It's a wonderful thing to be from Oregon, that state that has served as a cradle for the craft-beer revolution. A visit to the ol' family for Christmas reintroduced me to some of the Beaver State's beers.
I tried a number of beers during my week there, but perhaps the most notable trend was one I first alluded to in September: Oregon brewers' continuing experimentation with IPAs.
Oregon breweries were on the forefront of releasing face-puckering, hoppy IPAs. Because of this, they are beginning to experiment with getting other flavors out of hop-forward IPAs besides bitter. It's a natural evolution of the IPA, and one that I find entirely welcome.
Terminal Gravity IPA (6.9 percent ABV) has a wonderful fruity taste bordering on sweet, from an up-and-coming brewery in Oregon's rural northeast corner.
A pub-only special at Deschutes Brewing Co.'s Portland pub, Fresh-squeezed IPA, had a sublime floral taste to go along with a gentle hop bite. Here's how Deschutes describes the IPA, which comes in at 6.5 percent ABV and 60 IBUs: "This experimental hop IPA is a 'citrus bomb' in every way. The aroma and flavor scream citrus. Three types of malt, one type of bittering hop and a whole lot of experimental aroma hops were all it took to create this delicious offering."
Other very impressive beers were Upright Brewing's Flora Rustica, an earthy, rustic saison brewed with Calendula flowers from the new Portland brewery; and a Marion Berry Wheat from the Block 15 brewpub in Corvallis. Marion berries are a blackberry hybrid, developed locally at Oregon State University, that imparted a pleasant, mild sweetness to this subtle fruit beer.
Durango breweries make a lot of fine beers, but sometimes it's rewarding to get out of the bubble and see what other brewers are doing. Cool stuff, it turns out.