Have you ever heard of Ontario, OR?  Unless you’ve spent most of your life living in the eastern half of Oregon, I suspect the answer is no.  I’ve driven through Ontario a few times during my oddly-numerous cross-country road trip (though Brother Barley sadly missed stopping for gas there during our epic 50-hour non-stop cross-country road trip, as we were heading from Boston to Seattle for a pong game and so ended up eventually entering Oregon from the north), but have never had occasion to spend any time there.  Ontario is about as far east as you can go in Oregon.  It’s snug on the Snake River, which serves as the border between Oregon and Idaho.  In fact, Ontario is closer to Boise, ID than any significant city in Oregon.  But to get to the point (I’m not really sure why I decided to give you a geography lesson), Ontario is home to the Beer Valley Brewing company.  Regardless of the fact that Beer Valley is about as close to the middle of nowhere as a brewery can get, I’m fairly excited to get to know them a little better.  If my first exposure to their beer is indicative of the quality of the rest of their offerings, I’m delighted to be able to claim them on behalf the Beaver State.  I’d heard a few rumblings about their beers in the past, so was intrigued when I saw this one show up in my local bottle shop.


Leafer Madness

NOTES: 2011 vintage bomber, poured semi-aggressively into a Ninkasi pint glass

STYLE: Imperial Pale Ale

ABV: 9%

APPEARANCE: Dark amber with a hint of orange, just barely hazy

HEAD: 2.5 fingers of snowy white head with good retention

LACING: Chunky.  There’s no other word for it.

NOSE: Rosy-sweet

TASTE: This is a a much more bitter beer than the nose would indicate. There’s almost enough malt to balance the serious hops, but not quite.  Starts balanced, finishes a bit more bitter than the malt sweetness can quite handle.

MOUTHFEEL: Moderately light, just about the right level of carbonation for a standard west coast Imperial IPA

DRINKABILITY: This is a tasty beer, but finishes just a bit too bitter for me to want more than one.  The nose is truly wonderful; it just sucks you right in.  Unfortunately the IBUs end up overshadowing the floral facet of the hops.  It’s not overwhelming, but the balance is just a bit off.

I enjoyed this beer, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.  But I hope Beer Valley continues to tinker with the recipe a bit in future years so it can go from solid to fantastic.  Easily 3.0 hops.

The Commander is the biggest freaking pounder ever

Holy crap does the Commander pound hard

Truly, it’s crazy how hard The Commander pounds


  1. I remember sampling this during the Aleheads retreat to Philly last year. While the name is certainly awesome, we picked this beer solely for the fact that it was from Oregon and had hops on the label (Apparently you guys know how to use the plant). Sadly, we don’t get too many Pacific NW beers out on the East Coast so we grab what we can, when we can.

  2. I stumbled on your website totally by accident and I am amazed at the number of IPA’s available that I have not tried. I live in Sonoma County CA., so I have the privilege of drinking a number of fine IPA’s. Lagunitas and Racer 5 of course are two of my favorites but there are many others here locally that are truly wonderful.

    I also happened to grow up in Eastern Oregon (Pendleton) and I am familiar with Beer Valley Brewing and the wonderful products. I hope to someday come east and sample those IPA’s that I cannot buy locally. Thanks for the website and information, whiteboy

  3. I spent a pile of weekends in Pendleton growing up. It’s beautiful out there! Glad you’re enjoying our little website. I’m jealous of some of the fantastic California IPAs you have easy access to down your way, though I’m lucky enough to be able to get Racer 5 (perhaps my favorite) and Lagunitas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s