Base Camp Brewing: Pre-Grand Opening
Today is the second day of Base Camp Brewing's grand opening celebration. I stopped by for a few beers on Thursday night as part of their pre-grand opening industry night. I'm not sure what the real percentage is, but the place looks about 95% complete, with only a few things like the presence of scrap wood out front and the lack of finished bases on a table or two. The Base Camp crew has been working hard to finally open, a bit later in the year then planned. The long hours have been worth it: five great beers on tap, an expansive indoor tasting room, and some hot fire pits in the beautiful fenced in seating area outside. At the moment, they are relying on the food carts on the property to provide food for their tasting room, but word is that due to a last minute changed mind at the OLCC, a kitchen will be following.
The indoor area has huge ceilings, complete with great looking fiber optic constellations built into the wood. It is sparsely decorated at the moment—and may continue to be—themed with a huge wall of outdoor adventure photographs, maps on the tables, and giant rocks for some table bases. Everything is very tasteful, well-crafted, looks great in the expansive room.
Outside, through the front doors, there is a fenced in area with log benches, gravel, and fire pits. In true Northwest style, several people were hanging out near the fires, standing in the rain. While not necessarily the best place to sit in the rain, it captures the adventure and camping theme perfectly.
Of course, a great atmosphere at a brewery is only complementary to the beer they provide. Currently, Base Camp is pouring five draft beers (listed below). Overall, the beers were excellent, representing some interesting takes on styles. Many made use of dry-hopping, specialized malts, and the S'more Stout was nicely garnished with a toasted marshmallow. The only aspect of the beers I didn't like was their categorization. Take their flagship In-Tents India Pale Lager. This was my favorite beer of the night, with well-balanced malt sweetness and hop flavors, subtle oak notes from wood aging, and a nice crisp finish. However, for the beer's complexity, the interesting India Pale Lager category didn't really do the beer justice. It set my expectations at one level, but delivered at another level. In this case, my expectations were exceeded since I was impressed with the beer. Their Out-of-Bounds Brown was also a bit confusing, and not within any parameters of brown styles that I know. In this case, browns are one of my favorite underrated styles and I was hoping for something great, more towards a sweeter porter on the spectrum. What I got, was more along the lines of a hoppy amber, nowhere near the brown I envisioned. I thought the beer was very good, but again, was confused by its categorization. If Base Camp is trying to stretch the style categories, it's a noble idea, but they need to be careful to meet a drinkers expectations within that style. Maybe a better route would be making a few of their beers freestyle, uncategorized. Of course, with the beers themselves being quite good, this issue is easy to address since you only have to change words, not recipes!
Stop by today, say hello, sample a few beers, and welcome the great folks at Base Camp Brewing to Portland!
- Paölshienbier: IBUs: 40 | SRM: 5.0 | OG 13.5°P | TG: 2.6°P | ABV: 5.8%—Base Camp's kolsch is a stand-out pale that is both approachable and nuanced. Dry-hopped for lots of lemony citrus aroma without a mouth-puckering bitterness, well-balanced by its slightly bready malt and yeast profiles. Our house ale yeast strain does some of its best work in this beer, making for a light ale that is truly unique.
- In-Tents India Pale Lager: IBUs: 55 | SRM: 15.4 | OG 16.5°P | TG: 4.0°P | ABV: 6.8%—Our flagship India Pale Lager is a copper-colored hoppy lager. Dry-hopped, and aged on an in-house tasted blend of white and red oaks. The IPL finishes clean and smooth, with hop aromas of wild flowers and pine and a unique maltiness highlighted by the subtle oak character.
- Out-of-Bounds Brown: IBUs: 45 | SRM: 15.8 | OG 15.3°P | TG: 3.8°P | ABV: 6.2%—Halfway between an English style brown and a Northwest CDA, our Out-of_buonds Brown ale's malt bill showcases a complex lineup of domestic and imported specialty varieties. It finishes with an ample citrus hoppiness and a clean yet full mouthfeel that makes it both satisfying and drinkable.
- S'more Stout: IBUs: 70 | SRM: 55.2 | OG 19.2°P | TG: 5.3°P | ABV: 7.7%—Base Camp's darkest and strongest standard beer. Thick, white head with a distinctly marshmallow aroma and taste. The beer itself lends biscuit and chocolate characteristics, and we even use a small amount of smoked malt to round out the flavor profile. Toasted marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker, and a hint of campfire smoke, all at right around eight percent ABV.
- Hoptastic Voyage IPA: IBUs: 62 | SRM: 26.0 | OG 13.8°P | TG: 2.7°P | ABV: 6.2%—Our 2012 Fresh Hop brew. This is a very highly hopped IPA; a celebration of the hop harvest. lots of fresh hop character highlighted by complex floral aromas of citrus tropical fruit, and melon; balanced with a good malt backbone. Over 230 pounds of hops achieved their highest potential in the making of this beer!
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