Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Portland Round 2

In October 2011, Jen and I revisited Portland. We had big plans for the breweries that we were about to drink in and I wanted to visit Portland State University. We were so excited to get back to this amazing city and couldn't wait for the opportunity to see more of what it offered. This time around we stayed downtown Portland at the Courtyard Marriott. It was a block from the Max Rail stop, so like before, we used public transportation and walked most of the city from there. This hotel was a great place to stay too. We had really enjoyed the Inn at Northrup Station the year before, but we wanted to check out other areas of the city. The rooms were big and comfy, which was a bonus.  I also want to mention that visiting Portland in October is a great time because the weather has been pretty mild, rainy at times, but warm enough to walk without feeling sweaty when you reach your next destination.

Upon arrival, we immediately began our adventure and headed towards Full Sail Brewery. We walked about 2 miles and it wasn't open. We're not sure if it is even there anymore, or if it was just bad timing on our part. So we headed towards the PSU campus and stopped at McMenamins Market Street Pub. We had a great lunch and tried their Ruby, Marzen Style, Hammerhead, and IPA. All were good, but I definitely preferred the Ruby. It was a unique beer, ruby in color (hence the name), and different from other beers I had tried before. Once we were well on our way to a great start to the weekend, we headed to the campus tour. PSU has a beautiful urban campus. There is a nice mix of old and new buildings and a great rec center. There is plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the outdoors without too much traffic.

After the campus tour, we walked a bit and hopped on a bus to take us to the east side of the river. We wanted to visit Cascade Barrel House again, my favorite because they specialize in sour beers. YUM! At Cascade we each had a sampler to try some of their new brews. The Platinum Blonde is a great intro to sour beer for newcomers. Smooth and easy to drink. We also tried the Apricot, Sang Royal, Sour Bruin (which has a tobacco flavor, not tasty in my opinion), Nightfall (my perfect sour), and the Test Flight IPA. It was a wonderful reunion! From there we walked back to the Green Dragon where we tried Buckman Sweet Potato Brown, New Belgium Kick (sour!), Boneyard Girl Beer Cherry, Beer Valley Jackalope Imperial Pumpkin Porter, Laurelwood Stingy Jack Pumpkin, and the Nogne Pumpkin. It's the fall, what can I say, pumpkin beer was all the rage! All of the beers were good, easy to drink, and very good in their own ways.

Our last stop of the evening was Deschutes, back in downtown Portland. We called our cab driver from the previous year, as we had kept his business card in the hopes that he was still driving. Success! On the way to Deschutes we went by Occupy Portland, which had built a small colony in one of the downtown parks. It was VERY interesting to witness first hand. There was a lot of live music and people having a good time, and also very peaceful at the same time. At Deschutes we tried the Winter Ale and Mirror Pond. Both decent beers, very drinkable. After enjoying our last couple of beers, we decided to walk back to the hotel. Along the way we stopped at Powell's City of Books, a great tourist destination that everyone to see. It's amazingly huge and worth a stop for every lover of a good book. We then headed straight for VooDoo donuts. We got lucky this time with the downtown location and only had to wait in line for 10 minutes. We each got a Maple Bacon Bar (heaven), and some of the other crazy concoctions that we took back to the hotel to have for breakfast. Overall the first day was a great start to the weekend and we were enjoying Portland as much, if not more than we had the first time.

Saturday, we started the day with our remaining donuts, relaxed a bit, and then headed towards the Northwest District. We decided to walk to the Bridgeport Brew Pub to take another shot at what they had to offer. (Jen was a little too hungover the previous year to enjoy their beer, so we wanted to give her a second chance and try more of what they had on tap.) Once there, we grabbed a sampler of the Summer Squeeze, Blue Heron, Kingpin Double Red, IPA, Hop Czar, Old Knucklehead, Ebeneezer, and Hop Harvest. Another good start to an exciting day ahead!

We then decided to walk up through our old stomping grounds and headed to New Old Lompoc again. There we again had a sampler where we tried Fool's Gold Ale, Lompoc Strong Draft (a coffee flavored porter), C Note (a mix of the 5 C hops), Sockeye Cream Stout, Proletariat Red, and the Centennial IPA. The same bartender was there, although he didn't remember us...but it had the same great atmosphere and a wide variety of beers to try. From there it was a quick walk to the Lucky Lab Beer Hall, another favorite from the past, where we tried Summit IPA, Harvesy Reaper-Weizen, Mega World Peace Pils, Dog Day IPA, Lolatober Fest, and the Old Yeller Barleywine. We also enjoyed a slice of pizza to hold us over and help soak up some of the beer. It had been a long, short day, but not one that we were ready to end yet.

It was then time to decide how to get to our next destination. It was at least 2.5 miles away, but we needed some time to walk off a little bit of our excitement. We were headed to Widmer Brothers which was north and east, across the river again. We started walking towards the bridge with the idea that we were going to catch a bus or something to help us along on our journey. Once we got to the bridge, we realized that it was only open to pedestrian and bike traffic, so over the bridge it was. We sang our way across, got a few interesting looks, and continued moving forward. A while later, we finally made it to the next brewery. Widmer Brothers had a large, and obviously popular restaurant. We sat down for a dinner and of course, had a couple of beers. We tried the Drifter Pale Ale and the Longrass Wheat Ale. Dinner was fantastic, but it was time to head back to the city center.

At some point we realized that we are getting old and can't handle as much beer as we had we walked for a bit and turned in for the night. We had an early flight the next day, and another stop to make to VooDoo donuts. (Which was about 3 blocks from our hotel, if I didn't mention that before!)

We picked up our donuts at about 530am and then took the Max Rail back to the airport. It had been an amazing weekend, yet again, and definitely a solid reason to head back to Portland in the near future. Who knows, maybe even for a PhD program?! We already have our next trip planned to visit there, with our moms, when we will also head up to Seattle and Vancouver to check out some more amazing places.

Once again people--GET YOUR BUTTS TO PORTLAND!! It's an amazing place that no one should ever leave off their list of "places to visit".

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