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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Laurelwood is Ten

Laurelwood 10th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, March 18, 5-11 pm
$2.50 pints, live music, new beer releases
Typically, old men like me say things like, "wow, I can't believe Laurelwood's been open ten years already; it seems like they just opened up." (Relatedly: last night Angelo shot a photo of John Foyston and me, explaining, "I want to get a picture of you guys before you die." Hurry!) But actually, this time my reaction is the opposite: just ten years, really? Laurelwood has become one of those bedrock Portland breweries, synonymous with the town. To think that it post-dates the Clinton administration (which to old men like me seems very recent) is hard to believe. But there it is.

To celebrate the event, Laurelwood is releasing a couple new beers which act as a nice metaphor for the event. The first, Workhorse Imperial IPA, is a beer for the moment. The second decade of the 21st century will be remembered for the big beer craze--an imperial IPA is almost a requirement. Enough said.

The second beer is called (at least provisionally) "Big O" Organic Pale Ale. It's a perfect metaphor for a brewery that regularly resists trends. In terms of American craft beer, pale ales are ancient, the least trendy of all beers. At least 73,000 of them are brewed in America. Yet the Big O is stellar; that very rare example of a fresh take on a familiar style. Hopped with Centennial, Cascade, and Fuggles, it has the classic, saturated quality of a Northwest ale--but the hops are mostly flavorful and aromatic, not bitter. They provide bright top notes and make Big O a sunny beer with a bit more zing than you except. One of my favorite beers from Laurelwood was Piston Pale Ale--which they scrapped some years back. Big O is a great--and overdue--replacement.

You could do worse Friday night than stopping by to drain a pint in celebration of this surprisingly young Portland institution.

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