Congratulations to Kevin of Canby, he is the winner of the top 5 beer wish list contest
His top 5 are:
1. Widmer Snowplow
2. Deschutes Jubleale
3. Sierra Nevada Celebration
4. Alaskan Smoked Porter
5) Macs BlackWatch
Déjà vu with Oregon microdistilleries
There is a sense of déjà vu going on in Oregon. After two decades, it’s happening again.
In the second half of the ’80s, the good beer movement took hold here in the quest for a better beer. Starting in the ’70s, the Oregon wine industry put its roots down in the Willamette Valley.
By the ’90s, there were hundreds of small wineries making wine that rivaled the Old World. Here in the 21st century, small-scale artisan-made distilled spirits are poised to remake the beverage landscape like its siblings, beer and wine.
I recently made a trip to Portland to photograph craft distilleries for a book about the art of small-scale distilling. Alan Sprints of Hair of the Dog brewery squired me around town from Troutdale to McMinnville in search of the magic elixir made by your modern alchemists.
In the United States there are 88 craft distilleries, and Oregon is near the front of the pack with nine, with at least another four distilleries scheduled to open in 2007. Only California and Michigan, of all places, have more craft distilleries.
The July 2006 edition of GQ magazine featured a story on the local artisan distilling scene calling them “The New Bootleggers.” If GQ knows about this, it’s time to doing a little exploring to find these new upstarts.
Brandy Peak is the nation’s only wood-fired distillery, producing award-winning grappas and brandies. Clear Creek is the granddaddy of Oregon craft distillers with 20 years in the business, making world-class pear brandy and a lineup that includes eau de vie flavored with Douglas fir to whiskey made with Widmer Brothers grains. Bendistillery produces gin using local high-desert juniper berries and lava-filtered vodka for its bar and national distribution.
The newest generation of craft distilleries includes House Spirits, New Deal, Rogue, Ransom Spirits, Dolmen Distillery and, of course, McMenamins Edgefield Distillery, located in Troutdale.
The product of choice that many new craft distillers started with was vodka. It’s relatively easy to make, and though it’s supposedly flavorless, Oregon distillers can add their own subtle twists by filtering the spirits through huge tubes of activated charcoal like the Russian distilleries, or through crushed lava rock and limestone; all in search of a subtle flavors and smoothness.
It’s not all about vodka though. Oregon craft distilleries are making grappas, gins, brandies, whiskeys, eaux de vie, aquavit and rums.
Of particular note is House Spirits Krogstad Aquavit with a touch of caraway and anise. Exquisite.
Rogue Spirits Dark Rum is quite nice, more akin to bourbon than rum in many ways; and Dolmen Distillery’s Worker Bee is one of the few commercially distilled meads in the world. This rare distillate carries a hint of white flowers and honey, but with a nice blast of fire at the end.
Distillers are adding local juniper berries or spruce bows to their gin to make a product with a unique regional story. Given what I tasted on my recent tour, you are likely to see many more interesting and cutting-edge distillates coming out of Oregon in the near future. After Oregon’s renaissance in wine and beer making, now it’s distilling’s turn.
Bill Owens is president of the American Distilling Institute (www.distilling.com) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bottle Shop News! Belmont Station has moved and will re-open in their new location on January 4 th 2007! Belmont Station is relocating just 3 blocks away to 4500 S.E. Stark St Portland, OR 97215. New to the shop will be The Station Café, a great little bier café. On the menu: any of their bottled beer, plus a few very special beers on draught; more space means more beers (700 to 900 possible); and finally, self-serve coolers with UV protection on the cooler lights to prevent skunky beer (Belmont Station, 4500 SE Stark, www.belmont-station.com, #503- 232-8538).
Special Oak Aged Beer Tasting on the Coast! The event in Seaside, Oregon will be held at 5 PM on Saturday, January 7 th at the Wine Haus & Pub ( 1111 North Roosevelt Drive, Suite 200 in the Outlet Mall, Seaside, Oregon, www.thewinehaus.com, #503-738-0201). Contact Info: Jeff Kilday or Jon@TheWineHaus.com.
New Brewery on the Coast! Chris Nemlowil (brew master at the Wet Dog Café) and Jack Harris (Bill's Tavern in Cannon Beach) have ventured out on their own and will open Ft. George Brewing, a new brew pub in Astoria. The partners actually bought and dissembled a tavern from Virginia Beach. The new tavern will open soon.
From The Daily Astorian on November 8 th, 2006.
Beer News, Tips, and Story ideas accepted! Please send your Guest on Tap ideas or news stories to Dave@guestontap.com, or mail them to Guest on Tap in care of the Portland Tribune, or feel free to call us at #503.546.9876. We are always interested in beer happenings in Beervana! Cheers! Prost!