December can often involve a good amount of imbibing thanks to the appearance of the holidays. But, I’ve taken it to a whole different level this year it seems. With a trip to Portland for the Holiday Ale Fest, a work trip to San Francisco, and then trips to Chicago and Connecticut for the holidays all in December, I’ve sat on bar stools at some fantastic beer spots around the country. The result is hitting at least 31 beer spots located in 5 different states in just 31 days.
I’ve already done a write up of the San Fran trip. But, for the rest I figured it would be fun to put together a list of beer spots I’ve visited (or plan to, in one case) with some brief comments. While possibly entertaining to read for you (or, not) , this list is a glowing reminder to get my ass to the gym this week (I’m writing this with gym clothes on, with the best intentions for later).
Horse Brass – I love returning to this classic PDX beer bar, the former home of the late Don Younger. Had the chance to try Russian River Don the Younger, which was a hoppy, low ABV session ale that Don had asked Vinnie at Russian River to make for the pub’s 35th anniversary in 2011.
Cheese Bar – This has become a must-hit for me when I make visits to PDX now. I love me some cheese, and they always have a couple things on tap that I’m excited to try. Love the relaxed neighborhood vibe of the place as well. Sampled the grilled mac & cheese this time. Yep, it’s awesome.
Bailey’s Taproom – A convenient location and always impressive tap list make this an easy choice when in PDX. Their new digital tap list that shows how much of a beer is left in each keg might make some beer geeks blush.
Deschutes Taproom – Love their pretzel paired with a beer sampler. They always have several things on tap unique to their pub.
Roscoe’s – This is a bit on the outskirts of the city, but it’s well worth the easy bus ride. They had a lot of strong beers on tap when we visited, which made for a great start to the day.
Woodsman Tavern – While not a beer bar, this popular new restaurant sure doesn’t ignore the beverage. They had a 2005 to 2011 vertical of Sierra Nevada Celebration all on tap while we were there. For food, we snacked on some oysters, Brussels Sprouts and pork rinds, all of which were excellent. The bartender told us their pork rinds were actually inspired by the pork rinds served at The Publican in Chicago, and that they actually flew out to learn how to make them. Works for me.
Victory Bar – This neighborhood corner bar with great beer, inventive cocktails, and what looked like a great food menu seems to fly under the radar, at least for those of us visiting from out of town. I had two of my favorite beers of the year here: The super sour Double Mountain Rainier Kriek and the Boneyard Chocolate Espresso Stout.
Apex – My first visit to Apex not making use of their awesome outdoor patio. The great lineup of beers makes up for the lack of sunshine on the patio.
Beer Mongers – Split a pint of a Hair of the Dog Little Dog small beer that was about all I could handle at the end of a pretty great day.
Cascade Barrel House – sour beer heaven.
Green Dragon – pretty extensive lineup of the Rogue lineup and non-Rogue beers.
Hair of the Dog – My buddy Dean got shut out on Adam From the Wood when he made the trip down earlier in the month for their sale. But, we splurged on a bottle while at the bar; it’s amazing.
Burnside – I can’t get enough of their Sweet Heat made with apricot puree and Scotch Bonnet peppers.
Belmont Station – love getting a small tasting glass at their cafe and then shopping for beers we don’t get up here in WA.
San Francisco – check out the full writeup here
City Beer Store
Magnolia Pub & Brewery
Sheffield’s – used to live around the corner from this place and love it. The taplist at the front bar (only one open when I visited early afternoon – 2 others in back at other times) wasn’t too thrilling this time around, actually. But, I scored a bottle of Three Floyd’s BrooDoo fresh hop ale that was outstanding.
Haymarket Pub & Brewery – Brewpub brought to you by Pete Crowley, formerly of Rock Bottom Chicago where he had a great reputation. Really enjoyed the Mathias Imperial IPA (10% ABV – probably shouldn’t have had 2), Allocution American Double IPA, and several other samples. Great staff and a pretty large space.
Beer Bistro – This place opened up the year I left Chicago for Seattle, 2005. Great rotating selection at this bar with the feel of a genuine neighborhood corner bar. This is where things start to get hazy during my CHI trip.
Girl & the Goat – Not a beer bar, but one of the most talked about restaurants in the country. Popped in here for a Three Floyd’s Alpha King. Food smelled great, but didn’t stay to eat this time.
The Publican – I love this place. Great beer and even better food. We shared a charcuterie plate and the pork rinds (yes, the ones mentioned in the comment for Woodsman Tavern above), as well as a couple shots of whiskey. Pork is the feature here, and I love me some pig.
Local Option – My visit came just a couple days after they tapped 30 rare beers for their final beer event of 2011. I enjoyed a Surly Darkness, until I spilled it. After contemplating licking it off the bar, I then had something else that I enjoyed, but couldn’t tell you what it was if my life depended on it.
Willimantic Brewing – A great brewpub set up in an old post office in a small CT town. Really enjoyed their Pushing the Envelope IPA and the Edge of Darkness wet hopped brown ale.
Eli Cannon’s – Made the mistake of going here on the night before Christmas Eve, which was a Friday and the place was completely overrun with people. Looked like a great spot to grab a pint, but I’ll have to head back someday as it is not far from Jeanne’s parents house.
Brouwer’s Cafe – Stopped by to see what was left two days after Big Wood fest, and there was plenty of great barrel-aged beer to be had.
Collins Pub – There isn’t a month that goes by these days that I don’t stop by at least once. My closest beer bar.
The Publican – Visited for the first time last night. Great beer lineup, and the brunch-focused food menu is right up my alley.
Bambino’s – Stopped in here for pizza Monday and was pleasantly surprised to find all Lost Abbey beers on tap, except for the one tap pouring Pliny the Elder.
Uber Tavern – I’ll be here for NYE for a bit. Their high octane beers are just what we need to get the party started.