From BeerAdvocate #114:
In 1983, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. Not in the Pale Ale category, mind you, but it was one of three beers singled out for honors in the Consumer Preference Poll. At the time, the beer was just three years old. Today, 33 years later, the brand remains the tippy-top selling craft brewed beer in America. Brian Grossman, 31, is Sierra Nevada co-founder Ken Grossman’s son and manages the company’s second brewing facility in Mills River, N.C. He proclaims that he absolutely drinks this beer every week. “[Pale Ales are] the Swiss army knives of beers,” he says. “They’re about 5 percent [alcohol], mid-30s IBU, have nice hoppiness, go great with a wide variety of foods, and are sessionable.”
According to Chicago-based market researcher firm IRI, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a $130 million juggernaut, but “Pale” has diversified and split off in hoppier, bolder directions. It has evolved past its original, caramel malt-driven British template. It has even morphed beyond the brasher, hop-centric American iterations. Name a brewery that opened between 1980 and the early 2000s though, and it most likely featured a Pale Ale prominently in its core line-up—even if that wasn’t the flagship brand.
And then India happened.
The guidebook Oregon Breweries is mere weeks old but the nature of the Oregon brewing scene is so fluid in nature, there are already a few brewing companies serving us that aren’t fully introduced in the book as well as one that is no more. In full candor, I have a mental list of a very small handful of breweries that I feel are not long for this world. In rare instances, it’s because the beer’s just not worth selling. In most instances, I just don’t see them being able to get their product into a sustainable number of thirsty mouths. Heck, maybe in such a Venn diagram there’s a large intersection. In any event, I had Baker City’s Bull Ridge pegged for the brewery obituary section and lo and behold, they’ve perished.
Rip page 197 out of Oregon Breweries. No, don’t! Double Mountain is on page 198 and they’re never going anywhere!
As seen in the screen shot above, I’d even contacted this brazen brewpub that bid to build Baker City into a two-brewery town alongside Barley Brown’s. Scroll through the comments on this thread this yarn and you’ll see there’s little love lost in town. The owners were inexperienced both in the restaurant game and the brewing biz. Two things pretty vital for operating a successful brewpub even here in Portland let alone a town of fewer than 10,000 people with tourism seasons that are more shoulder than peak.
On the upside, Barley Brown’s runs both the pub and the “Baker City Brewing” tasting room across the street, so Baker City’s still, technically, a two brewery town.
In Portland, IPAs sell themselves. Over one in four beers we consume locally is a hop-tastic IPA, and in terms of sales growth, they’re speeding up over 30 percent. While we don’t have fancy sales stats for stouts, suffice it to say, people around here mostly shy away from them, possibly for fear they’re “too heavy.”
That bias doesn’t take into account the fact that a dry Irish stout is one of the lightest classic beer styles, or that boisterous Russian Imperial Stouts completely dominate user-generated best lists on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate. Where does that leave a style that is essentially a hybrid of the two? Black IPAs are recognized formally as American-style black ales by the Brewers Association, but are known locally and colloquially as Cascadian Dark Ales.
In this era of ever-hybridized India Pale Ales, only the dark version — in which recipes call for the hop additions of an IPA with the roasted malt bill of a stout or porter — has really taken off at the races. It’s safe to say Turmoil CDA from Eastern Oregon’s Barley Brown’s is the odds-on favorite.