Corks+Forks: The Yard’s Carnitas and Southern Oregon Brewing’s Pilsner

Visit Greenwood’s latest mainstream beer location for locals, regional beer education and Mexican bites.

Wordplay is a serious knack. It is honed by lyrical practice and linguistic appreciation. That being said, innuendo repartee is often times the most witty. I’m talking sex, drugs and, of course, swear words. Southern Oregon Brewing Company has made a name for themselves with such bon mot – as real “SOBs”.

Southern Oregon Brewing, affectionately known as SOB in the Northwest, is getting their groove on in Medford, Oregon, with natural, “uncompromised standards” the area provides through old-world techniques and pure, wholesome products even if their beer titles tend to get a bit foul.

Fresh hops.

A full-service brewery, SOB has the largest brewing capacity in Southern Oregon and can increase or decrease their supply with the changing and ever-growing demand for local suds. The magic happens in an 11,000 square foot space, with 20-barrel, four vessel stainless steel brewing systems – locally manufactured in The Dalles, just six hours north of Medford against the Oregon border. The facility is set up to produce nearly 40,000 barrels per year which is potential for massive beer production. Beer math – one barrel equals two kegs, one keg has about 165 12-ounce beers in it and equals a whole lotta beer.

Founded by anesthesiologist Dr. Tom Hammond, formerly of Seattle, SOB opened their doors in Medford in 2004. Hammond picked up the storied brewmaster Anders Johansen, formerly of Pyramid, Deschutes and more breweries, and with a handful of playfully named brews, (like Holy Water bock beer, Old Humbug winter ale and Black Heart imperial stout), Hammond has hit the ground running. Like a real SOB.

The American Brewers Association sites that craft brewing is the fastest growing segment of this country’s beverage/alcohol business for the third year in a row, proving that handcrafted beers are not only a popular trend but a financial foundation for the Northwest. The total economic impact from the beer industry on Oregon’s economy is $2.44 billion, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

Original home to Henry Weinhard, Widmer Brothers, Full Sail, BridgePort and Rogue, Oregon is standing at the forefront of that declaration, with a whopping seven-percent of the U.S.’s total breweries and brew pubs, with craft beer making up 11-percent of the state’s beer sales. Portland houses 51 breweries – more than any other city in the world – and there are currently 153 brewery facilities operating in 59 Oregon cities which, according to the OBG, comes out to one brewery per every 25,306 people.

To show a little bit of local pride, it is estimated that 43.2-percent of all draft beer consumed in Oregon is brewed in Oregon. Cheers to that, says SOB, because with the power invested in their equipment, they plan to grow 10-30 percent in production each year – more craft beer for the proud locals to toast to.

Carnitas!

The Restaurant: The Yard Cafe — Their slogan – “Good Beer Served Here” – sounds like a quote from a beer vendor at the Mariner’s, and yet it is true. Solid local representation, rotating taps as soon as the feature keg runs dry (typically one keg at a time for each tap feature), the Yard is mostly that – a lofty and uncovered patio that seats somewhere around 30 and an indoor area with a bar top and a handful of tables. The menu sports a la carte Mexican food that seems to be a tasty second thought in retrospect that beer drinkers might need to eat food while they guzzle. Good thinking.

The Dish: Carnitas ($3.50 per taco) — Basic yet feisty in flavors, the pork is braised, seared and shredded, then simply topped with pico gallo and your choice of salsa, guacamole, etc. additions for minimal costs.

The Variety: Pilsner — The Czech-born and bred pale lager, originating from the hills of Bohemia, now in the Czech Republic. The most famous and most widely produced/distributed style is from Pilsner Urquell. Styles flex from light, crisp and clean to golden with bright, earthy and often times vegetative hop aromas and flavors with a tinge of bitter. 

Why It Works: Food is toothsome and piquant, pilsner lagers are light and refreshing. It’s elementary beer math, balancing out the equation to palate equilibrium.

The Recommended Match: Southern Oregon Brewing (SOB) Na Zdravi’ Pilsner ($5) — Translating into “for your health” or “cheers” in Czech, this beer is bright, friendly and really does want to toast you. With 32 IBUs (a lower-medium hop level) and 4.8% alcohol per volume, this little chugger is what beer drinkers call “sessionable” – easy to throw back and easy to have another (or four).

A clean malty core and a crisp and light palate, this pils is just how Babi (grandma in Czech) ordered it. With a side of Mexican pulled pork tacos. It’s global fusion, people, making the world go ’round.

The Yard Cafe | 8313 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle| (206) 588-1746