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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Offical Beer?

The unofficial offical coctail thing got me thinking--if Oregon were to designate an official beer, what would it be? (We have already lost "official beverage" status--in '97 the legislature named milk.) A few candidates spring to mind:
  • Hefeweizen. Bona fides: the Widmer Brother's best-seller has long been the beer most associated with the state, and it's probably still the best-seller.
  • Light Lager (ala Henry Weinhard's). Bona fides: it was the best-selling style of beers for over 100 years.
  • Stout. Bona fides: Oregon's craft revolution was built in substantial part by the McMenamin's, and they boldly led with Terminator--perhaps the biggest anti-Bud statement they could have made.
  • Amber Ale. Bona fides: one of the first micro-era beers to be designated a new American style, in part thanks to Full Sail's amber. MacTarnahan's added to the mix.
  • Porter. Although stouts were there early, Deschutes also gets credit for putting Black Butte on the market early and counteri-intuitively. Everyone loves a good porter.
  • Pale ale. Bona fides: pale ales highlight the unique character of Northwest hopping, particularly Cascades (Mirror Pond, Caldera, Full Sail, etc.). They are ubiquitous in American craft brewing, but they're characteristically Oregon.
  • Fresh hop ales. Bona fides: it's a little early to make the claim, but these could come to characterize Oregon like no other beer. We now appear to be way ahead of the curve on this, and given that so few places have access to fresh hops, we may hold the distinction for some time.
  • IPA. Bona fides: this style really captures the essence of Oregon tastes--strong and bitter. I wouldn't be surprised if more beer consumed in Oregon was IPA than any other.
I'll leave it up to you, though. What would you designate as the official Oregon beer if you had a vote?


  1. While IPA is a good representation of what we're best at here in Oregon as well as what a number of beer snobs gravitate to, I think that by reputation and consumption alone Hefeweizen is probably more accurate. Last I read (a few years ago at this point), one of out every four pints of craft brew poured in Oregon is a Widmer Hefeweizen.

  2. I think those stats are a little out of date. I would personally find it a crime if we named Hef Oregon's beer. No offense to the Widmers, but it's a beer with little character--it surely shows none of our virtuosity or love of hops. And even more, it's brewery-specific. That seems wrong, too.

    But hey, that's why I put the poll up. We all get a vote.

  3. Hops taste like cat pee smells.

  4. otThat is a tough call. Hefe I'd say no for all the reasons you laid out. Port/Stout makes me think of the UK, not Oregon. Amber might have been a good choice 10 years ago but not today, plus, like Hefe, is associated with New Belgium. Pale seems boring to me and IPAs, although consumed in high quantities, it could be argued that the style was really taken up a notch by California. That's why I voted for fresh hop beers. Oregon really is on the vanguard of this style and because of it's proximity to farms won't see a lot of competition from other states, other than Washington.

    By the way, did you get out to Hood River for the Fresh Hop festival? The Vernon the Rabbit Slayer was awesome as was the Pelican Elemental.