Tag Archives: Upright

Portland Beer Bars

20 Sep

This is the final writeup from a weekend trip to Portland, focusing on our favorite beer places (Part 1: Portland Food, Part 2: Oregeon Brewers Festival). I half-wrote this right after the trip but hadn’t got around to posting it.

Bailey’s Taproom (SW Broadway and Pine, downtown)

A great place to taste beer– an informal space with plenty of seating and a rotating selection of about twenty beers on tap, including a lot of Oregon beer. For just $7.50 you can get a sampler of any five of your choice. I liked the Avatar Jasmine IPA (very faint hints of jasmine), but can’t remember what else we had (a scotch ale and one of the Upright beers, but I don’t seem to have notes).

Upright Brewing (on N Broadway, in a tricky-to-find location near freeway offramps and overpasses, in the basement of the Leftbank building)

We tried all nine beers they had on tap. My favorite by far (and one of my favorites of the trip– I brought some home) was the unusual Flora Rustica— it had some slightly vegetive flavors and an interesting faintly-bitter herbal taste (they said “spring yarrow” is one ingredient), as well as a bit of hot-pepper-like spiciness. It’s hard to describe but very worth trying [edit: the bottle I brought home didn’t have the same spiciness and wasn’t as strongly flavored]. Also exceptionally good was the Alphaphylactic Hop, not your typical hoppy beer. It had a slightly savory-vegetable-saute flavor, a light sweetness, a bit of hoppiness… and a taste that went on for a while and kept evolving (either as I got used to it, or as it warmed up).  The Four was a very well-done saison-style ale with a slight orange flavor and a floral/honey smell. I also wrote down that I liked the Five but can’t remember the details. The Six, Seven (more of a cream-style ale), Weisse, and Engel Pils were also all good. I didn’t like the hoppy Leafer Madness as much.

Horse Brass Pub (SE Belmont & 46th)

A great English-style pub, with cozy dark wood, plenty of tables, many cask beers (hand-pumped, light carbonation, served closer to room temperature) and a wide selection of non-local beers as well. We had a few beers, including a good cask-conditioned version of Racer 5 IPA, but the highlight was the truly amazing Hogs Back Stout (cask): hard to describe, but slightly “chewy”, slightly coffee/oatmeal flavored, rich, not especially sweet or dry… “balanced”? The best stout I’ve ever had and one of my favorite beers of the trip.

Ignore the excessive foam in the photo below– we got a second round of the Hogs Back, but the cask ran out while pouring them, so we got these heady half-beers for free.

Amnesia Brewing Company (N Beech and Mississippi)

A pleasant brewpub for a beer at on a sunny day, with a big outdoor patio and indoor warehouse seating near the brewing apparatus, with a slight smell of grain in the air. We all liked the Plum Founded, a mild pale ale aged with… plums. The ESB and Cream of the Crop (a beer made with flaked corn and a hint of creaminess) were also both good, and refreshing on a sunny summer day. None of these were our favorites of the trip, but all of them were better than most beers we had at the OBF.

Beer-Centric Dinner Party

8 Aug

This is the first time I’ve made a dinner for friends with courses each paired with / inspired by a specific beer. Some of them worked well together, some didn’t, but it was a good evening overall.

Appetizers: a slightly bitter, slightly floral beer (Upright Flora Rustica) with a collection of snacks: bread, cheese (Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam), radishes, fresh-pickled fennel (an interesting concept), Boccalone orange-fennel salami and pepper salami, salted almonds, and three kinds of pickled carrots (carrots pickled for a week with dill, vinegar, and salt, carrot quick pickles (overnight with lots of vinegar, mustard seed, cloves), and some Happy Girl spicy carrot pickles I bought).

The most vinegar-heavy pickles overwhelmed the beer (and the beer didn’t have the same hint of jalapeno it did when I’d had it on tap in Portland), but the rest of the food seemed to go reasonably well with it, especially the fennel salami and pickled fennel.

My favorite course: a salad of mixed greens + roasted stonefruit (peaches and black plums, still warm) + a little fresh mint + a ricotta that didn’t turn out the way I expected (I tried to make it with 1 pint whole milk, 1 pint heavy cream, 1 tsp salt: brought to a boil, 3 Tbsp lemon juice added, then simmered to curdle.. but it never fully curdled (did the cream interfere somehow? were the lemons not acidic enough?), so it ended up soft and creamy) + a dressing of balsamic vinegar reduced with agave syrup. We were still drinking the Flora Rustica, which worked quite well with the fruit.

Black bean soup generally based on the Cooks Illustrated New Best Recipe version: dry beans and a diced onion boiled for a few hours with a ham hock and bay leaves and a little beer until beans were soft, the ham hock and bay leaves removed and the meat from the hock shredded and returned to the pot, then a separately-sauteed sofrito (onions, garlic, red bell pepper, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle flakes, salt) added to the pot for about 20 minutes. I made this the night before and reheated it the day of the dinner. Cilantro and lime juice added just as it was served.

This was paired with Upright Billy the Mountain, which turned out to be a rather… challenging beer– a very tart and woody barrel-aged old ale, about 9% alcohol but not at all sweet like a barleywine. Whew. Interesting, but I’m not sure I’d do that again.

Pre-dessert: my second attempt at fresh ricotta (simple: 1 qt whole milk + 1 tsp salt, brought to a light boil, then 1.5 Tbsp white vinegar added, simmered a few minutes until the curds separated, strained for an hour in cheesecloth): bright, fresh, and sweet, with a nice texture. Served with Pannepot 2010, a delicious slightly sweet / musky / lightly spiced ale I’d had in Belgium but had never seen in the US until I came across it at City Beer Store (apparently they get it very occasionally). A good combination.

Official dessert– honey lavender ice cream from Bi-Rite, paired with Russian River Supplication (a sour ale fermented with brit and lots of cherries). The Supplication was actually not as acidic or difficult as the Billy the Mountain, and while strong, worked well with the ice cream (especially, a bit of ice cream after each sip of beer).

Then as our post-dinner digestif/nightcap/whatever: some Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee).

Success! Time to go lay down and do the final clean-up tomorrow.