Portland Brewing is releasing a new year-round beer called Portland Lager that seems designed for the dive bar set. Portland Lager is made in the domestic lager-style using Pilsner malt from the Pacific Northwest, pale malt, flaked corn, and Mt. Hood hops for a prototypical take on the category.
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To make the Portland Lager, the brewer begins by using a six roll mill with three different sets of rollers to crack the grain, leaving the husk as whole as possible and breaking the kernel into small pieces. The brewer mixes the grains with water in three steps at 122 degrees, 146 degrees, and 158 degrees fahrenheit to break down starches in an efficient way. The mash is stirred the whole time so that every grain has the highest chance to reach the desired temperature.
The mixture is pumped to another vessel to create an even layer of grain while more water is added. The liquid wort is separated from the grain and collected for boiling. It is boiled for 90 minutes and hops are added. The boiling sterilizes the wort, coagulates proteins, and drives off compounds that have negative effects on the finished lager beer.
The brewer lowers the temperature of the liquid and adds it to a fermentation vessel for a cold fermentation at 50 degrees fahrenheit. The fermentation occurs over the course of at least three weeks and then it is cold conditioned for multiple weeks after that. During this time the beer develops a clearness and the flavors stabilize.
The beer is spun at 5500 rotations per minute to separate much of the yeast out of the liquid and further clarify the beer. It is packaged on site into 16 ounce cans, with proper sealing, and stored in large refrigerated warehouses.
Every new batch is scientifically studied at least five times throughout this process. The brewers must ensure the beer has the proper taste, color, bitterness, alcohol, carbonation, and that it is free of unwanted microbes.
If everything is over analyzed and done perfectly, Portland Lager is delivered to taverns and other establishments throughout the Pacific Northwest, where it is enjoyed by the region’s finest people.
“We made an American Lager that we as brewers would want to drink,” said Portland Brewing Head Brewery, Ryan Pappe. “The beer is light and smooth, clear, contains a hint of sweetness from the flaked corn, and it exhibits a nice balance. It is quite good and we are proud of it.”
Portland Lager is available in 6-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft throughout the city of Portland and the metro area. 6-packs are priced at $8.99.
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.