A Weekend in Portland
The greater Portland area boasts over 30 breweries and brewpubs. To visit them all in one weekend would be a little ambitious. One thing you can do to help solve the problem is to visit Portland during the weekend of the Oregon Brewers Festival. With the 20th annual edition scheduled for July 26 to 29, 2007, the OBF is always held during the last full weekend in July. Each of 72 regional breweries is allowed to showcase only one beer, so the OBF represents the best way to get a good cross-section of the local offerings. You can then choose those you wish to visit.
For great beer cuisine, visit Higgins Restaurant and Bar which uses local, fresh ingredients and boasts a beer list with over 125 selections. Higgins is the best combination of upscale dining and fine beer in the entire Pacific northwest region. Owner Greg Higgins invented the stout float that Fred Eckhardt has helped to make famous.
For a more pub-like atmosphere, visit the Horse Brass Pub. Fifty draft lines and located right next door to Belmont Station, a premier beer store, the Horse Brass Pub is a Portland institution.
As for breweries and brewpubs to visit, check out locations, BridgePort, Lucky Labrador, Laurelwood, Roots, New Old Lompoc, Hair of the Dog, Widmer Brothers, Rogue Ales, Full Sail, Raccoon Lodge, Tuck’s Brewery…
Portland friends’ suggested accommodation: Try one of the McMennamin brothers’ remarkable collection of renovated historic sites, including Edgefield Manor and the Kennedy School.
A Weekend in Seattle
In the Emerald City, you’ll find more hops than at a kangaroo skipping competition. There’s probably no pub or restaurant in the entire city of Seattle that doesn’t have at least one craft beer on tap. So, quite simply, you can’t go wrong.
But if you want to be more focussed in your beer search, visit one of the three locations of Elysian Brewing which comes universally recommended, Beveridge Place Pub, offering over 100 different beers and Latona Pub, which features only local beers. For the best in beer cuisine, the Collins Pub downtown features regular brewers dinners while Ray’s Boathouse Cafe, a local landmark, pairs the best local seafood with the best local beers.
And if you’re visiting Seattle to take in either a Mariners or a Seahawks game, pre- and post-game celebrations and libations should be enjoyed at Pyramid Alehouse, across the street from Safeco Field and one block away from Qwest Field. Pyramid, founded in 1984, was a pioneer of the craft beer movement and while the decorative pyramids in the parking lot aren’t nearly as impressive as those in Egypt, the beer is much, much better.
Seattle friends’ suggested accommodation: At the top end—Sorrento Hotel, Alexis, Hotel 1000 or Inn at the Market; Mid-price: Mayflower Park Hotel, Inn at Harbor Steps or Hotel Vintage Park; Less pricey: Pioneer Square Hotel Best Western, Ace Hotel or College Inn.
A Weekend in Vancouver
The first Vancouver brewery that deserves mentioning is Storm Brewing Ltd. Not that you’d want to visit the brewery. It is located in a “gritty” area of town and is built from equipment nobody else wants. One visitor referred to the brewery as a scrap yard that makes beer.
But what beauty is lacking from the brewery, its beers possess in double. In particular, Storm’s unique one-time brews really merit seeking out. So before your weekend in Vancouver, check out the company’s website to see what the Storm is brewing and where you might find it.
The Whip Gallery Cafe is a good place to start. Featuring a selection of taps supporting of the local brewers and a weekly cask night, the Whip is known not only for catering to those in the know, but for educating those who are not.
As for other breweries and brewpubs, be sure to check out one of the five brewpubs owned by the Mark James Group in and around Vancouver. In particular, Dix BBQ & Brewery features a weekly cask night where all the local brewers, colloquially known as the “Brewer’s Mafia”, congregate to taste beer, chat and share beer stories. You won’t find a better place to witness the support the brewers give to each other and understand why the craft beer scene in Vancouver is thriving.
Vancouver friends’ suggested accommodation: Try Opus in Yaletown, the Pacific Palisades on Robson, or O’Douls on Robson. The Granville Island Hotel has a brewpub in the hotel and it is right on Granville Island, the heart of tourist mecca. The Wedgwood and Pan Pacific are top-notch, and the prices are great off season.
Other brewpubs and good beer bars: Yaletown, Steamworks, Dockside, Irish Heather, Chambar Belgian Restaurant, The Whip, Fogg N’ Suds.
A Weekend in Victoria
If you’re coming from Vancouver, consider taking the harbor-to-harbor flight. These float planes depart and arrive by the sea near the Vancouver and Victoria harbors, fly low to the ground so you can see all of the splendor of the Canadian west coast islands and will save you hours of travel to and from and waiting time at both Vancouver’s and Victoria’s principal airports.
Plus, when you arrive at the Victoria harbour, you will be a hop, skip and a jump away from Swans Suite Hotel or a short water taxi ride from Spinnakers GuestHouses. Swans is a boutique hotel featuring an eclectic art collection and houses Buckerfield’s Brewery, named the 2006 Brewpub of the Year by the Canadian Brewing Awards. Spinnakers GuestHouses are located in a carefully restored heritage home dating from the Victorian era. Best of all, it is just steps away from Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, which was Canada’s first brewpub and winner of the 2006 Northwest Brewing News readers’ choice awards for best brewpub in the province.
Both Buckerfield’s and Spinnakers emphasize British-style ales with a selection of cask-conditioned ales always available on hand pump. And while this nod to British tradition will always hold a special charm for the beer lover, you should still visit Canoe Brewpub, Marina & Restaurant and Hugo’s Grill and Brewhouse. Canoe has an amazing waterfront patio that simply cannot be beat on a warm, sunny Victoria afternoon while Hugo’s, known for experimenting with unique ingredients including ginseng and green tea, features a night club atmosphere come dark.