Portland is justly known as the birthplace of America’s craft-brewing renaissance. A quarter-century ago, Portlanders were experimenting with hoppy new home-brewed concoctions, while the rest of the country was still happily debating the merits of Miller Lite (Great taste! Less Filling!). These days, of course, craft beer is everywhere. Yet Portland is still decisively ahead of the curve. I checked out some of the city’s latest brewing experiments – including bottled beers aged like wine and sour brews inoculated with yogurt cultures – for an article in the Washington Post.
In Portland, Ore., Craft Brewing Reaches New Heights
It’s no secret that Portland, Ore., is the center of the craft beer universe. In the late 1980s, when most drinkers were still chugging light beers and lapping up the antics of Spuds MacKenzie, Portland brewmeisters were turning out flavorful artisan suds modeled after European exemplars. Fast-forward a quarter-century, and craft beer culture has gone global. Fizzy yellow beers are positively passe, and even casual drinkers these days know their IPAs from their hefs and pilsners.
Yet Portland remains in a league of its own, pushing craft brewing to new, hoppy and occasionally weird heights.For tippling travelers and beer snobs, it’s a liquid Shangri-La.
And the vanguard of Portland’s craft brewing scene may well be the Central Eastside. Well off the tourist map, the gritty ’hood sits across the Willamette River from downtown Portland. Here, railroad tracks and buzzing interstates give way to a post-industrial panorama: block after block of aging factories, brick warehouses and auto-repair shops. Yet in recent years, vintage boutiques, cafes and brew pubs have begun popping up, the advance guard of a wave of urban renewal. For thirsty locals (and intrepid travelers), the Central Eastside is fast becoming the place to sample cutting-edge brews.
My first stop is the Cascade Brewing Barrel House, on busy Belmont Street in the industrial heart of the Eastside. On a sunny afternoon, dozens of bicycles are locked to the patio railing — a clear vote of approval from Portland’s bike-riding, beer-swilling hipsters. I make my way through the beer garden out front and into the barrel house, where no fewer than 23 house beers are on tap, from hoppy IPAs to farmhouse-style saisons and straw-colored pilsners.
Read the full article on the Washington Post website here.