Monday, June 13, 2016

Portland: The Final Day...

Recently my wife (Sarajo) and I took a week's vacation to the Beer Mecca that is Portland, Oregon.  While we did try out a nearly overwhelming number of breweries, we also took some side trips and ate at a wonderful plethora of places.  On our third day in, two of our friends (Kathleen and Shea) met up with us from DC and joined in the fun.  I'm going to blog about the trip in some detail, mostly to immortalize it in the written word, but consider it a starting point for your own Portland area trip!  Feel free to shoot me any questions or clarifications if you like.

Day 7

On the morning of day 7, our friends Shea and Kathleen had to head back home to DC.  We bid them an early adieu and then gathered up our things for one more day of adventure before heading home ourselves.

We started out the day with a walk through Laurelhurst Park, waiting for the chill morning to warm up with the sun.

A strange little shrine discovered in the park...

Not far from here was Laurelhurst Market (where we had previously had a fancy dinner) and we got there just at 11 when they opened for lunch.  By day this place is a deli and butcher shop.  We dined upon a stellar charcuterie plate of house made meat products, followed by a fantastic grilled pork rillette sandwich--one of the top meals for me this trip.

Sokol Blosser Winery

Suitably full, we headed next to Sokol Blosser Winery not too far outside of Portland.  We tasted through some fantastic wines, talked Minnesota beer with the expat server, molested a nesting robin, and ordered some wines to be shipped back home.  With a beautiful view of rolling hills, farms, and acres of grape vines, this was a beautiful stop.  We stayed a little longer than expected, but enjoyed ourselves plenty.

McMenamins John Barleycorns

On the way home we stopped at another McMenamins property: John Barleycorns.  This brewpub was one of their few properties built from scratch and not a revamped historic property.  We had been pleased with the beers from Edgefield and Kennedy School previously on this trip and figured this was a good spot for some food and a sampler before getting back into town.  While each McMenamins brewery does have a few standard beer recipes they make, the process and equipment differs at each site, and the brewers are allowed to do other beers as well.  The beers at this site were not nearly as good as the others.  The hoppy beers especially had problems ranging from astringency to a bit of diacetyl.  The best of the bunch was the Nesting Doll Imperial Stout, but even that was still a little thin for the style.  Our server was(admittedly) new, but incredibly inattentive.  Despite the place being nearly empty at this afternoon hour, I had to go searching for her twice.  The food was less than stellar.  This stop was a bust and not nearly up to par with the other McMenamins spots we've visited.  Based on this visit I can not recommend it to anyone.

Keep Portland weird?

Once back in Portland we stopped back at Paxton Gate, a crazy store specializing in taxidermy, fossils, carnivorous plants, and more.  We had stopped in here previously and decided to come back for an amazing display of moths and butterflies for our home.  Seriously this place is creepy and cool.

Ecliptic Brewing

Just a few blocks away from the Shop of Curiosities was Ecliptic Brewing.  Started by a former brewer for McMenamins, Deschutes, and then Full Sail, this place's style blends beer and astronomy.  Most of the names come from astronomic features.  We were seated outside and tried through a sampler of the beers.  I did not like the Orbiter IPA--giving it a 2.75 for being overly sweet.  The Hypernova Triple IPA, however was quite tasty and got a 4.  The Zenith Grapefruit Gose was pleasant and refreshing getting a 3.75.  The Capella Porter was the top for me getting a solid 4.5--the best dark beer of the entire trip to Oregon.  Overall this place has some pretty good beers and I'll be watching them in the future.

StormBreaker Brewing

Just a few more blocks away, surrounded by cute shops, restaurants, and more is StormBreaker Brewing.  This place was brand new the last time I was in the area, and both that time and this visit we kept hitting the area when the brewery was closed.  This last day, we finally managed to find the taproom open for business.  The space is large, with a sizable patio area to boot.  I could tell Sj was about ready to call it a day, but she was a trooper and stuck it out for one more brewery visit.  I think I'll keep her.

Being honest here, I didn't have high expectations going in, but the beers were really quite good.  Our server pretty much disappeared once we had our sampler--I had wanted to get a whole pint of something else, but by the time we tracked her down we were just ready to get going.  The top beer for both of us was Keep It In Your Schwarz--an unusual coffee infused dark lager (4.25).  Other highlights were Handfuls of Hops IPA and Triple Double (a DIPA) both garnering 4's.  The loser of the flight was the Hoppy Marijuanukah which was a hoppy smoked beer that really didn't work well for me (2.75).  I'd go back to StormBreaker for sure based on the beers.

McMenamins Kennedy School Theater Bar

Back home at the hotel we needed one more stamp in our passports to get our magical free prizes, so stopped in to the Theater Bar.  We hadn't even realized there was a separate bar, just figuring it was for theater concessions.  Another beer and cocktail in hand we wandered off to buy some last minute things from the gift shop and get dinner at the restaurant.  Then to pack (boxing up a whole wine shipper full of beers) and get a good night's rest.

Day 8

The last day was mostly for travel by plane back to Minnesota, but I thought I'd mention the airport at PDX.  First off, they have a Made in Oregon store past the onerous security check which stocks a good variety of local wines and beers for not too much over the typical store price.  They also furnish carrying boxes for the plane.  Yeah, we picked up a few extras here--they had Logsdon and Cascade beers!

Rogue Public House

While we didn't make it to the actual Rogue Brewery this trip, we finished up waiting for our flight by having lunch a final beer sampler at the Rogue Public House.  Not bad.  I've heard since that the Laurelwood Pub is better, but that was in another concourse.  Next time!

And that is the end of our epic trip!  Below is the final tally of booze-tastic places we visited.  I think we did a respectable job!

Final Tally:
Breweries: 21
Distilleries: 3
Pubs/Bars: 17
Meaderies: 1
Cideries: 1
Wineries: 1

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