I mentioned in Tuesday's post the single Portland brewery that was on Jeff's must-see list. There was only one on mine too: Upright Brewing. This was partly because I'd read good things about it, though also because its opening times meant there was only a small window of opportunity to visit. It's in a north-eastern neighbourhood of the city and we were able to take in a couple of nearby breweries as part of the excursion.
Steven at the Mt Tabor event and he suggested I drop by: how's that for direct marketing? It's based in a small business centre with several other craftsy start-ups. The bar is quite small but there's a lovely sunny terrace. Let's get the IPAs in.
I opened with their flagship, Phaedrus, a 6.7% ABV number mixing up classical tropical fruit with a bit of a savoury turn and some oily pine resins: all of the new world IPA food groups in a single nutritious serving. As it settles on the palate the peach flavour comes to the fore, while there's a brief flash of bitterness on the end before it all finishes quickly and neatly. Very easy drinking, overall, and pleasant with it.
My wife opted for Translator IPA, brewed by Ruse, a client brewer which uses the Culmination kit to create beers for the local art community and its events. How very Portland. This one is 6.6% ABV and a slightly darker orange than Phaedrus. I got a bit of worrying stickiness on the nose, but thankfully that ended right there. There's a touch of aspirin dryness and it's spicy rather than fruity: a mild sweetness present but under control. This is another decent, easy going IPA, though rather less complex than its cousin.
And lastly Choco Mountain Stout. The name had me expecting a major sugar rush from this 5.8%-er, but that's not what happened. Instead, the aroma opens on a huge kick of dryly roasted grains. The texture is appropriately smooth and creamy while coffee is at the centre of the flavour, though milk chocolate puts in an understated cameo appearance. A slightly severe burnt edge on the finish prevents it from getting sweet and cloying. This is all rather classic and elegant, and not the breakfast cereal disaster implied by its name.
A flight for starters. Beginning on the left of the picture below, that's Four, a 4.5% ABV saison which looks a lot like a witbier to me, and has a very similar gentle orange and dry wheat flavour profile. Stylistic qualms aside, it's a simple quaffable session beer, not about to set the world alight, but not meant to either.
Next along is Green Hour, a fresh hop saison at 6.1% ABV. Fuggles from day one of the harvest went into the boil and a month later -- two weeks before drinking -- it was dry hopped with the last of the year's Liberty. It's heavily textured and quite flat. The union of fresh hop fruitiness with saison ester fruitiness gives it an appley quality, a cider tang which felt a little out of place but tasted gorgeous: proper wholesome autumnal refreshment. I've no idea if that was the intention but it worked.
And on the end there is Donuts, based on a recipe from Oedipus Brewery in Amsterdam and intended to taste like donuts. It doesn't. This 4.9% ABV is extremely dry and has a major musty husky cereal component in the taste, a cobwebby burlap staleness. There's just a hint of candied orange sweetness, but it's really quite harsh and difficult beyond that. Certainly a long way from any circular cakey treats.
Supercool IPA looks remarkably similar to it, but is a very different beer. The aim here is to produce a classic American IPA flavour profile except, in keeping with the house predilections, using a saison yeast. I didn't see which hops were used but I got a major central European vibe off it: lots of sharply bitter damp grass, in both the aroma and flavour. Saison + IPA = Pilsner? Appropriately for the 6.5% ABV, it's thickly textured, with a kind of oily, greasy feel for which I don't know whether the yeast or hops were responsible. The white pepper bite it delivers is very much saison thing, I'd say. Once you get used to the odd texture and flavours it's quite a decent beer: smooth and well-integrated. The guy who only drinks IPA and picked this as a distress purchase will get a shock, but maybe that's no harm.
Alongside The Commons (mentioned yesterday), Upright is definitely on my top recommendations list for visitors to Portland. Both are having tremendous fun with the highly-attentuated family of Belgian styles, and the ones that don't taste great are at least interesting.
good causes. It was getting late and this place -- another one of those ex garage/workshop spaces -- was already busy but we got a table outside.
I opted for Cactus Wins The Lottery, a prickly pear flavoured Berliner weisse which, understandably, bears a significant resemblance to Sierra Nevada's Otra Vez gose. It has that same slightly sticky pink cactus fruit flavour but nicely balanced by a crisp and sharp tartness. After these two elements spark off each other on the palate it settles back into plain wheat, much like standard unadorned Berliner weisse tends to. It's fun, but doesn't offer much different to a million other flavoured versions of the style.
And there was a rauchbier too: Rauch Paper Scissors, a 5.3% ABV dark lager which would not be at all out of place in Bamberg. It hits the sweet spot of rich hammy smoke against a sparkling clean lager base absolutely perfectly, for properly satisfying down-the-hatch quaffing.
At this point, coming to the end of our last evening in Portland, Jeff had joined us again. And there was another brewery, not far away, he thought we should see.
Franciscan Well Jameson Stout - *Origin: Ireland | Date: 2012 | ABV: 7.8% | On The Beer Nut: December 2012* It's getting warmer in the stash. 2017's summer break is not far away, I'd say....
1 week ago