base camp brewing

First Look: Base Camp Brewing’s Tasting Room – Opens Friday

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all photos by “SNOB” Ritch © The New School

How long has it been since Base Camp Brewing was first announced on this blog? Well, 5 or so stories, later the brewery is actually opening, believe it or not. I don’t want to knock on wood (because I hear it isn’t good), but the word on the street is this Friday, Nov. 2nd and Saturday, Nov. 3rd owner, Justin Fay and his crew are celebrating with two days of beer and food from on-site food cart Pizza Box.

You may have caught Base Camp’s first largebatch beer, the Hoptastic Voyage fresh hop beer, on tap in Portland already. The brewery’s yearround flagship beer, “In-Tents” Pale Ale, has also been released in unique 22oz bottle-cans available from General Distributors and in specialty bottleshops now.

I just got an early taste of what will be on tap at the official opening Friday and can offer a sneak peak at what to expect from the beers and the taproom.

The guys have nothing if not an attention to detail, and they recognize that experience is everything. From the canoe that hangs from tall ceilings over the bar to the mural of photos that hangs above the taps, the Base Camp team has done a great job communicating what it’s are all about.

Beautiful mountain wilderness photography, salvaged wood tables and boulders, lanterns hanging from the ceilings, and gravel firepits outdoors give the Base Camp tasting room a vibe found nowhere else in Portland.

Though not finished yet, beautiful taster trays carved into treated logs are being handbuilt in the back, a great reminder of camping trips and fire pits.

About the beers themselves: the flagship In-Tents India Pale Lager is surprisingly malty and creamy for a “Pale Lager.” Not to say it’s not tasty, it just reads to the palate more like a hoppy Amber or India Red Ale.

The Brown Ale was sort of a mess; not brown at all, it takes on a hazy orange color of a NW unfiltered Pale. The flavor is similar, hopforward with a mild malt background and none of the malty or nutty character you would look for in the style. Not a bad beer, but I’m very unsure of what it is trying to be.

S’More Stout is tasty and has a hint of marshmallow, though not particularly of graham cracker or chocolate. The experience of the presentation of the beer may leave many with a great impression, though; for now they are garnishing the glasses with a marshmallow that they than toast with a hand torch behind the bar.

There is also an unpronounceable Kolsch-style beer that was probably the best of the lineup. A bit more of an ale-like Kolsch and with the hops of a pale ale, it has a nice breadiness with spicy hops and a snappy finish.

I also enjoyed the fresh hop, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth for the season.

Check out Base Camp’s grand opening this weekend on Friday and Saturday from 11am to 11pm.

Base Camp Brewing
930 Southeast Oak Street  Portland, OR 97214
(503) 764-9152

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]


  1. Ritch

    November 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    That space is nice, really cool vibe. I also really liked the Kolsch-Pale beer, followed by the stout. They have a couple of lagers in the tanks, I can’t wait to try those when they’re finished. As far as the “brown” goes, I would call it something else before the doors open today, or they will be fielding a lot of questions from confused customers.

  2. Jon

    November 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Maybe the accidentally swapped the Brown and India Pale Lagers on you?

  3. Metal0130

    November 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I spy General vans. My salesman invited me down to have a beer but I had a prior engagement. I need to go try out that stout, it sounds delicious. I’m all for the slightly novel beer ideas!

  4. Anonymous

    November 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    You seem much more worried about the labels of the beers than how they taste. So with this being said, I find your review as good as a Bud Light.

    • Samurai Artist

      November 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Were you reading a different article? Never even mentioned labels in this post

    • Anonymous

      November 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      Did you read it? The whole second half of the article is about whether or not the beers match the labeled style

    • Samurai Artist

      November 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Misunderstood your comment, you mean style clasifications not labels. yes i talked about style classification, the beers are denoted as specific styles so they are being judged on their own terms. if you dont think its fair to judge a beer by the style then why did they themselves classify it as such?

  5. Anonymous

    November 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    A group of us stopped by the brewery for the grand opening and I was thoroughly impressed with their attention to detail, their dedication to the outdoor theme, their preparedness, and definitely with the beers. What I take from this review of the beer is to move towards not labeling the style of beers if they don’t follow an equation that arrives within a box labeled as let’s say, “brown.” As a fellow Portlander at times I find myself perusing the endless beer shelves and numerous bottle shops and saying, “oh poor me, nothing new” then I grab an IPA, because I know I will like it. I think a good move for this “it’s-ok-to-be-picky-and-a-beer-snob” market of abundance is for breweries to give us a fun name and label (for _those_ people) and then let us know the nerd facts about the beer so we go into trying a new beer without the mindset that it should taste exactly like “…” because it is called a brown. I hope more Oregon breweries feel safe to try out new things without fear that a blogger will ruin it in others’ minds before they get to try it. Base Camp- Keep doing what you are doing and don’t let a blog keep you in a box. Also, the SRM (Standard Reference Method) is an awesome new stat for me to geek out on that I was unaware of until now!

  6. Joey

    November 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks Ezra for the great write-up! We’re stoked that everyone enjoyed our space; we’ve put a lot of work into it so it’s soooo awesome to be able to share our excitement with all our neighbors here in the best goddamned beertopia in the world. Also, a high-five of appreciation to Anon-3:34! The beers we were pouring this weekend had a great reception (w00t!) but yeah, E. you are not alone in finding some of our taxonomy a little broad. That being said, we’ve got our BJCP manuals handy when we need them. Each decision we’ve made has been deliberate– hope you all make a deliberate decision as well (to sit down and have a couple beers with us some time soon!). CHEERS!

  7. Leftfielder

    November 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Anyone know what the regular hours are for the taproom?

    • Joey

      November 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      Ha, yeah, 11am to 11pm most every day (not tomorrow Tues. 11/6 though). Sorry, I’ve been slacking on getting our information updated on our website and whatnot. Mea culpa.

  8. Anonymous

    November 12, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Personally, I really liked their “brown”, but I also read their list of beer descriptions, which mentioned it was something between an English-style mild brown and a CDA, so I knew what to expect. That said, mine wasn’t the hazy orange color of a pale ale, so that’s weird. It was lighter than a normal brown ale, but I would call it more amber-y than orange in color.

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