27501 SW 95th Ave., No. 945, Wilsonville, 503-929-3774, vanguardbrewing.com. 3-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 2-10 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
Don Anderson came up the hard way. Specifically, this techie made the transition from 20-year homebrewer to n00bie pro at Stickmen on the tony shoreline of Oswego Lake. Stickmen got brutal (if well-earned) reviews, which probably would have been less barbed if it had opened in, say, the affluenza-free Gateway neighborhood. After two years at Stickmen, Anderson struck out on his own. "We learned a lot," he says from the spit-shined brewroom of his new spot in Wilsonville. "A lot. It's very different than being a homebrewer." Anderson is doing very well down in Wilsonville. Like, crazy well. First, Vanguard got lucky with the rare industrial-park space that can accommodate both a 15-barrel system and an inviting taproom. Visitors drink in a glass-walled mini-atrium which has been outfitted with tables, stools and a popcorn machine and looks out at the World of Speed Museum. Second, Vanguard started making great beer. The Good Day IPA, dry-hopped with Mosaic, has a berry-lemon zing and great balance thanks to a restrained 63 IBUs. A Belgian named Cold Miser used wheat, barley and oats to deliver a round malt profile accentuated by the spicy yeast. Vanguard also does a "Northwest blonde" that's just a little hoppier than old-school versions of the style. That blonde is called Box Shaker, because in making it they use a high-powered wand vibrator to move sticky grains down a chute and into the kettle—like Anderson said, they learned a lot. People have noticed, and Anderson is now winning handles across the south suburbs, from Canby to Sherwood. He could probably even handle Lake Oswego.
Drink this: I really loved the Good Day IPA and its sister, Great Day.
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