When the Blackberry Wheat from Ancestry Brewing is first poured out, the unwitting drinker might wonder if something is wrong with the keg. The beer is a distinct shade of dark purple, looking a bit like something that might be enjoyed after hours aboard the USS Enterprise. Dare a taste, however, and it's remarkable how well the whole thing works—refreshing, German-style wheat flavor, mixed with just the right amount of berry, not nearly as overwhelming as one would expect from the color.
It's a fine beer, and it's one of several from this suburban Portland outfit that are starting to hit Bend in kegs and bottles.
The last that locals heard of Ancestry Brewing, it was a year and a half ago and the founders were holding an introductory event at the Platypus Pub. The brewery then proceeded to not show up at all around Central Oregon for quite a while—like all Oregon breweries with at least a smidgen of talent, they were too busy keeping up with local demand to venture too far beyond metro Portland at first. Now, fortunately, things are different, and five or six of their offerings are available in unique rounded bottles (the same kind Bend Brewing uses) at the usual bottle shops around town, including Newport Avenue Market and Market of Choice.
This is all thanks to Ancestry's 10-barrel brewing system going online and chugging out beer like the world was going to end tomorrow. It's more than enough to serve both the brewery/tasting room in Tualatin, southwest of Portland a little ways, and the "neighborhood spot" they run in the Sellwood section of southeast Portland. Visit either of those locations, and it's clear that they've got a good thing going—despite not having that many bar taps in Portland proper, the locations are frequently mobbed, and it's not unusual to see a dozen and a half beers of their own on tap, putting them up there with Deschutes' usual selection.
The flagship of their lineup is arguably the Cream Ale, a genre not seen all that often around this state (though Pelican makes a fine one). A lighter ale variety that gained popularity in Canada during Prohibition in the U.S., cream ale usually features bitter gold hops and some corn mixed in with the malt, giving it lager-like properties. It's a great thing to have in the dog days of summer, and it's available now on tap at places including the Summit Saloon downtown.
Ancestry's lineup definitely has a European bent to it—the taproom also features a German-style schwarzbier and an English pale ale that clocks in at just 3.8 percent alcohol. But this is Oregon, of course, and there's room in their selection for some pretty avant-garde stuff as well. For their one-year anniversary, the brewers released an imperial IPA that leans heavily on the citrus side and provides a pretty intense alcohol experience—definitely one to try eight ounces of at a time. On the darker side, the taproom also features an imperial stout that's aged in new Cabernet barrels and, at 9 percent, tastes every bit like chewing on some wood, in a nice way. All in all, totally worth delving into Portland's suburbs to check out.