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Monday, August 15, 2011

Beervana's Best Pub Crawls: The Northern Expedition

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

I had really planned to get all of these pub crawls completed by the OBF, but.... In the interest of completeness, however, I'll forge on and finish up with the last great trove of breweries. This one isn't quite as convenient as some of the others, and it requires a bit more walking. Still, you've come to Oregon, a place to which Meriwether Lewis and William Clark once hiked from Missouri. This requires hiking on the order of a couple miles round trip. In pioneer country, sometimes you have to adopt a pioneer spirit.

Getting There and Back
The cool thing about this crawl is that it employs the light rail. Starting out downtown, you want to take the MAX Yellow Line. It will take you across the Steel Bridge and into the Rose Quarter (that's where the Blazers play). Disembark at the Rose Quarter station (stop 11508). From there you're going to hike north around the Rose Garden and travel until you get to Broadway. In the fork where Broadway and Weidler divide, you'll find the Left Bank Project; Upright is located in the basement. You want to retrace your steps and get back on the Max. Continue north to Stop 11509, Mississippi/Albina. Walk north one block and west one block and you'll be at the Widmer Gasthaus. Retrace your steps and continue north again to stop 11510, Overlook. You'll continue north along Interstate Ave (where the light rail runs) until you come to Failing St. Trying to ignore the inauspicious name, you turn east and follow Failing until you arrive at the Lompoc Fifth Quandrant. Don't stop there, but turn the corner at Williams, walk 20 feet, and enter the Sidebar. Hopworks is another half block north.

Alternatively, you can ride the 44 bus from downtown and get on and off at Russell Street. You'll walk down Russell to the Widmer Gasthaus and then back for the bus the rest of the way to the Sidebar. Here's a Google map with the locations, and you can click on the map to enlarge it.

Stop 1: Upright Brewing (420 N Broadway, Left Bank Project basement)
Have you ever played one of those games where you're shown five objects and asked to identify which one is not like the others? In a lineup of Portland breweries, Upright's the one. Brewer Alex Ganum has created a little farmhouse brewery in one of the most industrial spots in the city. But from his open fermenters issue absolutely lovely farmhouse-style beers. He has an extensive barrel-aging program, and you'll always find something strange and wonderful on tap. Ask if Alex is around; he's a knowledgeable and entertaining guy, and he'll be happy to tell you the story behind his beers. Important Note: the Upright tasting room is only open from 1pm to 6pm on the weekends.

Stop 2: Widmer Brothers Gasthaus (929 N Russell)
The Widmer Brothers have been one of the country's biggest breweries for a couple decades. People know them for their Hefeweizen and feel like they get the whole Widmer thing. Ten to one you don't get them. A stop into the Gasthaus, which regularly has one of the most advernturesome and eclectic taplists in the city, dispels all preconceptions. And for most of the beers there, you have to go to the Gasthaus to find them. They don't pour anywhere else in the city. The Gasthaus also has a great menu of German cuisine, so if you're looking to fortify your stomach, this is a great place.

Stop 3: Hopworks Bike Bar (3947 N Williams Ave)
To get to Hopworks you'll pass two brewpubs, including the fourth stop. It's odd, but trust me, you want to do it in this order. The main Hopworks pub is across town, on Powell Blvd. This recent addition captures all the elements of the original, plus it has a absolutely beautiful patio out in the back. Hopworks is known for hop-forward beers in the quintessential Portland mode--the pale and IPA are classics. Consider the lager, though, which has a big following, too.

Stop 4: Lompoc Sidebar (3901A N Williams Ave)
The New Old Lompoc was founded in 1996 in NW Portland and has created a mini chain since. The Fifth Quadrant was one link in that chain, and it's located just around the corner from the Sidebar. You'll find the usual Lompoc fare there, but do yourself a favor and stop into the Sidebar. it's effectively a barrel house that has been converted into a pub. There's a fire crackling opposite the bar, and the walls are lined with casks of aging beer. As for the beer, the Sidebar is where the aged and rare stuff pours. You'll find big, boozy beers here, and maybe even a sour. It's a perfect way to end a pub crawl.

Other Areas of Interest
You'll be passing through some prime beer real estate, and if you want to go off the beaten path, here are a few possibilities:
  • Amnesia Brewing (832 N. Beech Street). If you want to skip the Sidebar/Hopworks spur, you can stop off halfway and hit Amnesia (turn right off Failing at Mississippi and head south a block). It's another Portland institution, like Hopworks famous for its hoppy beers. Good vibe and good sausages to boot.
  • McMenamins White Eagle Saloon (836 N. Russell St.). Just down from the Widmer Gasthaus is a classic old bar the McMenamin's bought back in the 1990s. The building dates back to frontier days, and you can feel the wild old ghosts knocking the walls.
  • Pix Patisserie (3901 North Williams). In between the two Lompocs, occupying the corner space of Williams and Failing, is one of the best dessert shops in the city. They also have an impressive selection of bottled beers--Belgians, mostly--which are cheaper than anyplace in the city.


  1. Jeff,

    It might be worth mentioning that (in the absence of Blazers Games) Upright's Tasting Room is only open Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 6pm. I'd hate for someone undertake this adventure and not be able to hit the first stop.

    Other than that, great post!

  2. It's a good point. I'll make the adjustment.

  3. Great choices! With Toro Bravo and Russell Street BBQ, great food and drink abounds.