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New Tastes at Culmination Brewing

Black Rice Lager Culmination Bhuna

There was a time when I simply worked 9-5, then bought a six-pack on my way home. It was a mediocre existence…

Today, with lord knows how many tap handles (over a 1,000?) between work and home, this is no longer the case and I’m happier for it.

Having survived a “Friends & Family Discount” trip to the Nike Factory Store, I was in desperate need of a fresh beer and wasn’t ready to lock myself in for the night. Thankfully, Culmination Brewing is always on my way home.

And as luck would have it, a few friends were already there and even more were on the way. While it all seemed a happy coincidence, it turns out there was an Indian Soul Food pop-up happening as well.

Bhuna Restaurant has an on-going residency on Mondays at Culmination and it was a delicious change of pace. Our always helpful bartender Gemma recommended the Chettinad Chicken Rice Bowl (full description below) and it didn’t disappoint.

Bhuna Pop-Up Chettinad Chicken Culmination
Chettinad Chicken Rice Bowl – chicken thigh, poppy seeds, garlic and ginger, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Turmeric basmati rice, yogurt, cucumber raita and green mango pickle – photo by Don Scheidt

While the food was a wonderful surprise, my initial concern enroute was that Culmination wouldn’t have anything new on tap. A weird thought because there’s almost always something new to try and last night was no exception.

With 21 options on tap, including selections from spin-off Ruse Brewing and some regional ciders, there’s a little bit of everything you could think of. On this night there were 3 IPAs, 1 Hazy IPA, 1 CDA (Black IPA), 1 Double IPA, 3 Lagers, 2 Barrel Aged Ales, 2 Saisons, 2 Sours and more.

The first offering I tried, which was new to me at least (originally on in November), was a Black Rice Lager. Delightfully light at 4.9%, it tasted like a well conditioned and super smooth Schwartzbier. And it went perfectly with my (at times) spicy chicken dish.

Black Rice Lager Culmination Crop
Black Rice Lager, Culmination Brewing

The other new taste of the night had just been tapped an hour before my arrival (in fact I added it to Untappd) and it was quite impressive. Their new Rauch Marzen, also weighing in at a sessionable 4.5%, is effectively a well attenuated Vienna Lager with roughly 8-10% smoked malt.

I enjoyed it so much, I went in back to speak with head brewer Conrad Andrus about what it’s all about. He proceeded to rattle off a list of 6 to 8 different malts (I honestly lost count) and mentioned that this would be the brewery’s submission to the World Beer Cup held every other year at the Craft Brewers Conference in April-May.

While he admitted this “smoky Märzen” needs a bit more time to condition, as per style-guidelines, it’s already drinking superbly.

Culmination Brewing Rauch Marzen
Rauch Marzen, Culmination Brewing

So, if you’re in the neighborhood next Monday, go check out the Bhuna pop-up at Culmination – still Portland’s best kept secret. You might just find me at the bar drinking that Rauch Marzen (if there’s any left), or better yet, another set of unexpected and wonderful new offerings on tap.

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