Get your growlers ready, because American Craft Beer Week is upon us once again! 2016 marks its 11th anniversary, celebrating America’s small independent craft breweries and the drinks they provide to their thirsty patrons. Established by the Brewer’s Association, brewers in all 50 states will participate in the week-long festivities, including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers, and more. For a full list of events in your state, visit Craft Beer’s incredibly detailed event list here. Or, even better, use Niki Ganong’s award-winning Field Guide to Drinking in America to help you check off each and every state from your drinking checklist. Since every journey begins with a first step, we’ve decided to help you start!
The Common’s tasting room in all its glory
Today in the US there are over 4,200 independently-owned breweries, an overwhelming number for any blog writer (or any beer drinker, for that matter!). So, we’re narrowing our celebration to just one of the many craft breweries in Portland, Oregon—the Commons Brewery in the inner southeast (630 SE Belmont St). We dutifully came, consulted with the bartender, tasted the products, and have here a list of four of the Common’s most popular libations. Enjoy!
Take a flight without leaving your seat
Beer One: Urban Farmhouse Ale (ABV 5.3%)
This is the Common’s signature flagship beer, and for good reason! It’s won a bevy of awards, including the 2016 Gold Medal at the Oregon Beer Awards and a bronze medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup. It’s light and refreshing, with floral notes and a crisp finish. Farmhouse Ales got their name from their origin on French and Flemish farms. They were originally brewed to quench the thirst of farmhands, who weren’t able to drink the highly-polluted water available in wells. The more you know!
Beer Two: Myrtle Sour Ale (ABV 5.2%)
For those of you who prefer a sour note to your beer, definitely give this guy a try. While some sour beers can be bracing and almost bitter, the Myrtle has a bark but not too much of a bite. The Commons gets their special lemony Meridian hops for their sour beers from Silverton, Oregon, which enhance the citrus notes in this sour ale. Curious to know more about the Lactobacillus fermentation process that makes sour ales sour? Take a look at a previous Overcup blog post that explains the process in detail!
Beer Three: Holden Saison (ABV 6.1%)
This beautiful saison features an amber-brown pour and rich notes of hazelnut. Our personal favorite of the four, the Holden is bracing yet also delicate and botanical. This beer is definitely different in style and taste from most of the Common’s other farmhouse ales, and definitely worth a try as the summer weather grows warmer.
Beer Four: Madrone Saison (ABV 6%)
We ended our craft beer journey with the Madrone, and we're glad we did. Like a typical saison, the Madrone is hoppy and light—almost palate-cleansing. However, the real charm of the Madrone comes from its lingering, fruity, floral aftertaste. If the Urban Farmhouse Ale was the beer to kick off with, the Madrone is definitely a good one to leave with—the crisp notes stick around, delighting the senses even after the glass is empty. These beers are just some of the amazing offerings held by the Commons, and we can’t wait to try a few more. Be sure to support your local craft breweries this week, and consult The Field Guide to Drinking in America by Niki Ganong during your travels!