Completists in Portland

Evan Rail in his Good Beer Guide to Prague and the Czech Republic puts forth the idea of the beer traveling “completist” – someone who needs to go to EVERY brewery in a city to feel mission accomplished. With a brewery list to continually add to, this concept perfectly describes me and Merideth. Always visiting Portland during Oregon Brewers Festival, we were never left with enough free time to indulge this need. Our first Spring trip to Portland finally gave us the free time to fulfill our completist desires and add some outlying breweries to the List.

An early beer stop in Southeast Portland

Landing at Portland International Airport shortly before 8am, we needed an early opening brewery to get our day started on the right track. Located in the bottom portion of Southeast Portland, Philadelphia’s Steaks & Hoagies fit our needs perfectly. We were sitting at the bar ordering a nine beer taster set at the prime beer-drinking hour of 9am.

A beer traveler's breakfast

Merideth and I split the taster set as we each enjoyed a hoagie, the Italian Special for myself and Ham and Eggs for Merideth. I would be lying if I didn’t say that a few of the beers were kind of odd. There seemed to be a ‘house flavor’ permeating a number of the brews. With that said, we did enjoy several of the beers including Two Street Stout and the Belgian-style Golden Ale.

While we were finishing up our taster set and breakfast/lunch, we stumbled upon our theme for the Easter holiday episode of beergeek.TV. One of the morning TV shows was doing a segment on Peeps, those neon yellow sugar bombs in the form of a squishy chick-shaped confection. I wondered what beer pairs best with Peeps?

Enjoying the sun at Max's Fanno Creek

Armed with a meaning and purpose for our trip (plus a soon to be gotten box of Peeps) we were off to the Portland suburb of Tigard and our second destination of the morning. Located on Main St. in what I assume was ‘old town’ Tigard, Max’s Fanno Creek Brewpub was doing a bit of  a brisk business at 11am on a Friday. Despite there still being a chill in the air, I was surprised to hear Merideth wanting to sit outside.

Today is brought to you by the number 9

Nine was the number of the day as the taster set at Max’s was also nine brews. Not sure that Merideth truly got to taste and enjoy the beers because she was sampling them with the Peeps. She paired the sugary treat with the Golden Ale, Vanilla Porter, Raspberry Stout and Imperial IPA. The results will be revealed in the beergeek.TV episode.

I felt sick after one nibble of Peep, so I sampled all the beers unencumbered by the pairing question. Of the nine, the Dry Hopped Red, Reverend’s Daughter, a Belgian-style Golden Ale and the IPA stood out for me.

Chris with his first Scotch Egg

A highlight of our stop at Max’s was eating my first Scotch Egg. Our Irish friends always go on about them and despite not knowing what it was, I was curious to try one. [It’s a hard-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then deep fried] Despite the “fancy-ass chi-chi” presentation, it was quite tasty as most deep fried food tends to be when served with beer. I will admit, I did remove the yoke.

If you do make make it to Max’s Fanno Creek Brewpub, be sure to check out the bar top made from crow’s foot hemlock. The wood is 600 years old and spent 200 years at the bottom of the Columbia River.

A roadhouse in Portland

Our final stop on Friday’s completist brewery tour was Old Market Pub & Brewery. At the junction of two roads, Old Market had a real roadhouse feel, both inside and out. The rambling building had an expansive wood-paneled interior with a large dining room and a pool room in the back. With the warmth of the day finally showing, we took a seat in the beer garden out front.

A beer / food pairing conundrum

And yes, the sampler was nine beers again! For me, the star of their brews was Hop On, a hopped-up Amber Ale. Big surprise that I would pick the hoppiest beer as my favorite. Merideth continued her Peep/beer pairing quest putting Mr. Slate’s Gravelberry Ale, a raspberry Wheat Beer and Hop On to the test.

Enjoying the sunny Portland weather in their beer garden, we managed to squeeze in a game of Scrabble. Given the massive beating I took, Merideth won 340-310, I’ll think twice next time before suggesting to get a quick game in.

I wish Breakside was in my neighborhood

On Easter Sunday, we visited another of the outlying breweries on our target list. Conveniently located ten minutes from the airport, Breakside Brewery was an easy stop before our flight home. Located down a residential street, we thought that my douchephone directions had led us astray until we came upon a grouping of businesses amidst the homes.

The taster set at Breakside Brewery

Between the beer and food, Breakside Brewery was one of the highlights of the weekend. We sampled eight beers with three hoppy beers, Hoppy Amber, IPA, and IPA Jr., being the stars. Merideth even enjoyed IPA Jr. which could be an excellent session IPA if the brewers knocked the ABV down a bit. However, the most intriguing brew was the Kölsch-style Ale made with Rye. Light and refreshing with that Rye bite and spiciness, it would be the perfect brew for a Portland summer day.

Lovely Pork Belly Sandwich

I had looked at the Breakside food menu online before our trip and knew exactly what I wanted for Easter lunch, the Pork Belly Sandwich. Merideth ordered one as well. It was to die for! The pork was cooked to perfection and fennel slaw was a delicious accompaniment.

Lunch and beers at Breakside with our nephew and his significant other was the perfect way to spend Easter Sunday and to end our trip on a high note. While we are not ready to declare ‘mission accomplished’ the completist in us were very satisfied with our progress over the Easter weekend in Portand.

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