Hillsboro, OR (Ron Tonkin Field and Ambacht Brewing)

Ron Tonkin Field

Team: Hillsboro Hops

Affiliate: Arizona Diamondbacks (High A)

Ballpark Basics: The hoppiest place on earth™.  

Ballparks & Brews started in 2010 to document our loves of two things: baseball and local craft beer. When the Hillsboro Hops came on the scene in 2013 we just knew we had to get out to a game. Being from the east coast it took us a few years but we finally were able to make a game. Oregon is the 2nd largest hop producing state and has a rich tradition in craft beer so the name was a perfect fit. The beer theme continues throughout with their logo consisting of a hop cone in a baseball hat, the mascot is a large hop called Barley, and they even sell team branded growlers in the team store.  

Situated fourteen miles to the west of downtown Portland, the Hillsboro Hops are the only option for professional baseball in the Portland area (although the West Coast League’s Portland Pickles are also an option).  It is a straight trip up the Sunset Highway or you can take the MAX Light Rail to the Orenco Station where the Hops have a free shuttle to take you to the park.

While the ballpark fits snugly into a small piece of land on the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex (there is netting behind the right field wall to stop balls from flying into the road behind the ballpark) it does not feel cramped once inside. You enter the park by climbing a set of stairs that opens up on the concourse behind home plate. The concourse is wide and open to the field below. It is covered by a mix of the club level behind home plate and a cantilevered roof down the third base line. There is a large area of berm seating that wraps around the left field corner and is a very popular option.   

Best Spot For Beer:

The Hops have three craft beer partners: Deschutes Brewery, Migration Brewing and Crux Fermentation Project and you can find these options at most concession stands around the park. One would think that the Hop Garden in the right field corner would be your best option. However, it is only open to groups so you will need a special ticket to get in here. 

Portland is a baseball (and beer) hungry town, and are even vying for an MLB expansion team. Whether that plan comes to fruition or not, the Hillsboro Hops do a great job providing the locals with access to both in the meantime.     

 

Ambacht Brewing

Rating: Triple

Brew Basics: A family endeavor, down to some very friendly dogs!

These days the majority of breweries we run across are modern, large and open. Transforming former warehouse or industrial space, or adding a new layer to a restaurant style setting. If you’re ready for a change of pace, we can guarantee you a one of a kind experience at Hillsboro’s own Ambacht.

Seeing as the Hillsboro baseball team is “The Hops” it was a must stop for us, and even ended up being our official Fourth of July game; but Hillsboro isn’t terribly large, somewhat of a bedroom community just west of Portland and visiting a smaller city on a major holiday presented an unexpected challenge – everything was closed. You may read this and say “closed on a major holiday – who could have predicted that?!” but please understand that most of the breweries we visit are apt to see holidays as a reason to double down on food trucks and bands, and release a special beer. There are other breweries in Hillsboro, but Ambacht was the only one with the foresight to open on a holiday, so off we went.

The outside is the smaller industrial/retail park where many individually owned breweries get their start. Inside is another story. Walking in, it’s like you step into a cabin in the woods; it’s a little darker, homey and wood paneled. The walls have an interesting collection of kitsch that brings in a bunch of local flavor. Instantly we had three dogs come running over to check us out, and we had to pass through a second half-sized hinged wood gate that served as a doggie door. There four people inside – the brewer/owner and his family. We were welcome and introduced to the dogs first (priorities!) two of which jumped up on the booth to sit with me.

There were half a dozen beers available on tap, and this too was unique as they were all variants that started with either his light or dark base. This was interesting because you could try the bases themselves and then try them both brewed with the same alterations to recipe or procedure and see how it came out with two very different final products. (ex the cherry one) We were having fun talking to the fam, so sometimes we forgot to write down all of our notes, but you’ll get the jist – if you want more info, that’s just another reason to visit Ambacht’s yourself!

Beer Breakdown:

Ambacht’s beers are done Belgian style, and uniquely, all of the variants on the same two (Gold or Dark) base.

Golden Ale – Tastes of wheat and banana with honey at the end. Light and tangy and would be better served just a little colder. Yellow-gold in color, clear and flavorful with a ring of white. Aroma matches the banana and wheat of the palate.

Golden Rose – The Golden Ale infused with rose hips. Pours an unusual hazy bronze color with orange tones and white lacing. Smells sweet like flowers and honey. The taste is fruit juicy, like apple-grape and best described by the friendly owner as “a fruit beer unlike any you’ve ever had”. Smooth overall, but ends just a little tangy.

Dark Ale – The other base beer, which like the Golden, stands up on its own as well. Not only do the beers have the same light/dark base, they all use the same hops and yeast. The Dark is actually reddish-amber in color with a ecru ring. It smells like fermented fruits and tastes sweet, caramelly upfront and has that same slight tang at the end. In reference to this ale, the owner stated “not sure why, but it’s good”, and he’s right.

Pie Cherry Ale – Smells cherry and tart and is the color of pie cherry juice. The taste is similarly cherry and sweet but not in the same sugary, carmel way of the others. Malty in the middle, with a strong cherry juice finish.

Matzobrau barrel aged – Ambacht’s barrel, after a life holding bourbon, first stopped at Hair of The Dog to barrel age some of their ales. This means that by the time it arrived in Hillsboro the original bourbon infusion has been toned down a bit. Still noticeable in the palate, the taste is smooth and a little sour, the smell is like cookies and bourbon. Worth trying if you can get your hands on some.

 

Ambacht Brewing

1060 NE 25th Avenue, Suite B

Hillsboro, OR 97124

(503) 828-1400