Tag Archives: bridgeport

Common Ales: Bridgeport IPA

The fine people at Bridgeport told me their best selling beer year ’round was their IPA (with Hop Czar occasionally jockeying for first as well). I haven’t seen the Hop Czar yet but the IPA is, of course, all over. So let’s get cracking!

Pine in the nose but nothing too strong. The beer itself reads a bit like this too; the hops have a nose slightly reminiscent of what I’d get from a commercial lager, in addition to the pine. Familiar but not.

There isn’t too much malt on the tongue but despite that, the bitterness is fairly restrained. This ale isn’t flavorless by any means but it’s not very adventuresome either. Now, I have to admit that this isn’t a bad thing. If someone didn’t know what else to buy and bought this, I don’t think they’d be sad about it.

I just wonder if they’d be interested after that.

To it’s credit, the IPA holds up nicely over the course of the drink. The nose doesn’t falter, the head remains steady throughout and a little more malt arrives as the beer warms up. Overall, I have to say this is a solid beer, the kind that might just lure someone who IS interested in craft beer into trying something else Bridgeport does but the limitations of needing to appeal to such a broad audience means that I am not feeling the hook.

Stumptown Tart review

The nice people at Bridgeport Brewing invited me to their debut of this year’s Stumptown Tart ale, so I went. I had a chance to try the beer and grill the brewers for a little bit, which I am very grateful for. After my questions, they gave me a bottle to try at home, which I’m very grateful for because it gave me a chance to properly evaluate the beer.

While at the event, the pours I got seemed flat, as though it was being cask conditioned. I couldn’t smell anything and that always concerns me when I’m trying to describe a beer for someone else. That experience was odd and didn’t feel like what I’d get when I bought it from a store. The beer was solid enough at the event, though, that I held off on talking about it for a few days, when I could get a bottle home, chill it and pour it fresh into a glass.

The brewers I spoke with, Kevin and Jeff, told me the beer had three kinds of berries: raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry, tweaked after made after last years batch. They blended a Belgian ale and ale made from their house yeast in a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio, which is the reverse of last year, in order to bring up the Belgian character more. They felt that last year’s batch didn’t have enough of that quality to it and the strawberry just didn’t come through at all. I believe they said they used close to 2000 pounds of berries, but I neglected to write down the number so I’m going from memory here.  Again; thanks to them for indulging me and answering so many questions.

Now, the Stumptown Tart itself presents an interesting set of questions for me. I will get it out of the way: I like this beer. It’s got a soft Belgiany funk at the beginning which rapidly gives way to the berry-ish flavors in the beer. Raspberry comes in at end with a hint of blueberry in middle. So in some respects, Bridgeport’s blending efforts have been quite accomplished.

It isn’t tart though, by any measure. I wouldn’t even suggest that this is a beer to start people off on sour ales, because it’s so mild. It may be the dreaded fruit beer. This would be less of a problem if having a tart flavor wasn’t in the name. There are expectations that aren’t being met, now.

That’s mostly fine, (even if I do wish there was just a teeny bit more) it just leads me to ask: Who is this for?  And I think it’s for people who want to get into craft beer but are put off by the hardcore IBUs, or the potentially dense, technical language of yeasts and malts. They just want to go to a store, look at something and go: yeah, I know Bridgeport, they usually do good stuff and this is different. Let’s try it!

There’s enough flavors in the Stumptown Tart in common with white wine that from a flavor profile viewpoint, it can be offered to many people, the label is fun and just cheeky enough that women (that I know, anyway) wouldn’t feel insulted or weird about buying it. It’s a nice beer that is meant to be popular and I appreciate how this could serve as a gateway beer for people who might not like or just be intimidated by the craft beer scene. I would buy it, especially if I was going to share it with people.

I do wish it was a little tarter, though.

Final note: I’m on the road this week so there probably won’t be a new post until next Wednesday.

Revisiting: Bridgeport IPA

bridgeport IPAAs one of the oldest craft breweries in Portland, Bridgeport is probably as well known as Widmer, at least around the Pacific NW.  What’s different is that Bridgeport is known more for their IPA than for a more welcoming style, if you will. Bridgeport can still run hit and miss but in the past few years, I have to give them credit for occasionally mixing it up in the brewing realm, even if they aren’t getting everything right.

The IPA has a solid, strong, piney nose. Surprising for a drink that’s meant for the masses. The bitterness doesn’t linger initially but it does start to stick around after a little while, offering  a solid bite. Still, that bite doesn’t seem to go overboard, even after drinking half the beer.

Then I realize: this is what makes it a broader, commercial beer. It’s got the initial sting of a NW IPA but not the lingering knockout of one.

But would I drink it again? Yeah, actually. It’s still a little thin but by golly it’s a decent IPA and should go on the list of ‘backup beers’. (Beers that, if all else fails, one gets because you know they will taste decent.)

I’ll have whatever you say #4

At long last, I have made it to the Hop and Vine. This space quickly garnered a high reputation for being awesome and I read at the New School blog that they had beer cocktails. After last week’s encounter with Hamm’s and Jager, I felt that I was due an opportunity of something better but along the same lines.

bridgeport hop harvestAlas, the beer cocktails are part of an event-one that will be repeated in November, so I shall keep my eyes out for it but until then I am stuck with just drinking what the fine gentleman at the bar is having; Bridgeport’s Hop Harvest. Brewed with fresh Centennial hops, this beer has a nice nose and a fine malt backbone that segues gently into a smooth, grassy finish. Very much a brew that is part of the reason people drink fresh hop ales, I think. Delicious.

The man who’s drink I’ve copied is known to me; he works at the Belmont Station and I’ve taken his suggestions for beer purchases before. We introduce ourselves and after I take a few notes I try to gently engage in some conversation. It’s his Sunday; I totally understand not wanting to be bothered on your day off, so I do my best to be polite  and interested but not overly engaging.

Turns out he lives in the neighborhood and has a few things to tell me about local places like Prost or Saravesa and we’ve both been to Germany, him recently. We swap stories about drinking German beers and start on an hypothesis about hangovers; if you’re having a great time, even if you’re drinking quite a bit, the strength of your hangover is going to be diminished, possibly to the point of extinction. It was a fine conversation and I left feeling a little more connected to Portland than I was a bit before.

The Hop and Vine itself is a nice space. I could see taking it over with eight or so people and just having a ball but also good for the small groups with quiet chats. It’s a bit chilly though; it felt warmer outside than it did inside and in October this isn’t a good thing. Maybe it’s kept cool to keep the wine at an appropriate storage temperature?

Finally, it’s right in line with other local places, so it’s going to make a fine stop on a fantastic pub crawl. Prost, H&V, Lucky Lab, Saravesa; Who wants to join me?

The Local: Bridgeport Hawthorne

In 1997, I moved to Portland. Living in an apartment-white room with carpet that hadn’t been changed since 1973 and showed it, I tried to cobble together a life here. I was a little homesick, unemployed and quite lonely; I didn’t know anyone in the city and I had left my hometown in no small part because of heartbreak.

You know the story; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy moves to another town to get away from his heartbreak.

bridgeport brewpubStaring out this window of the Bridgeport brewpub on Hawthorne while sitting at the bar, I could see the top of a pine tree, broken. Quite literally, the top quarter of the tree was at a ninety degree angle from the trunk. But it still hung on, steadfast, refusing to topple.

I felt an affinity for that tree. Raised my glass to it, as often as I was able. In the way of many guys, I didn’t seek out the tree; I just gave it a nod. Sometimes I thought the pine would sway back, acknowledging; yup. We’re in the shit, but we endure, damnit. We endure.

I miss that tree.

Oh sure, time moves on. I may be unemployed but I have some friends now. The tree has decided it should no longer be a danger to others. We don’t see each other anymore; our paths had to go in different directions.

I loved him, and he was a tree. He loved me, but was dangerous to others. You know the story. Boy meets tree, tree is declared a menace to society, boy says ‘you just don’t understand it like I do’, tree is cut down.

The Bridgeport hasn’t changed much in 13 years. New artwork on the walls because that’s what hip places do (but it’s really good art so I don’t complain). New beers on tap-spurred on by the microbrewing revolution-so I’m able to enjoy a Highland Scottish Ale, which is surprisingly good. Toffey flavors that edge into porter territory, with a light effervescence that keeps it bouncy on the tongue. I think I might even have two.

I know why I don’t come here more often; the lighting. Too dim to play cards in but it’s pretty good for conversation. Not Bailey’s good, but close. And a bar that a person can really lean on, get comfortable at. During the day however, it’s a fantastic joint and I prefer to come here then, like I used to. Look out the windows to see if I can catch an old friend and say hello.

We still endure, damnit.

Tarts

Bridgeport’s Stumptown Tart-in addition to having a wonderful name-is made with marionberries and aged in pinot noir barrels. Tells me so right on the bottle, which is always nice. I’m bad at guessing what is in some of the beers I get, and with the explosion of varieties and chances the breweries take these days, I’ll take all the help I can. It’s also yummy.

I realize there is a trend going against my general hatred of fruit beers, but perhaps what I’m learning what the exceptions are. Those exceptions involve beers made from puckering berries; peaches, you’re out. Or perhaps in this case it’s the pinot noir barrels blunting the sweetness of the marionberries. I just don’t know-but the ale part of this beer is definitely taking a back seat to the tartness of this beer. Then a dryness kicks in at the end, possibly brought on by the wine aging, and I’m wondering how this isn’t a flat out lambic.

And I’d recommend chocolate with this beer.  Nothing too sweet as the contrast might be too much, but some semi-sweet chocolate…mmm. I found that to be wonderful.