Small Batch Beers at McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse

Brady Romtvedt next to his 7 Barrel Brewhouse
Brady Romtvedt loves his job.  For the last six years, he has shared brewing duties with Chris Oslin at McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse & Imbrie Hall in Hillsboro.

McMenamins has a unique brewing model. It doesn’t have a main brewery that produces beer from a central location for distribution to its 65 brewpubs, historic hotels, and theater pubs across Oregon and Washington. Instead, it brews beer locally across a network of 24 breweries. Each of the local breweries produce McMenamins’ core lineup of 4 beers: Hammerhead, Terminator Stout, Ruby, and a rotating seasonal.

Outside of the core lineup, brewers are given free rein to innovate and experiment.  In the case of Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, Brady and Chris brew the beer needed to supply 12 tap handles. Four taps are dedicated to core brews, and eight handles feature local creations. It’s the ability to experiment that Brady loves.

During fresh hop season, McMenamins releases Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale as a core seasonal.  This year, Thundercone showcased Brewers Gold as the fresh hop.  In addition to Thundercone, Brady recently made two of his own small batch fresh hop beers for the first time:

  • 15 Fresh IPA:  7.2% ABV, ~75 IBUs. 15 pounds of fresh (or wet) Centennial hops went into each barrel. Typically, crystal malts are used in IPAs to add color and sweetness (to balance the bitterness). In this beer, Brady avoided crystal malts, which allowed the citrus and lemon hop flavors to shine. It still finished with a light sweetness.
  • Barrel Hopped IPA:  6.4% ABV, ~100 IBUs. 10 pounds of wet Centennial hops were added to a 2nd use Hogs Head whiskey barrel. Squeeze Play IPA was racked onto the hops and aged for two weeks. The mild whiskey flavor nicely complemented the hops. The oak from the barrel added a pleasant softness to the mouth feel.

Both of these beers were served exclusively at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. If you hurry, you still might be able to get a taste! 

On the final Wednesday of each month, the Roadhouse holds a special beer tasting that showcases new small batch beers.  Spooky Ales is the theme of the upcoming October 29th event.  Scheduled to be served are:

  • The Widow Jäger: This black, roasty beer is made with licorice root and aged on Jägermeister-soaked oak spirals.   
  • Ghost Lager:  This beer was infused six ghost peppers and a dozen habaneros. Yikes!  
  • Pole-Axe Strong Ale:  Not spooky, but a fan favorite from Chris Oslin’s days at the Thompson brewery in Salem. 

For more details about Spooky Ales, click here.  These beers will be offered at happy hour pricing all night on October 29. In the meantime, be sure to check out the small batch brews at your local McMenamins. 

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