EX NOVO BREWING CO, PORTLAND OREGON
We visited Ex Novo on a recent ‘Wednesday Hoppiness Hour’ trip here in Portland (4 Feb. 2015). This is a non-profit brewery. For those that aren’t sure what that means, they donate 100% of the net profits to “organizations that are working to affect positive social change both in Portland and around the world.” This is not the only bar/restaurant in Portland that has this model. It prevents them from being bought out by a larger company (InBev) while producing a top quality product. They do pay their staff and owners a decent living wage, don’t mistake that for a second, just the rest of the $$ after they pay their bills and wages go towards a number of organizations that deserve support.
The brewery location is close-in North Portland across the street from a neighborhood park (with baseball and soccer fields). The on-street parking is a little bit limited and you may have to walk a little bit if you go during peek hours. The inside of the brewery mixes raw-wood and cool art with an upstairs seating area, bar seating and small dining area on the main floor. The production tanks are located right past the bar area, so you can see what they are up too during normal business hours. The only issue with sitting next to where they make the beer, is both smells and bugs. They have had an issue with some fruit flies/gnats around the bar because of this, which is understandable. We swatted away a few while we did this visit/review and it did distract from the setting and our attention to the beers. The staff are aware of this and the bartender did say they are bringing in someone to help with the pest control which is good to hear. Perhaps the next time we will not experience this issue.
The food menu has lots of good stuff on it ranging from bacon (yes bacon for the table), appetizers and sammiches including meatloaf and brisket. I normally get the mac and cheese with bacon, sausage and peppers as that is my favorite dish there. Be warned that this is a hot/spicy dish. The staff are really attentive and the kitchen kicks out the food pretty quickly, so we’ve never really waited that long for food once ordered. Oh, and I recommend the ricotta dip with chips (you get more chips than bread) to much on while doing a beer tasting.
The The beer list changes pretty frequently with a number of ‘regulars’ on it. You can find the current list on the board behind the bar and on their menu. As the beer list is extensive as you can see from the line up of tasters, they produce most popular styles of beer from pale ales, hefeweizen, sour, IPA, and occasionally a collaboration beer. They offer tasters in sets of four, but you can mix-match any of them and just ask for a taste without paying for a full taster. The three of us found that most if not all were at or above par for their style, quality and range. I’ve posted close-up pictures below of the beers so you can see them more easily.
Overall we really enjoy going to Ex Novo and can highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good ‘Portland microbrewing’ experience.
|At Her Majesty’s Pleasure Brown
Ex Novo Brewing Company • English Brown Ale • IBU: 28 • ABV: 4.8%
This beer has a nice white head, dark brown-red amber hue (36 SRM) and slightly sweet bready nose. The front is more toffee than toasted, thinner body does allow for the sweetness to be more present than any hops. The mid/back and after taste are solid malts with dark bread crust finish. This is almost a session-brown as the lower ABV make it a nice sipper.
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Hefeweizen • IBU: 18 • ABV: 5.5%
This beer pours as a cloudy light yellow/straw hue and bright white foamy head. The nose is really yeasty and clove like with a slight spicy character. The front mouth is clove, banana and the traditional unfiltered yeasty feel typical of German pilsner type malts profile. This hefeweizen does have a lingering chalky/yeasty after taste present.
Ex Novo Brewing Company • American IPA • IBU: 65 • ABV: 6.6%
Hops: Galaxy, Centennial, Mosaic and Simcoe
This IPA is a clean lighter yellow hue (7 SRM) with a clingy lattice full white head. The nose leans to piny, citrusy, and hops with hints of tropical fruit. The front mouth feel is really hop forward with strong bitterness mixed with fruit rind and a crisp edge. The back mouth has hop esters lingering well into the after taste.
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Saison / Farmhouse Ale • IBU: 19 • ABV: 4.7%
This clean farmhouse ale has a bright yellow hue of 6 SRM, bright white head that sticks around, and a soft nose of wild yeast, clove, and spice. It was brewed with pink peppercorns which help round out the body, providing balance to the sour esters. There is a surprising amount of malt body that lends to a full mouthfeel.
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Belgian Quad • IBU: 4 • ABV: 9.1%
This collaboration with Gigantic Brewing has a nice dark amber-brown color (40ish SRM) with a slightly off-white firm head. This is a strong Belgian quad that presents a toasted and sweet aroma. The front mouth has a slight yeasty and sweet character. Full mouthfeel with toasted grains and caramel notes.
|Cat’s Away Sourweiss
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Berliner Weisse • IBU: 12 • ABV: 4.7%
Lite flitered straw yellow hue (2 SRM) and white pillowy head on this weisse bier. The nose is really fruity and sour of lemon and citrus. The front mouth is tart-lemons and slight yeast and spice from the hops. The mid and back mouth have the banana and clove sneaking in.
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Saison • IBU: ?? • ABV: 4.7%
Soft yellow hue, unfiltered cloudy and white head that disappears quickly. This is a hoppy saison that has citrus and yeasty notes on the nose, sourness and citrus peel on the front mouth and lingering sourness and bitters on the back.
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Porter • IBU: 40 • ABV: 5.5%
Completely opaic dark brown (40+ SRM) and thick, off white/tan head. This porter has a strong toasted grain and sweet sugary-chocolate nose. The coca is present on the front mouth allowing for bitters to express themselves through the strong malt profile. The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I’d like in a porter, but it does have a really approachable balanced flavor.
|Warm It Up Kris!
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Winter Warmer • IBU: 55 • ABV: 8%
This winter ale pours a nice red-amber color (30 SRM) and thinner white head. The nose is sweet and malty in character. The front and mid mouth are full of brown sugar, dried fruits like fig and rasin. There is a hint of smoke that did present on the back and lingering after taste. This is an overall strong beer that hides the higher ABV in balanced sweet dried fruit and sugary malts.
|Scottish Table Beer
Ex Novo Brewing Company • Scottish Ale • IBU: 17 • ABV: 4%
This red-amber ale (26 SRM) has a clean and appealing with a small-bubbly and frothy white head that clings to the glass. The nose presents a lot of malt and bread/grains with sweet notes trailing. The front and mid mouth are malty forward with the slight bitters coming in on the mid-back to help balance this beer out.
|Gose Either Way
Ex Novo Brewing Company collaboration with Gigantic Brewing • Gose • IBU: 15 • ABV: 5.9%
The slightly cloudy red-orange hue (22 SRM) and bright white head look like a cross between hefeweizen and an amber ale. The Nose is really strong Belgian yeasty with notes of fruit and wheat/grains. The front mouth is tart with the sour fruit really presenting along with the body of the wheat. The bitterness lingers well into the back and aftertaste of the beer. Surprisingly it does balance the sweet and sourness of the blackberry and citrus fruits enough to make this a prime example of Gose.
|The Most Interesting Mexican Lager
Ex Novo Brewing Companyg • Golden Lager • IBU: ?? • ABV: 5.6%
This beer pours clear with a lite yellow (2 SRM) hue and small bubbly white head. The nose is really vacant, not much other than slight malts and sweetness from the grain build. The mouth was initially thin, with the carbonation sneaking in a bit of bubbly on the tongue. This tastes like a corn-based lager from Mexico, but with less spice and more straight piss-water.