San Diego brewery Modern Times opened its Portland outpost last week at Southeast 7th and Belmont, taking over the former space of the Commons Brewery. While the sudden departure of the Commons has been justly mourned in the Portland beer community, visiting team Modern Times did not come to play, and their tasting room—dubbed the Belmont Fermentorium, although please smack anyone you hear calling it that out loud—is already firing on all cylinders.
There’s not much in the way of seating, although there are a large number of stools along the bar and windows. Still, most drinkers will need to stand on their own two legs as they congregate beneath a giant piñata of Randy “Macho Man” Savage. The hallway to the bathrooms is covered with yarn art, including dioramas of ’80s iconography like Donkey Kong and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Groovy ’60s go-go music plays, 3.5-inch floppy disks panel the sides of the bar, and your bill arrives tucked inside a cassette case. Modern times, indeed.
But their beer is fully of the moment, and their zesty, tropical hop flavors provide a welcome Southern California sunniness to a dark and rainy city whose own hop traditions have leaned on piney, forest-timber flavors. The beers—not cheap, with the average 16-ounce pour costing $6.50—include several IPAs, including a dynamite hazy IPA, and their flagship Lomaland saison, but don’t sleep on the Ice pilsner, either. Fittingly, they also have one guest tap: Commons Urban Farmhouse.
The small food menu is all vegan, and the adjoining “mini mart” offers cans and crowlers (large, 32-ounce cans) to go, along with the expected apparel and the less expected Modern Times coffee. Modern Times’ Belmont Fermentorium, 630 SE Belmont, Sun-Tues 11 am- 10 pm, Wed-Sat 11 am-midnight
The Oregon Coast’s Pelican Brewing may have upended the idea of dry hopping with their new beer, a “hoppinated” IPA dubbed Beak Bender. Brewmaster Darron Welch has invented a device called the Hoppinator, which sounds to my limited understanding like it functions somewhat similar to the way that cannabis flowers are turned into extracts and concentrates.
The Hoppinator is filled with hop pellets, sealed, and then purged with CO2, cutting down on oxidation and squeezing every last bit of essence out of the hops, whose aroma and flavor is “incorporated into the liquid with an agitator and emulsified in the beer, then shot back into the main fermenter,” according to Pelican’s press release. If Pelican’s experiments break through and capture brewers’ and drinkers’ imaginations, the Hoppinator could be a promising way to eliminate waste from the dry-hopping process, which imparts wonderful flavors and aromas to beer but requires a lot of hops for not much yield. The Hoppinator also sounds like a cost-effective advancement from earlier technology, like Dogfish Head’s famous Sir Hops A Lot machine, which continually adds hops to their 90 Minute and 120 Minute IPAs.
Beak Bender clocks in at 6.7 percent alcohol by volume and 65 IBUs, and has just gone on sale as a year-round offering from Pelican. Considering that hop shortages and crop infection are recurring problems for the brewing world, the Hoppinator, provided it’s all it’s cracked up to be, could be positioned as a game-changer for the craft market, or serve as inspiration for other brewers to make similar gadgets.
Southeast Portland’s Montavilla Brew Works has just bottled its first beer, nearly three years after opening in its namesake neighborhood. Ben’s Barleywine Ale is a mighty 10 percenter named after Ben Flerchinger, a brewer at the Lucky Lab and barleywine lover who died in March 2017. Montavilla brewer Michael Kora says he hopes to bottle special one-off beers going forward, “to showcase the flexibility of our brewhouse and the creativity of our brewing imagination.” The beer is a blend of two different barleywines, one of which was aged for 10 months inside bourbon barrels from Eastside Distilling, and the other of which is freshly brewed.
Two of Portland’s oldest breweries have reopened their flagship pubs after remodels. BridgePort Brewing’s Pearl District brewpub redesigned and repositioned their bar so that it’s front and center, and Widmer Brothers overhauled their Gasthaus to make way for the newly branded Widmer Brothers Pub, with more remodeling on the way. Both mark significant pivots for the old guard of Portland beer. BridgePort Brewpub, 1313 NW Marshall, Sun-Wed 11:30 am- 10 pm, Thurs-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm; Widmer Brothers Pub, 955 N Russell, Mon-Fri 3-10 pm, Sat & Sun noon-10 pm