Great No­tion Brew­ing

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Emily Hutto | Pho­tos by Les­lie Mont­gomery

With a pro­gres­sive culi­nary mind­set and a com­mit­ment to “any­thing goes” ex­per­i­men­ta­tion rooted in their home­brew­ing past, Great No­tion Brew­ing has be­come in­te­gral to the con­ver­sa­tion about the juicy, hazy New Eng­land– style IPAS de­spite their lo­ca­tion on the op­po­site side of the coun­try.

EVEN IN NEW ENG­LAND, brew­ers of what’s be­come known as “New Eng­land–style IPA” have to deal with a lot of mis­con­cep­tions about their beer. Th­ese soft juicy beers sur­prise drinkers with at­tributes such as haze and creami­ness that aren’t typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with IPA— neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions and cheap rhymes about lazi­ness en­sue.

Great No­tion Brew­ing in Port­land, Ore­gon, has ex­pe­ri­enced more than their fair share of naysay­ers, in large part be­cause their IPAS are dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent from the clear, some­times malty, and usu­ally ag­gres­sively bit­ter In­dia pale ales for which the re­gion is known. Co­founder and Co-brewer Andy Miller says that in the brew­ery’s early days, cus­tomers would give back pints and ac­counts would re­turn kegs be­cause they weren’t used to see­ing haze in their beers. One cus­tomer was so au­da­cious as to tell him that he would never make it in such a com­pet­i­tive beer town as Port­land. Miller was a home­brew hob­by­ist be­fore go­ing pro, and his lack of pro­fes­sional brew­ing ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t help with the mis­un­der­stand­ings Great No­tion cus­tomers had with his IPA.

That was in early 2016 when Miller, Co­founder and Co-brewer James Du­gan, and Co­founder and CEO Paul Reiter (who all hap­pen to live on the same block) launched Great No­tion Brew­ing in what was formerly The Mash Tun Brew­pub on Al­berta Street. They named the busi­ness as a nod to Ore­gon’s most fa­mous nov­el­ist and novel, Ken Ke­sey’s Some­times a Great No­tion. Flash for­ward one year, and Great No­tion is al­ready un­der­go­ing ma­jor ex­pan­sion, open­ing a sec­ond lo­ca­tion that will in­clude a new 30-bar­rel brew­house, a tap­room, and a restau­rant that is slated to open in late 2017. Need­less to say, the hazy IPAS caught on.

“We are see­ing tons of cus­tomers th­ese days who pre­vi­ously thought they hated IPAS, when they ac­tu­ally just hated bit­ter beers,” says Reiter. “They thought they hated hoppy beers but love our IPAS, which in­clude more hops than most beers they’ve ever pre­vi­ously tried. They just don’t like West Coast bit­ter IPAS. We hear ev­ery day, ‘I thought I hated IPAS, but I love GNB’S.’ ”

“I think the most im­por­tant thing for [brew­ers] is to taste the beer in ev­ery part of the process,” says Miller. “Smell your hops be­fore you dry hop. If they don’t smell awe­some, use some­thing else. Taste your wort and get ac­cus­tomed to the bit­ter­ness level that you like. Taste the grain be­fore you mash in. It will help de­velop your palate.”

In a very short time, Great No­tion’s IPAS have be­come in­te­gral to the con­ver­sa­tion about this juicy, hazy sub­cat­e­gory of IPA. One of those beers is Ripe, a Ci­tra- and Mo­saic-hopped, 6 per­cent ABV IPA with fresh, trop­i­cal notes of mango, pa­paya, and pineap­ple. The use of oats in this beer con­trib­utes to its smooth mouth­feel, as do the Lon­don Ale and Co­nan (Ver­mont Ale) yeast strains that Miller uses to fer­ment this beer.

“We’ve used Im­pe­rial Or­ganic Yeast’s A38 Juice [their ver­sion of Lon­don Ale] and A04 Bar­bar­ian [their ver­sion of Co­nan] in­ter­change­ably,” he says. “We love each one for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. Juice is very fruity with a soft­ness to it. It also fin­ishes with some sweet­ness even if you don’t see it in the hy­drom­e­ter read­ing. It doesn’t like high ABV, and it doesn’t like to floc­cu­late.”

The Bar­bar­ian strain is much bet­ter at at­ten­u­at­ing, es­pe­cially fur­ther along in gen­er­a­tions, Miller adds. “It also has this great peach-apri­cot-citrus thing go­ing on. Bar­bar­ian can at­ten­u­ate too much, so gen­er­ally you would mash a lit­tle higher than you would with Juice.”

Great No­tion is also well-known for Juice Box, an im­pe­rial 8.2 per­cent IPA that’s brewed with more than 4 pounds of hops per bar­rel. Its Mo­saic-hopped lit­tle brother, Juice Jr., weighs in at 6 per­cent ABV.

Clock­wise from top left » Great No­tion sells pack­aged beer in crowlers only; their fruit sours drive as much at­ten­tion as their hazy IPAS; Miller (left) and Du­gan (right) rub hops in the cozy space of their 7bbl brew­house.

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