Thursday, November 20, 2014

All about that beer

I've laid a lot of heavy stuff on y'all lately, so how about something fun? Last week I was in Portland, Oregon for a software user conference. Sounds boring, right? Wrong. Don't forget that I work for a brewery. This is brewery-specific software, so when we broke for lunch, in addition to coffee, water and iced tea, there was beer. And for me, at least, the conference was super useful. AND, we had a good amount of free time, which I'll focus on now.

I traveled with my coworker Beth and neither of us had ever been to Portland. We arrived Tuesday afternoon and the conference started Wednesday. We stayed at Hotel Monaco, which I can't recommend enough. It's unique, the staff is lovely, it's dog-friendly, and they have a happy hour every day from 5 to 6 with free beer and wine.

Yes, that's a stuffed bear on the bed. They also had animal print bathrobes in the room.

Tuesday night we went to Deschutes Brewery. My beer of choice was the Fresh Hop Saison. For dinner I had the Steak and Blue Cheese Caesar Salad, which was good but was nothing compared to the Paprika Fries (which don't show up on the online menu). Um, amazing. Fries with smoked paprika, a garlic rosemary aioli and manchego cheese. We debated between those and the Curry Fries, which I bet are also incredible.

Wednesday night we had a conference welcome reception at Henry's Tavern. This place is huge and we had an area all to ourselves with free beer (they have over 100 taps - I had Full Sail's Amber Ale) and a buffet dinner. Afterward we went to Fathead's, which is a Cleveland brewery that just opened a Portland location two weeks ago. I had the Sunshine Daydream Session IPA (you'll notice that I don't drink dark beers; I like the flavor but it's just a little too much for me).

Thursday evening Beth and I went to dinner at Jake's Famous Crawfish, which has been around more than 110 years and is now part of the McCormick and Schmick's family. We shared the Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp Cakes as an appetizer (fantastic) and for my entree I had Horseradish Crusted Pacific Salmon, which was OMG-amahzing. No beer for me at this dinner; I drank wine.

Friday - our conference ended at 11:30 and we weren't leaving town until Saturday so off we went for food and beer! First stop: Lardo's for lunch. We loved this place and it would be dangerous for my waistline if I had one close to me. I mean, they have salads on the menu but if I'm eating here I'm not getting a damn salad. I had the current Chefwich, which you can see below and it was delicious, as were the Lardo Fries, with herbs and parmesan. I had a couple different drinks, including Rev. Nat's Hallelujah Hopricot Cider (forget any preconceived notions you might have about cider; this isn't grossly sweet and the apricot flavor is very subtle). I also had Arch Rock's Gold Beach Lager, which won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in October (oh by the way, our brewery also won 2 medals - a gold and a bronze).

After wandering around the Pearl District, visiting an art gallery and grabbing some coffee at Stumptown, we rode a bus across the river to Cascade Brewing Barrel House. Cascade specializes in sour beers, which I first enjoyed in Denver last April and I have now confirmed how much I love sour beer. We did a flight of tasters and our bartender was so friendly and helpful, giving us suggestions on which order to taste the beers, then we tried the Glueh Kriek, a hot spiced mulled sour cherry ale (which sounds strange but was kind of the best thing ever. We could have stayed there all evening but wanted to spread out our patronage. In another example of how fantastic the staff at Cascade are, they recommended some other breweries to try.

We walked to The Commons Brewery, which is kind of hard to find in the dark, but so worth it. It's a tasting room - no food or even seating to speak of, but they have eight taps and it's some damn good beer. I had the Aji Citron Reserve, which isn't on their online beer list, but it's a Saison beer with citrus and chilis so it's got a kick. I loved it. Also, I left my purse in the restroom and someone brought it and made sure I got it back. Seriously, Portland in general is so polite and friendly!

1. Glueh Kriek at Cascade
2. The tasting room at The Commons
3. The Commons' tap lineup
4. Flight of sours at Cascade

Then I got to have a reunion dinner with my college friend Michelle who lives in Portland. She's my sorority sister (Gamma Phi Beta) and fellow choir nerd and we hadn't seen each other since college. We had a lovely dinner at Paley's Place and tried to catch up 20-odd years in 3 hours.

Saturday our flight didn't leave until after 1:00 so we went to breakfast at Fuller's Coffee Shop, which is a diner in every way, and paid a visit to Powell's Books - a perfect end to our stay.

I can't wait to go back to Portland and explore even more of the area!


  1. The Pacific NW is high on our travel list in the next 2 years. I love a town with lots of beer :)

  2. That looks like an amazing trip, awesome to tie it to a work conference...kill two birds with one stone!

    Oregon is on my list.

  3. Goodness, can I have your job?! ;) sounds like a fun use of work time to me!!

  4. Coffee, and wine, and beer, oh my!!!! Sounds like an amazing trip, best job I can think of. Steve will be so incredibly jealous when I show him this!

  5. Right? I'm with Kayla. Please hire me! Happy to see you in blogland again :)


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