Review: Culmination Brewing, Portland, OR Back in April we visited Culmination Brewing in NE Portland (just north of NE Sandy Blvd off 21st) to do a review of their location and available beers. We have been to Culimination’s brewery a few times prior to this and have had enjoyed their beers at a few bars/taprooms around town as well, so it wasn’t a ‘new’ experience but one that we were looking forward to. As you can see, the location is in an industrial buildling with a small parking lot and on-street parking available. They do offer some food on site and they also have a small outdoor patio you can sit at and enjoy the rain or sun.
They do production at this location which is behind the bar area. You can poke your head around and check out the different tanks they have and the servers are always happy to provide you with any information you may want or answer questions about their location and production. The first time we visited Culmination was just after they had opened, and they didn’t have much of their own beer on draft and what they did have was questionable at best. That’s not the case any more as they have improved their beer lineup and expanded their souring varieites as well.
Inside you’ll find a few tables to sit at and the bar by the windows and towards the back brewing area. Please note that you need to order up at the bar, and the list is available on printed menus that list off their beers, but it may not be completely up to date as their list changes pretty frequently. Check the big board behind the bar for the current beers. We didn’t try any of their food on site (they do have a small kitchen), as they offer sandwiches and small bites. Perhaps another time when we’re not doing a tasting lineup we’ll give it a try.
The one issue you may run into if you go with a group, is getting a spot to sit for more than just a few people. Most of their tables are small, and it fills up quickly. We lucked out and got one of their big barrels next to the front door but some of the group had to stand as it wasn’t big enough to fit chairs around for everyone. This didn’t prevent us from all enjoying the 16 beers we got to try that day. They have started making a name for themselves regarding their flagship Phaedrus IPA and some of their sour beers. I was excited when we found that a majority of their sour/Belgian beers didn’t have as strong of yeast funk as I remembered.
The 16 tasters are reviewed below, they go back to front, left to right as pictured. I really enjoyed the 4 & 20, Urizen Pale Ale, and Trou Belle Saison as they fit into their respective styles with a range of flavors and excellent execution. I’d recommend that if you’re wanting to give their beers a try, to visit their brewery as you can’t always trust how kegs and bottles are handled in the local markets.
Culmination Brewing • India Pale Ale (IPA) • IBU: 60 • ABV: 6.5% • SRM: 12
Appearance: Draft if clear golden orange with a small to medium bubbly head that dropped quickly, left some minor lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Slight dank and wet-hop resin, minor citrus notes.
Taste: Fresh green hops from pine to fruity, herbal like acidity from the strong vegital vibe. Bitters linger well past the back and are held in check from the mild sweet bread crust malts.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and carbonation, wet on the tongue, lingers.
Overall: This is a classic NW style IPA with a good abundance of hop bitterness and mild malt/sweet to hold it in check.
|The Trumpet Major
Culmination Brewing • Burton ‘Old’ Ale • IBU: N/A • ABV: 9% • SRM: 18
Appearance: Dark, clear, red/brownish colored with a bright white frothy medium head.
Smell/Aroma: Intense nose runs sweet dried apples to strong toffee and burned sugars. Mild yeast shows up.
Taste: Roasted and smokey front, burned caramel and wood-like grains. Hops are really secondary to the fruit/malt bill.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied, chewy malts, flavors run way to the back.
Overall: This is not a starter beer with over-powering flavors and strong alcohol presence.
|4 & 20
Culmination Brewing • Black IPA • IBU: 64 • ABV: 9.2% • SRM: 40
Appearance: Dark black/brown opaic, tan full head, lots of lacing and some lingering small foam.
Smell/Aroma: Lots of roasted bread/toast, toffee, dried leather.
Taste: Roasted grains, sweet breads, mild fruit/berries show up on the back. Hops are there, but match to the roasted vibe. Hides the ABV well.
Mouthfeel: Smooth on the tongue, medium carbonation, some effervescent dancing on the back. Flavors linger way past.
Overall: This is a classic Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale with tons of roast and hops that balance the bitterness well.
|Vic Secret IPA
Culmination Brewing • India Pale Ale (IPA) • IBU: 55 • ABV: 6.7% • SRM: 14
Appearance: Somewhere between a golden and orange hue, bright white foamy head with some minor retention and lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Herbal and dank hops, mild pine to resin.
Taste: Dry forward drank dry vegital hops, mild pine and herbal to tropical hints. Biscuit malts hold up the dry back.
Mouthfeel: Light body, mild carbonation, lingering flavors.
Overall: This is a complex but more dank IPA than not. Definately not a starter beer.
|Sour Flower Power Hour
Culmination Brewing • Sour/Wild Ale • IBU: 10 • ABV: 4.2% • SRM: 4
Appearance: Medium yellow hazy draft with not much head at all, drops to a sheen quickly.
Smell/Aroma: Sweet fruits, minor sourness and musk laced with floral hints.
Taste: Some acidic hop cone resins, tropical and fresh fruit juice, mild tartness and sour funk.
Mouthfeel: This has somewhat of a grainy approach, lingering acids and yeast on the back.
Overall: This is a tart sour with plenty of yeast and bret adjacent sourness.
Culmination Brewing • English India Pale Ale (IPA) • IBU: N/A • ABV: 5.8% • SRM: 14
Appearance: Hazy medium dark orange draft, minimal head and small lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Dry orange peel and citric acids, minorly sweet.
Taste: Biscuit malt forward with a lot of middle mouth bitterness from the fruit juice/pith. Subtle yeast shows up.
Mouthfeel: Watery and mild, flavors bounce around then drop off quickly.
Overall: This is a good example of a English style IPA, more malt than hop, but enough to hold your attention.
|Choco Mountain Stout
Culmination Brewing • Milk Stout • IBU: N/A • ABV: 5.8% • SRM: 40
Appearance: Dark black, opaic with a tan frothy head that dropped a bit leaving lots of lacing and minor retention.
Smell/Aroma: Cold coffee, some acidic notes from roasted cocoa.
Taste: Strong bitter day old coffee, dark cocoa powder, minor hop presence.
Mouthfeel: Watery but a full body, slight chew, lingering flavor profile way past the swallow.
Overall: This is a strong bitter coffee milk stout that doesn’t have much lactose present.
|Kerns Red Ale
Culmination Brewing • Red Ale – American Amber • IBU: N/A • ABV: 5.8% • SRM: 14
Appearance: Clear dark ruby red draft, small bubbly head that dropped quickly to a sheen, minor lacing and zero retention.
Smell/Aroma: Strong nose, wet breads, caramel sweetness.
Taste: Lot and lots of roasted grains on top of a dry sweetness. Mild hop resins (vegital and floral) show up on the back.
Mouthfeel: Dry, medium bodied, lingers dry on the back.
Overall: Strong flavor profile, lots of cardboard going on.
Culmination Brewing • Czech Pilsner (Světlý) • IBU: N/A • ABV: 5.6% • SRM: 3
Appearance: Hazy lighter straw yellow hue, minimal lacing or head.
Smell/Aroma: Light dry cereal and grains, minor yeast hits.
Taste: Crisp citrus and some yeast (powdery) show up on the front, soft grassy bitters on the back.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, mild flavor profile, low carbonation.
Overall: This is a nice sipper with enough flavors that it’s interesting to keep trying.
|Foed for Thought
Culmination Brewing • Saison • IBU: 14 • ABV: 7.1% • SRM: 3
Appearance: Clear light pale yellow draft with no head, minor lacing and zero retention.
Smell/Aroma: Sour fruit and funky yeast are present, some woody oak notes show up.
Taste: A mild tart acidic lemon/grapefruit zest front, sweet fruit sugars with a lot of bright citrus bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation, flavor profiles drop off quickly.
Overall: This is a good example of a saison without a ton of funk, more tartness than anything.
Culmination Brewing • India Pale Ale (IPA) • IBU: 14 • ABV: 7.1% • SRM: 6
Appearance: Hazy lemon curd draft, minor white head that dropped off quickly, small amounts of spidery lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Citrus and pine with some yeasty hits.
Taste: Coats the tongue with a powery vibe, tons of juicy lemon and citrus hops, wet hop cones, lingering pine.Strong flavor profile overwhelms what little malts there might be.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation.
Overall: This is a traditional NE style juicy IPA without a lot of malt to help it out.
|Trou Belle Saison
Culmination Brewing • Saison • IBU: 25 • ABV: 5.2% • SRM: 3
Appearance: Cloudy/hazy light yellow pour, small white head that dropped of completely, some lacing.
Smell/Aroma: Gentile yeast and dry grains, minor hits of citrus funk/tartness, mild spice.
Taste: Clean but yeasty presence, citrus and some sweet breads with hits of spice (corriander), mild and dried fruits towards the back.
Mouthfeel: Medium to light bodied, minor carbonation, some lingering tartness and wet mouth on the back.
Overall: This is a great entry sour/funky beer for those wanting to explore the style.
Culmination Brewing • Pale Ale – American • IBU: 40 • ABV: 5.8% • SRM: 14
Appearance: Clear medium orange/red hues, some minor frothy white head, some lacing, doesn’t linger long.
Smell/Aroma: Melon and orange notes, some soft bread malts.
Taste: Crisp citrus acids and bitterness on top of a blanket of sweet breads. Mild earthiness on the back.
Mouthfeel: Medium/full bodied, lots of carbonation, solid.
Overall: This is a great pale with lots of flavors balacing the sweet caramel/breads with the medium dry hop presence.
|Home + Home
Culmination Brewing • Saison / Farmhouse Ale • IBU: 15 • ABV: 6.8% • SRM: 6
Appearance: Clear dark yellow draft, minor bits of lacing and no head.
Smell/Aroma: Strong funk, dirty old fruits.
Taste: This is a strong yeast funk forward beer, mild dry oat/bread malt to help it out.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied, lots of flavor, strong presence on the tongue.
Overall: Collaboration with The Commons Brewery – this is not a starter beer. It’s got a corner on the market for ditry sock flavors.
|Good Intentions Lager
Culmination Brewing • Dortmunder/Helles • IBU: N/A • ABV: 5.3% • SRM: 4
Appearance: Clear light yellow draft, zero head, minor lacing and retention of the soft white foam.
Smell/Aroma: Grain and crackers, minor floral hits.
Taste: Some crisp hops against a strong dry grain bill, notes range from floral and vegital to dried hop cones.
Mouthfeel: Lighter bodied, decent carbonation, dry on the back.
Overall: This is a good sessionable lager with a typical vegital/yeasty approach.
|Ruse Translator IPA
Culmination Brewing • India Pale Ale (IPA) • IBU: N/A • ABV: 6.6% • SRM: 6
Appearance: Medium orange clear draft with no head, minor white bubbly lacing, zero retention.
Smell/Aroma: Citrus zest, dried fruit, minor dried grains.
Taste: Citrus hop bitterness forward, lots of sweet grains to help it out.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation, falls a bit flat on the tongue.
Overall: Classic NW IPA flavors, good execution, lower than expected carbonation.