By now you’ve probably all seen the TV show Portlandia, and folks let me tell you, it’s not far off on the level of weirdness I found in Oregon. Between the guy downtown on the unicycle in a pickle suit with the flame thrower ripping gnarly AC/DC bagpipe covers to the half-naked painted woman I found chanting at the new moon on my roof at 3 a.m. (she turned out to be a belly dancer who also had pythons in her bathtub upstairs), it was quite the trip. But Portland in all its uniqueness is very much an awesome place to be alive, especially if you’re a beer lover. They had 84 breweries in town, and I did my best to hit as many as possible.
Hawaii 3-O, 5.1 percent: This session IPA with hints of passion fruit, orange and guava is exactly as good as it sounds. Rating: Move over, Grapefruit Sculpin. There’s a new tropical, fruity beer in town. So damn good!
Brrr, 7.2 percent: This fall, be on the lookout for Widmer’s Northwest hoppy imperial red ale (or winter warmer, as they call it). Toasted molasses-like malts and zesty, citrus, earthy hops make it quite delicious. Rating: Brrrrring me another one!
Widmer Brothers Brewing: 929 N. Russell St. Portland, OR; 503-281-2437; www.widmerbrothers.com
The Best of Portland
Baerlic Brewing Company’s Delorean, 7 percent: An American pale wheat beer? Yup, and a dank citrus hop bomb as well. Drank like a DIPA. I had several. Thank God breweries have to serve food in Portland. Unfortunately, they also do 16 (not 12) oz. pours in Oregon.
Cascade Brewing’s Honey Ginger Lime, 7.2 percent: Everything this brewery does is magic. I’m not a big fan of sours, but this ginger honey wild ale was off the freaking chain. Don’t believe me? You can ask Butch Vig (Garbage’s drummer). He was sitting right next to me crushing them. True story.
Gigantic Brewing’s Pipewrench, 8 percent: This gin barrel-aged IPA tasted like citrus hoppy green tea from the essence of gin botanicals. So weird and good – dare I say it was “gigantic” in taste?
Hair of the Dog Brewing’s Adam of the Wood, 12 percent: This old ale aged in rye or bourbon barrels makes Goose Island’s Bourbon County offerings look like liquid pine tar. It gave me goosebumps!
Tugboat Brewing’s Chernobyl Stout, 13.5 percent: This is one of the best stouts (big, dark fruits and roasted chocolate malts) I’ve ever tasted! It’s made with open air fermentation at one of the most underrated and hidden breweries in Portland. I could drink these for days, if two of them didn’t put me under the table.