Namaste For A Beer: A Beercation To Beervana Pt. 10
Portland, Oregon, known to many beer geeks simply as “Beervana” A journey to this beer-centric city has been on my beer bucket list for years. This summer’s beercation blog series, “Namaste For A Beer,” is all about learning about the craft beer culture that has been alive and well in Oregon for decades. My travels will lead me on a pilgrimage of sorts to Portland, the craft beer crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. My beercation purpose is threefold: to meet great people, drink great beer, and understand what the Oregon craft beer culture is all about. For this purpose, my route will lead me through Tillamook, Newport, Corvallis, Eugene, Bend, Hood River, and finally, Portland.
Portland Part 3
Yesterday’s marathon of five breweries, 2 donuts, and 1 turkey avocado wrap day definitely made me a happy traveler. The key to a wonderful beercation is really mixing it up and that is what I did. I also put a significant dent in my list of breweries so that today can be a bit more of a leisurely pace. It is good to have a day to be a bit more exploratory than task-oriented on a beercation. If you do visit Portland for beer, I recommend giving yourself at least a week to get around. Even with a week, you will barely scratch the surface of this robust craft beer paradise.
Migration Brewing Company (Glisan Pub)
Migration Brewing Company is close to where I am staying and they open early. This makes it an easy call for my first stop of the day. I am again blessed with a perfectly sunny and non-humid day. Migration has a nice outdoor patio with lots of shade, but I decide to sit inside. Lots of comfortable seating that mixes in a variety of low and high-top tables. There are a handful of folks outside, but I have the run of the roost in the taproom.
The list has a variety of options and so I get a 6-beer taster tray. The bartender is friendly and helpful which I appreciate. The beers are served in snifters despite being 5 oz pours. I love this because it allows me to swirl the beer and get more aromas out of the beer. The smaller taster glasses are great, but swirling usually causes quite a mess in a sample glass.
I order a variety of styles and they are all quite delicious. I have to say that the Straight Outta Portland IPA is my favorite of the bunch. It really awakens my palate with a floral and fresh hoppy aroma. There is some fruity pear sweetness in the middle and it has a nice bitter finish. The Luscious Lupulin IPA is along the same lines, although it has more of a bready malt flavor to it. The Luscious Lupulin IPA also has a higher level of piney resin that stays true to its West Coast roots.
Some of the other notable beers at Migration are the Old Silenus Strong Ale and the Patio Pale Ale. The Old Silenus is a rich and malty wonder. Old Silenus has notes of leather, chocolate, cherry, and toffee. The body of Old Silenus is big enough to support a high ABV and a lot of the flavors. The Patio Pale Ale is fruity and citrusy in the aroma. The beer is balanced nicely with a bready malt note and finishes dry with a hint of bitterness.
The only thing I didn’t really like is that the Proper Pilsner is a bit too sweet for a German-style Pils and I wanted more hop bite at the end. Other than that, I would stop back to Migration Brewing in a heartbeat.
On a beercation, if you have the chance to drink at a brewery featuring clean and crisp lagers, you need to do so. According to one Portland brewery owner, if you want to find brewers, go to Wayfinder Beer. I am sitting at the bar perusing the beer menu when I see Kevin Mientsma stroll in. Kevin is an accomplished MN homebrewer and a hell of a nice guy. He would go on to win a silver medal for his cyser, a fruited mead, at the National Homebrewers Competition. He is meeting some other friends from Minnesota and Michigan and invites me to join them.
I sit down and begin having some great conversation and learning a lot about mead. Between laughs and homebrewing tips, I am able to focus on the beers at Wayfinder as well. What an amazing lineup of beers! The Wayfinder Hell is crisp and clean with just a hint of sulfur. The Czech Pils is beyond incredible with nary a flaw. The Panoply Weissbier has a strong banana ester to it as well as hints of bubblegum and clove. The Hidden Hand Dark Lager has a great body to it and a lot of roasted malt aroma to push it into the realm of outstanding.
To top it all off, the bathroom has a hilarious poster of Burt Reynolds from his younger days extolling the virtues of relaxation. Wayfinder Beer is a great place to visit on a beercation because they are a triple threat. They have great food, masterful beers, and a fantastic space. I also believe that Wayfinder gives us all a glimpse into the craft beer needle moving away from over-the-top hoppy and high octane beers to simpler, well-crafted lagers. Craft beer drinkers are realizing that they can find amazing flavors in lagers that are brewed well and still keep their wits about them due to the sessionable nature of a good pilsner or Kölsch.
As a child of the 80s, there is no better way to attract me than to have references to old-school video games. Level Beer, located a bit northeast of town, is the perfect place to enjoy incredible beers and see some fantastic pop-culture references. I have to credit my friend, Tim for bringing this place to my attention. Not initially on my list, Level Beer is amongst the 50 up-and-coming breweries in the country according to BeerAdvocate. There are some others on that list that I have been to and Level Beer is in good company, believe me.
The vibe of the taproom is really fun. There are lots of games and it is extremely family-friendly. The drink menu is the screen of an arcade game evokes a great sense of nostalgia. The spacious and sheltered outdoor area has numerous picnic tables and plenty of space to sprawl out.
I order a mix of lagers and IPAs. Level Beer has quite a variety of beers on tap, but I stay in the brighter side of things given that the sun is shining brightly in the sky. I set up camp and start enjoying the serenity of the moment. Level Beer is a reminder to me of how my own drinking habits have evolved over the years. In my earlier craft beer days, I might have overlooked a cream ale in favor of a heavy stout. Today, the darkest color in my taster flight is a copperish Vienna Lager. My, how my tastes have changed!
The names for the beers are creative and fun. The Cash and Guns Cream Ale has an easter egg of a nice back-end hop bite. The cream ale is refreshing and crisp and you get a hint of lemon from the hop. The Let’s Play dry-hopped Pils is slightly cloudy with a wonderful grassy and floral hop aroma. The Game On! IPA is straight-up West Coast magic. Refreshing aromas of grass lead you into a resiny aftertaste that is delicious. The This Ain’t Rocket Surgery Hazy IPA has some nice cantaloupe melon notes and a great body to it. It finishes nicely with a good hop presence. My favorite beer name of the trip is Get To The Chopper, a Vienna Lager. It has a Grape Nut and caramel malt flavor that is enjoyable. It drinks crisp and effervescent with a caramel sweetness in the finish. The Kingdom Tart, a Meyer Lemon Berlinerweisse is a nice way to end the flight because of its fabulous touch of acidity and tartness.
If I lived here, which I am really starting to consider, I would frequent Level Beer. Every beer is fantastic and it is evident why they are among the best new breweries in the country. Level Beer needs to be on your beercation list!
Three more brewery visits and I am happy as a clam. The breadth of what Portland has to offer to a craft beer enthusiast continues to reveal itself in a sensational way. Just when I think I cannot find another amazing brewery, Portland shows me otherwise. As I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of my flight back to Minnesota, I realize how lucky I am to be out here soaking up the sun and the suds. This beercation has been tremendous so far and it shows no signs of letting up. I cannot wait to see what the next leg of my journey reveals! Prost!
Want to hear more about my Namaste For A Beer: A Beercation to Beervana? Check out the link to my podcast, A One Pint Stand and listen to my cohost, Eric and I talk about our entire trip!