Why not write about a two beer pairing? More in need of thirst quenching beers than beer and food, I wanted to try an India Pale Ale and an American Pale Ale, not necessarily against one another, but rather with one another. These two award winning beers are born from breweries that are truly juggernauts of the Oregon craft beer industry.
These beers were also not purchased at an independently owned bottle shop or from one of my favorite independently owned local groceries like New Seasons, Zupans, or the Little Green Grocer in the Pearl District. As it often does, economics played a role in this purchase and the local neighborhood Safeway had these sixers on sale, cheap.
Full Sail Brewing(East), is situated on the banks of the Columbia River in downtown Hood River, OR. Approximately 50 miles or so east of Portland, Hood River is a World Class windsurfing mecca complete with fruit orchards and wineries (try the Fruit Loop, http://www.hoodriverfruitloop.com/index.html), great eats, outdoor gear shops, and a close proximity to Mt. Hood for the winter sports and snow junkies. Hood River is now also home to 4 outstanding micro breweries.
In 1987 Irene Firmat et al., had a dream to turn what was the old Diamond Fruit cannery into a “Labor of Love”, creating world class micro brews. At the time Hood River was said to be in something of a time warp, stuck in the early 70’s. The town more or less did double time as a ski village in the winter and a “landlocked” surf town in the summer. That first year the brewery put up 287 barrels. 2 years later the Full Sail Amber Ale won a Gold Medal at the 1989 Great American Beer Festival. The rest is history. In 1999 Full Sail made the decision to give back to so many employees who had dedicated their lives to the brewery. They became an employee owned company divvying up the company between 47 employees. You’ll see the symbol, FS 47, proudly displayed on the many bottle caps and gear. This number is changing as more qualify for ownership. I was told during a recent brewery tour that the number is now 55. In “bottle speak” the brewery currently puts out 250 pallets a day of bottled 12 packs. That’s 60 1/2 cases per pallet or 180,000 bottles a day. See Laverne and Shirley reruns for more on how this is done. For more on the Full Sail story go to their site: http://www.fullsailbrewing.com/full-sail-story.cfm
The Full Sail American Pale Ale is a 5 time gold medal award winner, among other awards. It has a fresh hoppy aroma that comes from a top secret two hop Northwest variety. Two row pale and crystal malts give it a mild sweetness that finishes clean and crisp. The brewery suggests pairing this with barbecue and chicken mole. ABV = 5.4%. IBU = 37.
Bridgeport(West), as it’s previously been written (see attached link) has grown from the 600 barrel Columbia River Brewery in the early 80’s to the 100k barrel a year craft brewery that it is now. Keenly situated in a historic 100 year old building in the historic NW District in Portland, Bridgeport lays claim to many award winning craft brews. http://www.bridgeportbrew.com/#/brewery/
The Bridgeport’s India Pale Ale is a 4 time gold medal winner. It is brewed with a blend of 5 hop varieties presenting a floral, citrusy aroma and full hop flavor all the while downplaying the bitterness. This beer’s sparkling golden appearance is the result of natural conditioning. A process where the beer is double fermented in each bottle, keg, or cask. ABV = 5.5%. Gravity = 13.5%. IBU = 50. No recommendations from the brewery on food pairing but for me this IPA has complimented everything from a spicy shrimp ceasar salad to a worcestershire sauce and blue cheese burger to today’s pairing of an American Pale Ale from Full Sail.
To close, my neighbor joined me for this pairing which was conducted in my temporary man cave or garage with a television. I can’t think of a better way to spend a blustery NW fall Saturday afternoon than to sample world class, hand crafted beers with a buddy while watching your favorite college football team throw a stinker on national television. I highly recommend this pairing.