More on the BridgePort renovation

If your still curious about what's happened at the BridgePort Brewery since renovation check out this great post, "BridgePort's Renovated Digs" on Beervana.

BridgePort is described thus:
"The new place is engineered to appeal to those who love sterile steel, vast expanses in which to be seen, and an unchallenging nouveau industrial (nouvel industriel?) chic style. In short, none of the people who used to go there."
Jeff Alworth puts the new BridgePort in a historical perspective I couldn't muster. It makes me wonder if the Gambrinus Co. consciously displaced their customers with a more stylish crowd.


NW Portland Brewpub Stumble; Mecca to yacht club

Sometimes on my way home from work on the airport MAX, visitors to our fine city ask me what there is to do around Portland. I try to be helpful. I send people to Jake’s for seafood and Tom McCall Waterfront Park for the “Doobie Bros.” Last week I sent a couple drunken frat boys, downing whiskey from a bottle of vitamin water, to McFadden’s. They wanted girls, and that’s the only place I could think of besides Mary’s Club, with females that might take them seriously. But in my unsanctioned role as MAX ambassador, I recommend Portland’s beer most often, and with earnestness. Felecia and I recently joined our buds Jennifer and Patrick for a microbrew crawl around the neighborhood. What a place to live, where one can stumble between world-class brewpubs.

So, in celebration of Patrick’s birth we gave Rogue Ale House, BridgePort Brewery, and Laurelwood Public House each a call.

ROGUE ALE HOUSE 1339 NW Flanders St

I’d never been to Rogue Ale House before but Felecia and I visited their brewery in Newport a couple years ago. The beers are spectacular, but the pints cost $4.50 or $5. Even though you could spend half as much at Lompoc, it’s certainly worthwhile for a treat. They serve a real beer log, as pictured at the top of the post, that’s much more satisfying than my beer log. The tastes and variety are amazing. I had their Uber Pilsner. It’s not my favorite style, but interesting anyway; swallow and the taste disappears with intriguing abruptness. The chocolate stout is implausibly thick and delicious. They have so many good and interesting beers you must visit and try them yourself. We witnessed a couple guys drinking soda with their burgers. All I can say is, “whatthefuck.”


This was my first visit to the newly remodeled BridgePort Brewery. It seems they’d like to remake their image too. The Pearl District seems artificially tacked on the old city’s soul sometimes. In a real physical way the new buildings were built up, over, on top of, and inside old Portland. It’s an urban garden of brick and bridge vistas carefully engineered by developers for San Jose tech moguls who buy lofts in which to dwell for a bit in the summer or on an occasional long weekend. I’ve gradually come to the view that the Pearl, though tastefully presented, is a tourist encampment, and Bridgeport, on the district’s northwestern tentacle, is the new enclave of the upwardly mobile who have no real investment in this community and its people but for their entertainment.

BridgePort IPA was my first favorite micro, and the beer is still good. The building looks great. But now you’ve been warned.

Since I hardly described the place before my rant, check out an accurate and informative review on alt.portland.


Laurelwood makes my favorite beers in town, with the possible exception of Roots. Their (organic) Free Range Red is about the most fresh and flavorful, completely drinkable ale around. I was also lucky enough to enjoy a pint of Workhorse IPA, their new head brewer, Chad’s entry in a three way IPA brew-off. I’ve been sampling a lot of IPA’s lately, and this was light, fragrant, and plenty hopped, though by this point in our pub walk I wasn't prone to displeasure. Laurelwood has good, cheap burgers, tremendous beers, and it’s a nice place to hang out on NW 23rd. They have an outdoor patio and a balcony hidden in the neighborhood’s thick deciduous canopy.

Wow, Laurelwood makes me happy.

Check out their only slightly propagandistic blog. These guys are finding success, but deep down, I think they’re really in it for the beer.


Bridger's Frog Log

I’ve been away from the beer log for the last few days but fear not, I’m still drinking. A book report was due this week for my Mesoamerican history class, so all my writing energy was expended with the ancient Maya instead of my beers. The Maya did some strange things, including cutting their penis’ and dancing around, throwing kids in wells to predict the future, and wearing the skins of foreign kings after a “Temple of Doom” styled extraction of their still beating hearts. It turns out the Maya didn’t even drink beer but they did go to some extreme lengths to achieve inebriation. I came across this in my textbook the other day:

“The Maya, like most Mesoamerican peoples, made fermented alcoholic beverages, using maize and agave…

alcoholic beverages were drunk at every ritual occasion…

During the Classic period these substance were not always administered orally. Several painted pottery vessels graphically depict the use of enemas in apparent ritual setting; the direct introduction of alcoholic or hallucinogenic substances into the colon results in immediate absorption by the body, thereby hastening the effect.”

- Sharer, The Ancient Maya. p. 751

I can think of a couple beers that should only be consumed rectally, if at all. Anyway, the fact that the Maya liked their booze in their asses didn’t stop a German company from marketing a product called “Magadon, the mystic Maya drink.” There’s a cute little story about how the Conquistadors were astounded at the Maya’s strength and then they realized that their power lay in drinking Megadon. I don’t want to ruin Megadon’s history lesson, but if you read further you find that it has no alcohol and its actually orange juice. I’ve never tried Megadon, so this can’t count as a review; I enjoy a glass of orange juice in the morning sometimes with my eggs. It’s good stuff, it’s not beer.

As a parting thought: the Maya also sucked a poisonous toad, Bufo marinus, to get loaded and hallucinate. If I were an ancient Maya I’d call my blog, “BRIDGER’S FROG LOG.”


Beer Blogger Meetup

Yes, beer bloggers are an attractive, intelligent, and successful bunch. The bloggers at SudsPundit are visiting their friends in Portland in July for the Oregon Brewers festival. So if you blog about beer or read beer blogs stop by to share a pint and a nice chat. Here's the discussion planning the meetup on SudsPundit's blog. There's good reason we just can't get enough of each other.

Widmer Broken Halo IPA

If you were in Portland yesterday you know the weather was supremely fantastic. I tried Widmer's Broken Halo IPA on the balcony with Felecia. I read Widmer first brewed it as a limited release but brought it back recently due to popular demand. It's happily hoppy in a way that is becoming more common, but is finely balanced unlike some superhopped beers I've tasted recently. The pleasant hop bite built up on my palate and when I finnally went to bed, my mind aldled by beer and pseudophedrine, I could still feel the bitterness on my tongue. In half sleep I floated through IPA-filled fields. It was fucking great. I'll never brush my teeth agian.

Felecia and I drank these as the sun sunk and wispy clouds grew pink. I'd forgotten how awesome the long evenings are as we near the solstice. Below is a picture of Broken Halo, which could easily have lived up to its name if it had fallen off the railing and landed on someone's head. But like all worthwhile pursuits, risk is intrinsic to achievement of a satasfying buzz.


Lucky Labrador & Roots Organic Spring Brew-Cruise

I cruised over to SE Hawthorne yesterday with Felecia to check out The Lucky Labrador and Roots Organic Brewing on our day off together. We rode over the Hawthorne Bridge, one of my favorites in Portland. I’m very thankful for the Portland Beer Map, I think it will help inspire many more brew-cruises this summer.

Lucky Labrador would be a good place to decompress after work. You walk in past a dart board and continue down a hall that opens into what seems like a big old barn. It’s open and airy; the effect is welcoming. There’s long-board hanging from the rafters and lots of wood and natural light. The bar’s huge and the taps are capped with abstract weathered steel shapes. The kitchen serves sandwiches and bento there’s an open patio in back. Felecia ordered Super Dog and I had Got Hops?, but the bartender gave us both Got Hops?. What a jerk. It took us a couple minutes of arguing to conclude we had the same beer. Unfortunately Got Hops? tastes a lot like what’s in the frig at home, which is Pyramid Thunderhead IPA. Both are unmemorable; plenty of hops with nothing behind it. We should have ordered half pints to begin with. After half a beer my mood improved at we got 10 ounce-ers of an imperial and a stout. The stout was outstanding, chocolaty and smooth. I would have liked to enjoy a pint of each but we were feeling buzzed and restless.

It seems like organic beer does taste better. Do pesticide-free ingredients come out in the flavor? Roots’ location was revealed by dozens of beer-drinkers and their dogs soaking up some spring sun on the sidewalk on industrial SE 7th Ave, about two blocks from the Lucky Labrador.

You must step down from the street to enter the dark island sanctuary. The tiny brewery is on the right and a pub is on the other side of a partial wall that separates the space. There were lots of people and several families with kids.

The vibe is more comfortable than the Labrabor; it’s like stepping in a jungle cabana. We started with Pond Turtle Pale Ale and Burghead Heather. They make Burghead Heather by using heather tips instead of hops. The result is a very round, sweet flavor with no bitterness. I liked the texture but the flavor is hard to get used to.

It reminds Felecia of rosemary, she says it would go well with mashed potatoes and a beef roast. I think it needs some crunch to balance the smooth malt and heather.

We tried Island Red and Woody IPA, before riding off into the sunset. So far, Roots is my favorite Portland brewpub.


Otter Creek Copper Ale

I tried another beer from the Otter Creek Brewery in Middlebury Vermont last night. They are also the makers of the exceptionally tasty Wolaver's Organic IPA. Apparently Wolaver’s is Otter Creek’s brand for the organic beers they make. The one Felecia and I have in the frig is called Copper Ale. The flavor is predictably malty and sweet at the beginning but the nose has an unusual but pleasant sourness. This is a relatively bitter beer that’s a little lighter and more hopped than most red ales I’ve tasted. I’m still perplexed about whether red, amber, and copper ales refer to any single beer style. They seem inconsistently applied. Obviously Scottish red ale is different than American amber ale but I think that some labels are interchangeable and are marketing methods rather than accurate designations that say something precise about the style.

Otter Creek Copper Ale is a fine beer, but it doesn’t compare in quality to Wolaver’s Orgainic IPA, which is what led me to buy it instead of a local micro at the Plaid Pantry last night. If I were shopping for a good red I would probably buy Widmer’s Drop Top or Deschutes’ Cinder Cone Red over Otter Creek in the future. Vermont is a long trip from Portland, and I wonder if freshness is a significant factor in my assessment. The beer I tried was bottled on March 27, about a month and a half ago. Is that a time span that might effect the flavor of a beer without preservatives or pasturization?

I don’t see many East Coast micros at the store and I’m happy to know people are enjoying craft beers in Vermont too. It seems like Vermont is an ideological brother to the progressive parts of Oregon, but separated by nearly 3,000 miles, a desert, three mountain ranges, grasslands, rednecks, rabid suburbanites, and a couple turnpikes. That’s my derogatory condensation of it all at least. Here we are on either side of a vast conservative continent, drinking craft beer, making hay-bale houses, and marrying gay people to their pet iguanas. I salute you, Otter Creek Brewing, and you Birkenstock-wearing neo-hippies sipping fine ales in far off Vermont. You are our eastern brethren.


Pike Brewing Pale Ale & Naughty Nellie's

After a couple dry days, I’m back to supplying my neurons the daily beer-lubrication they demand; I’m celebrating my short, but exultant existence once again with the finest embodiments of zeal for life ever bottled and capped. That’s how I like to look at it.

Seattle's Pike Brewing was the subject of my latest beer adventure. I tried their Pale Ale and a beer they call Naughty Nellie’s ale. The Pale Ale is richly malty, with a deep, peaty lining. It’s a satisfying beer with a strong round flavor. I couldn’t help but compare it though, to Fish Tale’s Pale Ale, which I tried last week, and makes Pikes seem disappointing. Pike’s Pale Ale lacks the freshness and the purity of flavors that make Fish Tale’s so hard to match. This isn’t a fair, head to head comparison, and you’d do yourself no harm facing these beers off for yourself - preferably with someone you love. This is a serious business.

Naughty Nellie’s is a “crisp, refreshing session beer,” according to the label. It’s mildly hopped and fruity with yeast. I enjoyed this beer more than Pike’s Pale Ale as well. Naughty Nellie would be a perfect August afternoon companion for sitting on the porch listening to the ball game. The color’s great too. It’s golden yellow with a little hint of pure white cloud.

The name, according to Nellie’s packaging, honors Nellie Curtis, who ran a “bawdy house” in the Pike Brewery building during WWII. It must be an auspicious building to go from production of one indispensable carnal pleasure to the other. Pike Brewing Co. also makes an IPA and a Scotch ale they call Kilt Lifter that I’ll try at the brewery next time I’m in Seattle.


Miller v. Bud

Today I reach the 48 hour mark in an unprecedented expiriment with sobriety. It's going OK, I'm a little shaky, but managed to fight off the angry hordes of snakes and cockroaches. Tonight I think the ol' credit card might come out to save me from this opressive driness.

I'm sexing up the blog a little today. Does this make you desirous of a Miller Light? I wrote in a post a while back that Henry Wienhards is now owned by Budwieser. I've found that Henry's was actually bought by Pabst in 1997 who later sold it to the Miller Brewing Co. who own it today. Miller, Bud, what's the difference, right? It's all the same watery psuedo-beer to me, usefull for bathing, stain-removal, beerbongs, and roudy sporting events. Well apearently Miller is the new darling of the culturally impoverished beer drinkers in America, much to the dismay of AB. The Wall Street Journal, a few days ago reported that Bud is changing thier beer recipe by using more hops to appeal to changing tastes.

Check out a synopsis of the article from the Beer Therpy Blog.

The hilarity of these developments was not lost on Miller's executives who hired a plane with a banner reading "Sire, sire, pants on fire." to buzz Bud's HQ. Appearently, Shakespeare's incarnation works for the Miller PR department.

You can read the news article from the Millwaukee Journal Sentinal.

The whole conflict is a sad juxposition to the relationships between small breweries that make good beer and are happy to have eachother help while crappy corporate whores are always bearers of negativity. The big beer makers have been cutthroat for a long time, and spend billions marketing thier inferior products using various ridiculous ploys, so I guess none of this should be too surprising. But I think that good beer is sexy all by itself.


Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel

Happy May Day. May your pay be fair,and your employment gainful. I think beer is the ultimate worker's beverage.

Tonight I report on a beer shipped to me across the sea from my ancestors' homeland. Ayinger Brewery in Munich, Bavaria sells three beers at Fred's down the street that have been on sale the last few weeks for less than $3. Altbairisch Dunkel is a lager and the first that I've tried, I think the other two are wheat beers. It's described as an "Authentic Bavarian Dark Lager," for which I must take their word. It's dark with a touch of amber, sweetly malty, and smells and tastes like the threshing floor. The flavors are interesting and the overall effect is smooth and perfect. I actually drank this beer about two weeks ago and passed it over in the blog because I had so much to write about. In solidarity with the immigrant workers' demonstrations today I'm staying home from the beer store. Having no money also lessens the temptation. The last immigrant in my family to this country was my great-grand father in 1925, not too long ago. His people were Bravarian farmers and Brewers. I wonder if the beers they made tasted anything like Ayinger?