On the Dark Side: Seeking Stouts and Porters
In addition to the Drink Local Research Department’s usual post-hike beer encounters this summer, we had three bear encounters. #1: A series of grunts we interpreted as, “back off, two-legged, fur-less creatures,” and we did. #2: A glimpse of scampering cubs and a retreat to the car without waiting to greet mama, too. #3: Our last ursine meet-up occurred across a small valley as we watched a cinnamon bear foraging up the opposite hillside.
If we could take that cinnamon bear out for a beer to wrap up hiking season, we would head for these Rogue Valley microbreweries for the substantial porters and stouts now on tap.
Portal Brewing, Medford: Owner and brewer Mike Diamon has four dark beers out now. Traditional: Black Betty, a Cascadian Dark Ale–balanced and welcoming, like Portal’s comfortable confines, especially with Theresa Delaney-Diamon’s menu to forage from. Creative: St. Patrick’s Peanut Butter Porter–the chocolaty dark malt makes utter sense with powdered peanut butter. Coconut Stout and Cherry Chocolate Whisky Sour Stout are also on tap. Quotable: “People’s palates shift when it gets cold. Drinking dark beer is like drinking coffee at this time of year.”
Walkabout Brewing, Central Point: Walkabout’s first seasonal dark beer is actually coffee, too. General Manager Cameron Litton and Brewer Ryan Gfroerere developed an excellent dark beer with Mellelo’s Coffee of Medford. Traditional/Creative: Midnight Oil combines a traditional stout with Ethiopian Guji coffee, freshly roasted, ground, delivered immediately to Walkabout, and added directly to the conditioning tank to steep in the beer. Quotable: “We went straight to the source for some really legit coffee,” says Gfroerere.
Osmo’s Alehouse, Medford: Head to downtown’s southern end for more quality and creativity from owner and brewer, Nick Hull. Traditional: the Oat Stout might be the best we tried–earthy, a little creamy, delicious. Creative: the Belgian-Style Quadrupel is dark and different–aged in whiskey barrels borrowed from Immortal Spirits. Vanilla Nut Brown is in the tanks for later. Quotable: “For the beer fanatic, dark beers are a comfort thing. Why do people like pumpkin pie at this time of year?”