I’m here to offer my respects to the Hop & Vine, because it’s closing at the end of July. The owners didn’t think it was worth trying to keep this space when the last round of rental increases came, and now North Portland is going to lose a cool little eatery and bottle shop. It’s too damn bad.
I got a Drinking Horse Ochcoco Stout.
The nose on this is very strange, almost medicinal. It doesn’t carry over into the flavor though, so I’m mostly OK with that. However, I’m confronted with a beer calling itself a stout yet only hitting 5.8% ABV. So it rests rather thinly in my mouth, chocolate the most prominent flavor but it doesn’t want to stay. Easily pushed around by the carbonation on the finish, the stout isn’t very sweet, either. Perhaps this is shooting for a dry stout in the Irish style?
I don’t know that I care; nomenclature matters because I am a literate person who uses these things to understand what I am getting before I get it. This isn’t a stout. It’s thin enough to be a brown ale, for pete’s sake.
I know that I don’t hate this but I also know that I don’t want another one. As the beer warms up, a stronger coffee presence comes to rest on the sides of my tongue. It’s not as easily removed by the bubbly but I’m not sure that’s a positive thing. It just isn’t robust enough to appease me.
The afternoon is warm, the back doors are open and I can smell the smoke coming in from the patio from some kind of cookfire; it’s got the slight tang of BBQ sauce to it.
The whole city is grinding its collective gears on the inexorable rises in rent and how we remain a functioning city when all the people you need to make that city run are being squeezed out. An undercurrent of worry resides in Portland now, touching nearly everyone I know. We like this city but we don’t know if it’s going to allow us to stay. In the quieter moments, you can see that shadow over people’s faces, the kind that comes when you have to live with uncertainty for a long time.
Then a spot like the Hop & Vine calls it quits and that worry bubbles up; we need places like this, people seem to say, don’t they need us, too?