Day #3 of my Portland excursion last week landed on what could have been the end of the world. So, despite feeling a bit run-down from two days of serious drinking and eating, I wanted to make the most of my last day in PDX. You know, just in case. Click these links to see the writeups from Day #1 and Day #2. You can also see all my photos on Flickr.
After my morning cappuccino fix at Stumptown, I wanted to build a good base for the day and headed to the famous Pine State Biscuits. I’d only had Pine State once previously, and that was out of their food stand at the Portland State Farmers Market a while back. This time it was just a short walk to their SE Belmont shop. Depending on what you get, it can get a bit messy and I enjoyed having an actual seat with a plate and silverware to dig into my Reggie Deluxe. This biscuit sandwich comes piled high with perfectly-cooked fried chicken, bacon, an egg, cheese and topped off with gravy. Healthy? Um, no. Awesome? Definitely. I’d say it is one of the best breakfast “sandwiches” I have ever had, but don’t even think about trying to pick this monster up.
After that gut-bomb of a sandwich, I walked around and explored the area for a couple hours and finished some Christmas shopping along the way. The strip of Hawthorne from my hostel on 30th has several blocks of shops that were perfect for finding a few unique gifts. Once I worked off at least a bit of that sandwich, I hopped on the 75 bus and headed up to my first beer destination of the day, the Alameda Brewhouse at 47th and Fremont. I’ve had several of Alameda’s beers throughout the years, but this was my first visit to their brewhouse. I loved the huge, open feel of the place, and I grabbed a seat at the expansive bar, while most of the people in for lunch were seated at one of their many tables. A small brewing system stands directly behind the bar area, a fitting sight for customers sipping on the house beers at the bar. Alameda expanded into a new 20bbl production facility (about a year ago?), which has freed up this system to create more specialty and seasonal beers. I ordered up a taster tray that included 12 samples and went to work on it. I enjoyed most of what I sampled, but the standouts for me were a bourbon-barrel version of their Papa Noel’s Olde Ale, the Black Bear XX Stout and their Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA
Next up was a late lunch at a popular sandwich spot called Meat Cheese Bread, as well as a pint at the newly opened bar from the same owner called “Beer”, right next door. I ordered a pretty straightforward turkey sandwich that they brought over to the bar once it was ready, and it was just what I was hoping for: simple, quality ingredients on good bread. I couldn’t handle anything too filthy after the breakfast I had, and this was perfect. The bar had opened just 3 days earlier, and I couldn’t pass up the Boneyard RPM IPA from their well-chosen selection of 10 draft beers. The bar looks pretty cozy when you first walk in, but it opens up in the back and has six or so tables back there for overflow. This is a relaxed spot perfect for having a beer with your sandwich and then sticking around for a while. For a more complete review, check out this article from The New School. We also hit Meat Cheese Bread to grab a quick breakfast sandwich on our way out of town on Saturday (I got a ride home from friends), and I can happily endorse their Smoked Ham sandwich with an egg as outstanding.
I had plans to meet some friends at a brewery I’d be checking out for the first time, but I was a bit early…which meant I had time for a return visit to nearby Apex. I threw down another Russian River Blind Pig there and then hurried over to check out a brewery I have been hearing a lot about; The Commons Brewery. Yet another beer spot located in SE Portland, The Commons is the second-coming of the tiny Beetje Brewing. For a very comprehensive piece on what The Commons is all about, and how they came to be, I’ll send you back to this well-written piece at The New School. The brewery specializes in Farmhouse Ales, but they also dabble in other Belgian and German styles it looks like. On our visit they were offering 8 different beers on tap, and all of them were non-standard styles that sounded worthy. I enjoyed my sample flight of Urban Famhouse Ale (Simple, refreshing farmhouse ale), Ciel de Gris (Farmhouse Ale w/ Pinot Gris juice), Bene Tibi (100% Brett w/ sour cherries & fresh apple cider), and Dark (clean dark ale inspired by Czech dark beers). My favorite of the lineup was probably the 2011 Sticke Altbier, which I tasted from my friend’s glass. The farmhouse ales were all pleasant and well-made, and I am happy to have this place around to explore more in the future. I just wish it was in Seattle.
After stopping by the Cascade Barrel House for the second time this trip, this time to grab a sample of the awesome 2009 Bourbonic Plague they had tapped earlier in the day, we hopped on the bus and headed out to Roscoe’s way out at SE 81st & Stark. The occasion was a Brewers Night with the men behind Crux Fermentation Project, the highly-anticipated Bend, OR brewery opened by long-time Deschutes brewmaster Larry Sidor and his partners. They had four beers pouring, and we were able to sample 3 of them. The 8.0% ABV Outcast IPA was my favorite, while the Saison was a bit of a letdown. I think we also sampled the Strong Dark Belgian Ale, but we had ordered the Snow Cave Winter Warmer…I was a bit confused, and still not sure exactly which beer we got; it was solid enough. While this first intro to their beers didn’t exactly blow my mind, I can’t wait to head down to Bend (hopefully this Spring) and visit their tasting room. Mr. Sidor obviously knows what he is doing, and they opened less than six months ago.
My last stop for the night was actually the closest bar to my hostel, Bazi Bierbrasserie. This Belgian beer bar has a loungy feel to it with some couch areas and a good sized bar. The beer lineup included a variety of styles, with a focus on European breweries as well as Belgian styles as interpreted by local breweries such as The Commons, Hair of the Dog and pFriem Brewery. There were several beers from Hood River’s pFriem, and I was happy to get to sample their Belgian Pale Ale and their CDA. For a Friday night at 10:30pm it was scary empty in there, and by the time I departed around 11pm I was the last one out the door. If you are in the area, I’d say this place is definitely worthy of a visit. There were several more things on tap that I would have loved to try, but it was time to call it quits.
So, I survived another trip to Portland. I packed a lot in to 3 days of exploring, and I quite enjoyed all the new spots I visited and the old favorites I came back to. I’m sure by the next time I return, there will be even more check out…