|A tight fit for brewer Charlie Van Meter. (Source)|
As I was drinking through the lineup, I noticed something. Production breweries like The Commons, Upright, and Cascade can afford to make beers that target a particular niche--through the magic of distribution, they can get their beers to their scattered fans. A corner brewpub like Sasquatch doesn't have that luxury. It needs to make beer that appeals to the broadest group in the half-mile radius around the pub where most of the clientele live. As a result, brewpubs are almost perfect little reflections of what people drink.
Let's look at Sasquatch's line. They have a brown, a stout, and that Belgian on the one hand. On the other, it has five or six beers, depending on how you count, that are versions of American hoppy ales: Oregon Session Ale (4.7%), which has quite a bit of Willamette hop zest, Healy Heights Pale (5.6%, 46 BUs), OR-7 Amber (6.6%, 45 BUs), Woodboy Dry Hop IPA (6.8%, 74 BUs), Red Electric IRA (6.7%, 70 BUs), and Moby Dick IIPA (10.2%, 90 BUs). When a person sits down, she thinks: what variety of hoppy paleish beer am I in the mood for? A light sipper? A medium-strength powerhouse? A titan? If she has proclivities within this field, she may tilt one way or another. Like caramel?--try the amber. The most hoppy? IPA. Session beer? Start with the OSA and go to the pale. And so on.
The point is this: Oregonians like hops. Two thirds of the beers on offer fit into a pretty narrow band of styles and flavors. No doubt more than two thirds of the sales are of those six beers. You've got to have a few choices for the oddballs (like me: although I enjoyed the session a lot--natch--my favorite was the Belgian, with a close second to the very silky mocha-like stout), but mainly you're trying to accommodate people whose tastes are finely tuned among this narrow band. This is quite different from what brewpubs were serving one or two decades ago, when you would always have seen a wheat, probably a fruit beer, two or three varieties of black beer, and only a couple hoppy beers.