Wednesday, November 28, 2007

BridgePort Ebenezer Ale

After a lack of alcohol over Thanksgiving weekend (except for the night out with the guys, and the basketball maybe there was no lack of alcohol after all...), I've decided to get back off the wagon and start reviewing my six pack that has been waiting for me in Reno. Well, it's a six pack now that I picked up some beers that I couldn't get in Nevada. One of them, Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws, is a bottle-conditioned beer that will be ready for a review on Christmas morn. The other is the subject of this review: BridgePort Ebenezer Ale, a brew that is available in just about every western state...except Nevada. I think it's even available in Utah. (NOTE: The beer is not available in Utah.)

BridgePort touts itself as Oregon's oldest craft brewery, even trademarking the phrase "Oregon's Oldest Craft Brewery™" to boot. Founded all the way back in 1984 (take that, Widmer and Portland Brewing!) by Richard and Nancy Ponzi and Karl Ockert as the Columbia Brewing Co. in a century-old former rope factory in Portland's Pearl District, it has had a front-row seat to the microbrew revolution that has taken place in Portland and nationwide. In fact, it has led the way for Oregon's breweries to take their place in the world of beer. BridgePort Brewery is currently owned by The Gambrinus Co. of San Antonio, who has owned it since 1995. In addition to a brewery, BridgePort owns an ale house in addition to a brewpub/bakery of all things. (BridgePort History, Gambrinus Co. History, BridgePort Brewery Info)

It is best known for its flagship IPA, but has expanded its lineup to include an ESB, an amber ale, a stout, a pale ale (Blue Heron, itself well-known), and even a barleywine called Old Knucklehead, a beer I've tried to find on several occasions in Portland to no avail. So I snagged this one instead at Whole Foods at Bridgeport Village (not related) in Tualatin, Oregon, and brought it back to the Biggest Little City. It was originally brewed as a winter seasonal called Winter Brew back in 1986 and was sold exclusively in their brewpubs. Their first bottling was in 1999, but they realized that some other brewery had a beer called Winter Brew. So they held a company-wide contest to rename the beer, and Ebenezer Ale was the winner. They are now on their 9th bottling of the stuff, described as a "winter warmer" style ale.

Here are the stats:

BridgePort Ebenezer Ale
BREWERY: BridgePort Brewing Co., Portland, OR, USA
FIRST BREWED: 1986 as Winter Brew (first bottled in 1999)
CALORIES/SERVING: ~180 per 12 oz. bottle
ABV: 6.4%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 16° Plato (1065.84)
MALTS: Three kinds of crystal, two kinds of roasted, and 2-row pale
HOPS: English Goldings, a little bit of Chinook
FOODS TO PAIR WITH/USE IN: Gravies, basting meat, vegetable stew, pot pies
AWARDS: 2002 Brewing Industry International Awards (London, England) Silver Medal Award Winner

I got the IBUs, ABV, gravity, and awards from BridgePort's Ebenezer Ale webpage. The rest came from a phone call to the brewery at 4:15 PM on November 28th, 2007. I spoke with brewmaster Karl Ockert, the same one who helped found the brewery back in 1984, so you can be assured of its veracity. Thanks for the info Karl!

This beer is defined by its brewmaster as a "strong ale," and this description is no more accurate than with its nose. A strong nutty scent emanated from the beer once it hit the glass, which was very pleasing to my nostrils. Once in my glass, the beer's color was a rich dark brown that was slightly translucent. It was accompanied by a long-lasting head that didn't go away until I was done with two-thirds of the beer. The taste perplexed me, filled with a nutty taste with fruit undertones, a very delicious combination; it also was a very smooth beer with not a lot of carbonation. The only thing I didn't like was the aftertaste, which was a bit stale. However, I was able to taste the nutty-fruitiness of the beer with a slight hint of hoppiness mixed in.

This beer was in fact a winter warmer, as I felt the chills go away towards the end of the beer. Pick one up if you're in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, or Washington. But not Nevada. Or Utah.


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