Tag Archives: IPA

Portland Oregon Breweries – Wayfinder and Upright


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


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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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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

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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Indeed Brewing Company – Minneapolis Minnesota

The last time I was in Minneapolis I didn’t try anything at Indeed because they were packed due to a special event down the street from them. I could see the crowd of people outside and suspected the inside crowd was just as crazy. Thankfully this time they were much more reasonably crowded and I got to try a few beers. One thing to note though is they don’t serve tasters of anything so I was not able to try more than 4 beers before moving on to the next stop.

Outdoor seating area that no doubt is full to the brim during the summer but was abandoned on a cold day.

I started with their Zwickel, an un-filtered Pilsner. It was crisp and dry with cracker notes and light grape character. I would have preferred more intense lager yeast character but it was well-made and easy drinking. I tried splashes of 3 of their hoppy beers before ordering a cask of their Let it Roll with extra hops. It was super creamy with notes of pine and a mix of floral and herbal bite on the finish with low bitterness. I enjoyed this the most of the hoppy beers they had though I still would have preferred more fruit character.

The Mango Helio was their mango sour. It had intense juicy mango character at times tasting like candied mango with a light tart finish. The Rum King imperial stout had intense tropical rum character with a creamy base that hid the alcohol quite well. I found the beer to be fairly thin and the flavors to lack complexity. I didn’t taste much more than rum.

Mango sour.
IPA on Cask.

Indeed had a great lineup of beers and I would have loved to have tried more than I did but what I had was quite good. If you are in MSP for a weekend Indeed is a great stop and they are properly recommended as one of the better breweries in the area.

Top 2:
Let it Roll IPA
Mango Hellio

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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Toppling Goliath Brewing – Decorah Iowa, a Visit to the Legendary Brewery

Toppling Goliath got a big name after they were rated some of the best hoppy beers in the world by Beer Advocate. They have a focus on IPAs but they also have some small release stouts and delicious kettle sours. The crazy thing about the brewery is that the closest major airport is Minneapolis St Paul so you may end up driving 2 and a half hours to get to the brewery after flying across the country.

The brewery itself is a fairly small space given the big hype associated with it. On the Saturday afternoon when we visited there was a Football game going on that drew a loud boisterous crowd. Seating is fairly limited but in the area you can fairly easily find some bottles that may have sold out at the brewery. I preferred their hazy double IPAs and kettle sour over the other beers though they had some tasty lighter beers. They serve their beers in chilled glasses so I would recommend asking for non-chilled tasters if you go. This seemed silly considering it was 40 degrees outside.

The galaxy dry hopped Sue was creamy and subdued with light fruity notes. I found the beer to be nothing special. It didn’t have a ton of hop character or taste that much better than the average hoppy pale. The DDH sue was a little better with notes of bubblegum and vanilla and a creamy mouthfeel with minimal bitterness. While it was up there with some of the better hoppy pales it wasn’t anything revolutionary or unique. After returning home with some cans of Sue, the closest thing I compare it to is a pale ale from El Segundo Brewing Company. It isn’t that the beer is bad so much as the California brewers have been making similar quality low alcohol pale ales for quite some time.

Pomepeii was resinous and sticky with notes of ripe fruit and had a ton more flavor than the Sue. It was a bit above average and quite a delicious beer. I brought back a bunch of fresh bottles of it and in the bottles I got a ton of orange peel character of the sort that I rarely taste in a beer of this alcohol percentage. Nugget had notes of pine and grape with a light bitterness. For a 6% beer it was very crushable. Overall it was nicely balanced.

Rover Truck, their oatmeal stout, was excellent with a mix of smoke, roast, and light cherry. It was smooth with a medium body and at the time I visited the only dark beer they had on tap. If I didn’t have the limited space in checked luggage I might have brought a few four packs back for my husband. The X Hops Gold had a mix of light pepper and vegetal hop character with mild citrus and an excellent balance. It was a well-balanced beer and quite good.

King Sue, a hazy double IPA was creamy and soft with notes of vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches. It was above average as far as hazy double IPAs go and up there with some of the best. The Supa Sumo was creamy and soft with tons of citrus and light melon. It had a bit more hop aroma kick than the King Sue and was my favorite IPA of the day. I left with a 32oz growler of this one, though I also found a bottle at a nearby shop to enjoy that night. Dragon Fandango is their kettle sour that at the time I visited had dragon fruit and passion fruit. Before I knew what fruits it used, I tasted tons of strawberry and raspberry. It was juicy and lightly sweet with a light tart finish. This was my favorite beer of the day and I brought a small growler of this home as well.

Full pour of Dragon Fandango after finishing my other beers.

Though I had hoped that Toppling Goliath may end up being in a class by itself compared to other breweries, I found that they rank among the top for breweries in their category. Their hazy double IPAs were up there with the best I’ve had in the country and their kettle sour was one of the best I have had anywhere. Despite the long distance from the nearest airport I found the visit to be worth it especially when you add in their neighbor, Pulpit Rock down the street. Unlike other breweries known for hazy double IPAs, you are more likely to find their hazy beers in 22oz bottles than cans for $9. This makes the beers more expensive per ounce than the average $22 4-pack of hazy double IPAs out there.

Considering the various breweries out there making fantastic hazy IPAs, visiting Toppling Goliath is likely to be a one time thing for me. A stop at other major Hazy IPA breweries is generally easier and involves less driving, especially for breweries like Tree House or Trillium.

Top 2:
Dragon Fandango
Supa Sumo

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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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