How does weeks-old pFriem Family Brewery in Hood River demonstrate its dual objective of brewing Belgian-inspired ales while maintaining their PacNorthwest provenance? By placing a Belgian IPA in the debut roster.
Owner/brewer Josh Pfriem (pronounced “Freem”) has conjured a few iterations of India pale ales — among them the standard pFriem IPA and a slightly lighter Blonde IPA — but the hybrid Belgian Tripel and Northwest Imperial IPA (clocking in at 9% ABV) is the one that exemplifies his Belgianesque mission best. With each sip, you can almost hear this combo of local, spicy hops with foreign, differently-spiced yeast beating its chest as if proclaiming: go big or go home.
Considering home is Hood River, an hour's drive outside Portland along the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge, it turns out both are equally desirable options. pFriem’s opening brings the total number of breweries operating in the gorge to seven, five of which are right in Hood River. (The other two are perched on the Washington state side of the Columbia, although Everybody’s Brewing is so close, it feels like you could hit it with a Frisbee when the wind is right. Lest you think that’s a far-fetched idea, note that Hood River has been called the Windsurfing Capital of the World.)
That last tidbit is helpful in explaining how this small town (population 7k; brewery-per-capita ratio nearly one to 1,000) has been able to support all of these adventurous breweries, including Full Sail, Double Mountain,and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. These days, however, it’s not just windsurfers and outdoor enthusiasts flocking to this area of captivating beauty, but beer freaks as well.
Head out now to enjoy the debut Belgian IPA, then make it back in the next year or two and find out how pFriem Family Brewery’s barrel-aged sour beers will turn out. Many of the other brewers are exploring other Belgian styles, too, so by then Hood River should have cemented its burgeoning reputation as the Senne Valley of Oregon.
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