Portland Pilgrimage – December 2013

As a typical beer nerd, I make my way to Portland with my girlfriend (also known as beer mule) about twice a year.  Last trip was in the summer and I brought back all kinds of random things, as I couldn’t handle the awesomeness.  This time, since I still have half those beers in the cellar / cupboards / everywhere, I tried to stay more focused and not just peg the 8.5L per person limit.  I succeeded in being more focused, I think, but not as much on the second point – we were still basically at our legal border limit.

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My intention was to focus on fewer beers / breweries and bring back more multiples.  Multiples allow me to age while still drinking fresh, trade my duplicates locally, and share with friends while still having another to write up for the blog.  I had targeted beers in mind, limited to Bruery, Logsdon, Hair of the Dog, and Dogfish Head.  I was surprisingly successful in sticking to these breweries:  I did grab two cans of Ten Fidy (didn’t realize they were available on the west coast) and two Boulevard bottles (which I overpaid by buying in Bellingham).

I got exactly to the bottle what I intended to from Logsdon, Dogfish, and Bruery:  one bottle of Logsdon West Vlaming and Cerasus, two World Wide Stouts, four Burton Batons, two Oude Tarts, two Tart of Darkness, and one Saison Rue.  However, my Hair of the Dog purchases got a little out of hand, both in quantity and cost.  I intended to buy 2 Adams and 3 Freds.  I got my three Freds and didn’t buy any Adams.  However, I didn’t realize that I would be able to buy Bourbon Fred 2013, Otto from the Wood 2013, and a six-pack of vintage bottles (Cherry Adam, Michael, Pannepooch Reserva, Fred from the Wood, and Doggie Claws ’12) from the brewery (at a mere $80 for the 6-pack…).  So I bought all of those.  Hair of the Dog is known for having a bit too much variation in carbonation plus some infection issues, but I have had nothing but success personally so I took a bit of a risk and bought all this stuff from them.  Plus a T-shirt, growler, and poster.

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Here are some of the places I went to, some for the first time and others re-visiting:

Belmont Station:  Best bottle shop I’ve been to in Portland.  Sells out quicker than others for limited releases but great selection.  We stay near here too, so even better.  Plus they have wicked tap selections and are open late.

Hair of the Dog Brewhouse:  Awesome for beer nerding, though the food is mediocre.  In addition to the usual taps (including a From the Wood rotating tap), they have a selection of vintage bottles available:  I had a Batch 34 Fred which was bottled in 2000!  Amazingly, it was absolutely stunning even after all these years: rich red fruit goodness, licorice, vanilla, and still nice gentle carbonation.

Apex Bottle Shop / Bar:  Not at all my vibe (almost felt like a biker bar or something), full of aggressive dudes, but some gems hidden in the beer fridges.  However, the gems come at a price, which I think is why they remain there.  If you want a 2011 Cherry Adam you can get it here but you’ll pay $45 or something for it.

Deschutes Brewhouse:  The downtown Deschutes location does brew some of their beers, though many are brewed outside Portland.  This is a huge place and seems to always be busy.  The food is quite good (from my limited experience) and they have a nice selection of brewery-only or limited beers which are quite delicious, and a rotating Reserve series tap as well.  Tons of swag too.  Well worth visiting.

Cascade Brewery:  Over on the east side the sour-specialists Cascade have a decent little setup which serves their entire active lineup (mostly sours, though the odd non-sour too) and sells bottles.  We didn’t spend long here due to time constraints but it seemed pretty chill and their beer, though expensive, is pretty nice.

Bridgetown Bottleshop:  Up a bit further north on the east side of the river is Bridgetown, a small bottleshop with a decent selection of rarities and Oregon beers.  I wouldn’t say this is worth a special trip but the surrounding neighbourhood is pretty cool so it’s worth stopping in if you are already in the area.  Nothing close to the selection that you’ll find at Belmont.

We spent a lot of time east of the river this trip, much like last time.  Downtown is cool, but once you’ve done it, there is a lot of awesome parts of town to explore to the east – from down along Hawthorne to up on Alberta Street and beyond.  We found a lot of amazing places once again by just exploring and talking to people.  The best way to see Portland is with an open mind and open schedule, and just let it happen!

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