Created by brewers Van Havig and Ben Love, Gigantic Brewing Company opened their doors in 2012 near Reed College in Southeast Portland, Oregon. They’ve aimed to stay small while carrying a gigantic presence. It’s obvious their focus is on being creative, whether it be with their beer or with the artists they employ to make beautiful bottle designs. After five years, they’re still going strong.
Location: Intimate industrial
Branding: Magnanimous with a side of artistic flair
Beer: Bold, easy drinkers
I’m not going to lie, I had a hard time finding the taproom. I kept driving down 26th, checking my map to make sure I didn’t miss it. A lot of breweries operate out of industrial areas, and Gigantic is no exception. Without their sizable outdoor patio, their building looks like any other gray warehouse around. The taproom is small, allowing comfortable space for about 25 people. Local artistry hangs on the walls and an eclectic sample of trinkets clutter behind the bar. 808 Grinds food cart is parked outside just in case you get hungry for Hawaiian dishes (believe me, you will once the aroma hits you).
The night I visited, there were a group of artists huddled around the main table doodling on coasters for free pints. As an graphic designer, I really appreciate when businesses shower love on creatives. My next visit to Gigantic was right at three when they opened, and the crowd was a little different than at night (people getting off work for happy hour). It’s a comfortable space with friendly employees. Brewers hang around casually as if it were there own home.
Logo: You know how WordArt used to be really cool in the 90’s? Well, they made a modern version of it. If you’re going to customize type to make a name like Gigantic personify itself, you gotta make it look big without going full word stretch. The use of an arch and dramatic 3D perspective make the word mark look impressive, while giving it a super hero feel. I could see the logo being animated in a really fun way, Ben Hur style.
Packaging: Where the brand leaves room for improvement, the bottle designs makes up for the simplistic brand artwork by 1000%. Bright, colorful, illustrated, and unique. Their love of good art shines through with every design. New artists are commissioned and featured with each release.
Overall Taplist Impression
Gigantic has perfected one of the best IPAs in the city, but they also do everything else. You can tell they’re creative with their recipes and they’re not afraid of high ABVs. For example, they had an oyster stout on that had a low ABV but was packed with rich flavor. Ciders and wine were also available.
🍺 Mons Meg Scotch Ale
8% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.25)
A strong Scotch Ale
My Notes: Well done. Good, sweet flavor without being too boozy.
🍺 Gigantic IPA
8% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Cascade, Centennial, Crystal and Simcoe create a citrusy hop confluence that continuously embiggens with each drink. The embodiment of our brewing philosophy to “Never Give An Inch”.
My Notes: Not super bitter, really smooth. Staple IPA for a reason.
🍺 Massive! (Bourbon Barrel Aged) 2016
13% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5)
Brewed with different ingredients every year, this long boil barley wine is brewed with high heat to intensify the carmelization.
My Notes: Maple nose, delicious barrel aged barley wine.
🍺 Pipewrench IPA
8% ABV 85 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.25)
Our Gigantic IPA aged in Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels for 3 months. Botanicals from the gin meld perfectly with citrusy hops and subtle wood in an incredibly complex beer.
My Notes: Tastes like straight tangerine, which was unexpected. A little sour, but not overwhelming.
🍺 Sound and Vision Pale Ale
6% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.25)
Winter pale ale with mosaic and pacific jade hops.
My Notes: Such a drinkable pale ale, not a lot of bitterness. The hop blend isn’t something you taste all the time, it was unique without overpowering.
(Beer Descriptions in italics are provided from the brewery.)