Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Throwdown at Upright

After a full slate of afternoon and evening activities this past Saturday, Carla, Clark and I were still able to make it over to Ezra's excellent Baltic Porter tasting at Upright Brewing. The room was packed with so many local beer mavens that it's tempting to write this up gossip-column style, with names in bold and descriptions of each celebrity's beer T-shirt. I'll resist the temptation and talk about the beers instead.

In addition to bottled porters imported from Baltic nations, the tasting also featured some Portland-brewed imperial porters and stouts, and four of Upright's beers on tap. Because of our late entry and early exit, I didn't really get in on many of the bottled porters. Of note were some very old bottles of Full Sail Imperial Porter donated by John Harris -- from 1997, 1999, and 2001, I think. The 2001 was hanging in there, but the older ones had gone too far around the bend. It reinforces my suspicion that bottled beer should be drunk within a couple of years. On the other hand, a few months ago the Pilsner Room had a keg of the 1998 Imperial Stout which was still in pretty good shape. It wouldn't be too surprising if kegs were safer to age beer in than bottles.

Of the few imports I got to try, the standout was the Limfjords Porter from Thisted Brewery in Denmark. Ezra's friend Jimmy brought it in from New Jersey; I hope it becomes available here. It was thick, rich, and round, just like you'd want a big porter to be. The bottle called it a double brown stout. Speaking of thick and rich, the thickest beer of the night -- and one of my favorites -- was the Lucky Lab Pavlov's Imperial Stout that was on tap. Black and viscous, with little carbonation, it was like a delicious cross between stout and Ovaltine -- very malty. I had high hopes for another Oregon beer on tap, the Block 15 Smoked Porter, but it was a little light, especially up against so many other big beers.

Since it was my first visit to Upright, it was fun to look around the premises, and to see Alex's open fermentation setup. Don't worry, I didn't contaminate it, I just peeked through a window into the fermentation room. I got to try a couple of Upright beers I hadn't had before: the Seven and the Anglo Saison. Seven is a delicious, big biere de garde, a nice, drinkable version of that style. I'd love to try that after it ages a while. The Anglo Saison seems to be Alex's nod to Northwest tastes in hops -- Upright's house saison style done up with an IPA dose of hops. Another winner.

Upright's fabulous Reggae Junkie Gruit was also on tap. I tried it last week at the Green Dragon, but it was definitely worth another try Saturday night. If you've had the Gruit Kolsch at Roots, it will remind you of that, but it has its own character also. I'm a sucker for the flavor of lemongrass, which is one of the herbs in the Upright Gruit. Very drinkable, and under 5% ABV, if I remember correctly. Finally, Alex shared around a small glass of the not-quite-finished summer wheat beer, so I got a tiny taste of that. It's satisfyingly hearty, and will be a big hit this summer.

The tasting was a wonderful event, I only regret that I had such a short time there. Matt has a terrific set of pictures. Thanks a lot to Ezra for putting it together, and to Alex for hosting!

1 comment:

  1. It's weird, I seem to always miss Matt. But his photos made me feel like I was there. Sounds like a great time--