Pacific Northwest Beer-tasting Tour

I love beer.
Let me re-phrase that actually, I love good beer. One of the trade-offs involved in spending so much time in tropical locations is the lack of good beer. Sure, Bintangs are great for boat tripping refreshment, Hinano is the beverage of choice for post-Teahupoo near death experiences, and when in Nicaragua I drink my fair share of Tonas and Victorias, but after a week or two I’m craving the floraly scent and hoppy bitterness of a good IPA.

On a recent road trip through the Pacific North West my boyfriend and I set a goal to visit as many breweries as possible. We spent 10 days in Portland for Christmas, which was the perfect base to begin our tour since there seems to be at least two breweries per city block. It was a tad overwhelming and we didn’t even come close to sampling a serious percentage of the options. Fortunately, since his family lives there, I know we’ll be back for more.

In the meantime, see below for a few photos and comments from the breweries we were able to visit.

Bridgeport Brewery, Portland

We took a big family outing to the Bridgeport Brewpub in Portland for burgers and a sampler of their beers on tap. The IPAs were standouts including the Hop Czar. They are definitely worth a try.

Nightcap Ale from Bridgeport

While making dinner at home the following night, we tried the Bridgeport Nightcap Winter Ale. BeerAdvocate only gives it a “B” saying: “A balanced and very drinkable “big brew” winter ale. Wait is that possible…? As usual, Bridgeport serves up a balanced, tasty brew with high marks for drinkability. Cheers! Unfortunately, for a “winter warmer” and one that is partially aged in Makers Mark barrels, inspiring is not on the agenda for this Nightcap.” It might not be the most memorable Winter Ale but it is very drinkable.

Vas Deferens from Caldera Brewing Co in Ashland, OR

The Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA was memorable however. I definitely recommend that one. Featured more prominently in the photo is the Vas Deferens Ale from Caldera Brewery. We visited the brewpup in Ashland on our drive up to Portland (see that blog post here), and I couldn’t resist leaving with a 22 of the Vas Deferens Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Beer Advocate gives it a B- and the label is a bit of a turnoff, but it’s not a bad beer.

A growler of Deschutes Cascade Ale

I am a big fan of the Deschutes Brewery. We got a growler of the Cascade Ale for xmas and sampled it on the first night of our coastal road trip from Portland to LA in a yurt at the Nehalem State Park campground. Very refreshing!

The Rogue Brewery in Newport, OR

The next stop was the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon. This place had a very cozy and friendly vibe. The Chipotle Ale was really good, but we ended up filling our growler with the Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout.

Rogue samples


Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, CA

I was really excited to check out the Russian River Brewery and enjoy a glass of Pliny the Elder Double IPA. Beer Advocate rates it as one of the best IPAs and it is very hard to find. Other than the Pliny, I was a little disappointed with the beers from Russian River.

The impressive Russian River sample tray


By the last stop of our brewery tour we considered ourselves very experienced samplers.


Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips

Confession: I’m kind of obsessed with The Mother Hips. At the beginning of our drive up the coast, we stopped in San Fran to check out the Hips holiday show. It was incredible as I describe in another blog post (click here). At the end of the show we cruised backstage to high five the band and lead singer Tim Bluhm gave me the perfect xmas gift – a rare bottle of Sierra Nevada Estate Ale that he picked up at the brewery when the Hips played there.

Sierra Nevada Estate Ale

We carried it around throughout our road trip waiting for the perfect time to enjoy it. On the last night of our adventure, my best friend Kim Mayer let us crash at her rootsy studio in Santa Cruz and it was finally time.

mmmmm..... candle lit Estate Ale

The perfect end to our beer-tasting tour. Thanks Tim!

To check out these breweries for yourself, here’s a few links to our favorites:
Bridgeport Brewery
Ninkasi Brewery
Rogue Ales
Sierra Nevada

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One Response to Pacific Northwest Beer-tasting Tour

  1. tyler bronsar says:

    Stone: Ruination!

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