Namaste For A Beer: A Beercation To Beervana
Portland, Oregon, is known simply as Beervana to beer geeks. Portland boasts over 70 breweries just within the city limits! For years I have wanted to visit this place to understand what the Portland beer scene is all about. When I found out that the 2018 Homebrew Con was going to be in Portland, it made sense to pull the trigger on a plane ticket.
No “Summer of Dan” would be complete without a beercation. When I look back at the last couple of summers, I have ventured to a lot of breweries and met many wonderful people. I became wise to the ways of Airbnb and that has only increased the chances of meeting wonderful people. Also, it never hurts to save a little money on the road.
When I first backed out of the driveway in 2015 with my sights set for Kansas City, Wichita, Denver, Fort Collins, and Omaha, I never thought that this type of thing would become a yearly event. However, I had so much fun that I knew it had to become part of what I did to enjoy life and develop a greater understanding of how beer can bring people together.
In the summer of 2016, it was a foregone conclusion that I would take another beer trip when I was asked to attend a literacy conference in Boston, MA. In addition to Beantown, I traversed my way through greater Massachusetts. Then it was on to Portsmouth, NH, Portland, ME, and the crown jewel of East Coast beer destinations, Burlington, VT. This opened my eyes to the East Coast or New England IPA phenomenon which was made popular by The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. This New England IPA is now one of the most popular, some would say infamous, styles out there.
Last summer, I started out in Milwaukee for the Craft Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference and then took the Lake ExpressFerry across Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids, MI, where I began my “Smitten With The Mitten” beercation. If a city had good beer, there was a good chance I used one of their bathrooms. Meeting up with friends I made at the conference in their respective home cities of Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor made that trip special. I also saw firsthand how Michigan became such a craft beer powerhouse thanks to people like Larry Bell who never took the word “no” for an answer. Michigan also displayed a seamless connection between old and new when it came to breweries. Places like HOMES in Ann Arbor, Speciation in Comstock, and Old Nation Brewing in East Lansing were the antithesis of Bell’s and Founder in size and age. Seeing that a state in the Midwest could support a robust and vibrant beer scene was inspiring and encouraging as I look at the local MN scene.
All of that brings me to 2018 and a new iteration of “The Summer of Dan.” The “Namaste For A Beer” series is all about enjoying a craft beer culture that has been around for decades. Like Michigan last summer, I am going to be seeing all types of breweries from industry behemoths like Deschutes and Rogue to newer and smaller scale places like Breakside and Great Notion. In the articles of my beer travels, I strive to put into words the energy, fellowship, and happiness that being on the beer trail brings me. I believe I am an adventurer at heart, despite the fact that I never order above a 1 on the spice scale at a Thai restaurant. My friend Jim Stroner said it best, “Not all who wander are lost.”
In addition to seeing all that Oregon has to offer, I am definitely overjoyed to get to Beervana. That will be the last half of my trip. When all is said and done, I will have been to Tillamook, Newport, Eugene, Bend, Hood River, and Portland. I want to find out why so many beer lovers froth at the mouth when you mention Beervana. I also want to see how well it lives up to the hilarious portrayal of Portland in Portlandia. When I finally head back home on July 4th, I hope to be a changed man for the better. I am not sure I will be able to hit 52 breweries like last summer, but I will give it the old college try. Prost!