Monday, August 17, 2009
It was like that when I first had Ayers Creek's flint-corn polenta at Cafe Castagna. Or Kevin Gibson's glacier lettuce salad at Evoe. I couldn't get the flavors or textures out of my mind and had to find out what they were, how they were grown and, above all, to get some for myself.
We were at Ned Ludd for a quick dinner a few weeks ago and it happened again. The waiter was describing the beers they had on tap and he mentioned one made with rye from a new local brewery. We asked for a taste and soon found ourselves with a couple of pints that had a rich, dry maltiness with just the right amount of bitterness to balance the brew. Akin to Chimay Grande Reserve in its body and color, and made right in the 'hood by Upright Brewing owner Alex Ganum (top photo, center), it's a food-friendly, Belgian-style ale that will appeal to those of us who are used to the drier, hoppier Northwest-style brews.
Since Dave had been wanting to check out the brewery, we ventured down to the recently redeveloped Left Bank Building, a historic structure that in the 1940s and 50s had housed a famous jazz club called The Dude Ranch that featured top-flight musicians of the day like Nat "King" Cole, Lionel Hampton and Louis Armstrong. The brewery is located on the basement level of the building, with a bare-bones tasting room (left) on one side. The day we were there, Ganum himself was pouring beer from six taps in the wall, offering free 2-oz. tastes and 12-oz. glasses for $2.
Unusual among Portland beers, he names each of his brews after its starting gravity in Belgian brewing degrees, with 4, 5, 6 (the rye) and 7 in the current lineup, including a saison-style called Flora Rustica and a version of 6 that was barrel-aged with chocolate and chiles. In an interview on Taplister.com, he describes his naming scheme as "our personal backlash against the stupid, over-branded beer names" so common in micro-brewing circles.
Sounds like he'll fit right in.
Details: Upright Brewing, 240 N. Broadway, Suite 2. Phone 503-735-5337.
Posted by KAB at 9:13 AM