Monday, June 26, 2017

Corks+Forks: Grub’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Hopworks HUB Lager

Eco-Conscious Lager Holds on for a ride to comfort town with Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Stewardship isn’t a new concept in Portland, our green sister city of the south. However, the ethics of sustainability in beer was a imminent concern until Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) broke onto the scene in the rose city. HUB is Portland’s first Eco-Brewpub, with organic ales and sustainable food from the scratch kitchen, and is also 100% renewably powered and “cradle to gate” carbon neutral in production.

As an avid cyclist, environmentalist and beer enthusiast, HUB owner and brewmaster Christian Ettinger consciously titled his brewery with a bicycle acronym (the hub is the center of the bike wheel that contains the axle and the bearings) and committed to conservation from his business’ inception. The brewpub’s green influence is apparent from the biodiesel-fired brew kettle in the brewery and the refurbished, reused restaurant booths to the biodiesel-powered delivery trucks out on the street from Eugene to Vancouver, British Columbia.

A true brewing garagiste (actually in his parents’ kitchen on summer break home from college), Ettinger fell harder for beer when he spent a semester abroad in Germany. Upon his return, he was the first student at the University of Oregon to receive five college credits for making beer as a brewery intern. After putting in time at Eugene City Brewery (a Rogue Ales brand) for his first paid brewing gig, Ettinger completed the Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering course from the American Brewers Guild and joined the team at Laurelwood Pub and Brewery, where he was awarded the World Beer Cup Champion Brewmaster Award. Humble and grateful, Ettinger left Laurelwood to start Hopworks with a smaller carbon footprint on his mind.

Producing beers with Germanic-influence, Ettinger uses only organic grains, malts and hops in the brewery. The brewpub also offers covered bike parking, a bike repair stand with tools and a floor pump for tire refills. The bar pours brews from a copper bar made from recovered parts that sits underneath 42 hanging bike frames as ceiling decor.

Eco and family-friendly, HUB is also conveniently located in two Portland trendy, well, hubs  — one on Powell Boulevard and the other, called the “BikeBar,” is in the North Williams neighborhood. The popular pit-stop sits on a main bike commuter route in the ecoFLATS building with “bike-centric” perks like a water bottle filling station and two Plug-Out stationary bicycles that, when pedaled, generate electricity back into the building’s power grid.

The message is clear — do not drink HUB beer and drive, drink it (responsibly) and ride, always on a full stomach.

The Restaurant: Grub — Owner and operator Sharon Fillingim grew up in the restaurant industry, with her parents simultaneously running three restaurants in the late 1960s, so opening and steering the ship on a few of her own joints came naturally. A previous partner in the Queen Anne bakery Le Rêve (as well as two other shuttered restaurants from the past — Jimmy’s Table in Madison Valley and Cool Hand Luke in Madrona) Fillingim’s Grub offers a casual and bright atmosphere with flavorsome comfort fare, including recipes collected from her childhood dinner memories and seasonal, local twists.

The Dish: Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($10.75) — Battered, fried and butterflied, the juicy chicken is jacketed by pesto aioli and layered more with lettuce, tomato (with the option of cured bacon for an added $2) and tucked between two sides of a brioche roll.

The Variety:  Pale Lager — Ranging from Budweiser to Pilsner Urquell and Anchor Steam, a pale lager is distinguished by its straw-color, bright hop bitterness, touches of sweet malt and lower alcohol content. Dry, lean, crisp and clean, lagers are “sessionable” — easy to enjoy and even easier to chug several.

Why It Works:  Lagers provide the lighter-body with malty sweetness to complement the fry and batter on the chicken, yet also enough hops to balance out the richness of the caked bird.

The Recommended Match: Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic HUB Lager ($5) — Produced in the style of the beers Ettinger tossed back on his semester abroad, this Czech-style pilsner lager boasts pure malt tones (as in no rice or corn syrup supplementing the malts of course) and character — ethically and in flavor. Light and crisp as it should be, this beer is a natural refresher to start, endure or finish a battered-bird meal.

Grub | 7 Boston Street, Seattle | (206) 216-3628

About Erin Thomas

Exported from the once rural areas north of the city, Erin has always been a Seattleite at heart. Since receiving her degree in Journalism from the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at WSU, she has been moonlighting as a freelance writer. Familiar stints include CitySearch Seattle, Washington State Magazine, Seattle Woman Magazine and her long-time contributing to WINO Magazine, as well as copy-writing and on-air contributions to local radio. When Erin's not consuming large amounts of wine or writing in her blog, abottle/aweek, she can be found eating most food put in front of her face, screaming for the Cougs or drooling over the brothers on Vampire Diaries. For more of Erin's daily, irrelevant ramblings, find her on Twitter.
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