By Gail Oberst
It’s no surprise that cousins Jerry Olson and Jason Hohnstein in 2004 came to own one of Portland’s popular taphouses. They both grew up in the restaurant industry: Jerry’s parents are Jim and Connie Olson, owners since 1981 of Jimmy O’s Pizzaria in Oregon City. Jason was Jimmy O’s manager for 13 years before he and Jerry Olson opened Concordia Ale House. Vivian Couture, Jerry’s partner, also works at Concordia. “It’s pretty much a family-run place,” Jerry said.
If you think working in beer is the greatest career ever, compare it to Jerry’s first career as a golf pro, and you may change your mind. In the 15 years before opening Concordia, he was a pro at Heron Lakes, Portland Golf Club and Indian Summer Golf & ‘country Club in Olympia, Wash. Tough life.
Today, Concordia Ale House is best known for its extensive line-up – 22 rotating taps and more than 150 bottles – and its and state competitions where consumers get to judge trays of beers from a specific state. The four-state competition culminates in the Beer Brawl VII this month and next, Feb. 24 to March 2, in which Oregon, Washington, California and Colorado compete for bragging rights. Other events highlight fresh hops and winter beers.
So it was no coincidence that the Oregon Beer Growler chose Concordia Ale House patrons to name their favorite Oregon stouts.
Dozens of tasters weighed in on the Oregon stouts donated by brewers for consumer review at Concordia Ale House. Stouts tasted ran the gamut of varieties, from walloping barrel-aged Russian imperial stouts to smooth and mild oatmeal stouts.
McMenamins Lord Snow Imperial Stout, Edgefield, Troutdale
8.2% ABV, 39 IBU
Brewer’s description: This recipe by brewers Drew Phillips and Matt Bergfield is a black, strong beer brewed with wintergreen leaves and peppermint candies to give it a chilling wintery edge, while its thick body and warming strength helps ward off the chill. Dark malts, 150 pounds of rolled oats add to the smooth mouthfeel, depth and complexity. Consumers said: “I’d eat a doughnut with this one.”“Smooth and creamy like buttered bread,” and “I’d pair it with chocolate ice cream and Florence & the Machine,” and “I’d drink this cozied up to a fire in a cabin on Mt. Hood,” were other observations.
Ninkasi Stout Vanilla Oatis, Eugene
7.2% ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewer’s description: This oatmeal stout has just enough hops to balance the copious quantities of dark roasted malts, oatmeal for a creamy smooth drinkability and whole vanilla beans – added in the final stage of fermentation -- for a rich complexity. Consumers said: “Thumbs up! Good chocolate malt flavor.” “Chocolate and coffee, yum.” “This brew begs for a kebob and should be consumed after a long bike ride!”
Gigantic Most Premium Russian Imperial Stout, Portland
10% ABV, 55 IBU
Brewer’s description: As black as the uncaring hearts of the czars of Russia, as rich as their estates, as decadent as their palaces and big enough for their empire, this imperial stout is nothing if not Most Premium. Consumers said: “Nutty, earthy and balanced. This goes down easy!” “I’m liking this one. Good with barbecue or roasted marshmallows.” “Thumbs up for the great malty aftertaste.” “Chocolaty and malty. I’m drinking this with sweets!” “I’d drink this while playing cards against humanity!”
Plank Town Streetcar Stout, Springfield
7.5% ABV, 30 IBU
Brewer’s description: Dark and rich with flavors of roasted cocoa, dark chocolate, and caramel. Big flavor with a smooth finish. Consumers said:
“Strong and smooth!” “I’d take this camping, rafting, maybe even skiing.” “Surprising and satisfying. I would drink this to get liquid courage!”
Silver Moon Bourbon Barrel-aged Darkside Stout, Bend
7.8% ABV, 57 IBU
Brewer’s description: Full-bodied and in your face, this barrel-aged version of Darkside is perfect for those cold nights next to the campfire. Chocolate and caramel coffee flavors complement copious amounts of roasted malts in this robust American stout. Beautifully aged in Wild Turkey oak barrels. Consumers said: “One drink and I’d be knocked on my butt!” “That’s a kick in the teeth! I’d love to have a pint after a 20-mile hike or a day learning to snowboard.” “Spicy, full-bodied, thick and syrupy.” “Rich flavors, it lets me know it’s serious.” ”Somebody. Grab a cigar!” “I like this best. I’d pair it with a fruit pie.”
Fort George Cavatica Stout, Astoria
Brewer’s description: An immense, bold, black as night, American stout beauty; Cavatica is no dry Irish anything, one sip and you’ll surely take notice of what you’re drinking. The name honors this brewer’s affinity with arachnids. Be forewarned, this beer will stain your clothes. This is Fort George’s house stout that has gained a reputation for being mighty and contagious among the locals. Consumers said: “Strong and smooth!” “I’d take this camping, rafting, maybe even skiing.” “Surprising and satisfying. I would drink this to get liquid courage!”
Hopworks Motherland Russian Imperial Stout, Portland
9.8% ABV, 63 IBU
Brewer’s description: An Ale for the people! Rich and smooth, Motherland is as black as a Siberian winter night but warming enough to weather it. Aromas of anise and cherry mingle with bittersweet flavors and a warming, spicy finish. Consumers said: “Get a snifter!” “Balsamic and coffee flavors. Thick and good.” “I’d like to drink this on the coast while listening to the crashing waves!
Hit the Read More for a full list of Oregon Stouts!
If the list of stouts in Oregon is long, this must be February. Following, in no particular order, are the Oregon stouts that have come to the attention of the Oregon Beer Growler, along with the information available at press time.
Sky High Brewing Russian Imperial Stout, Corvallis, 8.5 % ABV, 85 IBUs
Burnside Brewing Everyday Stout, Portland – 5.4% ABV, 40 IBUs
Burnside Stout, Portland -- 5.4% ABV, 40 IBUs
Fire Mountain Steam Fired Stout, Carlton – 5.2% ABV, 68 IBUs
Pelican Tsunami Stout, Pacific City – 7%, 45 IBUs
Golden Valley Black Panther Imperial Stout, McMinnville – 8.7% ABV
Big Horse Brewing Nightmare Stout, Hood River – 6.8% ABV, 21 IBUs
Rogue Oak Aged Russian Imperial Stout, Newport – 9.2% ABV, 90 IBUs.
Rogue Descent into Darkness Russian Imperial Stout, Newport – 9.3% ABV, 77 IBUs
Rogue Cold-conditioned Descent into Darkness Russian Imperial Stout, Newport – 11% ABV, 63 IBUs.
Rogue Old Russputin Russian Imperial Stout, Newport – 9.5% ABV, 77 IBUs
Rogue Chocolate Stout, Newport -- 6% ABV, 69 IBUs
Rogue Double Chocolate Stout, Newport -- 9% ABV,, 50 IBUs
Fort George Long Dark Winter Milk Stout, Astoria – 5.8% ABV
Fort George Polish’s Black Walnut Stout, Astoria – 6.4% ABV
Fort George Viva La Stout, Astoria – 7.6% ABV
Fort George Spank Stout, Astoria – 5% ABV
Fort George Squashed Stout, Astoria – 6.7% ABV
Fort George Murky Pearl Stout – 6.9% ABV
Fort George Coffee Girl Stout, Astoria, 8.7% ABV
Fort George Bourbon Barrel Cavatica Stout, Astoria, -- 9.1% ABV
Fort George Rye Whiskey Cavatica Stout, Astoria – 9.2% ABV
Fort George Kentucky Girl Stout, Astoria – 9.2% ABV
Fort George Rumkin Stout – 11% ABV
Fort George Bete Noire Wheat Stout, Astoria – 6.4% ABV, 30 IBUs
Deschutes Abyss, Bend—11% ABV, 86 IBUs
Block 15 Nebula, Corvallis – 6.8% ABV, 18 IBUs.
Block 15 Super Nebula, Corvallis – 11% ABV
Widmer Bros. Pilot System Barrel-aged KGB Russian Imperial Stout, Portland, 9.3% ABV, 70 IBUs
Boneyard Suge Knite Imperial Stout, Bend – 13% ABV
Lompoc Stout Out Loud, Portland – 4.9% ABV, 24 IBUs
Barley Brown’s Disorder Stout, Baker City – 7.7% ABV
Barley Brown’s Vanuchi Stout, Baker City – 8.5% ABV
Breakside Salted Caramel Milk Stout, Portland – 6.7% ABV, 28 IBUs
Alameda Siberian Bear Russian Imperial Stout, Portland – 6.8% ABV, 55 IBUs
Three Creek Brewing Sex Panther, Sisters -- 6.5% ABV
Crux Fermentation Project Tough Love Imperial Stout, Bend – 11.5% ABV, 70 IBUs
Hopworks Army of Darkness Bourbon barrel-aged Stout, Portland—11.1% ABV, 63 IBUs
Migration Brewing Bootstrap Imperial Stout, Portland -- 10% ABV, 63 UBUs.
Kells Irish Stout, Portland -- 4.7% ABV, 30 IBUs.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.