Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oregon, Spring 2015, Part 1: The Mash Tun

The first spot I visited in Portland on this trip was The Mash Tun. This is a smallish brewpub located on Alberta Street (the main entrance is actually on NE 22nd Ave.). Though it started in 2005, it seems to have kept a low profile, as many flashier and more cutting-edge bars and brewpubs have opened around town. People in Portland seem to know the place, but few go there often or even mention it much. It developed as, and still feels like, a local neighborhood bar.

It was dark, even in the daytime, with a somewhat worn, rough-edged look. There were ten or so customers on a late Thursday afternoon. Only a single TV, over the bar, tuned to the National Geographic channel, with the sound muted and subtitles scrolling. Also, a pool table in the middle of the room and a cool vintage jukebox in one corner. Seating for maybe 60 people, with a large deck patio area out in the back.

Ten taps of house brews were available, along with one guest cider tap and five bottle/can beer selections, including Rainier Ale (that old NW favorite). Tasting sets cost $1.75 for each glass, though there are discounts for taster sets of 4, 6, 8, etc. My flight of four cost $6. Glasses for $3.50, pints for $4.50, and pitchers for $13.50. Overall, the beers were fair to middling, but definitely below average around these parts.  One writer has described them as “workmanlike” and “drinkable.”

Here are the four I tried:

Mash Tun Short Circuit Fresh Hop Ale    2.2 (out of 5)
Grassy nose, with rotten dates, and a Pine-Sol chemical note. Light copper color. Rude off-flavors, sweetish malt, and a rasty finish. Thin body. This one was made last fall and hasn’t survived well.

Mash Tun Tomahawk IPA           2.6
A single-hop IPA. Caramel nose with stinky bitterness. Medium copper/amber color, some lace. Malty, buttery initial. The hopping, which rose on the carbonation, wasn’t entirely agreeable. Medium body. This one seemed underattentuated and the balance was quite off.

Mash Tun Kilgore Stout               3.3
Named for a Kurt Vonnegut character, this stout had a decent chocolate nose, with some light powdery cocoa notes. Flavors of dark roast, more chocolate, some coffee, light bittering, a balanced finish, and good hop tracks. Medium body, quite creamy perhaps oats in this?). Pleasant stuff. Maybe actually a sweet stout.

Mash Tun Alberta Pale Ale          3.4
A light spicy, citrusy nose. Pale straw color, with no head. Tasty maltiness among the initial flavors, with citrus and grass. It balances nicely in mid palate. Thin-medium body. Well-rounded, straightforward stuff. The best beer I had there.

2204 NE Alberta St
Portland, Oregon, USA 97211

(503) 548-4491
Mon- Fri: 1 pm -1 am
Sat & Sun: 10 am -1 am

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