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Christian DeBenedetti's Top 10
(You can listen to our conversation with Christian here.)
Last Thursday, Christian DeBenedetti and I visited Belmont Station to get a pint of Pliny the Elder (which is only on tap once a month). Over the beer, he shared stories of his travels, beer philosophy and a vision of one day crafting his own beer to serve in a pastoral farmhouse. I eventually asked the old "desert island" question. If you were stuck on a desert island, which five Portland beers would you take? What started as a fun hypothetical expanded into a 20-minute-long, methodical pace of the beer aisles next door. Apologetically, Christian informed me we were going to have to expand the list to 10 and cover all of Oregon.
So here it is, in Christian's words: "My Desert Island 10, When Roaming the Beer Aisles at the Belmont Station"
10. Deschutes: "Black Butte Porter"
Tangy Northwest hops come to the fore with finesse, balancing its cocoa, coffee, and toffee notes from its blend of roasted malts (5.5% ABV).
9. H.U.B: "Czech Lager"
An homage to the birthplace of the Pilsner style, the ample but not heavy Czech-style is only on draft, marrying malty backbone to fragrant hops in ideal proportions (5.1% ABV)
8. Double Mountain: "Vaporizer"
A dry, golden-hued pale ale with Pilsner malt and Challenger hops, grown in
Washington’s Yakima Valley (6% ABV), absolutely ideal with pizza.
7. Cascade: "Apricot"
is a crisp, tart ale that goes through sixteen months of lactic fermentation and then spends four months resting on Washington State apricots in French oak wine barrels. Cascade has a huge lineup of beers, but this
is consistently the best.
6. Upright: "Special Herb"
One of Upright’s best summer seasonals is called Reggae Junkie Gruit, a 5.5% ABV hopless ale flavored with lemongrass, hyssop, bitter orange peel and Sichuan peppercorns. Special Herbs is a version has been aged in Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels, picking up some of the additional gin botanicals suffused in the oak. Sour, distinctive, delicious, and rare.
5. Deschutes: "The Dissident"
A Flanders-style oud bruin (“old brown”) aged in oak barrels with cherries, this 10.5% ABV beer is remarkable with rich cheeses like Rogue River’s bleu and savory dishes like pork roast.
4. Full Sail: Session "Black"
This 5.4% lager’s dark color (from deeply roasted grains) belies an easy, quaffable nature and pleasantly subtle bitterness. Based on the style known as schwarzbier, out of Southeastern Germany, it’s one of the best American interpretations of its kind.
3. Fort George: "Vortex IPA"
Served right out of a mason jar at the brewery, this 7.5% ABV beer honors the original brewhouse which was transported through a serious tornado en route to Oregon from the Midwest. Now available in sixteen-ounce cans, it’s a juicy twister of lemon-like grassy hops, and sweet, fruity graininess.
2. Heater Allen: "Pils"
Like the pale Czech lagers that inspired Rick Allen’s recipe, this is a malt-driven, well-rounded sipper of just 4.8% ABV (less than a standard Budweiser) with a touch of fruitiness and a spicy and delicate European hop character.
1. Logsdon: "Seizoen Bretta"
A malty, yeasty saison beer of 8% ABV with an addition of Brettanomyces yeast adding fruity notes, acidity, and earthy, almost leathery flavors. (Saison “season” in French; earthy, unfiltered, low-alcohol pale ales meant to refresh farm workers during the summer; also called “farmhouse ales” and originated in the French-speaking part of Belgium known as Wallonia. Generally 6–8% ABV.)
Do you agree? What's your top 10? You can watch Christian pick the beers below.