|Brewery:||BridgePort Brewing Co.|
|Style:||American India Pale Ale (IPA)|
|Appearance:||Slightly Hazy, Warm Yellow Body|
|Aroma:||Pleasant, Light Citrus & Pine Florals|
|Flavor:||Balanced; Earthy & Grassy, Doughy & Malty|
|Availability:||Year-round — Bottle & Draft|
|Pairs With:||Grilled Lamb, Curry, Gorgonzola, Carrot Cake|
Everyone knows that Oregon is the state to be in if you want a craft beer in America. It has the second highest number of breweries per capita of any state, and the fourth highest amount overall. It is home to the city with the most breweries – Portland has 52 in the city limits, with an additional 19 sitting just outside in the major metropolitan area. It is also one of the most historic places for craft beer, with microbreweries dating back over 30 years.
If you want to talk about Oregon beer, you have to start with the granddaddy of the bunch, BridgePort Brewing Company and their flagship beer, BridgePort India Pale Ale. It is a beer that has won awards in multiple decades and in multiple countries, and that is ranked highly by a number of publications world-wide. Often this can be misleading, as many highly-touted beers merely hold cult appeal, like exclusive Belgians often touted as “best in the world.” In the case of BridgePort’s India Pale Ale, it has definitely earned its praise, and is a beer that can be enjoyed my every craft beer drinker, not just those with tastes for certain styles.
To start off with, it has a wonderfully unassuming appearance. The bottle itself is rather plain, while when you pour it out into a pint glass, it has a slightly hazy, warm yellow body. The pour will produce an average-sized, off-white head that sticks around for a bit, and leaves good lacing. Altogether pleasant, if not a bit unimpressive.
The nose is that of light floral, citrus and pine aromas, the hops are definitely pleasant and the main feature, but are not punchy or overwhelming. There is a certain fresh grain aroma as well, fairly faint but definitely there. It lends a doughy, bready aroma to the overall smell of the beer.
The taste is incredibly balanced, with the right touches throughout. There is a solid base of pale malts, producing a touch of sweetness. The citrusy hops are much more pronounced in the taste, as they take over and are the main flavor. There are a wide mix of tasting notes – earthy and grassy, doughy and malty. The flavor is more akin to a British IPA than the usual West Coast IPAs that this will invariably draw comparisons to due to locale. The bottle conditioning also adds a hint of yeast character, but not enough to be off-putting.
This India Pale Ale has a body that is on the light end of the medium range, with lively carbonation that may be a bit too much for the style. It is one of the dryer IPAs around, with slightly oily lingering on the tongue afterword, but it fades quickly.
This is not a brutal hops assault, as many craft beer drinkers have come to expect from an India Pale Ale. This has lead to many of the hop-heads looking for outrageous IBU numbers and obsessions with trying to name the hops in a beer to address the brew with a bit of derision. The fact is that BridgePort India Pale Ale is one of the most well-balanced and pleasant IPAs out there, an IPA for folks who don’t really like IPAs. It won’t dissolve the enamel off of your teeth or destroy your palate for the day – the bitterness is moderate, and easy to get past.
BridgePort India Pale Ale has also earned plenty of recognition from critics, with a number of awards hanging around its longneck. These include a gold medal at the World Beer Championship, two silver medals at the World Beer Cup, a gold at the Brewing Industry International Awards in Germany, and two silver medals at the Australian International Beer Awards. This amount of worldwide awards demonstrates just how well balanced and easy to appreciate this beer is.
The BridgePort Brewery touts itself as “Oregon’s Oldest Craft Brewery,” although that can be debated. What can’t be debated is that when Oregon opened up to craft beer, BridgePort was one of the first in the pool, opening in 1984 and continuing to be one of the state’s largest producer today. Founded by local winemakers, it was later bought by Gambrinus, who expanded its capacity hundreds of times over, going from 600 barrels per year in the early nineties to 100,000 barrels currently. All that time, BridgePort India Pale Ale has stood tall as their flagship beer, and looks to do so for another 30 years.