Well, when I walked into tonight’s location (Portland Brewing Company Taproom, NW 31st and Nicolai -ish) I knew a smidgen about the brewery. I knew that it used to be called MacTarnahan’s Brewery (2004-2013) but that it changed its name back to Portland Brewing Company a few years back. What I did not know, however, was the apparent partnership with Pyramid Breweries Inc. I have been to Pyramid Brewing in two different locations – a location in Sacramento, CA (that closed in March 2013) and the mother-ship in Seattle, WA. Pyramid is a larger brewery that over the years has purchased/acquired brew companies and been purchased/acquired themselves. Portland Brewing was acquired in 2004 by Pyramid because the owner was 88 and nearing death. Since 2004 Pyramid – bringing Portland Brewing with it – has been owned by three different companies; currently the parent company for Portland Brewing, Pyramid Breweries, Magic Hat, and more is Florida Ice & Farm Co (FIFCO) – a Costa Rican based brewery owning company. My little research on FIFCO was very interesting, but mostly from the business side, maybe I should get on with the beer at this specific taproom.
For my first beer, I had to choose the MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale. It is the flagship brew for the brewery and one of the strongest odes to the original company – it’s named after the majority financial backer from when the company was founded in 1986. For a flagship beer, the MacTarnahan’s is perfect. You don’t want a flagship to be super sharp in flavor or of a style that alienates many potential drinkers; you want a flagship that is mild, balanced, and smooth. These traits perfectly describe this beer. Absolutely something that I would order again if there weren’t beers around that more met my preferred tastes.
I also had some of the BlackWatch Cream Porter – one of the winter seasonals offered by the company. As far as I can tell this is a Portland Brewing beer, not a Pyramid. The “creaminess” of this beer makes this porter expose some stout like traits. It has a full mouthfeel but remains light as you drink; all of the flavors are those of a traditional porter. You have the rich deep roast malty notes, you have very little hop presence, if you are a porter lover, I highly recommend this beer – I would order a pint if I come back. I decided to order a Christina stand by, the Portland Brewing IPA. As far as IPAs go, this one isn’t my most favorite ever. Even at 70 IBU, I can barely taste the hops. Part of me wishes I had gone with a porter and done a taste of the IPA, instead. Of the beers on tap, I think nearly 50% are brews by Pyramid. But fear not, Pyramid has great beer and I think a number of the Pyramid beers offered are brewed on site in Portland specifically for this taproom. And you can never go wrong with a beer that was brewed less than 30 yards away from where it is being served. Never.
Portland Brewing lives in the middle of (basically) nowhere; when coming here, you are driving through all of the industrial area of Portland. I was somewhat expecting to show up to a nothing brewery in an old abandoned warehouse, not a new, large, fancy brewery that looks like it belongs a good mile south and east. The taproom has a small bar, a large dining room with low arch-ways (making it not feel too big), a great outside deck area, and two stunning lauter tuns (the brewing vessels) in the entry way.
If you live in Portland and have yet to visit Portland Brewing, totally make the trip out here. It is a fun location that has pretty good beer. If you are visiting Portland…don’t bother making the trip. It is a bit too far out and there are plenty of closer in breweries to visit that are closer to the hotels downtown.
Until next time….CHEEEERS!!!