Review: Bent Shovel Brewing, Clackamas County, OR

Review: Bent Shovel Brewing, Clackamas County, OR The fourth brewery and final stop for the Sunday, Nov. 20th 2016 expedition was Bent Shovel Brewing located in rural Clackamas county, SE of Damascas just off of the Clackamas River. We again had no idea what to expect when we got there, quickly realized that the brewery was in the barn of the brewers yard. There were chickens running about, a few canopies to sit under, and inside the barn was the production tanks (10bbl system), some swag on the wall, a small bar to order at with the chalkboard of available drafts on it, and they do offer full pints, tasters, growlers, swag, and kegs to go.

For a Sunday afternoon, there was a lot of people there inside so we ended up sitting outside under one of the canopies. Also, they don’t have an outside bathroom, but a porta-potty, so if that’s an issue for you, then don’t go. When we went in and talked with the brewer/owner Rick Strauss, he said that he and his friends started home brewing many many years ago and they kept getting great feedback and winning awards/medals for their home brews, so they decided to get some money invested in starting this small nano-brewery.

They are doing what traditionally is done in a setting like the one we just had visted (Drinking Horse), in an industrial park or small facility, not a barn. We did ask them about the electrical and gas cost and how they are handling the refridgeration. They assured us that it’s all legit and they are doing great with their setup. I was curious how they handle or do kegging and distribution. They are just exploring the distribution with a few companies and are self-distributing for now. So you can find their beer at a few bars in Clackamas and Oregon City to the west. I asked about their water source, and they are getting it from Oregon City sewer lines they thought, so it would in theory be the same as Portland, from the Bull Run Resevoir. The kegging, is all handled there on site, the refridgeration is limited, so that limits the quantities they can make at this point.

I hope that as they grow, expand their production to include canning or bottling, that they keep their recipes in line with what they are serving now. They are not making a large quantity yet, and they have only been open for just over a year (spring 2014). We were totally surprised and thrilled by their line-up of beers. As you can see, they had 11 different drafts available with one guest cider. These demonstrated a great range of styles and some experimental stuff going on. We ordered a set of tasters and sat outside to do them. The Rick spoke with us about the samples and wanted to hear our feedback on them. Not only was each and every beer outstanding, there were some that I’d go out of my way to get again. The Leafwalker and Oktobier were the best in my opinion. The reviews go front to back, left to right as pictured. Overall if you’re ever out in this part of Clackamas (east of Oregon City), please give them a try, you will not be dissappointed.

Bent Shovel Brewing
21678 S. Latourette Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
Phone: 503-898-0220

Black Spade Stout
Bent Shovel Brewing • American Stout • IBU: 60 • ABV: 8.9% • SRM: 40
Appearance: Solid black opaic draft with a slight tan, large bubbly head, minimal lacing and retention.
Smell/Aroma: Nose is a mix of day old cold coffee and roasted grains, hints of sweet black licorice.
Taste: Front to mid is sharp with acidic coffee bitters, some lingering sweet dried fruits from the nose, solid roasted malt backing. Dries slightly on the back.
Mouthfeel: The is a solid, medium bodied beer with a bit of chew on the mid.
Overall: This is a classic American stout with tons of roasted grains, coffee to cocoa bitterness, hops are really hidden behind the wall of roasted notes and it hides the ABV well.
Bent Shovel Brewing • Schwarzbier • IBU: 25 • ABV: 5.5% • SRM: 40
Appearance: Dark brown/black draft with some reddish highlights when held up to the light. The head is off-white, small frothy bubbles, minimal retention and some spidery small bubble lacing on the rim.
Smell/Aroma: Burned toast, dried cereals, dark fruits and some spice.
Taste: Hops show up on the front mouth with some mild bitterness from the roasted grain bill. Should have more ash to it, but it’s a class dark lager with some yeastiness on the back with the dark sugars/molasses profile.
Mouthfeel: This is a medium bodied, but somewhat watery backed draft. Decent carbonation but not overdone.
Overall: This is a great black lager, doesn’t have enough ash on the profile for me to fit the Schwarzbier moniker, or enough bitterness for my liking, but it’s outstanding as a black lager.
Fresh Hop RedArillo IRA
Bent Shovel Brewing • IPA – Red • IBU: 45 • ABV: 5.6% • SRM: 20
Appearance: Amber/reddish clear draft with a slight off-white small bubbly foamy head. Some retention and lacing with large bubbles left over.
Smell/Aroma: Nose has some dank fresh-vegital hopped resins and a sweet sugary bread crust.
Taste: This is a super caramel malty forward and sweet draft with a ton of hops that show up on the mid to back, competing and not complementing as much as it should. Dries a bit on the back with some lingering acidic to metallic hop resins.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, great carbonation and effervescent on the tongue at first.
Overall: This is a great fresh-hopped red IPA with an overabundance of citric hoppy acids and strong malt backing on the front, left me a bit dank on the back with old vegital musters.
One Wagon
Bent Shovel Brewing • Pilsner • IBU: 30 • ABV: 4.7% • SRM: 3
Appearance: Bright yellow clear draft with some large bubbly white head, some small lacing, minimal retention.
Smell/Aroma: Grassy, herbal, some yeastiness and corn husk (sweet vegital).
Taste: Front is solid astrigency with the fresh cut grass bitterness, hints of spice/ginger(?) and herbal characteristics on top of a dried crackery thin malt build.
Mouthfeel: Thin, watery, crisp and effervescent on the tongue.
Overall: Great German Pilsner! This is a classic style with strong bitters and a mild back that drops off completely after the swallow.
Bent Shovel Brewing • IPA • IBU: 50 • ABV: 6.2% • SRM: 16
Appearance: Medium dark orange clear draft with some minimal head retention, lots of small spidery lacing on the rim.
Smell/Aroma: Has some hints of dried leafs, hop resins, citrus pith.
Taste: The front is strong orange and lemon citrus pith (dies the tongue out), with some solid white bread malt backing. Mid to back gets a little funky with earthy and some vegital notes creeping in. Finishes smooth.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, rounded on the tongue, tons of flavors bouncing around with sharp dry bitterness.
Overall: This is a solid East Coast or England style IPA with low pine and resins, focusing on herbal, citrus, and vegital to flowery hops profiles. Enough malts to hold it togehter on the back. Fades off nicely with lingering citrus zest bitterness.
Bent Shovel Brewing • Red Ale • IBU: 73 • ABV: 8% • SRM: 18
Appearance: Clear amber/dark red draft with some bright white frothy head that has good retention and coats the rim with tons of lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Nose has hints of caramel, burned crust, some spices.
Taste: Malt forward, caramel and roasted cereal grains, hops are secondary but there on the back. This has an Earthy and spiced quality to it.
Mouthfeel: Solid bodied, chewy, lots of mouth action and carbonation to bring it around.
Overall: This is a great red beer with a wide range of malty flavors and hints of bittering from the hop profile. Rounds off nicely on the back, lingers with some breads and sweet dried fruits that all hide the strong ABV well.
Bent Shovel Brewing • Märzen/Festbier • IBU: 20 • ABV: 5.9% • SRM: 20
Appearance: Dark orange/reddish hued draft with some minimal head, dropped off completely and left some large bubbles on the rim.
Smell/Aroma: Spiced breads, some rich caramel dried grains.
Taste: The front is complex with a large range of malt flavors, caramel, roasted grains, dried cereals. The hops bring a hint of bitterness to it beyond the roasted characteristics.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, thinner on the mid to back than front. Has some solid carbonation and great rounded back.
Overall: The roasted malts, spiced hints, slight hop resin pops on the back, but drops after a bit. This is a great sipper, keeps you coming back for more with the range of flavors dancing on the tongue.
Timberjack Brown
Bent Shovel Brewing • Brown Ale • IBU: 20 • ABV: 5.6% • SRM: 34
Appearance: Clear dark brown draft with some tan/red hues showing up when held to the light. The off-white large bubbly head does linger a bit on the rim, but dropps off towards the end of the glass.
Smell/Aroma: Nose is burned sugars, hints of coffee acidity.
Taste: Rich roasted grains, some dried coffee and hop resins, earthy notes, dried leather comes to mind. Mid to back rounds out without dissappearing completely on the aftertaste. Lingers with coffee grounds.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied front to back, great carbonation, some lingering flavors way after the swallow.
Overall: This is a good brown ale, has a bit of bitterness from the hops and grain profile that some might find too much.
Payloader IIPA
Bent Shovel Brewing • Imperial/Double IPA • IBU: 85 • ABV: 8.1% • SRM: 3
Appearance: Slight hazy copper to red draft, bright white frothy head, some retention and lingering bubbles on the rim.
Smell/Aroma: Citrus zest and pine cone resins, mild sweet breads.
Taste: This is a strong double IPA and the hops hold down the high ABV well. They range from citrus and pine cone to somewhat vegital/earthy with a strong sweet malt backing that has some roasted grains and mild yeast notes.
Mouthfeel: Chewy and solid, the sweet profile is a given for the high ABV, holds the hops together with the strong malt backing.
Overall: This is a great NW style double IPA, bright citrus and pine notes on top of a solid malt body.
Bent Shovel Brewing • Belgian Dark Strong Ale • IBU: 25 • ABV: 10% • SRM: 26
Appearance: Dark red/maroon draft with some minimal large bubbly head, little lacing on the rim.
Smell/Aroma: Nose is complex with spice, yeast funk, and some dried fruit.
Taste: Spice and yeast funk on the front, has a bit of sweet sugars, dried grains, and dried plums and rasin. The hops are really secondary and don’t show up at all. This is a solid malt and yeast experience.
Mouthfeel: Chewy and solid, sugary rounded mid hides the ABV well, low carbonation.
Overall: This is a strong beer, the flavors are really forward with some yeast funk helping bring it back to center. The dried fruit component is really nice.
Cool Breeze
Bent Shovel Brewing • Pale Wheat Ale • IBU: 20 • ABV: 4.2% • SRM: 6
Appearance: Clear bright yellow draft with some minimal head and little lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Dried wheat germ, hop zest (citrus).
Taste: Delicate grain balance between sweet and dry, with some citrus and slight pine/earthy hops showing up on the mid to back.
Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, minimal carbonation, rounded on the back, seems almost flat.
Overall: This is a decent sessionable wheat ale, not too sweet, not too grainy, not too hoppy.
The Dark Sider
Bent Shovel Brewing • Cider • IBU: N/A • ABV: 6.5% • SRM: 18
Appearance: Dark reddish copper hue, off-white frothy head, great retention and lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Sweet plums and brigh tannins.
Taste: Great berry action going on with some bright tannins and dried plums backing it up.
Mouthfeel: Chewy and syrup laced on the tongue.
Overall: This is a bright and light cider with tons of dried fruit and bright bitterness.

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