I made it up to Ice Harbor Brewing in Kennewick, WA on Sunday to watch some football and meet up with outgoing assistant brewer Adam Cocker. Adam was coming up on his last week at the brewery before he and his wife move back to Salem. He was nice enough to take time away from packing to meet me at the brewery. I was stoked to find they still had their excellent Fresh Hop IPA on tap. This was one of the better fresh hop beers I had this season. I was also excited to see that their Hop Warrior IIPA was listed as "coming soon" on the tap list. Adam was kind enough to let me get a taste of it out of the tanks. A nice double IPA with a good dry finish. The hops aroma is a little weak but picks up steam as the beer warms up. Look for it on tap at the brewery soon (if not already on!).
I pressed Adam for information on his next move. He isn't quite sure what he is going to do in the Salem area. He is thinking of trying to line up another brewing position at one of the breweries in the area, while also toying with the idea of small batch brewing and bottling. Adam is a brewer to keep an eye on for the future. I am sure he will bring exciting things to the Salem beer scene and beyond. I look forward to updates from him in the future.
Next I made the obligatory trip into Pendleton to visit Prodigal Son Brewery. Lots of exciting things going down at Prodigal Son. The new projection TV was set up in the cool theater room just to the left of the bar. It was perfect for watching the Rangers put the hurt on the Yankees in the ACLS. But the coolest new addition to the brewery is the incredible neon sign out front:
My iphone camera does not do this thing of beauty justice. This sign is a beautiful addition to downtown Pendleton and looks just as cool during the day. The color and design are top notch. I could tell owner Tim Guenther was really proud of it.
Tim and brewer Brian Harder were excited about their trip to Portland that weekend for Brewpublic's Killer Beer Week. This was to be the first time Prodigal Son Brewery's beer would be on tap in Portland. As a result, there was some last minute decisions to make regarding which beers to bring. It was cool to get a chance to see all the thought and hand wringing that go into deciding what beer to bring to such a cool event.
The big concern for Brian was that the current batch of their most talked about beer - Bruce/Lee Porter - was brewed using a different malt, as their normal malt was unavailable from the supplier. He was not sure whether to send the current version or a substitute beer. The concensus seemed to be that the current batch was a great porter but not quite as awesome as the usual recipe. It was cool to see all the thoughts running through his head as he tried to decide what beers to bring. I think the Ella IPA (available at the Saraveza event) and the Rye/Amber (availabe at the Bailey's Taproom event) were good choices.
I am returning to the area in November. If they have a batch of "original recipe" Bruce/Lee Porter finished by then, I am hoping to convince Brian to let me bring back a keg to put on tap in Portland. We shall see....
My final visit of the week brought together beer and music in a great way. I had long heard great things about Great Pacific Wine and Coffee in Pendleton, OR. At the end of my week, I brought the whole family back to Pendleton and we stopped by Great Pacific on Saturday afternoon. What a great place. They have 12 great taps. On this day they had beers from Upright, Walking Man, Ninkasi, Deschutes (Hop Trip!), Terminal Gravity, etc....They also have about 3-4 coolers full of a great selection of bottles for on premise or off premise (25% discount) consumption, including over 3 cases of 2009 Abyss.