Portland is a beer-lover's paradise, where brewpubs abound and the smell of yeast and hops chases you down the street. My Portland beer adventures started in the airspace above with a complimentary oatmeal stout on my Alaska Airlines flight, and ended with a Laurelwood Brewing Co. Organic Red while I waited for my delayed flight back to San Francisco.
|Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout|
And that was just the airport booze...
Beer-related fun to be had in Portland:
1. Fly Alaska Airlines. Complimentary beer and wine. Even at 10AM, not that I'd know.
The Kennedy School, a delightfully confused mix of a hotel, movie theater, public pool, and event space, where movies are $3 and you can buy a pitcher of locally-brewed McMeniman's on draft.
**Full disclosure x2: I liked The Campaign. I am not usually a fan of Will Farrell's brand of humor, but this was funny. I mean he punched a baby. He PUNCHED a BABY.
3. Taste some local microbrews. All of the breweries I went to were also brewpubs with full food menus, and they all had a very approachable, non-intimidating, friendly vibe, which I really dig. I stopped at: The Mash Tun, Deschutes Brewery, Rogue Brewery, and the Green Dragon.
|Mash Tun brewery|
Deschutes. These guys are on a bigger scale, and have another brewpub in Bend, OR as well. They have a menu of more than twenty beers at a time, and you can try a pre-selected flight of six or choose your own. All twelve of the ones I tried were tasty. The all-around favorite among my friends was the Jubelale, a winter seasonal spicy caramel-y brew with silky malt, fragrant hops, and a medium-heavy body that'll warm ya right up. Honorable mention at Deschutes was the Fresh Hop River Ale, a pale ale featuring some really interesting sour and fruity and grassy notes. But really everything there gets honorable mention because all the beers were delicious.
|Deschutes. Bad pic, but you can sort of see the brewery through the window|
*Being the equal opportunity alcoholic that I am, and since Rogue makes spirits, I tried a flight each of beer and liquor. I liked the pink gin, which is their spruce gin lightly aged in pinot noir barrels, which had a smooth, nutty, vanilla taste to it. Definitely not your typical London Dry, but at least they're doing something different. Mostly I thought their other spirits were just meh.
Last up: the Green Dragon, which is a brewery and craft beer collective, offering a bunch of rotating craft brews on tap (62, says their website). There I headed straight for the seasonally-appropriate Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale. This is a solid pumpkin ale, with a nose of pumpkin pie, a pallet of spice and pure pumpkin, and without the thick syrupy sweetness where some pumpkin beers go terribly wrong.
|A noble crusade|
While in Portland, do NOT:
1. Go to a wine bar. This is the city of beer, not wine. Trust me.
2. Wander around downtown in search of an awesome independent coffee shop without any particular destination in mind. I seriously walked around for like 45 minutes and could only find ONE non-Starbucks coffee shop. And there were no seats, of course, so (*SIGH*) Starbucks it was.
3. Forget waterproof shoes. That would be a mistake. It rained 97% of the time that I was there. Also, do NOT listen to the stuff online about how if you want to blend in with the locals you'll leave your umbrella at home. You know what I want? To not walk around all day in wet jeans.
But now I'm back in SF, amd I don't even want to look at beer again for at least a week.