On my second day of camping in Bemidji, I made the hour drive back south towards Walker. The little town was filled with happy cabiners, flowers, and the beer of my dreams.
Portage Brewing feels quite literally like my cabin’s living room. Being surrounded by pine and natural wood, inhaling the faint scent of sawdust, and soaking in the warmth of light reflected from the walls…it’s a breathtaking escape. When you visit (I highly recommend it), be sure to check out the amazing art gallery, too.
I ordered a full flight, because I’m on goddamn vacation, and I’m going to treat myself. The lineup included:
- Coffeecake Blond Ale (ABV 4.7%, 24 IBU) – You read that right. Local coffee, Vietnamese cinnamon, and organic vanilla make this beer taste straight up like an adult coffee cake.
- Coppercamp Amber Ale (ABV 6.4%, 32 IBU) – The light English amber sweetens and plays on your tongue with notes of caramel, toffee, and dates.
- Wild Table Beer (ABV 5%, 24 IBU) – This Belgian-inspired beer is an easy drinker, kept complex with sour citrus from local, wild yeast. A unique approach that turned out to be one of my favorites.
- Lakefellow Wild Pale Ale (ABV 6.5%, 40 IBU) – When a beer has notes of pineapple, I’m all in.
- Wild IPA (ABV 7%, 60 IBU) – Locally harvested wild yeast plus galena, citra, and cascade hops. This “creamy fruit bomb” kicked ass.
My advice came from a kind beertender whose dog I harrassed the entire time. She turned out to be the mother of Portage’s brewer, of whom she spoke highly. She told me, “Be thankful for your blessings. Some people are always striving for more and thinking about tomorrow. Look at today and just appreciate it.”
It appears my beertender and her son both have created beautiful lives (or at least a beautiful space) for themselves. Choosing to appreciate the day, I’ve learned, involves setting yourself up to make that choice an easy one. I’m working on it.