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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Miracle Mile

Time for a little profit-taking. Although this blog is called "Beervana," I try to limit the amount of chest-thumping I do with regard to its objective superiority as a beer mecca. Such histrionics are bad form and not particularly edifying to those outside our cloud-soaked hop heaven. Nevertheless, objective superiority does call for certain admissions at times--journalistic, cold-eyed appraisals of just how superior this place really is.

Everyone knows Portland has a lot of breweries. More, apparently, than any city on earth. We drink more pints of craft beer than any city in America. We have 719 beer festivals a year (roughly). No data on such facts exist, but my bet is that more styles of beer were brewed in Portland in the past year than in any city in the world. Amid these Ripley-like Amazing Facts, let me add another: the Miracle Mile, a short jaunt (.9 miles, actually) that takes a person to the doorstep of four breweries. The route takes you from Hair of the Dog (recommended tipple: Adam) to Rogue's Green Dragon (try the rotating brewery special, but don't ignore the 50 import and craft taps) to the newly-opened Cascade Barrel House (Apricot Ale) and finally, if you're still upright, for a nightcap at the Lucky Lab (Super Dog). Can any other city match this speed--four breweries a mile? Can they match the quality of beer along our own Miracle Mile? No. I haven't done a study, but no.

That's why we call it Beervana. Unashamedly. If you haven't had the pleasure, please, come and check it out.


  1. I'll challenge your miracle mile. With a city that doesn't get any credit for its great beer scene. TACOMA, WA!
    Red Hot - Great beers on tap and damn good hot dogs - Get whatever the latest is from Diamond Knot
    Engine House #9 Brewery - Quality house brews and fair amount of guest taps. Go with the Red, especially when they hop it with Centennial
    Parkway Tavern - kickass neighborhood tavern with great Bock and Barley festivals. You will find people playing scrabble and drinking beer.
    The Hub - Sister pub of the Harmon Brewing company (no brewing here) but damn good pizza.
    Doyle's Public House - Irish Style Pub (but with mostly English beer) that's a good time.

    Now, all that is 1.6 miles, but if you start at Red Hot, its downhill, so its an easy walk.

  2. Sad sad sad that Roots is no longer part of this list.

  3. Ah ah--give me 1.6 miles and I'll start adding breweries, too. Just beyond this short-hop lie Coalition, Migration, the Pilsner Room, and forthcoming Burnside Brewing. Nope, the point is, one mile. It's really an amazing thing.

  4. My first thought of a challenger was Durango, but Ska to the South and Durango brewing to the North are the outliers to Carver and Steamworks in the downtown, making it a 7.6 mile round trip by auto.

    It's probably just about right for bike or run for this active community.

    How about a different metric though?
    4 GABF medal-winning breweries for 16,000 residents.

  5. I'd throw Denver into the mix with Great Divide Brewing, the Wynkoop Brewing Company, the Sandlot in Coors Field and one of the Breckenridge Brewing pubs all within blocks of each other. They don't brew at the Breck location, but still...

  6. Ok, I'll bite. In Billings, MT, we have 4 breweries within 4 blocks. Google maps puts driving from Yellowstone Valley Brewing to Angry Hanks Microbrewery to Carter's Brewing to Montana Brewing Co. at .9 miles. Now that accounts for one way streets.
    Ask for walking directions, which would be highly recommended if you're visiting four different breweries, and you get down to .6 miles.

  7. I had the same thought... especially for the uniqueness and unquestioned quality of what HotD and Cascade bring to the table. I mean.. come on... I just don't think anywhere else can touch that.

  8. Since it's in this month's Beer Advocate, I guess I'd throw Bamberg out as a contender. It's a 1 km walk from Spezial to Schlenkerla, and each has another brewery next door. Walk another half-km (coincidentally matching your .9 miles) and you're at Klosterbrau.

    What's amazing about central Portland is the sheer density of breweries. The miracle mile is somewhat interesting, but the concentrations of good beer in NW and SE are kind of shocking.

  9. (snotty 9 year old voice)

    ...and and and....

    My Dad can beat your Dad up!

  10. I think you needed to check the competition. A quick look on "Beer Mapping" answered the question.

    Portlands nemesis Asheville has your Miracle Mile beat by a long shot!

    All within a mile in Asheville:

    - Green Man Ales and Lager Brewery
    - Craggie Brewery
    - Asheville Brewery
    - Weinhaus Beer Store + 2 More
    - Thirsty Monk with 14 Belgian and lots more
    - Barley Taproom
    - Oysterhouse brew Pub
    - Lexington Brew Pub
    - Jack of the Woods Pub

    ....and more. All within a mile! Better hope those Asheville guys don't rub it in. :-O

  11. Appreciative nods to Billings and Asheville (though Doc, you've larded that with a bunch of extraneous beer-related non-breweries. When I use beermapping and winnow down to breweries and brewpubs, I get five.)

    I hang my hat on the beer--this is a damn fine stretch of malty goodness.

  12. Oh, and Doc, as far as adopting the voice of a nine-year-old; how is that any different from the way you normally talk?

  13. Nice shot, Jeff! That the best you got? ;-}

    Just keepin' it real for ya, Jeff...and stirring the pot at the same time.

    All that aside... I'm sure Asheville doesn't have anything as Unique as HOTD or Cascade Brewing in their Miracle Mile. Of course, I'm sure they have a comparable Green Dragon and Lucky Lab brew pub.

    I think you need to do a road trip to Asheville and report back some honest reviews of your journey.

  14. How about Bend? Silver Moon, Deschutes, Bend Brewing, Boneyard, McMenamins and 10 Barrel all in or close to downtown.

  15. I lived in Asheville for 8 years before heading out this way and still get back there several times per year on business. Let me state, for the record, that the only three beer destinations worth a stop are The Thirsty Monk, Barley's and Wedge Brewing (which lies outside the 1 mile limit). Green Man, LAB, Oysterhouse, Craggie, etc. are all crap. And yes, Doc, A-ville has nothing at all like Cascade or HOTD.

  16. @MT

    Thanks for that info. Ya know, Jeff never said they had to be GOOD beer places.... ;-}

  17. I think the point you are making is actually selling Portland short. Yes, the choice is interesting in that you are highlighting quality breweries that also specialize in unique beers; Strong beers in the case of HOTD and sours in the case of Cascade.

    That is not what separates Portland by a long shot. The city limits would be a better indicator if you want to brag about Portland. If you compare breweries within the "city limits" of cities around the world you would find Portland on a very special level. Now you are talking about Upright, HUB, etc., etc. etc....

    So sure, pat HOTD and Cascade on the back but don’t lose the forest for the trees. That miracle mile is NOT what makes Portland Beervana. In fact, by shrinking your parameter down to one mile you are actually bringing it down to a level that other cities might actually be able to compete against.

  18. I have to second what Airdale Tim said... in downtown Bend, you can walk to five great breweries in 1 mile: Silvermoon, Deschutes, Bend Brewing, McMenamins Old St. Francis and Boneyard. In less than 2 miles, you can walk to six by adding 10 Barrel Brewing across the river.

    Best bet is to start at 10 Barrel and fill up on their amazing food and beer. Drive to the downtown area, then start your pub crawl.