It’s the final night at the Commons: At midnight, they close the doors for an undetermined period of time, turn the keys over to Modern Times and…who knows what the future holds? So I close this with their flagship ale: the Urban Farmhouse.
The first surprise of the Urban Farmhouse ale is that the nose is a little sweet. It’s pretty rapidly subverted by the drier, funky quality of the beer but for just one hovering moment, there was a sweetness to it.
That sweet quality arrives again, somewhere in the middle of the drink. It’s almost got a little texture-as though it comes in with the wheat malt-but it’s a nice introduction to the next wave of flavor, which is just a little tart. Nothing too intense, more like a see-saw from the sweetness I just experienced. Then it finishes off with a sparkly, bubbly quality that almost feels like champagne.
I’m going to miss this.
It’s hard to understate, I think, the relevance of the Commons brewery in Portland’s history of craft beer. The story of a guy who started off in his garage brewing beers he would like and couldn’t find elsewhere, blooming into a business run out of said garage, blooming into…this. The Commons was the first brewery in Portland that I was aware of that focused specifically on Belgian and more relevantly, sessionable styles of Belgian ale. They produced something that we didn’t even know we wanted, until we had it.
Yet, every aficionado or beer fan I spoke to over the past six weeks has said the same thing: The Commons brought something to the beer scene nobody else was, and we found ourselves adoring what they were doing.
The scene has been enriched by the risks the Commons took-hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if breweries like Occidental, who do exclusively lighter German ales, exist because of the Commons- and we’re going to be a little poorer for it when they are gone. My glass is nearly empty and while I can’t say I feel a sense of loss for this being over, I definitely have a sense that a chapter is closing.
But, as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. The equipment is being stored, not sold. The space is being leased, not demolished. Perhaps, and I hope the day isn’t too far off, I will be able to tell you about the beers of the Commons again. The risk this brewery took made everything a little better and I’m glad I got to come to the closing night.
The second pint goes to the Oregon Food Bank.