Late summer might be the only empty spot on the beer calendar. The light, refreshing summer seasonals made their debuts earlier in the season, and we’re still around the corner from the heartier fall beers such as Oktoberfest and fresh hop. So what’s new to drink when the sun’s still being a giant jerk? Here’s a six-pack of seasonally appropriate Oregon beers that are either making their debuts in cans or reappearing after a short absence. (We’ve starred the ones that receive our highest recommendation.)
Doug Fir Green Room Black Lime Kolsch Ale
Culmination Brewing, 5.5% ABV
One of Portland’s premiere venues now has a beer of its own. Green Room was brewed by Culmination Brewing for the Doug Fir Lounge, and I get the impression that it’s meant to replicate a 16-ounce Tecate with lime—only this time, the lime’s built into the beer itself. The tallboy comes with four different colored labels that feature posters from Doug Fir shows and a quote from David Lynch. You’re likely meant to drink it directly from the can, but if you do pour it into a glass, it pours a muddy gold color, like Agamemnon’s mask (not green at all). The head dissipates almost immediately, with a strong aroma of lime. It’s a super drinkable if slightly vacant beer with a tart citrus bite, a little metal-flavored twinge, and a sweet malt finish.
Peach Punch! (You in the Eye) India Pale Ale with Peach and Apricot
Block 15 and Great Notion, 7% ABV
Making its return to cans, Peach Punch! is an almost ludicrously peach-dominated beer whose juiciness does wonders to offset the August heat. It pours a matte ochre color, completely impenetrable to light, with a frothy head that subsides to a lacy wisp. While there’s surprisingly little odor, there’s a strong flavor of peaches and apricots (obviously) from the get-go, tempered by bitterness from Galaxy and Mosaic hops. The mouthfeel is plump with a slight yeasty grit, and the flavor really is a bit crazy, with notes of baby food, tart Asian pear, summer orchards, and citrus.
★ Strata IPA
Worthy Brewing, 6.5% ABV
The recently developed Strata hop was cultivated by an Oregon State University breeding program and developed by a Portland company called Indie Hops. Judging by its starring role in Worthy’s single-hop IPA—now making its debut in cans—it’s gonna be a real contender. Strata IPA pours dusty brass-gold, with a huge lava-flow head that lasts like mountainous cumulonimbus clouds. The beer is big, with piney and citrus flavors, although not as many tropical or cannabis notes as the press materials suggest. There’s also a muted, earthy, herbal quality that’s a little reminiscent of British-style ESBs. The velvety mouthfeel goes down easily, and despite its hoppiness, there’s no overly astringent bitterness, although it tingles quite a bit. Notes of watermelon candy creep up in the finish, and this is an impressive, balanced beer that showcases just what the Strata hop can do. (One small note: If the beer gets too warm, the austere, woody malt flavors jump a little too far to the forefront.)
Patio Pale Ale
Migration Brewing, 5.8% ABV
Now in cans to mark the opening of Migration’s Gresham operation, the Portland-area brewery’s flagship Patio Pale is an assertive, hoppy concoction that ventures onto IPA’s side of the tracks. It’s a tangy, slightly bitter beer that pours from the can an unfiltered, muddy bronze with a small head. The mouthfeel is buzzy, with some gentle honey sweetness, bitter herbal hop flavors, and strong notes of evergreen. It’s pretty enjoyable, although there’s a slight dirtiness to the flavor that might put off lager-leaners.
★ El Verso Hazy Farmhouse IPA
Wolves and People, 7% ABV
Wolves and People’s newest canned offering is a real delight, a slightly wacked-out IPA made with linden blossoms—no, I don’t know what those are either, but they lend the beer light components of lemon and tea. El Verso pours a waxy honey color, with a moderate head that lingers, and a pleasantly musty aroma with strong hints of butterscotch. The soft, fizzy mouthfeel accompanies an all-encompassing flavor that blends sweet, sour, bitter, and even salty in a fascinating way. It’s not a background beer, but it’s fruity, gentle, and fun. This is the perfect thing to be drinking as summer fades.
Cloudy with a Chance of Mosaic
Stickmen Brewing, 8.6% ABV
This hazy double IPA—part of Stickmen’s “Cloudy” series, each featuring a different hop—pours a deep, plum-tinged copper. It’s a stormy-looking, opaque beer with lots of suspended yeast and a firm, well-proportioned head. Despite its ultra strength, Cloudy manages to be well balanced, with citric hop flavors and notes of strawberry Starburst. The piney, face-tingling heat after you swallow is the only hint that this one’s got a lot of booze in it. It’s a thick, enjoyably aggressive beer—although at the end of a 16-ounce can, it eventually wears out its welcome.