Downtown Portland gets McMenamin's Hotel

from the Oregonian & The Portland Business Journal

The new McMenamins Crystal Hotel will occupy prime land near the Brewery Blocks

“An eagerly anticipated hotel project in downtown Portland is taking shape after the spiraling economy temporarily shelved it.

“McMenamins Hotels, Pubs & Breweries secured a permit from the city of Portland on July 20 to proceed with its Crystal Hotel project at 303 S.W. 12th Ave., a former bath house, hotel and reputed gangster hangout that has been empty for about two years.”

Blue Palms

It is hard to believe that Blue Palms is 1 year old. It seems like only yesterday that Los Angeles was Lucky Baldwin’s and that’s it. Now we have a herd of great places to go anywhere in the sprawling metropolis of L.A. Beer life is getting better!

Back to the anniversary, Brian Lenzo pulled a lot of beer rabbits out of his hat to bring in a wonderful selection of beers. Parabola and Abacus from Firestone-Walker. Sour Rye from the Bruery. Multiple hop bombs from Alpine among others.

They borrowed some of the space from the Fonda Theater next door but that started filling up pretty quickly. As usual the staff of the BP were attentive and cheerful with the huge crowd and Brian was running everywhere to make sure the day would run smooth.

Kudos to Blue Palms and see you at # 2.

The Good Beer Seal of Approval

…is awarded to bars and restaurants in New York who:

1. Have 80% craft domestic or special imported beers.
2. Serve a good portion of their beers via a draft beer and/or cask ale program.
3. Maintain a strong “pub” vibe as a nice, local place to drink beer and visit with friends.
4. Active community presence, as well as being independently operated establishment.
5. Good beer should be a strong feature if not the FOCUS of the operation.

Beer & Breakfast

Let’s get InterNational for a moment. Get away from the U.S. west coast. How about here…

A sprawling beer soaked historical center where all you have to do at the end of the day is crawl back to your room content. If you are planning a trip to Germany, this needs to be placed on the itinerary.

Check out their website here

Beer in Hawaii

The Hawaii Beer Book: Bars, Breweries & Beer Cuisine.” Inside, author Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi takes readers to local breweries like Brew Moon, Big Aloha, Mehana, and more.

As if you need a reason to visit the lovely, sun-blessed islands.

Rifftrax + Wil Wheaton + Stone Bistro =

…a full and fun evening. On July 23rd, Stone Bistro in Escondido will be having a pumped up version of movie night. As if you need an excuse to go to this great beer oasis. Anyhoo, starting around 6pm. Wil Wheaton will read from his books, then Rifftrax takes on The Matrix. Snorting of beer due to laughter will be on the menu.

Upcoming Southern California beer events

July 29: Beer dinner at Rock Bottom brewpub – Long Beach, 6:00 p.m.

Aug. 8: Open house at Skyscraper Brewing, El Monte – 12:00-6:00 p.m.

Aug. 19: Beer Showcase Dinner with Boston Beer Company – Tony P’s, Marina del Rey, 7:00 p.m. (different brewery each third Wednesday)

Aug. 25-31: Sour Beer Festival, Beachwood BBQ – Seal Beach.

Aug. 30: OC Beer Festival – Irvine Lake, 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Sep. 19: Septemberfest – Paramount Studios, Hollywood, 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Oct. 17-25: L.A. Beer Week – various locations.

From Los Angeles to Portland

Los Angeles to Portland by car seems foolhardy. You can be at PDX in under 3 hours by plane and be going from brewery to restaurant to brewpub tasting all that you can.

The problem for me is that when I am up there, I see all kinds of bottles that I want to bring home and try at my leisure. And the TSA thinks it is strange to want to bring 5 or 10 bottles of great beer on a plane. So driving it is. And to make the most of it, I decided to stop along the way at the great beer places in California and Oregon.

My first stop was Paso Robles. The home of Firestone-Walker and lead brewer Matthew Brynildson. I chose a stool in the tasting room and ordered a glass of their Bavarian Wheat and Li’l Opal.

The Bavarian Wheat is a lovely hefe. Great clove and banana aroma. It pours a hazy golden with a spicy bite at the end. Very refreshing. It really cools a person down. The Li’l Opal is a saison. Very similar in color to the wheat. Has a sweet, malty aroma as well as a touch of the farmhouse funk. Just a touch sour with yeasty notes to it. Then I asked for a quick tour before I got back on the road. Veronica was kind enough to show me around and halfway through we ran into Matthew and he passed over a sample of their new Imperial IPA, Double Jack. It wa great to try something that hadn’t even been released yet! Just from that taste, I could tell that Double Jack will be a hit with the hop crowd. But I like that the malt was balancing all that bitterness.

I bid adios and headed for San Francisco, and after getting through some typical Bay Area traffic, found myself at 21st Amendment Brewery on a night that the Giants were playing just down the street. I had a glass of the Dahm Kolsch which was a lovely straw color. It is a very crisp beer. No soft edges on it. An uber-pilsner. Then I had the Rathskeller Alt. Not much aroma on it and unfortunately not much flavor either. Little malt sweetness. All of the beers were lower alcohol which is great.

I headed over to ThirstyBear to re-try one of the beers that started me on this journey to beer consultant. The Valencia Wheat. A California wit bier. Alas, it was not as good as the memory of ten years ago. Perhaps, I have had too many great beers since then and this one has faded to middle of the pack.

Then I found by serendipitous chance, the awesome City Beer Store that I will talk about in a separate post because I loved it so much.

The next day it was on to Chico, California. The home of Sierra Nevada. After a couple of wrong turns, I found the huge complex that houses their brewery operations, gift shop and restaurant. I had their new Kellerweis, served in the traditional glassware. It was a hazy orange/yellow color with an aroma more banana than clove with a little sourness at the end. Good Stuff. I also sampled their Southern Hemisphere IPA which was delicious. So delicious that I bought a bottle of it.

Then it was on to Ashland. After walking around the town, I headed for Standing Stone Brewing and ordered up their beer sampler. I received their Cream Ale, Hefeweizen, Amber, Rye, IPA, DIPA and the Oatmeal Stout. My favorites were the Cream ale which was golden and clear with fruit tastes to it and the Oatmeal stout which was a lovely, mild roasted coffee stout.

My last stop before Portland was Eugene, Oregon where I stopped at the McMenamin’s on High Street. I ordered up the Ruby Ale. My sister-in-law’s favorite beer and thanked the gods that the driving was close to the end. I also tried the Jalapeno Wheat. I could not even finish it. I am a pepper wuss and this was peppery.

Raccoon Lodge & Cascade Brewing

Boy did I have a tour of this wonderful place. Not only did I talk to Art Larrance who runs the place, but then I got tours from Ron Gansberg the head brewer and another tour from Curtis the assistant brewer. These guys are really cool.

I sampled so many beers including a Gose that they are working on plus so many NW sour beers. They have so many variations that it boggles the mind. I had their Cask IPA which is another example of the milder Oregon style of IPA. I tried their Mouton Rouge which was very sour. So good. Dark, dark red with a berry sharpness.

I would have to say that if you wanted to try something different. The Bruery and Cascade Brewing are the places to go on the west coast.