Suds and Sun

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, California.
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, California. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Summertime and the sippin’ is easy, especially in brewpubs with outdoor dining.

Summertime and the sippin’ is easy, especially in brewpubs with outdoor dining.

Beer goes with a great many things, and top of that list is, naturally, food. Many would say that great company shares top honors, but let’s not forget sunshine, too. Beer sales surge in the summer months (Nielsen scans show the Fourth of July is consistently the peak) and the opportunity to soak up rays and hops simultaneously is a key driver for restaurants that provide for dining, and imbibing, al fresco.

Few places  appreciate the combo of sun and suds more than Portland, Oregon, where craft beer consumption per capita outpaces every other U.S. city, according to the Brewers Association—but warm, sunny patios are in short supply a good chunk of the year. Marcus Chase, general manager at Portland’s Produce Row Cafe, seizes the season when the back patio sheds the compulsory clear canopy. 

Produce Row became one of the first better beer hot spots in this city, nicknamed Beervana, when it opened in 1974. Today, Chase manages 23 taps plus an additional three beers that aren’t carbonated but served on nitro taps. He arranges his beer list not by ABV or SRM but by IBU or, really, what he calls a “hop thermometer.” Many such lists start with beers at the light end of Alcohol by Volume, listing a 4 percent alcohol pale lager at the top and a 10 percent imperial stout last. Or the SRM—Standard Reference Method—scale where that same pale lager ranks as a 2, and finish with that same imperial stout with SRM 40. But Chase, with 10 years of restaurant experience, believes that IBU, International Bitterness Units, is the food-friendlier way to organize beers. 

“My beer list—when I talk to our chef, anybody can do an IPA and a burger—it’s classic,” says Chase. But the chef is just as likely to suggest pairing Produce Row’s earthy black bean burger with an amber or lager. “Ninkasi Dawn of the Red,” says Chase, referring to the Eugene, Oregon, brewery’s toffee-driven India Red Ale, which has a complementary “malty profile [that goes with the] beets in the burger so you get that earthiness.”

Ultimately, Chase’s goal is “to put beers in front of people that they can enjoy over conversation, with a meal, and with friends over a board game for a long period of time.” To him, that means the restaurant’s hummus plate with the classic Belgian witbier, Blanche du Chambly. He’s also a huge fan of lagers such as Trumer Pils, the Berkeley-by-way-of-Austria pilsner, that weighs in at 4.9 percent ABV and is pleasantly spiced with noble hops at 26 IBU. And he’d gladly steer patrons to a pint of Victory Pils at a sessionable 5.4 percent ABV, to pair with another Philadelphia fave, the house-specialty sandwich Rocky’s Favorite, made with a plethora of Italian meats including house-smoked coppa.

While Produce Row takes its grilling and smoking seriously—meaning any of the grass-fed beef burgers pair beautifully with the most in-demand grassy IPAs such as Boneyard RPM and Breakside IPA (from two of Oregon’s most beloved breweries)—Chase admires the interplay of hoppy beers that accentuate the flower’s citrusy notes along with light summer fare. He points to the salmon, with a suggested pairing of Migration Glisan Street Dry Hop Pale, or the vegetarian risotto with a bigger IPA like Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack.


Add new comment