Tag Archives: PORTLAND OR


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At the hilly southwest outskirts of Portland in Beaverton’s Raleigh Hills section lies freestanding hunter green stable-like restaurant-brewery, RACCOON LODGE, which conveniently houses CASCADE BREWERY’s enthusiastically experimental beers. Visited 11 AM, December ’09, this immaculate ‘sour ale mecca’ truly is on the verge of widescale popularity.

Going from the covered backyard patio into the side door, patrons experience ‘The Den,’ a downstairs pool hall sportsbar with full bar service, billiard tables, dart games, and TV screens opposing left side glass-encased brewery set-up full of fermenting wood barrels storing mostly lactic oak-aged sour ales.

Brewers Ron Gansberg and Curtis Bain have also been busy assembling a warehouse down the street for more barrel-aged offerings. Cascade’s unique sour ales have become highly sought-after commodities so it was a pleasure to share some suds with Bain after lunch. By keeping the vinous brettanomyces yeast in check, the sour ales never get mired by ethyl alcohol acidity.

Upstairs, the Raccoon Lodge’s green-walled main space featured a high ceiling, wood furnishings, and cafeteria-styled dining, reminiscent in some ways, of a ski lodge. An open kitchen served clam chowder, grilled Cajun Ceasar wraps, sausage-pepperoni pizaa, and burgers. At the left side bar, a large TV entertained lunchtime customers while the bartender, originally from cross-country Long Island, served up several large samples.

The most exulted libations on tap this brisk clear-skied December ’09 afternoon were unsurprisingly barrel-aged selections. Happily, several stylistically popular brews were also spot-on. Firstly, highly anticipated Vlad The Imp Aler proved grandiose. Its soft whiskey setting received sharp barnyard-funked red wine pucker, tart cider sparkle, tingly peach-pear-apricot seduction, and unripe blackberry souring to magnify caramel-vanilla-spiced rum raisin ice cream finish.

Heady Belgian-styled double porter, Bourbonic Plague, had more of a white-wined Sauvignon sourness with oaken chocolate nibs nipping at chestnut-date-mulberry conflux. An older vintage Bourbonic version placed dry bourbon, burgundy, and Riesling wine illusions below fig-date-soured chocolate-vanilla malting.

Tried tapped versions of Cascade’s bottled oak-aged Belgian-styled beers (buying 22-ouncer of fantastic Cascade Kriek for the road). Oak-soured peach-tannic Cascade Apricot Lambic, dark-fruited Belgian tripel/ Flanders Red mix Cuvee Du Jungleur, and lactic white-grape-parched Cascade ‘The Vine’ were endlessly intriguing. In a similar vein, tap-only Autumn Gose had a salt-hopped cherry-cranberry sourness abutting advertised orange peel bittering, cinnamon-nutmeg spicing, and tertiary lemon-soured cider acidity.

Better still, vinegary gueuze-like Flanders Red sour ale, Nightfall, a busy blonde wheat ale, brought eye-squinting blackberry-embittered theme to cranberry-limestone tartness and Sauvignon Blanc elegance. Crystal-watered sour ale sparkler, Apricot Ale, dovetailed green grape, white apricot, and cranberry tartness into tangy tangerine-orange segue.

Bringing some more warmth to this cold wintry day, Cascade’s seasonal Frostkiller pleated chocolate-spiced fig-sugared hazelnut into rich molasses malting. An as-yet-unnamed Stout offered chocolate-spiced hop-grained macadamia-walnut illusions. Those same macadamia-walnut illusions firm up peanut-shelled cocoa-seeded molasses-tinged stove-burnt coffee thrust of chocolate-stained Cascade Porter. Chipotle-jalapeno-spiced rye-breaded malt-roasted Celtic Copper Ale broadened stylistic approach.

Less adventurous brewhounds should try citric-peeled coriander-spiced lemon-honeyed licorice-tinged Spicy Blonde, corn-dried wheat-honeyed orange-fruited grassy-hopped Vienna-malted Cascade Pale Ale, hop-spiced fruit-dried mocha-backed Tap Ten Amber Ale, and peat-malted sesame-seeded pumpernickel-breaded cola-nutty O-Rye-On. Woody dry-hopped India Pale Ale forfeited stylistic fruity malt spangle for orange pekoe tea-embittered herbal tea register.



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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.



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Opened 2005, East Portland’s ROOTS ORGANIC BREWING COMPANY brings a loose Caribbean theme to dingy baby blue-tanned warehouse, visited December ‘09. Salvaged material, cement floors, and a dusty beer bottle collection match the rustic setting of many likeminded Jamaican watering holes. Stickers and pictures line interior walls and the L-shaped bar featured fine Belgian beer bottled selection (Bosteels; LA Chouffe; Maredsous; St, Feuillien) to go along with simple American cuisine and snacks such as Roots Black Bean Nachos.

Brewer Max Skewes’ easily identifiable stylistic fare were conditioned in rear glass-encased brew tanks. To the far right, a friendly event space for weddings and private ceremonies exists.

Lovely silken Cask Conditioned Younger’s Nightmare saddled black chocolate-y espresso theme with bourbon-burgundy-port illusions and hop-charred black cherry-pureed grape souring. Another fine dark beer, Chocolate Habanero Stout, provided hop-roasted alcohol-burnt habanero spicing for cocoa-malted brown chocolate sugaring. Dried fig-date entry, mild cherry tartness, and slight walnut char gave chocolate-spiced winter seasonal, Festivus Old English Ale, mocha porter-like depth.

In lieu of hops, interesting Burghead Heather Ale used old recipe heather-tips to engage light mocha-fruited herbage and orange-soured lemon-limed juniper bittering.

Standard fare such as woody resin-hopped maize-dried yellow-fruited Roots Organic Nevermined Pale Ale, crystal-malted pine-hopped dark-spiced plum-sugared apple-sweet Roots Island Red and piney dry-hopped spruce-lingered spice-tingled red-orange-fruited Woody IPA did not disappoint.



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In Portland’s historic northwest Mississippi District within walking distance to Widmer Brauhaus, AMNESIA BREWERY occupies a freestanding converted warehouse with old cement floors, exposed pipes, and covered side deck (with picnic benches). Its aluminum-sided green-walled interior had tickers, posters, and pictures strewn about.

The atmosphere was laid-back this early December ’09 afternoon and brewer Kevin King’s delectable brews were tried alongside a meaty burger (smoked sausages are also available).

As I entered Amnesia, famed Rogue brewer, John Maier, and his wife, were seated at the rustic 10-seat bar. A pleasant coincidental surprise, indeed, since I’d met the awesome brew-some twosome originally in Newport, Oregon when my wife and I stayed at one of Rogue Brewery’s cozy loft suites. We had a few laughs as I downed a few beer samples and then took off for Seattle to catch a plane home to Jersey.

On this cold clear-skied autumnal day, I quaffed six well-integrated brews, starting with cherrywood-smoked chocolate-spiced fig-dried chipotle-peppered resin-hopped Chimney Diver Red Ale.

Rich macadamia-hazelnut-doused pecan-buttered mocha-malted English Brown Ale, The Big Newton, was nearly as good as hop-charred espresso-roasted caramel-chocolate-malted cookie dough-centered walnut-toasted coffee-finishing Slow Train Porter.

Black chocolate-y fruit-dried pecan-sugared tobacco-roasted Sleighjerker Winter Ale tingled tongue with sweet wintry spices. Dry pine-hopped, perfume-spiced, lemon rind-embittered, apricot-apple-insured Desolation IPA may’ve bettered woodier, spicier Copacetic IPA, with its resinous Chinook-Amarillo hops, juniper-currant-grapefruit bittering, and floral heather-honeysuckle-lilac lilt.


phone number: 503 281 7708


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Open for business, March ’07, Portland’s ‘first eco-friendly’ brewpub, HOPWORKS URBAN BREWERY (a.k.a ‘the Hub’), occupies a freestanding industrial building in the southeast city corridor. Owner-brewer Christian Ettinger’s ‘green’ brewery takes recycling and energy conservation as serious as brewing, providing cool-fit insulated cold water and compressed air systems for the cause. The large dining area had booths surrounding centralized stainless steel bar, exposed pipes, and wood ceiling. Beer can collection lined walls above bar and build-your-own pizzas dominated a burger-sandwich menu.

I had delicious split pea-ham soup with medium-bodied fare mid-afternoon early December ’09. Peppery Saaz-hopped corn-malted honey-glazed Czech pilsner, Organic Hub Lager, juniper-grapefruit-embittered orange-peeled green-hopped corn-husked peppercorn-sidled Organic Crosstown Pale Ale, and honey-dried oats-sugared floral-hopped chocolate-malted Organic Velvet ESB set the stage for more experimental brews.

Mellow yellow-fruited clay-hopped fungi-vegetal Organic Hopworks IPA and its cask-conditioned version retained tingly orange-apricot tang. Soft orange-bruised grapefruit-embittered floral-spiced barley-biscuit-y Deluxe Organic Ale differed comparatively to sedate cask-conditioned apple-cored fig-plum-dried kiwi-mango-papaya-kissed DOA.

Serene floral-spiced Ace Of Spades Double IPA brought mild hop bittering to caramel-malted apricot-pear-tangerine tang and sugared quince loiter.

After soup, tried three worthy dark ales. Chocolate-roasted marshmallow-toasted Kronan The Barbarian Baltic Porter allowed tranquil bourbon-burgundy warmth to graze cocoa, almond and pureed raisin illusions. Mild coffee-roasted Specken Sie Stout finished with assertive chocolate roast.

Best bet: hop-charred oats-toasted Organic Survival Seven-Grain Oatmeal Stout, a robust full body with coffee-cocoa bean bittering meandering above black tea, espresso, chicory, and molasses undertones.



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In early December ’09, took 20-minute uphill walk from downtown Portland to Northwest corridor, discovering street-cornered RAM’S HEAD, one of sixty MC MENAMIN’S-affiliated pubs in Oregon-Washington area. An up-front antique wood-furnished dining area led to 10-seated L-shaped copper-top bar with low ceiling at rear. Light food was served with adequate, if not mind-blowing, brew fare.

Soapy light-bodied grapefruit-soured raspberry-cranberry-tart Ruby Ale, honey-roasted corn-sugared crystal-malted Cascade-hopped Hammerhead Ale, floral-spiced grapefruit-peeled apricot-peach-induced India Pale Ale, brown chocolate-y vanilla-spiced pecan-macadamia-hazelnut-roasted Sleepy Hollow Nut Brown, and black chocolate-y coffee-roasted macadamia-backed Rabbit Porter passed muster. Sweet ‘n sour mocha-laced dried-fruited Nitro Milk Chocolate Stout provided light dessert treat.



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Within walking distance of Ram’s Head and Laurelwood Pizza Co. on NW 23rd Street, NEW OLD LOMPOC, opened May 2000, exhibited a small neighborhood dive atmosphere during late-morning December ’09 stopover.

Canary yellowed black exterior, remodeled patio, and sundeck bolster cafeteria styled interior (with diminutive central wood bar serving right side dining area typical pub fare). Other Portland-based Old Lompoc-related locations include Hedge House (open December ’03), 5th Quadrant (the northernmost alehouse), and Oaks Bottom Public House (adjacent to wildlife refuge). Christmas seasonals being readied during stopover were Jollybock, Blitzen, Old Tavern Rat, C-Sons Greetings, and Brewdolph. Tried year-round brews Proletariat Red Ale and C-Note Imperial Pale Ale (listed in Beer Index).




Reaching across both sides of Williamette River lies the tree-draped “City Of Roses.” Visited March ’03, Portland may have more brewpubs per acre than any American city: Alameda; Bridgeport; Lucky Labrador; Mc Menamins; Widmer Brothers. I finally got to revisit this absolute brewpub mecca again in autumn ’09 for a complete report.

March ’03, B.J.’s BREWPUB offered lemon-soured wheat-cracked Rejuvenator Maibock, gourd-spiced Pumpkin Ale, sugary dry-hopped Hopfenkopf India Pale Lager, salami-smoked beechwood-tinged Rauchbier, spruce-fruited Owens IPA, mocha-smoked Nutty Brunette, juniper-embittered Juniper Rye, rye-dried molasses-sweetened PM Porter, and dry coffee-burnt Imperial-styled Tatonka Stout. Tried Sasquatch Strong Ale and spruce-hopped orange peel-embittered Caldera Dry Hop Orange at Rogue Ales (reviewed in Beer Index).


Bought Hair Of The Dog’s Ruth, Fred, and Doggie Claws Barleywine, Bridgeport’s Ebenezer and Old Knucklehead, plus Eel River’s Extra Pale and Porter at premier bottle shop, Belmont Station. Compared Mt. Hood Ice Axe IPA with Terminal Gravity IPA next door at famous Horse Brass English Pub with local bud, Dan Labeau and wife, Theresa, MArch ’03.


Liquid Solutions, a fabulous mail order company that was in nearby Tigard, Oregon, sent via FedEx September ‘05, several brews by Big Sky (Scape Goat Pale Ale/ Crystal Ale), Dick’s (Grand Cru/ Cream Stout/ Tripel), Andelot (Angelique/ Diabolique/ Euphorique/ Mystique), Skagit (Dutch Girl Lager/ Sculler’s IPA) , and Siletz (Oatmeal Cream Stout/ Paddle Me IPA/ Spruce Ale/ Wooly Bully). November ’06 delivery brought brews by Avery (Samael’s), Boulder (Killer Penguin/ Belgian Stout), Deschutes (Bond Street Hop Trip/ Bond Street Pilsner), Golden Valley (Dundee Porter/ Tannenbaum), Hale’s (El Jefe Weizen), Jerome (Diablo/ Roja/ Rubia/ Negra), and Rader (Amber/ Blonde). Unfortunately, Liquid Solutions went out of business, 2009.