One of the larger, more established breweries in Portland is Bridgeport. Their Hop Czar has a reputation for being one of the best double IPAs. While visiting I got to try the Anniversary Series 01, Long Ball Extra Pale, IPA, Kingpin, Hop Czar, Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout, Ginger Hibiscus Saison, Anniversary 2 Aussie IPA, and Old Knucklehead Barleywine.
The Anniversary Series 01 was a nice experimental hop pale ale with some smooth pine flavors though a bit too light for my tastes. The Long Ball Extra Pale had the hop profile closest to what I like with plenty of crisp lemon flavors. This is still pretty light despite the extra pale name and very sessionable. The IPA to me was a little too weak for the name at only 5.5% but it had some solid floral flavors going on.
The Kingpin was one of the better beers here. As a double red it has plenty of caramel malt flavor and some nice rye flavors to smooth it out nicely. I couldn’t taste the stronger 7.5% when drinking it. The liberty hops used to give it a little kick had a nice spice flavor to them, rounding out this one nicely. The Hop Czar was a newer batch that used some Australian hops. If I had come by for the previous batch I would have been able to try the batch made with Citra. The Australian hops were not my thing at all and the beer was overwhelmingly tart and intensely piney. I did not finish the taster.
Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout was another beer that does a good job of hiding the higher alcohol content. It had a nice smooth balance of the tart cherry and smooth chocolate flavors. I’m not typically a fan of cherry but my husband quite enjoyed this one and finished the taster for me. The Ginger Hibiscus Saison was an interesting seasonal offering though the taster I had was too heavy on the ginger for my tastes. It overwhelmed the rest of the flavors completely. A great beer to try if you really like ginger.
The Anniversary 2 Aussie IPA was also not really my thing. While the Australian hops used here aren’t the same as those in the Hop Czar, both hops must have similar characteristics. This beer was also quite off-putting with a very mouth-puckering bitterness. Finally, the Old Nucklehead Barleywine was the other beer I really enjoyed here. It was the strongest beer I tried here at 9.5% and you can really taste the strength. The caramel malt flavors blended nicely with the sweetness from the bourbon barrel it was aged in. This was a smooth beer and not very bitter.
Though I was slightly disappointed by the hoppy offerings at Bridgeport I did really like the Kingpin and the Barleywine. If you like lighter hoppy beers, this is a good place to visit. I did not eat any food at this brewery while visiting.
My second day in the area I spent exploring San Francisco with my fiance. We first went out on the bridge to bridge tour of the bay, where we got to see the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges up close and drive near Alcatraz. Later in the evening I went out exploring and wanted to stop by Thirsty Bear Brewing but sadly they were not open. This led me to the bar across the street from our hotel where I was happy to find they had $3 pints for happy hour. This was my chance to try the Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers.
The hop flavors really make this one of my favorite ales. They add just the right amount of hops to balance out the typical malt flavors you get in an ale. I only had one here because we were off to Oakland to eat dinner with relatives and more beer to enjoy with that.
We stopped by a restaurant where we had pizza and appetizers with beer. I was glad to see a solid selection of beers on tap to choose from. My fiance went straight for the Stone Russian Imperial Stout which they served in a pint. Needless to say he only had one. I went straight for the Drake’s Brewing 1500 Pale. It had a nice light taste with some nice hop flavor. At 5.5% it was what some breweries might call an extra pale.
After that I was ready for something substantial and tried Heretic Brewing’s Evil Cousin Imperial IPA. The beer had plenty of citrus and pine flavors, nicely balanced by the right amount of malts. I was satisfied for the day with my hop fix. In Part 3 I will explore Rosamunde Sausage Grill and the beer I had on tap there. Part 4 will explore Southern Pacific Brewing. Part 5 will round it out with a visit to Rogue.