Around twice a year, the company I work for sends me to Portland, Oregon on a business trip. Iím occasionally there for 1-2 weeks and it usually involves a weekend off to do what I please. I pay for my beer, everything else is covered. This affords me some great opportunities to explore the pacific northwest (PNW) brewing scene and this story is one example of what a typical week is like up here.
I woke up at 4:45 AM in Boise to make my 6:00AM flight to Portland. I slept on the flight over, picked up my rental car once I arrived and headed to work. During the slow day at work I formulated a good plan of action for the weekend that would involve a good amount of sight seeing (breweries of course) along with some family related activities.
After work on Friday, I promptly began the 3-hour journey up I-5 to Seattle from Portland. My first stop was only several miles off of the interstate; <A HREF=http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/ShowBrewer.asp?BrewerID=889 target=_blank>Dickís Brewing & Sausage Deli</A>. I made a note to stop here since Iíd only had several of their beers and knew that they make a wide variety of styles and bottle them all! The little shop they run reminds you more of a convenience store than a brewery but behind the counter, sure enough, 9 taps there dripping with fresh Dickís beer. I was in a hurry so I decided not to sample any on-tap, but proceeded to their coolers. I picked up many different kinds including their <A HREF=http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=13512 target=_blank>Bottleworks IPA</A> and <A HREF=http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=15000 target=_blank>Smoked Porter</A>, both of which showed that this brewery has some big possibilities.
After pirating out for a while it was time to head to <A HREFhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/ShowBrewer.asp?BrewerID=193 target=_blank>Pike</A> downtown for some food and more beers. I ended up trying 3 of the seasonal offerings and wasnít impressed with any of them. The bowl of fresh crab chowder was the most memorable part of the visit (or maybe it was the nearest parking spot 6 blocks away). Attractive nice old building with a great view of the tiered brewery. I noticed that all their guest taps happen to be Merchant du Vin products. Not that I donít like them, but thereís some very good regional beers that are beckoning to be put on tap everywhere in the PNW and MdV stuff is fairly everyday in our hobby.
On the way back to Portland and ultimately the Oregon coast, I stopped by the <A HREF=http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/ShowBrewer.asp?BrewerID=870 target=_blank >Fish Bowl Brewpub</A> in Olympia as it was only a couple miles off my path. It has a fishy theme to it (no pun) and a friendly small town atmosphere feel. I had samples of the boring Leavenworth beers and also the <A HREF=http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=5011 target=_blank>Fish Tale Mudshark Porter</A> which turned out to be a welcomed surprise. Tons of chocolate malt, light sweetness and earthy Columbus hops add up for a refreshing chocolate milk drink with some light roast. A traditional brown porter without the almost stereotypical black patent notes in todayís pseudo porter-stouts (which I detest). Along with this they had the <A HREF=http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=5020 target=_blank>2001 Leviathan Oak Barleywine</A> which was better than the same batch Iíd had in bottles; much more oak and fruit nuances with less alcohol feel. I finished my business and got back on the road.
Relaxing on the beach in a comfortable chair with a book and a beer with the sounds and smell of the ocean and the feel of the warm summer sun is about as peaceful as you get. Itís times like this that Iím feeling my best, when I can forget about everything and just focus on the beer in a pristine setting; no bar or pub could ever match that feeling. The nights on the beach were wonderful as well; thousands of people line the beaches up and down the coast to light off fireworks. Most all of which are illegal, but I guess thatís overlooked on the beach. From dusk until 4AM it was like a constant grand finale of festival fireworks. All shapes, sizes and colors lined the skies that night. There was hardly an instance where there werenít a dozen or so lighting up the beach. This experience was far better than any professional fireworks show Iíd attended. Combining this with a nice beer in a tulip was truly the best way I can think of celebrating my independence!
Saturday I had completely to myself, so I took it upon my self to take a little journey out of town as I was getting bored with Portland breweries (donít hurt me for saying that). The perfect change of pace was right in front of my eyes, I decided to drive to Forest Grove and visit the <A HREFhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/ShowBrewer.asp?BrewerID=4153 target=_blank>SakeOne</A> tasting room! It was about an hour drive from where I was staying but definitely worth the trip. Forest Grove is a quaint small suburb outside of Portland that still has a small town feel without that usual stale suburbs look. SakeOne had a small tasting room / gift shop. They had most of their sakes available in bottles to taste with proper glasses and palate cleansers. The gift shop carried a wide range of imported Japanese items of culinary origins and sake drinking tools. SakeOne along with Takara are leading the way for American Sakeries by using premium sake-grade rice and a focus on quality, not just ďwho can make the cheapest cubieĒ. Their products stand strong in the American market but when compared to Japanese super-premium counterparts they fall a little flat. I was able to taste a yet to be released full strength <A HREFhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=36480 target=_blank>namasakť</A> that was simply amazing with complexity and balance, almost like drinking spring water. I canít wait for this one to be released, I just hope that retailers will follow proper storing procedures for the delicate Namasakť.
I had all my bags packed and ready to go. I dropped off the rental and went to the airport. Who should I meet there at the departure drop-off? Ed Carfora, the Northwest Regional Sales Manager of <A HREFhttp://www.mbibeer.com target=_blank>Manneken-Brussel Imports</A> who drives the awe inspiring Chimay themed Mini-Cooper and Ken Hickmont, the art director of <A HREFhttp://www.celebrator.com target=_blank>Celebrator Beer News</A>! A brief chat about my trip and about whatís new and it was time to board the airplane. Had a new beer, <A HREFhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=3829 target=_blank>Scuttlebutt Amber</A> on the plane even! A good end to a good trip, my palate is going to take a nap now.