Ahhh, beer! There are few things on the planet better than beer.
Yesterday was one of those perfect days. I packed Joaquin up in the stroller and headed for Portland Nursery and then headed over a few blocks to Belmont Station. In the last year this establishment moved from its former digs on Belmont Street next to the venerable Horse Brass over to SE 47th and Stark. The change has only been for the better.
In keeping with their former location, Belmont Station still stocks a mindboggling variety of beers; "Over 1000" reads the sign. Whether it refers to types of beer or actual bottle count, it's still a lot. But now, there's the Biercafe next door where you can get a hot sandwich, soup, or a variety of simple plates (think Greek hummus with onions, pita and olives and feta..that sort of fare) along with a beer of your choice, on tap or by the bottle. Bottles in the store side are priced twice "To Go" and "Drink Here" with the obligatory OLCC markup for corkage fee, so if one of the carefully selected four taps on the Biercafe side don't meet your liking, or if you feel more inclined to grab a ginger ale or Jones cola, you have a lot of options. A big plus, the BierCafe is also nonsmoking indoors.
Wade was tending the bar last night, and overheard me exclaiming my delight at the arrival of a keg of Dogfish Head's "Festiva Peche" a peach ale I had been looking forward to trying. I've heard the fresh-tapped flavor is different than the bottle, and wasn't disappointed. Fresh and whitish in color (and I'm not usually one for paler beers, except of course, IPAs), the Festiva Peche was a real treat and went down smoothly. I was almost tempted to get a liter to take home.
We also tried the Anchor Christmas 2005, gingery and sprucey and quite rich. This is the kind of beer that puts you in the mood to celebrate. I heard from a brewer at the bar that this year's Anchor Christmas in bottles is less spice, more spruce, so if that's your thing, consider grabbing a six of that to curl up by the fire with. Speaking of seasonals, I've also been rather partial to the Alaskan Winter ale, a little sweet but not cloyingly so, with some spruce notes, and have to give top honors to Anderson Valley once again for a stunning Winter Solstice. A beer with depth, sophistication and a hint of sarsparilla; put together with finesse, Winter Solstice is wholly satisfying, and exactly what we would expect from a brewery that consistently carries top honors in the beer world.
I left last night with one purchase, Great Divide Brewing Company's Yeti Imperial Stout. Imagine, beer you can drink with a fork! All the hop notes of a great stout as well as a darkness and depth that reminded me of another wonder, North Coast's Old Rasputin. (As we like to say round here at our house "There's no disputin' the Old Rasputin".) Both are strong stouts that can stand up on their own two feet, but drink'em slow, because they can also kick your ass. The Yeti may be one of my fave picks for winter brews this season. It'll put hair on your chest, but hopefully not mine.
I'm glad I live in Portland, a city where you never have to drink a Bud or PBR. Even the corner stores sell Lagunitas and Rogue. What would I do anywhere else? Thankfully, I'll never have to know. I'll raise a glass to that!