Friday, August 26, 2011

O Canada! A request from our neighbors up North!

I received a request in my inbox that left me a little giddy. Because what do I love as much as craft beer? Helping people. And the best combination of all? Helping people find *good* craft beer. What's even better than that? When people from out of town ask me to help them with places right here in my little hometown of Portland, Oregon.
I'm a #pdxbeergeek who's wild about Portland, Oregon.
Now you might wonder: Why am I so nutty about Portland? I've lived here solidly 33 of my 34 years (save a blip on the screen when I headed South to Ashland for a year), all within a 10 mile radius of where I was born. My children are 5th generation NE PDX residents. My great grandfather was an original ferryman before the bridges were built on the Willamette River (for those wondering, it was the Morrison Bridge that came first, completed in 1887), and he was a trolleyman after that, running the streetcars. My roots are deep and wide ranging, and I love nothing more than sharing my fair city with visitors and transplants.
Welcome to the City of Roses!
Now, we all know that Portland is host to a veritable buffet of craft beer locations. Breweries, brew pubs, restaurants, bars, taverns... Hell, even our grocery stores carry great craft beer. But what are the top picks for natives and visitors alike when it comes to the overall experience of our craft beer culture?

I don't take this request lightly. I've been pondering several days, thinking about the most welcoming, iconic, and classic craft beer locations to suggest in response to the inquiry... And combined with the feedback of a few attendees of the recent PDX hosted Beer Bloggers Conference (#BBC11 on the Twitters if you want to play along), I've come up with a list. In addition to the craft beer request, I've also been asked for suggestions for the best coffee places, and I'm throwing in some don't miss breakfasts as well, in the hopes that this will supply an ample selection without being too overwhelming for our guests next week.
we need coffee! STAT!
The challenge: Craft beer and coffee shop selections which represent the best of our fair city, while offering forays into the neighborhoods of Portland
Transportation restrictions: No car. By foot and public transit preferable. Cab if necessary.
Timeline: One week to explore; mornings for coffee, evenings for craft beer
Base Camp: A centrally located downtown hotel
Beware: This next little section is extra nerdy.
As many natives and residents will tell you, Portland is easily navigable by remembering that there are 5 quadrants (yes, I know, a quadrant is 4, but just roll with it) and those quadrants are divided by the Willamette (Will. AM. It) River (running North to South, the river separates EAST Portland from WEST Portland) and Burnside Street (running East to West, Burnside separates NORTH Portland from SOUTH Portland).

For the sake of simplicity, numbers and addresses run away from the center of the point where Burnside and the Willamette River meet. Generally. So if you're looking for something at 4500 block of NE 33rd Street, you know it's generally going to be in the NE quadrant, about 45 blocks NORTH of Burnside. Easy. This works fantastically in NE & SE Portland, it gets a little hairy in North Portland (the 5th Quadrant, just North and slightly West of NE), brilliantly in DOWNTOWN/CLOSE in NW/SW Portland and a little less so up through the West hills.

/ end of super nerdy geek-out /

However, with little divergence from the walkable locations, we ought to be able to give our visitors a good sampling for the feel of Portland with some fun places to visit.

mmmm. beeeeer.
Disclaimer: Before any of you die hard #pdxbeergeeks or craft beer fans chastise me for leaving things off the list, let me say this: I KNOW this is not a comprehensive list. I do. As in any city, some of the best stuff is further out from the city center. But I tried to do a good job of picking some of the most diverse offerings we have here, and still make it doable for out of towners. That being said, feel free to comment below in the best #pdxbeergeeks manner if you think there are things that people absolutely should not miss. And please remember to leave the address for our fair visitors.

View @pdxbeergeeks : Coffee & Craft Beer in a larger map

Highlights on the #pdxbeergeeks : Coffee & Craft Beer Map include: 
food cart pods
coffee shops
Powell's Books
ice cream, pie & donut shops
craft beer 
Portland Saturday Market

To all attending the conference... 
Welcome to Portland, Oregon 

Just give a holler to the #pdxbeergeeks on the twitters if you get lost. We're in large supply, and frequently lurking in these very spots... always ready point you in the right direction towards craft beer!