You can call craft beer my hobby- since a quarter of my thoughts are about beer and I really only venture out of my house to get more beer and to go to breweries. It is also safe to say that I’ll go to great lengths to get a sip of a newly released beer or beer event.
In the past few months I’ve gone on a few adventures to get a new beer that was just released or for a new experience.
Taking a road trip anywhere is always a great experience to look back on, with the people you went with, the sights you saw, the food you ate, and in my case- the beer I drank. When you have a goal at the end of the road, the journey there is filled with anticipation and wonder that makes you press on the accelerator a little more. Then when you finally get to the destination, the traffic and weather conditions make the trip worthwhile.
I apologize again for the lack of my documentation of these great beer-cations, life happens and you’ve got to take the punches thrown at you, and with me I took them hard and I was knocked down for a while. Now that I’m back, I’ll fill you in on what expeditions for beer I’ve taken in the past four months- so get a pint for yourself and get ready!
Valentine’s Day is usually reserved for the romantic dinners, flowers and every other cheesy red and pink fluff you buy at the store. This year, my boyfriend Jason and I drove from Portland to Astoria, Oregon to drink and eat at Buoy Brewing!
On the refrigerator in our apartment, I have a big list called “Places to Go, Beer to Drink,” that has all the breweries and taprooms we want to visit in the state of Oregon. We see this list every time we go into the kitchen and the list leaves its mark in our minds of where we want to visit next. So with the imprint on our minds of breweries outside of Portland and with February being Oregon Stout Month- we drew up our version of a romantic date and decided to drive to Astoria.
We woke up early on February 14 and headed north! Two hours later we were in stormy Astoria, hungry and ready for a beer. While waiting for a table to become available, we each ordered a beer from the bar and enjoyed the scenery. Throughout the month, Buoy was offering their five delicious stouts in a taster flight and we couldn’t wait to dive in! But while we were waiting to sit, we enjoyed a pint of their German Chocolate Stout- with a toasted coconut rim! I still dream about this beer. This beer was enticing, with its deep color that looked like it held the dark tales from the Grimm Story book collection and that toasty rim of coconut. The beer wasn’t too sweet, which was one of my worries about the beer, but instead offered a creamy and chocolatey taste with a smooth mouth feel. Then after each sip, I took a portion of the adjunct rim and it created the taste of this great dessert in a glass! Later that night, after we left Buoy to go adventuring around the town- I still had the taste for that beer and I drove back to the brewery to take a growler of it home!
After drinking that one pint we were ready for that magical dark flight that we’ve been seeing on Instagram, and as soon as we were seated we put in our order for that stout flight. Soon the beer arrived and we dove right into it. There were five beers, each with their own dark flavor. This flight of dark beers was better than a box of chocolates. The flight included their amazing Oatmeal Stout, as well as four other one-time brewed stouts for February. Each had it’s own flavor profile that was pronounced; and unfortunately I didn’t write down the names of those brews, so all I’m left with was the lasting impression of joy they left on me.
Driving two hours north to the coast of Oregon was well worth the trip for the food, atmosphere, and of course the beer. Buoy has a beautiful restaurant and brewery, where you can sit and look out onto the ocean and chuckle at the sea lions as they propel themselves onto the dock.
This was one of the longest journeys Jason and I took to try new beer and now we have that trip to remember and that beer to look back on. We’ve also taken journeys within our neck-of-the-woods to find that perfect beer, or the elusive beer.
At the end of the night on my birthday, my boyfriend, my best friend and myself ended up at an interesting bar in Portland, Apex to be exact, because they had the Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break Stout on tap. Then while we were playing pinball and drinking beer, Jason found a coaster in the shape of a shield. I was intrigued because I collect coasters and display them in my home, so I wanted to see this unusually shaped condensation-absorber.
The coaster was for Firestone Brewing’s Merlin Milk Stout on Nitro. With a name like that, you know I have to do my research to find it! I stuck the coaster in my purse and totally forgot about it until the next day.
There are so many aspects of the craft beer world that I love, and one of those is traveling. Some may think it is just odd, impulsive, or wasteful to go to different cities and states in the pursuit of sampling different beers. Craft beer is my hobby and I believe that it is a great connector to all those who love beer for what it is and where it now stands in our culture. Finding a great brew or one that you’ve been hankering for is as rewarding as finding a new addition to any collection.
Jason and I looked for the illusive Merlin Milk Stout on Nitro, and finally found it on tap at a small sports bar in Tigard. And so the next day after we got home from work, we drove down to finally sip at this stout. Unfortunately, this was not our time to get the Merlin because as soon as we walked into the dark bar, I saw a cup over the tap handle and that is the international symbol for “sorry, no beer for you today.”
We still kept looking to try this beer. We had no idea if it would be good or even worth all the trouble- and the thrill of finding it on tap kept the spirit in us alive. Then one Friday night, around 11 pm, we were sitting on the couch when Jason wanted to look at the tap list at Apex out of curiosity and because they’re open late and we could go get a pint if we wanted.
Two minutes after looking at his phone, we put on shoes and ran out to the car because they had the Merlin Milk Stout on tap! Once seated at the bar and a list of over 30 beers we knew exactly which beer would be ours for the taking. That first sip of the cold and creamy stout was worth the detective work to find. Each sip was as creamy as the last, without an unpleasant bitterness in the end like some stouts can have. Firestone created a dark and enticing temptress of a beer that we thought escaped our grasp. This will be a beer I would order without hesitation again and recommend to any other crisp and creamy stout lover.
The next adventures I have taken by myself as well as with Jason took us to every grocery store in the Portland area, Corvallis, and Eugene. I trekked down to Corvallis, Oregon for Mazama Brewing’s Dark Days Winter Ale Fest where I beer-tended for a bit and drank some great brooding beers with some old college friends. Then at that same event, I met a beer that I wouldn’t part with again. I tasted the Nut Crusher Porter from Wild Ride Brewing and it changed my love of dark beer. I’ve never had a peanut butter beer before this one, and I couldn’t think of why I hadn’t! I love peanut butter and of course beer, and luckily the two mixing together was a success.
I became infatuated with this beer so much that of course I had to find it in the bottle so Jason could drink it with me. I told him so much about this beer and how great it was that it became my new mission to find it. When I tell you that I went to every New Seasons grocery store, bottle shop, Fred Meyer and Market of Choice within my home- I’m not exaggerating. I spent close to two weeks calling all these stores (and the brewery in Redmond) to find this porter! The taste of chocolate malt and peanut butter in that clean and cold beer floated around on my palette and I couldn’t stop my search.
Eventually I found the beer! At Whole Foods. I got in my car and immediately drove to the Whole Foods I had just called and sped walked to the beer section in the back of the store. With my eyes furiously scanning the shelves, I finally found my prize. I picked up six bottles of the Nut Crusher Porter and cleaned the store out of the beer. To this day it is one of the proudest moments in my beer-ventures.
Since moving to Portland, Jason and I made our beer-ventures north bound above the city and in the city itself without much consideration for what the rest of Oregon has to offer. We’ve been to Bend for the beer and we’ve been to all the great brew spots in Corvallis, but other than that we’ve been keeping ourselves busy drinking beer in the city. This changed one Saturday when Jason surprised me with a spontaneous trip to Eugene to trek the breweries. What a great surprise! He planned out the whole day, with our starting spot at Ninkasi Brewing.
We toured the brewery and had a pint of their Noir Milk Stout on their patio, and then we went over to Oakshire brewing for a taster flight and then we went to the newer brewery, Falling Sky. Afterwards we went to Viking Braggot Company and then we headed back home.
It was great to see some familiar and new faces in the Oregon beer repertoire. Each brewery had a great beer to remember them by and I think that is one of the greatest souvenirs you could ask for. When looking back at the day, we still remember which beers excited us the most and which ones we’ll leave for others to enjoy.
Along with traveling miles and miles to get to a destined brewery and hunting down a new brew, I always love going to beer release events at my favorite breweries here in Portland. So far in 2016, I’ve been to the release for Breakside Brewing’s Salted Caramel Stout, Ninkasi’s Bourbon Barrel- Aged Ground Control, Great Notion Brewing’s collaboration project with De Garde Brewing Sometimes A Great Cow, Ecliptic Brewing’s Callisto Tripel, and Ecliptic’s collaboration beer with Worthy Brewing, the Hopservatory Tropical IIPA.
I won’t go into great detail about each of these beers now, but I will tell you that each experience was unique, memorable, and delicious. I’ve met some pretty rad people at these events or met up with an old friend to catch up over a new beer, which gave drinking these new beers a richer taste because I was sharing it with other craft beer lovers.
I love to see new and familiar places and craft beer allows me to continue to grab life by the pint and take a sip.