection gets my vote for best sour beer of the year. It was like we were provided with a helpful extension of Puckerfest.

Speaking of which, Belmont Station is always a good idea when you are seeking out a place for a top notch tipple. On barkeep Paul Fiely’s recommendation, we enjoyed a hearty pour of Great Divide’s 15th Anniversary brew-an imperial IPA recipe based on the brewery’s Denver Pale Ale, but jacked up to 10% ABV and aged in oak chips. Friday was electric. After a glass of Boulevard’s interestingly complex and drinkable Singlewide IPA, our train left the Station, and we visited the venerable Victory Bar for a nightcap. Barkeepers Yanni and Eric always keep something special on tap at our local bar. This time, St. Bernardus Wit hit the spot. Bright, clouded yellow, with a favorable spice profile. The only beer that could match the satiating smoothness of this treat was the small glass of Bayern Pils that officially called it a night for us.

Saturday came too soon. But we didn’t have time to fuss. Bailey’s Taproom, a favorite destination for craft beer, was flexing their malt muscles with a mindblowing display of 18 barrel-aged beers. It was all in celebration of their two-year anniversary. Dubbed Annibrew, Bailey’s opened their doors early, and after a greasy breakfast at the Hungry Tiger, Too, we were quasi-prepared to face the music at the downtown taproom.

Upon arriving to a bustling but not over-crowded Bailey’s Taproom, Derek Arent from the mighty Beer Around Town blog gave us some suggestions of beers to try. His top picks would be ours, I guess, like Great Divide’s catch phrase says, Great Minds Drink Alike. Firestone-Walker’s Parabola Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon and The Bruery’s White Oak Wheat Wine on Bourbon were top choices.  Cascade Brewing’s Bourbonic Plague was not only my favorite pour of the day, it gets my vote for best name as well. Over several hours, I was fortunate enough to at least get a nip of the plethora of big brews that would make any beer zealot jealous. All this under one municipality. You really gotta love Portland.

Sunday was truly a day of rest. We met with some old friends from out of town and were less than adventurous with our beer on the Sabbath. A glass of Trumer Pils over dinner was all for me. And as I force myself to chronical this before I head off to work, I can still feel the carnage in my innards. Craft beer month has to end at some point. Or maybe I should move somewhere there’s not so many good choices all the time.