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Monday, July 18, 2011

Beervana's Best Pub Crawls: Division Street

Best pub crawls: Downtown | Southeast | Division St.| North

A lot of people come to Portland on vacation. A lot of them want good beer. Unfortunately, very few of them have the kind of time and money it would take to do a thorough tour. They--perhaps you--must therefore be choosy. But how? Look no further than your friendly neighborhood blogger. Below is the third in a series of neighborhood-based pub crawls that will take you through the best the city has to offer. Portland is most famous for its brewpubs, but Oregon has over a hundred breweries and counting. Today's crawl is ideal for the visitor more interested in an overview of Oregon beers than a survey of brewpubs. You will find a diverse list of beers from the three non-brewing pubs on this list, and you'll also get a rich sense of Beervana's beer culture--which includes a lot more than brewpubs.

Travel. From Victory Bar to Beermongers is 1.4 miles in a straight shot. It's not well-spaced out, though, and the distance between stops two and three is 1.2 miles. You have a handful of Portland-esque choices to navigate this distance: walking, biking, or busing. Busing is probably the best choice, because, as you'll see with stop four, you're going to be toting a lot of baggage with you by the end of things. It's easy-peasy, though: just catch the #4 Division bus downtown, and it will take you to stop #1 in just fifteen short minutes. After you exit stop two, you can choose to hop the bus between stops or walk. In any case, I recommend getting a $4.75 all-day pass for this crawl, that way you don't have to think about the bus; just hop on it when you're ready. (Click map to enlarge)

1. Victory Bar (3652 SE Division)
The Victory is not, truth be told, a beer bar per se. It's just one of Portland's best bars period, which, not surprisingly, has a small but well-selected taplist. The food's great--make sure you get something in your stomach--and the ambiance is a perfect mixture of relaxing, urban, and secretive. (You are on a beer crawl, so don't get distracted, but the cocktails are stellar, too.) I'm not alone in this assessment--it's killing on Yelp. It's also a nice way to get a sense of the scene in Portland. We're all about beer, but you know, we're not only about the beer.

2. Lompoc Hedge House (3412 SE Division)
There once was a bar in NW Portland called the Old Lompoc. Jerry Fechter bought it and turned it into a brewpub. Later, he did a full renovation and called it the New Old Lompoc, which you are welcome to take as a metaphor for Portland. Over the years, the Lompoc has expanded into a small collective of outposts ("chain" is not the right word). Hedge House is a 99-year-old bungalow on Division that has a great patio and the usual, tasty Lompoc beers. The brewery is known for muscular Northwest ales, which is also what the city's known for, so have a pint and see what you think.
Detour: Pix Patisserie. Before you get on any buses, consider walking next door to Pix Patisserie for one of the city's best desserts. The absolutely stunning concoctions coming out of the bakery include things like the Amélie, winner of a prestigious French pastry competion (brûlée atop mousse), the Jubilee (champagne mousse and strawberries), and a pear-rosemary tart. They also have wonderful bottled Belgian beers because, you know, it's Portland.

3. Apex Bar (1216 SE Division)
Apex is a fascinating manifestion of late-stage beer geekery of the kind found in very few cities. There are something like fifty beers available here, and they span the cream of the beer world's crop, including the extra-special beers from Beervana. There's a flat-screen TV above the bar that has minute-by-minute updates about what's on tap, sort of in the manner of off-track-betting screens with updated odds. The vibe is PBR cool--the bar, for example, is a repurposed shuffleboard bar. Yet they regularly stock some of the world's finest beers--Dupont, Rodenbach, Mort Subite, Weihenstephaner, etc. (This is the classic Portland high-low.) Apex also offers rare and/or most highly coveted beers from the West Coast. (Behold.) It is the best list in town, and I'd put it up against any list in the world. If you have the munchies, you must go next door to Los Gorditos for a burrito, but Apex smiles on this practice--they even encourage you to bring it back with you for a second pint.

4. Beermongers (1131 SE Division)
Your final stop is a bottle shop, located kitty-corner from Apex across Division. If you were enjoying a pint out on Apex's vast patio, you might have noticed it. In addition to bottles, Beermongers also has eight, always well-selected taps. You can grab a pint of draft while you peruse the large bottle selection. As the name implies, the folks running the store aren't just cashiers; they're beer sellers, and they can tell you about every bottle in the store. If you're looking to take a piece of Beervana back with you, here's the place to stock up.


  1. This is a great pub crawl. I'm a fan of all of those places, but you did miss the Captured By Porches beer cart. Their hours are very limited, but the beer cart novelty and their delicious Friday Rye make it worth a visit.

  2. I would consider it a wise ommission to leave Cap. By Porches off the list, their beer is so hit or miss (usually miss) that it's not worth the risk.