Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis - Read about my earlier Portland misadventure before continuing onward...
So I guess those of you who've been eagerly reading each part of this epic American adventure are expecting another serious dose of beer based carnage on the mean yet clean streets of Portland, right? Well I'm afraid on this occasion I'm not going to be able to fully oblige. I awoke the next morning after a healthy amount of sleep, arguably due to the exhaustion brought on by the excitement caused by my first go on a bottle of Pliny the Elder.
To start with I felt fit as a fiddle, we were up early and after a brief walk around town, a chance encounter with an actual bonafide rock star and a gallon of great coffee we arrived at the legendary Voodoo Doughnut. We stood in line for over 20 minutes to get our hands on some of these famous sweet treats, I plumped for the Bacon Maple doughnut having tried the Rogue beer that was based on this recipe only a few weeks earlier. It was far too sweet for my savoury British palate but I forced it down nonetheless, crossing one of the 'must do when in Portland' activities off my list.
Apologies for the lack of beer pics, here's some doughnuts instead.
Next I indulged my other hobby with a visit to Pro Guitar Shop, I spent over an hour in here testing gear whilst my Dad had a quick snooze. By the time I had finished rocking out and spending far too much money I was suddenly feeling decidedly ropey, at the time I thought it might have just been a touch of remaining jet lag and we headed to the BridgePort Brewery tap room for some lunch. The BridgePort bar and restaurant was in an elegantly converted warehouse in a former industrial district not far from the banks of the Willamette river, we were escorted to a table and soon my Dad and I were once again joined by our friends Mike and Laurie.
I worked my way through a platter of tasters but I was definitely suffering from PPS (post-Pliny syndrome) as none of these beers were really hitting the spot. Highlights included their IPA which had fruity, earthy, 'British' notes to it but was accompanied by a healthy dose of citrus. The big Old Knucklehead Barleywine elegantly combined stewed fruits and caramel with a citrusy hop bite and Hop Czar, a beautiful double IPA which I first tried at last years Great British Beer Festival was my favourite of the bunch. The beer was good but the real winner during my visit to BridgePort was the pulled pork roll which was smoothed in a delicious BBQ sauce that used their IPA as a base. After several tasters I plumped for a pint of the IPA which paired beautifully with the rich, smokey meat and intensely flavoured sauce. The beer is top notch here but the food is the real highlight so I recommend it as a great place to grab some lunch whilst on a beer crawl in this fine city.
Despite it being super tasty I couldn't finish my food, the room was spinning and I'd gone from feeling a little ropey to being fully hung, drawn and quartered. It would seem that a nasty dose of the Flu had entered my system and sadly at 3pm I retired to my hotel room bed where I remained for the next 16 hours. We had tickets to see Eels (hint, the earlier rock star experience was with the bearded front man of this band) and had planned to hit Hopworks brewery before the show. Sadly while Mike, Laurie and my Dad went out on the town, I was confined to my sleeping quarters, bummer.
I woke up the next morning feeling like I'd been run through a mangle, my Dad it seems had been suffering from the same affliction and didn't drink a drop at either Hopworks or the theatre where Eels had been playing. I did make it down to breakfast and forced down a plate of eggs and bacon but at this point was unsure whether or not drinking more beer would be part of today's agenda. At this point Laurie very kindly presented me with a bottle of Hopworks D.O.A. or 'Deluxe Organic Ale' which she had picked up for me from the brewery and had thought that this beers name was comically relevant to my current situation. I brought this bottle back to the UK with me and in lieu of the beery activity that should have taken place had I not fallen ill I've decided to give it a review.
Are you Landlord in disguise?
Hopworks Urban Brewery arrived on the Portland scene in 2007 and pride themselves on being an environmentally friendly brewery that uses sustainable energy sources and locally grown, organic ingredients in their beers. This, along with some seriously hip branding combines to make Hopworks a quintessential example of a Portland brewery so you can probably imagine how disappointed I was not being able to pay them a visit. D.O.A. weighs in at 6.9% and is described by the brewery as being an 'American Strong Ale' and a 'cult classic' amongst their fans so I was eager to get this open and see what all the fuss is about.
D.O.A. pours a beautiful, bright shade of burnished copper, there's a lovely clarity to the beer which shows off it's near perfect level of carbonation. A sticky, off-white head forms at the top of my glass and I breathe in a host of aromas including freshly cut grass, nettles, blackberries, gooseberries and a hint of lime. The earthy, forest fruit scents I get from this beer are usually what I would associate with a great pint of British best bitter so I quickly take a sip to see how these aromas translate onto my palate. On tasting the first thing that hits you is the big malt base, flavours of toffee, butterscotch and caramel combine but don't get a chance to overwhelm you before subtle notes of gooseberry, elderflower, blackberry and redcurrant mingle to produce a dry, juicy bitterness.
I sit and contemplate this familiar mix of flavours whilst I work my way through the 22 ounce bomber and then it hits me. This beer has a lot of similarities with a trusty pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord only with all of those flavours being turned up to their maximum, American style. I'll be honest in saying that I like my bitter beers to be fresh and packed full of citrus flavours so this probably isn't a beer that I'd seek out again in a hurry but it is one I enjoyed and would certainly never say no to another pint if I was offered one.
I'm not sure if Hopworks had intended to brew an American style version of a classic British best bitter but with D.O.A. they've succeeded. I only wish I'd had the chance to try some more of their beers now that I've seen what they're capable of but I'm sure I'll return to Portland at some point in the not too distant future and when I do, Hopworks had better be ready.
I'd like to give a HUGE thank you to Laurie for this bottle of beer, it really cheered me up when I thought my trip might have been ruined. When it comes to meeting new people and making new friends nothing brings people together quite like beer.