Portland Brewing is shutting down operations this week and there’s a damn fine recap of their history at the Beervana blog.
There’s at a bit to unpack here-not the least of which being a bit of sadness for a pal who is losing his job as a result of this closure.
There’s also the end of (another) Portland institution, a brewery that helped usher in the craft brewing scene to Oregon. A reminder of a time when your flagship beer didn’t have to be an IPA; just something good that wasn’t a lager could make waves.
So I’m going to have a MacTarnahan’s amber, their flagship ale and also their Ink & Roses IPA, in honor of the event.
The nose is faintly caramel, and the beer is very light on the tongue.
In Portland tradition, this beer is probably a touch overhopped-the finishing bitterness is a bit stronger than I would expect. It’s also very bubbly; while the head is thin, it is persistent and pops in my mouth long after I’ve swallowed.
There’s also a nice roasted quality in the middle, which provides a more robust character than this beer would have otherwise. I mentioned how light it was-that roasted part keeps the beer from feeling thin. This is a beer that works well with all the top of the line pub food and probably should’ve been a go-to for Portlander’s everywhere.
The Ink & Roses IPA has a nice whiff of pine. The middle, however, doesn’t want to show up and the beer has a tongue scraping level of bitterness. There’s an herbal, grassy element, too-trying to wink and nod at the Roses part of the beer I suppose. It almost feels a little stuck in the past, though. Lacking balance, it’s a hard sell to people who aren’t hop head dedicated.
That said, I can also see this pairing nicely with most pub grub-the hops really cut through some of the greasier or spicier offerings. A remnant of the past that can still make a case for itself now-if the brewery had decided to make one.
But I also think that, just as Portland Brewing didn’t know how to market themselves, we took the brewery for granted, accepting that a reliably decent beer would just be there. And I get it; there are only so many hours in the day and one cannot give their attention to everything.
In Portland, everything is an option.
Still; thanks for the beer. I hope all the employees at Portland brewing land on their feet.