Crosstown Pale Ale : Hopworks Urban Brewery : Pale Ale
Hopworks IPA : Hopworks Urban Brewery : IPA
Bourbon Barrel IPA : Hopworks Urban Brewery : IPA (Imperial)
Expresso Stout : Hopworks Urban Brewery : Stout
Hopworks Revolution Rootbeer : Hopwords Urban Brewery : Rootbeer
We drive past South Bend, the oyster capital of the world, its long lay of brackish tidal waters painted black at low tide. We are headed back to Portland: I know I will experience oyster withdraw today.
I am ready. There comes a day in the life of a being a parent where you stand on the corner and watch your child cross the street without you, off to school. It shatters the spirits and ultimately strengthens the soul. It’s hard, but you know it’s necessary.
And you get over it. Your kid comes home and all you get out of them about school is: “good.” Soon enough, they start to learn things you never taught them, particularly vivid lessons taught on the school bus or the playground. They start to learn things you never could have learned them good at home and now you can’t even help that much with the homework. Growing up, and it’s okay, you say to yourself.
And then one day, your child is packing a bag or two or three, crushing in their favorite cloths and more vital possessions. Getting ready for college. And you know that you’ve never really gotten over that day when they were old enough, mature enough (you assumed) to have headed off to school by themselves.
And when you have that second realization, the only thing you can really do, is make sure you have a good beer on hand. And a checkbook. And, of course, another beer.
It is only by happenstance that we end up at Hopworks Urban Brewery. I had every intention of checking out FARM on the recommendation of my Portland beer guide/guru Ashley Rose (of Brewvana fame), but they were closed. But Ashley also recommended HUB, with it’s grand picnic tables on an elevated deck and its long list of thoroughly thought-out beers.
My daughter is rolling on about the excitement of college, as I watch and listen to her as only a proud father drinking a Crosstown Pale Ale could. After all, I have her to thank for this, since she was the one who originally challenged me to the blog. It’s refreshing…both the enthusiasm about professors’ lectures and the crisp, nicely bitter with a green apple ting to it beverage. Crosstown in Manhattan means frustration; here the traffic is a well-managed intersection of grapefruit and hop punch.
And my son is laughing too, happy to see his sister, happy to know that he has his own room, finally, awaiting back home. So I order the pale’s sibling beer, the Hopworks IPA. It leads with malt and pepper, backed into kumquat rind and light pine notes. This is understandable the signature beer of this outstanding brewery. As good as the West Coast gets.
Could it get better?
“You guys had a perfect beer without me?” Still my friend, Helen has forgiven all, her IPA keeping her happy.
“Try this one then…” I hand the glass over to Richard, still my friend. You do not have to taste the Bourbon Barrel IPA to experience it. You need only breath it. The rich fullness of a complex IPA (as described above, but even more elusively perfect), rounded against the ocean depth of its bourbon curing…hell, it’s like a shot of heaven. I have been to Mount Olympus and tasted the ambrosia. Thank you.
The spin from even this small glass requires a little something to clear the mind, so I order the Expresso Stout. Ah, I am suddenly cascading down the other side of the mountain, spinning through clear mountain springs that roll over some coffee grounds that a hiker inadvertently tossed to the side of the path. Clean, sure, but mostly a lack of coordinated substance here. Then again, the barrel is a tough act to follow.
Is there anything that can redeem the experience?
“Try this, Dad.” My son Ben hands over his rootbeer. Ah, perfection re-established. Of all the rootbeer samplings of the trip — Pelican, Rogue, Burnside, Jones, A&W — this tops them all: smooth, not too sweet, and it perfectly captures that rootbeer barrel candy afterglow.
Thank you, kids. You’ve both taught me a lot.
Rating Crosstown Pale Ale : 90%
Rating Hopworks IPA : 90%
Rating Bourbon Barrel IPA : 96%
Rating Expresso Stout : 74%
Rating Hopworks Revolution Rootbeer : 100%