I think I have mentioned that I currently work on cruise ships. This gives me the opportunity to travel while doing a job I love, and also to try lots of different beers from different places. Repositioning is a particularly exciting time for this. Repositioning is when a cruise ship moves from one area to another and changes its itinerary. Usually this is in April/May and September/October time as we move from winter to summer and vise versa. My ship repositioned from Alaska to the Caribbean which gave us the chance to visit some new places that we would only go to once. The first port of call was Astoria, Oregon. I did some research before we got there and made a bee-line to the Fort George Brewery. I was not disappointed!
The brewery has a large variety of beers on offer and you can try all of them in their tasting sampler that is very reasonable priced. At the time of year I visited there were several fresh-hopped beers that were interesting to try. The staff are very knowledgeable and there is an extensive “Beer Book” that tells you about all of their regular brews indepth so you can make an informed choice.
I really enjoyed the décor of the brewery and that the regular sized drinks were served in mason jars! I had the sampler of all 11 beers and their wasabi ginger ale as a palette cleanser. There is definitely something for everyone at Fort George as my tasting notes will show you:
1811 Bicentennial Lager
Brewed for Astoria’s Bicentennial in 2011 this lager has a depth of flavour that surprised me. It has an aroma of lime and citrus fruits, has a good body and a combination of slight bitterness next to a slight malt background that I really liked. But Lite this is not!
This wheat beer uses elderflower, coriander and lemongrass giving it a gorgeous fruity taste. It smells like marmalade and I found it very smooth, only a touch floral at the end.
This fruit beer was an instant fave with me. Light amber in colour with a slight beery hue and a fuzzy head it smells of juicy berries with a creamy background. The taste is summer fruits bursting in your mouth. Absolutly divine for sure!
Nut Red Ale
Reddy brown with a light tan head, this amber ale had a sweet, malty aroma. It has a strong malt taste with an underlying nuttiness leading to a subtle sweetness. I like my amber ales a bit stronger, but it was still good.
Not bad as IPAs go, bright clear amber with a fuzzy white head and a hoppy, sweet grapefruit nose. It is not too bitter, being smooth to start leading to a pleasing maltiness and ending with a nettle/grapefruit sweetness. Tame compared to some of the Alaskan IPAs I’ve tried.
Working Girl Porter
Dark brown with red highlights and a lingering tan head this porter was a bit too much like a shot of espresso for me. It has a strong coffee aroma and a smooth espresso taste with a chocolate aftertaste. Needed to be a bit sweeter for my tastes.
This one is for the people that like their ABV’s high. Dark brown/black in colour with a tan head, there isn’t a lot going on aroma wise, only a very mild maltiness. I got a strong alcoholic taste from this with fruit cake and malt in the background. It was too strong for me but I am sure a more seasoned stout drinker would love its complexities.
Fresh Hop Vortex IPA
Now we get into the seasonal beers, beginning with our first fresh hop variety. This is the same as their Vortex IPA but made with fresh hops – what a difference. Fresh is not the word!! What is fresher than fresh? Nettle and grapefruit on the nose this beer hits you with nettle and grapefruit in the taste then a freshness that I cannot describe. I liked this so much more than the regular IPA because of the freshness.
Another fresh hop brew, this time bringing a more organic flavour to the table. Hopstoria is a clear bright gold with a quickly dissipating head. It has an organic fragrance that almost reminded me of cannibis. This organic quality continues in the flavour giving it a chlorophyll and nettle taste. I wasn’t a fan, it made me think I was chewing on a leaf.
Another fresh hopped beer, this one uses hops gathered from all the growers in Astoria so is slightly different every year. For me, this was an instant favourite. A slightly cloudy amber with a light head, this years offering has an aroma that is a combination of sweetness, malt and hops. It has a well balanced malty sweetness that lingers on the tongue, very satisfying!
Fresh Hop OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale)
The last beer on the list and another fresh hopped one. The regular version of the OPA was out when I visited but it was on the Draft Magazine top 25 beers of 2012. This beer is gold with a fuzzy white head and has an aroma that is a combination of hops and buttered popcorn. It begins bitter in taste leading to a buttery creamy finish that I think must come from the oatmeal. It wasn’t a favourite of mine but I did find the mouthfeel very interesting and kept going back to it to sip it and feel it out. An interesting use of specialty grains for sure.
I loved Fort George Brewery and really hope that I get to visit Astoria again some day so I can try some more of their delicious brews.