Hootenanny Ribs

Hootenanny Ribs
3-2-1 rib perfection on my Traeger Pro 34 wood pellet grill

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beer Love, PDX style

My buddy Travis, a great friend and beer brother, recently moved to Portland, OR.

"Lou," he says, "you have to come out and visit me!  I'm working at The Commons Brewery in Portland and could provide a place to stay and weekend beer tour..." 
No brainer.  So I plan, with our mutual friend, Wisconsin beer guru John, to meet in Portland Feb. 1-4 for suds and fellowship. Travis promises many brewery visits, great food, a cool vibe and a generally fun beer and food centric long weekend.

Arrived @ PDX around 3:30 pm PST Friday, Feb.1 to sunshine and mid 50s, and Travis ready to go to The Commons for his work shift that Friday evening with me in tow.  I'm game.  Friday afternoon/evening at a brewery? Yes, please.

Met lots of very nice locals while Travis poured pints, lots of good conversations.  That and GABF Award winning beer: The Commons Flemish Kiss.  Another Win for me.  I sampled ALL of The Commons fine brews Friday evening without over-indulging.  We waited for John to arrive, then off to some breweries and dinner.

l-r: The Commons owner/brewer Mike Wright, brewer Sean Burke, and my host Travis Sandoval

The Commons Board of Selections

These little medals don't just fall out of the sky!

More local guests outside the tasting room, waiting on the pretzel truck

First dinner at Lardo; Pork Heaven.  I had the Cubano sandwich, Dirty Fries (with fried pork belly bits!) and a Heater Allen Schwartz bier.  Boom!  The Dirty Fries were a huge hit with all of us.  Too much.  I'm full.  More places to visit.

Lardo Dirty Fries with fried pork belly bits

Next up, Base Camp Brewing, a very cool newer brewery with great branding.  Owner Justin Fay gave a late night impromptu tour of the entire facility.  Big, clean, vision.  I love their direction and branding.  They even have a S'more Stout with which they top with a roasted marshmallow to create ultimate S'more experience!  After Base Camp, we headed back to Travis' place to try just a couple of more bottles: Russian River's Redemption and Pliny The Elder.  Now to rest up for the full Saturday ahead.

Base Camp owner/brewmaster fashioned this one-of-a-kind "Growler" - quite awesome

Saturday we were up decently early to depart first to Deschutes Brewery & Public House in Downtown Portland.  Great place.  Sampled most everything on tap, ate a good lunch, then got a private tour of the brewing facility from Jason Barbee, which included a couple of experimental batches not available in the brewpub.

l-r: Travis, Wisconsin Beer Guru and good friend John "PfoxyJohn" Pfister, Deschutes brewer Jason Barbee

Another GABF medal, this one just hanging around in the Deschutes brew house.

Feeling great after Deschutes tour and many samples, off to Occidental Brewing for some decidedly German selections.  Straight up styling with seasonal offerings: a nice change of pace from all of the in-your-face, West Coast styles of many of Portland's breweries.  Scenic drive to arrive, which was an added bonus.  We sampled ALL of their beers then headed over to Upright Brewing, in the basement, down the elevator, on the corner.  Really.  Would have never found it if Travis wasn't driving.  John and I tried the BushWhacker Blend: a pear cider/saison blend aged in gin barrels.  Exquisite to say the least.  Loved their offerings and their styling.  Vinyl LPs spinning in the taproom; I spied Stevie Ray Vaughan's album "Couldn't Stand The Weather" and it gets played loud and proud so I got my Blues fix during my visit.  More samples here then off to Cascade Brewing Barrel House, renown for their sour ales.  Very impressive lineup here.  Many more samples tasted.   Wow, just wow.  Great place with fantastic beers. 

Some of the taps at Cascade.

Dinner time means another brewpub; this time we headed over to Burnside Brewing for dinner and just a few more samples.  More GABF award winning brews here too.  Ate dinner, tried some samples and picked up a bottle of Sweet Heat "a wheat ale with an addition of 200 pounds of Apricot puree, then dry hopped with imported Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers. Reminiscent of a Caribbean chutney, Sweet Heat has a subtle tartness from the fruit with a slight spiciness from the peppers which also adds a fruitiness to the aroma,"  also a 2012 GABF  Gold Medal winner in the Herb and Spice Beer category.  Booyah!

Time for re-hydration and sleep. Back to Travis and Brittany's for some shut eye then up Sunday for a much anticipated visit to Hair of the Dog Brewing and their selection of big beers, and met up with Brian Bailey, founder of BeerPal.com.   BeerPal is how Travis, John and I all met so we owe a debt of gratitude to Brian for that happening.  Hair of the Dog:  we got there as the doors opened for business on Super Bowl Sunday.  Nice and spacious tasting room with plenty of tap and bottle offerings.  These were big beers, as in high alcohol content so caution was needed.  I tried several vintages of Cherry Adam From The Wood (2009 and 2011) and dang near everything else they had to offer, but only shared samples as not to overwhelm my palette (nor pass out).  Bottles and swag purchased.   Good to go to next place.

Tasting glasses at Hair of the Dog

After Hair of the Dog, we traveled to Gigantic Brewing.  In an industrial district, Gigantic had plenty to offer, including a taco truck parked outside to serve hungry patrons.  I got the Kiss The Goat Black Bock first; very nice.  Then Ume Umai Black Rice and Plum Beer, a different but tasty treat.  Now we were ready for late lunch, we piled into Travis' little car and head back out for more adventures.

Gigantic Kiss The Goat Black Bock

Quick trip to Belmont Station, one of Portland's finer bottle and tap shops, where I had an AleSmith Speedway Stout on tap and purchased a couple of bottles.  Then we walked down the block to the famous Horse Brass Pub for our lunch and some Super Bowl viewing.  Fish and Chips along with a Russian River Pliny The Elder draught for me.  Yes, Pliny The Elder on tap; a first for me as I've only had it from the bottle before.  Super Bowl and the Beyonce halftime show and we headed back to the Casa de Locos Revolucion Fuego for rest and recovery. 

Last call and I'm spent.  Great trip.  Travis and Brittany are the most gracious of hosts.  Meeting up with John is always a pleasure.  Any craft beer lover should take a trip to Portland.   It is beautiful, quirky, and full of excellent breweries and restaurants.  Everyone I met was extremely friendly and accommodating.  Travis has the best job in the world: he pours pints and helps out at a top notch nano brewery for great owners, and he's an even better friend and Beer Pal.  I will return to Portland sometime but for now I leave great memories and tired taste buds behind.

Until the next beer trip...

Interested to see all the of different beers that I tried in Portland?  Check out bluesandbarbq's Untappd list.  

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