The Firkin for May 2012

When I go to various bars and breweries in Los Angeles, I try to stay a bit incognito. Primarily because I am shy by nature and secondarily because I am there for the beer. So I don’t walk into an establishment with a beer blogger badge around my neck and an air of overimportance and because of that I overhear and see a few things that might not be said otherwise.

And that is the backdrop from whence this post came. I just wanted to drop a few positive and negative “overheard at the bar” tidbits.

PRO – Seeing Jon Carpenter, brewmaster at Golden Road inspecting glasses before beer went into them. I love the fact that he is that involved in all stages of the process.

CON – Bartenders at a noted beer bar kvetching about myself and others patrons asking for a special beer that is on the beer list but not scheduled to be served until later that night. Come on people, be glad that people are psyched and anxious and use that opportunity to highlight another beer on the list.

PRO – I have seen countless bartenders bring out many samples for people who are undecided or new to beer with genuine joy even during busy times. It is a pleasure to watch the craft beer education in progress and I appreciate it every time and tip those servers more.

CON – Staff not being informed of all that is going on. I have heard many a conversation about what price a certain beer should be at, how much to pour and so on. I know it is hard to disseminate information but it seems that large chunks of knowledge aren’t being handed out sometimes.

PRO – Bartenders who sample the new beers. I don’t want them downing pints and pints through the night. But I appreciate that they know what they are talking about and might catch any issues with beers.

CON – The always washing glasses person. This is the flip side to point # 1. I have sat at bars watching glass after glass getting washed whilst patrons were sitting with empty glasses and not even being acknowledged. Though it might seem a flippant problem, we all can learn more patience obviously and places can get busy, some take it to the extreme.

Those are just a few off the top of my head but I am sure there are many more from anyone else who has inhabited a stool at the bar.

Breakside’s unusual collaboration

First there was Avery-Brown-Dredge. A collaboration between beer bloggers/writers and BrewDog. And now Portland’s Breakside Brewing has taken a similar tack. Inviting local beer notables to help create beers.

The first three sound really good and the last one will certainly be different. Here is the list (that is probably gone by now, they were tapped on the 4th, but hopefully this will be an annual event!)

Lisa Morrison of Beer O’ Clock fame – Meyer Lemon Kolsch
John Foyston beer writer for the Oregonian – NW Alt
Saraveza the great beer bar – Strong Saison
Margaret from the great Brewpublic blog – a beet beer!

I love that it includes all walks of beer lovers. The more the merrier!

Portland Beer Bar Reviews

It is a near impossible Herculean task to pick one Portland beer bar as the best. It might be impossible to pick the best beer spot on SE Division. What with Apex and Beer Mongers across from each other.

Why is it hard? There are just a lot of places to visit and to visit enough that you can get a good read as to the atmosphere, the type of list changes, the staff attitude and myriad other reasons.

That being said, here is my personal countdown of Top 3 Portland Beer Bars: (As of right now & subject to change)

Nice amount of taps with a wide style variety. Then they have bottles too. The atmosphere is laid back and casual. Very coffeehouse chic. But what sets them apart is the beyond awesome back patio. An oasis in the city where you can let the cares of the world pass by as you drink your beer.

The decor is the best. I absolutely love the use of bottlecaps in the bar and in the tabletops. Great design work that must have taken a long time. Like its Killingsworth neighbor, the list is small and varied. Always interesting and not static. Their bottle selection in old school ‘fridges is drool worthy.

Why are they # 1? Choice. An abundance of choice. For example, I walked in on a July day and found a Nebraska brewed beer WHILE I was drinking a beer from Astoria, Oregon! The bottle selection is tremendous. If it was brewed in Oregon, Belmont has it. Then you can hoard your find at the bar next door and probably run into one of their many events.