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Thursday, June 24, 2010

A First Look at Coaltion Brewing

I first mentioned Coalition Brewing over a year ago, back when it was still slated to be called Hobo Brewing, and have been watching it edge closer to becoming my friendly neighborhood lo these past months. Such anticipation! Yesterday, on a gloriously sunny early evening, Sally and I walked the four blocks that separate my front door and theirs and finally had a pint of Coalition's new brews.

I won't do a full review for a few weeks. Last night, the wee space was over-run by fans and Sally and I didn't stick around to try the food (or even, I must admit, the third beer on offer). It's always good to let a brewpub get its bearings, work out the kinks, and get all their beer on line before subjecting it to a real review. Still, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I have one: very promising.

Coalition has three very similar beers on tap right now: a pale (5%, 59 IBUs), and ESB (5.5%, 56 IBUs) and a red (5.7%, 59 IBUs). Next up is a stout, which will be followed by an IPA, the first "Coalator" beer--made jointly with a homebrewer--and then a cream ale. By the time the cream ale hits the taps, it will look a lot more diverse. I wasn't thinking so much about the styles of beer as the quality, and it was excellent. Both the ESB and pale were pretty aggressively hoppy, but well-made and sessionable. If I were to retool the recipes at all, I'd drop the pale down about ten IBUs. I'll let them get used to their new system and do a full review later. But in short, they're exactly the kinds of beers patrons in Southeast Portland want.

The pub itself is quite attractive. The entire north-facing wall is a windowed garage door, so on sunny days, the pub runs out onto the street (in a few weeks, there will be patio seating on the pub's east side). To help compensate for the very small size of the space, they've added a long table on one side of the pub that functions like a second, two-sided bar. The open door is obviously great on summer days, and I expect the windows will be great on rainy ones, too. And one thing I noticed with interest: no TV. This seems a conscious choice about what kind of clientele they're shooting for.

I shot a few phone photos, which I'll paste in below. Overall, pretty damn cool.

Looking at the bar from the street side.


The sole disappointment: not honest pints.
On the other hand, they're only $3.75.



The outdoors spill in through the north wall.


Sidewalk seating.

9 comments:

Patrick Emerson said...

Those pint glasses are a disappointment, where was the Honest Pint-man to set them straight before they chose?

Jeff Alworth said...

Wow, that was a fast comment. I was just going back and captioning my pictures when you commented. I agree, a disappointment! But having spoken to the guys from Breakside, I know that honest pints are extravagantly more expensive than shakers, so I suspect this was a bottom line decision. Fortunately, I live four blocks away and can exert sustained pressure over the coming years. Once they're back in black, I'll prevail upon them to do the right thing.

pedXer said...

I checked out coalition on my way home from work yesterday evening, around 7:30. It was PACKED. I tried one of each of their beers and completely agree with your assessment. These beers are super tasty, but I was a little let down by how similar they all were. Not that this was a bad thing, but I certainly await a little more variety on the menu. I was surprised to find that the red was the least bitter tasting of the the three to me. I had a hankering for something more on the malty side of the spectrum when I showed up, so I guess the fact that I still really enjoyed these three really hop-forward brews yesterday says something. The grilled sandwiches looked really good, but I couldn't find a place to sit the whole time I was there, so I left without a meal.

I can't wait to go back when it's a little less busy so I can eat and try some of their other beers.

The last thing I need is another brewery directly between my work and my house, but I'm glad this one opened so far.

Brian said...

Excellent review. I stopped by there as well with my lady. The beer was overall fine but could have benefitted from some variety to the styles as well as some minor adjustments to the brews themselves.

Was glad to see it so busy. Always willing to support a new brew spot. Looking forward to the stout and IPA offerings. As for the cream ale, not so much :)

ericmsteen said...

Hey, i'm in that top picture (the guy in red turning around at the bar). I definitely enjoyed my three beers and look forward to drinking more there.

Jeff Alworth said...

Eric, I somehow find that very cool that you found this post. Glad to have caught you turning around! I'll say hi the next time I see you.

michael said...

Anyone happen to notice if there were any t-shirts for sale? Should I be bringing some extra cash? One can never have too much beer-related couture.

pedXer said...

You know, I didn't notice if they had shirts, but that reminds me of one thing I DID notice about coalition: great design. I thought both the branding and the interior design were very strong. When I saw the branded glasses, I immediately wondered if they'd have some for sale, as I collect brewery glassware. Also, I don't think anyone's mentioned the photography they have adorning the walls. Really great beer related stuff that goes way past the ubiquitous cliche shots, and shows a real appreciation for the craft. As someone who is an amateur photographer by hobby, and a beer nerd by religious choice, the shots were something I totally geeked out on.

ericmsteen said...

Jeff- i've been a fan for a while now!

michael - I've seen the brewers wearing Coalition hoodies.

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