Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beer Lovers Dream Come True...Portland, Oregon

The Little White Shed
    I am not an expert on the craft of brewing beer but I do know what I like.  My husband brews beer in the garage that faces the alley behind our condo.  Living with a beer maker definitely makes you more aware of all those things that go into beer...hops, yeast, malt, time, equipment, fermentation and most of all the nuances that result from using all these things in different ways.  I began drinking beer with all these things in mind many years ago.
     Here in Portland Metro Area we have some wonderful brews.  The Widmer brewery on the eastside of the river is among the best and they have come out with a new beer in honor of summer called Sunburned Blonde Ale.  This beer is bottled and you can expect the same quality and taste from every bottle you buy.  When we travel we love that we can get a crafted beer even in locations that don't know Millers from rootbeer.  I think the microbrew beer at their Gasthaus Pub is wonderful. 
     When we are home we gravitate to our local brewpubs.  The Portland area seems to have one on every corner.  The story told is that the McMemamin brothers began brewing in their coop at Oregon State University in the 1970's...and that they never did graduate.   They still run their first location in Corvallis.  Since that time it seems you can find a McMinamins in every mall in town. There are over 60 locations now.  Their beer is brewed on site and each beer has a flavor all it's own. They were the first brewers to add fruit to their beer when they introduce their Ruby Ale.  The key ingredient is raspberries.    A Hefeweizen up on Murray Hill will taste different than the beer brewed at Cornelius Pass Road House (Washington Country) .  You can buy bottles of beer...they fill the bottles from the kegs as you watch.  There is no bottling line.  I have never seen this beer in the grocery store...never.  You can tell I am a McMenamin's fan.  This is a culture of business that is very unique.
     These brew pubs are located at historic sites around the city and state.  In addition to their mall locations they have taken abandon schools, hotels, a ballroom, a fraternal lodge rest home, an old farm house, a country tavern and the Multnomah County poor farm and given them new life.  They boast movie threaters, dance venues, outdoor seating and even a very small golf course.   They are all extremely successful.  
     We live very near to Imbrie Farms here in Hillsboro.  The old Cornelius Pass Road House was their original pub on this site and they have since built a new restaurant they call Imbrie Hall.  During construction they made an effort to replicate the appeal of their older locations.  They also brought in old buildings that they use as event buildings, the brewery and a white shed they use as a cigar/whiskey shack (photo above).  Whiskey was added to their line several years ago.  The six-acre estate is planted to lawn and arbors guide you to unseen parking lots and spaces for wedding etc.  The quirky charm of the whole place brings us back again and again.
    These brewpubs have very small bars and the remainder of the buildings are family friendly, serving great food.
     Rooted in the former pioneer farming mecca, now the high tech haven of Hillsboro, this former six-acre farmstead is today a colorful oasis with buildings and barns that date to the mid-1850s.
     Here you'll also find one of McMenamins' top-producing breweries, and the modern-day Imbrie Hall Pub (built from the timbers of Portland's historic Henry Weinhards brewery). You may also enjoy the cozy wee bar known as the Little White Shed, along with plenty of outdoor summer seating

     I happen to love McMenamin's Hefeweizen. It is a wonderful summer beer. I began drinking it over twenty years ago. The beer is usually unfiltered and back in those day the yeast actually settle down in the glass like strings. For several weeks now I have been ordering the beer at the McMenamin's Pubs around town. The first sip is the proof of the taste of the beer. The verdict in....Cornelius Pass Road House beer serves the best Hefeweizen around. I get cloves in every sip and the flavor is just subtle enough to linger on the back of my tongue.  I may be ruined and will not order it anywhere else...at least for a while.  The thing is, when the beer is brewed on site using specific ingredients, the recipe or even the weather may change the flavor.  That is why a microbrew is so incredibly different from any bottled beer!
    Portland may not be the microbrew capital of the world but we are not complaining!  Good is good no matter how big.  Stop on by and see us sometime.

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