We're guessing that New Seasons has beer sales stats for each of its Portland/Vancouver stores. Numbers that probably tell, better than most market experts, exactly what beers we like, and when we like them best.
So when the local grocery chain launched its 3rd annual Neighborhood Craft Beer Challenge last week—and invited us to sample the results—we naturally wondered, what's to be learned from getting shoppers at each store to sample some beers and vote in a winner? What's the angle, man?
Here's what we do know: on Friday, July 17, votes were gathered at 14 area stores—from Division Seven Corners to Vancouver's Fisher's Landing— with each tally producing a neighborhood store "favorite."
On Tuesday, Portland Monthly received a box of the winning bottles. Nine bottles, actually (not that we're complaining). The beers were cold, so we cracked them open, doled out tastes, and reflected: why did Lake Oswego Mountain Park go right for the Hop Valley American Lager ("boring," according to one taster)? What happy coincidence led Happy Valley to select Pelican Brewing's Kiwanda Cream Ale—one of three store favorites also featured among Portland Monthly's Top 25 beers this year?
One last thing we know? New Seasons is now inviting everyone—that's you!—to vote for the Challenge's 2015 Grand Champion. The contest runs through Friday, so skim the list below (with our two pennies, natch!), and list your favorite via New Season's Facebook post. Come Monday, the winner will no doubt bookend the beer aisle at every New Seasons in town.
1. Mazama Brewing Belgian-Style Blonde – PROGRESS RIDGE
"Bready, hint of stone fruit," wrote one taster."Deceptively light for it's ABV," wrote another [7.5%]. Beaverton knows how to get more boozy bang for the buck?
2. Breakside IPA – ARBOR LODGE
From Portland Monthly's 2015 Top 25 List: "Balanced. Piney. Refreshing."
3. Heater Allen Pilsner – GRANT PARK
Another Top 25 pick: "Hazy. Earthy. Bright." "Anytime, anywhere," wrote a taster.
4. Logsdon Seizoen Bretta — CONCORDIA
5. Old Town Sun Dazed Kolsch — CEDAR HILLS and WILLIAMS
"A bit sweaty," wrote a taster, "suburban gym rats?" Our Tuesday tasting yielded mixed results on this one...
6. The Commons Urban Farmhouse Ale – FISHER’S LANDING
"Floral. Dry. Tingly." Another Top 25 pick this year—we approve of the 'Couv!
7. Terminal Gravity ESG – HAWTHORNE
"Just enough going on," wrote one taster. And, "are snowboarders drawn to beers with 'gravity' in the name?"
8. Occidental Kolsch – SELLWOOD
Another Top 25 pick: "Crisp. Clean. Classic."
9. Crux Impasse Saison – ORENCO STATION
10. Fort George Quick Wit – RALEIGH HILLS
11. Hop Valley 541 Lager – MOUNTAIN PARK
Our tasters must not live in Lake Oswego, because they didn't recognize the Mountain Park location. "Wherever they are," wrote one, "they're boring."
12. Pelican Brewing Kiwanda Cream Ale – HAPPY VALLEY
From the coast to East Multnomah, Happy Valley brings the love. A Top 25 pick we described as "Golden. Honey. Balanced."
13. GoodLife Brewing Descender IPA – NYBERG RIVERS
Tigard represents with this most Cascadian of choices: "full flavor," "dank," "piney," and "hop-mad," we thought.
14. Ninkasi Dawn of the Red – SEVEN CORNERS
"Amazing aroma," wrote one taster. " "Hate it," wrote another. A third: "not too hoppy, with the other tastes going on—Division Street is indecisive?"