Upright Brewing Turns One and Throws A Party

Upright Brewing Alex Ganum Gives A Tour
Upright Brewing Alex Ganum Gives A Tour of Upright Brewing

Upright Brewing is marking its first year in business with the special release of two beers and an anniversary party featuring sweets from Kir Jensen, owner of one of Portland’s best dessert carts, The Sugar Cube, and model for Upright’s Four Play seasonal beer.

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek and taste these two new beers and was absolutely blown away by them.

One of the things you notice right away about Upright Brewing is how fanatical they are about detail. While typical Belgian farm-style beers are made in 1-2 weeks, Upright spends 2-3 months on their beers before they go out the door. A lot of this is attributed to a slow fermenting yeast that helps give their beers a unique flavor profile.

A big part of Upright’s success is their constant experimentation. Around the brewery are small carboys filled with things the brewmasters “just wanted to try out and see what would happen”.   One of these experimentations lead to a program they are calling “The Sixth Barrel Series” which includes the Four Play seasonal beer.

Four Play is unlike any cherry beer I’ve ever tried. While it does have a nice cherry undertone, the beer has an amazing complexity of flavors including flavors from the pino barrels it was aged in, funky yeasty flavors from the strains of bacteria introduced while in barrel, and a tropical current which includes coconut and banana flavors.  Four Play was done on a very limited run with only 80 Cases and 4 1/2 kegs produced. It’s a unique beer that will probably get snatched up extremely fast. The label of Four Play will certainly turn some heads as it features a bare-breasted Kir Jensen, a bold move for the beer and certainly something that will generate a lot of attention.

Upright's Four Play
Upright's Four Play Label

The other beer I tried was their new Apricot Anniversary Beer, a wheat beer with added apricot puree. It is by far my favorite fruit beer I’ve had yet. The beer captures the essence of apricot without being either too sweet or too tart, and it’s accompanied by a delicious bready yeast flavor. The beer has an amazing mouth feel which finishes dry and clean with a slight edge. It’s a remarkable beer and one that I plan on picking up before it runs out.

Upright Brewing draws most of their ingredients from hyper-local sources including Great Northern Grain malt from Vancouver, Mt. Angel hops, and local wine barrels from Oregon wineries (to finish some of their beers). This follows in line with their farmhouse style beer philosophy and it permeates throughout their entire business.

There are a lot of micro-breweries in Portland but none which produces as consistently delicious and exciting beers. Upright may not be on your radar screen, but they should be and their anniversary party is something to not to be missed.

Upright Brewing’s One Year anniversary party and beer release event happens Friday, April 9, 2010 from 4:30pm – 9:00pm at the Upright Brewing Tasting Room located at 240 N. Broadway, suite 2.  It’s in the Leftbank Project building downstairs in the basement.


Slappy Cakes Make Your Own Pancakes in Portland

Slappy Cakes Make Your Own Pancakes In Portland
Slappy Cakes Make Your Own Pancakes In Portland

Several years ago I traveled to Japan with my family. It was a culinary adventure as much as a cultural adventure. In Kyoto our friends took us to one of their favorite restaurants which served okonomiyaki, Japanese style savory pancakes made right at your table. While I can’t say I loved the funky array of flavors in my okonomiyaki, I did really enjoy the experience of making it myself.

Slappy Cakes (4246 Southeast Belmont Street)  takes all the interworkings of the the okonomiyaki – batter served at your table, mixed with ingredients and cooked on an in-table flat griddle – and puts a distinctly Portland spin on it. Instead of savory Japanese pancakes, Slappy Cakes offers traditional pancakes with a wide array of mix-ins, from uber sweet chocolate chips to savory bacon and blue cheese.

Diners are offered a choice of batters including traditional buttermilk, buckwheat, vegan, peanut butter, and gluten-free.  To this they can select from a large list of mix-in ingredients including blueberries, lavender honey, lemon curd, chocolate chips, cherries, bananas, bacon, blue cheese, fresh herbs and more.  The pancake batter is delivered in a squeeze bottle which makes getting it onto the griddle extremely easy, and toppings come in little gravy boats.


Broadway Across America Portland presents CATS

I admit, I have never seen CATS, so with this being my first time, I had very high expectations. Considering it has been performed for 27 years over five continents and 26 countries, and it won seven Tony Awards in 1983 including Best Musical, I expected to be dazzled by a theater experience of a lifetime. While the musical performances from the Broadway Across America traveling cast are impressive, I did not love the show. I’m hard-pressed to say I even liked the show. I went as far as to ask friends and family afterward if I am crazy and everyone else actually loves CATS, but every single person I asked felt the same way – silly premise, lacking in substance, an 80s over-the-top production.

To say there is a story is bordering on ridiculous, and the lyrics to many of the songs are just as ludicrous. I found myself saying, both at intermission and after the show, that I just don’t get it. What is the appeal? Nothing really happens, and there is no character development so we have no one to really care about. The only thing I liked was the first performance of the well-known song “Memory”, mainly because it was the first scene to actually have any substance, and the actress singing has a beautiful voice. After about 30 minutes I tried to just focus on the music. The traveling company slightly redeems itself with outstanding vocals from every member of the cast.

If you happen to be a fan of CATS, this Broadway Across America Portland show closes Sunday, March 28, and tickets start at $23.50. I sat in the orchestra ($63.25) and the view was excellent, even if the show wasn’t.


Portland’s Micro Distillery Boom

Drink Spirits
Drink Spirits

Updates to On Portland have been a little sluggish over the past month or so and that’s because we’ve been hard at work on launching a new site and project focused on spirits like Top 10 Irish Whiskey PicksAn Exploration of Tequila and Mezcal, The Gin Fizz called Drink Spirits.

Portland is at the center of a revolution in spirits that is very reminiscent of its role in the explosion of micro brew beer. Now on the SE side of Portland there’s an established Distillery Row with several key micro distilleries making artisanal and craft spritis.

Some of these notable distilleries include:

In addition to exciting things happening on the micro distillery front Portland’s cocktail scene has been exploding.  Some of the cocktails being served in Portland are as good or better than you’ll find in places like Los Angeles, Chicago or even New York.

Some of the notable things happening in this space:

  • Teardrop Lounge launched a massive new cocktail menu with a mix of classic cocktails, cocktails from notable bartenders around the country and home grown drinks from the amazingly  talented: Daniel Shoemaker, David Shenaut and Ricky Gomez. (1015 Northwest Everett Street)
  • Beaker & Flask another bar getting national attention with a mix of classic cocktails and locally designed drinks and buzz worthy bartender Elizabeth Markham behind the bar (727 SE Washington St)
  • Laurelhurst Market award winning bartender Evan Zimmerman is doing monsterous things with a tiny bar at the back of this notable ‘steak/deli’ restaurant. Hand cut ice and extremely inventive drinks have won Evan huge acclaim  (3155 East Burnside Street)
  • Clyde Common – Neil Kopplin has helped put Clyde on the map with extraordinarily solid classic cocktails and a bar menu which consistently draws the crowds. (1014 Southwest Stark Street)

In some cities you’d find bartenders competing against each other, but in Portland they all come together an collaborate under their  Oregon Bartender’s Guild with monthly events you don’t have to be a bartender to attend and an annual distiller’s festival that has been getting some national attention.

With Drink Spirits now off the ground and running we’ll have a lot more frequent updates here at On Portland and we invite you to check out some of the key articles on the spirits site: