Sojourned to northwest Quimby section of Portland, December ’09, perusing environmentally friendly green-powered LUCKY LABRADOR BEER HALL (with two more pubs in nearby Hawthorne Boulevard and Capitol Highway). Using a solar thermal closed loop glycol system to power up, this former warehouse with gray frontage, maroon awnings, back patio, and spacious concrete-floored interior serves some terrific house pizzas from an open kitchen to go along with its wide array of brews.
Operating since 1994, Lucky Labrador also bottles product for local consumption. Rear brew tanks near garage doors serve homemade craft beers listed on blackboard over bar. Labrador paintings bedeck the interior walls and the high wood-column ceiling adds to the large cafeteria-style setting.
A few birds chirp in the background and Classic Grand Ole Opry Country & Western blasts from speakers as I sample the varied load. First up, light-bodied Anchors Away California Common saddled astringent tea-like rye milieu with wafting apple illusions and dinky dark spices. Honey-soaked orange pekoe tea lined both fig-dried mineral-grained Hellraiser ESB and sugar-malted sullen-fruited nut-soothed Red Baron. Blasé soft-bodied wood-grained apple-skinned grape-vinous honey-malted Hawthorne’s Best Bitter lacked citric-hop bite.
Sans seasonal holiday spicing, leather-bound chocolate-spiced Scottish Holiday (on nitro) gathered black plum, sugared fig, and macadamia illusions. Pleasant herbal peculiarity, Zingerbier, mingled honeyed lemon coughdrop overtones with ginger-spiced chamomile, orange compote, and dishwater.
Hopheads will delight in pungent green-hopped juniper-cranked grapefruit-peeled bittering and distant peach-orange tang of sticky pale-malted Triple Threat IPA. Less fruit-embittered Super Dog IPA allowed floral-spiced piney-hopped pineapple sweetness to shine through brewers’ most popular ale. Light lager-like Got Hops had less character, as currant-fueled fig-soured maize-dried yellow-fruiting tailed off.
Dark ale lovers may choose black cherry-tweaked mocha-roasted oats-flaked macadamia-hazelnut-backed Stumptown Porter and soft-toned hop-charred grape-draped black coffee-finishing Wheat Stout over smooth espresso-fronted cherry-soured coffee-burnt Noble Regard Foreign Stout.