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10-06-2015, 08:11
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So I walk along the old railway tracks, not the big things that the Pacific trains used to come belling along, but smaller ones, ones I suspect were used to take fish about between the various canneries in this part of Astoria OR (http://www.astoria.or.us/). The bridge over the River Columbia stretches out left to me, the hills of Washington across the river, a glowing, fern-light green in the setting sun, all seen within the focus of a massive metal structure on which people are working this Sunday evening. It’s one of the longest bridges I have seen — at first I thought that it made the Severn bridges look like a couple of railway sleepers flung over to Wales, but in retrospect I think it’s was the metal work, the harking back to an age of steel and iron, that made all other bridges seem small.

You get to the jetty, said the woman in the hotel (and if you’re ever down this part of the world I cannot recommend the Cannery Pier (http://www.cannerypierhotel.com/) hotel enough) and carry on walking this way, she said jabbing at the map. The sea lions make a lot of noise. The fishermen hate them, said her companion at the lobby bar, they eat all the salmon.

So I’m thinking of finding Fort George (http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/age-verification/?href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fortgeorgebrewery.com%2F), a brewpub with a pretty good barrel-aging programme, but as I walk along the quayside, I spot Buoy Brewery (http://www.buoybeer.com/) and decide to pay my respects there as well, especially as I had been told that they make good lagers whilst I was at Pike Brewing (http://pikebrewing.com/) in Seattle a couple of days before.

Buoy. We say Boy and the Americans say Boo-e. When I was first told about it I had to have it written down for me, though I refrained from asking for a rendition of tomato.

Inside, Buoy was standard former industrial use issue, with a restaurant at the front overlooking the river. On the serious side of things, the high-ceilinged, open-windowed bar glad-handed itself to me with the ease of a dive into a deep cool river. The beer menu suggested the likes of Helles, Pilsner, oatmeal stout and a barley wine — the guy at Pike wasn’t wrong, the Czech Pilsner had a sweet malt juiciness, a dry crisp finish but its mouthfeel didn’t have the bloom of PU and I felt it closer to Budvar.

I’ve got to do it haven’t I, I laughed to the barman when going up for the next beer. I’ll have the IPA and I’m glad that I did. There was a Citra dominated nose, a fresh tropical fruit palate, with added leafy and grassy notes, there was also grapefruit but it didn’t burst out of its skin and announce world domination, the balance of malt sweetness with the hop fruit reminded me of the scales of justice statue but I don’t think the brewer was blindfolded when he did this. The nose pulsated with fresh hop, citrus, grapefruit, and a pungent resiny underlay. It was so easy to drink even for 7.5%. What simple joys we find in small towns.
I made it to Fort George where I luxuriated in a glass of Plazm Farmhouse Ale whilst discussing Wittgenstein at the bar with a philosophy lecturer before heading off to a local dive with the head brewer, but that’s a story for another day.

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