A New Lents Brewery Evokes an Obscure German Tradition

Zoiglhaus Brewing Company shares the wort.

By Marty Patail January 25, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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If you want to see a neighborhood in transition, head out to Lents. Bisected by I-205, the area finds auto repair shops abutting food carts, darkened storefronts rubbing elbows with an international farmers market. An abandoned lot is now home to the displaced Belmont goats.

The East Portland neighborhood’s newest resident, Zoiglhaus Brewing Company, was conceived with this evolving new community in mind. Opened in late September, the 7,500-square-foot, family-friendly brewpub is the creation of Alan Taylor, head brewer behind Pints Brewing in Old Town since 2013. Where Pints’ beer list merely skews to the Vaterland, Zoiglhaus goes full German, with a tap list drawing on Taylor’s time as an apprentice at some of the country’s storied breweries.

The word Zoigl refers to an old and obscure brewing tradition from the Upper Palatinate in eastern Bavaria, where a handful of communal, wood-fired brewhouses boil wort—basically, unfermented beer—over a wood fire and distribute it to homebrewers in the community, who in turn ferment and share their own beers. Only five breweries in the world, all of them in this little geographic pocket, still follow the tradition.

Zoiglhaus brings wort-sharing stateside. Although the on-site brewery has only recently opened its doors, partnerships with Aletruism Brewing and WhiskyBack are already signed and sealed, with more in the works. Taylor notes that once the wort starts flowing, he hopes to involve Portland’s amateur homebrewers as well, especially those living nearby. “I’m a firm believer that breweries can revitalize neighborhoods,” he says.

While you await your own supply of wort, sample Taylor’s own impeccable German craftsmanship with the three choices at right.

Lents Lager

Authenticity incarnate: a light Bavarian lager that nails the balance between full maltiness and easy drinking.

PAIR WITH: Light beer makes room for heavier meals. Try the jägerschnitzel, two pounded pork cutlets and hand-formed spätzle noodles drenched in mushroom gravy.

Zoigl Hefe-Weissbier

With notes of banana and clove, Zoiglhaus’s hefeweizen is as refreshing as it comes.

PAIR WITH: Taylor’s dense, rainy-day pretzel from Fressen and obatzda, a rich spread of Camembert, paprika, and spicy flecks of caraway.

The Gose

Using two family recipes, one delivered over the phone from a trusting German brewer friend (sucker!), Taylor re-created this fruity, sour, wheaty style with coriander and salt. (Read: noncompliant with the German Beer Purity Law!)

PAIR WITH: The crispy, snackable “Alanation Sensation,” a flammkuchen (a.k.a. tarte flambée, or Alsatian pizza) topped with onion, bacon, and crème fraîche.

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