Beer Roundup for November

I’ve collected a few thoughts since October’s Hopfest at HUB and instead of writing a handful of smaller posts collected the scattered information into one post.

The Old Market Pub & Brewery – Not bad, not great, worth a second visit
I had very low expectations for The Old Market Pub & Brewery, located on the Westside at 6959 S.W. Multnomah Blvd.

Online reviews of the place were not kind and ranged from “horrific service” to “the food made me puke, I’ll never set foot in the place” type of comments. The fact that the negative outweighed the positives made me ponder.

So when a co-worker wanted to meet up their over the three-day Labor Day weekend, I half-assedly agreed.

The place is huge, with a main dining area, a middle area with a skeetball shuffleboard table and a back area with pool tables. Plus, the beers are brewed on site in the back.

The service was fine. We were nicely [not warmly, but not surly, either] greeted as soon as we walked in, had a table and had a waitress at our table within minutes, asking us what we wanted to drink. Then again, it wasn’t very busy on the Sunday afternoon we were there.

And the food? This isn’t really a review and I’m not a food reviewer by any means. Tastes aside, the food was shockingly mediocre but it was adequate. My personal pepperoni pizza did the job I asked of it – it soaked up the beer and it was edible.

No complaints from me on the beer, either. I had a couple of pints of their most popular beer, Hop On. It was crisp, fresh and delicious. Not very hoppy, though. My friend tried their Multnomah Village Golden Ale that had a light, faint hop taste to it. Will I go there again? Sure, if I’m on the west side of Portland I might stop by after a John’s Market Place run and sample their Great White Wheat.

***

East vs. west
I have to admit to being eastside-centric when it comes to beer. In fact, the beer on the westside is still a mystery to me after moving here from Boston a few years back. I’ve been to Beaverton twice, Multnomah Village once [John's Market Place, of course] and a few scattered places.

There’s a great discussion on Beervana on the west versus the east, “Two Cities Or Why Aren’t There Any Brewpubs on the West Side?” .

I do plan on heading back over the Willamette soon though for some beery adventures. Destination: The Raccoon Lodge and Brewpub in Raleigh Hills. I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about the place and its beers. But like the Old Market reviews, I want to see for myself.

***

Hopworks Urban Brewery: The Golden Hour
The buzz hasn’t worn off since HUB opened – it’s consistently jammed with drinkers and diners, during the evenings at least when I’ve visited. One recent Sunday morning I wanted to refill my growler with beer and happened to be driving by [in my vehicle, that is] in the morning [I always seem to be "accidentally driving by" HUB] and swung into the parking lot. The sign on the door said they opened at 11:00 on Sundays. At 11:02 am I cheerfully walked in with my growler to an empty restaurant. It gave me a chance to walk around and really check the place out. From the bike sculpture, to the secret nook, to the way the space is laid out, it’s a wonder [like they need another glowing review.] My growler was filled by a bemused bartender [was it that obvious I was like a kid in a candy store?] and off I went. I almost took a swig off the growler in the parking lot.

***

Around the Bend
Deschutes Brewery’s The Abyss is back in town. The popular imperial stout, aged in French oak and bourbon barrels, according to Deschutes “has immense depth with its rich and complex flavors. True to its name, subtle notes of coffee, chocolate, molasses and licorice pull you in deeper and deeper.”

Deschutes continues to offer small batches of innovative beers in the Reserve Series, including The Abyss.

Their Reserve Series beers [such as The Dissident and Black Butte XX, with a second release of Mirror Mirror kicking off the 2009 lineup early in the year] are available in wax-dipped 22-ounce bottles with a suggested retail price of $10. The Abyss will also be available on draft at a few select establishments around town. Here are the details:

11.0% Alcohol by Volume (ABV); 56 International Bitterness Units (IBU)

Deschutes recommends the following when enjoying Abyss:

  • Store at 45 degrees in a dark place, keeping a constant temperature is key to proper cellaring. [Who reading this stores their beer in their homes? I'd like to hear from you!]
  • Drink within five years [not a problem]
  • Best served at 50-55 degrees (not quite room temperature).

If last year was any indication, stock up.

***

Redhook Double Black Stout
One beer I missed on the first round was Redhook’s Double Black Stout. I’m sorry I missed it – but have been spending some time catching up. Originally created by the brewery in 1995, Redhook stopped producing Double Black Stout in 2000 it’s a limited release and will be available nationwide through February 2009, or until supplies run out.

According to Redhook, the beer is a “smooth, imperial stout enhanced by the addition of rich, flavorful coffee and dark malts to create a big, roasted flavor.”

I’d say that was a spot-on descriptor. My first taste was an explosion of dark roasts, malt flavor, followed by a rich coffee aftertaste. In fact, I thought I was drinking a strong cup of coffee [that isn't a complaint] with a beer chaser. A great beer for a chilly December evening, if you can still get one.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. says

    I am a huge fan of beer living on the Westside and it is a struggle. THE OMP (Old Market Pub) does have good beer it is true but the atmosphere has its challenges. I have not tried the Raccoon lodge but the location does not inspire to say the least. We are fortunate to have the Lucky Lab in Multnomah but it leaves a lot to be desired. Multnomah Village is the only area we have to help us forget that the Westside is a desert. If it was not for the size of my garden I would move to the Eastside in an instant.

    I soon plan on supporting public transit and or a cab so I can check out the Abyss.

  2. Rose City Cupcake says

    That is an excellent question…why AREN’T there any brewpubs on the west side?? I live in Beaverton and I would love to have someplace to go where everyone knows your name…( I really have to cut back on the tv ).
    Pair the beer with some creative and delicious food and you have an almost ression-proof business. Call me when you get the lease, cuz I’m sick of driving to West Linn to cook!

  3. Dave says

    I’ve been to the Old Market’s sister pub, Broadway Brewing. Everything was uniformly bad. Overpriced, sysco food. Uneven, , underflavored, usually gimmicky beers.

    Either this article is already somewhat dated or there’s a source of Abyss around town I’ve overlooked.

    I thought the Double Black was only so-so. One dimensional and a bit thin.

    I’ve been enjoying Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout and Elysian’s BiFrost.

  4. says

    We had Abyss at the Horse Brass and then at the Deschutes pub in the Pearl just last week.

    Oh – and at the Brass they served it in a full imperial pint. At Deschutes it was only served in a snifter (which cost more for less) “because it’s too strong for a full pint.”

  5. Morgan says

    I guess everyone is referring to “westside” as the other side of the West hills? Us NoPo folks consider the river to be the boundary. Therefore I would submit that Rogue Brewery qualifies as a “westside” establishment, and though I am a big fan of Amnesia’s ESB (though not when they consistently run out; note to brewer: make more of this and less of all the $*#%% IPAs, which are a dime a dozen and never seem to run out!), I must say Rogue’s Brutal Bitter may be the best in town. The service is rather indifferent, if not outright surly, but it gives you something to mutter into your beer about.

  6. Laurie says

    I’m not a beer expert, but I do know Portland. The westside begins at the river so anything in downtown, the Pearl or Nob Hill counts.

  7. ElGordo says

    True, the Abyss has pretty much disappeared in bottle form by now. An odd stash may be found at QFC or some Asian markets, but I don’t have any leads. Good luck on the scavenger hunt.

    I cellar lots and lots of beer in my basement. When we moved in we discovered a set of wooden lockers lining one of the basement walls. I’ve filled about four of them full of cases of various things I’m cellaring – mostly high-gravity stuff – barleywines, imperial stouts, Belgian strong ales – along with an annual case of Sierra Nevada Celebration (the beer we toasted with at our wedding), and the Stone Vertical Epic series dating back to 2004. I found enough Abyss down there the other night to put together several three-year flights (2006, 2007, 2008) in the near future. It pays to stock up sometimes.

  8. Nathan says

    So ElGordo, does beer ever go bad? Also when cellaring, is there a method to the storing or does it just go on the shelf?

  9. ElGordo says

    Nathan – Oh yeah, beer can go VERY bad, depending on the style. Most of your garden-variety craft beers are meant to be consumed as fresh as possible. This is why beers often taste much better straight from the tanks at the brewery. You certainly wouldn’t want to age a bottle of Henry’s, or even something more robust, like Terminal Gravity IPA. After a couple of months oxidation will become noticeable, and the hop character of any beer will significantly diminish (not a terrible thing – I tried a 2003 barleywine from Full Sail last night at the festival; the hops are gone, but it has mellowed into a deliciously smooth treat).

    As for cellaring technique, I put mine in cases sitting upright in a set of lockers. For capped beers, you needn’t do anything. For beers sealed with corks, treat them like good wine – rotate once a year and make sure to get the inside of the cork wet. Light and temperature are your enemies, so find a dark place with a steady temperature (cooler is better, but lack of variation is key. And that’s about all I’ve got.

  10. says

    I can’t speak to the beers at all (non-partaker, though not for reasons of principle), but the Raccoon Lodge is close enough to me that I get in semi-regularly for the food. From my experience of brewpubs generally (and I have been in a fair number, in the course of hanging out with folk who do partake), Raccoon Lodge’s menu is more restaurant-like than brewpub-like. In addition to salads (substantial), sandwiches (ample), and appetizers (typical), there are a number of entree options including meat loaf (quite good), several pasta dishes (tending toward the spicy) a mixed-grill sausage plate with kraut and cole slaw (the Louisiana hot has sometimes been really, really hot), and mahi mahi fish & chips (I haven’t actually tried these yet).

    FreddyK is right about one thing; the location is a bit of a challenge, as the entrance is right on a busy stretch of Beaverton-Hillsdale with no turn signal. It can therefore be challenging during rush hour if you’re trying to cross traffic to get in or depart.

  11. Bk says

    Dublin pub is not a brewpub, but they do carry a good selection of draft beers, currently including the abyss. I never eat their food as a vegan, but others give it good reviews.

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