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IPA Wars: Oregon Versus...Cleveland? 

Fat Head's brings competition to Bend beer's Portland invasion


Since the original announcement in April, Portlanders have been salivating with excitement for the new 10 Barrel location coming to the Pearl District, only a few minutes' walk from Deschutes Brewery's own Portland mega-pub. They will have to continue salivating. 10 Barrel's still busily renovating the old Mellow Mushroom pizzeria at NW 14th and Flanders; their latest Facebook update promises an opening "late this winter." (The brewery also plans to add a rooftop patio to the Portland building, though one wonders how useful it'll be in the overcast Portland fall...and Portland winter...and Portland spring.)

In the meantime, yet another large-footprint pub opened Nov. 3 in the Pearl, this one just two blocks from 10 Barrel along NW 13th. The name? Fat Head's. Fat Head's? Don't be so quick to laugh. The name's a juggernaut in the East, opening in Pittsburgh, PA in 1992 and currently running another brewpub and a 15,000-barrel-per-year plant in metro Cleveland.

The Portland brewpub is challenging Oregon beer at its own game in several ways. Case in point: uber-hops. Head Hunter IPA is Fat Head's flagship, a citrus-forward "West Coast-style ale" (their words) that's more than a tad reminiscent of Deschutes' Fresh Squeezed. Hop Juju, their 9% imperial IPA, dials this bitter fruitiness to astoundingly addictive levels.

Around 16 beers are on tap in all, fresh from the onsite 20-barrel brew system, and all are worth your consideration. And you'll be enjoying them in a pretty eye-popping location—the building seems enormous with its vaulted ceilings. The dishes, meanwhile, are less PDX hipster and more Rust Belt Man v. Food. Vegetarian stuff is on the menu, but yeah right, you're not touching that—not with all the worryingly enormous sandwiches and huge piles of nachos, fries, and other fatty whatnots. Bring two stomachs. Two livers may be advisable, too.

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