January 29, 2012

Neglected Portland Breweries: Philadelphia's

Portland has some 40 breweries. Many are world-class, even out-of-this-world. Many ain't.

Sometimes I beat myself up for not having been to every single brewery in town (or in the outskirts). I'd like to visit them all. I intend to. But I guess if I'm being honest, the ones I haven't checked out yet are the ones that simply have no Beer Geek Brownie Points. At no time was this made clearer than when I got my tuchas into Tugboat Brewing adjacent to Bailey's Taproom and blogged about it. It's clear that nearly every area self-respecting beer geek avoids it like the black stout they make (that I'm a huge fan of. Chernobyl Russian Imp. Stout.)

So here's Pt. II of a new, ongoing series: Neglected Portland breweries. Wherein I quaff and nosh at Philadelphia's Steaks & Hoagies. (Note: the name Brewing Co. isn't even in it.)
Indeed, from the outside of this Sellwood 'hood brewpub, the only notice you're given that it's actually a brewpub is a neon sign in the window that says Open, d'oh, I mean the other one that says Brew Pub. But trust me, it doesn't pop out as much as it sounds. Equally unfortunate, entering the establishment hardly gives any indication that they brew and sell their own beer on premise. I wonder how often people belly up to their bar and order a Bud Light (or a Rolling Rock, thinking they're drinking something from Pennsylvania, which of course it used to be).

Since I was only there for lunch and had my wife and newborn son in tow (not sure how I feel about this being Izzy's first brewpub), I only ordered a few samplers. I got the impression they don't really do flights, but he was happy to pour me three tasters for the price of a pint ($4.25). Of there roughly 10 house beers, they were out of three. I don't begrudge them that since they're working on a 3-barrel system. Their website is out of date as it claims they are "Oregon's smallest licensed microbrewery." Several nanobreweries are more demure. Still, they're super small, and they generally churn out a whopping 75 barrels per annum. I tried:
*Independence IPA: All of their other beers are held to 6% ABV or under, but this one gets crazy at 6.5%. It was a little too English-style for my tastes; I would've like more American citrus hops, but if viewed as a pale ale, it was ok.

*Coffee Stout: Yeah, it was ok, too. I generally love this style, so compared to all the other great ones around town from HUB to Laurelwood, it's impossible to get excited about this one.

*Barrel-aged Betsy Ross Golden Ale. So the kicker is that their Golden is their flagship, but that was one of the 3 they were out of. This one is interesting for a barrel aged beer. For starters, they start with a light, golden ale that's 5.2% alcohol, and then age it in a Syrah wine barrel. It picked up no alcohol, but abundant oak, fruit, and enough winey sour zing to make this a cool session beer. Kudos.

What I should've tried was the Red Ale despite generally hating red ales (although stay tuned for the next installment of this series where I hit Max's Fanno Creek in Tigard where they make the most amazing red I've had). Why? Because it's called Rocky Red. Gonna fly now.

So if not the beer, I guess most people come for the ch'steaks. But, well, they aren't that good. Not terrible. But as I often say, the best Philly cheesesteaks are made in California, with Philly coming in second at best. Whiz? Really? I know, I know. You hate me now and don't take anything I've said seriously at this point. But hey, even this places is above using cheeze whiz. Everyone knows ch'steaks are about the roll, and theirs needs work. Meat needs seasoning. Needs higher onion to bell pepper ratio, if you ask me. And not even the condiment bar stocked those great sweet'n'hot peppers. Hmph.

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