It’s a gospel fact that the best way to soak up the glory of these early summer-like days is in the sanctuary of a beer garden. Praise be that Stickmen Brewery & Skewery in Lake Oswego, though already opened softly, had its grand opening recently. Now, Oswegans can soak up the sun and lakefront views while sipping a dozen house beers. The “skewery” half of this Izakaya-style pub — it serves Japanese-style food-on-sticks and other small plates — brings lots of sake and shochu to the beverage program. Head in soon and you can try the limited Sake Beer, a strong, fruity ale fermented with sake yeast. Though that one is definitely a crowd favorite, so too is Spring 13 Saison. The seasonal is fermented with Belgian Ardennes yeast, which are the highlight of and perfect complement to this delicate beer’s lemony and spicy aromas and flavors. Pairing it with a variety of meat or vegetable bites is pretty much effortless. Why stop there? Hurry over to the lake pub and you might still find a sip of Meyer-Bay Saison, created for April’s Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers festival. Brewers Jon “JT” Turner and Tim Schoenheit dry-hopped Spring 13 with Meyer lemon peel and bay leaves, and it’s remarkable how the dominant notes toggle from heavy on the sweet citrus to more robust Italian seasoning as it warms in the glass. Saisons naturally take on herbal additions and the additions showcase this epicurean style nicely.
Back in mid 2012, Portland had just cracked the 50 breweries mark, so to commemorate the milestone, I blurbed the newest kids on the beer block for Portland Monthly. All these moons later, Stickmen, Base Camp, Ground Breaker (nee Harvester), Sasquatch, Humble and Pints are still brewing strong.