And maybe sometimes you betray Austin a bit and wish you were there right now; like this very moment. With average high temps 15 degrees cooler, 5x as many local breweries, streets that disappear into snow capped peaks, and zero sales tax you may be tempted to start combing the Portland Craigslist for even the most grueling of data entry jobs.
So if you have/can find the means to get to the nations most beer friendly city, here’s a few recommendations both beer and otherwise:
First, the beer
Portland is home to 28 local breweries and unless you’re replying to that CL ad right now or planning an extended stay, you’re probably not going to see them all. So, before you go, visit portlandbeer.org and make a game plan. If you find yourself downtown, may we suggest the Deschutes and Rogue Public Houses? Also visit Belmont Station to pick up all the beer you can’t find here in Austin (or anywhere in TX for that matter) and sample as you see fit. There is no shortage of beer bars to stumble into and you’re going to be hard-pressed to find one that’s not pouring a wide selection of local brews.
The McMenamins Empire
So what is McMenamins? A better question might be: What isn’t it? The local chain boasts an impressive lineup of brewpubs, restaurants, theaters, hotels, and a legendary music venue. There are about sixty locations overall, and most of them are in the Portland area. The McMenamins brothers have done a great job of picking some extraordinary sites to transform into their signature style including an old Elementary School (The Kennedy School), a former Multnomah County Poor Farm (Edgefield) and an abandoned Masonic Lodge (Grand Lodge). Most rooms at the hotels are cheap, and you can dine and catch a second-run movie on-site at most locations. Try the sampler, and if you get a room, take the Mason jar down to the pub for a pint-priced Mason-Growler to go. If the McMenamins clan could show first runs and some special events, they might just be able to give a certain local theater chain a run for it’s money. www.mcmenamins.com
This bookstore is so big you need to pick up a map to make your way through all of its color-coded rooms. In fact, it’s the largest independent in the nation. Plan to spend a few hours looking through/buying classic copies of used books. And even if you only read a few chapters of said books before they end up on your bookshelf, you can at least take comfort in knowing that Half Price will always take them off your hands later turning that tattered paperback into a Pint at the Draught House. www.powells.com
The Doug Fir
This local Diner/Music Venue has been described as a 1970’s era log cabin combined with a spaceship. If that’s not enough to get you there, the lumberjack approved breakfast menu is pretty damn good too. Also, check out the mural rooms next door at the Jupiter Hotel. www.dougfirlounge.com, www.jupiterhotel.com
Keep Portland Weird
That’s right, they stole our mantra. But Portlanders love their independent merchants just as much as we do. So hit up Hawthorne, Burnside, and Downtown to take in some of the unique stores. Don’t spend too much time doing this though or there’ll be no time or money for beer.
Get Outside. The scenery is spectacular. Austin’s got live music and heat; Portland’s got forests, mountains and rain. You can’t win them all. Check out the 400+ acre Washington Park and the Downtown Waterfront as well. www.portlandonline.com/parks
So I think that’s it for this beer blog post turned travel review. If you find your way up to Austin’s slightly cooler but maybe jaded sister city, enjoy the beer, enjoy the weather, but don’t forget where you came from.