As I said a few weeks ago, I traveled out to Oregon over the weekend to visit my brother who lives in Astoria, Oregon. Having never gone to visit my brother on the west coast, I was really excited to get out to the west for a much-needed visit. I’ve only been as far as Colorado before, and I wasn’t able to drink at that time, so I was just as excited to finally get some of these west coast brews I can’t find back east. Ironically, I’ve actually had and enjoyed quite a few beers from Oregon, but I quickly found out I hadn’t really had anything yet.
We got into Portland around 8 PM their time. That of course meant it was already feeling like 11 PM our time. I’m a night owl so it wasn’t a big deal for me, but my wife was certainly starting to hit the sleepy wall. Since we were most likely heading back to Astoria pretty quickly, we decided to catch dinner in Portland before our hour and a half trek back. Lacking imagination, we tried to head over to Rogue for something to eat and drink. For some reason they were painting the place that night, so we had to find another place to go. They recommended we head over to Cassidy’s. Cassidy’s was alright on the beer realm, but it was great for food. I had Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt from Ninkasi and Working Girl Porter from Fort George Brewing. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t find either of these breweries over on the east coast, but I am actually quite familiar with both of them. Therefore, I was really looking forward to getting something from some breweries I hadn’t had.
The next day we were off in the Astoria area and visiting some of the places around him. We first headed over to see the Pacific Ocean in Seaside Oregon first. My brother informed me of a new brewery over there called Seaside Brewing Co. Of course I had to go in! While there I had some great brews. Their imperial stout Black Dynamite was actually being brewed homebrew style right as you walked in the front door. I of course had to have that one first. Both Black Dynamite and their Lockup IPA were quite good. If I lived over there I’d be there all the time. While there I noticed a pamphlet for something called the North Coast Craft Beer Trail.
Evidently, while on the trail, you move up and down the Astoria area trying out different bars. There are 11 bars on the list, and if you go to 9 of them, you get a commemorative glass for your efforts. Of course a glass may not seem like a big deal, but it gave me a goal to shoot for. Not all of the bars were the best, but I had a lot of good beers. Some of the beer highlights from the trail were the Black Bear XX from Alameda Brewing, Double Daddy Imperial IPA from Speakeasy Ales, the Roguenbier Rye from Rogue, and the Polish’s Black Walnut Stout from Fort George Brewing.
One of the biggest beer activities from the weekend was visiting Fort George Brewery’s Dark Arts Fest. When I first heard about it I made fun of my brother for dragging me to a witchcraft festival. Thankfully, I found out that instead it was a big stout festival featuring 40 different stouts from the Oregon area. I was actually quite impressed by the way it ran. They had different areas in their restaurant, on their porch, in their tasting room, in a performance area, and in the actual brewery for tasting of different beers. They also managed to get some crazy big and amazing beers in as well. Here are, once again, some of the highlights. The Abyss from Deschutes, Super Nebula from Block 15 (aged in Pappy Van Winkle Barrels), Suge Knite from Boneyard (14%), and Spiced Old Baba Yaga from Bear Republic. Fort George also put together 10 or so great stouts and barrel aged stouts for the event. It was certainly one of the highlights from the trip.
One of my other favorite things to do while in a different area is go bottle hunting. Thankfully one of the stops on the craft beer trail was at a bottle shop you could also drink at. While there I purchased a Vertical Epic 2008 from Stone Brewing, Fred from Hair of the Dog, and Consecration from Russian River. The man running the store was striking up some good conversation, so I asked about a bottle of Pliny the Elder. Thank goodness I asked because he walked in the back and brought one right out for me. Later in the week we found another shop run by a much less knowledgeable, but very nice, older woman. Perusing around I found a bottle of Abyss and The Dissident from Deschutes. Knowing I had to make a choice, I decided to go Dissident because I already have a bottle of 2012 Abyss.
Finally, after a few days of bumming around Astoria, we headed back to the big city of Portland. My big goal while there was a to hit up a few breweries I couldn’t find back home. My wife was controlling the lunch decision, so I brought up a bunch of different menus from brewpubs located in Portland. She ultimately landed on Deschutes which meant I had to taste drive just about everything they had to offer. In fact, I didn’t drink anything more than a 3 oz pour the entire day. On the menu Deschutes did have a collaboration with Hair of the Dog called Collage. I wanted to taste it, but it only came in bottles, so I had to buy one for the ride home too. Finally, later that night, we ended up at Hair of the Dog for a tasting of the 7 beers they had available. I enjoyed just about everything I had, but I loved the Fred, Adam, Doggie Claws, and Otto from the wood. Certainly made me wish I could get a few more of their things around here.
Overall I had about 45 different beers over the course of the 5 days I was in Oregon. Over half of them came in 3 oz tastings, but it helped me realize I had only touched on the tip of the craft beer scene in Oregon. It was a great trip, and I hope to go visit my brother at his next location: Seattle.