Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lighthouse Brewing's New Ads Make Me Want to Hurt Myself

Okay folks, watch this.

Congratulations, you are now stupider.

I know, I know, it's supposed to be funny and silly and lighthearted, and not really objectify women, and certainly the folks that I know from Lighthouse would be mortified to think that they were offending anyone, but this is just plain dumb, and I'll tell you why. The craft beer industry will only continue to grow and improve because of the involvement of women.

Just look at the local CAMRA executive if you don't believe me.

But before that check out more silliness:
Oh look, her top came off. Of course it did. Now, let's get some lime in that beer and serve it EXTRA COLD.

Seriously, what century are we living in?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Battle Royale No 7: Abel vs. Cain

As a passport-bearing denizen of Northern Ireland, I am no stranger to family in-fighting. In the wee parcel of land from whence I sprung, men have bled and died while not realizing that they have much more in common with each other than they do with either the people of the Republic of Ireland or the British Royal family, that bunch of teat-sucking German vampires. No prizes for guessing which side I tend towards.

However, I am all too happy that my folks eschewed the blinkered life of the oul' sod and came instead to Canada, where I can even make friends with a Liverpudlian without the attendant stigma associated with same. Well, without most of the stigma...

But anyway, here we are at the much-overdue B.R. numbah 7, and it's time for a little good old fashioned inter-brewery throw-down. In one corner, the much-lauded Fat Tug; in the other, Twenty Pounder gets another shot. Ding!

Driftwood Fat Tug IPA vs. Driftwood Twenty Pounder Double IPA

Round 1: Fight!

Now, many of you might already be saying, "Hey! You already said you didn't like the Twenty-Pounder! How fair is that?" Well, not fair, actually, but let me put this out there. Ignoring all a priori notions of which beer is better, I laid aside my initial impression, and really tried to examine the beer. After all, while taste is subjective, some folks are really digging this brew. 

So here we are then, and at first sniff, here we are with some seriously hoppy beers. Seriously, the Fat Tug's got more hops than a jackrabbit smoothie, and a whiff of the Twenty-Pounder indicates the same. Warning: the 'Tug starts Alexander Keith's corpse spinning in his grave, but the Twenty Pounder has him hitting 9000 rpms. Dude just hit VTEC, yo.

On first blush, the Twenty Pounder has the edge on body and colour, but it's the Fat Tug's floral hop bouquet that draws first blood.

Round 2: Fight!

Obviously, I've got to sample the Fat Tug first off, as the Twenty-Pounder has the heft to be an A-Bomb to the tastebuds. I am become DIPA, destroyer of Palates. It's hard to believe that this stuff is even better on tap than it is in the bottle. It's fresh and light and delicious without being wimpy. As much as I love Red Racer, Fat Tug is stiff competition against any IPA.

But it's not up against any IPA, it's up against its hairy-knuckled big bro'. Which beer, it must be said, has some of that stewed-grapefruit character of Southern Tier's Un*Earthly, possibly my fav beer if I had to choose. But where the Tier balances that double shwack of hops with a big malt body, the Twenty-Pounder has an astringent bitterness that's off-leash. No mistaking the big alcohol content either. Second round's gotta go to the 'Tug.
Round 3: Fight!

There's a third left in each bottle now, and if I didn't have a liver the size of a wagon-wheel, I'd be slurring my sibilants. As it stands, I still stand, and so do our two combatants, though the Twenty-Pounder has been taking a beating.

But something funny's happened. The initial bite of both beers has been muted by their intense hop concentrations to the point that the acrid, astringent taste of the Twenty-Pounder is no longer off-putting. It's been blunted by repeated sipping and funnily enough, the Fat Tug is almost like a Race Rocks in its maltiness as its hoppiness is masked by the solar flare of resin coming off the Twenty-Pounder. Which do I prefer? 

Hmm. Round 3 is a draw.

Round 4: Fight!

We're down to the dregs now, and the numbers of lysed brain cells are hitting the trillons. So I hope you appreciate the research, dear readers, as the chances of me ever doing a crossword puzzle again just went out the window. 

But, in the final round, we do have a winner. The Twenty-Pounder is just too much like work. It's not quaffable in any degree: the intensity of the hops is simply exhausting to the palate, and then you refresh yourself with a sip of Fat Tug and wonder why you're bothering with the other. After all, the Twenty-Pounder is only 2% stronger than the 'Tug is anyway.


Fat Tug wins, despite giving up a hop-load and ABV advantage to the heavy-weight Twenty-Pounder!

Post-Battle Review:

More is not necessarily better. Hard to believe I'm saying such a thing about beer, but there you go. I maintain that Driftwood Brewing is the Brewery to beat on the West Coast for range-wide excellence, but their regular IPA remains too good for a misfire of a DIPA to take out in single combat.

Driftwood Fat Tug
Recommended if:-one "schwack o' hops" is enough
-balance is favoured over sheer mass
-still worth ordering for the double-entendre name

Not Recommended if:
-you only buy cans
-tastebuds be damned, I need to kill my brain!
-you don't like IPAs. In which case: this is the wrong B.R. for you, boyo.

Driftwood Twenty-Pounder
Recommended if:-ABV and IBU high-scores matter more to you than taste
-For those about to have a major hang-over, we saluuuute you
-you probably should try it at least once anyway
Not recommended if:-you're not a hop fan. Because this will melt your face.
-you favour balance over outright intensity
-there's Fat Tug available. Because it's better.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In Which I Actually Make It To A Cask Event For Once

The previous two posts have been a bit Debbie Downer. So, let me surcease being a nittering nabob of negativism and wax ecstatic 'pon the great deal of fun I just had, thanks to the nice people of CAMRA Vancouver.

But first, a word about Dead Frog.

I got this at the 16th St liquor store, and while there's always something interesting there, take note that they don't have a lot of turn-over. In fact, you can git yo'self a bottle of Naughty Hildegaard, Spring Rite or even Cuvee D'Hiver, last I checked. So whither this comes in the Brewmaster's lineup, I know not.

But let me speak to the schizophrenic nature of this brewery. At best, its regular lineup is a local version of Sleeman's. At worst, its regular lineup is a local version of Sleeman's. If I wanted to drink Sleeman's, I would drink some damn Sleeman's.*

*Actually, if I felt like having a Sleeman's, I'd probably go for some retrograde phrenology and hit myself with a series of large mallets until I snapped out of it.

But as for the Brewmaster's Series, well, apart from the T-Pain label, they've all been quite good. Case in point: the Citra Hop Dead Frog. Scuttlebutt has it that there's a bit of a revolving door at Dead Frog, so the wide variety of styles in their Brewmaster's Series could possibly be due to there being a new Brewmaster every few months. However, I've done exactly zero research to ascertain whether this rumour has any truth behind it. I mention it here in the best traditions of TEH INTERNETS, where nobody is ever wrong about anything cough Wikipedia cough.

This hopped Pilsner is pretty good, and I even poured it into something other than my usual pint glass. 'Twas a hot day, and it went down like a torpedo'd Lusitania. Which is to say, quickly, and with a certain amount of North-Atlantic-like crisp refreshment.

But on to the cask event.

This was a last-minute attend for Mrs. Damnbeerblogger and self. Normally, we attempt some minor project on The House, and next thing you know we've spent all day installing skylights, flying buttresses and a moat. Happily though, a quick jaunt on the seabus had us in Gastown in a jiff.

Vancouver sure is beautiful from the water.

Any road, as it turns out, our memberships were lapsed, so we seized the opportunity to sign up, especially as I keep telling everyone I'm in CAMRA anyway. It's in my byline for the paper and everything.

Shout outs to @mikefarlane, @scorpiogirl and @vancitybeer, all of whom I now have put a face to the tweet-handle.

The beer.

Howe Sound Jack-Daniels Infused Imperial Pumpkin Ale:
-less brown-sugar flavour than last-year's (could be the Jack in the cask)

R&Bl Brewing Black Cherry Hefewiezen
-light and refreshing, the cherries are quite subtle
-second sip: man, R&B is underrated as a brewery

Red Racer Vodka-Soaked-Vanilla-Bean Infused Oatmeal Breakfast Stout
-That's a long name for a beer
-Oooh, but it's good
-The vanilla is pretty buried, it's almost a coffee stout
-Can't wait for cans of RR stout. Imperial?

Granville Island Brewing Bitter
-As usual, GIB's special fare is much better than the mainline beers (although I like those too)
-Nice and hoppy, and only 3.5%? Cool.

Driftwood 2010 Old Cellar Dweller:
-Okay Driftwood, THIS is why I was so hard on the Twenty Pounder. I struggle to think of anything even half as good as this stuff.

Also a cask of La Chouffe, but we gave that a miss, as we had to hurry back home. Altogether a great cask event, and we look forward to being able to attend more of these as The House becomes complete. Yeah, right.

Last, a quick word about Beer-Mixology, Mrs. Damnbeerblogger's speciality.

Here's something she whipped up at the event: a blend of the Howe Sound and the Red Racer.
This would then be a Jack-Daniels Infused Imperial Pumpkin Vodka-Soaked-Vanilla-Bean Infused Oatmeal Breakfast Stout. Or you could abbreviate and call it Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass tastes delicious.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Democracy of the Beer Cooler

My house is warmed. By which I mean, Mrs. Damnbeerblogger and I invited a number of people over -- totalling a "bunch" -- for some nibblies and bevvies in celebration of the fact that we've finally got our house organized. Which feat was accomplished by bunging all the mess into the basement.

As housewarmings go, it was quite the success, meaning that I received more beer by way of presents than I had to buy. The excellent Orlando F. bought a nearly-entire selection of Driftwood (as befits an individual bearing such a glorious appellation, he left off the Twenty-Pounder), and I also nabbed such beauties as a Chambar, a Lighthouse Overboard and a rare blueberry ale from a little-known brewery in New Brunswick. Also, two bottles of homebrew, both delish.

Admonished by the missus to procure some "boring" beer such that non-beerthusiast friends would not find themselves reeling from the proverbial schwack o'hops that I'm normally fond of, I milled about the 16th Street Liquor Store's cooler like a spotty adolescent furtively eyeing the top-shelf lady-mags, but couldn't pull the trigger on some dullsville two-four with fizzy yellow airbrushed features. Instead, I made my own two-four with mix and match six-packs.

Pack #1: Red Racer IPA. Dammned if I'm going to have a party without it.

Pack #2: Mount Begbie Kolsch. A safe bet and delicious to boot.

Pack #3: Cannery Naramate Nut Brown. I remember this being tastier. Still approachable and tasty.

Pack #4: Stanley Park Amber Ale. Not a regular for me, but should do all right.

Yon traditional cooler was packed with ice and brewskis and popped out onto the balcony, as through the night people milled in and out. Wine-drinkers drank wine. Non-drinkers drank tea. Somebody made Caesars. Halfway through the evening, somebody showed up with a sixer of Mill St Tankhouse Ale, and that got tossed in the cooler as well.

Come morning, came the cleanup, and I noticed a peculiar pattern to the floaties left behind in the cooler. I clearly remember the Red Racer evaporating as per usual (damn that's good stuff), but the leftovers certainly seemed to indicate... something.

Sure the Tankhouse was a late addition, and there was a single Begbie and Naramata left, but why all the Stanley Park cans? They were the last in, so folks were digging straight past 'em, in search of something different. Why? This calls for some research.

Here's the brew in question. On the label, it says it's sustainably brewed in a sustainable brewery by sustainable brewers that sustainably brew sustainable beer. I officially now want to punch the guy who started the whole sustainable movement right in his stupid sustainable face. SUSTAINABLY.

So it's made with a windmill or something: who cares? Is is any good? MMMmmmmmmmmm.....


This is a Belgian-style Amber? I mean, I know Belgium is not the most thrilling country in the universe but there're three things they do well:
1) Beer
2) Fries
3) Providing an arena for England and Germany to settle their differences.

This beer is un-offensive and un-obtrusive and just plain un-interesting. I'd leave it floating in the bottom of the cooler too.
On a more positive note, we were able to get to The District Social in Lonsdale Quay tonight. Great Belgian beer list (mostly bottles), great food, and La Chouffe on tap. Now THAT'S how you do it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Damn It, Missed: Twenty Pounder

This beer blog is teetering on the brink between, "Hey, don't you have a beer-blog?" and, "Hey, didn't you used to have a beer blog?" The readership bar at the bottom of your screen looks like a performance evaluation of the NYSE. And/or the dwindling popularity of Lindsay Lohan.

Now, I've the best of excuses for this blogging malaise, or rather a triumvirate of them: new job, new house and a surfeit of other writing gigs. Which gigs, dear reader, I actually get paid to do, and with the amount of beer required to deal with the stress of (a) New Job and (b) New House, you'd best believe I'm like a one man Oktoberfest, and thus need the funds.

Anyway, I soldier on, and hope you will too, as this blog inevitably degenerates into the sort of off-the-cuff twaddle that might be jammed within the pages of a Supermarket brochure on food-pairing ("rich meats like lamb go best with a dark beer, like Molson Canadian Export").

And so to battle. Not B.R., I haven't the strength for one of those, although I've got the kernel of an idea for the next one, and it's a Duesenberg. No, today it's time to review Driftwood Brewing's latest, the Twenty Pounder Double Imperial Pale Ale.

At the outset, I was more excited about the release of this beer than pretty much anything else this year. Yeah, yeah; I bought property. Yawn-snooze-coma-D.N.R. A double-IPA from Driftwood Brewing? Hold on t'yer hat Ma, she's gonna be a big one!

If all the breweries of BC were forced to don sashes and compete in some out-moded chauvinistic beauty contest, Driftwood would be the contestant who played a cover version of Motorhead's Ace of Spades on the bagpipes, sashayed around in a shimmering one-piece until the floor was littered with bugged-out eyeballs and then recited the entire works of the Venerable Bede in Latinate, balanced the national budget, and cured all known diseases. In short, they rock and/or roll.

So when I heard that Driftwood was going to be putting out a beer that might be a local rival for my all-time-fav Southern Tier Un*Earthly, I immediately began hyperventilating and fell out of my chair. My favourite style by my favourite brewery? How great is that?

Well, and assuming you've read the title of this post you shouldn't be surprised, not.... great.

Someone packed the powder wrong, and the Twenty Pounder fails to live up to it's For Those About To Rock artwork and instead blurts out its charge with a sad trombone noise. Wah-Wahhhh. It's just all over the place and skunky, and ye gods, the aftertaste is as astringent as... uh... a really astringent thing.

Dan over at smallbeerblog did an excellent post on this beer where he asked the question (and I paraphrase), "Do we criticize the small brewers as harshly as we do the big guys?" It's a fair question, especially as I, like you, would preferably support our hard-working local brewers. But why coddle them?

We don't need to. Driftwood is still the best brewer around. When my Cali peeps come up North, all they ever talk about is how amazing Fat Tug is. Take that, Lagunitas.

But as for the Twenty Pounder, well, it's a misfire. Part of the problem of setting such a high standard for your beers is that they get judged by that standard. This beer comes up short, but only because when I see the Driftwood label, I expect nothing but the absolute best.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Alibi Room Is The Best Place to Drink Beer In Vancouver. There. I Said It.

When bearded flip-flop enthusiast and serial-ruiner Jonny Lieberman (of Motortrend) mentioned he was coming to town, there was only one place that I was going to send him: without a moment's hesitation, I recommended the Alibi Room.

Now, had I taken a moment, I probably would have put forward Milestone's or something else equally meh. The Loverman has a tendency to lay waste to previously excellent things like some sort of King Midas of lame. To wit, next time I rolled into the Alibi Room, they'd run out of casks. Dammit, Jonny!

Anyway, probably none of you are getting this inside joke, so I'll move on.

The point is, while there are many excellent places to drink beer in this amazing town, only one can wear the King Heffy -style crown. This is not to cast aspersions on any of the fine quaffing establishments that rub shoulders with the 'Room but, like Highlander, there can only be One... ridiculous Scotsman with a Samurai sword.

In this case, it's Nigel Springthorpe, who is about as Scottish as, I dunno, Christopher Lambert. But trust a Geordie to get the beer right. Naturally, credit goes to sis-in-law Raya Audet and the good Mrs. Springthorpe as weeel.

God I love this place. Not only is the beer list constantly changing and double-sided, but there's frequent casks and also the food is amazing. I'm of the opinion that good beer should not be served in a place that doesn't have good fries. The Alibi Room's taters are kick ass.

There were many sensible, logical and financial reasons for my move from lovely Victoria (and I miss all you guys) to busy and frequently wet Vancouver. But I can't help thinking that perhaps all the rationale laid out on the table was simply just a justification to get closer to the unequivocal best tap list in BC. Crazy, right?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Which, Thanks to Dan, I Find a New Beer Store.

I really am a lazy bastard. You'd think that I could manage a small thing like moving and the purchase of real estate well enough such that there would be enough time to write a simple phrase or two on the ol' beer blog. I mean, it's not like I've curtailed the actual beer-quaffing to any extent.

Rather the oppo, I'm afraid.

Anyway, recognizing that I have the work ethic of a Sloth who used to teach indolence to senior Teamsters and now has gone on to become Professor of the Loafing Department at the University of Lethargy, I'm going to resort to bribery. Here's the carrot.

Now where, you might be wondering, did I find such a thing in the parched desert of Bud Light Lime & co. that tends to be the local cold beer n' wine store scene 'round these parts? Well, I'll tell you: complain on the Interwebs and twenty-eight nano-seconds later someone will be setting you straight with a well-timed jab. Such was the case here.

We're all aware that Vancouver proper boasts places like Firefly and Brewery Creek, and we're lucky to have 'em. However, the Lion's Gate Bridge, any sunny summer's evening, has all the arterial flow of Walt Disney's frozen corpse, and rather than fight the snarled traffic I mused aloud something along the lines of, "My kingdom for a beer!" Which, you see, is a pretty good trade for me as I haven't got a kingdom.

With lightning speed, dan of @smallbeerblog sprang to the assist with typical Liverpudlian delicacy. "WRONG WRONG WRONG!" quoth he with all-caps vehemence and, one imagines, frothy spittle accumulating at the corners of his mouth, "Go to Marine Drive west and turn left on 16th to 220 16th St. GREAT beer selection. FOOL!"


Fearing further e-wrath, I sallied forth and infiltrated this place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some beery comestibules.

Michael Palin: "Come again?"

I went to buy some beer.
Anyway, let me tell you, as I entered this semi-hidden store, trumpets blew and choirs of angels sang. Throw a rock in any direction in this part of town and, aside from violating about fourteen by-laws, you're bound to hit some specialty wine store full of decorative pine crates, botoxed bimbegenarians and guys who use that weird makeup stick that Gerard Butler is always hocking. Finding a kickass beer place like the 16th street liquor store in this wasteland of pretense is like getting dragged to your spouse's office party and running into the guy who homebrews. Suddenly, you're glad to be here.

You can also find the 16th street liquor store on twitter at @16thstreetliquor. Even if you're out in Deep Cove someplace, it's worth driving in to face the good burghers of West Vancouver and their inability to find the turn signals on their gargantuan teutonic behemoths.

And now for my reward.


Friday, July 1, 2011

A Toast to Canada

Today's Canada Day is a special one for Mrs. Damnbeerblogger and I. Sure, year on year, we've always taken a moment to realize what a special country we live in. More than just America's hat, Canada is a country with much to be proud of, whether 'tis our constant striving for inclusive multiculturalism or the sort of civic pride shown by rolling up our sleeves and cleaning up after some idiots make a mess of downtown. Yes, the current Prime Minister may be a cat person, but hey, nobody's perfect, right?

I mean, eh?

Anyway, today is particularly special to the missus and me because we now own a small chunk of Canada. A little bit of paradise. It's a humbling thought.
Regular readers who dwell below the 49th parallel may be surprised to note a lack of polar bears and icebergs in the above picture. Again, nobody's perfect.

Any road, here's what we're toasting the country with: a little Innis & Gunn Scottish Oak Aged beer. It's a fitting tribute, I think, what with Canada's Scotch roots and all, and hey, a little hockey player on the box! This beer is less oaky than the usual, but it's a nice little treat as a break from unpacking.

I'd like to take the opportunity to raise a glass to the brewers of this great country from Propeller to Phillips. Many things make Canada great, but you guys are all doing a great job. In the last decade, we truly can say that we're starting to have our own distinctive brewing culture in Canada, and I'm excited to see what the new year brings.

Oh Canada
Our home and native land
A pint of craft beer
In all sons' and daughters' hands

I'll stand on guard for that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot Damn of the Week: Belle Royale is Back

Pretty much anytime a new Driftwood beer hits the shelves, it's a cause for celebration. Check out this nice little piece from the Times Colonist on the brewery:

Hmm.. I never really noticed that the Driftwood tap handles look a bit phallic. Looks like the guys are standing around holding Ent thingies.

Anyway, anybody who stands within earshot of me for five minutes is going to learn two things. Firstly, Minilites are the best style of wheels ever. Second, Driftwood is probably my favourite Canadian brewery. And here's a good example of why.

I bought plenty of Belle Royale last year, but never actually tasted any because Mrs. DBB always drank it all before I got home. Seeing as it's a whopping 9% and she's the size of a marmot, she would then be extremely loopy for the rest of the evening.

This year I made sure to get stuck in first. (Thanks to Firefly for letting me know it was in stock - check them out on Cambie and 12th -

You can tell immediately from the colour that this beer is going to pack a wallop of cherries. It also smells like a roadside Okanagan fruit stand at about nine in the morning when everything's still fresh but warming up.

But even with all these eight-foot high roadsigns, you simply can't prepare for how big this beer is, and how hard it hits. Wham! Pow! Blammo! It could be a campy Batman super-villain! Unbelievably good. Go track it down, now.

Driftwood Brewing's Belle Royale
Recommended if:
-you're a fan of Driftwood's saison-style beers
-you like cherries more than Pac-Man
-you're currently breathing

Not Recommended if:
-you're under the impression that "Royale" means "with cheese"
-your wife is faster than you with the bottle opener
-you can't find it because everybody else has bought it all up

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Damnbeerblogger Goes To Portland

Portland is an interesting city. While Seattle is represented in the public imagination as either a grey, rain-soaked hangout for murderers (The Killing) or as a refuge for broken-hearted architects and the women who stalk them (Sleepless in Seattle), Portland is best-known for Portlandia, a TV show that lampoons a sort of hipsterish miasma of beardy bicyclists and crunchy granola types.

On the other hand, Portland is Beer Mecca. So yes, the populace may look like the cast of Napoleon Dynamite after a shopping spree at American Apparel, but its worth braving the sea of card-spoked fixies and iconically-moustached douchebaggery for some great micro-brew. Hell, at least these kids in skinny jeans and silly hats seem quite peaceful, as compared to the gold-chained, white-shirted louts that smashed up Vancouver and now blubber into CTV's microphones. I guess it's because every third person in Portland looks like Jesus. After he ate Buddha.

So, with a smoky pall hanging over the Big Smoke, what better time to get out of town and hit the road?

Vancouver to Portland is about six hours plus or minus Godawful Lower Mainland commuting issues and tailbacks at the border. We left mid-day, thus dodging both handily, but requiring a mid-way pit-stop. Thankfully, a quick perusal of the Northwest Brewing News had identified a likely spot.

Red Hook is no destination brewery, less'n you happen to live in Woodinville. However, their beer is pretty good, as is the food. Or so we remembered from the last time we were there.

I had an ESB, the Mrs. a Hefe of some description. Both were good. The food was less so. The service was less so. Mrs. DBB added a buck's worth of guacamole to her burger. It looked like someone had sneezed on the bun. Lightly. I asked what the password for the advertised free WiFi was. The server seemed bewildered, as though INTRNETZ 'tweren't allowed 'round these here parts and then disappeared to "ask someone".

By which, of course, she meant, "I'm going to bugger off and not come back ever." Which, quite frankly, is what we did after grabbing a quick growler-fill of porter at their attached beer store. An employee there suggested a nearby stop for us on the way back up, but more on that later.

After staying overnight in a charming campsite (Lewis and Clark State Park - recommended for leafy quietude), we meandered through Vancouver - the other one - and into Portland around lunchtime. First stop? A McMenamins.

If you've not been to a McMenamins before, you are very strange. Get off the computer and go. Their institution in Troutdale, Edgefield, is a must-go for every beer-head. Not that their beer is so amazing, but it's just so much fun. McMenamins Edgefield is essentially Beer Disneyland and is best enjoyed with a couple of friends. They are booked up from now until the End of Time. Best of luck.

We've been to Edgefield numerous times, so we wanted to check out the Kennedy School for a spot of lunch. It was typical McMenamins fare: lots of funky folk art, meandering old building, harassed waitstaff. Here's a tip servers (no pun intended), if you are short-staffed, apologizing once is perfectly acceptable and will win over the customer immediately. Complaining incessantly about how horrible the management is will not.

Mind you, this place still gets a recommend, simply because you can get cajun tater-tots and mix different beer-styles together (Ruby Red and Terminator Stout = Rubinatior, etc.).

Continuing on in to Downtown Portland, we made our way through the usual maze of one-way streets to our overnight stay, the Ace Hotel.
This place is as awesome as everyone says it is. Yes, you may be knee-deep in beardy weirdos, but it matters not: the Ace oozes charm from mural-painted walls to funky lobby. There's even this filing cabinet on floor 1-and-a-half that's full of random pencilled notes from guests.

Unfortunately, parking is an extra expense, so we scurried off to lodge the car above the REI and then wandered around the Pearl District, finally stopping in at Deschutes for a quick one (but more on them later).

After a quick pint there, it was on to Powell's books (a staple) and then back to the hotel to regroup. We identified a likely-looking taproom and hit the streets.

In hindsight, the above juxtaposition of signage illustrated above should probably have been paid attention to as a harbinger of coming events. Not that there was anything wrong with the place, in fact it's a must-go.

However, sub-$5 proper pints of 8%+ beer are not a good idea in a place that doesn't serve food. Also, there were these bunch of guys:

Who, if you can't tell from the bleary photo, are playing Connect-4 with the slow intensity of Russian Chessmasters and wearing fedoras.

I believe we went to Whole Foods next and bought more beer and food to eat at the Hotel, but don't quote me on that.

Next morning, I awoke feeling like someone had parked me on Georgia Street last week after hanging a Bruins flag on my antenna. In short, I was a bit green about the gills. However, there is one sure-fire cure to hangovers big and small, and you can find it here.

This, my friends, is Night Before kryptonite. Keep it simple with their biscuits and gravy (mushroom is better than sausage) and gradually feel your stomach stop complaining and start chuckling. It's amazing stuff.

Naturally, post-biscuit, you may want to go for a bit of a hike, which we did, and then find yourself hankering for a beer. Time to check off a must-visit pub.

Hopworks Urban Brewery is probably best-known for their florally-excellent IPA, but they had a full dodecuplet of taps available when we popped in. We elected to skip the light stuff in favour of the two cask-conditioned variants: all were excellent, but particular shout-outs to Intergalactic Red, Ace of Spades and the boringly-named-but-delicious Deluxe Organic Ale.

HUB is a bit out of the way, although we didn't check out their Bike Bar, which is something I'd try for next time. Worth making your way over for, certainly.
Post-HUB, we did some varied wandering around and shopping, the details of which I won't bore you with. Later that evening though, it was back to the beer.

By the way, our second Hotel sucked. This was a last minute jaunt, so the Ace only had space for one night; second night we had to stay at the Lucia. There is nothing wrong with this place per se. It's clean and friendly, and quite fancy. It also has all the character of an IKEA kitchen chair and they want to charge you - wait for it - ten bucks a day for WiFi. Ten. Bucks. A. Day. This ain't a cheap place to stay, and how places that try to charge for internet stay alive in this day and age, I'll never know. Not going back.

Anyways, the internet shortage problem created its own solution: we just walked up the street to the Ace Hotel, and caught a bite to eat in their restaurant instead. Moderately good beer list, really awesome cocktail list, pretty kickass food.

Taking the tapas approach, we figured on just grabbing a quick one and then heading on to the next place, Rogue.
Rogue was very cool, gritty and stickily authentic. Amazing list of beers, and any visitor to the Alibi Room might recognize the Frat Bat setup that we put into play to try and sample as many types as possible without getting totally blotto.

Favourites? Well, John John Juniper is worth the price of admission, as is Old Crustacean. I have to say though, that I can't get over how good Rogues Soba Ales are. Morimoto is just so consistently delicious. It's can't-fail beer.

Next up was Deschutes.

I've complained about service twice already, and I'd hate for you to think that I was excessively demanding: I'm not. However, the way you get treated at Deschutes in Portland is the way you should be treated everywhere. They're all ridiculously nice: just as you'd expect people to be who are surrounded by amazing beer all the time.

We had come back specifically for this dessert beer, their fabled XXIII anniversary ale.

It's delicious, and a fitting crown on the other tap-only beers I'd had the opportunity to taste earlier. Also, we got Maple Bacon Cheesecake.

Maple Bacon Cheesecake!

Sadly, this was our last night in Portland, and we hit the road the next morning. Ish.

That last stop near Woodinville on the way up? Well that'd be Black Raven Brewing. Great little tasting bar of a place, and the local pizza joint delivers right to the front door.

All in all, a whirlwind tour, and there were many more joints I'd love to have tried out. As a last bonus, we stopped in at an old friend, the Co-Op in Bellingham.

People might not know this, but you can bring more beer across the border duty-free than any other alcoholic beverage. After a 48 hour stay it's two bottles of wine, 1.5 litres of spirits, or EIGHT AND A HALF litres of beer. Each! We always stock up before heading back to BC. you should too.