By Amy Tindell
Quick: I’m in Portland, Oregon, with exactly one hour to find amazing beer before I meet up with my friend (who will then guide me to more amazing beer and other Portland delights). Crowd-sourcing directs me to Bailey’s Taproom. Conveniently, I happen to be 3 blocks away. I walk (through the rain, of course, since I’m in Oregon), and am the second patron to sit at the bar and peer up at the very detailed beer menu. It is, after all, 2 pm on a Sunday.
Bailey’s features 24 rotating taps, along with about 100 bottled beers, with focus on Oregon and West Coast breweries. The centerpiece of the Taproom is the DigitalPour menu. DigitalPour, also located in Portland, provides a “real-time beer dashboard” that patrons can inspect for information about which beers are on tap and what they can expect from each beer. It shows information about the beer name, style, brewery location, alcohol content and bitterness (in IBUs). Patrons can get also an idea of the color the beer will be, what type and size glassware it will be served in, and its price. Further, interested enthusiasts can prioritize their consumption by noting whether a keg has just been tapped, how much beer remains in the keg, and what beer might be tapped next. For those real attention-seekers, DigitalPour even allows for social media integration.
DigitalPour also offers helpful interactive analytic reports to its clients that reflect how each beer performs in terms of how long the beer remains on tap, its average income, and its average profits over time tapped. In this way, bar managers can understand which beers sell best and how each type of beer contributes to their overall profits.
With the help of DigitalPour and the friendly bartender, I select a flight of Oregon (+ 1 Alaskan) beers, from Laurelwood (Portland), Base Camp (Portland), Flat Tail (Corvallis), Burnside (Portland), Awesome Ales (Silverton), and Alaskan (Juneau) breweries.
A sucker for a good Alt, I start with an imperial one: Base Camp’s Ctrl Alt Delete, which pours a hazy copper color with a malty, grassy nose. A true Alt, the flavor hits the tongue as quite malty and grainy, with notes of caramel and a bitter finish. The bartender tells me that Base Camp follows a complex fermentation process, first applying its house ale yeast strain to create fruity flavors, and then its house lager yeast strain to generate that clean, smooth finish. I also enjoy Awesome Ales’ Red House, an India Red Ale. Coppery-amber in color, the beer smells somewhat like an orange scone – citrusy and biscuity, with some floral hop notes. As expected, the beer tastes sweet, citrusy, and malty, with some creaminess in the slightly bitter finish. Perhaps unexpected, however, is the taste of Burnside’s Spring Rye,. The nutty flavors created by the rye partner surprisingly well with the spicy fruitiness of the Ultra hops and coriander, all of which taper off into an herbal aftertaste.
With each beer sampled but not completely consumed, it is time for me to surrender to the flight. I have exactly 15 minutes to meet my friend, with a planned stop at Powell’s Books on the way. I don’t know it yet, but our (eventual) destination will be Apizza Scholls, described by locals as the “Pizza Nazi,” which will earn a coveted spot on my beer tourism map. After a very full day, it’s just too bad that neither of us will drink quite enough beer to forget about that naughty midnight visit to Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut.