At last weekend’s gourmet food and drink festival, Feast, in Portland, Oregon, the Base Camp Brewing Company server laid down a dish full of vanilla-bourbon marshmallows next to a butane torch. He plucked out one of the squares, flipped on the torch and applied it to the tiny confection. Then he handed it over, along with the perfect beverage with which to wash the marshmallow down: a barrel-strength R.C.T.I.D.
For the uninitiated, that’s a Belgian milk stout, a “flavor-ganza” of chocolate, coffee, bourbon and oak, and “unabashedly decadent,” as the Portland brewer describes it. And though the five-year-old festival had more wine and cocktail offerings than beers on tap, we found a few choice selections that are worthy of trying this fall.
① R.C.T.I.D. Imperial Belgian Milk Stout, Base Camp Brewing Co.
Stands for Rose City ’til I Die, and if you’re the kind of lush who enjoys a stout on a Saturday morning before snowshoeing up to a ski cabin, you should probably reach for this one, if only for the coffee infusion.
② Coax Extra Pale Ale, Burnside Brewing Co.
Another Portland offering, this beer comes from the brewery’s rotating hop series, which experiments with small, 1,500-barrel batches when there isn’t enough of a particular variety of hops to make a bigger one. This extra pale ale marshals aurora and crystal hops for a crisp beer that accomplishes something important: It’s complex, like a good IPA, without bathing the taste buds in hops, as other over-the-top options often do.
③ Czech Pilsner, Buoy Beer Company
Thought you had to fly all the way to Prague for a good Czech pilsner? You don’t. Head to Astoria, Oregon, instead for the brewery’s flagship lager that’s fermented for 60 days. Two months is a long time to let a batch of beer sit in one place (typically, you’d wait no longer than a month), and this mildly malty brew features a delicate blend of not-overwhelming Czech Saaz hops.
Image: Courtesy of Lompoc Brewing
④ Monster Mash Imperial Porter, Lompoc Brewing
This succulent seasonal is the biggest mash, using the most grain Portland brewer Lompoc has ever stuffed into a batch of beer—1,600 pounds, as opposed to the typical 1,000 to 1,200. It’s the kind of dark beer you could drink a few of without inducing an instant nap.
⑤ Cluster Single-Hop IPA, Double Mountain Brewery
There was a time when Cluster hops were the go-to hops in the brewing industry, and their blend of citrus and herbal aromas combines nicely in this easy-to-drink American-style IPA from a Hood River brewer. Use it to say goodbye to summer…, because it’s brewed only in the summer.
⑥ Sofie, Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale, Goose Island Beer Co.
Tired of mimosas? Try a “beermosa” by adding a splash of orange or grapefruit juice to this dry, sparkling ale from the Chicago brewer.