October and November have not been kind to beer fans in Portland, Oregon. Ninkasi Brewing’s investment arm snatched up Laurelwood Brewing, and then longtime mainstay Lompoc Brewing shuttered. The Rock Bottom location in Downtown closed suddenly and even Cider Riot cidery called it a day. Lastly, Coalition Brewing is leaving to be replaced by a new brewery so that is a lose-win.
I visited the Rose City for a few days to check out three new and hip breweries and see what the city mood was.
We start at the southeastern end and Ruse Brewing on 17th Avenue. Founders Shaun Kalis and Devin Benware have made the Fireman Collective Building their brewing home. The two brewers last worked at Portland’s Culmination Brewing and at first the brewery was focused on farmhouse ales and IPAs.
The space has a bank of windows that light up the art on one wall and instead of the typical cold box to taps layout, you have a bar seat view of the brewing operation including a 20-barrel foeder.
When I visited the IPA half was very much represented, but the best beer that I had was Love & Lore, a golden sour base with cherries aged in Pinot barrels. Very reminiscent of The Rare Barrel in California. It was a lovely red color and was like cherry pie in liquid form.
Moving toward the river that splits the Rose City, you can find beers from Ferment Brewing Company since the Hood River brewery is listed as a “co-conspirator” with the Dossier Hotel and Knot Springs spa. You can try their traditional meets scientific approach beers as well as their kombucha.
You can also find their distinctive sized and minimally designed brown bottles around town at finer beer stores and markets like New Seasons. I would also highly recommend visiting their home base, which is a stunning second floor location on the Columbia River.
My favorite beer was their 12 Degrees Czech Pilsner which was crisp and floral and a beautiful bright yellow color. I also eyed their Old Ale which is a style not often seen.
To the north, in the Montavilla neighborhood is newcomer Threshold Brewing and Blending. Home brewers Janek Szymanski and David Fuller started this new brewery on a side street in what I think of as a traditional Portland format. This is more community than industrial. During my visit, two families with strollers came in to have a beer.
My favorite was their Grisette. Another old sub-Style that gets some love, most notably from our own Ladyface Ale Companie. But Threshold has a whiskey barrel version and a wine barrel version. The whiskey take was quite good and only clocked in at 5% ABV.
There is business tumult, but beer still stands all over Beervana, you just have to find it in new and different locations.
Your Non-IPA Beer of the Week comes from RT Rogers Brewing in Sierra Madre. It is Old Gnome Spiced Brown Ale. Brown ales are stuck in a stylistic area in-between porters, stouts and bigger beers and sometimes can be overlooked but this version will add some fun to your Thanksgiving table or day after leftover table.
Take Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday off of your beer calendar. Instead add Small Brewery Sunday to your shopping plans. Instead of doorbuster-ing buy gifts from your local Los Angeles breweries for the holiday season. Be it shirts, hats or socks, or even better, beers (perhaps in crowler form). Whether the recipient is next door or out of town, no one would leave a beer present unwrapped.