When I first heard of this event, I was immediately intrigued. Beers Made by Walking challenged brewers to essentially take a hike, pick some interesting plants, and use them to brew a beer. Obviously not all plants are edible (beware!) and the brewers used herbalists, aka plant specialists, to help them find different tastes that grow right in the brewers’ recreation areas.
Belmont Station was bustling with craft beer fans that were eager to taste these creative beers. Five brewers each brewed a special beer, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to the Northwest Trail Alliance. I was lucky enough to speak with a couple of the brewers and get their take on the beers.
So which breweries were creative enough to take this challenge? More specifically, which breweries were brave enough to take this challenge? Read on…
- Coalition Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Marquam Loop Ale – A lightly hopped golden ale with stinging nettles and salmonberries. 5.4%
BGS’ Thoughts: The perfect golden color of this ale could not be missed! Marquam Loop Ale has a light citrus aroma, a sweet, citrus flavor and a slightly bitter finish – a very tasty brew indeed. The beer is well balanced and enjoyable to drink. As it warms, a grapefruit presence becomes more noticeable.
- Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
Sage Fight IPA – A strong IPA with juniper and sage. 7.3%, 60 IBU
BGS’ Thoughts: My favorite of the day! This is a tasty IPA that seems more like an established Deschutes beer than a new, experimental one. Juniper and sage, combined with the fruity Citra hops make this beer pleasant on the palate and highly drinkable. Oh Sage Fight IPA, how do I love thee…?
Brewer’s Thoughts: Eric was happy with how this IPA turned out. When asked if he would do anything differently, he commented that he is a fan of gin (a spirit distilled with juniper berries), and would really like to build that quality in this beer by having the juniper be more forward next time.
- Flat Tail Brewing, Corvallis, OR
Home Grown – A saison with wild yarrow, cherry puree, and fresh hopped with Meridian & Cascade hops. 3.9%
BGS’ Thoughts: The color of this beer really stood out when lined up on the tasting flight. Perhaps standing alone it would not be as noticeable, but among the other beers, the light pink hue was particularly attractive. This ale has depth – with meaty and buttery notes building on the yeasty flavor.
- Standing Stone Brewery, Ashland, OR
Wildcraft Ale – An ale brewed with sweet root and wild ginger. 5.5%
BGS’ Thoughts: Very dark in color, Wildcraft is a medium-bodied ale with notes of licorice, anise, and a spiced, woodiness, ending with a dry finish. The herbal flavors and mouth scrubbing qualities immediately remind me of Jaegermeister (without the sweetness) and Fernet Branca. It’s a really complex beer and I think small servings, 4-6 oz. pours, would be perfect for an after dinner drink.
Brewer’s Thoughts: Brewer Larry Chase is proud of this beer and called it “interesting”. Going into this project, the ingredients were new territory for him and he was unsure of how the sweet root would come through. Proving to be a worthy ingredient, sweet root is an in-your-face, flavorful component. When asked if he would do anything differently, Larry said he would cut the amount of sweet root significantly to better balance the flavors.
- Upright Brewery, Portland, OR
Yarrow/Rose Four – A farmhouse wheat ale with rose and yarrow flowers. 4.5%
BGS’ Thoughts: Upright Brewery attacked this project by using their popular wheat beer, called Four, as the base and enhancing it with rose and yarrow flowers. This ale has a hazy, yellowish appearance and a particularly mint/spearmint aroma and flavor which is unique and quite pleasing. As the beer warms, you find more of a banana and clove presence.
Thanks to Beers Made by Walking for dreaming up such an interesting event, and thanks for the brewers for creating these unique and inspiring beers! In 2012, these events were held in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. I’ll be looking forward to the 2013 tour, and hopefully this will expand to your state, as well!
Cheers everyone. Keep exploring!