Culmination Brewing

On Thursday evening the Oregon Brew Crew held a meeting at one of Portland’s newest breweries, Culmination Brewing. The OBC occasionally has “out” meetings at breweries who are gracious enough to host us and let us trample all over the place”oooh”ing and “aaaah”ing at all the shiny metal tanks.  So many of the places here in Portland are a story of “homebrewer turned pro” that it’s great for the pro guys to turn around and look down the ladder at the next group potentially heading up and give them a hand.

Culmination is so new, they actually haven’t started brewing on site yet.  The brewery/taproom has been open for a few months and they have two beers on tap that they brewed in collaboration with other breweries here in town. Owner/Head Brewer Tomas Sluiter who spoke to the crowd at the meeting says they hope to start the first in house batch sometime next week.  The first batch through the system will be their “4 and 20 Imperial Black IPA” which they brewed first as a collaboration with Lucky Labrador.  They actually ran out of this beer the night we were there. So you were indeed lucky if you got to try it before the keg blew. They also have a couple of guest taps that they are pouring right now, and for a place that only had 5 things on tap, they are ready to expand in a big way since they had to have had at least 25 taps behind the bar including at least three on nitro.

Tomas described the system to us, which is really interesting, as he put it a seriously custom “Frankenstein” system.  It’s a 5 barrel system with 5 vessels, so he has the flexibility to create 5 different smaller batches, one giant 25 barrel batch or anything in between.  Not only does he want variety but he wants the beer to be fresh.  He mentioned previous work on a 15 barrel, 2 vessel system that limited creativity and create a huge stock of beer that sat for a long time. He went out of his way to avoid that situation at his new venture.

The other beer of theirs on tap is the one I got to try, which is the Reynard Belgium Style IPA.  I had a few sips of the 4 and 20, but not enough to do a serious evaluation, but I made some notes on the Reynard. This was a collaboration with Brannon Brewpub.

Reynard Belgium Style IPA – Culmination Brewing: 6.0% ABV

Nice golden color with a white head.  Some floral hop aroma along with a very slight Belgian funk.  The flavor hits with nice floral hops and only a tiny bit of the traditional Belgian flavor.  The finish is clean and crisp and the bitterness lingers, but it’s not extremely strong.  The IBUs aren’t listed but it’s not a huge hop bomb.

So, since it is a blend of styles it’s hard to judge it by styles, but it comes up just a little short on both fronts.  It’s an enjoyable and supremely drinkable beer, but it doesn’t quite have the pop of a normal NW IPA, and on the other hand it doesn’t have enough of that earthy, spicy Belgian character that, personally, I really enjoy.  Interesting enough, not two styles I would imagine blended together.

Rating: 3.5 (of 5) stars

Culmination brewing is located in NE Portland, just off Sandy Blvd at 21st and Oregon Street.

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