On Questionland, the Mercury’s on-line answer emporium, one questioner asked what there was to do while visiting Astoria, Oregon. There were standard answers: climb the Astoria column, track down locations from the Goonies, check out the only strip club in town. While all of that is well and good, I’d encourage anyone making the trip to stop into Fort George Brewery and Pub.
At the beginning of this month, I was able to taste a few fort George brews at Green Dragon, and I enjoyed them quite a bit. The beer I had this weekend in their pub only made me like the little Astoria brewery more.
It’s not the most impressive brewing operation, but the pub is wonderfully large and airy with some amazing views of the Columbia. It was a perfect place to enjoy a cool summer beer away from the ugly heat of the city.
I had two Fort George beers this weekend. Both were immensely enjoyable. I’ll start with Divinity, the least dynamic of the two beers. But just because it’s not dynamic doesn’t mean that this raspberry wheat isn’t an astounding beer. In fact, it may be the most refreshing summer beer I’ve had this month.
Divinity pours (into a Ball jar at the pub, mind you) a turbid honey color and has a supernatural glow about it. On the nose it’s clean and bright, smelling softly of raspberries, as if you were stepping through a ripening patch late in the evening. It’s an image that resonates after the first sip as well: Divinity is effervescent and fresh and keeps well away from the cloying sweetness of some fruit beers. It’s a bit dry, with soft notes of the berry supported by reasonable hopping and a mellow malt. Mostly, it’s all fresh berry. Put that raspberry patch beside a clear lake, late in a summer evening as the stars begin to appear and the air is cooling. That’s Divinity.
I would call Divinity one of the better beers I’ve had this month, but it’s bested by the Fort George Vortex IPA. Vortex tops out with a 97 IBU and 7.4% ABV and it’s easily one of the most interesting IPA’s I’ve ever had.
Vortex pours a dark chocolaty amber with a nice thick head. Its aroma is incredibly dopey with a hint of chocolaty malt. I imagine this is what my parent’s apartment smelled like when they lived in Astoria back in the seventies.
Vortex is extraordinary on the palate. The first sip brings a bold hit of chocolate, with a little of that hops dopiness, like you just bit the corner off a pot brownie. Then, a rolling fruitiness rises with raspberry and banana tones. Along with the fruit comes a wave of bitterness. But the awesome thing about the bitterness is its wave-like quality—it comes on slow, peaks, and fades, leaving very little mouth drying astringency. For a 97 IBU beer, I find it very pleasant and drinkable, while remaining dynamic and interesting.
I’ll be coming back to Fort George as often as possible, looking forward to their new creations. I’ll also be looking for them on Taplister. You should too.