Thursday, September 4, 2014

Oregon, Part 3: Old Town Brewing / オールドタウンブリューイング

Over the years, when visiting Portland, I have driven up and down Martin Luther King Jr Blvd many times. I had never seen Old Town Brewing (eyes on the road, you know). I likely wouldn’t have ever noticed it or gone there, except that a beer blogger, whose opinion I respect, has touted it a bit during past year. 

It wasn’t very crowded on a Tuesday evening, as it doesn’t yet seem to be on the PDX beer geek radar. The atmosphere was warm and a bit rustic, with wood, exposed beams and a big stone fireplace – kind of like a mountain lodge resort restaurant.

There were eight Old Town beers on tap, four regulars and four seasonals. A tasting set of all eight was available for $8. Very small glasses -- the server said they were one ounce, but they looked more like 2-3 ounces. Pints cost $4.75, imperial pints $5.50, and pitchers $13. 

The food menu was rather limited. The main thing here is definitely pizza. I had the Garlic Knots, and they were tasty and filling. However, most of the food selections will interfere with the beer tasting experience.

A small problem for beer samplers is that the beer menu at the table does not clearly identify the seasonal brews; it simply lists, for example, a "Dark Selection" or a "Hop Handle." When I asked about them, the server wasn’t quite so informed. I finally had to go check out the small chalkboard listing, which is visible only from the bar area, to find out the exact beers being served. A minor quibble, I know...

Overall, I wasn’t quite as impressed as I expected to be. The beers were okay, some very good. I'll pay them a visit in the future, to see how things have moved along.

Here are a few of the better beers there:

Old Town Challenger Red
This was listed as an amber ale, and it had a generous pine/citrus mix aroma with caramel behind it. The initial flavor was lightly sweetish caramel. It veered just a touch sourish in mid palate, with light prunes and overripe dates, and had mild hop tracks in finish. Mild red stuff, with decent aroma hopping.

Old Town Irish Red 
This one was labeled, "Old Town Paulie’s Not Irish Red." It had a clean, fruity nose of light raisins and roast malt. It had a pretty reddish/brown color and a creamy tan head. Flavors included roasty maltiness and a stew of fermenting dark fruits. Very good balance from mid palate onwards. But … it tasted more like a heavy amber ale.
Old Town Red Ships of Spain
This unusual beer had a candyish aroma, with roast malt and some indeterminate spices. It was clear dark red with nice ruby highlights. The initial flavor showed good roast malt, sweet and sugary (possibly Belgian candi sugar). It moved to a mélange of dark fruits, some light tobacco, and maybe leather. Very pleasant and complex, it was made with yeast from Brasserie du Bocq. An interesting Belgian/American hybrid, with an understated mild aroma, and rich malty and spicy flavors. It was the best one among the eight I tried. The name is a reference to a SNL sketch with Will Ferrel and ... Robert Goulet (remember him?).

5201 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, Oregon United States 97211 [ print map ]
503 200-5988

Sun - Wed 11:30 AM - 10:00 PM
Thu - Sat 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM

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