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Portland, OR, Part Deux

13 Nov

Drunken Traveler here, again.

As soon as I could get off work, I zipped across the Willamette River and to the City Center.
I met up with my Concierge and discussed the evening’s worth of beer consumption.
On his advice I walked a few blocks to a pub called Rock Bottom (www.rockbottom.com).

A bit on the commercial side. After a little while I found out that this is a chain, that was disappointing. A micro-brew house, for those of you who don’t know, is really designed to brew their own beer for sale within their own establishment. A craft brew is usually made for sale to other pubs and distributors. There are always exceptions to the rules. So please don’t send me any emails explaining it different.

Shivering from the cold Oregonian air, I stumble in to warm, dark hostess area. At first glance it appeared to be like most any mid-priced eatery comparable to Chili’s, TGI Fridays, or Bennigan’s — if they still exist.

Then I sit at the bar and notice the windows behind the bar exposing 10 or so large stainless steel tanks of the nectar.

A beer menu is handed to and, with little time to think, the bar tender asks what I want. With ten beers to choose from, I opted for the Beer Tasters Sampler. Six, four ounce glasses of their brews were placed in front of me. From light to dark, I received: Swan Island, Volksweizen Wheat, Velvet Pale Ale, Sunny Day IPA, Oregonic Amber, and American Stout.

The Swan Island was way too sweet, hoppy and too floral. But, it did sip well with a clean finish.

Volksweizen Wheat, very clean and smooth. It claims to have orange and coriander in but, but I found no hints of either. None the less it was very good brew. I ended up ordering a pint with my dinner.

Velvet Pale Ale, I don’t even know what to say about this one, barely any flavor at all. As far as I know they could have poured me a glass of Bud Select 55.

Sunny Day IPA, good flavor, nice bitterness, and slight hop tastes and smooth drinking, but never stood out as unique. So, I will say, it’s just a typical IPA. If it was warmed up to about 42 degrees Fahrenheit, I would bet this Ale would change character and kick ass.

Oregonic Amber, much lighter carrying the caramel tones, but not overdone. I would call this a nut brown anywhere else.

American Stout. The first thing that hit me was coffee.
Why do brew masters have to resort to using coffee to make a stout darker? I honestly believe by using proper chocolate malts and properly matched hops, yeasts, and grains a much smoother and better tasting beer could be produced. Once you start adding things other than the sacred 4 ingredients water, grain, yeast, and hops I start getting defensive about my beer.

Next, I was handed a 4 ounce glass of cask aged IPA, from an English pull and pump style dispenser. It really mellowed a lot with the lack of carbonation and a slightly warmer serving temperature; a very nice surprise. So, I was right, a slight change in temperature and age smoothed the beer and made a huge difference.

To sum it up; I was disappointed that I ended up at a restaurant chain. I enjoyed most of the brew but, most I will ever order again. Others, IF I ever end up in a Rock Bottom, I might order a pint or two.

This joint is within walking distance of my hotel, so I may end up there again. I’ll have to try out a few others while I’m here before making any rash decision when there are so many other great beer options.

Time for an aspirin.

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