Going to the Dogs
A short streetcar ride and a short walk takes you to Lucky Labrador Beer Hall at 1945 NW Quimby Street. It’s a somewhat more industrial version of their original location and brewery east of the river. Walk up to the counter to order beer (it’s self-service) and look up at the extensive, and rotating, beer list on the blackboard. The selections run mainly toward bitters, pale ales and imperial ales, and they’re friendly to both your taste buds and your wallet. We enjoyed a Scottish Holiday, a darker version of a Scottish ale, and a Hellraiser ESB, which checked in at nearly seven percent ABV—a strength of this style that you’re unlikely to find in an English pub. And since it was “Tightwad Tuesday,” pints were just three bucks each.
It was late afternoon and the sunlight streamed through the large windows onto the long rows of tables, reminding us of a neighborhood German beer hall. A large Warhol-esque doggie collage hangs on the wall and a stuffed feline on the bar is labeled “Satan.” (Cat lovers, consider yourself warned.)
Lucky Labrador deserves some kind of an honor for turning beer kegs into décor: they’re used as planters, hanging flower baskets and even light fixtures. As we were finishing our pints, a local non-profit was setting up a lecture about what a volcanic eruption did to the character of a local lake. Damn. It was time to move on. Some things just aren’t fair in beer traveling.
Years ago, on our first trip to Portland there wasn’t much in this part of town. But one oasis that we did find—almost in the middle of nowhere—was the BridgePort Brewing Co. at 1313 NW Marshall Street. Located in a former rigging rope factory, it’s Portland’s oldest craft brewery. We drank great beer, and we could buy pizza by-the-slice.
Fast-forward a couple of decades. The neighborhood has changed, and so has BridgePort. $4.5 million in renovations later, it’s a brewery, pub, full-fledged restaurant and bakery, all in the same two-story building. At first we wondered whether it had become a bit too “upscale.” But one sip of the IPA, and a quick glance at the food on surrounding tables, assured us that all was good. As we settled in, a pub trivia contest got underway. Beervana plus trivia? It doesn’t get much better.
BridgePort brews a solid line up. You can’t go wrong sampling any of their beers. The IPA has been winning awards for years, including a gold medal in the 2008 World Beer Championships. Here, as in Portland’s other great breweries and ale houses, you can sit around and quaff; quaff and snack; or quaff and dine.
To the Rogue in All of Us
Even people who have never been to Oregon have heard of Rogue Ales. Maybe it’s the name. It oozes thoughts of mischief. You have to be fascinated with a company that has the guts to call a beer Dead Guy Ale—and become famous for it. Maybe it’s the unusual art on the bottles, each more defiant than the other. Forget all that. It’s the beer.
Close to BridgePort is the Rogue Distillery and Public House at 1339 NW Flanders Street. One side is a restaurant, and the other is a pub. Atop the bar is a sign that reads, “It’s Beer:30. You’re Right on Time.” How could you possibly need more inspiration to savor a few?
Rogue doesn’t brew here, but you’d never know that from the stacks of bottles arranged in every corner of the bar. More than just décor, those bottles, like the ones in the huge cooler, are available for “to go” sales. If there is something that you absolutely have to sample, buy a bottle as you depart. And since you’ll find some beers Rogue doesn’t bottle, it’s a fair trade-off.
Many of the menu items are prepared using beer as an ingredient. There’s also Hazelnut Ale bread and cheese from the Rogue Creamery. We were surprised to find Kobe beef in the chili, burgers, meatballs and even “haute dogs.” Food that’s interesting and well prepared, as it is here, is a bonus.
We enjoyed an I2PA, a Dry Hopped Red, a YSB and a Chocolate Stout—all absolutely flawless. The atmosphere was friendly. There were plenty of locals and out-of-towners on a quest for good beer. The service was impeccable. As you might expect, we found it difficult to leave here too.
And speaking of leaving, it’s time to wrap up this column, but we’ll be still be here in Portland next issue. Please join us then as we continue our search forever more perfect pints.