The lamb and beef shawarma at Portal Brewing Co. can be savory or made zesty by adding hot sauce. - Photo by Laurie Heuston

Portal Brewing Co.

Brewer Mike Dimon and his partner Theresa Delaney would like to keep the focus of their Portal Brewing Co. on its ales ... with less attention paid to the pub's food.

There is much to be said about Portal's award-winning, handcrafted ales. The pub touts 13 tap handles that pour such trademark brews as Riptide India Pale Ale, Tub Springs American Pale Ale, Buckwheat Blonde Ale, The Dark One (a Siberian-style imperial stout), Grace O'Malley's Irish Red Ale, Passage to India Pale Ale and the rest. Look for Koko Blanco, a coconut cream ale; a coffee and vanilla porter; Cascadian Dark Ale; and other interestingly flavored beers — such as the Red Moon Over My Yammy, a seasonal yam and date beer.

Dimon's Tub Springs ale won first place at the 2012 Battle of the Bones, and his Northern English Brown took third place the same year at the Jackson County Harvest Festival.

Dimon says he learned to brew in the '70s with his grandfather. He kept at it off and on, then got serious about making ales six years ago.

"I use the highest quality grains and ingredients," Dimon says. "It costs me more, but it makes a difference in the flavor that grains can produce."

Dimon and Delaney opened Portal last summer at the corner of Sixth and Front streets in downtown Medford. The pub keeps short hours: noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.

"Longer hours would mean running out of beer," Dimon says. "But we're expanding our manufacturing system from a one-barrel to a three-barrel capacity. We now also have a 12-barrel fermentation capacity. I've had a hard time keeping up with demand. Soon I'll be able to be open longer hours and offer keg sales to other restaurants and bars."

The pub pours 16-ounce pints for $6. A 12-ounce pour of an imperial ale also costs $6. Imperials use more grains, malts and ingredients for flavor, making them more expensive to brew. Imperials also have a higher alcohol content, thus the 12-ounce pour. Ale flights cost $8 for six 2-ounce tasters served on trays carved from wooden barrel staves.

As for the food, Dimon and Delaney use the same quality characteristic of their brews to create a delicious selection of Mediterranean-style plates and gourmet sandwiches.

My favorite is the lamb and beef shawarma served on warm pita bread with hummus, shredded cabbage and tzatziki ($7.50). I've enjoyed this sandwich on two occasions with a pint of light and smooth Sunset Cream Ale. My dining partner on those visits found her lamb and beef gyro ($7) just as satisfying with a pint of stout.

Look for lamb and green chiles or turkey, havarti, pesto and bacon on pitas. There's grilled sausages and pretzels, Taylor's uncured hot dogs, a brewmaster's platter with chunks of bread, meat, cheese and apple and more.

Call 541-499-0804 or see http://portalbrewingco.com.

— Laurie Heuston

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