I first mentioned Coalition Brewing over a year ago, back when it was still slated to be called Hobo Brewing, and have been watching it edge closer to becoming my friendly neighborhood lo these past months. Such anticipation! Yesterday, on a gloriously sunny early evening, Sally and I walked the four blocks that separate my front door and theirs and finally had a pint of Coalition's new brews.
I won't do a full review for a few weeks. Last night, the wee space was over-run by fans and Sally and I didn't stick around to try the food (or even, I must admit, the third beer on offer). It's always good to let a brewpub get its bearings, work out the kinks, and get all their beer on line before subjecting it to a real review. Still, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I have one: very promising.
Coalition has three very similar beers on tap right now: a pale (5%, 59 IBUs), and ESB (5.5%, 56 IBUs) and a red (5.7%, 59 IBUs). Next up is a stout, which will be followed by an IPA, the first "Coalator" beer--made jointly with a homebrewer--and then a cream ale. By the time the cream ale hits the taps, it will look a lot more diverse. I wasn't thinking so much about the styles of beer as the quality, and it was excellent. Both the ESB and pale were pretty aggressively hoppy, but well-made and sessionable. If I were to retool the recipes at all, I'd drop the pale down about ten IBUs. I'll let them get used to their new system and do a full review later. But in short, they're exactly the kinds of beers patrons in Southeast Portland want.
The pub itself is quite attractive. The entire north-facing wall is a windowed garage door, so on sunny days, the pub runs out onto the street (in a few weeks, there will be patio seating on the pub's east side). To help compensate for the very small size of the space, they've added a long table on one side of the pub that functions like a second, two-sided bar. The open door is obviously great on summer days, and I expect the windows will be great on rainy ones, too. And one thing I noticed with interest: no TV. This seems a conscious choice about what kind of clientele they're shooting for.
I shot a few phone photos, which I'll paste in below. Overall, pretty damn cool.