To some the second month of the year is simply February, the shortest and at times dreariest month along the Oregon Coast. But at Fort George, February is twenty-eight delightful days of dark and delicious ales, more commonly known as Stout Month.
Created over twenty years ago by Fort George co-owner Jack Harris, Stout Month has taken on a life of its own in Astoria. Brewer creativity with the style expands every year, as do those stout tap lists (24 UNIQUE STOUTS THIS FEBRUARY!). The immensely popular Festival of Dark Arts continues to get darker and darker. And this year Fort George adds the largest barrel aged bottle release ever held on the block.
“Our Matryoshka series is always fun because of the possibilities,” explains David Coyne, Fort George brewer and barrel master. “The beer is very chocolaty from the roasted malts to begin with, so we decided to push the vanilla in one variation by sourcing a bunch of Madagascar vanilla beans. From there I like to add a fruit, this year marionberries, to give it a tart pie taste that pairs well with the breadiness of the grains.”
The Matryoshka series starts with a Russian Imperial Stout (From Astoria With Love), which is then barrel aged for several months with increasing layers of adjuncts. Matryoshka is the Russian name for wooden nesting dolls. It’s also the illustration on the label, which was drawn by David Coyne as well.
“This year we put some of the Matryoshka into different barrels, other than bourbon,” David continues. “There are two variations which feature a blend of Matryoshka aged in Willamette Valley Pinot Noir barrels. And we plan to do more barrel variations in the future.”
Matryoshka and all of the variations will be on tap during Stout Month. And the base beer, From Astoria With Love, will be available in 16-ounce four-pack cans starting in February. The Pacific Northwest will be awash in stout this February, which puts a dark, stout-soaked smile on Jack Harris’s face.
Every year for one dark day, stout lovers converge on Fort George to enjoy craftspeople, roaming entertainers, art, and spectacle surrounded by over 60 rare stouts on tap. There’s live music throughout, including performances this year by Robert Sarazin Blake, Roselit Bone, and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. The return of PORCUS! and an expanded footprint onto 14th Street will let festival goers stretch out it stout style. If you were lucky enough to get tickets, check festivalofdarkarts.com for lineups and stout lists. If you missed out on tickets this year, get ready for The Aftermath.
On Sunday, February 18th, the day after Festival of Dark Arts, the Fort George campus will reopen to the public at noon. Of course there will be new stout releases in the pub and pizzeria (see list below), and the tap trailer will be filling growlers from the remaining Festival of Dark Arts kegs. But the barrel fans will be in the Lovell Brewery for the release of four new variations in this year’s Matryoshka series. Joined by Bourbon Barrel Matryoshka (2018) and cellared versions of the Matryoshka beers from 2017, the Lovell Taproom will be pouring all eight of these barrel aged stouts.
Wax-dipped bottles of the five 2018 Matryoshkas along with very limited cellared bottles from 2017 will be on sale. And to add a little light to the dark, a fresh Fields of Green will be released at the brewery. Get this evolutionary IPA on tap or in four-pack cans to go. No tickets, no reservations. Top your night with a live performance by The Builders and the Butchers at 8pm, never a cover.
As you arrive at Fort George public house, or pizzeria, or Lovell Taproom during Stout Month, you’ll be welcomed with an overflowing tap list of dark and deliciousness. Stout staff is here to help you with your selection or you may order up blind stout taster trays. At least eight stouts will be on tap in each location, with a new stout released every few days.
Dear Prudence – oatmeal stout with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes 8.3%
Oregon Trail Mix – cocoa nibs, almonds, peanuts, and cranberries 6.4%
Matryoshka (2018) – Russian imperial stout aged in Four Roses Bourbon barrels 12.75%
Donnie Choco – dark chocolate stout 7.1%
Coffee Girl – imperial coffee stout brewed with Coava Coffee beans 8.6%
Donnybrook – traditional dry Irish stout 4.2%
1,000 Years of Silence – imperial Mexican chocolate stout 10.5%
Cavatica Stout – a bold American stout beauty and Fort George classic 8.8%
Girl Stout Cookie – chocolate, coconut, and caramel 6.4%
Rare Gem – mint chocolate chip stout 9.2%
#BurgerWednesday pairing – ground lamb burger, olive mint pesto, aged Tillamook cheddar.
From Astoria With Love – Russian imperial and the Mother of Matryoshka 9.4%
Three Wise Men – imperial stout aged in tequila, rum, and bourbon barrels 13.1%
#BurgerWednesday pairing sliders – beef & blue cheese with aioli, elk & brie with blueberry
ketchup, bison & gruyere with chimichurri.
February 18th (Public House & Pizzeria)
The White Witch – golden stout with cocoa nibs & coffee 8.45%
Dark Matter (2016) – imperial oatmeal stout aged in Pinot Noir & bourbon barrels 8.76%
February 18th (Lovell Taproom)
Bourbon Barrel Matryoshka with Vanilla Bean (2018)*
Bourbon Barrel Matryoshka with Vanilla Bean & Marionberries (2018)*
Bourbon & Pinot Noir Barrel Matryoshka (2018)*
Bourbon & Pinot Noir Barrel Matryoshka with Cocoa Nibs (2018)*
Bourbon Barrel Matryoshka (2017)**
Bourbon Barrel Matryoshka with Cocoa Nibs (2017)**
Bourbon Barrel Matryoshka with Cocoa Nibs & Raspberries (2017)**
*Sweet Virginia Series bottles available. One case limit per variation.
**Cellared bottles available. Two bottle limit per variation per customer.
No Good Deed – bourbon barrel aged imperial stout with black walnuts & buckwheat 11.5%
#BurgerWednesday pairing – ground walnut & beef burger, fontina fondue, crispy leeks, Ras el hanout aioli.
Reclusa – A blend of barrel aged stouts and English barleywine 13%*
*Sweet Virginia Series bottles available as well.
The Deepest Darkest Fear – barrel aged collaboration with Our Mutual Friend Brewery 11.5%
#BurgerWednesday pairing – house-ground Oregon beef, cherry mustardo, lardo, pickled figs
Select venues will feature specialty stouts from Fort George during February. Get a taste of Stout Month as it winds its way across the Pacific Northwest.
Thursday, February 8th – 6pm
4336 Commercial St SE, STE 150, Salem, OR
Friday, February 9th – 6pm
The Bier Stein
1591 Willamette St, Eugene, OR
Saturday, February 10th – 5pm
8105 SE Stark St, Portland, OR
Stout Month begins on Thursday, February 1st. Bring your loved ones, your beloved growlers, and your love of the dark. Fort George promises you won’t go away light-handed. For more information about Fort George Brewery and Stout Month events, go to fortgeorgebrewery.com.