The Six-Pack Project was started by Bryan Roth of the “This Is Why I’m Drunk” blog. The goal of the project is to create collaboration between bloggers from around the country to build a local Six-Pack that roughly represents the brewing spirit of that locality. Although my initial participation involved a Belgium 101 Six-Pack, I also offered to do one for Oregon since I’ve been involved in the craft beer scene here for over 12 years. Before I go further, here are the rules:
- Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
- Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
- Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
- Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.
I realize that this list will be controversial, partially because of some of the selections, but also because of the passion and disputatiousness of the Oregon Craft Beer Fan. No list representing a specific locale with a craft scene of this depth and breadth can truly claim to be 100% definitive. My goal is to provide a list that covers some of the major themes while paying homage to the history of Oregon brewing as well as what’s going on today. I’ll provide a reason why I selected each beer on this list and why I think it represents what this state’s brewing culture is about.
The Oregon Six-Pack
Deschutes Brewing Black Butte Porter – Bend, Oregon
Deschutes Brewing was founded in 1988; they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. They’re one of the pioneers of the northwest brewing scene and, in the process, have become one of the country’s larger Craft Breweries. They’re a fixture on the Oregon scene who continues to brew new and interesting craft beers, such as: Dissident, Abyss, Fresh Squeezed IPA, Super Jubel, and more.
What makes Black Butte Porter so special, and my selection for an Oregon Dark Beer, is that it was Deschutes’ first beer brewed and their initial flagship. Unless you’re Guinness, who starts their brewing career with a dark beer? Fortunately, it worked out well for Deschutes. Black Butte Porter is the #1 selling dark craft beer in the United States and still a mainstay in Oregon bars and stores.
My Reasoning: This beer is unique in its heritage, iconic, successful, and pays homage to the origins of Oregon’s craft beer movement.
Hopworks Urban Brewery Hopworks Organic IPA – Portland, Oregon
Hopworks Urban Brewery or HUB, as it’s often called, was founded in 2007. HUB was started at what can be called the beginning of the modern onslaught of brewery openings. HUB is an Organic brewery. While for most breweries this means organic malt with a smattering of traditionally produced and organic hops, HUB will be 100% organic, hops and malt, by 2014.
While not all their beers use 100% Organic Hops (yet), as their flagship IPA, this beer does. It has a mix of Ahtanum, Centennial, Cascade, and Palisade hops. This beer also came out at the beginning of what could be called the IPA revolution that’s been sweeping the nation the last half-dozen years. While initially, this beer was only available in 22oz. bottles and draft, HUB took the next step by adding in a canning line in 2012 which allowed them to put this beer in a 16oz. “Tallboy” can.
My Reasoning: This beer is organic, a tasty IPA brewed at the start of the IPA surge, and packaged in 16oz. cans. Besides being a great IPA, This beer checks a lot of boxes on what makes the Oregon scene unique.
Double Mountain Brewery The Vaporizer Dry-Hopped Pale Ale – Hood River, Oregon
Like HUB, Double Mountain Brewery got their start in 2007 and shot to prominence with one of the first India Red Ales, IRA, to be seen in the market. Hood River, Oregon is one of the state’s many “play grounds.” You can ski on Mt Hood in the morning and wind surf on the Columbia River in the afternoon. It’s also home to Full Sail Brewing whose alumni have started many breweries in the area, including Double Mountain. Until recently, the only way you could get a Double Mountain beer was on tap. With their recent expansion, they added in a bottling line that specializes in 16oz. reusable bottles, similar to what you see in Europe.
While their IRA marks the trend towards higher alcohol, hoppier reds and still enjoys a large amount of success, I chose to go with their Vaporizer Dry-Hopped Pale Ale. At 6% ABV and 50 IBU, it represents what’ s becoming known as a Northwest Pale Ale. This style of pale ale is often bigger than many old school IPAs. Additionally, Vaporizer has become, from my observation, the best-selling of Double Mountain’s beers.
My Reasoning: This is a great selling, locally available Northwest-style Pale Ale that comes in a unique, recyclable/reusable 16oz. heavy glass bottle.
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Seizoen Bretta – Hood River, OR
Logsdon blasted onto the scene a few years ago with their uniquely rustic farmhouse style ales. Rumor of a new, small production Saison maker had been drifting down the Columbia Gorge into Portland for a while, but when the beers started to get out, it was official: these beers were amazing! Logsdon Farmhouse Ales is situated on an actual farm! Additionally, they’re working with local farmers to produce many of their ingredients organically, including an orchard of imported Belgian Sour Cherry Trees.
While their Seizoen may be their “flagship,” the Seizoen Bretta (Seizoen is the Flemish word for Saison) is their GABF gold medal winner. What happens when you take their already outstanding Seizoen and spike it with Brettanomyces? You get a gloriously funky farmhouse saison.
My Reasoning: This beer represents the new host of breweries doing atypical styles and brewing methods. It’s an amazing beer worthy of its Gold Medal, and worthy of your palate.
Heater Allen Brewing Pils – McMinnville, Oregon
Heater Allen Brewing is a member of the newer, non-traditional craft brewing scene. At 550 bbl of production, they’re probably well under the “micro” brewery line as well. Rick Allen, the founder, was a fan of European lagers, but didn’t care for the way they tasted after a long trip to the US, so he decided to make his own. Heater Allen focuses on German style lagers and ales. Not only does he make exceptionally true to style examples of the beers he loves, but he does it in a very traditional manner using authentic German brewing techniques, even if it’s not the most efficient or time save method. His eye to tradition and quality has paid off, his beers, though limited in quantity, are exceptional examples of American Craft love applied to Old World brewing and styles.
I’ve selected his Pils because it’s probably the most authentic German-style Pils being brewed in the state of Oregon. It tastes like the freshest German beer you can have (haven’t not tried one in Germany myself, yet). It’s got all the Pils character you want but is brewed locally. Currently, it’s the #1 rated Pils on Rate Beer.
My Reasoning: This tiny brewery represents a nice mix of Old World style and Oregon innovation to create some exceptional beers that buck the trend.
Hair of the Dog Fred – Portland, Oregon
Alan Sprints started Hair of the Dog in 1991 and was one of the first brewers to make extremely high alcohol beers while venturing into some unique styles. Since then, Hair of the Dog has become a Portland beer institution. Alan has continue to march to the beat of his own drummer, and his beers show it. His new location, only a few years old, is a prime stop on a beer lover’s visit to Portland.
Fred was created to honor one of the pioneering beer writers of the craft beer movment, Fred Eckhardt. It’s a big, Belgian style Golden Ale checking in at 10% ABV. It continues to be a perennial favorite at Hair of the Dog, and a true Oregon Classic.
My Reasoning: One of the first high alcohol beers exploring the range of “extreme” beer. It’s a Portland classic, and one that every craft beer lover needs to have at least once.
The Final Words
I’ve endevoured to create a list of 6 beers that best represent the brewing spirit and history of Oregon; one that mentions some classics while exploring some of the new and innovative brewers that are continuing the tradition of making Oregon one of the best places to drink beer in the world. I realize there are as many potential 6-packs about Oregon as there are people in Oregon who drink craft beer, and honestly, probably even more than that. I’ve also attempted to cover a broad range of styles to really display the depth of brewing talent and beer options this state has to offer.
August’s Six-Pack Project Participants
Each month there are six bloggers creating 6 Six-Pack Project entries: a “six-pack” of bloggers, if you will. Here are the other 6 entries for this month. 6? But that makes 7 Six-Packs! Well, sometimes you just want some more beer! Enjoy!