Since launching Vertigo in 2008, Mike Haines and Michael Kinion have brewed on a one barrel system. They recently upgraded to a shiny new seven barrel brewhouse. With the old system, brewdays at Vertigo Brewing were very long days which required the guys to brew five separate batches to fill a fermenter. Now one batch on the new system does the trick! With their new found "spare" time, Mike and Michael have been experimenting with new brews.
Vertigo's 7 barrel brew system
Big Bottom Stout is aged in bourbon barrels which come from neighbor Big Bottom Whiskey, located just two doors away. In April, Vertigo will debut La Saison de Vertige, its first entry in Portland's Cheers to Belgian Beers. Dried orange peels were added to the mash of Vertigo's first-ever saison.
If that wasn't enough, the guys have expanded the brewery and are planning to open an on-site taproom this spring! It will feature Vertigo's beer and possibly a guest tap. As a resident of the taproom deprived westside, I'm really excited about this development!
At Ambacht Brewing, Brewer Tom Kramer pulled a sample of his Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers entry straight from the Zwickel! I also sampled Ambacht's new ginger beer. It was light, refreshing, and full of spicy ginger flavor. Its bright effervesce reminded me of a sparkling wine. Ambacht's Belgian-inspired beers include Golden Rose Ale which features organic rose hips. Their Matzobrau is made each year after Passover with leftover Matzah!
Ambacht's Tom Kramer
Ambacht is also experimenting with barrel aging. They recently picked up a few Heaven Hill whiskey barrels used by Hair of the Dog Brewing to age Adam. Ambacht filled each barrel with Honey Triple (their 2011 Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers entry) and 35 pounds of honey. I didn't get a chance to taste this beer, but Tom said he was pleased with the subtle flavors these barrels have imparted to Honey Triple after three months of aging.