While on a post-holiday shopping trip to the dreaded city center, I decided to calm my nerves after spending $xxx dollars on some boots with some drinky drinky. Von Ebert Brewing was right up the street, and since they focused on more sessionable beers, I knew I wouldn’t get in too much trouble for sitting at the bar for a few hours when it came time to get home.
From the choices available in the immediate vicinity of, say, Powell’s Books (BECAUSEYOUSHOULDREADMOREYOUSAVAGE) Von Ebert’s is oddly comforting after multiple visits to this location…over the years. It is not much different than it was if you’d visited this space in say…2015, not visually. But the beers on offer are geared more towards a modern, more conservative drinker in the face of unrelenting IPA progress.
But that is not to imply that they are not progressive in this art, indeed I’m drinking an incredible beer they have categorized as a ‘czech amber lager’, and I have only just realized this is the kind of beer I’ve dreamed about for years. If it sounds like I’m fawning, it might be the tiny bubbles, or the tightness of the new boots, or maybe they’re not made from real leather and I’m about to get cancer from the fumes (but also incredibly high so YAY).
I’m looking at the last couple of ounces in the bottom, and it’s lost most of the liveliness I saw a when it was fresh, but the delicate sweetness and caramel are still giving my cheeks a little flush of heat with every drink. A last gulp, and it’s alive again, with character but still not anything beyond the average flash of any other clean pils or lager, except that’s what has my attention. It’s quietly perfect.
Italians. They always have to compete. I am seriously impressed with the amber lager though. Please lets have more of these, but I’m looking down the menu already and have to check out the neighbors.
I’m on to the Agostini Pils, listed as a dry-hopped Italian pilsner. It is also incredibly clean, almost zesty like a fruit juice. Fine bubbles keep the head tiny creamy and, again, subtly aromatic, throwing a grassy touch with some spicy notes to let you know it was dry-hopped. Aside from the head, the beer is crystal clear with a light golden tint. A fine touch is at work behind the glass windows. here.
I’m waiting for a Wednesday night food special – limited run pizza and pulled pork specials for an hour – and grateful for the light ABV. As I take in the space, it’s clear they are proud of the awards won with a wide range of styles, with a procession of banners fluttering overhead along the wall above the fermenter viewing portals. The long, long bar top starts on one wall and remains unbroken for about half the length of the room, only bending back into the wall to allow access to the bathrooms and other half of the building. Even so, it’s still only a small part of the main dining area, which is dedicated to open tables and segmented booths. Big windows and open rafters give an almost outdoors vibe.
Aside from the beer, not much has changed in the space since the previous operation called it quits and went back to Ohio. But that’s more than enough. As market demands shift and people look for more things to like, medium and lighter full-flavored brews are in moving off the shelves in volumes I would have absolutely not believed a decade ago.
But here, in downtown IPAtown, sits a brewery with nothing above 8% abv on tap . The stout on tap is 6.7%. I try really hard to remember places like this are thriving when I’m washing down 10% BBA stouts, but the powerful nature of those beers has always been more attractive to me than piss-water american pilsners. These beers are an active reproach to decades of american laziness in brewing, passionate people wielding modern brewing techniques to bring the full potential of the styles we already love (by sales volume) out of the shadows and into the mouths of consumers.
It is hard to talk about beer without looking over your shoulder at the capitalist monster in the corner of the room. It just lurks there, massive hand out, demanding payment every time you even look in that general direction. I see Von Ebert cans all over the Portland area, and have seen them well stocked in Bend and Eugene. This is good. They are maybe half full tonight, in the middle of holiday week 2022, with a very respectable range of beers on tap, aimed directly at an affluent consumer base that is too well educated to be buying coors light at the corner in thirty packs (except out of sheer ironic insta clicks). They are joined by several other notable brewers in Oregon that focus on light and medium ‘traditional’ styles of beer, to varying degrees of faithfulness and creativity. Heater Allen and zoiglhaus come to mind immediately, but since I’m sitting at Von Ebert, we’ll keep talking about them.
I am currently trying to find inspiration to finish a piece detailing the differences between a brewery and a bottle shop or brewpub and taphouse. It’s a complicated topic that I run up against in these situations – I’m so used to having a wall of coolers to look at when trying to talk about beer. That just reminds me how arcane this topic is though, and how few people live in places where these differences would make any impact on a night out, but maybe I can inspire others somehow.
Have I mentioned I have a patreon? You could sign up and, err, demand I go places..?And drink beers you like? I’m going to try the 6.9% IPA now that I have stepped into the window of special pizza haooy hour. A boat with No Name, it would seem, went on a three hour tour and never returned. Nobody else got my dumb joke.
As with the other beers I’ve had tonight, this one has subtle layers of malty goodness, hiding behind a quick hoppy bite that really turns out to be a happy lick.
errm. I really do try to keep track on untapped, which posts automatically to Twitter, so if you want to know what kind of beer I’m drinking in Portland, you can follow that pretty easily. Or join my Patreon. At least I’m honest about what I”m doing out here.
OK, I’LL GIVE YOU SOME EYE CANDY FOR FREE.