Carlton, Oregon – Fire Mountain Brew House
When I pull into the Fire Mountain Brewery tasting room I am greeted by three sweet dogs on the driveway. In the brew house, Henry Gorgas, the brew master, and Ken Venezuela of Carlton’s Filling Station Deli are locked in jovial conversation. Ken explains that Henry worked for Lackheed Martin and that the brew house was Henry’s workshop for experimental aircraft in the 90′s. The attention to detail required in manufacturing sheet-metal carries over well to brew making. Henry shows me the custom horizontal fermented he designed for his own style of brewing, and Ken notes the precise construction of two enormous hanger-like doors to the refrigerator unit.
My first impression of the beer is that Henry does not skimp on ingredients: his beers are rich. The Steam Stout is roasty with hints of creamy chocolate. The Bad Henry IPA is a big surprise. It’s well hopped but not overly bitter, and has strong fruit loop note.
Despite its quality, a micro brew beer may be sought out simply for its obscurity. Fire Mountain Brewery is both obscure and excellent, which makes it worth seeking out at your beer shop (John’s Marketplace in Multnomah Village or a Portland-area New Seasons). But I recommend you make the a pilgrimage to the Fire Mountain tasting room, twenty minutes west of Carlton, OR; past Oregon’s wine country and down Panther Creek Road, and a full hour and twenty minutes from Portland. (10800 NW Rex Brown Road, PO Box 692, Carlton OR 97111, 503-852-7378)