A significant time period ago I read on some beer blog or another that a Portland brewery was experimenting with an oak aged Belgian-style fruit beer. In a kind of cheeky move, they chose to call it “Stumptown Tart” and had a nice young woman pose for the label. Local seasonal fruit, of course, also figured prominently. We are talking about Portland, after all.
My first response to this sort of thing is to make an attempt to do a trade with a friend in the community in question. Fortunately, on a recent trip to Portland, I’d had a chance to hang out with Lance Mayhew at the House Spirits Distillery. Lance was a decent guy and into beer as well as spirits and cocktails. He endeared himself to Mrs. Underhill and I that day by relating an unfortunate episode regarding an exploding bottle of ferment in the family refrigerator.
I dropped Lance a note and he promised to try to track down some of the Stumptown Tart. Then I was in town again and Lance and I failed to hook up. I did drop off some Russian River Brewing bottles for him at Teardrop Lounge.
Anyway, he was kind enough to ship the Stumptown Tart down to SF recently and Mrs. Underhill and I gave it a try.
My initial response is relief. Stumptown Tart is a fairly dry fruit beer. So many American fruit (or spice) beers put the fruit (or spice) in front of the beer that they taste more like fruit juice than beer. To me Bridgeport did a nice job making a fruit flavored Beer beverage rather than Beer flavored fruit beverage.
Portland Beer writer Jeff Allworth was pretty negative in his review of Stumptown Tart. I can’t say I feel quite as negative about the beer as Jeff did. I did think that its scent and initial tastes promised more than the beer delivers in the end. Something about it is just not quite balanced. (Wait, which Stumptown Tart am I talking about again?) Ahem. Anyway, I’d give it a B for effort and a C for follow through. But as a first try for this brewery in this style of beer, not bad. Hopefully next year’s tart will be even more luscious.