Style: Barrel-aged strong porter / ABV: 9.1 percent
Sometimes, it's hard to believe there was ever a time before pFriem existed. The Hood River brewery has become a fixture in the Oregon beer scene since it opened on the banks of the Columbia River in 2012. Name an award or best-of list, and pFriem has probably come out on top more than once: the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, Oregon Beer Awards, Best of Craft Beer.
The brewery's Pilsner and IPA have been hits among drinkers from the beginning, while racking up a slew of medals, but if you wander around back into the barrel room, it's evident head brewer Gavin Lord is excited about aged specialty beers as well. The Maple Barrel-Aged Smoked Porter is a standout among these: potent, smoky and rich, with the aroma of syrup you'd drizzle on a stack of flapjacks.
"[It] was a balance I discovered as a kid," explains Lord. "My favorite doughnut, the Tiger Tail, was a mix between a maple bar and a chocolate bar. My dad would make bacon, and we would eat the bacon with the Tiger Tail doughnuts. It was a wonderful memory for me—something I never forgot."
The porter is made with that kind of smoked malt, brewed to high strength, then aged in barrels first used for bourbon, then maple syrup, and finally this beer. Pair it with a warming bowl of carbonnade flamande, Belgian-style beef stewed in beer, or for dessert, a pecan maple pie doused in chocolate sauce. The brewery has another suggestion: Drink it with pancakes.