Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pouring in Portlandia - Top5 Tuesday

When I was in my 20's my sister lived in Portland and I'd visit her at least once a year. She'd take me to the coolest places, like McMenamins Pubs, which I loved for not only their artistic creativity of their spaces but for their food and drink as well. She introduced me to craft beer and wine tasting in general. I can still remember the first time I tasted the Ruby, a McMenamins raspberry ale. I had no idea there was such a thing as fruity beer, it tasted so good! In Chicago at that time, there was no craft beer option, other than Goose Island, and they were brewing more traditional styles not fruity or experimental ones.  

This past weekend was my first time back to the Pacific Northwest in years and I knew there would be so many favorites to revisit and new places to discover. Below are my Top5 Breweries, and Top5 Beer Bars in Portlandia to grab a tulip of liquid bread. I also have my Top5 that I need to hit up next time. Unfortunately there weren't enough days to see and drink everything that I wanted. I had to make some tough choices and we went to mostly to breweries where you can't buy their beer here in Chicago.

Top5 Breweries in Portland

  1. The Commons Brewery - If European inspired craft is what you crave, Commons has your answer. We ordered one of everything... please. They had 10 on tap. I love getting tasters to try a bunch of different styles. It's my favorite way to taste a new brewery. I feel like I'm able to get a sense of their quality and style as a whole. The space was a large and inviting warehouse with charm. My favorites here were Rouge Melange a delicious blend of a fruit beer and a Syrah, Fleur de Blanc a saison, Aquavit Urban Farmhouse, and the Baltic Porter.
  2. Upright - If you can find this brewery in the basement of the building that it says it's in, you should automatically get a free tulip of craft upon arrival. We walked here from the White Eagle Saloon, where we were staying... it wasn't far, it's just under a mile, but it was 95 degrees out and super moist. Then we walked around the entire building which was a full block in width, because Google didn't indicate the entrance side. We were fully parched about the time we found the door. Then we walked up the stairs and then down the stairs, and finally took an elevator to the basement. If there was one top-secret brewery in Portland, it would be Upright. Their beers are very much undercover! We had a full flight, some of which we can get in Chicago, but I had not had yet. Their 4-7 series, are sold at my local bottle shop, but I've never had 5-7. They were tasty and of that series 6 and 7 were my favorites, and their Barleywine was perfection, but BB Stout stole the show for me... A blueberry stout. I'm such a sucker for a good stout.   
  3. Casscade Brewing - House of sours, oh my! Their Honey Ginger Lime beer was one of the most magical beers I've ever tasted. It was a perfect combination of sweet, tart, and spice. I would have gotten a bottle to go, but because they use raw honey, sadly they do not bottle it. I'm definitely going to have and try to recreate that one! Another great was a holiday ale called, "Red, White, and Brew" It was a really fantastic blend between a beer and a wine. This beer was a combination of cherries, white wine barrels, and blueberries. If you go when it's really warm, dress lightly. They don't have air-conditioning and their high-alcohol chilled beers go down way too easy in the heat.
  4. Base Camp - These guys are real campy... see what I did there? Ha. I loved the outdoorsy vibe that translated from their space, to their bottle design, and even to their beer styles... like S'more stout, which was served with a real toasted marshmallow on the side of the glass, as you ordered. Other great brews to try: In-Tents, Lost Meridian Wit, and Solstice IRL, which is an Indian Pale Lager 
  5. McMenamins - Super biased here. Not only is McMenamins one of the first places I ever drank craft, but it's also one of the original Portland breweries who helped pave way, even in legislature, for other breweries and brew pubs to follow. I also love that when they move into the buildings that they reside in, like old saloons, schools, chapels, firehouses, etc., that they embrace their original character and history of each. They are all different and yet the artwork throughout each binds them together. The other cool thing is that they have many hotels in these establishments so you can stay the night right above the pub! Talk about convenience. Every visit to Portland, must involve a few visits to their establishments and they make that even easier with their McMenamins passport. I purchased one while I was there and collected stamps from each place I visited, then combinations of those stamps allow you to win prizes. On this trip we went to/stayed at: White Eagle Saloon, Chapel Pub, Hotel Oregon, Cellar Pub, Rooftop bar, Lighthouse Brewpub, Crystal Hotel, Al's Den, Zeus Cafe, Ringlers Pub, Bagdad Pub, and Edgefield, which includes a winery, distillery, and their main brewery, among other awesome amenities like soaking pool, spa, pool hall, pub golf course, brew and view, and many restaurants. Take a look at their campus map here. Oh and don't forget the beer... Try the Ruby, Terminator Stout, or the Bagdad!














Top5 Beer Bars in Portland

  1. Horse Brass Pub - Shaun from the White Eagle Saloon recommended this gem and if I lived in Portland, this is where you'd find me. A lovely classic English pub with the best Reuben I've ever tasted! Seriously. It paired beautifully with Fred by Hair of the Dog Brewing Company. Another tasty stout with those of you who have a sweet tooth was Black Cherry Stout by Walking Man Brewing. The craft list was expansive and impressive, the staff was cheerful and friendly, I'll definitely be back.
  2. Belmont Station - Jesse was the most helpful bottle shop guy ever. He walked me through each Oregon brewery, bottle-by-bottle, and I had a delicious Commons Porter while I shopped. Yum.
  3. Baileys Tap Room- Co-creator of the digital beer board called, Digital Pour. This might be the coolest bit of technology to ever grace a taproom. Among the usual, like beer style, brewery and description, it also lists the remaining ounces/pours left in a keg, the appropriate glassware, and sizes/pours offered. The beer list was impressive too. My favorite taster there was Red Sea Imperial Red With Chocolate by Caldera Brewing Company. Which everyone could read off their digital social media board as I posted what I was drinking there. 
  4. Saraveza - Midwest roots run deep in this shop, and not just because of the New Glaurus bottles decorating the bar, the shop owner herself, Sarah is from Wisconsin. Everything about this bottle/beer shop was super chill and ready to go for some day drinking with a friendly bartender. We had a flight of Oregon beers that were on tap and some of my favorites were...  Marionberry Wildfire by Block 15 Brewing Company and Lime Habanero by Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co.  
  5. Hop & Vine - Another awesome woman owed craft beer bottle shop, yes please. Where else can you get bacon wrapped dates, craft on draft, and a bottle of Commons to go?

Top5 (must visit on next return!)

  1. Breakside
  2. Heater Allen
  3. Burnside Brewing
  4. Gigantic
  5. Hair of the Dog
  6. *Bonus: Ruse Brewing (new to the craft scene!)

Nancy Brew wants to know! Is there something that I missed? Did I pass over a favorite watering hole of yours? Please let me know. I'd love to hear your favorites and check them out next time I visit. Cheers!

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