Portlandia, Part 1by brandon / Mar 30, 2012
Editor's Note: We are thrilled to welcome aboard our second guest blogger, Brandon "Old Time" Plyler! This classy gentleman is the Retail Manager of CBX, runs his own beer review page on Facebook, and teaches HOS 253 - Beer Basics at The Culinary Institute of Charleston. Official cred aside, he knows an unreasonable amount about beer, and he's not shy to share. Enjoy the kick-off of his multi-part travel journal from a recent trip to Portland, OR. Cheers! -ETP
Charleston is a wonderful place to live.
In three years' time, beer lovers have gone from searching out a serviceable island in a sea of tap handles dedicated to the fast food and giggling mental patient equivalents of beer, to enjoying a healthy selection produced here and abroad. One, however, cannot adequately gauge the depth of craft brewing culture in such a short span of time. More homework is needed. An examination of beer culture as it has been for 20 years is required. Also, I need a vehicle in which to bore people with my last vacation. Listen closely friends, the suggestions may be subtle...
The first poor decision of the trip was to forego lunching outside of the Charleston International Airport. In order to avoid check-in issues, I chose to become established at the smallest International Airport in the South (North Carolina apparently being considered another country). This severely limits one's dining options to the newsstand or the Samuel Adams taproom. Upon running the taps, my speak for eyeballing what is pouring, the proprietary bite is immediately felt. This included a "special brew" made for the airport: Charleston Ale, which certainly was not a homemade tap-handle pouring one of the brewery's germane offerings... Twenty-ounce glasses, surprisingly clean, held a beer crisply hoppy enough to wash away the toaster-oven mutated chicken fingers and the unholy blending of ranch and honey-mustard that I am painfully responsible for. Service was absolutely top notch, bubbly and warm. Thank you.
No airplane jokes here. Actually sipping 12-year-old Single Malt Scotch while you gaze down onto snow-dusted Cascades is rather remarkable. Bonus Scotch made available by the flight attendant as the lady next to me begins to feed her child in the most natural of ways, not that there is anything wrong with that. Thanks Delta!
Stop #1, a French inspired bistro with a booze menu five times the size of the food billing. Hopworks Velvet ESB (5.2% ABV, XX, 66) on tap, served in a non-beer clean glass. Fat/sloppy bubbles sticking to the sides, and no head. Could this be? In Beervana? Filthy Shaker Pint glasses? Disappointment is easily assuaged with frites cooked in Foie Gras fat and accompanied by the unhealthiest aioli I've yet met. Deschutes Jubelale (6.7% ABV, 89, 96) served in a similar fashion, this time with a lawyer-friendly chip in the rim of the glass. Thankfully, no foam was there to mask it.
Stop #2, Bailey's Taproom. One hand-pump, one gravity-pour firkin, one nitro tap, and 19 faucets. Everything available as a half-pour! British 20-ounce Nonik (fancy-talk for large, proper pint glass) a standard serving size. Nothing over 8% ABV available in anything but a 10-ounce. snifter. Valhalla my friends. Cascadian Dark Ale from the firkin, the same ESB off the hand pump. Tricerahops Double IPA (8.8% ABV, 90, 97)? With a name like that!
More on this place later, the oldest strip club in Portland beside it, and how to manage jet lag coupled with Daylight Savings Time in the next installment! I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "mooze."