Restaurants & Bars

Portland, aka Beer Amusement Park

Pius Avocado III | Jun 28, 200402:52 PM     3

Hello again. We spent the beautiful weekend in Portland hitting as many noted watering holes as we could. Our stay was very brief but we will be back before too long, having had a great time. Some places were so comfortable and inviting that we got "stuck," which only leaves more to discover next time.

I won't bore you with a pint-by-pint account and in any event I don't have my notes here. Friday evening we proceeded immediately to BridgePort, which took only seconds to figure out how to do on Portland's excellent public transit. More social hall/multipurpose room than pub (no stools at the bar), but an interesting space and friendly staff. We were starving so dinner had to be here- very typical brewpub pizza, serviceable at best. 2 beers I was unfamiliar with, the ESB and the barleywine, were quite good (the latter much in the mold of Sierra's Bigfoot).

Next we headed for the New Old Lompoc but my errant internal compass led us through the YuppieZone and past Laurelwood first so we utilized it. Inviting porch out front, very bright interior and an interesting menu which left us thinking that this was probably the better spot for dinner. Here the bartender shocked us by giving last call at about 9:45, minutes after we arrived, so it was on to the New Old Lompoc.

Here was the first truly comfy spot we found and it was quickly decided that rather than crawling on we'd settle in for a bit. Though it was thinly populated a lively conversation was kept up all around and across the bar. I had several beers, the standout being LSD. This spot is clearly a keeper.

Saturday was Horse Brass day. This pub held full Pilgrimage Status with me, and my companions were quickly won over as well. This was the second place we got stuck, given the absolutely wonderful atmosphere and beer lineup to match. Patrons and proprietors alike seemed genuinely thrilled to learn that the Horse Brass was a chief reason why we'd come from Oakland. Very friendly folks. We whiled away the entire afternoon over bangers and mash and a steady stream of top-notch ales, quickly downshifting to half-pints to work through as many handles as possible. Terminal Gravity, Ice Axe and of course Fred stand out in my memory of the OR beers we had that fine afternoon. Absolutely a world-class spot. I left with way too much beer from next door to be carrying around on planes and trains but somehow it all made it home.

The well-known cabbie apprised us of one we hadn't heard of- Henry's, in the old Weinhard's building. He warned us about the atmosphere but nothing was going to keep us away from 100 taps. It was true to his description but neither bouncers, black-clad hipster bartenders nor black-clad, uniformly blond, blue-eyed 5'7" waitresses showed us the slightest pretension. 100 taps and a great deal at happy hour- waffle-cut gorgonzola fries, garlicky mac and cheese (not baked, no breadcrumb crust, more like Alfredo sauce but hey it was only $1.95),and a sushi roll (real crab!) all for under $3 each. If I lived in the area that happy hour would be a staple. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and, yes, more Fred washed it all down. I was looking forward to as many draft HOTD ales as I could lay hands on but only came across Fred and I assure you it wasn't for lack of trying.

Sadly, that was all the time we had to devote to brewpubbing in Portland, but a road trip is clearly in order as we didn't get to visit Hair of the Dog's brewery or a generous handful of other spots. I still need to get me some LOW 'cue, too...cheers!

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