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November 27th, 2013 MATTHEW KORFHAGE | Drank
 

Squatch Watch

sasquatch_4004CREAM OF THE KEG POP: Charlie Van Meter (left) and George Dimeo with their winning beer. - IMAGE: ronitphoto.com
Tom Sims built Sasquatch Brewing on Craigslist. He picked up a used lagering tank from the Vermont von Trapps, the family that inspired The Sound of Music. His mash tun is an old dairy tank he picked up online and had welded by Canby’s Practical Fusion. His brewing setup is stored in a space so hilariously cramped he keeps one of his fermentation tanks outside on his deck. They grind grain in the basement. “I come from homebrewing,” says Sims, owner and brewmaster at the Hillsdale brewpub. “You don’t need to spend a million bucks to make a high-quality beer.”

Two years into the brewery’s existence, this seems to be in evidence among the brewpub’s 11 solid taps. The brewery doubled production to around 500 barrels in its second year, and expects to do so again next year. And this month, a vanilla bourbon cream ale, made in collaboration between Sasquatch brewer Charlie Van Meter and Maletis Beverage rep George Dimeo, mopped up at Willamette Week’s Pro/Am Beer Festival, winning both the judges’ and people’s prizes.

“We’d made it before,” says Van Meter, “and we tried making other brews but just kept coming back around to it.” To make it, Van Meter and Dimeo started with a cream ale and added special roast and honey malt before aging it with Evan Williams-soaked oak chips for a week and a half. Unlike a lot of bourbon beers, the vanilla cream doesn’t hit you with alcoholic heat that ascends straight into your sinuses—it’s smooth, rich and quaffable.

The brewpub is busy enough that there’s a line out the door on weekends, often with families making use of the rack of kids’ toys. “We take reservations,” says manager Alex Beard. “We’re not like an eastside place. We want people to be comfortable.”

Still, its location does make Sasquatch an outlier. Despite being home to the original McMenamins brewery, Portland’s Southwest hill country is a beer desert. The Sasquatch tap list is maybe a bit thick with hoppy brews, but its sock-to-the-face espresso stout—brewed with Sellwood’s Rose City coffee—is a welcome addition to any neighborhood.

The brewery will be bottling its Celilo Cascadian Dark and Oregon Session ales by early next year. The bar will give up a table on its dining-room floor to add four more tanks this year, which Sims says will free up room to make “goofy beers.” Things have come a long way: They’re actually buying these tanks new.


DRINK: Sasquatch Brewing, 6440 SW Capitol Highway, 402-1999, sasquatchbrewery.com.

 
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