The Six #4 Breakside

48632260296_6710670c67_c Breakside has been making great beers, specifically IPAs, since they were founded. While they’ve built a business that includes many other styles-it’s summer right now, and fruit beers are prevalent- along with the hype for fresh hop beers soon to be tapped, the IPAs are consistently good.

Which is why I’ve gone with their standard IPA. It’s piney and has a little tropical fruit happening in the middle. The bitterness is a fine bitey thing that should go well with food but really suggests that maybe a second IPA is in order.

I recommend Breakside because of the exceptional beers, especially since IPAs are, no matter what anyone wants to say, still all the rage. Every brewery I go into has at least two, no matter how small the tap list.

So if you’re going to get an IPA, why not get some of the best Portland has to offer?


A Neat Way Forward

Breakside is going with an employee ownership program.

I like this quite a bit, because craft beer lives and dies on the local scene and the local involvement. Even when breweries get as big as Sierra Nevada, events come along to remind them that their local community matters.

So I appreciate the choices Breakside’s ownership made here, rooting further into the community instead of selling out to a larger corporation.

The Six #3: Cascade Ale House

Honecot ale at Cascade barrel houseThere is one reason and one reason only to come here: you love sour ales. Sour ales caught fire in popularity a few years ago but this is a genuine moment where I can say that Cascade was doing sour ales before they were cool.

However, I don’t like sour ales. So why am I here?

Because Cascade has been a flagship in Portland for sour ales for close to two decades. Because one of the few beers in my life I distinctly remember came from Cascade: A cherry lemon quad ale, aged in Makers Mark barrels, the flavors of which peeled off like a gobstopper: first cherry, then lemon, then whiskey.

Now, all that said, let’s talk about the Honeycot, a blonde white barrel aged with apricots and wildflower honey, that has been poured on nitro. It is remarkably pleasant! Not very tart, but the presence of the apricot is definitely there. The nose has no sugar to it; a slight sting from the tart fruit qualities as I breathe it in.

The flavors remind me of a tart apricot with honey drizzle.

Which is not faint praise; Cascade does a lot of different sour ales and they run the gamut of tart and flavor: my friends are having cherry or marionberry aged beers some intensely astringent or very sour, and others mellowed and pushing tart, not sour flavors.

So you should come here to experience some of the sheer variety of what Cascade offers the beer scene in Portland. They probably have something for you, even if you’re not a sour ale person!

Common Ales: Laurelwood Free Range Red

Laurelwood Free Range Red aleThe nose has some caramel/roast qualities but it shows up a little late; there’s actual hops on the first few whiffs. Once those go away, though, we’re dealing with a red ale and by golly that is what it is.

It’s got a pleasant richness to it; the Free Range has a creamy quality that only fades after the effervescence which is persistent but not constant, comes to do a little cleanup. The head on this beer fades pretty quickly, but there’s a steady film of bubbles on the top.

What I like is that drinking this beer is similar to chewing on good caramel. It’s sugary but not overly so and the finish doesn’t linger. That clean palate experience means that I can line up another drink or nosh on some food pretty easy.

Round Two #17\Second Pint PC

There Be Monsters is having a Japanese Beer Month so I thought I’d check it out.

But none of the beers from Japan are on tap right now. Instead I got Ruse’s Forever and a Day hazy IPA. What’re gonna do?

Ruse Forever & a Day hazy IPAGrapefruit in the nose…grapefruit in the middle…grapefruit on the finish. I think we’ve firmly established that this IPA wants me to taste some grapefruit flavors.

To its credit, the Forever isn’t pushing a pithy bitterness hard, and it certainly isn’t too sweet. Nevertheless, I feel that this beer is a spotlight on the issues I have with this style: when it’s too sweet, it’s just soda pop. When it’s too bitter, it tastes like part of the fruit you shouldn’t eat. When it’s in the middle, it lacks complexity. Honestly, I’m getting more out of this beer because of the truly delightful scent of french fries in the air, than I am from the beer itself.

Now, I’m mostly of the opinion that great or even good beer should be something you can drink by itself. No additions, no excuses, just: can I have a glass of this?

However, occasionally I do come across beers that, while OK, would definitely be improved by a slice of pizza. Or a chocolate dipped strawberry. Or even blending in another beer.

I’m starting to wonder if this could be true of a style, at least as far as I’m concerned. That the baseline for hazy IPAs is that I should have some food, and it’s only the exceptional ones that can be drank by themselves. Perhaps I would be kinder to the style with this in mind.

Because this style isn’t going anywhere and this beer isn’t getting any better.

Glass two brings more of the same, except now the hop oils are coating my mouth. I can feel the oil scrape off my tongue as I roll it against the roof of my mouth.

So the pithy bitterness IS there…it just takes a little while to get going. The bubbly now becomes highly relevant, as it’s one of the ways this beer has to help clear my palate. But I still can’t escape it’s homogeneity.

Today’s second pint goes to Pawsitive Change.

The Six #2: Grixsen’s Brown Ale

I’ve come for Grixsen’s Brown Ale.

Is there a little touch of vanilla amongst the chocolate? SomethingGrixsen brown ale is giving this a scent that is the reason people should drink brown ales. My friend suggests caramel and I have to agree; caramel is a better choice but it doesn’t quite nail it. Finally it hits me; hazelnut. We agree; that’s the flavor.

So why would I send someone here? Because brown ales are a great style that often go unsung, and people should give them a chance. And if I’m going to recommend a brown ale, then why not the best damn brown ale I think Portland has to offer?

Grixen’s brown ale is light and possibly one of the most drinkable ales in the city. Yet it’s got plenty of malt flavor for body, and a hit of astringency on the finish to balance it all out.

This isn’t to dismiss the other beers that Grixsen has; their tap list reflects a lot of english-style ales, malty but quite drinkable. The brown ale is why you come, the other ales are as you like!

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