Review: Fat Head’s Brewing, Portland Oregon

I visited this brewery and restaurant on Wednesday January 15th with a good friend Stan. He’s got a LOT of experience with beer judging and tasting and was happy to visit with me. I would like to thank him for his willingness to help me become a better reviewer of beers as my skills at it are still somewhat lacking the vocabulary it really needs.

This restaurant and brewery is really big and open. Some would call it corporate in nature as they have locations in more than one city across the US. The left the rafters exposed, hung industrial lighting, put the brewing tanks on the west side of the inside behind large windows.

The food menu is really expansive and caters to the larger portion sizes common to the mid-west restaurant scene. They have just about any sort of food you can imagine. We have not been disappointed with the quick service and knowledgeable bar tenders. When we ordered a taster of all of their beers, they normally do paddles of 5 at a time, but the bartender just brought them to us 3 at a time until we had all 15 of them. Overall, the beers were pretty good, none were bad, a few were outstanding. Below is a quick review of the tasters we tried.
131 NW 13th Ave
Portland, Oregon
(503) 820-7721

Head Hunter IPA
Fat Head’s Brewing • American IPA • ABV: 7.5% • IBUs: 87 • OG: 17.0°P
Hops: Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial
Malts: Pale, CaraMalt, C-15, Cara-Pils
Really nice head and bright yellow hue 3 SRM. Head is full white and leaves a nice lattice on the glass. Nose is piney and slight herbal. Front is mild dry herbal, pine, and citrus notes. The carbonation falls off and leaves the palate with rounded mix of raw grains and citrus. The back mouth is somewhat lacking, nothing lingers.
Pimp My Sleigh
Fat Head’s Brewing • Belgium Session Christmas Ale • ABV: 10.5% • IBUs: 30 • OG: 22.0°P
Hops: Vanguard, Mt. Hood
Malts: Pilsner, Pale, Aromatic, Melanoidin, Crystal 80, Crystal 90, Oats
Lighter nose of malt, 8 SRM with slight reddish hue, mid has pronounced yeast esters and rotted fruit and leaves. There is a bitter sour note that lingers.
Sunshine Daydream
Fat Head’s Brewing • Session IPA • ABV: 5% • IBUs: 60 • OG: 12.5°P
Hops: Centennial
Malts: Pale, C-15, Cara-Pils
Slight hop nose and light yellow hue of 4 SRM. Head disappears quickly, low carbonation on the front with some hop dry characteristics on the nose. Dry esters are on the front, the malt and grains are really secondary to the sharp hops.
Trail Head
Fat Head’s Brewing • Pale Ale • ABV: 6.3% • IBUs: 55 • OG: 15.3°P
Hops: Simcoe, Citra
Malts: Pale, Munich, Crystal, CaraPils
Presents with a slightly off yellow 5 SRM color, full carbonation and head that leaves a nice lattice rim on the glass. Nose is mild hop citrus notes and dryness. The front is super forward hop of piney and hop esters from grapefruit and orange rind. The mid and back drop off quickly, the grain and malts do help balance the after taste.
Bone Head
Fat Head’s Brewing • Impreial Red Ale • ABV: 9.8% • IBUs: 87 • OG: ??°P
Hops: Warrior, CTZ, Simcoe, Citra
Malts: Pale, C-77, C-45, Special B, Black Printz
Slight malty nose and mid-brown/red coloring 12 SRM. Biscuit and toasted malts are pronounced on the front, effervescent carbonation brings the mouthfeel together. There are nuts and sweet malts on the back and after taste.
Willamette Brown Ale
Fat Head’s Brewing • American Brown Ale • ABV: 6.5% • IBUs: 20 • OG: ??°P
16 SRM with a light brown-red finish, bright white head disappears quickly, leaves minor lattice in the glass. Sweet caramel notes and nuts on the nose, front mouth is pleasant with slight floral hop profile that balances the bolder grain build. Normal American Brown Ale, but with a nice toasted nut back end.
Shakedown Stout
Fat Head’s Brewing • Imperial American Stout • ABV: 8.0% • IBUs: 71 • OG: 18.5°P
Hops: Chinook, Simcoe, Cenntenial
Malts: Pale, Crystal 60, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Oats
Not completely black, this dark-brown 28 SRM stout has slight floral hops and roasted grains on the nose. The head didn’t stick ariund long, but it was slightly off white in appearance. The front and mid mouth have a nice sharp hop balanced with coffee and chocolates to bring a mix of bittering that is really pleasant. The back lingers with a light sweet choco feel.
Juggling Plums Gose
Fat Head’s Brewing & Breakside Brewing Collaboration • Gose • ABV: 5% • IBUs: 6 • OG: ??°P
Bright light yellow hue, 3 SRM, flat head and no lacing with the head. Nose has slight Belgium yeast and delicate fruit notes, the front is bright effervescence of carbonation that shows off the slight sour fruit of the plums. Herbal notes layer on top of the fruit on the mid, while dry hops show on the back. A really complex and great beer to showcase a more accessible sour ale.
Ultra Pils
Fat Head’s Brewing • German Style Pilsner • ABV: 5.3% • IBUs: 33 • OG: 12.0°P
Hops: German Perle, Saaz, Ultra Flower
Malts: Pilsner, Acid Malt
Light yelow hue – straw like 2 SRM, with a lingering firm bright white head. Fully carbonated, nose has typical pips yeast and the front has a dry finish. Hop profile and malts are well balanced and neither is really overpowering to the mid mouth. Slight dry esters of pine and leaves/earthy notes.
Fat Head’s Brewing • Honey Blueberry Ale • ABV: 5.3% • IBUs: 13 • OG: 13°P
Hops: Sterling
Malts: Pale, Honey Malt, Flaked Barley
Nose is all sweet fruit, like blueberry bubblegum. Lingering head and lattice is present. Draft is served with raw blueberries in it. Mid yellow hue, front mouth is like chewing blueberry candy, no hops or malts at all. Surprisingly no bitters or beer characters exist in this neutral beer, this is like carbonated blueberry juice.
Boogaloo Belgium Blonde
Fat Head’s Brewing • Belgian Blonde / Golden • ABV: 6.8% • IBUs: 25 • OG: 15.8°P
Hops: German, Magnum, Saaz
Malts: Pilsner, Aromatic, Vienna, Oats
Light yellow hue, not overly carbonated, filtered. Bright white head, smaller bubbles, nose has typical Belgium yeast present with hints of fruit and spice on the nose. Front and mid are delicate and crisp with a rich full finish. This is Belgium doesn’t present strong esters, but lighter clove and spices on the back.
Fat Head’s Brewing • Weizenbock • ABV: 8.7% • IBUs: 0 • OG: ??°P
Unfiltered 20 SRM mid-brown coloring, head disappears quickly. Nose speaks to unfiltered weizen yeast, clove and bananas are really present. The body of this beer has enough malt to balance the fruit and yeast notes allowing it to stand out among their beers.
Fat Head’s Brewing • Belgian Dark Strong Ale • ABV: 9.3% • IBUs: 29 • OG: 20.0°P
Hops: German Perle, Chech Saaz
Malts: Pale, Pilsner Malz, Munich, Dark Munich, Aromatic, CaraAroma, Carafa
Not terribly dark, lighter amber/red colored 16ish SRM. Nose has Belgium yeast esters, malts and sweet sugars. The hops are secondary to the flavor profile and sweetness lingers on the back. This is a thinner bodied than most Belgian Dark Strong Ales due to the candied sugars used.
Winter Warmer
Fat Head’s Brewing • American Pale Ale • ABV: 7% • IBUs: 18 • OG: ??°P
This amber beer has a nice amber color, 16 SRM, with malts and caramel, and spices on the nose. Sharp hints of dried fruit, spices like cinnamon and ginger are present on the front. Caramel malts and toasted oat body bring the grain build together. Honey and burnt sugars linger on the back.
Google Fogger
Fat Head’s Brewing • German Style Hefe-weizen • ABV: 5.4% • IBUs: 12 • OG: 13.0°P
Hops: Mt. Hood
Malts: German Wheat, German Pilsner
Unfiltered Bavarian Weiss Bier with a mid yellow-white cloudy hue (hazy-straw) like 4 SRM. Banana and clove are distinct on the nose, light bodied and sweet bubblegum on the front and mid. Absolutely no hop present, but a slight bitterness that lingers after the other flavors drop off quickly on the back. This beer would go well with a flavoring syrup or fruit pureed bananas.

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