Lompoc Oktoberfest Kicks Off Fall Sports Season
Labor Day Weekend is generally considered the figurative end of summer, so it seems right to start seeing the fall seasonals get released. Lompoc Brewing held a release party for their Oktoberfest on Saturday September 1st at the Fifth Quadrant. I am hesitant to call it a formal Octoberfest celebration as when I was there (Happy Hour from 4-6 PM) it would seem that the vast majority of the patrons probably did not even know something special was happening. Everything was as advertised with Brewer Bryan Keilty taking on Owner Jerry Fechter in a casual game of cornhole, the Brewery Bar open serving Oktoberfest & Jolly Bock, brats & pretzels available and canned German music being played. The limits of ‘German’ music were certainly being pushed, though, as I did hear "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins at one point. A little research revealed the song was co-written by Hansjörg "Giorgio" Moroder, an Italian who got his musical start in Germany, so I applaud the creativity whether it was intended or not.
However, the highlight for me had nothing to do with the Oktoberfest, which I did try and it is an excellent example of the style, but was the Roar of ’84 IPA brewed by Brewer Irena Bierzynski. I had the pleasure of meeting Irena, who is a fellow native of the great state of Michigan, on Saturday and was able to complement her on the IPA. She informed me the IPA is the third in a series of beers brewed in honor of each brewer’s favorite Major League Baseball team. The series came about as a bit of an accident when former Head Brewer Dave Fleming named a new IPA recipe he was trying the Green Monster IPA in honor of his Boston Red Sox. Bryan, a Yankees fan, had to respond with the Yankee Clipper IPA named after Joe DiMaggio. The rest of the crew decided to get in on the action and so a series was born. Irena was up next with the Roar of ’84, which references the last time the Detroit Tigers won the World Series led by MVP Alan Trammell, Sweet Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon and Jack Morris (I could name the entire roster as that team was a highlight from my childhood, but I am pretty sure I have already pushed the limits with Chet). You can expect future beers named after the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves.
This series got me reminiscing about my formative years spent in the bars of Chicago. Chicago is a magnet for Big Ten and Notre Dame graduates, so many bars support certain teams and those places become a meeting place for those graduates. The bars will fly the school’s flag outside and the décor inside will generally leave little doubt about what game will be on the big screen. An old favorite of mine called the Gin Mill (since closed) had a neon sign above its entrance that said “Welcome to East Lansing”. As this weekend was the start of the college football season and Michigan teams were in the spotlight, I know of a couple of places that probably did a brisk business. Michigan State defeated Boise State in the ESPN featured game Friday night and I can bet you many Spartan fans in Chicago watched the action at The Tin Lizzie. Michigan got rolled by the Crimson Tide of Alabama in front of the College Gameday crew in Dallas on Saturday night, but there were probably just as many long faces at Duffy’s in Chicago. As I am a Spartan fan and Ben Caldwell supports Alabama, it was a good weekend for Portlandbeer.org Contributors. To further my point outside of the neighboring states, Ben could have watched the game while enjoying his drink in an Alabama stadium cup at the Houndstooth Saloon. Lastly, if any of you locals find yourself in Chicago on a Duck gameday, rest assured you can feel right at home sipping a Bridgeport IPA special while watching the game on the patio at Witts Bar and Grille.
When I saw the Roar of ’84 IPA listed for the Lompoc celebration, I started thinking I may have been unaware of a ‘Michigan’ bar in Portland. As mentioned previously, the Roar of ’84 was part of a larger MLB series and does not show any allegiance to a particular team. The closest and only examples I can think of in Portland would be Saraveza and the Corbett/Hawthorne Fish Houses. Both of those places have Wisconsin roots and proudly support the Green Bay Packers; Saraveza is even organizing a bus trip to Seattle for the September 24th Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Seahawks. However, both are either better known for their beer (Saraveza) or food (Fish House) than for their Cheeseheadiness. The disparity in the two cities’ bar scenes certainly has something to do with geography. Chicago is the largest major city near most of the Big Ten schools and thus pulls many of the alumni from those schools, whereas the Pac 12 schools are all clustered around large metropolitan areas where I imagine many of the graduates stay after college (e.g., Cal & Stanford = San Francisco and Arizona & ASU = Phoenix). However, I know Portland draws many transplants from the Midwest and beyond. Thus, I think the difference is more rooted in the bar culture of the two cities. It is rare to find a bar in Chicago that does not have some sporting event on a TV at all times, whereas it is not uncommon for a Portland bar to not have any TVs. Also, Chicago bars often live and die on their drink specials and how well those specials draw a crowd on certain days. Portland bars, on the other hand, were banned from advertising drink specials by the OLCC until 2010 and are still severely limited in what they can say around their Happy Hours deals. The Chicago beer deals generally feature domestic drafts or bottles (and when I say domestic I really mean macro lagers), whereas Portland deals almost always include a decent option like Mirror Pond or Widmer Hef. Thus, I will take the good beer and a good conversation with friends over celebrating a Le’Veon Bell touchdown with a complete stranger who may have been born a few hours from my family, but I would not mind seeing a bit more fanfare in Portland. Anyone know of any places in Portland that fly the flag for someone other than the hometown teams (e.g., Blazers, Timbers, Vikings, etc.)?
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