Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Solar-Powered Beer

There's no shortage of subjects to write about from my recent trip to Oregon, but I'll start by profiling one of my favorite new (to me) Portland brew pubs.

Two years ago, Lucky Labrador Brewing Company was one of the places KJ had wanted to introduce me to, but we didn't make it there until this past week. It was worth the wait.

I actually only had time for one beer, but I was quite impressed with their Super Dog IPA. This aggressive-but-not-overpoweringly hopped brew quickly moved to the top of a list I'll probably share in another post. That is, I placed every beer I drank over my nine days in Oregon into one of three categories: "One and done," "I'll drink it again," and "More please." Obviously, Super Dog—which features a grapefruit and piney hop profile—made it onto the "More please" list, but I'll explain the lists later, if their meanings are not super obvious.

But, it wasn't just Lucky Lab's beer I was impressed with. I was also pretty fascinated with their claim that they use solar-heated water in their brewing process. Since they're able to heat the water using solar power to 185 degrees, they use this water for several of the facility's non-brewing functions, but also for the part of the process that is analogous to the steeping of the grains in home brewing.

Click to enlarge for a more readable version

185 degrees is not quite boiling, so they're not able to use solar energy for the entire brewing process, but, as the sign above explains, they use the solar-heated water for the all-important step in which fermentable sugars are extracted from barley malt.

The atmosphere at Lucky Lab is also top notch. One of my observations on this trip was the more rustic brew pubs tend to be superior to those that have a more corporate feel. This, of course, is a gross generalization, but this particular establishment helps to maintain the stereotype.

Lucky Lab features a sort of cafeteria-style atmosphere, in which you order food and ales at the bar and then just take your selections to your seats. No table service, just no-nonsense self-service in a warm, comfortable setting.

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