If I wanted water, I would have asked for water.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Laurelwood and Other Underrated Breweries

Just working through a backlog of emails here, and I see that Laurelwood is planning an event to celebrate their tenth anniversary. Ten--wow! I still consider Laurelwood a relatively new brewery (which of course underscores the fact that I am a relatively old man). They're having a party in a couple weeks (March 18), and I'll try to remember to flag it beforehand.

It got me thinking. Laurelwood is one of my regular haunts. It has four things I admire in a brewery: proximity (17%), good food (9%), televisions for watching Blazers/Red Sox/Packers (13%), and reliably above-average beer with the occasional homer (61%). Over the years, I've had several beers there of such surpassing quality that they readily spring through my clogged memory of beers past. In short, I consider it easily one of the best breweries in Portland.

Strangely, you don't hear all that much about it among beer geeks. It's a family hangout, and Chad Kennedy doesn't dial up habenero-dandelion saisons or barrel-aged beers. I therefore declare it one of Beervana's Most Underrated Breweries (TM). That, in turn, makes me wonder which others are underrated, which in turn makes me think it's time for a poll.

So here goes, the "most underrated breweries" poll. The idea here is to identify those breweries that don't get their due credit for producing great beers. Media darlings like Upright and Block 15, which in other contexts would be considered underrated, here are not. As the host of the poll, I get to create the list, but I'll leave you a slot to overrule me.


14 comments:

Fish said...

I have to agree with you on Laurelwood. I am definitely looking forward to the Imperial Workhorse IPA on their birthday. I almost stopped in Friday in the middle of my birthday beer century since I was at the Bike Gallery there. But it was more a day of hitting new places so I opted to head on.

Anonymous said...

Laurelwood is probably my favorite brewery. Basically their whole line-up ranges from B+ to A-, with some A's included.

I liked it even before I had kids, but now that I do, it's the easiest place to go. I can definitely understand why the childless would be turned off by it though.

Lance said...

I really like Laurelwood but I don't think they are underrated.

I chose "Other" Mutiny Brewing in Joseph. They only have 3 beers right now, but each one is solid.

I would like to know the other breweries that were listed under "Other".

Jeff Alworth said...

Anon, since most non-parents go out a little later anyway, it's not a problem. Show up after 7:30 and it's largely adults.

Lance, when I report on the results, I'll definitely mention which got other mentions. Glancing at it now, there's no single brewery surging forth.

Anonymous said...

As a Westsider, getting to Laurelwood is now quite a trek with the closing of their NW Location. What a disappointment; I loved going there.

BRANDON said...

I like Laurelwood but I have to disagree. I think they are generally held in high esteem. Good brewery, but underrated is not the right descriptor. On a national scale, perhaps, but not locally...

Lance said...

I agree with Brandon. Laurelwood won a gold in 2004, a bronze in 2006, and a silver in 2008 at the World Beer Cup. I don't think underrated is a word I would use to describe Laurelwood.

Doug S. said...

...and a gold and bronze at the 2009 GABF, and another bronze at the 2010 GABF. I love Laurelwood, but they are definitely not underrated...

Anonymous said...

Jeff, not that I know a ton about this nor is it probably really important, but isn't putting the poll in with the article about Laurelwood going to skew the poll towards Laurelwood?

Just curious.
KD

Harry said...

From reading Jeff's post I think that he was saying they are underappreciated more than underrated. I think that 3 or 4 years ago they were well appreciated. Since then many other breweries have opened and stolen some spotlight, they closed the original brewery and the 23rd St. locations, and they opened up a spot somewhere across the Columbia. All of those factors take away from the Portland beer geeks (Pbg(tm)) attraction despite the fact that the beer is the same quality. Their annual bottle releases are pretty solid and they began experimenting with barrel aging and souring (Framboise anyone?) and I can get a pint while waiting for my plane nowadays. One of my favorites in town but it is hard to compete for the Pbg's short term attention span!

Jeff Alworth said...

KD, generally speaking, yes. As a matter of proper polling, you'd never do this kind of thing. As a practical matter, it hasn't in the past: my opinion carries very little weight. I would blame the fact that Laurelwood posted this on their Facebook page more than my own influence.

I'll talk about it more tomorrow.

Jack R. said...

Nice to see Heater Allen recognized as 2nd place in the poll. Allen make excellent craft lagers.

I found not notice of this poll on their FaceBook page.

Brewmance said...

No barrel aged beers? I loved the Framboise and patiently await the barrel aged stout coming soon! You are behind good man!

Jeff Alworth said...

No barrel aged beers? I loved the Framboise and patiently await the barrel aged stout coming soon! You are behind good man!

That's the story of my life...

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