Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Portland, Pinot and Pale Ales

I’m on location in Portland this week. Ah…the land of beautiful landscapes, local eating, and the hipster, hippie-dippie set. Love it out here. The main purpose of my visit is to attend the annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which kicks off today. Over the next four days I’ll be listening to the likes of Kim Severson, food editor for The New York Times, and Ruth Reichl, former executive editor of Gourmet magazine, wax on about food and cooking. I’ll also be attending sessions with topics like “The Death of Recipes” with Michael Ruhlman, “Career Strategies for Food Writers” and “Culinary Medicine: Eating Something You Believe In.” You can imagine my excitement.

In addition to all that, I’ve also been visiting with friends and doing some of my own food and drink “research.” On Sunday my friend Ashley and I went wine tasting in Yamhill County outside of Portland. We tasted lots of famous Oregon Pinots including Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and several Pinot Noirs. I love Pinot Noir, and was surprised at how different each was, based on vintage and winemaker. Some were the typical jammy wines with red cherry and plum notes. Other were peppery, with a hint of mushrooms.Yesterday, my buddy John and I enjoyed some late afternoon beers at the relatively new brewpub Ninkasi in Eugene, Ore.

The Pacific Northwest is famous for their hoppy beers, so we did a sampler of several of them, so I could taste the differences. Until recently, I thought I wasn’t a fan of pale ales and their signature hoppiness. But as I’m learning, that’s like saying I didn’t like something as vast and varied as bread or pasta. There are a zillion different kinds of pale ales and India Pale Ales (IPAs). In fact, I’ve long-considered Bass to be one of my favorite beers, not realizing that it was a pale ale, too. Guess I needed to get my facts straight, and Ninkasi helped me do that. PK Nice was one of my favorites of the five we tried. It’s a pale ale with more corn than barley so the malt is smoother. It also had notes of vanilla, which complemented the malt well. And the hops somehow squeezed their way into all of that for a round, refreshing beer. My second favorite beer was Tricerahops…a double IPA! Can you believe that? Double the hops of a regular IPA. Somehow it was citrusy and refreshing without any of that “bite” I thought I didn’t like in hops. My mind was blown.

To read more about IPAs and pale ales and their differences, including an interesting fact about how India pale ales got their name, check out this article published in Seattle Weekly a few years back. It gives a great overview of the two styles.

More to come from this conference and Portland, I’m sure. Stay tuned!


6 Responses to “Portland, Pinot and Pale Ales”

  1. 1

    Momma B — April 20, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    Have a great time in Portland! As you are sampling the spirits, try a Henry Weinhardts ESB. It is my absolute favorite beer and I can not get it here in TN!

  2. 2

    Annakate — April 20, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

    Will do Momma B! There are SO MANY beers to try out here…I can't believe the selection I've seen.

  3. 3

    Liz The Mad Middle Aged Mom — April 20, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Have fun and say hi to Brenda. I'm jealous that you got to go. I'm assuming Viking paid???? Or isthis a write-off for your blog? Either way, enjoy and come to Chicago soon.

  4. 4

    DJ B — April 24, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

    Man, I haven't heard anyone mention Weinhard's in years! Used to be kind of an "ooh la la" beer before the micro thang kicked off in earnest…

    Another regional delicacy is the salt water taffy from shops up and down the coast highway – hope this doesn't reach you too late to get some!

  5. 5

    Annakate — April 26, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

    Didn't come across Weinardts or Salt Water Taffy. Damn. Next time in Portland…

  6. 6

    TKTC — May 19, 2010 @ 11:16 am

    My friend Hadley just turned me on to your blog and I'm quickly becoming convinced that we're living parallel lives (sounded significantly less creepy in my head). I was at IACP as well and completely fell for Portland. So now PDX has been added to a short list of favorite cities I've yet to live in…joining Nashville. Spent a lot of time there in college and have made yearly trips back ever since. I still dream of the dinner we had at City House. All this to say I'm sorry I missed you in Portland but thrilled to have added to my reader/radar!

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