A great joy that we Barley Men appreciate is being able to share our beer experiences with you, our dear readers. We get to experience beer in our travels, as gifts, making it ourselves, or using our hard earned cash. Once tried, we can share our experiences, whether good or bad. We don’t view ourselves as experts on beer, just beer nerds with experienced palates.
As we drink our way through our Tavour shipment, we hope to keep you well informed on the brews and breweries we come across. This article is no exception. Today we will be talking about a brewery from Portland, OR. (one of numerous beer mecca’s in the U.S.A). We will share with you our experience with one of their brews, introduce you to the Head Brewmaster, Ben Love, and give some recommendations straight from the brewery.
So, what’s in a name? A name can whet your appetite, bring up fond memories, and set expectations. Not only did this brewery come with high recommendation, but with a name like Gigantic Brewing Company, our expectations were set. Gigantic Brewing is a craft brewery in Portland, Oregon. Not only do they make original crafty experiments, but per their website, they also make the “best damn IPA in Portland.”
Unfortunately we were unable to try Gigantic IPA, though that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great beer. Saboteur’s the name, and a kick-butt Baltic porter is its game. For those of you who are not familiar with a Baltic porter, you may wonder what to expect. So, if you want to click on the link go for it; or you can just read on.
A Baltic porter may be a bit higher in ABV than your average porter. You will gaze upon a delicious dark beverage, but not pitch black. There may be acidic notes, and you will definitely enjoy a roasty-malted flavor. When I see the title “Baltic Porter” on a label, I know I am in for a treat. So when Chris and I saw a beastly hornet rigged with a bomb and the words BALTIC PORTER, we hoped for a treat!
Saboteur is about 8% ABV, and pours dark and chocolaty with a creamy thickly bubbled head. If you like the smell of freshly baked bread, and mix that with some chocolate, you will love the effervescence found in the nose of this beer. To me it seemed light in body, which should be found in a porter style anyway. Not only will your nose be happy, but the flavor fully saturates your palate. Both Chris and I agree the roasted malt notes are in full effect, while Chris found more of a creaminess and a baker’s chocolate note. This truly is an homage to the craft and style and highly recommend it -if you can find it.
So, what about the brewery you may wonder? Where do they draw their inspiration? How did they start? and most importantly, what should you try first? All these questions and more will be answered in our interview with Ben Love.
Ben Love and Van Havig are both brewers and owners of Gigantic Brewing, and Ben was gracious enough to lend us his time for an interview. So let’s find some answers to our inquiries shall we?
TBM: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Ben. With a name like Gigantic brewing, and the seemingly endless list of craft creations, we would love to know what is your philosophy on brewing/beer? And where do you draw your inspiration?
Ben Love: We just want to kick in the nuts every day! What that means to me is doing everything we can to make sure everything we do is spot on and as close to perfect as possible. We have a small team here at Gigantic, just 6 people work in the brewery. We want everyone here to give their all and be trained so they can.
Beer philosophy is that our beer should be balanced and moor-ish – meaning you take a drink and you think, “damn that’s good, I want some more”. Our 2 core beers our IPA and Imperial IPA (I know, you’re shocked!), but we brew a full range of beers, and that’s where our interests are – in the varied world of different types of beers that are out there. We brew what we want to drink – that simple.
TBM: We can respect that. It can sure sap your joy when you do something you don’t want to do. Now, every masterpiece starts with a single stroke, what made you want to start brewing? Also, how did you come up with your
Ben Love: I grew up in Portland drinking craft beer and thought that brewing might be an interesting job. I got a part-time job at a brewery and loved the work! I went to the American Brewers Guild and landed a full-time job at Pelican. From there went to Hopworks.
Gigantic was started by myself and Van Havig, who brewed at Rock Bottom for a number of years. We both are experienced and new we didn’t want our brewery to be very large. The name came out of that. Van was thinking about what we would and wouldn’t be and thought “well, we’re never going to be some [expletive] gigantic brewery” and there it was! It also fit because we knew that our beer would be distributed in a number of markets, thus making our brewery seem larger than it really is.
We brew what we want to drink – that simple.
TBM: That’s an impressive, well-rounded resume! That foundation is epic in itself. Since many of us don’t have the privilege to gain hands on experience and training, do you have any words of advice for any aspiring brewers?
Ben Love: Get in to it for the love of the work, the job, and not the love of the beer. It’s important to love the beer, but working in a brewery is hard work. It’s not all brewing and drinking. When you’re starting out, the job is mostly cleaning: kegs, floors, tanks – you’re essentially a janitor.
TBM: It’s not all brewing and drinking!? Way to shoot down my dreams. Of course I’m kidding, but that’s a great reminder because knowing some professional brewers personally, the realism can be lost on the new and ambitious. I reviewed your beer list on your site, and there are a great quantity. Now, you said to “brew what you like to drink,” if you had to choose a style of beer what would be your favorite?
Ben Love: Session, a beer that’s low in ABV but full of flavor. Can be malty, hoppy or estery. I want to drink a few of them and love it.
TBM: A man after my own hop. I am growing specially fond of sessions, though I love my “big beers,” a good session just hits the spot. Portland seems to be a beer haven, what do you think makes your brewery unique to the Pacific
Northwest, let alone OR (especially with all the local crafts)?
Ben Love: That we are always brewing new beers. We (almost) never repeat seasonal beers. We get a lot of requests to brew beers from our back catalog, so we’ve decided to do a year of “greatest hits” every 5 years – drinkers will vote on what we make for that year. Voting will begin this summer. Our 5th anniversary is May 2017.
TBM: That’s awesome! Happy anniversary too! I love the community involvement, and I’m sure they love it too. Wish we lived closer, but visiting is definitely something to look forward to. Which one of your beers would you recommend as an introduction to Gigantic Brewing, for someone who has not had the experience?
Ben Love: I say try Gigantic IPA. Our IPA plays in the NW vein, but the bitterness is very low. We think that when people say they want a lot of IBU’s they’re really talking about hop aroma and flavor, so that’s what we focus on. Big aroma, big flavor. Our IPA plays in the citrus and tropical worlds with Crystal, Simcoe, Cascade and Centennial hops.
TBM: Always a great combination, and we hope to try that in the near future! Ben, we thank you again for taking a few moments of your time to spend with us. We hope to get the chance to visit, and we hope our readers are able to visit and try your great beer.
We hope this has been informative, and are positive you enjoyed this segment of The Barley Men. For more information on where to find Gigantic beers, visit their website at giganticbrewing.com, or click on any of the above links referencing their brewery.
Is there a brewery you want us to feature? A beer you want us to review? Tweet us at @thebarleymen or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, have you spotted the giant?