Last week we let you know about the beer release coming out of Great Notion Brewery. Then Last weekend they invited Kyle down to the brewery to sit down with owners James Dugan and Andy Miller, to get a better inside on the stuff they were creating, check it.
Great Notion Brewery prides itself on 3 core values: Creativity, Family and Quality. The goal of former homebrewers, James Dugan and Andy Miller, is to introduce the Northwest beer drinker to their “juicy” New England style IPAs and creative sours.
James and Andy, along with friend and business partner Paul Reiter, have started off with a few key ingredients. The first ingredient is location. Great Notion secured an amazing location on Alberta Street in Northeast Portland where former brewers Mashtun resided for the last ten years. The brewery is directly attached to Pine State Biscuits and only a few hundred yards from Salt and Straw Ice Cream. The second ingredient is great beer.
Not only does Great Notion have a formidable Grand Release menu lined up for March 5, but they also placed two beers in the top five spots for Portland IPAs at the recent Oregon Beer Awards. Coming in at number three, is Juice Junior, a hazy New England session IPA that is not like the common West Coast IPA. At number 5, judges picked Ripe, another New England style IPA that is cloudy like a glass of orange juice, which is fitting as oranges are the first thing you taste. I had the pleasure of sampling these and several other beers during a sit down with the owners.
ZEST – German Style Berliner Weisse 5% ABV
First up is Zest, which is the baby of brewer Andy. It is a kettle soured, lemony tart beer which comes off extremely balanced between a light wheat beer and a sour due to the additions of lactobacillus and brettanomyces. The goal is to have base versions of this beer and then add occasional variants like a recent experiment with pomegranates. German traditional syrups are also available
behind the bar which you can add to this beer. These syrups give it a fruitier taste that complements the beer very well.
COFFEE AND CREAM (Nitro) – Cream Ale 6.5% ABV
This beer was the most surprising in the lineup, but in a great way. I was instructed by Paul to close my eyes and drink it. My initial thought was a coffee stout but with an amazingly light mouthfeel. Being a cream ale, the actual color is a light tan that doesn’t match my sense of coffee beers I’ve had in the past. You really get the best representation of the coffee from Clutch Coffee Roasters with the light cream ale bringing the spotlight 100% to the coffee and not the malts. This is a must try!!
JUICE JR. – Session IPA 6% ABV
James and Andy hit it out of the park with Juice Jr. Originally created to be the yeast producer for big brother Juice Box Double IPA, this all Mosaic hopped experience is like nothing I have every experienced. The hazy appearance of this beer makes the traditional Northwest beer drinker think they are drinking a hefeweizen. The hops are floral and subtle with a constant fruity taste, yet all the flavors come together in perfect harmony to be sessionable without being watered down. This well balanced beer, was aptly named the number 3 IPA in all of Portland. Junior will be what makes Great Notion popular on a large scale, in my opinion.
RIPE – American IPA 7% ABV
Ripe is a traditional American IPA with a different yeast and a mix of Citra and Mosiac hops. Again the hops provide the New England juicy IPA with immediate orange flavors that do not overpower. I have to admit that the hazy appearance of these IPAs is hard to wrap my West Coast brain around. Mouthfeel is once again light with the alcohol more noticeable but well balanced. This IPA placed fifth in the 73 IPA blind taste test and speaks volumes to the idea that Portland it ready for some different IPA styles.
JUICE BOX – Double IPA 8.2% ABV
I was fortunate to be in the brewery at the time of the very first tapping of the
long awaited Juice Box. Juice Box is a big Double IPA with the same hazy appearance, pitted fruit taste and tons of hops. Once again the hops are pungent and spotlighted but not overpowering. The mouthfeel is almost creamy and it drinks so well for a beer with an ABV over 8%. This beer is so easy to drink it could be very dangerous.
STAMPER STOUT – American Stout 7.7% ABV
The key to most of the Great Notion beers is balance and that is the same with the traditional American stout. Andy worked on this recipe for several years to give this beer a chocolatey, coffee backbone that does not overpower and provides rich notes throughout. Here is the kicker: there is no coffee or chocolate added to the brew which is probably why it drinks so well. This beer will be the base to several variant styles that will be available on March 5 for the Grand Release Event. The first variant and one I was able to get sample of is Double Stack, their breakfast style stout. It left my hand smelling like maple syrup several hours later. The second variant, currently under wraps but I was told by Paul will also be available on March 5, is the Chai Vanilla Stout.
DOUBLE STACK – American Breakfast Stout 7.5%
This could be the beer that I am anticipating the most. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and when you take a great beer in Stamper and then add tons of maple syrup and coffee, you get Double Stack. Brewer Andy handed me this beer and from 3 feet away I could smell the maple syrup! I braced for a sweet beer flavor due to the syrup but I was surprised when that wasn’t there. Instead I got an upfront small amount of maple syrup taste with very little sweetness and then just enough coffee to help with the overall harmony of the pancake breakfast beer. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with mellow malts help make this beer just perfect.
ROOT BEARD – Herbed/Spiced Cream Ale 5%
What better way to finish a night with friends and a good meal than a hard root beer which has an option to add Salt and Straw Ice Cream as a float! This is not the commercial hard root beer that is popular right now, meaning that this is actually a cream ale spiced and herbed to give it a root beer taste. Good up front sarsaparilla, vanilla and licorice give root beer sweetness that changes to a cream ale feel and taste as it goes down the throat. Great way to end a flight!
I am instantly a fan of the core values of this new brewery and the well mixed grand release menu that they have prepared. Remember to keep an open mind when exploring the flight of beers from Great Notion as they are challenging the idea of what beer drinkers on the West Coast have grown accustomed to in the last 10 years. Whether it is a juicy, hazy IPA or adding maple syrup and chai vanilla to the stouts, you will know that James, Andy and Paul are providing you a small homebrew family feeling while bringing lots of quality, creative, big beers to Northeast Portland. Their Grand Release Event is March 5 from 12pm to 11p.