April 11, 2014

A pizza looks at 40

Before I relocated for a bit from Portland to Amsterdam, I was invited to do a collaboration beer at Old Town Brewing. All brewer Bolt Minister asked me was if I wanted to brew an IPYae with him since, as I love pointing out, my son's initials are I.P. and his last name is Yaeger. He has a soft spot for stuff like that since he and his wife, Amy, have a son not much younger than our IPYae. Brainstorming about what this IPA would look and taste like, I confess that the results could've been less than stellar since the recipe I suggested was conceptual, perhaps not practical. I wanted an OG of 1.0612 (IPYae's b-day is Jan. 6, 2012). I wanted the early hop additions to be Nugget since he is our little nugget and that's what I have growing in our yard. I wanted two middle additions to be Zeus to match the double-Z's in Izzy's name. I seem to recall we finished and dry-hopped with Cascade so that the last hops I tasted before we moved would be classic West Coast/Northwest flavor.

Anyway, the resulting beer was truly delicious. It had a light/medium body, earthy/floral first sip but strong grapefruit finish that lingered pleasantly. It's my understanding that the house IPA, now called Shanghai'd, was redesigned shortly after and that it bears some similarity to that pro-am batch. I mention all of this because A) I can't wait to return and try a pint of Shanghai'd. And I'm bummed that I'll be missing Old Town's pre-Pro lager called Nina that will be tapped to commemorate Old Town Pizza's 40th anniversary. (The brewery opened in 2012.) The anniversary party is this Tuesday. To commemorate the occasion from afar, I'm actually going to share two passages from my chapter on OTB in my upcoming guidebook, Oregon Breweries (even though something like this is simply not done.) Because the story of any brewery is really the story of the people behind it, here are the passages about the owner and the brewer.
Old Town Pizza owner Adam Milne didn’t have a hand in establishing the company back in 1974. Heck, he was just a kid then. In fact, the original location is the one in Old Town Portland but the owners had opened a few others—now all gone. Little Adam held his ninth birthday party at one in Eugene. Imagine what you’d do if you found out a beloved place from your childhood was about to shut down. If you were in a position to save that ice cream parlor or bowling alley, you’d salvage it, which is what Milne did in 2003.
After that paragraph, I add ominously, "He wasn't alone," but let's save something for those who buy the book. Fast-forwarding, I write about brewmaster Bolt Minister. And maybe I could mention here that I'm up for some focus-grouping. Do y'all like the music break in the middle? Lemme know if that stays or should end up on the digital editing-room floor.
Bolt (Bolton is a family name) says his philosophy is, “Like what you drink, drink what you like.” He’s not one for crazy beers because drinking beer is something you should “enjoy with your friends, your community, your bar mates. It shouldn’t be a self-indulgent activity where you take yourself too seriously.” The philosophy carries over to all facets; he’s a fan of Classic Country a la George Jones, not steak-less sizzling New Country. (He put on a George Jones Tribute beerfest as a wake for “The Possum” and we’ll see if I’m successful in getting him to host a Tom Jones Living Tribute beerfest for “The Voice.”) Bolt’s previous brewing experience at a few other Northwest breweries came at pubs that likewise emphasize community and casual dining. I agree with him in that a pizzeria is not the kind of place you come with your family or buddies only to ignore them while paying exclusive attention to what’s in your glass. “When you geek out you miss out,” he added.
So I raise my glass from afar and wish old Old Town Pizza and new Old Town Brewing continued success over the next 40 years.

2 comments:

Jeff Alworth said...

That pre-pro is badass. It's pretty modern, too, with tons of hop character (enough, I'll admit, to blot the corn out from my feeble detectors).

Brian Yaeger said...

I guess I'll just have to believe you since I won't get to try it. Nor, likely, the WBC-honored K├Âlsch, which like pre-pro lagers, don't tend toward my favored end of the beer spectrum, but I'm hoping our upcoming visit to Koln will help rectify that.