Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ramblings from a Beer Trip Newbie re: BT IV day one

So I was a little apprehensive about what to expect from a trip to the craft brewing heaven that is the pacific northwest with 4 beer geeks I barely new and a great friend who had introduced my taste buds to the joys of great micro brews merely a year or so before. The prior year I participated in my first RAGBRAI with a group who clearly loved alcohol but not the glorious tastes that can be provided by a good brew master. On RAGBRAI we drank the swill of the big 3 breweries all day and for the 360 miles I rode those 4 days I averaged 1 drink for every 3 miles with an average speed of 19 mph on the bicycle between each bar stop. I thought that if I could do that then how difficult would it be on my body to hit as many breweries in 5 days as possible so I accepted the offer to join Beer Trip IV. I was relieved to learn that due to the rental car contract I would not be required to take the wheel as the DD for a day and risk the humiliation of being hung over and having a minor mishap such as clearing the humble EM-50's roof of all accessories. However a week before departure I got a map from Andy identifying the locations of the 43 brew pubs just in Portland that we would be attempting to visit. Oh what did I get myself into!

Well the first day started out just as ridiculous as could be expected for a bunch of guys flying out on a trip to hit as many brewpubs as they could. Everyone in the group had at least one shipping container for beer as a checked bag on the return flight and some had several as they packed light enough to get all their clothes in their carry-on. All those years of tetris sure paid off as I was able to pack all of these boxes, luggage, carry-ons and 5 of us into my Tahoe. We were off to a good start fortified with round of Arcadia HopMouth IPA before sunrise @ 6:28 AM CDT. At the airport the flight was overbooked and another newbie and I elected to ease our way into the trip by taking the travel vouchers since we booked late and got ridiculously large voucher figures. We arrived in Portland 1.5 hours later than the veterans and found them well into their mugs at Widmer Brothers brewing. We were informed we had some catching up to do.

After a quick sampling of the veterans recommendations at Widmer we were off to explore the bounty of the area. Portland has an excellent public transportation system of which we had a brief exposure to in getting from the airport to our hotel for dropping off our luggage. However based upon the afore mentioned map and a trail type GPS with all breweries entered as way points we decided to walk the mile to the next closest brewery. Well the trail GPS measures in a straight line and unfortunately there were a couple of major highways in between, so the walk was a lot farther than we anticipated. Amnesia was certainly not trying to focus on appearances. The bar was just a counter in the front of a warehouse building with one table inside. Outside there were picnic tables under somewhat permanent tents in what used to be a parking lot. From the crowd of locals packing the picnic tables we assumed were in for a treat. We were not disappointed and definitely worth the walk! These brew masters certainly had their priorities straight. Every beer was outstanding but unfortunately no bottling operation. Of course there was a bus stop right in front and must of been a transfer point as there was a bus stopping every 6 minutes or so.

Nobody really wanted to leave Amnesia but we were on a mission and the next brewery was only .5 mile away so we headed north east to The Fifth Quadrant. We were a little wobbly and had yet to pick up any transit system maps so we hoofed it on over. A short cut down an alley brought us past a house party that was just setting up that we made note of to check out later on. The Quadrant was like most of the brew pub establishments that I had been to with the typical pub food that was good but with solid brews. Of course being in Portland the weather was nice and we chose a table in their patio area. Well I guess waiting til 10:00 PM PDT was a little late to have dinner with all the great beer we had been having so a few of the veterans called a cab to pack it in while the rest of us wandered back towards that house party. It was a 21st birthday party for one of the gals living there so we popped back over to grab a growler or two which turned out to be Mason jars just before last call. There was a nice fire pit and they were all very friendly even though we were at least a decade or 2 older then the median. It was a great way to wrap up day one of Beer Trip IV.


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