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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Adventures in Portlandia: Day 8 - More Portland than you can possibly handle!

We were flying back to PA today on a red-eye flight, which meant we technically had an entire day of drinking left before we plunged back into the real world. We decided to stay in close proximity of the airport. Good thing there were plenty of nearby breweries to keep us occupied while we waited for the inevitable expiration of our Summer 2016 beer-cation.

I needed more Serendipity stat!
Even though we just visited Great Notion on the previous day, we HAD to go back and drink a few of our favorites before bidding a fond adieu to this great beer city. This time, I kept it to my three absolute favorites: Juice, Jr., Serendipity, and Peach Punch (the 4th time I had this one on the trip). While we sat at the bar, a group of six fellow beer travelers descended upon the bar, and soon enough we struck up a conversation with them. They were visiting from a few different areas of California. I'll refer to them as Sammy & Co. from here on out, as you know by now I'm terrible at remembering names. Plus that just makes things easier to read, doesn't it? Yes it does. We traded beer stories including favorite destinations, East Coast vs. West Coast living, and a myriad of other (mostly beer-related) topics.

Sammy & Co. were open for suggestions, as they'd just recently rolled into town. We'd mentioned we were heading to nearby Old Town Brewing's Northeast location. Recently voted one of the country's best pizzeria brewpubs by Thrillist, Old Town had also just one the 2015 GABF gold medal for its Shanghai'd IPA. This place had a definite ski lodge vibe, with high ceilings, lots of dark, rustic wood, a huge stone fireplace, and cozy seating including a deep burgundy-colored velvet couch (where Brewslut and I sat). Not long after we arrived, Sammy & Co. wandered in and sat at the bar. We continued our discussion and I mentioned that we were going to check out Ex Novo after having a great beer of theirs just the night before.

Pleeps was on the menu at Old Town... literally!
Since it had just won gold at GABF, I decided to give Shanghai'd IPA a shot. Brewslut opted for the intriguing sounding Kentucky Refresh-Mint, a beer based off the recipe for a mint julep, a popular cocktail featuring bourbon and fresh mint. This light-colored ale was aged on bourbon-soaked oak chips and freshly plucked mint. I must admit that, while it sounded great on paper, I was skeptical of this one. I'd had a few beers brewed with mint in the past, and a lot of them was like accidentally swallowing a mouthful of Scope. However, this beer was awesome! It seems that Oregonian brewers have a knack for artfully blending light-bodied, amber-colored ales with odd ingredients and aging them in spirits barrels. In my opinion, the results have been overwhelmingly delicious. The Shanghai'd was a good enough IPA, although I'm not sure it was "gold medal" good. There's so much competition at GABF in the IPA categories that the judges palates are probably disintegrated after drinking so many in one sitting. I found myself nicking a few sips of Brewslut's stellar beer. We also grabbed a few plain slices of pizza, which were still on special as part of its lunchtime menu. It hit the spot. Next time, I'd like to sample an entire pie to see what all the hubbub is about.

Exterior of Ex Novo, a non-profit brewery!
Our next stop was a place we'd never heard of before - Ex Novo. As I said, I picked up a can of their Eliot IPA on a whim and liked it so much, I felt an obligation to check out the brewery. I'm glad we did! Opened in July 2014, this non-profit brewery donates 100% of its net profits to organizations whose missions include building a better world and bringing hope to places where it is scarce. Sounds like a cause both my liver and I can get behind!

Lots of cool sounding stuff on the board at Ex Novo!
With a plethora of interesting beers on the chalkboard, we each opted for a sampler flight of four beers. Check out some of these interesting sounding beers:
  • Cactus Wins the Lottery - Berliner Weisse brewed with prickly pear
  • All of the Things - dry-hopped sour with passionfruit and habanero
  • PiƱata - Imperial Mexican Lager brewed with guava, key lime and habanero
  • Eliot IPA - I talked about this one in the Day 7 blog entry
I really liked the beers and wish we could have spent more time here. Next time we're in town, we will definitely visit again!  

Pleeps: Mr. Happy Go Lucky!
 Next on the agenda was Breakside Brewery. Opened in 2010, Breakside is a relative newcomer to the Portland beer scene. Their claim to fame is snagging the gold medal in the American Style IPA category at GABF 2014 for its flagship, eponymously named IPA. I probably should have tried it, but by this time I was pretty IPA'd out. I saw they had a Smoked Porter on tap (a style I don't think we'd yet encountered on our trip thus far), so I opted for that. By this time of day, everyone was off work and Happy Hour had set in and the place was bumpin'. We caught up with Sammy & Co., who were just finishing up at a table when we arrived. They'd mentioned they were heading over to Ecliptic next. Sounded like a good excuse for us to revisit another favorite, especially since it was close to the airport. PA was calling us home, but we still have a bit of drinking to do. After all, we were representing the East Coast as self-appointed "Craft Beer Ambassadors."

There was another beer on the list that sounded too good to pass up. It was called Homunculus, and rather than jot down some notes about the beer, I just decided to take a picture of the description on the beer menu. This should give you a glimpse into what this beer was all about:

It sounded better on paper. Not to say it was bad, it just wasn't as complex as I was anticipating. Still, I was happy to try it. We were fortunate enough on this trip to get to sample a variety of amazing sour and barrel-aged beers.

With the clock quickly approaching the time to return our rental car, we decided we had time to hit once more place. Actually, we had already decided to go back to Ecliptic after Sammy & Co. mentioned they were stopping there next based on our recommendation.

Back at Ecliptic, I decided to go for a beer I hadn't tried on our first visit. That beer was Xpec 3 Pale Ale. Pretty good overall, but it didn't have the same impact as some of the other beers I'd had in our sampler flight. For my second beer, I decided to return to one of my favorites - Starburst IPA. By this time, our entire group was feeling pretty good after hitting five breweries. There was an acoustic trio playing some music that added to the ambiance. It's always a pleasure to meet great people traveling for the same reason as you. It kind of validates our crazy vacations in the name of beer, doesn't it? I think it does. I remember Brewslut's mom's comment when we first decided to go to California. "Why are you going to California?" she asked. "To drink beer," said my crafty wife. "Can't you do that at home?" Traveling for beer might be my favorite thing to do besides play drums in bands (especially if the songs are by my favorite band, Rush)! As long as there is beer to be had and breweries across the country to visit, Brewslut and I will be there, eagerly waiting on a barstool and chasing our own vision of "beer-vana."

The Pour Travelers feat. Sammy & Co. Thanks to the band for taking this pic!
Back at the airport, our trip came full circle as we enjoyed the same beers at Laurelwood as we did when we landed a week prior. More Workhorse IPA for me and Gose for Brewslut. I finished my beer way before the wife, so I opted for a second selection. Hey, I needed all the help I could get to sleep on a plane. The last time we took a red-eye flight did not go well for me. So, it was an imperial pint of Treehugger Porter, which wasn't bad at all. Fortunately, our flights were on time (we had a layover in Texas... oh how convenient for an overnight flight... nothing like getting up from half-sleep to race to eat, take a piss, and get to another plane). We had planned on spending the afternoon in Philadelphia when we returned, but we were both exhausted. Brewslut even had to drive home, as I got about two hours of sleep on both flights combined. Lucky for me, I had the rest of the day to recover.

And so ends another chapter in our Pour Travelers compendium. We're currently planning our "Drinksgiving 9" (I think) trip to Boston, MA, to visit our beer friends Dan and Kristen. Stay tuned for more beer adventures in 2016 and beyond. Until next time...

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The Pour Travelers thank you for reading about our beer travels!