By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sometimes a great business idea hangs heavy in the air, just waiting for the right person to pluck it down and run with it. That’s what happened with Portland’s BREWVANA tour company and Ashley Rose Salvitti, a high-energy ambassador for Oregon’s craft beers.
The young entrepreneur started BREWVANA, an obvious nod to Beervana, six years ago with one bus and one employee. In April, Salvitti and friends celebrated the touring company’s anniversary at Breakside Brewery’s new Northwest Portland location.
Ashley, who added Rose to her first name because she liked it, established her LLC in November 2010. “My first tour was on April 8, 2011,” she said.
Today BREWVANA has grown to include public and private tours, bus and walking, with three small buses and one large one, for a total of nine weekly tours that include 26 breweries. And the excursions go beyond just bar hopping. For example, the “Behind the Scenes” tour provides a tutorial on the brewing process with stops at Breakside and Unicorn Brewing Company/Portland U-Brew. “Beers and Barrels” highlights breweries and a distillery where barrel aging takes place. There are now even walking tours where guides talk about neighborhoods and their histories in between brewery visits.
The seeds for Salvitti’s beer-related business took root in college when she started working at Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery in High Point, N. C. She was attending the nearby University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her dad, who was a mug club member at Liberty, suggested she should get a job there. Once she hit 21, she got behind the bar to serve.
Salvitti moved to Portland in 2007 after graduation. “I wanted to go where young people go to retire,” she said. Naturally, she gravitated to beer and her first job was at Laurelwood Brewing Co. Then she moved to Hopworks Urban Brewery when the brewpub opened in 2008. “Christian had a huge following then,” she said.
Salvitti’s sunny personality quickly made her a favorite with guests and those interactions helped her quickly fall in love with Portland’s craft beer industry. “I found that in Portland you would greet a table and people clearly wanted to drink beer and they were very knowledgeable about it,” she said.
The brew tour idea came together after a trip to Puerto Rico with her family. “We wasted a lot of money trying to find fun things to do. On our last night, we met a server at a bar who said she did tours on the side. She could have shown us all the places to go and things to do,” she said.
Salvitti had also encountered a few other local tours that didn’t seem to have a strong connection to the breweries.
“I thought I could do it better. I was optimistic and ready to take a risk with no husband, no kids, no big responsibilities,” she said.
Salvitti wrote up a business plan and took the Business Foundations course through Mercy Corps Northwest and participated in the nonprofit’s matching savings plan. Her initial investment was $20,000 — a $16,000 loan from her father and a $4,000 loan from her best friend’s parents. “That was enough to buy a buy a bus and get my website done,” she said. “I didn’t quit my day job.”
After her first tour, she was on an amazing high after experiencing the success of her idea. But she also worked very hard in the beginning since she was the one and only employee. After seven months, she hired her first tour guide, but continued to work full-time at Hopworks for two more years.
“BREWVANA was created to provide an all-inclusive VIP access fun and educational touring experience,” she said. “We’re working with the breweries. BREWVANA is nothing without the relationship we have with the breweries. It’s our mission to support them,” she said. Because of her background as a server, she is also very focused on the guest experience. You can’t board a BREWVANA bus without smiling—the vehicles are covered in beer-centric graphics both inside and out that beckon passengers to “come join the fun.”
Brewvana has three short 14-passenger buses for the public tours, named Angel, Georgie and Lil’ Johnny, and one standard large school bus, named Pam, that seats up to 44. That vehicle is also used to shuttle people to and from out-of-town festivals like Fort George Brewery’s Festival of the Dark Arts in Astoria.
Salvitti said they got “Pam” because they spent $14,000 during the last couple years to rent buses that arrived dirty, smelly and in unacceptable condition for hosting guests. She wanted a bus that represented the BREWVANA ethic. The buses are one of the company’s biggest challenges because of the constant maintenance needs and the fact that they are all used vehicles with some pre-existing conditions.
While the buses get much of the attention, the heart of the tours are the guides. Salvitti still hosts some tours, but she recently hired four guides. Her challenge with guides is finding the right people and making their jobs sustainable throughout the year. Guides must be multitasking masters, so the training process is lengthy and complex. In addition to studying the training manual, guides learn about local history, undergo bus driving training, and then shadow existing tours before assisting and practicing with an experienced guide.
On a recent “Pacific Northwest is Best Tour” that visits Baerlic Brewing Company, Hopworks, Migration Brewing and Scout Beer, 13 of us were entertained by guides Liz Shihadeh and Kelene Stinson. The easy-going duo had an engaging routine that went from the ridiculous (they gave us the no-vomiting-on-the-bus talk) to the educational when we tasted different malts and passed around samples of hops. In the space of four hours, we became friends — sharing pretzels from our pretzel necklaces and stories about our lives.
Business continues to grow and Salvitti said that demand for private tours is stronger than ever. She also has more responsibility now that there are 10 employees, a fleet of vehicles, a husband, a daughter, a house and a dog.
“We’re proud that we have many repeat customers. On one recent tour with 14 people, six had been on a tour before, and several had been on more than one.” Repeat customers can join the Brew Veteran program.
Salvitti was recently featured on “Start Up,” a series that tells the stories of entrepreneurs. You can watch her segment at pbs.org/video/2365903935/. For tour information, check out brewvana.com.
A discussion on brewery distribution took place during Portland Beer Week in June. Panelists included (from left to right) Derek Hass from Columbia Distributing, Eric Banzer-Lausberg from Migration Brewing, Marty Ochs from E3 Craft Strategies and Bob Repp from General Distributors. Photo by Patty Mamula
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Any brewer who’s considering distribution needs a solid plan, said Derek Hass, director of craft and import at Columbia Distributing. Hass was one of four panelists at the “Distribution: The Struggle is Real!” workshop, held at The Labrewatory in Portland during Portland Beer Week in June.
More than 40 people crowded into the brewery testing lab and bar to get the inside story on distribution. About half the brewers there were self-distributing, while others had a distributor or didn’t distribute at all. Several were in the planning stage of a brewery and four of them were anywhere from a few months to a year away from opening.
Panel moderator Marty Ochs was the vice president of sales at Ninkasi Brewing Company and now heads up E3 Craft Strategies to help startups with marketing and distribution.
Ochs works with 10-15 breweries a year. “Not one has an operating budget,” he said. “You can’t go to market if you don’t know what you’re going to spend when you go to market.” He emphasized that brewers should conduct a thorough market survey when considering entry into a new market. “Spend weeks, months figuring where you want to sell, what the competitions looks like, determining a budget.”
Bob Repp, vice president of craft/specialty beverage for General Distributors, also stressed the importance of planning. “What’s your budget? Capacity? How will you differentiate your brand? When looking at opening a new market, vet the distributor there. Go out and talk to buyers at bars and retailers,” he said.
Eric Banzer-Lausberg, co-owner of Migration Brewing, represented the small, independent brewer and self-distributor. “We opened in 2010 without a budget when the economy was shit. We did all the buildout ourselves. We knew we could succeed and our beer got better and better. After a year or so, we started to distribute kegs in an old 1983 Mercedes with a door that didn’t work. It was an exciting time because it was our own beer and our own investment in distribution,” he said.
Ochs asked Hass and Repp, “How do you walk new breweries through the process, step by step?”
They said there was no formula, no handbook.
Hass said, “Every brewery we talk to is a different situation. You might have good beer, but shitty packaging or vice versa. We help you navigate the waters of the beer business.”
Repp said, “Know what your distribution and volume goals are. Do you want to be mainstream or entry level? What does success look like for you?”
Migration’s Banzer-Lausberg said, “Know who you are and where you want to go. Everyone was chasing IPA when we started. We decided to make pale ale our niche. That was our starting point. We focused internally and worked on the pub first and self-distribution second.”
Ochs said there’s a perception you’ll make tons of money self-distributing. There are, of course, advantages but also some disadvantages. Pros to self-distributing are close control of product and message, said Repp. “You can control all aspects, including when and where you will grow. And you retain your margins.” Cons are trucks, storage, cash, accounts receivable, liability, kegs and the labor to move them around. “When you’re brewing and distributing, you’re running two breweries. Still, if your goal is hyper-local, go for it,” he said.
Hass agreed and said that the mechanics, the delivery and the labor all cost money. With distribution you lose some — around 30 percent — but that’s the cost of doing business.
The watchword for the group was planning.
Ochs said, “Come to a distributor with a plan, a vision. Be honest about it. What support tools do you have? Ask what you might be missing? Tell me what you’re looking for in a brand.”
Repp said, “Know what your pricing will be. Know how much your beer costs to make. Take that pricing and build a calendar of brands with several seasonals and one-offs. Communicate to the distributor what the release calendar looks like. What incentives will you use to get the sales reps to sell your beer?”
“Know your business. We won’t be experts on your business,” said Columbia’s Hass.
Migration’s co-owner told participants the beer has to be good when building your brand. “Do not send out mediocre beer. Make sure you have ingredients. Hops. Everyone wants Northwest hops. You have to secure them now. We have ours contracted for five years. Yes, it’s scary to think this is what we’re going to make for the next five years. Cooler space is crucial. If we have a bad week of sales and don’t have cooler space, we’re in trouble. If we brew and keg it, we have to sell it.”
Sales and distribution is connected to everything, said Ochs. “Know what success is to you. Oakshire Brewing was going down a rabbit hole for eight years. Then they realized they didn’t want to be Ninkasi. Get to the level that’s right for you. Volume is not the metric. It’s about the gross profits that you bring in on the beer.”
The final tip, and maybe the best in keeping with the adage of saving the best for last, was to invest in your brand. Hass said, “Invest like you want your distributor to invest in you. Put some feet on the street.”
Ochs elaborated on this idea. “The brewery’s job is to create customers at two levels, the end consumer and the retailers.” He advised hiring someone to make marketing calls.
Hass described this as a partnership. “We need you, the brewer, to educate — to tell the story. That way you can tell the distributor that the bars want your beer. The customers want it.”
As the craft beer field becomes saturated with more and more choices, it’s increasingly important to find ways to stand out in a crowded field. Working with your distributor to market your beer will help you both sell more beer.
Q: As a brewer in Portland, why would I make another double IPA?
Migration: Because they sell. IPAs sell 4 to 1. That’s why we do it.
Columbia: Do we want more IPAs? Not necessarily. We don’t want to sell an IPA-only brewery. We can’t predict the future and it’s tricky to know. Not a lot of breweries have a flagship beer that’s an imperial expensive IPA.
General: Find your niche. Everybody comes to us with IPAs. We’re a small distributor. We work with 50 breweries now. Bar owners now are looking for sessionable beers.
Moderator: Don’t follow the market. If you’re following the market, you’re too late.
Q: Can you do some self-distribution if you have a distributor?
Moderator: Yes. Your agreement with a distributor might define an area that you want to self distribute and the area you want them to distribute. Ninkasi self-distributes in Eugene. You can have distribution by county.
In April 2015, conservation group Oregon Wild announced the formation of The Oregon Brewshed® Alliance. The coalition of breweries and more advocates for the protection of forests and watersheds. Featured here, left to right, are Christian Ettinger of Hopworks, Colin Rath, co-founder of Migration and member of Oregon Wild’s Board of Directors, Julia Person, sustainability manager at Widmer, and Marielle Cowdin, outreach and marketing coordinator from Oregon Wild. Photo by Emma Browne
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Brewers know that great beer begins with clean water. Oregon craft beer is especially connected to the Northwest’s land and waterways, and that’s why in April 2015, conservation group Oregon Wild announced the formation of The Oregon Brewshed® Alliance. The coalition of breweries, other craft beer organizations and conservationists advocates for the protection of forests and watersheds.
Launching with eight partners from the craft beer industry, in less than a year there are now 21 partners, including 7 Devils Brewing Co. in Coos Bay, C-BIG (Craft Beverage Industry Group), Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, Fort George Brewery in Astoria, GoodLife Brewing in Bend, the brewpub chain McMenamins, Standing Stone Brewing Company in Ashland and multiple other breweries in Eugene and Portland.
“Conservationists and breweries joining forces for clean water might be a bit unconventional, but the partnership is really a natural fit,” says Marielle Cowdin, outreach and marketing coordinator for Oregon Wild. “Keeping our drinking watersheds clean and protected is essential for living. And it’s just as essential for keeping our craft brewing industry, something that has so defined our state’s culture, alive and thriving.”
Brewshed® partners and Oregon Wild also realized they had an opportunity to help the public understand the importance of clean water for brewing. “Many craft beer drinkers don't realize how significant water is for the process,” says Cowdin. “Two-thirds of Oregonians get their tap water from our state's lakes, streams and rivers. Since water is a product of the land that it flows through, our cleanest and best-tasting water flows through unspoiled public forest lands, with healthy forests acting as a natural filtration systems.”
Oregon Wild (formerly the Oregon Natural Resources Council or ONRC) began in 1974. Their conservation efforts have protected 1.7 million acres of wilderness, 95,000 acres of forests, and 1,800 miles of water protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The foundation of the Brewshed® was laid in 2009 when Oregon Wild partnered with Widmer Brothers Brewing to protect Portland's Bull Run Watershed. “The partnership sparked plans for a larger initiative, given the intimate connection between Oregon's thriving craft brewing scene and our public wildlands.”
Partners collaborate on various outreach events, such as pint nights, happy hours, special brews, Brewshed® hikes and fundraisers that support Oregon Wild's forest and watershed conservation work. Eugene’s Claim 52 Brewing considers conservation efforts a priority and works with various nonprofits on environmental stewardship. “From inception, Claim 52 has been proud to credit the McKenzie River for the flavor profile of our signature beer, the kolsch,” says co-founder/owner Mercy McDonald. “The river that runs in our backyard is vital and needs our care and protection to keep it pure. All of us have a role and stake in that outcome.”
Claim 52 hosts events for Oregon Wild throughout the year and contributes to raffles to help with fundraising. Last year, Claim 52 also bottled a specialty beer, Scrivener’s Sour, and donated a portion of the proceeds to Oregon Wild. McMenamins provides similar support. This year, while celebrating the 30th anniversary of Hammerhead, McMenamins donated $1 for every pint of the pale ale sold in Oregon Jan. 30-31. The brewpub chain is also donating event space for the Brewshed® Brewfest, which is set to take place Wednesday, May 18 at the Kennedy School in Portland. The inaugural event will feature beers from Brewshed® partners and guests can vote for their favorite beers.
“The amazing beers our Brewshed® partners will be pouring will showcase Oregon water, but we'll be incorporating information about Oregon watersheds and water conservation into our program for the evening, with speakers from Oregon Wild and other Alliance members,” explains Cowdin. “Fest attendees will get to know about watersheds beyond Portland and get to taste beer from across the state. Overall, this first annual Oregon Brewshed® Brewfest will be a celebration of Oregon beer and the Oregon water that helps it stand apart.”
In 2015, partners held 12 events to raise awareness and support, including an Earth Day fundraiser, a Community Tap Month, a hike along the Salmon River and an environmental speaker series. Events in 2016 have included a fundraising campaign called Weekend for Water in partnership with the Oregon Environmental Council, Base Camp Brewing Company’s Collabofest presented by #PDXNOW, and February’s KLCC Microbrew Festival in Eugene, where the Alliance sponsored the water stations.
“Moving forward, we hope to continue growth with new partner breweries and others in the brewing community that care about clean water across the state,” says Cowdin. “As the Oregon Brewshed® Alliance builds new partnerships, our voice for Oregon watersheds becomes stronger, and eventually, the Alliance could be seen as a model for craft brewing and water conservation nationwide.”
For brewers such as Mercy McDonald, the need for partnership is simple. “Clean water is often taken for granted, and that’s where quality beer starts.”
Oregon Brewshed® Alliance
Members, Events & More Information:
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
“New year, new you!” “Start the new year right!” “Out with the old and in with the new!”
More than any other time of year, January shoves our head in a toilet bowl filled with cloyingly motivational platitudes and won’t let go while we desperately try to reach for the flusher and skip to February. Every advertisement, magazine cover and lifestyle show shames the behavior of the previous year so that customers will shell out money for exercise equipment or lock themselves into a gym membership.
Sure, you probably drank too much brew in 2015. Exercise may have slowly redefined itself as making laps in the grocery store beer aisle while deciding what to buy or carrying two growlers at a time to the car. It would be really easy to ignore the usual New Year’s calls to action and hunker down until June. After all, it’s cold outside. It’s dark. And there’s rain. But an abundance of options await when it comes to staying active this winter. You can then celebrate the effort it took to leave your home with a well-deserved beer — or several. The following is a guide to both in four categories: snow, ice, wood and rock.
Re-explore the hiking routes in the Mount Hood National Forest when they’re coated in snow. The sparkling, clear lakes and wildflower-filled meadows are gone, but the winter transformation is not any less engaging than the summer scenery. Water normally alive with swimmers and boaters has gone still with a layer of ice. Tree branches and trails are frosted in white. And when it’s snowing, the skies are a beautifully subdued shade of slate.
To really get an appreciation of the setting, though, shake off the crowds that congregate at Timberline and Sno-Park parking areas. Strap on some snowshoes and escape to the backcountry where the effort it takes to complete the trails tends to deter a lot of people. If you don’t have any gear, not to worry. Mt. Hood Adventure (88335 E. Government Camp Loop Road, Government Camp, 503-715-2170) located on the upper story of Ratskeller, has rentals for adults ($15) and kids ($10). That includes shoes and poles for 24 hours in case you can make an overnight escape and get a couple of treks in. The guy normally behind the counter is a wealth of information when it comes to where to go and what to do if you get lost or end up braving the elements overnight. He’s so passionate about winter recreation, he’s practically vibrating with excitement. To get you started, here are three snowshoeing routes in order of increasing difficulty:
Distance: About 5 miles
Difficulty: Riding a tauntaun through the snow in “Star Wars: Episode V”
Directions: From Portland, travel 31 miles east of Sandy on Highway 26 to about 2.5 miles east of Timberline Road. Follow the signs to Trillium Lake and turn right into the Sno-Park.
Some hikes are easy to knock to the bottom of your list because they’re not very challenging and often teeming with people. Trillium Lake meets both those criteria in the warmer months, but come snow season the path gets longer and a little more demanding. And about a mile in, you distance yourself from everyone who is just there to play in the snow — not complete the entire loop. The distance increases because you’ll be snowshoeing in from the Trillium Lake Sno-Park parking lot rather than driving in to a day-use area next to the water. Forest Road 2650 will be free of cars, so tromp along the wide, sloped path that’s blanketed with powder until reaching a fork about .5 miles in. Either direction curves around the lake, but going left gets to the scenic shore more quickly. Reward yourself by saving the best view for the end of the hike and take a right. Open prairieland that’s dotted with clusters of trees eventually gives way to a thicker forest that surrounds much of Trillium.
One place worth a pause is the Summit Meadows Pioneer Cemetery. The plot of land, not much bigger than a dining room table, is marked by a white picket fence, some tombstones and a wooden sign posted on a tree — if not all obscured by snow. You can take a moment to imagine what it might have been like trudging along the Barlow Road section of the Oregon Trail. Not long after that, though, the sight of a handful of cabins will snap you back to modernity and perhaps inspire a future weekend getaway. Soon you’ll start to spot small windows in the three branches revealing the lake. The best view comes after crossing the dam — a hill of pines arches up to one side of the lake, the vast expanse of water stretches out in front of you. On a clear day, Mount Hood towers over Trillium. When finished with selfies and scenery, continue the loop to return to the parking lot. When you reach the fork, there’s one hill to contend with — but rest assured you’re nearly done at that point.
Distance: About 7 miles
Difficulty: Getting chased by Jack Nicholson through a snow-covered hedge maze in “The Shining”
Directions: From Portland take Highway 26 east past the junction with Highway 35 to the Frog Lake Sno-Park.
If you’ve seen one lake in the Mount Hood National Forest, you’ve seen them all. It’s easy to sum up the beauty of these shimmering gems nestled around the peak with one camping trip, one hike, one Instagram photo. But after you start exploring more of the region’s lakes, you’ll begin to appreciate the subtle differences and hidden side trips only experienced hikers can reveal. What makes the Twin Lake trail unique is revealed in the name — there are two watering holes that, although similar, offer separate experiences.
From the Frog Lake Sno-Park, head toward the picnic table and turn right onto the Pacific Crest Trail. Upon reaching an intersection, veer right to continue onto Twin Lakes Trail No. 495. It’s a gentle climb under the thick boughs of old growth weighed down by snow. The first lake comes into view after you amble down a ridge about 2 miles in. A fairly expansive campground provides plenty of places for a pit stop, complete with luxury log seating. The frozen patch of water is ringed by towering evergreens that look like they’ve been iced by a giant cake decorator.
The path to the Upper Twin is narrower and steeper. This is where you’ll start stripping off some of those layers because slogging through the snow headed uphill is enough to keep you warm. At times, you’ll come near a stream that slashes a black, jagged stripe through the white snowbanks before reaching the second lake, which is smaller and shallower. Unless clouds are in the way, Mount Hood’s tip will be peering over the crowd of trees surrounding Upper Twin’s perimeter.
Trail No. 495 links to Palmateer Point via Trail No. 482, but only continue if you’re a skilled hiker/snowshoer and have navigating equipment, as the snow tends to get thicker farther up. To call it a day, simply turn around at Upper Twin and go back the way you came. For those who’ve heard the mysterious Camp Toilet might exist along the route — it’s true. But wait until summer to seek it out. Not only is it probably buried in snow, a white lid is also mighty difficult to spot this time of year.
Frog Lake Butte
Distance: About 6 miles
Difficulty: Liam Neeson running through frozen Alaska while punching wolves in “The Grey”
Directions: From Portland take Highway 26 east past the junction with Highway 35 to the Frog Lake Sno-Park.
You wouldn’t know it when whizzing by on Highway 26, but the Frog Lake Sno-Park parking area is bustling with activity. Of course, you’ll find people crouched over to secure snowshoes or cross-country skis, but the lot is also shared with dogsled teams and toy haulers that contain the leaf blowers of recreational gear — the snowmobile. Even though they’re despised by some outdoor enthusiasts for their incessant drone and malodorous motor, it’s best to keep your cool and play well together. You won’t see much of the snowmobilers once you’re out on the path, but the noise never completely comes to a halt.
Begin by heading right on Forest Road 2610, which is spacious to accommodate vehicles in the summer. This is no flat stroll, however, as you’ll become painfully aware of about a half mile in. Take the steep and unforgiving Frog Lake Butte Road for 2,000 miles straight up. Poles are your pal on this snowshoe. There’s not much to describe in terms of scenery on the way. You’ll be too focused on lifting one foot in front of the other on the grinding course to appreciate it anyway. And that’s what the summit is for. At nearly 5,300 feet, there’s a whole lotta view. Mount Hood soars above rolling hills dotted with lakes like Timothy and Clear. Mount Jefferson is also visible on the horizon. The flat, open butte can get blustery, so find a grove of trees and catch your breath. If you packed a growler, toast your ascent before heading down.
Thaw Out Beers
Everyone loves a ski chalet after a long day on the mountain because they’re cozy and feature the most enjoyable way to warm up: alcohol. Mt. Hood Brewing Company (87304 Government Camp Loop, Government Camp, 503-272-3172) fits the bill on both accounts and it’s just off Highway 26 near all of the recommended snowshoe trails. There are at least six house-brewed beers on tap and several beer cocktails. A fireplace nook to the left of the entrance with oversized leather chairs and a large coffee table is the place to relax if you can snag it. When occupied, grab a table in the back or a stool at the bar, where there’s a frosty strip embedded in the countertop to keep pints cold. No matter what, you’ve got a better seat than any of the suckers crawling along 26 to Portland in the never-ending line of homeward-bound ski traffic.
Remember when all it took to entertain you as a kid was a rink, a little music and some flashy lights, along with the possibility you’d hold your crush’s hand during the partner skate? Return to the thrills of middle school at the Sherwood Ice Arena (20407 SW Borchers Drive, Sherwood, 503-625-5757), where they turn off the fluorescents, start spinning the disco balls and pump up the Top 40. Public skate sessions are held throughout the week, but the mood lighting and DJ are only available on Fridays from 7:35-9:35 p.m. The dark also provides some anonymity to those wall clingers who spend more time on their tailbones than up on skates. But after a few wobbly laps, your Rollerblading experience from the ‘90s should kick right in like you haven’t missed a day. Admission and skate rental for two costs $20. The arena offers a date night special, which includes mini pizzas and medium drinks for five bucks more, but eating concession stand food in a lobby that smells like a hamper full of musty gym socks isn’t worth the extra dough. Instead, drink like an adult before you play like a kid and order pints at NW Growlers (21025 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood, 503-822-5426) just across the street.
If it’s too much of a stretch to get to the suburbs for a spin around the ice, embrace a classic by going to Lloyd Center (953 Lloyd Center, Portland, 503-288-6073). The rink was the first of its kind to open in a mall in 1960 and its legacy is inextricably linked to Oregon’s infamous figure skater Tonya Harding. Given that the slab of ice isn’t really the main attraction here since it is a shopping center, the space is small and feels like it, both on the ice and in the waiting area where you’ll fight for a seat with 6-year-olds while the Zamboni does its thing. Be warned that the skating here isn’t cheap. Sure, $17 on a Sunday covers skate rental and access to the rink all day. But let’s be honest — no one is going to do laps here for eight hours. It would be forgivable if you took that $17 to the food court instead. However, you may want to get your time on the nostalgic rink while you can. Lloyd Center says it’s planning an overhaul in 2016 that will improve rink aesthetics, but shrink the size.
While there’s nowhere to grab a beer in the mall proper, two walking-distance options should satisfy your thirst. Upright Brewing (240 N. Broadway #2, Portland, 503-735-5337) makes four lovely saisons year-round that you can enjoy at tables tucked away in a dimly lit basement surrounded by brewing equipment. To get to the bottom floor, go to the very back of the building and press on through a labyrinth of halls and staircases that lack signs. Order a sampling tray before hitting the ice, but be sure to bring cash or a check to pay. Since Upright has limited hours and no kitchen, Broadway Grill & Brewery (1700 NE Broadway St., Portland, 503-284-4460) is another option. It has eight of its own craft beverages, a book for a menu and stays open longer. Either way you go, the combination of beer, blades and ice would surely get you grounded if your mom had anything to say about it.
In 2000, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam introduced the thesis that civic engagement in the U.S. has been declining since the 1960s. To illustrate the argument, he used a vivid, empirical phenomenon — plenty of Americans were still bowling as a form of recreation, yet few did so in leagues as they once used to. This was one example used to highlight the importance of social capital and how joining networks gives one a sense of stake in community. Perhaps what further drove bowling to become a more isolated activity was the subsequent rise of the casino-like alley: fast-paced video screens, pop music and booths swaddled in black leather. The experience has become more about being stimulated by the atmosphere, and it’s also a hell of a lot more expensive to knock down some pins in these newfangled palaces of play.
Fans of old school alleys will appreciate those that are left and remain untouched by the frills of the 21st century. Although you’re not likely to work up a sweat, it’s still a way to burn more calories than spending an evening disappearing into the living room couch. AMF Pro 300 Lanes (3031 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, 503-234-0237) is one place to get the ball rolling on the wood. It features 36 lanes, plastic seats, a lounge and zero pretension. Prices top out at $5.19 per person, per game. Just because the building is dated, doesn’t mean the beer is. Craft is on tap, including at least one beer, appropriately, from neighboring Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, 503-232-4677). After your 10 frames, cross the street for a burger and more beer, making it a 1950s-kind-of bowling night that would do Putnam proud.
Maybe you’ve seen the REEL ROCK Film Tour and felt inspired by those adventurous athletes or overheard conversations about the amazing grip strength developed by bouldering. Whatever the motivation, you decide you want to give one of those climbing gyms a try since all of the outdoor rocks are wet and slippery in winter. The Circuit has two Portland locations (410 NE 17th Ave., 503-719-7041 and 6050 SW Macadam Ave., 503-246-5111) and one in Tigard (16255 SW Upper Boones Ferry Road, 503-596-2332) with drop-in day passes for $14 and $4 shoe rentals. All locations are also located next to beer. The business has even gone a step further by partnering with Base Camp Brewing Company (930 SE Oak St., Portland, 503-477-7479), Culmination Brewing (2117 NE Oregon St., Portland, 971-258-2808), Migration Brewing (2828 NE Glisan St., Portland, 503-206-5221) and NW Growlers (6141 SW Macadam Ave., Portland, 503-245-4509). Look for price breaks at any of those locations after climbing or falling because you haven’t yet developed that superhuman grip. At least the floors are padded.
OBG Blog Archives
Welcome to our archive pages! Read stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler from June 2012 to January 2018. For newer stories, please visit our new website at: