In my wanderings up and down the Western third of Oregon, I managed to stop in with a group of politicos at Rogue's restaurant in Newport last night. No luck on the much-recommended Dry-Hopped Red (a mythical beer sighted only in Newport), but I did try Brewer, one of the rare beers I would call truly unique.
This is the third batch John Maier has made, but based on descriptions of earlier versions, an interesting departure. Those were based on a doppelbock recipe, and a description of last year's Brewer characterizes it as "a strong ale with tons of hop flavor and a hugh malt backbone."
This year's batch is a wild and wonderful mixture of styles. It is as dark as a porter, but quite light-bodied. It is creamy and chocolatey, again, firmly in porter territory. Now the fun: it's vividly hoppy and seemed to be potent (hard to tell amid the competing flavors). I don't know if it was intentional, but this might have been the conversation John Maier had with himself before setting out a recipe: "Cross a brown porter with a stong ale and hop liberally while ensuring that the body stays light and creamy and the subtler flavors of cacao and roasted coffee remain intact after the riveting assault by pounds of hops. The different flavor components should stay intact but complement each other, yet it shouldn't be a challenging beer to drink."
He pulled it off.
Time Travel Along the Snake River
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