Now, anyone who reads our blog regularly is surely aware of our mutual affection for San Diego, CA. While we've visited frequently over the last decade, we have wanted to get back to Portland and really dig into its beer culture. Portland and the surrounding area boasts a diverse craft beer landscape and an insane amount breweries, so needless to say, we had our work cut out for us. Over the weeks leading up to the trip, I assembled a pretty ambitious itinerary of breweries I wanted to hit on the trip. These include Portland proper, Hood River and the Columbia River area, Eugene, Corvallis, and coastal Oregon as far north as Tillamook. All in all, we were hoping to visit about 50 breweries over the course of just seven days. I know, right?! I thought we were up for the challenge.
Our flight was scheduled to depart from Philly International Airport around 6:30 p.m., so we had some time to spend in the City of Brotherly Love. Since we were leaving on a Tuesday evening, we were limited in our options of where to do a bit of pre-gaming. Most of the breweries in the city are either closed on Monday and Tuesday or don't open until 4 p.m. Same with a good bit of area beer bars. However, one of our old reliable favorites - Devil's Den - was open at 11 a.m. We decided to have an early lunch there before shipping off to Portland (well, Houston... we had a layover at G.W. Bush International Airport; oh, what strategery those airlines display in planning flights)!
I started off with a peculiar choice for me: a Belgian IPA from Short's called Celestial Critter. I'm typically not a big fan of Belgian yeast mixed with American hops, but I like Short's quite a bit and thought I'd give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. The yeast character was pretty subdued and had more of a crisp apple character than banana, clove or bubblegum. It was probably one of the best examples of the styles I've had to date (Flying Dog's Raging Bitch also comes to mind), so I was glad to have taken a shot with it. Brewslut went with Unite, a Gose brewed for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day by the women of Yards, Victory and Malteurop, the latter an innovator in the world of malt. We also shared Ommegang Shadow Brewer, a big, chewy imperial stout before heading down the street to Hawthorne's.
|Pleeps posing with our pour of Shadow Brewer.|
|Chillin' with my main monkey!|
"James Bean is a bourbon barrel aged, Belgian-style strong ale that is infused with cold press
coffee, post fermentation. Coffee, vanilla and bourbon dominate the aroma. Flavors of caramel,
coffee, bourbon, and oak present themselves throughout this full-bodied beer. The coffee used in
James Bean is Speckled Ax, roasted right here in Maine. The beans used are Ethiopia Amaro
Gayo and are known for their lush blackberry and blueberry fruit flavors."
Brewslut chose Grobe Teufel, a Lichtenhainer style beer (a tart, German-style wheat beer similar to a Berliner Weisse but with a hint of smoked malt) from Hardywood out of Richmond. This is a brewery I need to get to in 2017 (or sooner!) because I really like what they're doing. The smoked character was pretty subtle, so she liked it quite a bit.
At the airport, we swung by Chickie's and Pete's for a quick one, and I was surprised to see Fat Head's Headhunter IPA on tap. Bartender, we'll have two! Man, what an awesome IPA. Seriously, this is as good (or dare I say better) than a lot of the trendy New England-style hazy hop bombs that have become all the rage over the last two years. And Hop Juju? Damn, son! That's one of the best DIPAs I've ever had. PERIOD! So take that, you lucky so-and-so.
I won't bore you with the details of our flight (including uneventful layover in Tejas), but I will say it was pleasant enough. Upon arriving in Portland and walking off the plane, we were excited to stumble upon Laurelwood Brewing's Public House. Since we had about an hour's wait until we picked up our rental car, it was a decidedly convenient and serendipitous finding. Even better was the fact that Portland exercises stringent pricing on beer, so you won't pay any more than you would at a brewery in the city. I went with the flagship Workhorse IPA, which hit the spot after being trapped in a speeding airborne tube for several hours. Brewslut opted for a limited Gose, which was also quite tasty. Both offerings were solid and proved a good start to to our official first day (as it was now past midnight as we drank our first beer in Portland). A good omen, indeed, as we were able to chalk up double digit brewery visits on our inaugural day in Oregon.
After a good night's sleep at our hotel, it was off to Hood River. Our 75-minute trek included a beautiful scenic drive along the Columbia River. I wish the interstate roads in PA were as breathtaking as what we experienced along the way. Green landscapes and rocky crags decorated the scenery, which made for a quick, leisurely drive. All in all, it was probably my favorite drive of the entire trip.
We decided to hit the furthest place from our hotel and work backwards, but when we arrived at our first stop - Logsdon Farmhouse Ales - we found we drove to the production facility, which did not allow visitors. So, we did an about face and headed into the town of Hood River. First on the agenda was a stop at the granddaddy of the Hood River beer scene - Full Sail.
But first thing's first; we needed coffee! There's certainly no shortage of local coffee shops and roasters in Oregon. As a matter of fact, they seemed to be as abundant as the breweries we were visiting. My goal (aside from hitting 50 breweries) was to visit at least one local coffee roaster each day of the trip. Google to the rescue! We settled on Doppio for some iced coffee before heading to our Full Sail.
Full Sail boasted a wide variety of beer on tap, as well as a full bottle shop and a few limited releases. I love the smell of hops in the morning, so I went with the one-two punch of Full Sail IPA and Hot Pursuit, an Imperial IPA. Both were very good and a great way to begin the day. We ended our visit with a small pour of a tasty bourbon barrel-aged wheat wine, which was a highlight of the trip. I rarely see wheat wines on beer menus when we travel, but when I do, I will typically order it. This one was aged in Wild Turkey barrels for 10 months. This rich honey-colored treat featured plenty of oak and vanilla character amid a chewy caramel base with hints of toffee, marmalade, and dates. Yum!
|Pleeps gettin' his wheat wine on!|
If I had to pick a favorite brewery for Day 1, it is probably Double Mountain (although #4 was a very close second... or even a tie)! Double Mountain came with a very high recommendation from Deuane, so it was on my list of places we absolutely had to hit. My thirst for hops continued, so I started with Molten Lava DIPA, a 9+% citrusy hop bomb. Brewslut chose the Randall Knife, an IPA brewed with Mosaic and Citra hops with Kolsch yeast. God damn! I was soon wishing I would have ordered a full pour of this succulent ale. Mosaic hops have such a distinct flavor, and the addition of Citra really pushed it over the edge with an ass-load of orange and tangerine. This sucker was easily on my Top Ten list of the entire trip!
|Wall of artistic beer signs at Double Mountain. Reminded me of Mac's Hoagies (RIP).|
From Double Mountain, we took a short uphill stroll to our next destination, Big Horse. After walking two blocks uphill, we were required to walk an additional few flights of stairs to get to the brewpub. This was fine with us, as we wouldn't have many opportunities to exercise or exert any kind of effort, save for lifting beer to our pie holes. Upon our arrival, we perused the floor plan, located the bar, planted ourselves on two stools, and ordered a pair of beers. This place reminded me of a ski lodge with lots of wood and a warm feeling about the air. The selection at Big Horse was pretty scant compared to our first two stops, so we opted for Lazuras Pale Ale and Nightmare Stout. Both were good but not memorable in the grand scheme of things. Still, the space had some charm and the bartender was friendly and talkative, so we were glad to have stopped in for a beer.
|Brewslut and I outside Big Horse.|
|Pleeps agrees: Golden Coffee was da bomb!|
We took a slight detour across the Columbia River to the small town of White Salmon, WA for our next stop: Everybody's Brewing. Upon scanning the beer menu, a low ABV sour red ale brewed with hibiscus caught my eye. Plus its name was kind of cute and memorable: Sprinkles. Brewslut chose Cash Stout, a pretty tasty oatmeal stout and one of its core beers. We sat at the bar and soon our third wheel rolled in. However, after a few minutes, he got a phone call, excused himself and we never saw him again. Perplexing, indeed. Nevertheless, we were on a mission! I must admit that I had to seek out some Google images to jog my memory about this place. Once I did, however, the visions came flooding back. OK, maybe not flooding... trickling, perhaps. After this one-and-done stop, we headed to stop number... um, by this time we lost count.
We arrived at Walking Man after a 20-odd mile drive along the Columbia River on the WA side for another non-Oregon brewery visit. It was a pleasant day, so we decided to sit outside on the patio. I'm typically an indoor guy, but something provoked me to enjoy a bit of sunlight at that particular moment. I went with another lighter option, this time a beer called Littlefoot ISA (ISA meaning "India Session Ale"). Brewslut took to the Chocolate Cherry Stout. I think we ordered a snack here too, but since there isn't an app called something like "Unsnackd," I can't recall what we ordered. Sometimes my mind is a sieve.
|Chug monkey: Pleeps after taking a huge gulp of my Littlefoot ISA.|
In an effort to squeeze in one more brewery along the river, we consulted our trusty map and list of breweries and came across Thunder Island. By now, we were back in Oregon but still along the beautiful Columbia River in the town of Cascade Locks. We got there a few minutes before last call and just chillaxed outside at a picnic table enjoying the weather at dusk. We chose a pair of IPAs for our "last beers" of the day: Galaxy Pale Ale and Dry Creek IPA. I opted for the Galaxy but actually preferred the Dry Creek a bit more, if only for the bolder aroma. Both were fine offerings, though. There were even some ducks wading about in the water a few feet from us, which made me smile.
|Thunder Island at dusk. We made it just in time before they closed!|
Stay tuned for more Adventures in Portlandia! Up next: Day 3 - Portland, Phase 1.