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Archive for February, 2011

Portland!

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A time comes in every beer geek’s life when s/he must make a pilgrimage to that holy centre of all that is good in barley-land. Yes, my friends, I’m talking Portland. Not just about Portland, but about going to Portland.

I am making that pilgrimage (for the second time, as it turns out), which you would already know if you’ve been within ten feet of me recently or started a conversation with me randomly on the street:

“Excuse me, do you have the time?”
“Nope, but I DO know what time it is in Portland! Because I’m going there!”
“Sorry, what?”
“To Portland! Me! Portland! WOOOOOOOOOO!!! Yeah!”
“B-but, you have a watch. I can see it on your wrist! Couldn’t you just lo-“
“Did you know that Portland has more breweries than ALL OF BC! It’s TRUE!”
“OK, fine. What time is it in Portland? Same timezone, right?”
“I don’t know. How could I know that?”
“You just sa-“
“Well, yeah, I know what time it is in Portland three weeks from now when I’m there, just not now. Cuz I’m not there yet.”
“Please help me.”
“Tell me, my friend, have you heard the Good Word about Portland’s BrewPubs?”
“Oh fuck off.”


That river is basically pure beer.

OK, so I’m a bit excited. Justifiably so, since Portland is about 10-15 years ahead of BC in terms of craft beer. Go over to Google and search for “Portland Breweries” to get an idea of what I mean. No, actually, don’t. You’ll be too engrossed to remember to come back here and jack up my Google Adsense revenue (those are on, right? I mean, people other than me see banner ads for free iPads everywhere? You do? Cool).

So where should I go and what should I do? Well, I’ve been planning, and here are few highlights.

  • Bailey’s Taproom – Sure, the Alibi has more taps and casks, but imagine if there was no border and thus no silly import laws between Nigel and the best breweries in the US
  • Hair of the Dog Brewing – Widely regarded as one of the best breweries in the US, and thus world. Oh, and about a 10m walk from my hotel
  • Cascade Brewing Barrel House – Like sour beer? How about a whole pub dedicated to produce sour, barrel aged versions of their normal beers? (which are in an entirely different bar across town)
  • Upright Brewing – Sadly Alex will be in San Fran the weekend I’m there, but it’s still nice to visit the source of 50% of my cellar’s contents
  • Belmont Station – Gotta bring some beer home, don’t I–8.5 litres for me, and 8.5 litres for Sharon… also for me 🙂 Go look at their list. LOOK at it. Then realize they have a tasting room as well. Belmont Station is a prime example of why I hate the BC Liquor Control Board
  • Horse Brass Pub – As solid a watering hole as could be imagined


This is a real thing that happens in Portland. At a bar.

I’ll also be stopping by Rogue, Deschutes, Widmer and making several runs to the Pearl District Whole Foods, who have a beer selection that would instantly be the best in BC if it were here. In a grocery store. Well, not really. They’d be the best for a few minutes before the BCLCB shock troops stormed in and shut them down. Can’t sell booze and food in the same place! People might… uh… really not sure where they’re going with this one.

So, am I missing anything? I want to keep fairly close to downtown or within walking distance. Any suggestions from beer-land?

Written by chuck

February 3rd, 2011 at 11:31 am

Update on Donnelly’s New Oxford

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This weekend, I finally found time to wander the three blocks from my house over to Donnelly’s New Oxford in Yaletown. An attempt to pop in for a pint late Saturday night ended poorly when we were turned away by a stern-but-apologetic bouncer who informed us that the New Oxford was at capacity, and that additionally capacity wasn’t all that much because they were still on a restaurant license. Ah, BC liquor laws, we meet again!

So instead of late night pints, it was a late brunch. What do I think? Well, I’m pleasantly surprised. The interior still has that “too new to be true” Donnelly look about it, but at least the walls here are real brick instead of the faker plaster kind used in some of their other pubs. I suspect that the leather chairs and booths will age over time and gain character, assuming management lets it do so (keeping things shiny seems to be Donnelly’s goal in life).

I was somewhat disappointed to note the shuffleboard was under lock and key, even at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, and positioned in such as way as to discourage use (encroached upon by occupied tables). Additionally, the place was crammed full of a distinctly Yaletown clientele, consisting of a statistically unlikely percentage of blondes, but then again, it is on Homer.

As to the good points, the back room had a delightful character about it, and the rumours of reasonably priced Farmhand and Phillips IPA on tap proved 100% true ($5.15/16oz), although a proper pint was no where to be found despite the heavy handed English character of the place.

As well, a placard advertising $3 sleeves on Tuesdays was sighted on the table. True the ad did include a limitation to “Domestic” beers, but a quick glance at the draught menu reveal no risk of the usual “domestic” beer exclusion rule (aka Molson, Labatt’s, etc, but not the stuff brewed a block away), since the only true macro beers they had were decidedly imports. I have gotten into arguments with bar managers about why Labatt’s is Domestic and R&B is not.

Food was better than average, which says a lot considering the offerings at other places in the family, which waver around “unexceptional.”

The presence of a projection TV and plenty of LCDs elsewhere means this could be a great hockey hangout, especially on Tuesdays. With this good comes bad, though, as those same TVs mean plenty of not-hockey buggering up chances for a quiet pint on virtually every other day (their current schedule is UFC-a-riffic).

Summary: A decent place, but not somewhere I can strongly recommend outside of the odd quick afternoon pint or hockey games on Tuesdays.

How to improve: Turn the TVs off during not-hockey, serve real (20oz) pints, and expand the tap list.

Rating (yes, I rate bars): 3/5. I’ll be back, but only rarely or at someone else’s suggestion. Still, that’s a lot more than I would ever visit other Donnelly Group establishments. Now if only they could repeat the baseline -> Oxford improvement with their next pub…

Written by chuck

February 1st, 2011 at 10:32 am

Posted in Bars

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