Total Eclipse of the Hops

ECLP_12oz_Can_2017_ChromoshpereBlonde.pngAdmittedly, it’s not always easy thinking up themes for my Beer Traveler column in All About Beer. But even at the beginning of the year I knew that with the Totality streaking across the entire USA, there’d be enough breweries submerged in darkness to squeeze a handful into a travel story. Featured herein are breweries from Pacific City, OR where the Path of Totality first hits land, through Salem (also in OR), Lincoln, NE, St. Louis, Paducah, KY (probably the first time Paducah has appeared in any beer-related travel story), Nashville, and Greenville, SC (from the comments, boy are folks in nearby Columbus and Charleston, SC upset about their omission through my lack of ability to include every single brewery that’s going to experience mid-morning nighttime.) Anyway, feast your eyes on these (you don’t even need those special glasses to view it.)

Pioneering Greenville

There are Beer Meccas and there are cities not yet on the Beer Map. Greenville, SC, just an hour south of the Mecca of Asheville, NC, is the latter. Or at least it was. I’ve had the good fortune of replying to a press release here or there (I delete 95% within 2 seconds of opening them) that has led to some of my favorite travel-related stories. And while South Cackalacky is no Cabo San Lucas, I’m quite glad I allegedly penned the first beer travel story about this truly booming and deserving town for BeerAdvocate’s Destination feature. I hit 7 breweries. There’s at least 9 by the time you’re reading this.

Portland’s Beerly Walkable Buckman/Hosford-Abernethy

The Brewers Association announced to their freelance crew that they would be adding a feature called “Walk this Way” for their Beer Muses blog (about walkable brewery ‘hoods). Natch, I pitched that it needed to start with Inner Southeast Portland’s twins Buckman and Hosford-Abernethy. Here’s the result, published August 30, 2016.And already

The kicker? Fewer than 7 weeks later, we’ve already seen Mt Tabor Brewing Company – PDX & Scout Beer open. (And possibly in the next 7 weeks we’ll welcome Wayfinder Beer & Ross Island Brewing.) That will bring us to 13 independent breweries within a 2.5 mile walk! CheersGrixsen Brewing Company, Baerlic Brewing Co., Ground Breaker Brewing,Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, PDX Green Dragon, Cascade Brewing, The Commons Brewery, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company, Base Camp Brewing Company, Burnside Brewing Co

 

The Rural Brewer Fest Spotlight: Chetco

Chetco photo

Photo: Chetco Brewing’s Facebook page.

Interested in attending the 2nd The Rural Brewer Fest on Sat., July 23 at the Hawthorne Hophouse? Get your tickets here.

Down in Brookings, named for a man named John Brookings, some 6,374 people reside in the picturesque coastal hamlet. That’s about 1% of Portland’s population. But whereas Portland has roughly one brewery for every 10,000 residents, Brookings–home to Chetco as well as Tight Lines and Misty Mountain breweries–boasts a 1:2,100 ratio. Clearly those who’ve followed in John Brookings’ footsteps love local beer. And while the first two aforementioned breweries didn’t even open until 2013, Chetco didn’t take long in establishing itself as a world class brewery by winning a silver medal for Block & Tackle Stout at the 2014 World Beer Cup.

While that onyx ale achieves a unique viscosity after aging for six months, and the resulting notes of baker’s chocolate achieve the right balance between a sweet and dry stout, it hardly seems like a fitting sample to enjoy at a summertime beer festival. Instead, brewer Mike Frederick, who co-founded the brewery with his wife Alex, will be pouring The Chetco Effect. This summer ale is a light, bright ale dry hopped with Sorachi Ace to give it a crisp lemon finish. It’s named for a weather phenom in Brookings (that you can read about here but they lost me at “adiabatic” in the first sentence.)

Mike loves brewing single-hopped IPAs and beers in general. “I just think it’s a fun thing,” he said to me over an IPA. “You get those particular characteristics.” One characteristic of some of Chetco’s beers that no other brewery has is that they boast his homegrown hops. The Fredericks have some 80 bines in their backyard, eleven varietals strong. Within three weeks of his first home brewed batch from the kit his wife, Alex, gave him, not only did he graduate to all-grain brewing but, said Mike, “I had ordered hop rhizomes so I could grow my own.” The brewery’s rooted in their DIY ethos having self-financed. Even the system comes with a good story, a nano-story that Mike sports on the back of his T-shirt. “A good friend lends you his awesome home brewing system. A great friend lets you open your microbrewery with it.” The friend in this tale is James Smith from Arch Rock Brewing up Highway 101, which, incidentally, has some gold medals under/over its belt so if anything The Rural Brewer Fest proves it’s that a beer trip to Oregon’s South Coast is in order!

The Rural Brewer spotlight: Boring

cropped-john_final_short_two

Interested in attending the 2nd The Rural Brewer Fest on Sat., July 23 at the Hawthorne Hophouse? Get your tickets here.

Some city folk think rural towns are boring. But this place that’s more of a suburb of Portland—15 miles east sandwiched between Gresham and Sandy—is truly Boring. And it’s where John Griffith’s road to becoming a nanobrewer began in back 1989 when he grew obsessed–his word choice–with homebrewing, thanks to the likes of Charlie Papazian.

Griffith has never stopped championing the DIY approach to better beer. After years of dreaming about starting his own brewery, a little fate and a lot of paperwork allowed Griffith to brew commercially in an accessory building on his own property. Visitors used to have to look for the little sign he sets up out front on the sleepy street and then were greeting not by stainless steel equipment but his goats and chickens, who are happy beneficiaries of his spent grains. He launched Boring Brewing with a 5-barrel brewhouse in 2013 and earlier this year, March of 2016, he opened a Taproom (located at the corner of Hwy 212 and Richey Road next to the Boring Station Trailhead; you can get three crowlers for twenty bucks if he puts them on special.) Last year, Griffith produced just over 100 barrels.

Here seems like a fine time to interject: the city’s named after William H. Boring, a Union Army veteran who moved here after the Civil War. The town adopted its name in 1903. Also fun to note: Boring (population 8,000) is the sister city to Dull in Scotland.

As a radiology administrator, Griffith has worked in health care since 1983 and took up homebrewing in ’88. He did take also a weekend course in brewing science at University of California, Davis. In 1993 his porter took first place at the state fair.

The first Boring beer, RyPA, which he’d been honing since it was still the 20th century, went into fermentation tanks in late 2012 and debuted in early 2013. Hoppy Blonde, a true light-bodied blond with just enough of a floral kick to keep it from being, hm, uh . . . banal, has become his bestseller thanks to having more permanent tap handles than the others. Riffing off the name, Griffith introduced Big Yawn IPA as an even hoppier option. “I got feedback on the RyPA,” he said with an implied scratch of his head. “It didn’t have a big enough hop character for the Portland crowd.” For the sake of comparison, Big Yawn makes folks open wide for its 7.5 percent ABV backed with 75 IBUs. This, my friends, is the beer you’ll get to sample again at this year’s The Rural Brewer Fest.

Temecula: SoCal’s real birthplace

Growing up in Southern California, and even becoming a burgeoning beer geek down there, I didn’t have much opportunity to become exposed to a real beer culture. Sure it’s booming all over the Southland now, but it was late to the table. Real estate is too expensive for manufacturing. Beer wasn’t seen as stylish as wine and cocktails. Beer has calories and the camera adds ten pints. But before San Diego changed all that, there was beer in Temecula, courtesy of one Vinnie Cilurzo now of Russian River fame! And today, the bedroom community that services both LA and SD is home to nearly a dozen breweries.

What is barely touched on in this story is that I wanted to write this story as a way to kind of illustrate to my dad what I do for a living. He wasn’t much of a craft beer drinker. He is an avid golfer. Temecula is home to some great golf courses, which he’s been playing since I was a little kid and got to drive the golf cart. So I pitched both him, and my editor at All About Beer, this story where he and I would hit the links by day and the myriad breweries by night. (I’m scarcely better at golf now, but my dad has since developed a passion for Berliner Weisse and even barrel-aged sour beers including Russian River Consecration!!)

Beervana East: Columbia River Gorge

It’s terribly easy to write about Portland’s breweries and beer culture. Another easy sell on my part is Bend. Rounding out the top 3 is Hood River and the breweries along the Columbia River Gorge. 1) There’s a great handful of them. 2) Their beers are truly world class. 3) It’s insanely beautiful. 4) It’s an easy drive from Portland and whenever we get devoted beercationers at Inn Beervana, we always recommend the day trip.