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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