By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
If you’ve never had the chance to attend BridgePort Brewing’s Ebenezer Pub Crawl, you might be feeling a little bitter.
The brewery may have just hosted its eighth annual event in Portland’s Multnomah Village on Dec. 1, but if you missed it I’ve got just the idea that will lift your spirits.
Perhaps you’re looking to celebrate BridgePort’s seasonal Ebenezer Ale or to simply check out all the cheerful bars this neighborhood has to offer. The good news is, it’s never too late to recreate the pub crawl on your own!
Described by the brewery as “an appropriately rich and complex winter warmer,” Ebenezer Ale is quite the old guy — he’s been around for 17 years now. So it only makes sense that the 6.4%, 40 IBU seasonal comes from the self-proclaimed “Oregon’s Oldest Craft Brewery.”
Much like how “A Christmas Carol’s” Ebenezer Scrooge is tipped off that he’ll be visited by the spirits of past, present, and yet to come, I’ve outlined a (much less stressful) evening for you to get the most merriment out of bar-hopping this holiday season.
The pub crawl is divided into five stops. Interestingly enough, Charles Dickens’ novella is also divided into five chapters, or staves. Coincidence? I think not.
Pro Tip: Although the below stops are listed in the same order as the official pub crawl, I’ve made a few suggestions that will please all the penny-pinchers out there. It isn’t called “happy hour” for no reason!
3535 SW Multnomah Blvd., 503-244-2617, johnsmarketplace.com
While you may have missed out on the special pouring of BridgePort’s 2011 Old Knucklehead Barleywine during the first stop of the pub crawl, I have a feeling this market’s massive selection of more than 1,000 different bottled beers “and a heck of a lot of cans” will help numb the pain. I’d recommend returning here to make purchases at the end of your crawl (they’re open until at least 10 p.m. every night). That way, you won’t have to drag your stash of rare and exciting bottles with you everywhere you go like some heavy chains.
0.1 mile, 3 minute walk to:
7771 SW Capitol Highway, 503-929-0229, multnomahvillage.org/listings/journeys
Since this cozy pub doesn’t open until 4 p.m., I’d recommend starting your crawl at Renner’s or O’Connor’s. But save room for happy hour at Journeys — which lasts until 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The pub’s several variations of cheese bites (grilled cheese sandwiches cut into bites and served with dipping sauce) are so good, you’ll want to order more than just one kind. My favorite? The “Pickle.” Dill pickles, havarti cheese, spicy brown mustard and ranch are combined to make the perfect snack for a night of beer-drinking. If weather permits, be sure to sit by the fire pit on the ample patio.
295 feet, 1 minute walk to:
7819 SW Capitol Highway, 503-246-9097, rennersgrill.com
The oldest continuously operated business in Multnomah Village, Renner’s Grill was established in 1939 and is affectionately referred to as a “five-star dive bar.” It’s easy to see why — the bar may be unglamorous with a laid-back, no-frills vibe, but their hearty food, generous drinks and friendly service would put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces. All beers are proudly served in 20-ounce imperial pints, which feels like a steal when you order Full Sail’s Session as a $2.75 buffer beer during happy hour.
190 feet, 1 minute walk to:
7850 SW Capitol Highway, 503-244-1690, oconnorsportland.com
A lot has changed since O’Connor’s was originally located in a different area of Portland as a “service-to-men-only” establishment in 1934. Now in the Multnomah neighborhood for more 20 years, both men and women alike can saddle up to the bar and shoot the breeze. As soon as I sat down, I felt at home with the regulars. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was some kind of premature holiday spirit. Between that and the abundance of $3 to $5 happy hour food specials, I wish I could have stayed longer. But alas, the night must go on...
410 feet, 2 minute walk to:
7827 SW 35th Ave., 503-244-7345, mvship.com
The building that houses this tavern was originally part of John’s Marketplace, and as with most stops on this crawl, has a long history. But like Ebenezer himself, it has gone through a lot of changes, especially since being purchased by new owners more than a year ago. There used to be only one beer on tap and a few in the cooler, and now there are 24 beers displayed on a digital menu (many of which are from Oregon). From the outside, it might look a little divey, but on the inside, it’s a lot of fun. End your pub crawl with some pool or Big Buck Hunter and order a half pint of one of the Oregon beers on tap (you’ll thank me later).
Once you’re all gamed-out, head back to John’s Marketplace next door for more supplies to keep the festivities going at home. As of press time, Ebenezer Ale was sold in both 22-ounce bombers and six-packs at the bottle shop. As BridgePort warns, “Make sure to stock up before the holidays. If you thought Scrooge was angry before, you should see him when he’s out of beer.”
Note: Every year, the pub crawl features a different charitable partner and encourages participants to donate. This year, the brewery partnered with LifeWorks Northwest, which promotes a healthy community by providing quality and culturally responsive mental health and addiction services across the lifespan. This is a friendly reminder to not be a Scrooge and to spread some holiday cheer this season!
By Jim McLaren
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Two boys from North Carolina eased their truck up alongside John’s Market in Multnomah Village on a rainy day last October for one of three Portland stops on what has to be the greatest beer run in history. And they’re doing it for you.
While a ponytailed Stephen Pond was rattling and scanning bottles on the store shelves and downloading the information onto a laptop, George Taylor explained they were creating an app that will “evaluate beer based on scientific data rather than subjective adjectives.”
Beer Census 2014 was the collection phase of the latest project from Next Glass, which came about when Taylor’s father and brother got some bad advice from a sommelier. They figured there had to be a better way to pick wine than knowing if it was oaky, earthy or citrusy.
Taylor said they decided to run first wine, now beer, through a scientific investigation evaluation. Similar to what happens on the television show, “CSI,” a small sample of “evidence” is put into a mass spectrometer. The machine “spins the sample so fast it separates everything — proteins, sugars, carbs, alcohol content, calories, everything,” Taylor said.
That was the easy part. What was harder was getting the bottles for testing. Unlike most wines, many craft beers are not distributed nationally, and having them shipped cross country can be expensive or legally prohibited.
So the boys hit the road, lead-footing it from the Northeast, through Middle America to the West Coast.
In Oregon and Washington they bought nearly 2,000 bottles, pushing closer to their goal of 40,000 beers. And they purchased “one of everything ever made — seasonals, those crazy one-offs.” Taylor explained, “What’s cool, if they don’t ever make it again, I can put you onto something almost identical that is being made.”
Last October’s rains were dried up by a long, hot summer and now September is again easing toward the kind of weather an Oregonian can live with. Meanwhile, those boys from Carolina have been computer crunching the info gathered on their epic beer run. So, what do you get for all those miles, all that beer and all that digitalizing?
To find out, I downloaded the Next Glass app to my iPad, entered account information and worked my way through the tabs.
The Taste Profile tab rates beers on a 100 point scale, but also tells you the alcohol and calorie content of your favorite beer. The Breakside Country Blonde, for instance, comes at 7.5 percent ABV and 225 calories. Next Glass said it is 90 points on a “My Favorites” scale.
The Recommendations tab works like a Cicerone, suggesting beers you might like. Clicking on the Filter tab narrows your search to just beer. You can also refine your hunt to a particular beer style; though the app does not define styles.
The Search feature can help adventurous beer lovers find many, but not all beers. I easily found the offerings from Portland-based breweries, as I did larger craft brewers. But smaller breweries didn’t make the app. For instance, in Central Oregon, Deschutes made the app but Three Creeks and RiverBend didn’t. In Southern Oregon, I checked for six breweries, including Standing Stone and Caldera, and didn’t find them. In the Gorge, Logsdon made the list as did Full Sail, but pFriem didn’t.
The Snap feature is the most fun. To test it I hauled my iPad to a nearby New Seasons and input images of labels and bar codes. The app rates those beers based on my taste profile and should recommend alternatives. The results were mixed. Next Glass recognized the Rogue Dead Guy I liked and gave me a rating. But when I snapped a Pelican label it merely brought up a listing of other Pelican beers without ratings. In neither case did the app offer alternatives to those beers. And that is a problem. The most interesting challenge and potential for Next Glass is to allow a user to go to a place like Portland’s Belmont Station, take a picture of a strange beer label and then find out if the app compares it to something you like and tells you where to buy it.
To find out if Next Glass has plans to upgrade, I emailed Emma Johnson, Next Glass user happiness specialist, and asked about adding a match feature along with the GPS locator Pond and Taylor described to me last year. Johnson replied: “Next Glass does have a Glass Match feature available, but we've removed it for the time being for some revamping! It'll be back and better than ever soon. We're also working on another new feature — filtering by geographic proximity. As we perfect these features you'll be able to see bottles that you like that are available in your area!”
Apps are like beer, there’s probably going to be more than one you’ll like. Next Glass has potential but has some catching up to do. Untappd and Pintley are better at social networking for beer drinkers. BeerCloud offers a beer and food pairing service. Find Craft Beer has a mapping service that directs you to a shop carrying the beer you are hunting for.
Like beer, you probably have a favorite app. Just make sure you don’t ignore the newcomers. Each has the potential to enrich your experience.
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