New beergeek.TV Episode – Springtime in Portland

Peeps and beer on Easter weekend

“Springtime in Portland” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.

Our tenth visit to Portland was our first not attending the Oregon Brewers Festival. Admittedly it was quite strange walking through the waterfront park and not seeing the familiar large white festival tents.

With no festival to attend, we were free of concentrate on our primary mission, adding breweries to the List. We visited outlying breweries that in previous years we had missed. And we enjoyed a wonderful urban beer hike on a glorious springtime Saturday.

So enjoy our tenth visit to the Rose City…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.

A Portland Beer Hike

Our tenth visit to Portland was also a first for us. This trip to the Rose City was our first not during Oregon Brewers Festival. Those sunny and warm July days were our only reference point for Portland weather. But we’d heard that it can be quite rainy other times of year, especially in Spring. With an urban beer hike planned for the Saturday of Easter weekend, we traveled prepared for non-July conditions.

A beautiful morning in Portland

Thankfully, Mother Nature was smiling upon on Easter Eve. We left our downtown hotel on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning and were down to t-shirts before we reached the Burnside Bridge, our gateway to the East side of the Willamette River. The first leg of our beer hike was the longest, almost 3.5 miles. After crossing the bridge and a few slight lefts, we were strolling up East Sandy Blvd. destined for the Hollywood district.

Columbia River Brewing

The journey up East Sandy wasn’t that memorable except for passing a Voodoo Donuts shop. We wanted to try a one of their doughnuts but the long line inside discouraged us. We continued on. If I won’t stand in line for over-hyped beer, I certainly won’t stand in line for over-hyped doughnuts.

We reached Columbia River Brewing, just off East Sandy, in about an hour. Merideth immediately recognized the building as the Laurelwood we visited several years back, a fact later confirmed. There were only two other customers in the brewpub and we joined them at the bar. As further proof that it’s a small world, they were a Bay Area couple we met several years ago at a SF Beer Week event.

A well-deserved taster set at Columbia River Brewing

While we chatted with the couple and the bartender, we enjoyed our fourth straight nine beer sampler set of the trip. Merideth continued her search for the perfect Peep-beer pairing. Put to the test was Rose City Wheat, a raspberry Wheat, and Ground “N” Pound Double IPA. Of course the Peep went well with the IPA, as the super hoppy and sickly sweet balanced nicely. It didn’t go as well with the wheat, however. A prime example of fruit beer done right, the Rose City Wheat had a subtle, dry raspberry flavor; something the Peep’s sweetness completely overwhelmed.

For me, the Oatmeal Stout was really nice, but Hop Heaven, their 78 IBU, 7.5% ABV IPA was really heaven after a long walk. The real treat was getting to enjoy a pint of Hop Heaven since we were on foot.

Migration Brewing

After the hits and misses of the previous day, it was great to start our beer hike with a real winner in Columbia River Brewing. Our friend Mike joined us at Columbia River and accompanied us for the rest of the afternoon. Since we had more ground to cover, we reluctantly finished our brews and moved on.

Returning to East Sandy Blvd., we headed back the way we came, towards downtown Portland. After a little over a mile, we reached Migration Brewing.

Enjoying the sun and a Lupulin IPA at Migration

Planning an urban beer hike is more than just picking all the beer stops. The key to successful beer hike is building in pee stops at just the right intervals. We visited Migration on a beer hike during our visit to Portland last summer. We really liked the beer and atmosphere during our first visit, so we were happy to return. It’s location between point A (Columbia River Brewing) and point B (Burnside Brewing) was perfect for a quick toilet break and beer stop.

While the majority of customers were inside watching the Trail Blazers playoff game, our trio enjoyed the beautiful Portland weather outside on their patio. Merideth put the Migration Pale Ale to the Peep test, while Mike and I split a pitcher of the citrusy and delicious Lupulin IPA.

Merideth being difficult at Burnside

Business taken care of  and beer finished, we could now move on to point B, Burnside Brewing. We continued in the general direction we had been heading and after another mile we were sitting outside at Burnside Brewing pouring over the  their menu.

I have to admit, I was a bit worried at first. While Burnside looked like just another casual, former industrial space Portland brewery, seeing the word ‘confit’ on the food menu had my douche radar going off. We’re just not confit people. But once the taster set was in front of us, my fears were disappeared.

The taster set at Burnside Brewing

While only five beers, the lineup was eclectic. There was an interesting Oatmeal Pale Ale, probably the first I had ever tried. Chili beers still seem to be alive and well in Portland and Burnside’s entry was Sweet Heat, an Apricot and Scotch Bonnet Wheat. The apricot was wonderfully subtle. Unfortunately, the Scotch Bonnet wasn’t. The star for me and Merideth was ‘Le Bas et Lumiere”, their session Belgian-style table beer. A perfect brew for the weather and timely as we needed to start pacing.

Sour heaven, Cascade Barrel House

The out and back portion of our hike was done as we left Burnside and headed south. Crossing into Southeast Portland, it was only a short half mile before we were at our next stop, Cascade Barrel House, the “House of Sour.” Arriving late afternoon, the Barrel House was packed with Trail Blazer fans with their eyes glued to the television. We grabbed a few seats at one of the non-prime TV viewing tables.

Now that is a taster set

The taster set was an overwhelming 17 beers. Remarkably, that was not the most ever. In 2008, we ordered an 18 beer sampler set at Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage. When we did the 18, we had the advantage of Moose’s Tooth being the first stop of the day. Well into our beer hike, I have to confess that we weren’t in the condition to truly enjoy the bounty in front of us. But we liked the pretty colors. When we return to Portland, we’ll have to pay the Barrel House another visit and make it our first stop.

Merideth did get a new angle in her search for the Peep-beer pairing. Would the contrasting sour flavors of the Cascade beers match well with the sweetness of the candy?

Several of the beers stood out for different reasons. The Gose was very salty, much saltier than the one we had in Germany. I loved the Vine, a blend of soured Tripel, Blonde and Golden ales with white wine grapes. But the  ‘WOW’ beer for me was Barrel #2 Live Kriek. Already a huge fan of the style, I have to say now say Cascade makes on of my favorites.

Merideth enjoying a Peep and Ginger Beer

Luckily, the next leg of our hike only took us around the corner because I was almost done and dusted. We stopped at Green Dragon to try their house beers brewed next door at Buckman Village Brewery. After the diverse collection of beers at Cascade, we didn’t bat an eye at Chamomellow, their chamomile brew, or the Ginger Beer.

Our Portland beer hike finished at Green Dragon. Over the course of a half day, we walked approximately six miles and visited five beer spots.  The weather was great, the beer excellent and the company enjoyable. Had we wanted to extend our beer hike, we would have had many choices in the area surrounding Green Dragon, but we’d already had a big day and were ready to settle down to watch the Timbers FC match. Beer and Football; there ain’t no pity in the Rose City!

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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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New beergeek.TV Episode – PDX Roadtrip

A rare site on video… team together.

“PDX Roadtrip” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.

We were excited to return to Portland for our ninth Oregon Brewers Festival. But with two previous beergeek.TV episodes already covering the West Coast’s best beer fest, we needed to do something different. Driving the 700 some odd miles to Portland was our brilliant solution.

So enjoy our latest beer adventures…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.


Rediscovering Portland

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 in the Buckman neighborhood

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.

Enjoying an IPA at Coalition Brewing

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.

Twilight at Migration Brewing

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’s beer list

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.

The high tech beer list at Apex

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 morning at the Mash tun

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.

The brunch of champions….

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.

In the basement of the Left Bank Building

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.

The happy foursome enjoying the beers at Upright Brewing

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.

Renee enjoying the Fringe Fest at Belmont Station

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.

The best of Portland: Copacetic IPA and a brat at Amnesia Brewing

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.