It's wintry outside again (just in time for the end of February!), and as if on cue, breweries across the state of Oregon are preparing their offerings for the rest of the season and beyond. Given that it's the darkest time of the year, thick concoctions from barrels dominate the scene—but take heart, for it'll be 90 degrees again before long and cans of Fresh Squeezed will become the order of the day...
pFriem Rum Barrel Aged Porter
Beer fans can argue 'til they're blue in the face about what's the best kind of liquor barrel to age beer in. There's no truly correct answer, of course, but when it comes to taking a porter and giving it some of the most exotic complexity possible, rum is always a fine go-to. That's the philosophy of the guys from Hood River, who've taken their base imperial-porter recipe and put it in oak barrels straight from the Caribbean for a year. The result: A 9.5 percent sipper that tastes, and smells, like a rich, drinkable dessert. Want something lighter? Try pFriem's new Golden Coffee Ale instead, a neat little harmony of citrus-y hops and Kenyan beans.
Buoy Love, Lost at Sea
Over at the Astoria taproom, Buoy Beer Company has slowly been releasing more and more experimental one-offs to complement their usual excellent IPA and lager offerings. Now, thanks to their new Small Batch Series of 500ml bottles, the rest of the state will get in on the action a little. The line kicks off with Love, Lost at Sea, which also marks Buoy's first release from its own barrel-aging program. It's a barley wine, aged in Bull Run whiskey barrels for five months and oozing with heavy malt flavor and quite a bit of alcohol (11.5 percent). Next year's barley wine is already quietly resting in barrels at their brewery by the sea, too.
Deschutes The Ages
More locally, Deschutes has already unveiled details on its plans for most of 2018, including the return of Twilight Summer Ale, a summer radler made in collaboration with Humm Kombucha, and even a new taproom set to open in the Portland Airport (there's a temporary kiosk at Concourse D to explore right now). Those with a taste for the exotic, however, will need to look out for The Ages in April—Deschutes' first 500ml bottle release. The Ages defies easy description; it's a multi-year blend of wild ales, inspired by the Gueuzes from Belgium's most storied breweries, brimming with fruity and white-pepper flavors. Looking for more straight-on pucker? Head to the brewpub to try the Pear Bergamot, part of a new rotating line of kettle sours that'll rotate around the taps all year.