Since well before 1971, when Gov. Tom McCall famously told tourists, "For heaven's sake, don't move here to live," Oregon has engaged in the oddly addictive pastime of taking Californians' money while blaming them for whatever malady currently affects the state. What happens, though, when the march from down south begins to creep onto Oregon's tap walls?
Bend and the rest of Oregon, have enjoyed fine beer from California giants including Stone, Ballast Point and Alesmith for quite a while now. But thanks to new outfits such as Portland's Day One Distribution—and the ever-curious palates of beer nerds statewide—the selection from some of Southern California's lesser-known (to us, anyway) locations is starting to trickle its way northward.
A few of the highlights:
Modern Times Beer
Undoubtedly the most hyped of the Oregon newbies, Modern Times has drawn attention since its 2013 launch for its visually attractive cans, genre-busting beer (and coffee!), and the gigantic portrait of Michael Jackson (with the monkey Bubbles) crafted in Post-it Notes on one wall of their taproom. On tap right now at the Platypus Pub is Orderville, one of the beers Modern Times puts out all year in the bomber format; it's an aggressively fragrant IPA that uses Mosaic and Simcoe hops to essentially put Southern California in a bottle.
Craft beer in greater Los Angeles took forever to take off—the biggest for a long time has been Golden Road Brewing, now part of AB InBev's craft division—but now there are dozens across the county, of which Smog City is one standout. Unlike a lot of breweries down there, it's not just about IPAs. A coffee porter is one of their flagships, and The Nothing is a double chocolate imperial stout named after the Neverending Story character that also comes in a bourbon barrel-aged version.
El Segundo Brewing
Another LA-area brewery, El Segundo is...well, a bit more single-minded than Smog City. Big hops are the attraction here, and hops are what bottle shops in Portland and Eugene have been getting plenty of, from the Broken Skull IPA (designed by wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin—no, really) to Bursted, a line of six different IPAs that are each made with a different single hop. Think the SMaSH Beer Fest on steroids.
Showing just how quickly the beer scene's changed down in SoCal, Three Weavers started small-time in mid-2014 and has already expanded into a 30-barrel brewing system—one big reason they're making it up here now. Expatriate, available now at White Water Taphouse, is the IPA in their main lineup. At 6.9%, it's relatively low on the bitterness in order to give way to some nice citrus hop notes.