PORTLAND MICRO BREWERIES & FOOD: A KITTEN LIFE REVIEW
BEER! Beer, beer, beeeeer! Me and my bff just drank our way down the 101 from Vancouver to San Francisco.
On top of the pristine views and refreshingly salty ocean air, the food and drink experience is still making me reminisce with a smile and a pat on my now more-than-a-little-bigger belly.
As a relatively seasoned craft beer drinker with extremely high standards it’s difficult to sum up the pros and cons of each of the 21 (yes, 21) breweries we visited. Below are some of the highlights that I started writing about near the beginning of the trip, and tacked on a couple more after we got back. Also included is one strip club (of course!) and some eats.
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At the first stop on our Portland brewery tour, the boys at Base Camp Brewing welcomed us with open arms and full kegs. I shyly asked the cutie bartender if they gave tours and he directed us to one of the brewers who graciously showed us around. We got to see their fourth anniversary limited edition beer being aged in barrels from a local vineyard, and watched the skunky smelling used hops being recycled (the local hops farmers come by at least once a day to clean out the tanks and recycle the used hops). Satisfying our curiosity, we went back to the tasting room to sample some of the recommend favourites. It was all delicious and the ambiance was relaxed, fun, and full of Portland hipsters.
Chris, aforementioned gorgeous bartender (and also the creator of Lost ’N Portland, a local blog and apparel company), was knowledgeable and helpful for both the beer tasting as well as advice on other spots to hit up in Portland.
We ended up coming back before going to Sassy’s, for one of the last pints they poured of a unique tasting Pineapple Spice Beer, along with their Lost Meridian Wit and New Wave Amber (our favourites from the tasters we’d gotten the day before). On the patio we indulged in pulled pork sliders from the The Hot Box BBQ food truck parked outside. Being on the verge of tourist season, it was a slow Friday and the ambience could have been higher, especially with two tired kitties doing our best to rally for the night out, but another good convo with Chris reaffirmed that Sassy’s was the place to be on a Friday night, and our spirits were raised.
Sour beer makes me purr! Four Winds put us on to the unique flavour when we first tried their Nectarous during our trip to Jasper, and it went down so smooth, so crisp, so sour, my liver tingled with joy. Cascade Brewing is famous for their sour beers, and their extensive tap list made it hard to narrow down my choices to try (with a 2 sample limit per person, and this being still the point at which we wanted to be able to drive).
Feeling peckish, and also hoping to stave off the time at which we switched from driving to Uber, we decided on a pesto chèvre sandwich from their bar menu which was tasty and light.
We sampled their apricot, framblanc, apple-cram and Figaro (fig, citrus peel, green grapes and apple skins), all sours that went down easy, easy, easy.
For those not fans of sours, they did had some more traditional drinking options on tap and the dude who served us was incredibly friendly and knowledgable about the menu.
Overall, the outdoor seating, beer list, and fun food menu made us happy beer drinkers, but their branding and ambiance was lacking (and we say this with much love in our hearts, but having to compare with the much cooler options of Base Camp and The Commons).
A more classic take on a brewery, with more classic beers (“established” might be a better word to use here) named “Adam,” “Ruth,” and “Fred.” The wifi was fast and there were outlets under the bar which is always an appreciated amenity when you’re travelling and charging opportunities can be few and far between.
The beer was cold and the large gentleman beside us who was eating flank steak and looking at it like it was a beautiful, beautiful woman, told us the food was a “7 out of 10.” A nice breather brewery between the other, more adventurous locations we hit up. Is it a “must see?” Maybe not. Was it a nice time and worth going to if you’re already making the beer tour? Absolutely.
Above mentioned food lover recommended we visit ¿Por Qué No? for “the best tacos in Portland. And make sure you get the brisket.” How could we refuse such an expert eater’s opinion? We made that our early lunch stop the next morning and Jesus Christ it was fucking delicious. Definitely, definitely get the brisket. The watermelon and passion fruit margaritas were strong and the tacos were tasty. A definite must visit if you’re in town and like Mexican.
Located in a beautiful building with vaulted ceilings, wood detailing and plenty of sitting space, the only downside was that the Hefeweizen they're famous for (and which Chris had recommended we try) was out of stock. We sampled five tasters, of which the ginger-lemon saison was a highlight. We’d just eaten so we didn’t try the cheese plates here, but from what we saw, and the yelp reviews online, for an American cheese plate, it looks like this would be the bee’s knees if you’re feeling it. What else to say? The great lighting will get you some primo pics for your instagram and the beer will get you wasted.
The place was packed and we had to wait about 20 minute to get a table, though we were eventually seated right by a window in a quiet section of the restaurant. The ambience was very reminiscent of a large chain, which was definitely lacking in comparison with the more “authentic” brewery experiences of, say, Coalition or Base Camp. But the service was great, the bathrooms were nice (always a bonus), and the food - (pause for effect as I rub my belly happily with remembrance) - one of the best meals we had on the road trip, period.
A pork belly sandwich served with rosemary garlic fries, washed down with their Hefeweizen would make any meat-eater happy.
By this time we were feeling seriously tipsy, so the hearty burger was the perfect solution to soaking up some of the alcohol (so we could keep going...).
A girl whose instagram bio reads, “Vegan, collared submissive,” sporting a forked tongue and about 8 vagina piercings, did the splits and spun down a pole dancing to Snoop Dogg and we sat looking on in awe.
Oregon is rumoured as having the highest number of strip clubs per capita and is unique in that it features, almost exclusively, environmentally conscious white girls with dreadlocks, hairy snatches, and strange body mods, in stark contrast to the rest of the country and their affinity for making it rain on big bootied black girls.
The beer on tap here was cheap (they have $2.50 happy hour pints, most of which are from local breweries) and delicious and there are even well positioned slot machines so you can comfortably gamble and not lose your sight of the action.
I asked the face-tattooed bouncer (pictured below) if he’d ever used the knives he had tucked into his vest, to which he replied “never on the west coast” with a wink.
And some one or two liners about the rest of our trip….
Coalition - With a brew called “King Kitty” on tap, we were smitten kittens. Delicious sour beers, hoppy IPAs and a Maple Stout that I brought back to Canada to enjoy with my family. A local told us about this place and we're glad we stopped by for a pint.
McMenamin’s - A converted school that now holds three or four different bars, a soak pool, a hotel, movie theatre, multiple meeting rooms and super fun decorating. We were pressed for time having to meet up with a friend, but recommend you go and bar hop as the whole premise is licensed and you can drink your beers while wandering the halls and checking out the artwork before taking a dip in the soak pool.
Migration - The bartender put on the Raptor’s game for us which was nice of them (plus we won against the Cavs), and therefore I include a note here. Otherwise, the beers went down easy and crisp, though nothing stood out as being phenomenal.
Fathead - Excellent beer enjoyed in a spacious, high-ceilinged pub with great service. We almost didn’t come here because the logo looked so corny, but I’m glad we did.
VooDoo Donuts - SUPER overrated and I actually didn’t enjoy either of the donuts we tried (maple bacon, and a german chocolate with bavarian cream). The sugar was sickly sweet and the donut was no better than Timmie’s. On the other hand…
Blue Star Donuts - Recommended by a local, and the donuts were phenomenal. We tried the maple bacon, lemon curd, passion fruit and chocolate hazelnut. Easily the best dessert of the whole trip.
Pip’s Original Donuts & Chai - A flight of chai tasters paired with mini donuts? The genius that created this place was onto something and I’m sure their money bags are very, very full. Despite a 30+ minute wait, we were determined for this to be our breakfast on the last day of our trip. We had our chai made with hemp milk which added a delightful nuttiness to the experience, and our favourite mini donut flavour was the classic cinnamon and sugar. We brought home a dozen for our families who also loved them.
All in all it was an incredible two weeks of eating, drinking and sleeping in the back of our car as we weaved our way along the coast of the Pacific.
The quality of beer being an awesome bonus to this road trip and I'm constantly blown away by the innovation and boundary pushing of brewery scene in the Pacific Northwest.
Have you made this trip? What were your highlights? Let us know in the comments!