Tag Archives: Hopaddict

Portland Oregon Breweries – Level and Ex Novo

Level Beer

Level Beer opened closer to the airport, which is great for people who get stuck at airport hotels and want to visit breweries, but also not so good for people who are trying to do a beer crawl around the city. The location gives them a large amount of space for a tasting room and there was plenty of seating in the brewery.

The Press Pause NW pale was a good classic pale. I had mis-read NW for NE or I might have ordered something else, like the standard IPA or saison. Nothing wrong with the beer but it isn’t my style. The best bitter was decent with notes of apricot but tasted more like an English pale than a best bitter. The beer lacked the malt base that makes the style enjoyable. The Hazy IPA titled Hazing is Socially Unacceptable was quite nice with a creamy body and tons of tropical fruit with notes of tangerine and passion fruit. This was the best beer of the bunch by a large margin.

Comparatively, the passion fruit hazy DIPA was completely unbalanced with passion fruit dominating the base beer completely with flavors so strong it was off-putting. The chocolate stout was a clean stout but not particularly chocolate forward. The barleywine was incredibly medicinal with overpowering dark fruit character and a strong bitterness.

Level Beer was quite the mixed bag of beers though their hazy IPA was done well. With some tweaking on the amount of passion fruit in the hazy double IPA I think they could end up with a solid beer there as well. I wasn’t able to taste the flavors of the base beer under all the passion fruit.

Top Beer:
Hazing is Socially Unacceptable Hazy IPA.

Ex Novo


Ex Novo also came highly recommended as far as new breweries in Portland. They were so crowded on Saturday when I stopped by that I had to go back the following day to actually get a seat. Thankfully Sunday was more chill. They had a solid lineup of beers but their hazy IPA really missed the mark.

I started with the session hazy, which had a light yellow haze and citrus and grapefruit hop notes. While it was the better of the two hazy beers, it was very subtle with hop aroma. It drinks easy though and is as flavorful as I have had for the style at the low alcohol percentage. After that, the NEIPA was barely hazy and lacked soft and creamy mouthfeel. It had some decent flavors of orange marmalade and some sticky dank finish more akin to a NW IPA.

The pomegranate grapefruit sour was well made with tons of grapefruit that comes on with a strong bitterness like biting into a fruit. I would have liked more pomegranate flavor but overall I found it a little too much grapefruit. The schwartz beer was great with roast and light smoke, a medium body, and light toasted marshmallow character. The barrel aged imperial stout was thick and fudgy with light salt on the finish.

While Ex Novo missed on the haze, the people near me seemed to enjoy their kolsch and other lighter lagers. The flavors of the schwartz suggest that they know how to brew a lager.

Top 2:
Hazy session IPA
Schwartz (black lager)

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Portland Oregon Breweries – Wayfinder and Upright

Wayfinder


One of the newest breweries I visited on my recent visit to Portland was Wayfinder. They opened close to most of the new school breweries in Portland with a full restaurant and expansive seating both outdoor and indoor. This was our first stop of the day and we had lunch along with our beers. As per usual, it takes longer to get your beer flight when you are sitting at a table and have to wait for a server to take your order. Prepare yourself mentally for that if you don’t end up sitting at the bar. I’m not docking them for this as it is the same at most restaurants and they were quite crowded.
I started with the pilsner, which was crisp and fruity and mildly bitter on the finish. This is a fairly standard pilsner. The hazy IPA blew me away with intense grapefruit flavor so powerful I had a hard time believing they didn’t add actual grapefruit. While the beer wasn’t creamy, the explosion of aroma hops was present and made this a very impressive beer. With low bitterness and a crisp dry finish, this was an excellent IPA even though not fully hazy.
The doomtown IPA had a great mix of flavors with resinous hops balanced with notes of grapefruit. The beer had a clean dry finish and mild to medium bitterness. An excellent IPA as well. The Dopplebock was soft and creamy with notes of caramel and plum, nailing the style and quite drinkable for my husband who normally only likes stouts and porters. This is one of the better examples of a dopplebock I have tried in the US.
I ended with the powerful triple IPA that blended nicely multiple varieties of hops giving it a complex hop bouquet sometimes leaning more sticky and piney, other times earthy or floral. The beer has a good caramel malt backbone that mutes the bite of the high bitterness.
Vegan mushroom sandwich.
Vegan hash.
Wayfinder had excellent food and a high quality of beers that stood out among other new breweries I visited this trip. I am excited to see how they develop over the next few years.
Top 2: 
Hazy IPA
Dopplebock

Upright

Upright was on my list for some time but I always ended up passing it over for another spot. The brewery is in a bit of a strange location, down in a basement of a building shared with many other businesses. I found the beers to be a fairly mixed bag and they are possibly one of the only cash only breweries in Portland. Still, if you like a good barrel aged saison they do a great job in that department and should not be skipped over.  They also get distributed down to California if you want to try something before making the trek.
The Ostinato Saison was intensely spice forward with mild citrus character and an effervescent carbonation. I didn’t care for the spice and found the flavors overall somewhat muted. Pathways was excellent with tons of barrel character and lots of funk. This is one of the more impressive yet reasonably priced saisons of this style I have had. I stopped by a bottle shop while I was in town to get a bottle to bring home.
The fourplay cherry sour was incredibly subtle in the fruit department and didn’t have a lot going on. I would have liked to try some of their other barrel aged sours with more intense fruit but they were to-go only. The Ives Batch 2 was lightly tart with notes of white grape and apricot and hints of fresh cut apples. I really enjoyed this one as well. The IPA was soft with a low bitterness and hints of chamomile tea. It didn’t have a ton of aroma but it was clean and easy drinking. The pilsner was crisp and grassy with a clean finish, just how it should be.
As far as the tasting room experience, Upright is cozy and doesn’t have room for a lot of people at a time. I recommend visiting to taste and if you like some of their core beers just buying them elsewhere if you are not used to paying with cash. Though not all of the barrel aged beers were great, the two that I was impressed by were quite good and show an indication of a mature barrel program.
Top 2: 
Pathway Oaked Saison
Ives Batch 2

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Discretion Brewing Company – Santa Cruz CA

I try to make regular trips to Sante Adarius Brewing in Santa Cruz but in the process I like to explore local breweries in the hops of finding a spot that gives me another reason to go back to the area.

Discretion Brewing is located in Capitola area only a short drive from Sante Adarius Rustic Ales. Discretion often comes up as a place to go if in the area and already had what you want at Sante Adarius. They do quite a few barrel aged beers though they only had one available when I visited and it was bottles only. So I only tried their standard lineup. The beers were all well-made even if some were not completely to style.

The schwartz was well made and had notes of bitter chocolate and light roast though it seemed more like a porter than a black lager. It was still very easy to drink. The ESB was tasty with notes of apricot hop and clean bitterness. It could have had a bit more malt flavor to be more traditional but it was easy drinking and not very bitter.

The Dubel had a mix of holiday spoice and raisins with a moderately dry finish without too much sweetness. The Hop Bebop IPA was an excellent version of the standard grapefruit and pine West Coast IPA with a light bitterness and dry finish. This could pass for Duet from Alpine any day.

The stout was tasty and smooth with notes of burnt toffee and tons of roast. It was a good balance with a nice dry finish. The Barley Wine was more on the sweet side, sticky sweet with notes of dark fruit and not a ton of hop character. It was OK but I didn’t love it either.

Discretion has a fairly large indoor seating area and a nice cozy outdoor seating area. We sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air. As far as the core beers go, they are a worthwhile stop for any local who wants a classic IPA. For those who prefer coffee in their stouts, you can always go to New Bohemia nearby instead.

Top 2
Hop Bebop IPA
Schwartz

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Black Plague Brewing – Oceanside San Diego

Black Plague’s address is Oceansidse but they are so inland they are almost Vista. They have a large tasting room space where they serve a variety of beers and occasionally have live music, like the Friday I visited. Thanks to some help from industry veteran Bill Batten they have a great lineup of clean quality beers. I tried 8 beers when I visited and they were all quite good. I was a little put off by the name but the beers are of high enough quality that I am willing to overlook that. Though it may look like they have a ton of beers, they have six different versions of their core IPA with various flavors added.

I started with a flight of mostly hoppy beers. The 1347 IPA was classic bitter with balanced biscuit malt backbone and not a ton of aromas. I got some hints of alcohol taste near the end but nothing overpowering. The Hazy Scandal was not particularly hazy as expected by a newer brewery. It had a light amount of turbidity and tons of tropical fruit flavor with a medium bitter finish. Though it wasn’t hazy it was a good example of the modern juicy West Coast IPA. The Pandemia with Nelson was an excellent single hop Nelson beer with tons of melon and citrus notes and a light malt base.

The Tropic Thunder IPA with grapefruit added had a powerful grapefruit flavor that overpowered the base beer but the flavors worked well together. It was clean and easy drinking. The Samba Cookie nitro stout was smooth and creamy with a light body and mild sweetness from the coconut and chocolate. The various adjuncts worked well together and none dominated giving it a clean easy-drinking flavor.

For my second flight I went for the stronger beers which were mostly over 8% alcohol. The imperial red was intensely bitter but balanced nicely by the roasty base malts. It was smooth with notes of red grape and a dry finish. I was glad that it didn’t have an overly thick sweet body to it. The bourbon barrel aged version of the same beer was quite tasty with a strong bourbon nose and tons of caramel flavor and a dry finish. I was surprised to see they already had bottles of this beer for sale.

The scotch ale had a dark red color with tons of roast and notes of raisins and plums. It was a well made beer. The imperial stout on nitro was excellent with tons of coffee and caramel notes and a thick creamy body from the nitro. If I hadn’t already had so many strong beers I might have ordered more of this. I ended with the habanero version of the 1347 IPA. The beer had a strong spicy bite. The fruity hops complemented the spice though I don’t recommend this for anyone who is not excited by the mention of habanero as it was quite spicy.

Black Plague is quite the drive for me but I am glad I visited because they have an excellent lineup of beers for a young brewery. They had a large open space with tons of seating and a lineup that has a good balance of styles. For the people who live nearby, Black Plague is a great spot to visit for IPAs or stouts. Nothing they brew is so amazing that people down in Southern San Diego must make the long drive but it is a great addition to the neighborhood.

Top 2:
Imperial Stout
BA Imperial Red

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Nashville Breweries – Southern Grist, Smith and Lentz, and Bearded Iris

Southern Grist

Southern Grist had some of the best beers I tasted out of the breweries I visited. They had a wide variety of options with tons of interesting flavors. This isn’t a spot for purists though because almost all of the exciting beers were made with tons of adjuncts added.


The berry cobbler sour was delicious and tasted like berry cobbler with a mix of caramel pie crust and jammy berry notes. It had a dark pink and purple color and had very little tart bite on the finish. The Key Lime Pie gose was also excellent with a sweet pie base and a hint of lime at the finish. Again, this was not particularly tart but a good balance of flavor. The Cherry Limeaid Saison had a strong lime finish and otherwise not much going on. I got notes of chlorine but it could have been just the mix of cherry and lime.

The Zero IBU IPA was creamy and grassy with a light bitter finish. While well-made, I didn’t care for the herbal hop character that dominated. The strawberry upside down cake DIPA was delicious with notes of strawberry and vanilla, a creamy mouthfeel, and a sweetness that didn’t overpower or become cloying. The standard double IPA was creamy and mellow with light tropical fruit notes and a sweet finish. It was a decent double IPA but lacked the intense hop punch that makes the style so delicious.


The coffee maple stout had a medium body with maple flavor dominating and subtle nutty coffee notes on the finish. I found this a bit too sticky sweet for me and could have used more intense coffee flavor. The imperial stout with cinnamon and chocolate had a strong cherry malt character with cinnamon and fudge notes on the finish. Some of the sweetness lingered on the tongue.

While I enjoyed the over-the-top flavors available at Southern Grist, many purists would complain that they don’t have any excellent base styles. I might have brought home a crowler of their berry cobbler sour if they were selling it to-go and came back the following day to enjoy more of it.

Top 2:
Berry Cobbler Sour
Strawberry Cake DIPA

Smith and Lentz


Smith and Lentz is known more for being a stickler to traditional styles though they still had quite a few interesting offerings on when I visited. It was also their second anniversary so they had a few options they rarely have like the barrel aged schwartz. They had a good spacious tasting room and plenty of seating.

The Vesethius Pale was hazy yellow with a citrus forward aroma and light herbal hop finish. It was a decent hazy pale but the hop flavors were fairly muted and the herbal bite overpowered it. The cheer beer was a strange one with cinnamon and cherry added. It had mild notes of caramel and cinnamon with a hint of cherry and a light acidic finish. This is one sort of holiday style beer I don’t generally care for but it was recommended to me by the server.

The smoked porter was nice and balanced with mild smoke and notes of dark fruit and a smooth finish. The barrel aged schwartz was thin and packed tons of bourbon flavor. The Brokedown Pallet was good and juicy with notes of tropical fruit hops and a light mineral finish. Like other beers I could have used a more intense hop aroma on this one.

If you are coming for flights, keep in mind Smith and Lentz doesn’t allow you to order individual tasters so you have to get 4 at a time. The smoked porter indicated to me that these guys know how to make more subtle styles of beer. By the time I was done with my first flight though I didn’t care to order a second so instead I got two half taster splashes.

Top 2:
Vesethius Pale
Smoked Porter

Bearded Iris


When I visited, Bearded Iris had nothing but IPAs on tap. Even the festbier they had was heavily hopped. They had three beers available for cans to-go but I didn’t taste anything so impressive that I wanted to bring IPAs back to San Diego. The locals seemed to quite enjoy their beers. They don’t order flights so you can either order half pours or full pours.

The homestyle IPA was soft and flavorful with notes of citrus, tropical fruit, pine, and some overripe fruit on the finish. The epicenter IPA was dank and acidic with a cloudy orange appearance. It had notes of tangerine and low bitterness on the finish. The Chasing Rainbows had notes of melon, a light acidic finish, and a soft mouthfeel. Both IPAs, though hazy, were lacking in the intense aroma that makes the style so enjoyable.

The Attention Please DIPA had an intense citrus punch with a mild dank resin base and an acidic finish. The Chief of Chiefs DIPA had a soft body and notes of citrus. Like the IPAs above, teh double IPAs lacked the intense hop aroma punch as well. They weren’t bad but they were fairly muted in flavor. None of them really stood out as significantly better than the other.

Bearded Iris is a good stop for hazy IPAs though they still have some way to go before they are worth traveling for from much outside the area. As far as breweries making hazy IPAs go, they are fairly average compared to breweries nationally. This is not a stop for someone who is not a hop head as they seem to be doing little else besides IPAs.

Known for:
Come for soft modern IPAs. They don’t seem to be brewing much else.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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