Last night was the fourth anniversary of Bailey's Taproom, and as usual, I was remiss by not letting you know beforehand about the party, which featured rare, barrel-aged beers. The event caused a few sparks to arise from the dying embers of my brain, which is about all you can expect. Here they are:
- Bailey's is only four years old, but it has already achieved watershed status. Geoff Phillips didn't invent the alehouse idea, but he tweaked it in a way that has now been emulated a number of times across the city. Rather than focusing on a standard range of beers with a few rotator handles, Geoff decided to rotate his whole line of 20 taps. He has focused on Oregon beers and was a huge friend to small breweries and breweries in obscure places. If you founded a pub in Nowhere, Oregon and wanted to place a keg in Portland, Geoff was the guy to talk to. If it was good, he'd put it on. The effect is like a constantly evolving beer fest. He solicits great beer, so if you're looking for a rarity, Bailey's is a place to start. There are now enough other pubs that have followed his lead (many worthy of high praise) that it seems like this is a standard feature of Beervana. It is, but it's only four years old. Four years and a day.
- There were scads of good beers available at the celebration. One that really knocked me back was Double Diesel Stout by Cascade. It was a dense, leather-and-tobacco beer that took only enough oak, oxygen, and foreign booze (from bourbon and pinot barrels) to burnish and smooth its burly edges. Proof that Cascade can work outside the sour oeuvre if they put their minds to it. I don't know if any is still available, but Flat Tail's one-year anniversary beer is really special. It's a hard beer to describe because the facts (soured, 8%) obscure the reality. It has a massively fruity nose that some people called grapefruit and others oranges. I couldn't identify it, but I was reminded of Hawaii, and some fruit I had there. These notes don't come from hops, though, but rather fermentation and the strange fission that occurs when flavors start dancing together. It is very light-bodied and wholly absent booziness. The acid is delicate and tart, and the beer finishes crisply. It drinks like a summer quencher--right up until you figure out how strong it is and are forced to lie down.
- A sort of impressionistic photo, the only one I took.