Keep an eye out for Steven Shomler’s new book recently released titled, “Portland Beer Stories”. Available at Powells.
Here is my brief contribution to his latest book:
In Portland, craft beer is simply ‘beer’. For example, in Buffalo, NY you don’t order Buffalo wings, you simply order wings. Here in Portland, you expect that the beers on the menu of any given pub, restaurant or movie theater are going to be fresh local delicious craft beers, aka ’beer’. The approach of the craft beverage industry in the city of Portland as a whole, is one of dedication to old world craftsmanship. Both, traditional beer styles and a whimsical interpretation of traditional beer styles are brewed here to satisfy even the most complex palates and the latest trends in nutritional restrictions.
The enjoyment of beer in Portland is facilitated in the daily activities of everyday life. Portland’s Trimet transit system makes responsible drinking easy and affordable. There always seems to be a beer festival or event going on. Meetings and gatherings are just as likely to happen in a brewpub as a coffee shop. Portland grocery stores have refrigerated beer selections which rival most other cities best bottle shops, not forgetting to mention the ability to have a pint of beer in the store & fill your growlers before, during or after shopping for your weekly groceries. And then there are the Portland bottle shops and taprooms. Some bottle shops have easily over 1,000 selections of cans and bottles and due to the sheer volume of beer that they pour, the beers on tap have rarely been on tap for more than a day or two, guaranteeing freshness. The bottle shop traditionally receive limited selections of rare and seasonal beers first before anyone else in town.
If you’re tech savvy and odds are that you are, you’re in luck. Many of the taprooms and growler fill stations use a computerized digital beverage dashboard with social media integration so you can see when a beer was tapped, which beer it replaced, how much it costs for a particular sized pour, how much is left in the keg, what the percent alcohol it is or ABV% (alcohol by volume), how bitter it may taste or IBUs (international bittering units), and even a current feed of social media posts and pictures from patrons in the establishment who may be sitting or standing right next to you. The tech communities across the United States tend to love their beer, or craft beer to some, and Portland is no exception.
I get bored easily, so I’m always trying new things. That is one of the reasons that I founded @PDXbottleshare. Portland was in need of a traveling monthly event that people could open and share their more rare, often cellared beers or beers that they brought back to Portland while traveling elsewhere. The response has been overwhelming. You know that special beer that you hid out in the garage or in the back of the veggie crisper drawer hoping that your drunk uncle wouldn’t find it after polishing off the thin, fizzy, yellow swill that is passed off as an American lager but is actually brewed by a multinational Brazilian/Belgian mega corporation? The one that was aged in Bourbon barrels for 24-months, with cocoa nibs and dark cherries. Yeah, that one. The one with the cork and cage, and the gold foil, that was hand numbered and signed by the brewer and assistant brewers. The one with a best after date and no best by date. The one that cost as much as a decent bottle of Pinot noir. That is the bottle that you bring to share at @PDXbottleshare and treasure with 30 to 100 like minded individuals just like yourself who will bring rare and adventurous beers just like it, only different. You’ll find us at a new brewery, bottle shop, bar or back yard each month. Come join us.
When Steven Shomler asked me for 3 places in Portland to make it a point to go for a fellow beer lover, the answer was long and winded and there were a lot more than 3 must see locations. However when I filtered the list through my most common needs, the answer immediately popped into my mind based upon several criteria. They should be family friendly, brew and serve their own unique beers, have delicious food and ideally be dog friendly with optional outdoor seating. Base Camp Brewing and Breakside Brewery satisfy all of these requirements nicely. The third choice, Hair of the Dog, while not dog friendly for patrons in a traditional sense and only offers seasonal outdoor seating, is my number one place for anyone who loves beer to visit in Portland. Owner and brewer Alan Sprints does more to raise money for ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind’ than anyone I know, with his sales of ‘Dave’ a 29% ABV barleywine brewed in 1994 (currently selling for $2,000 per bottle). My favorite time to go to Hair of the Dog is for lunch. You’ll probably see Wendy, Alan’s sister tending bar. Look at the dry erase board behind the bar to see which beer is on tap ‘From the Wood’. Get a taster flight. Order the beef brisket, the duck confit salad, and the grilled Brussels sprouts. Hair of the Dog will open your eyes to a new world of beer appreciation.
Join us at a @PDXbottleshare event.
My first experience with an Oregon beer was when I was living in Rochester, NY. I was 23 and I bought a 1995 Rogue, Wild Irish Rogue “Dedicated to the Dick in each of us.” from Beers of the World. This beer immediately caught my attention. It tasted like the beers that I had been brewing at home in my kitchen. I had to know who was audacious enough to pull off such a stunt. After a couple of trips to Oregon and a honeymoon trip to Rogue, Pelican & Bridgeport breweries, I knew that Portland, Oregon was where I belonged.