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Previous Pint Pleasures - August 10, 2014

guinness eileen

Rogue Brewery & Distillery, 1339 Northwest Flanders, Portland, Oregon

guinness eileen

Deschutes Brewing Company, 211 Northwest 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

On the first night of my Portland brewery tour last spring with my Bay Area friend Rick, we headed up to the city's Pearl District to visit two famous brewpubs. There are no pearl dealers, or even oyster shops, in the Pearl District. The area was named by Thomas Augustine, a local gallery owner, in reference to its historic industrial buildings (like "crusty oysters") and the more recent galleries and artists' lofts (like "pearls"). Formerly a neighbourhood of warehouses, light industry, and railway yards, the Pearl District is now noted for its upscale businesses and art spaces -- and, of course, brewpubs.

The reason I refer to these two brewpubs as famous is because during the decade I lived in Seattle, along with sampling the local brewpubs I drank plenty of bottles of Rogue and Deschutes beers at home, so I was already well acquainted with their wares. Our first stop of the night was the Rogue Brewery & Distillery. The first Rogue brewpub opened in 1988 in Ashland, with the brewery located beneath the pub. The next year the growing brewery moved into a large garage in Newport, and the Portland pub and distillery was eventually opened on the former site of the Portland Brewing Company and Bogart's Bar & Grill.

We approached in the neon-lit twilight and excitedly entered the premises of the legendary brewery. Inside we found 38 taps along with various Rogue spirits and soft drinks. We had a taste of 7 Hop IPA (8.02% ABV, Rogue Brewery, Newport, Oregon), which tasted great but also tasted very alcoholic. We also went for a taste of Chipotle Ale (5.5% ABV, Rogue), which sadly was not what we were expecting at all. We ended up going for a pint of Brutal Ale (6.5% ABV, Rogue), which is a good steady hoppy IPA but not quite overboard with hops. Our other pint was Rogue's famous OREgasmic (6.5% ABV, Rogue), brewed with 100% Oregon ingredients. It was a well-balanced amber ale with fuzziness on the tongue and almost a smokiness to the character. We sat and sipped our pints, perusing the menu and deciding against having a meal here because a.) they add Tillamook Cheddar to items that shouldn't have cheddar added, and b.) they spell the word dachsund "dacchsund".

We stopped back later the same evening when we had tastes of Dead Guy Whiskey and Single Malt Whiskey. (Sadly living in the UK I'm quite spoiled on much more interesting single malts, so I wasn't too impressed) We also had a taste of Lapsang Souchong Tea Porter (8.5% ABV, Rogue) which, to put it bluntly, was just plain too weird, and a taste of XS McRogue Scotch Ale (7.0% ABV, Rogue) which was simply too Scottish. We split a glass of "New Crustacean Barleywine-Ish Imperial IPA (Sorta)" (that was the actual name -- 10.8% ABV, Rogue) which was very strong but damn good. (That's written as if spoken with an Oregon accent.) For some reason my till receipt read "Chetoe New Crustacean". According to my research chetoe means the act of slapping somebody repeatedly. I suppose that's an appropriate description of a 10.8% brew.

On this second visit we sat in the main room and admired the wooden room dividers carved into the shapes of Pacific Northwest animals. We almost felt as if we were in a large mountain cabin full of urban craft beer fans and cheddar aficionados.

Between our visits to Rogue we visited the nearby Deschutes Brewing Company for a late dinner. Established in Bend in 1988 by Gary Fish, the brewery was named after the river that runs through Bend. This Portland pub opened in 2008 and has 19 taps featuring regular and seasonal brews as well as some experimental beers. We had pints of Inversion IPA (6.8% ABV, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Oregon) on cask, which was quite a complicated brew. It was very enjoyable but seemed to go through several chapters. With a smooth introduction, it carried into nasal hop in the second chapter, leading into a bit of a sweet third chapter. "It's a scratch-and-sniff beer" commented Rick, which was quite accurate. The fourth chapter caused me to make sliding motions with my hand, and Rick joined me. And then came the sixth chapter: an ocean breeze, "foam churning above the kelp bed." "Tongue coating mild bitterness." The chapters continued on into appendices and indices.

Deschutes features classic pub food made with the best possible local ingredients. We sat out front and shared split a quinoa and cashew burger and a Balsamic and herb roasted Portobello sandwich, which were both quite nice, as we finished up our critical review of our novel pints.