Thursday, May 12, 2011

Malt and matrimony

On Saturday, I'm getting married in Portland, Ore. In addition to the bride and guests and such, the wedding will feature six Northwest craft beers on tap.

The wedding is at Meriwether's Restaurant, a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on local food. The thinking extends to beer. The restaurant's six taps are all either Oregon or Washington-brewed beers. It's also noticeable whose beers are not included — the biggest Northwest breweries like Deschutes, Rogue and Redhook. The restaurant obviously prefers to choose the smaller guys.

Here's what Meriwether's currently has on tap:

* Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Lager
* Fearless Brewing Scottish Ale
* Alameda Brewing Klickitat Pale Ale
* Ninkasi Total Domination IPA
* Double Mountain India Red Ale
* Hale's Ales Dublin Stout (nitro)

As you can see, it's a good mix of beers with one lager, two hoppy beers, two malty English-style ales and a stout. Ninkasi is the largest brewery represented here. It started in Eugene, Ore., in 2006, and has grown quickly by focusing on intensively hoppy ales. The extent of their reach — market penetration, in business-speak — is exceedingly impressive. They're everywhere in Oregon.

Hopworks Urban Brewery, known as HUB, is a Portland brewpub (with some bottling) that has won a slew of awards. Their beers are very well done, and HUB has gone as far as any brewery in emphasizing bikes and trying to minimize its environmental impact.

Double Mountain is the operation of two brewers who broke off from the much larger Full Sail in Hood River, Ore. I've heard a lot of good things about Double Mountain, and it wouldn't surprise me if the honeymoon involves a stop at the tap room (luckily, I've found a lady who's open minded about craft beer, particularly Belgians and dark beers).

It's indicative of the Northwest beer (and food) scene to have a menu like this. Some Durango restaurants, to their credit, have embraced local food and beer. (Seasons Rotisserie and Grill and Cocina Linda come easily to mind).

In places like Portland, menus with locally raised pork or leeks harvested nearby barely warrant a mention. It's assumed that if you care about your food, you do these things.

P.S. Blogging around these parts might be light for the next two weeks. I might blog from the road, but I might not. It's a free country, as they say.

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