The Beer In Portland
On a recent trip that led me through Portland, I was able to visit some popular breweries in the area. For the third year in a row, I stopped in Portland as I drove down to Eugene, OR to watch the Ducks’ football team play at Autzen Stadium. Whether the opponent was University of Colorado, Oregon State or Michigan State, it really has not mattered – the key ingredients of the trip have been the same: craft breweries in Portland and tailgating in Eugene.
The reason Portland is a key element in the trip is that it provides both a break in the drive to Eugene and gives me an opportunity to visit some of Oregon’s local brews. That and there’s just something about Portland that I like. It has a Vancouver feel to it (or maybe Vancouver has a Portland feel to it?) with food trucks, craft breweries and fancy coffee places. Below are three breweries I visited:
(a) Deschutes Brewery:
My go-to brewery in Portland is Deschutes Brewery , with the Mirror Pond Pale Ale likely being their most recognizable beer and the Black Butte one of the best porters around. The Deschutes brew pub has a fantastic setup in a central location (in the Pearl District), with great food complementing the approximately 19 draft beers available at any given time. With a bar to one side and a slightly more formal sit-down area on the other, Deschutes has moved beyond focusing solely on selling beer and has found a way to package its beer to entice customers. Having been around since 1988, Deschutes has clearly learned a thing or two along the way, and as the customer, I certainly benefited.
A 6-beer paddle (more on this in another blog post) and an elk burger later, we were off to the next brewery.
(b) Hair Of The Dog:
Based purely on Google searches and reading comments on various beer forums in 2013, I had made visiting Hair of the Dog a priority on my last visit to Portland. In contrast to Deschutes, Hair of the Dog is the type of brewery I am more used to: a smaller space with a singular focus. Add that to the distinct industrial feel on the outside and a pleasant but not expensive feel on the inside, and I already felt good about the place. The beer was tremendous and fortunately, having visited on a quiet night, we were able to have a real discussion with the bartender about the different beers offered and what all the fuss was about. Without a doubt, the fuss was justified. Unfortunately, this year’s trip passed over a return and instead included a trip down to Cascade Brewing.
(c) Cascade Brewing:
On my research of breweries to visit last year, Cascade Brewing came up a few times. It’s a name that was not entirely unfamiliar, but a name that was still not prevalent enough in local beer stores that I had a sense of what to expect. On the last night of our most recent trip, we made our way over to Cascade Brewing Barrel House. Importantly, the location was open until 10pm on Sunday night, allowing us to take our time before actually settling in for some draught beer (Hair of the Dog closed at 8 p.m.). With a large patio and a smattering of high tables located indoors, the location had a very relaxed feel and offered a considerable variety of beers. Being relatively new to this brewery, I played it safe asked for a paddle of the bartender’s recommendations. Two sour beers highlighted the paddle and after a steady diet of bud heavies and banquet beers in Eugene, it was a pleasant change of pace. The Saison de Garde also came recommended and a pint of the saison ended the tasting at Cascade. Overall, an enjoyable experience at what was more Hair of the Dog than Deschutes.
As with previous years, the trip down was a huge success. A Ducks win, a stop at Deschutes and a visit new brewery made for some excellent time away from home. Now, the planning begins on next year’s trip.