Great American Beer Festival Oregon Winners 2017
The Great American Beer Festival awards are some of the most coveted in the industry and Oregon continued to perform well in 2017. There are 96 style categories and the possibility of winning gold, silver or bronze in each. The following is a list of local recipients from this year’s competition, which were announced Oct. 7 in Denver:
BRONZE American-Style India Pale Ale: Breaskide Brewery & Taproom, Breakside IPA
SILVER American- or International-Style Pilsener: Full Sail Brewing Company, Sesion Cerveza
BRONZE American- or International-Style Pilsener: Elk Horn Brewery, Lemon Pils
GOLD American-Style Sour Ale: Flat Tail Brewing, DAM Wild Hops and Lemon Verbena
BRONZE American-Style Strong Pale Ale: Breakside Brewery + Beer Hall, Breakside Stay West
GOLD American-Style Wheat Beer: GoodLife Brewing Company, Sweet As Pacific Ale
GOLD American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast: Sunriver Brewing Company, Fuzztail
SILVER Belgian-Style Fruit Beer: Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, ZuurPruim
BRONZE Brett Beer: Alesong Brewing & Blending, Touch of Brett Mosaic
SILVER Double Red Ale: ColdFire Brewing Company, St. James
BRONZE Fruited American-Style Sour Ale: Breakside Brewery & Taproom, Breakside Passionfruit Sour Ale
GOLD German-Style Pilsener: Zoiglhaus Brewing Company, Zoigl-Pils
GOLD Gluten-Free Beer: Ground Breaker Brewing, Dark Ale
GOLD Imperial Red Ale: Sunriver Brewing Company, Cinder Beast
BRONZE Rye Beer: Breakside Brewery, Breakside Rye Curious?
BRONZE Session Beer: Three Creeks Brewing Company, Stonefly Session Ale
GOLD Specialty Saison: Base Camp Brewing Company, Rye Saison
SMALL BREWING COMPANY AND SMALL BREWING COMPANY BREWER OF THE YEAR: Sunriver Brewing Company, Sunriver Brewing Team
North American Guild of Beer Writers Oregon Winners 2017
Brewers weren’t the only ones honored during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The North American Guild of Beer Writers recognized the best beer and brewing industry coverage in 11 categories, ranging from newspaper and magazine stories to podcasts. The following list is composed of Oregon award recipients:
FIRST PLACE Best Beer Book: Jeff Alworth, Secrets of Master Brewers
SECOND PLACE Best Beer Blog: Jeff Alworth, Beervana
THIRD PLACE Best Beer and Travel Writing: Brian Yaeger, Beer at the End of the World
SECOND PLACE Best Local Reporting: Andi Prewitt, Brewers Make Foray into New Areas of Fungi Kingdom
THIRD PLACE Best History Writing: Jeff Alworth, Bourbon County Brand Stout: The Original Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Beer
HONORABLE MENTION Best History Writing: Ezra Johnson-Greenough, An Oral History of the Horse Brass
SECOND PLACE Best Technical Writing: Brian Yaeger, Savoring Acidity: The Quest to Explain Sourness in Beer
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s no secret that Oregon’s soil is rich with buried treasure. But only a small segment of the population possesses the knowledge to unearth the goods.
The hunt is unusual — the map moves and the untrained eye can’t tell whether they’ve discovered prize or poison. But over the years, foragers have helped create a thriving mushroom and truffle industry in this state. Lately, beer lovers have been able to sample these intriguing forest organisms in liquid form, as an increasing number of local brewers have started experimenting with tops and tubers to create unique seasonals and one-offs. To better understand these wild ingredients as well as how they can be incorporated into the brewing process, two beer makers helped explain their methods. Additionally, a fourth-generation chef at a mushroom- and truffle-themed restaurant described the practice of gathering the traveling fungi.
“The best season for hunting mushrooms is the season when it rains,” said Christopher Czarnecki, head-of-the-kitchen at The Joel Palmer House in Dayton.
That means hunting for mushrooms in Oregon is somewhat of a marathon. Of course, no two years are exactly the same when it comes to the harvest. A plot of land that was flourishing one season may become a dud the next. Czarnecki said rainfall, humidity and elevation can all affect growth. He’s pleased that 2016 has been particularly good for morels and chanterelles. Just like with crops you’d find at the farmers market, the seasons produce different varieties of mushroom. Finicky morels, for instance, tend to pop up in spring in Oregon and are known for emerging from the charred land following fires.
“Morels are particular. Those are the ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego’ of the mushroom world,” Czarnecki described.
Chanterelles, however, tend to be a little more reliable. Currently, professional and home cooks are taking advantage of Oregon’s fall chanterelles. A smaller, firmer version arrives in spring. The closest thing the state has to a dry period for mushrooms is in the dead of summer. But Czarnecki explained that even then the motivated hunter need only drive a little farther out of town. The region’s consistently damper areas, like coastal woods or the Mount Hood National Forest, still host mushrooms even when temperatures climb in the Willamette Valley.
Czarnecki is deeply familiar with mushroom growth, and not just because he needs to know how to plan his menu. His family does much of the foraging to supply the restaurant, which was owned by his father before he took it over nearly 10 years ago. The tradition of hunting for and cooking with mushrooms has been passed down, father to son, four times, with Czarnecki’s great-grandfather opening what was initially a tavern in 1916.
Many types of mushrooms can be found within the state’s borders, and Czarnecki isn’t the only one who’s conducted some culinary research on the various options available. Andrew Lamont, head brewer at Old Town Brewing in Portland, can tick off the list of mushrooms that didn’t make the cut: oyster, portobello, shitake. When he decided he wanted to make a mushroom beer, his trial work started in the kitchen. Lamont shared that his wife hates mushrooms, so examining options for the recipe was actually a fun opportunity to cook with an ingredient that rarely sees his stove. Ultimately, for the beer he envisioned, most of the flavors were dull. Lamont wanted something that stood out. He eventually found what he was looking for in the candy cap, which has more of a maple syrup character instead of the typical earthy notes found in many mushrooms.
So why the foray into fungi, beyond yeast, to begin with? Turns out, the answer is pretty simple.
“I’ve never had a mushroom beer!” Lamont said with a big laugh. “That was really the reason behind it. I never had one and it was just one of those ingredients that I never really heard anybody doing before, so I decided to give it a go.”
Lamont was also looking to bring a bold, new creation to the Oregon Brewers Festival last year. The event is one of the nation’s longest running when it comes to beer, which means plenty of producers use the platform to showcase something unusual. For Lamont, that became 1-Up Mushroom Ale, with a nod to Nintendo nerds in the name.
Once the mushroom was chosen, Lamont had to figure out how to incorporate them into the batch. Rather than tossing candy caps into the wort, he “dry hopped” them after standard fermentation. The cold soak lasted almost two weeks, which was plenty of time to allow the sweet mushroom flavor to make its imprint on the liquid. Lamont also researched this route by making a tea beforehand — a practice he employs when working with any sort of powder or peel.
“So I’ll take the dried mushroom, or whatever [the ingredient] is, put it in some hot water, let it steep for a certain amount of time and then I’ll actually taste that tea,” Lamont outlined. “That really gives you a good idea of how those flavors are going to be put into the beer.”
If he likes what hits his palate, the next step is a two-day cold soak in a growler. Almost immediately after a sip of that candy cap tea, Lamont realized Old Town had a beer on tap that would serve as a solid base — an alt. To help ensure the batch with mushrooms wouldn’t taste like a sugar bomb — going form a subtle sweetness to a triple-decker waffle tower dripping in maple syrup and melted Werther’s Originals — Lamont toned down the caramel notes and amped up the bitterness. He only needed about 2 ounces of candy cap per barrel, the supply coming from Oregon Mushrooms LLC in Southern Oregon. In the end, he struck a good balance as evidenced by an August limited-edition bottle release of what many fans have described as “pancake beer” going so fast, it even surprised Lamont.
“I just didn’t think that many people would want a mushroom beer!” he laughed.
Truffle beers have also proven popular, possibly in part because they’re still extraordinarily rare. However, a few Oregon breweries have released bottles made with the beneath-the-surface brethren of the mushroom. One of those is La Truffe, a stout infused with Oregon white truffles and hazelnuts — the result of a collaboration between Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery in Newberg and the Oregon Truffle Festival. The event, which takes place again Jan. 20-22, 2017, happens to coincide with the beginning of harvest season for the Oregon Winter White. The state is home to four of its own truffle species recognized for their culinary value, according to the Festival. And you don’t necessarily need the exhaustive search party to track them down like you do with mushrooms. Chef Czarnecki explained that if you return to a tree where you found truffles before, you’ll find them there again as long as the roots weren’t damaged.
But that doesn’t blunt the thrill of the hunt. Wolves & People founder Christian DeBenedetti exuded enthusiasm when recounting the opportunity he had to accompany experts and their truffle dogs.
“One minute, you’re standing out in an open field; next you’re crouching in the underbrush of a young pine forest. And the dogs are going crazy, and pretty soon you’re digging,” he described. “You’re on your hands and knees digging through the soil to find your own truffles and picking them out, one by one. It’s really incredible.”
After that, he knew he had to follow through with an idea he’d been kicking around for years: making a truffle beer. DeBenedetti approached Oregon Truffle Festival organizers, who essentially ended up loaning him 5 pounds of Oregon white truffle for the project. That’s right — Wolves & People could return the fungi since they weren’t being destroyed or altered by the brewing technique. So truffles that helped shape La Truffe could have gone on to make another truffle lover happy by showing up in a different form on a dinner plate.
The borrowed truffles got very cozy with 50 pounds of custom-roasted hazelnuts from Springbrook Farm near the brewery. “We don’t like to go into extreme detail,” DeBenedetti explained, “about our method.” But he did say that the filbert was an excellent vehicle for the truffles.
“We found that by infusing those hazelnuts, which are very rich in fatty acids, with the aroma of truffles that the essence really kind of hitchhiked into the beer nicely,” DeBenedetti said.
Using a whole truffle “in all its glory,” as DeBenedetti puts it, was imperative. Experts advised him to avoid extracts, oils and salts, which are sometimes composed of artificial or chemical ingredients. And then, of course, there’s that addicting smell emitted by a ripe truffle that just can’t be beat. Researchers have found that that truffles have chemical compounds that mimic the reproductive pheromones of mammals. What’s not so clear, though, is how that translates in terms of flavor.
“One of the most common questions I get is, ‘What does a truffle taste like?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it doesn’t really taste like anything.’ It in itself does not have any flavor. It’s all in the aroma,” Chef Czarnecki said.
DeBenedetti characterized the gas as exotic and almost fuel-like. “Some have compared it to the aroma of ozone, which is not something I could pick out, necessarily, in a lineup. But once you learn to identify the smell, it’s a little fusel-y.”
The key is that the gases attach themselves to fatty oils — those found in meats, cheeses and eggs. When a truffle mingles with steak or butter, for instance, it imparts its unique properties to those foods.
“Something fatty that really likes to coat the palate, that’s when you can ‘taste it’ because what’s happening is its coating the inside of your mouth. You’re inhaling, you’re exhaling,” Chef Czarnecki said. “You’re getting what my dad likes to refer to as the ‘truffle burp,’ and that’s the closest thing you ever get to tasting the truffle.”
While most brewers haven’t yet taken a chance on mushrooms or truffles, Lamont and DeBenedetti seem to be part of a growing, brave group — including Portland’s Base Camp Brewing Company and de Garde Brewing in Tillamook — that embraces fungus along with all of the challenges and rewards that come with it. Increased interest in these ingredients can be attributed to a few factors: brewer curiosity, the urge to express originality and relying on the local environment to provide sustainable, inspiring new resources.
“To me, it’s just something that’s unique. Something different. Whenever you go to a bar, it’s the inquisitive nature of, ‘Hmmm … mushrooms,’” said Lamont. “I think brewers are just being more creative, especially up in this region.”
“I think any brewer who is interested in taking his or her brewing to the next level in terms of local ingredients — foraging, sourcing from right here where we live — that it’s a natural progression to try something with mushrooms or truffles,” DeBenetti offered. “As difficult as it may be, I think it’s at the very least a fascinating experiment, and at its best can be truly something delicious.”
By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
For the last three years, I’ve dressed up as a hop during the Halloween season because a.) hops are awesome, and b.) I’m both too lazy and not creative enough to conjure up some other costume. Although I love traditions, I’m growing tired of doing the same thing year after year. But one thing I never get tired of is Oregon beer — so, I’ve decided to brew up some new rituals for all of us featuring our favorite treat. Below, you’ll find four different fall activities — beyond just Halloween — and the beers that go with them. October will never be the same again!
Ashland’s Caldera Brewing is already Halloween-friendly thanks to their logo, a bubbling black cauldron. But what will really put you under their spell is the Toasted Coconut Chocolate Porter. The brewery uses in-house toasted coconut chips and natural liquid chocolate to create nothing short of Mounds bar goodness. The beer already claims to be dessert in a glass, so why not take your state of sugar-induced bliss one step further by pairing it with the Hershey’s tropical treat? | 6.2% ABV, 24 IBUs
Aside from having a great name, Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter from Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond blends the chocolatey, caramelly, nutty notes loved by porter fans and amplifies them times a thousand with an undeniably creamy peanut butter flavor. It’s a beer that pairs well with E.T.’s favorite food group — Reese’s Pieces. Added bonus: The candies will double as a type of breadcrumb trail when you’ve imbibed too many beers and can’t find your way back home! | 6% ABV, 18 IBUs
Fall Activity Pairing: Trick-or-Treating
Even though you’re too big to get away with going door-to-door asking for candy — unless you secretly steal from your kid’s stash — there are likely plenty of leftovers from that giant variety pack you had every intention of handing out to costumed little monsters. Instead of ravaging it like a zombie, here are some more Oregon beer and candy pairings to help you savor every last bite: Rusty Truck Brewing’s Taft Toffee Porter with Heath bars, Base Camp Brewing’s S’more Stout with Peeps marshmallows, and Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar with Ferrero Rocher.
Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice
Pumpkin beer (or pumpkin anything for that matter) is one of those things people either seem to love or hate. But even the biggest pumpkin skeptic could be made into a believer with Rogue’s annual Pumpkin Patch Ale. “Crafted from patch to batch,” each year Rogue employees pick fresh pumpkins from Rogue Farms in Independence, load them up and drive them 77 miles to the Newport brewery. The pumpkins are then roasted and pitched into the brew kettle, creating a final product that rivals even the best witch’s brew. | 6.1% ABV, 25 IBUs
Complex enough to be in a category all on its own, Cascade Brewing’s Pumpkin Smash is not for the average pumpkin beer fan. The Portland barrel house is highly regarded for its sour beers, and Pumpkin Smash does not disappoint. Each year’s batch offers a different experience — for example, their 2015 version is a blend of blond and quad ales aged in bourbon and brandy barrels for up to 22 months with pumpkin and spices. In September, the brewery released the 2015 blend on draft only, with vintage 2013 and 2014 bottles available for purchase. If the spirits are in your favor, you’ll likely still be able to score a rare bottle at the brewery, or at bottle shops such as Portland’s Belmont Station and The Bier Stein in Eugene. | 10.8%-12.35% ABV
Fall Activity Pairing: Pumpkin Patch
Check out Heiser Farms in Dayton for the ultimate pumpkin overload. On Saturdays and Sundays in October, the farm has cannons that shoot pumpkins more than a quarter of a mile! They will also be serving Heiser Pumpkin Ale from Silverton’s Seven Brides Brewing, a brew made with pumpkins grown right on the farm.
Originally released as a seasonal in 2014, Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red has become almost as much of a cult classic as the movie it’s named after — 1978 horror film “Dawn of the Dead.” The brewery’s label designer and art director, Tony Figoli, is obviously a fan of the film, so what better reason to add this zombie-themed pairing to your to-do list this Halloween season and beyond? According to the Eugene brewery, “it doesn’t take brains to know this IRA is a delicious choice any time of year!” | 7% ABV, 75 IBUs
The infamous Black Widow only summons herself two weeks out of the year, but she always leaves a lasting impression. Originally brewed at the McMenamins Thompson Brewery 25 years ago on October 15, 1991, this deep-black porter infused with licorice root is so enchanting she will be the star of her own “Widow’s Weekend” at various locations. While she’s available October 15 through Halloween at all McMenamins pubs, the Thompson Brewery usually releases the popular seasonal earlier than the rest. But don’t get too lost in her web, as she won’t be here for long! | 7.35% ABV, 30 IBU
Fall Activity Pairing: Scary Movie Marathon
Although there is a 1987 crime thriller which shares the name “Black Widow,” McMenamins has a lot more to offer than that in the scary movie department this month. The company’s Mission Theater and Pub in Portland offers a variety of screenings all year long, but in October, you’ll find that classic spooky movies are their specialty. “The Craft” and “Scream” are both celebrating their 20th anniversaries, “Little Shop of Horrors” is celebrating its 30th, and “Carrie” is celebrating its 40th. There will be multiple showings of each, along with the movie “Se7en.” Don’t forget to order your favorite McMenamins beer as liquid courage as you prepare to be scared!
Putting the Oktober in Oktoberfest
If you’re pumpkin-phobic, have no fear, Deschutes is here! The brewery recently added a new fall seasonal to its lineup: Hopzeit Autumn IPA. While this beer may or may not conform to the Reinheitsgebot (a German purity law only allowing water, barley and hops as ingredients), the beer is at least “100-percent gourd free” according to the brewery, and “blends the malt body and flavor of a Marzen with the hop profile of an IPA.” It even has its own hashtag: #SayNoToPumpkinBeer. | 7% ABV, 60 IBUs
For those of you wanting something you could drink a few steins of without being frightened by flavors, this section’s for you. Block 15 Brewing’s Autumn Farmhouse Ale, dubbed as a “harvest celebration of Pacific Northwest regional farms,” is a part of the brewery’s seasonal bottle-conditioned series. The beer truly lives up to its description, featuring organic North American malts, organic oats from Green Willow Grains, Willamette Valley hops, and honey from Queen Bee Apiaries, also located in Corvallis. | 7.4% ABV
Fall Activity Pairing: Oktoberfest
Although Munich’s famous Oktoberfest may be over, luckily for you there are still some Oregon breweries that are hosting their own versions of the revered German celebration this month, including Block 15’s Bloktoberfest on Oct. 21 (Pro Tip: You get free entry if you wear German-themed clothing). On Oct. 8 in Portland, not only is Zoiglhaus Brewing hosting its own Oktoberfest, but Widmer Brothers Brewing will be putting on an Oktoberfest at Pioneer Courthouse Square featuring rock band X Ambassadors.
No matter how you’re celebrating this month, don’t be too spooked to try a new Oregon beer!
In April 2015, conservation group Oregon Wild announced the formation of The Oregon Brewshed® Alliance. The coalition of breweries and more advocates for the protection of forests and watersheds. Featured here, left to right, are Christian Ettinger of Hopworks, Colin Rath, co-founder of Migration and member of Oregon Wild’s Board of Directors, Julia Person, sustainability manager at Widmer, and Marielle Cowdin, outreach and marketing coordinator from Oregon Wild. Photo by Emma Browne
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Brewers know that great beer begins with clean water. Oregon craft beer is especially connected to the Northwest’s land and waterways, and that’s why in April 2015, conservation group Oregon Wild announced the formation of The Oregon Brewshed® Alliance. The coalition of breweries, other craft beer organizations and conservationists advocates for the protection of forests and watersheds.
Launching with eight partners from the craft beer industry, in less than a year there are now 21 partners, including 7 Devils Brewing Co. in Coos Bay, C-BIG (Craft Beverage Industry Group), Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, Fort George Brewery in Astoria, GoodLife Brewing in Bend, the brewpub chain McMenamins, Standing Stone Brewing Company in Ashland and multiple other breweries in Eugene and Portland.
“Conservationists and breweries joining forces for clean water might be a bit unconventional, but the partnership is really a natural fit,” says Marielle Cowdin, outreach and marketing coordinator for Oregon Wild. “Keeping our drinking watersheds clean and protected is essential for living. And it’s just as essential for keeping our craft brewing industry, something that has so defined our state’s culture, alive and thriving.”
Brewshed® partners and Oregon Wild also realized they had an opportunity to help the public understand the importance of clean water for brewing. “Many craft beer drinkers don't realize how significant water is for the process,” says Cowdin. “Two-thirds of Oregonians get their tap water from our state's lakes, streams and rivers. Since water is a product of the land that it flows through, our cleanest and best-tasting water flows through unspoiled public forest lands, with healthy forests acting as a natural filtration systems.”
Oregon Wild (formerly the Oregon Natural Resources Council or ONRC) began in 1974. Their conservation efforts have protected 1.7 million acres of wilderness, 95,000 acres of forests, and 1,800 miles of water protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The foundation of the Brewshed® was laid in 2009 when Oregon Wild partnered with Widmer Brothers Brewing to protect Portland's Bull Run Watershed. “The partnership sparked plans for a larger initiative, given the intimate connection between Oregon's thriving craft brewing scene and our public wildlands.”
Partners collaborate on various outreach events, such as pint nights, happy hours, special brews, Brewshed® hikes and fundraisers that support Oregon Wild's forest and watershed conservation work. Eugene’s Claim 52 Brewing considers conservation efforts a priority and works with various nonprofits on environmental stewardship. “From inception, Claim 52 has been proud to credit the McKenzie River for the flavor profile of our signature beer, the kolsch,” says co-founder/owner Mercy McDonald. “The river that runs in our backyard is vital and needs our care and protection to keep it pure. All of us have a role and stake in that outcome.”
Claim 52 hosts events for Oregon Wild throughout the year and contributes to raffles to help with fundraising. Last year, Claim 52 also bottled a specialty beer, Scrivener’s Sour, and donated a portion of the proceeds to Oregon Wild. McMenamins provides similar support. This year, while celebrating the 30th anniversary of Hammerhead, McMenamins donated $1 for every pint of the pale ale sold in Oregon Jan. 30-31. The brewpub chain is also donating event space for the Brewshed® Brewfest, which is set to take place Wednesday, May 18 at the Kennedy School in Portland. The inaugural event will feature beers from Brewshed® partners and guests can vote for their favorite beers.
“The amazing beers our Brewshed® partners will be pouring will showcase Oregon water, but we'll be incorporating information about Oregon watersheds and water conservation into our program for the evening, with speakers from Oregon Wild and other Alliance members,” explains Cowdin. “Fest attendees will get to know about watersheds beyond Portland and get to taste beer from across the state. Overall, this first annual Oregon Brewshed® Brewfest will be a celebration of Oregon beer and the Oregon water that helps it stand apart.”
In 2015, partners held 12 events to raise awareness and support, including an Earth Day fundraiser, a Community Tap Month, a hike along the Salmon River and an environmental speaker series. Events in 2016 have included a fundraising campaign called Weekend for Water in partnership with the Oregon Environmental Council, Base Camp Brewing Company’s Collabofest presented by #PDXNOW, and February’s KLCC Microbrew Festival in Eugene, where the Alliance sponsored the water stations.
“Moving forward, we hope to continue growth with new partner breweries and others in the brewing community that care about clean water across the state,” says Cowdin. “As the Oregon Brewshed® Alliance builds new partnerships, our voice for Oregon watersheds becomes stronger, and eventually, the Alliance could be seen as a model for craft brewing and water conservation nationwide.”
For brewers such as Mercy McDonald, the need for partnership is simple. “Clean water is often taken for granted, and that’s where quality beer starts.”
Oregon Brewshed® Alliance
Members, Events & More Information:
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
“New year, new you!” “Start the new year right!” “Out with the old and in with the new!”
More than any other time of year, January shoves our head in a toilet bowl filled with cloyingly motivational platitudes and won’t let go while we desperately try to reach for the flusher and skip to February. Every advertisement, magazine cover and lifestyle show shames the behavior of the previous year so that customers will shell out money for exercise equipment or lock themselves into a gym membership.
Sure, you probably drank too much brew in 2015. Exercise may have slowly redefined itself as making laps in the grocery store beer aisle while deciding what to buy or carrying two growlers at a time to the car. It would be really easy to ignore the usual New Year’s calls to action and hunker down until June. After all, it’s cold outside. It’s dark. And there’s rain. But an abundance of options await when it comes to staying active this winter. You can then celebrate the effort it took to leave your home with a well-deserved beer — or several. The following is a guide to both in four categories: snow, ice, wood and rock.
Re-explore the hiking routes in the Mount Hood National Forest when they’re coated in snow. The sparkling, clear lakes and wildflower-filled meadows are gone, but the winter transformation is not any less engaging than the summer scenery. Water normally alive with swimmers and boaters has gone still with a layer of ice. Tree branches and trails are frosted in white. And when it’s snowing, the skies are a beautifully subdued shade of slate.
To really get an appreciation of the setting, though, shake off the crowds that congregate at Timberline and Sno-Park parking areas. Strap on some snowshoes and escape to the backcountry where the effort it takes to complete the trails tends to deter a lot of people. If you don’t have any gear, not to worry. Mt. Hood Adventure (88335 E. Government Camp Loop Road, Government Camp, 503-715-2170) located on the upper story of Ratskeller, has rentals for adults ($15) and kids ($10). That includes shoes and poles for 24 hours in case you can make an overnight escape and get a couple of treks in. The guy normally behind the counter is a wealth of information when it comes to where to go and what to do if you get lost or end up braving the elements overnight. He’s so passionate about winter recreation, he’s practically vibrating with excitement. To get you started, here are three snowshoeing routes in order of increasing difficulty:
Distance: About 5 miles
Difficulty: Riding a tauntaun through the snow in “Star Wars: Episode V”
Directions: From Portland, travel 31 miles east of Sandy on Highway 26 to about 2.5 miles east of Timberline Road. Follow the signs to Trillium Lake and turn right into the Sno-Park.
Some hikes are easy to knock to the bottom of your list because they’re not very challenging and often teeming with people. Trillium Lake meets both those criteria in the warmer months, but come snow season the path gets longer and a little more demanding. And about a mile in, you distance yourself from everyone who is just there to play in the snow — not complete the entire loop. The distance increases because you’ll be snowshoeing in from the Trillium Lake Sno-Park parking lot rather than driving in to a day-use area next to the water. Forest Road 2650 will be free of cars, so tromp along the wide, sloped path that’s blanketed with powder until reaching a fork about .5 miles in. Either direction curves around the lake, but going left gets to the scenic shore more quickly. Reward yourself by saving the best view for the end of the hike and take a right. Open prairieland that’s dotted with clusters of trees eventually gives way to a thicker forest that surrounds much of Trillium.
One place worth a pause is the Summit Meadows Pioneer Cemetery. The plot of land, not much bigger than a dining room table, is marked by a white picket fence, some tombstones and a wooden sign posted on a tree — if not all obscured by snow. You can take a moment to imagine what it might have been like trudging along the Barlow Road section of the Oregon Trail. Not long after that, though, the sight of a handful of cabins will snap you back to modernity and perhaps inspire a future weekend getaway. Soon you’ll start to spot small windows in the three branches revealing the lake. The best view comes after crossing the dam — a hill of pines arches up to one side of the lake, the vast expanse of water stretches out in front of you. On a clear day, Mount Hood towers over Trillium. When finished with selfies and scenery, continue the loop to return to the parking lot. When you reach the fork, there’s one hill to contend with — but rest assured you’re nearly done at that point.
Distance: About 7 miles
Difficulty: Getting chased by Jack Nicholson through a snow-covered hedge maze in “The Shining”
Directions: From Portland take Highway 26 east past the junction with Highway 35 to the Frog Lake Sno-Park.
If you’ve seen one lake in the Mount Hood National Forest, you’ve seen them all. It’s easy to sum up the beauty of these shimmering gems nestled around the peak with one camping trip, one hike, one Instagram photo. But after you start exploring more of the region’s lakes, you’ll begin to appreciate the subtle differences and hidden side trips only experienced hikers can reveal. What makes the Twin Lake trail unique is revealed in the name — there are two watering holes that, although similar, offer separate experiences.
From the Frog Lake Sno-Park, head toward the picnic table and turn right onto the Pacific Crest Trail. Upon reaching an intersection, veer right to continue onto Twin Lakes Trail No. 495. It’s a gentle climb under the thick boughs of old growth weighed down by snow. The first lake comes into view after you amble down a ridge about 2 miles in. A fairly expansive campground provides plenty of places for a pit stop, complete with luxury log seating. The frozen patch of water is ringed by towering evergreens that look like they’ve been iced by a giant cake decorator.
The path to the Upper Twin is narrower and steeper. This is where you’ll start stripping off some of those layers because slogging through the snow headed uphill is enough to keep you warm. At times, you’ll come near a stream that slashes a black, jagged stripe through the white snowbanks before reaching the second lake, which is smaller and shallower. Unless clouds are in the way, Mount Hood’s tip will be peering over the crowd of trees surrounding Upper Twin’s perimeter.
Trail No. 495 links to Palmateer Point via Trail No. 482, but only continue if you’re a skilled hiker/snowshoer and have navigating equipment, as the snow tends to get thicker farther up. To call it a day, simply turn around at Upper Twin and go back the way you came. For those who’ve heard the mysterious Camp Toilet might exist along the route — it’s true. But wait until summer to seek it out. Not only is it probably buried in snow, a white lid is also mighty difficult to spot this time of year.
Frog Lake Butte
Distance: About 6 miles
Difficulty: Liam Neeson running through frozen Alaska while punching wolves in “The Grey”
Directions: From Portland take Highway 26 east past the junction with Highway 35 to the Frog Lake Sno-Park.
You wouldn’t know it when whizzing by on Highway 26, but the Frog Lake Sno-Park parking area is bustling with activity. Of course, you’ll find people crouched over to secure snowshoes or cross-country skis, but the lot is also shared with dogsled teams and toy haulers that contain the leaf blowers of recreational gear — the snowmobile. Even though they’re despised by some outdoor enthusiasts for their incessant drone and malodorous motor, it’s best to keep your cool and play well together. You won’t see much of the snowmobilers once you’re out on the path, but the noise never completely comes to a halt.
Begin by heading right on Forest Road 2610, which is spacious to accommodate vehicles in the summer. This is no flat stroll, however, as you’ll become painfully aware of about a half mile in. Take the steep and unforgiving Frog Lake Butte Road for 2,000 miles straight up. Poles are your pal on this snowshoe. There’s not much to describe in terms of scenery on the way. You’ll be too focused on lifting one foot in front of the other on the grinding course to appreciate it anyway. And that’s what the summit is for. At nearly 5,300 feet, there’s a whole lotta view. Mount Hood soars above rolling hills dotted with lakes like Timothy and Clear. Mount Jefferson is also visible on the horizon. The flat, open butte can get blustery, so find a grove of trees and catch your breath. If you packed a growler, toast your ascent before heading down.
Thaw Out Beers
Everyone loves a ski chalet after a long day on the mountain because they’re cozy and feature the most enjoyable way to warm up: alcohol. Mt. Hood Brewing Company (87304 Government Camp Loop, Government Camp, 503-272-3172) fits the bill on both accounts and it’s just off Highway 26 near all of the recommended snowshoe trails. There are at least six house-brewed beers on tap and several beer cocktails. A fireplace nook to the left of the entrance with oversized leather chairs and a large coffee table is the place to relax if you can snag it. When occupied, grab a table in the back or a stool at the bar, where there’s a frosty strip embedded in the countertop to keep pints cold. No matter what, you’ve got a better seat than any of the suckers crawling along 26 to Portland in the never-ending line of homeward-bound ski traffic.
Remember when all it took to entertain you as a kid was a rink, a little music and some flashy lights, along with the possibility you’d hold your crush’s hand during the partner skate? Return to the thrills of middle school at the Sherwood Ice Arena (20407 SW Borchers Drive, Sherwood, 503-625-5757), where they turn off the fluorescents, start spinning the disco balls and pump up the Top 40. Public skate sessions are held throughout the week, but the mood lighting and DJ are only available on Fridays from 7:35-9:35 p.m. The dark also provides some anonymity to those wall clingers who spend more time on their tailbones than up on skates. But after a few wobbly laps, your Rollerblading experience from the ‘90s should kick right in like you haven’t missed a day. Admission and skate rental for two costs $20. The arena offers a date night special, which includes mini pizzas and medium drinks for five bucks more, but eating concession stand food in a lobby that smells like a hamper full of musty gym socks isn’t worth the extra dough. Instead, drink like an adult before you play like a kid and order pints at NW Growlers (21025 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood, 503-822-5426) just across the street.
If it’s too much of a stretch to get to the suburbs for a spin around the ice, embrace a classic by going to Lloyd Center (953 Lloyd Center, Portland, 503-288-6073). The rink was the first of its kind to open in a mall in 1960 and its legacy is inextricably linked to Oregon’s infamous figure skater Tonya Harding. Given that the slab of ice isn’t really the main attraction here since it is a shopping center, the space is small and feels like it, both on the ice and in the waiting area where you’ll fight for a seat with 6-year-olds while the Zamboni does its thing. Be warned that the skating here isn’t cheap. Sure, $17 on a Sunday covers skate rental and access to the rink all day. But let’s be honest — no one is going to do laps here for eight hours. It would be forgivable if you took that $17 to the food court instead. However, you may want to get your time on the nostalgic rink while you can. Lloyd Center says it’s planning an overhaul in 2016 that will improve rink aesthetics, but shrink the size.
While there’s nowhere to grab a beer in the mall proper, two walking-distance options should satisfy your thirst. Upright Brewing (240 N. Broadway #2, Portland, 503-735-5337) makes four lovely saisons year-round that you can enjoy at tables tucked away in a dimly lit basement surrounded by brewing equipment. To get to the bottom floor, go to the very back of the building and press on through a labyrinth of halls and staircases that lack signs. Order a sampling tray before hitting the ice, but be sure to bring cash or a check to pay. Since Upright has limited hours and no kitchen, Broadway Grill & Brewery (1700 NE Broadway St., Portland, 503-284-4460) is another option. It has eight of its own craft beverages, a book for a menu and stays open longer. Either way you go, the combination of beer, blades and ice would surely get you grounded if your mom had anything to say about it.
In 2000, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam introduced the thesis that civic engagement in the U.S. has been declining since the 1960s. To illustrate the argument, he used a vivid, empirical phenomenon — plenty of Americans were still bowling as a form of recreation, yet few did so in leagues as they once used to. This was one example used to highlight the importance of social capital and how joining networks gives one a sense of stake in community. Perhaps what further drove bowling to become a more isolated activity was the subsequent rise of the casino-like alley: fast-paced video screens, pop music and booths swaddled in black leather. The experience has become more about being stimulated by the atmosphere, and it’s also a hell of a lot more expensive to knock down some pins in these newfangled palaces of play.
Fans of old school alleys will appreciate those that are left and remain untouched by the frills of the 21st century. Although you’re not likely to work up a sweat, it’s still a way to burn more calories than spending an evening disappearing into the living room couch. AMF Pro 300 Lanes (3031 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, 503-234-0237) is one place to get the ball rolling on the wood. It features 36 lanes, plastic seats, a lounge and zero pretension. Prices top out at $5.19 per person, per game. Just because the building is dated, doesn’t mean the beer is. Craft is on tap, including at least one beer, appropriately, from neighboring Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, 503-232-4677). After your 10 frames, cross the street for a burger and more beer, making it a 1950s-kind-of bowling night that would do Putnam proud.
Maybe you’ve seen the REEL ROCK Film Tour and felt inspired by those adventurous athletes or overheard conversations about the amazing grip strength developed by bouldering. Whatever the motivation, you decide you want to give one of those climbing gyms a try since all of the outdoor rocks are wet and slippery in winter. The Circuit has two Portland locations (410 NE 17th Ave., 503-719-7041 and 6050 SW Macadam Ave., 503-246-5111) and one in Tigard (16255 SW Upper Boones Ferry Road, 503-596-2332) with drop-in day passes for $14 and $4 shoe rentals. All locations are also located next to beer. The business has even gone a step further by partnering with Base Camp Brewing Company (930 SE Oak St., Portland, 503-477-7479), Culmination Brewing (2117 NE Oregon St., Portland, 971-258-2808), Migration Brewing (2828 NE Glisan St., Portland, 503-206-5221) and NW Growlers (6141 SW Macadam Ave., Portland, 503-245-4509). Look for price breaks at any of those locations after climbing or falling because you haven’t yet developed that superhuman grip. At least the floors are padded.
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