Monday, August 9, 2010

Portland Oregon Beer-cation

Early this morning (last night?) Audrey and I got back from a week in Portland Oregon.  The weather was perfect (60s-70s), the people were friendly, and the beer and food were delicious (and cheap).  I failed to take many beer related pictures, but I still wanted to post a few highlights from our travels.

Rogue Bicycle ValetThe best hour of the trip was hanging out with John, Chris, and Beck in the brewery at Raccoon Lodge.  In addition to letting us talk their ears off, they were kind enough to pull samples of Bourbonic Plague (soured and spiced imperial Belgian porter with dates) and Vlad the Imp Aler (soured blend of spiced quad/tripel/dubbel), which won first and second respectively in Wood- or Barrel-Aged Sour Beers category at last year's GABF. We tried several other interesting sour beers (Summer and Winter Goses, and Nightfall a strong pale sour aged on blackberries) including a sample of the first beer with Brett they've made. The rest of their sour beers undergo a clean primary fermentation before they are racked into barrels (which are only rinsed with cold water) and inoculated with a house lactic acid bacteria culture.  Their beers get sick (ropy), so it sounds like there is Pedio at work, but the beers don't have a diacetyl character which is supposed to be the result of using Pedio without Brett.  Hopefully the brewers enjoy(ed) the couple bottles of barrel aged homebrew I left with them.

The best night of the trip was having dinner with Sean White (the homebrew blogger turned brewer for Alameda Brewhouse) and Clarissa.  Before dinner the four of us swung by Upright Brewing's tasting room and got to try some interesting variants of their house beers (Long Pepper Six, Dry Hopped Five etc..).  Upright has been around for a bit more than a year and uses one of my favorite strains (Wyeast 3711 French Saison) as their house yeast.  Alex, the brewer, mentioned that he had just brewed a beer with some redwood smoked malt. Back at Sean and Clarissa's we tried a couple great homebrews including a gruit spiced wedding ale, an aged dark saison, and a smoked imperial stout (plus some surprisingly delicious home-infused beet vodka).  Just as good were the grilled salmon, and local corn/fennel/beets they made for dinner.

Pacific City Haystack Rock - 1 mile outThe best day was Thursday when we rented a car and drove out to the coast to stay right by Pelican Pub & Brewery (their Tsunami Stout inspired an ill-fated batch I brewed a couple years back).  When we mentioned we were headed there for dinner the owner of the B&B he suggested we stop by Twist Wine Company on the way.  Despite the name Twist has plenty of interesting beers on tap and in bottles, especially from Russian River since it is owned by Vinnie Cilurzo's sister (Chenin) and her husband.  After splitting a bottle of Temptation Audrey and I continued down the beach past the massive haystack rock and on to Pelican (the best of the bunch were a slightly funky syrah barrel aged Belgian called Cuvee de Phillipe and the Tsunami).

In general the beer we tried was well made and the prices were terrific compared to the east coast (Boston/New York/DC anyway).  For example we went to Concordia Ale House for the tail end of the Concordia Cup which features13 Oregon made double IPAs for less than $5 a pint (with smaller pours available as well).  In DC I'm lucky to get a 10 oz pour of a mediocre DIPA for $7.  Even Lauro Kitchen, the nice Mediterranean restaurant we went for dinner had three local beers on tap for $5 a pint (the Ling cod with panchetta, baby artichoke, and peas was excellent as well).  It was wonderful to spend time in a city that is so saturated in good beer that was new to me (although I was a bit burnt out on hops by the end). 

There were plenty of other great places we visited, beers we drank, and people we met, but I wanted to restrict this to the highlights.  Any one else have a favorite town for beer (not that I'm necessarily saying Portland is mine)?


JB in San Diego said...

That is just freaky. My family and I were in Oregon last week, and we went to the beach at the Pelican Pub on Thursday! We probably walked right by you. The weather was beautiful, wasn't it? I understand it isn't always like that. It wasn't specifically a beer-cation, but we indulged in plenty of the local stuff anyway.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah, quite the weather for summer on the coast. Sorry we missed saying hello, we were sitting right by the bar.

My Year Without said...

Glad you enjoyed my hometown! You hit a bunch of places that I miss dearly...the Oregon coast being one of them. Hood River (along the gorge, just out of Portland) is another favorite spot with incredible brew and a do-it-yourself brew shop.

Doug said...


I'm really stoked by this post; I'm headed to Seattle for work Sunday (gonna stop by noted charcuterie palace Salumi) and then spend one fun day in Portland before heading home. Thank you so much for this post, as it confirmed I want to hit Upright, and maybe another. What would be your favorite?

Richard said...

This sounds excellent. I was in Northern California two weeks ago and was also impressed at how cheap great beer can be compared to DC.

Posts like this one should remind people just how far DC has to go before it can fairly be called a "great beer city", or even a "good beer city."

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Doug, Cascade (Raccoon Lodge) is certainly worth a stop if you don't mind leaving downtown. Although you might be better off stopping by a tap room like Bailey's where you can get samples from a number of interesting local breweries. Belmont Station was pretty good for bottles, and they have a few taps as well if you are on the east side of the river.

Richard, agreed. DC needs to stop chasing the next big thing from a brewery somewhere else and grow/support the local places. Hopefully Stillwater/DC Brau/Chocolate City/Black Squirrel give us more options.

Seanywonton said...

Glad we could have you and Audrey over here for dinner, and it was a great night for us too! Thanks for sharing the killer beers. I drank the Cable Car clone you left here, very delicious!