Special to Sip Magazine, Portland-based medical students and beer lovers Lauren Raymond and Caroline King started a cataloguing project of every craft beer for sale in the state of Oregon, during the pandemic, to bring you a list of the best Oregon beers right now.
If you love craft beer, you’ve probably spent some time wondering where to find the best beer in your home state. We’ve been there. And we have you covered. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we catalogued every craft beer for sale in the state of Oregon. We visited all 302 craft breweries’ websites (provided by the Brewers Association) and built a database of over 2,500 craft beers, largely for sale now, either through delivery, curbside pickup or in-store growler fills. We then matched these beers with their Untappd ratings to figure out which beers and breweries had the highest ratings.
If you aren’t familiar with Untappd, it is a website and phone app that lets users rate beers they’ve tried. In order to have a review score, each beer must have at least 10 reviews. Similarly, each brewery receives a review score once 40 people have reviewed beers from the brewery.
Our list includes only beers and breweries that were scored by the middle of April 2020. And with that, here are the top 10 beers in Oregon, for sale as of May 1, 2020.
Top 10 Craft Beers in Oregon
1) Batch 1 Barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Evasion Brewing, McMinnville
Brewed with Mexican raw sugar and cinnamon, this gluten-free imperial stout was aged in apple brandy barrels for the greater part of a year. Aromas of cinnamon, caramel apples, and rum-soaked dates precede rich flavors of brownie batter, spiced dark cherries and baker’s cocoa. As one reviewer noted, this stout is “AWESOME. I cried.”
2) Malt Gauntlet Stout, Fort George Brewing, Astoria
A collaboration between Alesong Brewing & Blending and Fort George, this imperial stout was aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for a year before a pound of vanilla beans and three varieties of cinnamon were added. The result is a silky, creamy imperial stout with cinnamon, brownie batter and vanilla aromas.
3) Brandy La Tache Wild Ale, The Ale Apothecary, Bend
Based off of The Ale Apothecary classic, the La Tache, this wild-fermented beer is aged in toasted French brandy barrels and brewed with honey. One user described this perfect spring ale as, “[like drinking] a tart brandy apricot pastry.”
4) 2018 MASSIVE! Scotch Barrel-Aged Barleywine, Gigantic Brewing Co., Portland
With a deep ruby color and a rich malt flavor, this single-malt barleywine was aged in Scotch barrels for almost two years. Flavor highlights include caramel, coconut, maple, dark fruits, citrus, rose, toffee, and most importantly, bourbon. Just like scotch, this beer only gets better with time.
5) Señor Rhino Stout, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Hood River
This bourbon and tequila barrel-aged imperial milk stout from Alesong Brewing & Blending has highlights of ancho chiles, cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon. Raters describe it as the beer-version of a Mexican hot chocolate.
6) ZuurPruim 2020 Sour, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Hood River
This beer spent half of its life in Hungarian Oak foeder and half in French Oak barrels with 1000 pounds of Hood River Japanese Yummy Beaut plums. With strong plum flavors and bubblegum aromas, this juicy sour ale is perfect for the hot summer days ahead.
7) The Devil in the Lake Stout, Beachcrest Brewing Co., Gleneden Beach
Named after Lincoln City’s Devil’s Lake, this stout is as dark as the lake is deep, with strong, woody, bourbon-soaked aromas that resemble the post-quarantine campfire you’ll be stoking while cracking open this beer lakeside.
8) Double Stack Stout, Great Notion Brewing, Portland
This imperial breakfast stout was fermented with maple syrup, and then aged on whole bean coffee from local Oregon roasteries. Drinkers recommend that you “stay home and chill” with this beer that tastes like “maple syrup butter[ed] pancakes”.
9) Matryoshka 2019 Stout, Fort George Brewery, Astoria
Named “Matryoshka” after the Russian nesting dolls, these Russian imperial stouts offer layers of wooden complexity in a series where each stout is more intricate than the last. The base imperial stout is aged for a year in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and then transferred to wine and bourbon barrels to be nestled away for another year. Portions of each batch receive additions like vanilla beans or coconut; of these, a select few undergo a second round of additions including berries or coffee beans. Each subsequent batch builds elegance and intensity, but all keep you warm enough to survive a Siberian winter.
10) Wheat Jr. Wheat Beer, The Ale Apothecary, Bend
The only thing junior about this beer is it’s name. Wheat Jr. was aged in oak barrels for over four years before being bottle-conditioned with honey, creating a velvety-smooth experience only possible through this process. It’s already been named one of Willamette Week’s Top 10 beers of the year for 2020, and is a worthy round-out to our top 10 beers in Oregon.