A lot has happened since our last visit to the Portland two years ago during the Year in Beer. Between our visits, Merideth and I have traveled to a diverse range of beer destinations and added approximately 160 breweries to our tally. Older and wiser, we had some catching up to do in the Rose City.
Joined by our friend Chris, we left the festival on Thursday evening to explore on the other side of the Willamette River. Crossing the Burnside Bridge, we headed east towards our first destination, 28 blocks away. After a afternoon at the festival, we welcomed the long walk to Coalition Brewing.
Coalition Brewing’s unassuming, grayish/green exterior disguised a real gem inside. Walking through the rolled up doors into the small but airy dining area, our threesome grabbed the only available table which was close to the bar.
The buzz regarding Coalition Brewing was that they were working with local homebrewers to brew and pour their beers. However, I don’t think any collaboration beers were on tap for our visit, just the regular house lineup. There were six beers, ranging from an ESB to a Stout. The other Chris ordered Bump’s Bitter ESB and Merideth went with the Hans O’ Stout. Of course, I ordered the Two Dogs IPA. Passing the beers around as an impromptu taster set, all were quite delicious.
The kitchen was the pleasant surprise at Coalition Brewing. The simple menu featured inexpensive, yet creative food. While I went the comfort route with Mac-n-Cheese, Merideth ordered the “Coalition of the Willing Ham”, a panini with Black Forest ham, coppa, havarti and pickled carrot. She allowed me one a small bite and I have to say, it was one of the best sandwiches I have tasted in a long time.
The beer gods must have been telling us we needed another long walk. Our next stop was a mere six blocks away, but instead of using our brains and walking up 28th Street, we relied on the iPhone for directions. After a 45 minute tour of some nice Portland neighborhoods and the required ‘it should be right here’ moment, we decided just to find Migration by the address. Ten minutes later we were at the bar ordering a beer.
Another new entry on the Portland scene, Migration was another neighborhood industrial space, roll up the doors, ample beer garden with picnic tables kinda place.
Migration only had three house beers, complimented by eight guest taps including the amazing Racer X from Bear Republic. The three of us enjoyed a pitcher of their flagship Pale Ale on their patio. Well, until Merideth got chilled and we moved inside. Despite enjoying ourselves at Migration, it was a one and done. We still had one more beer stop so after finishing our pitcher, we moved on to Apex, a multi-tap establishment.
After a few beers, I admit that I start wondering about the strangest things. Having never been to Portland in the winter, I always wonder what happens to the outdoor seating in the cold and wet months. Do people actually site outside? Wading through Apex’s rather large beer garden, that was all I could think of.
Luckily, such philosophical questions are short-lived once confronted with a lengthy beer list. After adjusting my eyes to the high tech airport arrival/departure type display, the first thing that caught my eye at Apex was the number of California beers on tap. The owner, being a Toronado alumni, might have something to do with this. Passing on some of my favorite home state brews such as Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin or Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, I went with Double Mountain’s Molten Lava.
We finished our first day in Portland at Apex. What a first day it was; four breweries, a beer bar and Oregon Brewers Festival.
Saturday was our last day in Portland and we passed on attending another day at Oregon Brewers Festival to visit a few more breweries. We were at the Mash Tun, in Northeast Portland, late morning just after opening time. Located in the ultra hip Alberta Arts District, the Mash Tun has been on the Portland beer scene since 2005. Passing through the bar area, our group, including Chris (again) and a friend of his, found a table in the oddly stifling courtyard.
In a town that prides itself on their Pacific Northwest brews, the Mash Tun was an anomaly, brewing English-style beers. On the beer menu during our visit was five brews, including English Mild and Penfolds Porter. They also had a small number of guest taps.
Tater tots seemed to be a big thing in Portland. We saw them on a number of menus. The highlight of our visit to the Mash Tun was the big steaming plate of deep fried potato goodness. After a taster set, I paired the tater tots with the roasty Penfolds Porter. Merideth went with the Sam Jackson Pale Ale.
The most interesting newcomer brewery in Portland, was Upright. Located in the Rose District just across the Willamette from downtown Portland, Upright was our 567th brewery. And the very first located in a basement. We were greeted by our friend Annalou as we walked into the cool, dark lower level of the Left Bank Building. There was already a fair sized crowd occupying the small space.
Maybe the best taster deal on the planet, Upright’s sample tray was $6 for nine beers. The year-round beers go by the descriptive names of 4, 5, 6 & 7, the names derived from starting gravity in degrees. All four use a Saison yeast and are open fermented. 4 was a great session beer at 4.5% ABV. 6 was the most unique of the four, the only one using rye.
Of the seasonal beers, the stars were Engelberg Pils and Vin Aigruer, a beer reminiscent of Flanders Red. That was until Annalou pulled out a bottle of the Gose. Having only discovered the style the previous month in Germany, Upright’s version stood up to the brew at Bayerischer Bahnhof in Leipzig.
With gas still left in the tank, our next stop was Belmont Station for their Oregon Craft Brewers Fringe Fest. The idea behind the Fringe Fest was to give Oregon breweries not at OBF a chance to showcase their brews. At different times during the day, these breweries poured samples of their beers. What had me excited was the cask beers. My first beer was Barley Brown’s WFO IPA, an excellent beer from the Baker City brewpub. Equally tasty was their 60 Love Pale Ale, a hoppy brew also on cask. Two other stars were the German-style beers from Heater Allen in McMinnville. Their Isarweizen and Pils were both tasty brews.
We ended our ninth Portland beer adventure at our favorite beer spot in Portland, Amnesia Brewing. Amidst a lively Saturday night crowd, Merideth and I wound down for the evening knowing we had a long drive ahead the following day. We quietly enjoyed our brats and beers as the sun set on another Portland trip.