Haze and History
Who would’ve guessed? Bridgeport Brewing can make a pretty good hazy IPA. In order to understand my amazement, it’s necessary to go back a ways.
Founded way back in 1984, Bridgeport Brewing is the oldest brewery in the Portland. The original owners, Richard and Nancy Ponzi, were pioneers in Oregon’s nascent wine business in the seventies. They decided to move into beer making. They succeeded, but in 1995 they sold the company to the Gambrinus Company – owners of Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Shiner.
Despite being corporately owned, Bridgeport continued making good beer throughout the nineties. They launched an eponymous IPA that is considered an ur-example of the Northwestern style.
Everything was going swimmingly, but by the mid aughts, things began to change. The area around the Bridgeport brewery gentrified rapidly in the late nineties. Old warehouses and industrial buildings were transformed into million dollar condos and the Pearl District was born. Bridgeport tried to follow suit, going through a massive renovation.
With the new brewery came a change in focus, Bridgeport pushed into the regional market. In an attempt to attract more eyeballs in other states, Bridgeport focused less on it’s Portland roots. I knew things had changed when they discontinued Blue Heron. The classic pale ale was first brewed in 1987, and named after the official city bird. In its place, Bridgeport launched a series of poorly received beers aimed at jumping on new trends – most notably some terrible fruit beers.
Recently, Bridgeport has been sliding into irrelevance. Sales have declined locally, as have actual barrels brewed. The only question seems to be, when will Gambrinus finally close the place? Then last week, they announced a new hazy IPA. I thought it was going to be another lame attempt at joining the zeitgeist. But the press release made it sound pretty good.
It seems, they made it the right way. They used malted and unmalted wheat. They used Mosaic hops – a necessity in all modern IPAs. They didn’t add any hops in the kettle – which to old school homebrewers might sound wacky, but it’s the way of things these days. And they dry hopped it with some unnamed experimental hops. I picked up a six-pack, with my own money, figuring if it was bad, at least I could write a nice obituary for the brewery.
But it’s actually pretty good. It’s hazy, not completely opaque, but throwing off a nice orange hue. It’s fruity – notes of melon and mango. The body is fluffy on the tongue, without the yogurty thickness that ruins some New Englanders. There is a sort of tooty fruity, bubblegum flavor on the finish that sticks out to me, but other than that it’s solid.
I drank half the six-pack, and I was excited to do it.