Concordia is hosting Beer Brawl II starting Feb 25th. Oregon vs Washington vs California. If only all competitions were this great. . . .
Concordia Cup 2008

It is 2pm on Thursday and my friend Andrew and I are sitting at the Concordia Ale House. This is the earliest I have ever been in the establishment and it is the first time ever for Andrew. Formally The Pink Elephant, Concordia's layout acts as a perfect gathering spot. Even though it is only 2 pm there is a light crowd gathered. This crowd consists of people taking late lunches, a group of professors from Concordia University who meet there every week, a few people in the game room, and, of course, a handful of beer enthusiasts. Strange hoots from pool players and Donkey Kong high score seekers in the game room are muzzled by the bar room banter and gentle tones of music coming through the speakers. The soft glow of the dining area is perfect for a group of old friends laughing around a table or a fervent reader bent on finishing a book while sipping on a pint. I am enjoying a nice Imperial IPA and thinking about how if this place wasn't here, I am not sure my love of beer would be what it is. Actually, I am positive it wouldn't be what it is. I am also thinking about The Empire Strikes Back and how it is the greatest movie ever.

It wasn't until last year that I first made the venture to the Concordia at the request of my friend Marc Jordan. He had been pestering me for months prior to attend, but due to the fact that I have one tap room a stones throw away from my apartment and another an aerodynamic stone's throw away, I was constantly putting off the rendezvous. I figured most taprooms/ale houses were pretty much the same, so why make the trip? It wasn't until the Concordia began displaying his art that I was forced to give it a shot. You see, even though I am a selfish jerk, I like to pretend like I actually care about the achievements of other people. Good work, Marc!

What I was met with on that visit was quite impressive. I was greeted with 22 taps, eighteen of which I would later find out are constantly rotating. I am not sure exactly what was on tap but I knew it was not standard fare. I remember there were local brews from Amnesia, Lucky Lab and Laurelwood as well as a diverse selection of micros from California to Belgium. Using the sleuthing skills that earned me the title of "world's greatest detective", I determined that this beer was selected with the utmost care and this was a place I would be happy to frequent.

Fast forward to Thursday at 2pm and I am sitting with Concordia co-owner Jason Hohnstein asking him a mess of unorganized questions while Jason enjoys a popsicle. Jason is a large friendly fellow who co-owns the Concordia with his cousin Jerry Olson. When you talk to Jason you cannot help but see how much he enjoys and respects being a part of the beer culture in Portland without being the least bit pretentious. I lobby my hypothesis of the beer being selected very carefully at him which he meets with a simple response of "We try and get the best beer possible".

This is quite an understatement when you consider these guys like beer enough to not only have those 22 taps and a fridge of more than 150 bottles that would make the local convenience store lower it's head in shame, but there are special tappings of beer rarities that Concordia Ale House will gladly break even on or even take a loss on, just to get some of the sweet sweet rare nectar. With this abundance of variety, it would be useless to list what they had on tap yesterday because it will be different by the time you go in for a pint. This feature of the Concordia basically forces you to expand your beer horizons and increase your knowledge of beer. It creates beer enthusiasts. Jason admits some of this is due to absent mindedness. A beer that was enjoyed may not return for months due to it just being forgotten about amidst the constant shuffle of kegs but its absence makes room for a chance beer that may blow you mind.

Concordia Cup 2008
Picking Captains for the Beer Brawl II.
The Concordia is also a perfect example of a place that listens to its customers and occasionally will get a beer solely based on customer input. In fact, as we were talking a Sierra Nevada rep came in with a soon to be released IPA to be sampled. A few glasses were grabbed and Andrew and myself were treated to a taste along with the guys from Concordia. We put in our two cents and determined that this beer was decent but nothing special. At least that is what I determined and then I tuned out what everyone else had to say about it. Remember, I am a selfish jerk. Either way it seemed like our input was important and this added more to that lack of pretentiousness that I wrote of earlier. In fact, the Concordia actually encourages you to throw in your opinion with some of the greatest contests possible. Concordia shamelessly promotes brewer ego driven feuds through its signature Concordia Cup and Beer Brawls. With that being said beginning February 25 will be Beer Brawl II, a beer battle royale between three states: Oregon, Washington and California (Last year was only Washington and Oregon). In the competition beer lovers get a numerically marked sampler of the top beers from the aforementioned 3 states. They will then decide the cream of the crop based on taste alone. Who will win? Me and anyone else who will be stopping by to participate.

Non beer related greatness comes from Chef Aaron Lisle's menu filled with the better-than-bar-food fare that is familiar to Portland with dinner specials running every 2 weeks. Catch the Saturday and Sunday Brunch from 9-2 and be sure to save room and bring a growler for beer-to-go. I tend to treat myself to the burger that has a fried egg on it because there is no greater combination than ground beef, friend egg and a bun.

After the egg burger and three delicious beers Andrew and I headed out into the night, happy, hoppy and better people thanks to the guys at Concordia Ale House.