Brewpublic’s Quebecer correspondent Marc Demeule recaps a malt-filled weekend in October where he returns to Portland for more of what he loves…craft beer. This time Marc does it fest-style with Brewpublic’s 1st Brewniversary at Saraveza, The Portland Fresh Hop Tastival at Oak’s Park, and the KillerBeerFest at Bailey’s Taproom. We just wonder if he will make it back for the Holiday Ale Fest. Well, there’s always something exciting brewing in Beervana.
Brewpublic 1st anniversary was a good opportunity for another great beer expedition. I don’t know if I’m dedicated, devoted or just addicted to Northwestern beers, perhaps a mix of all three. Well, I’ve been lucky to get vacation time in early October to fly to a city where hops are brewed fresh. Before reading this travel trip, please take note of that advice: If you bring beer bottles in your luggage, they will be opened by the security agency. Secondly, try to package your bottles as if they where porcelain vases. Consider that the carrier use them as wrestling partners and practice some “bodyslam” on it. I would like to thanks Delta Air Lines. Losing my luggage might be fine, but killing three of my precious beers was a hard and leaking experience to manage.
Anyway, it didn’t stop me. I had time to visit 22 different places during that six days’ trip. Of course, I could have probably drunk more than the 136 different beers I had, but I choose to have quality instead of quantity. Armed with a Tri-Met all zone seven day pass and a thirsty throat, I attacked this second pilgrimage, expecting to get the hop fever instead of the AH1NI flu.
– I did reconcile myself with Widmer Brothers. Nelson Sauvin hops is infused into the Half Nelson IPA, which is particularly resinous. This hop was a real revelation for me. Back home, we already made a homebrew with it, an IPA called the Tazmanian Devil. Simply awesome. Widmer’s Broken Halo did also impress me.
– I went to the Lucky Labrador on NW Quimby. Again, they use to offer plenty of great beers there, so I had the twelve tasters. It would have been bad to forget to taste one of those. Nitro Porter was excellent but the Bavarian Crystal Weizen won the top honours. Very fresh, with a little smoke taste.
– If I could live in Portland, I would regularly visit Rogue. Not for the omnipresence of the logo in their pub, but just for the beer selection. I could drink gallons of that Sesquincentennial. We can easily find Rogue products in Vermont, but it is always better on tap.
– I do admit that McMenamins isn’t my preferred brewery, but if like me you’re not excessively fond of their brews, you will certainly find a location within the 30 (maybe more) pubs they own in the city that you will like. I did enjoy the McMenamins theatre close to my hostel where you can have a movie for 3$ and watch it while you sample beer. This association is perfect when you travel to few pubs during the day and want to have a little break.
– Angelo did resume (very well) the first Brewpublic party we had at Saraveza in an earlier post. Again, thanks to everybody who came and support. Thanks to our host and to all the brewers who came and give us a bunch of stuff for the mighty mighty raffle we did. I think that nobody understands any French there, so calling the numbers in the two official languages of Canada didn’t accelerate the distribution. Brewpublic also released its brand new and exclusive t-shirt for the event. Hurry up, soon it will be sold out! The Lagunitas Hop Stoopid was one of the best taps there, but I had the chance to have a glass of Russian River Temptation. You know, that beer that makes you feel like you are in outer space for just a while…
– Saturday, October 10th, was quite a busy day. I attempted to the Fresh Hop Tastival in the Oaks Park. When you realize that you can have 15 samples and a souvenir pint of the event for 20$, you just don’t believe it. You are just spoiled. It is unfair to have such incredible beers. I had brews from Old Lompoc, Upright, Pelican but the discovery of this tastival (and “ze” beer of my whole trip) was the Beer Valley Black Flag Imperial Stout, hop harvest edition. I must also give an extremely good mention to the Beer Valley Leafer Madness Imperial Pale.
– A couple tastings later, the bus drop me at Bailey’s Taproom. You know that place? Well if you don’t have enough time for beer trekking through Portland, just go there. They have sampled the best taps just for you. This is a noble mission, isn’t it? Bailey’s generously hosted the first Brewpublic KillerBeerFest. I had a promotion and became a tourist-busboy for the evening. The beer listing was impressive and I discovered new breweries like Double Mountain, Vertigo and BJ’s (new to me, though no longer brewing in Portland) with the Belgian sour Enfant Terrible…kind of a liquid paradise. Thanks to everyone who came to this event and thanks for your patience. The line was a little bit long, but the beers were so fantastic…
– To bring back Portland’s best brews, a stop at the Belmont Station is necessary. I took as much I could and had to make heartbreaking choices (airport limitations). What is wonderful with the Belmont, is the Bier Cafe side. I had the pleasure to discover there another fresh hop festival in a bar with 16 taps and a cask. I noticed the sentence written on the menu: “Due to rarity & expense we do not provide free tastes of any beer costing over $3 per glass.” Only one of sixteen was over 3 bucks for a glass! And pints are 4$ !! Do you realize how cheap it is for a tourist? I would have another glass of that New Belgium Trip III anytime.
– I went to HUB, too… Excellent Bike IPA. Excellent service with qualified staff. Do I need to add anything?
– Deschutes Brewery is also an institution you need to visit. The quality of their beers is unique (The Abyss, Black Butte… ). I had my best tasting panel there. Fresh cereals, fresh hops and excellent food. Inversion IPA in cask and the Twilight Ale were simply wonderful.
– Angelo drove me (thanks brother!) close to Beaverton to the Cascade Brewery/Raccoon Lodge where I had a full tour of the brewery, most notably, the oak barrel section. I would like to thanks Curtis who welcomed us and let us taste almost everything available in the place. It is really an art to blend all those aged beers and to get such great results. Couldn’t decide which one is the best between Sang Noir, Sang Royal, Mouton Rouge or Bourbonic Plague.
– A new brewery I discovered is the Upright Brewery; located in the basement of a commercial building, they brew and fill kegs for distribution in the Portland area. Thanks to Alex for letting me visit the installations. I tasted The Fresh Hop of Bel-Aire, the chili-chocolate (Turkey on Rye) during my trip, and a bottle of Saison #4 for a tasting session back in Montreal. I’ve been surprised to see open fermentors there. I don’t think anybody does it in Québec. As Alex told me, you only have to keep it clean. Yeah, sure…
I did visit other places that I described in an earlier post of the PDX airport. I will just use few lines to list some of the best beers I had during that drinking week.
Beer Valley Black Flag & Leafer Madness
Rock bottom Swan Island lager
Cascade brewery Sang Rouge, Sang Royal, Quad Bourbon
Deschutes Twilight Ale
HUB Bike IPA
Vertigo Midnight Harvest
Upright Fresh Hop of Bel-Air
Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
Rogue Dry-Hopped St-Rogue Red
Widmer’s Half Nelson IPA
À la prochaine !