Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BYOB: Where to get your favorite local brews to go!

By Shanon Emerson

If you’ve ever had a powerful thirst for a cold beer after a long, hard day of, say, browsing the web while pretending to work, then imagine how you’d feel after completing a 2000-mile trek along the Oregon Trail by wagon train only to discover that there’s no beer at the finish line. That's exactly what happened to Henry Saxer in 1852. But Saxer didn’t mope around wondering why life was so unfair. He was a true pioneer, as well as an entrepreneur who could recognize a good thing when he saw it—in this case, prime land and water for brewing. So instead of complaining, he opened Liberty Brewery, Oregon’s first commercial brewery and only the second brewery on the Pacific Coast. Saxer successfully made beer for 10 years before selling Liberty to Oregon's better-known beer-brewing Henry—Henry Weinhard, that is.

In the early 1900s, Oregon wasn't exactly the beer-friendly state that it is today. The (silly, silly) temperance movement had taken root, and in 1914, five years before national prohibition was established, the voters of Oregon approved a state-wide ban on the manufacture, sale or advertisement of intoxicating liquor. Weinhard managed to survive the dry spell of state and national prohibition by serving up sodas and other non-alcoholic drinks at the City Brewery in what is now the Pearl District. In 1933, Oregon and the nation ratified the 21st Amendment and—finally—the beer began to flow again.

Fast forward a few decades to the start of an enlightened age of beer laws. In 1979, Jimmy Carter—older brother of William "Billy Beer" Carter—signed into law the so-called Cranston Bill, which made home brewing legal (up to 100 gallons per person per year). In 1985, the Oregon Legislature legalized brewpubs. This permitted breweries to sell directly to the public, fanning the flames of Oregon’s nascent brew culture. Today the Portland metro area hosts 38 breweries, more than any other metro area in the United States.

These days, many of Portland’s best brewpubs do more than just sell bottles, pints and pitchers to the beer-loving public. A few offer to-go beers in quart jars and 64 oz. growlers. Mason jars make an ideal “single” serving for those nights when you’re enjoying a few beers at the bar but you have to nip out for your late-night Magnum PI fix. (Yes, you should buy pizza rolls on the way home, too.) A growler, on the other hand, is a great way to pull off the hobo-hipster look as you saunter into a party with a jug of your favorite beer dangling from each index finger. Both options offer the ultimate in shopping local and buying bulk, thus reconciling your desire to take home your favorite microbrews with your personal pledge to do your part for the greater good.

Below are a few brewpubs that can set you up with some bulk beer. Each brewery has slightly different rules and prices, but they’re all more than happy to pour that ice-cold beer you’re looking for into a convenient carryout container.

Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd, 232-4677)
Hopworks, one of Portland’s newest brewpubs, is impressively run on 100 percent renewable energy. The entire operation is the height of sustainability, including a waste recycling program with a goal of zero waste. And, yes, the beer is organic (and award-winning).
Growler Glass: $5
Growler Refill: $10
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: No
BYO Growler: Yes

Laurelwood Public House & Brewery (5115 NE Sandy Blvd, 282-0622)
Laurelwood has also taken on the organic-beer challenge with their aptly named Free Range Red and Tree Hugger Porter. While big on hops, the Free Range Red is said to be “balanced and drinkable.” The Tree Hugger Porter works the chocolaty and malty side of beer like a good porter should.
Growler Glass: $4
Growler Refill: $10
Quart Jar: $2.50
Quart Jar Refill: $5.50
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

New Old Lompoc (1616 NW 23rd Ave, 225-1855)
If you ever find yourself walking down NW 23rd with an ever-growing desire for something authentic, keep going through the alphabet until you get to the New Old Lompoc Pub just past Raleigh St. If they didn’t have you at New Old, they’ll get you with their Proletariat Red, which, as their website states, “reminds us that work is the curse of the drinking class.” New Old Lompoc brews are available at all four of their pub locations.
Growler Glass: No
Growler Refill: No
Quart Jar: $2.50
Quart Jar Refill: $6
BYO Quart: Yes

Roots Organic Brewing Company (235-7668, 1520 SE 7th Ave)
Roots was the first Oregon brewery to focus solely on organic beer. Five years later, they’re still at it with a handful of regular beers that are always on tap and a few seasonal brews that show up when the time is right. This time of year brings Gruit Kolsch or, as it should rightly be called, summer in a bottle.
Growler Glass: $5
Growler Refill: $10, $12
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: $7
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub (281-2437, 929 N Russell St)
The Widmer brothers—alternately known as Kurt and Rob or Rob and Kurt—started brewing beer as a hobby in the early ’80s. By 1984 they’d turned their hobby into a business, one that would be hugely successful. They first brewed the famous Widmer Hefeweizen, “American’s First Hefeweizen,” in 1986, when the microbrew culture in the Northwest was in its infancy.
Growler Glass: $30 (fancy), $7.50 (regular)
Growler Refill: $8
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: $8 for two quarts (must have two)
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Rogue Distillery & Public House (222-5910, 1339 NW Flanders)
If you’re lucky and the rogues at Rogue are feeling generous, they might fill up a BridgePort growler even though BridgePort won’t return the favor. And by might they mean probably won’t. Welcome to Rogue Nation.
Growler Glass: $3
Growler Refill: $15–$19
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: $7.50–$10
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Amnesia Brewing (281-7708, 832 N Beech St)
There’s something satisfying about saying the names of the beers at Amnesia: Dusty Trail Pale, Slow Train Porter, Desolation IPA. What’s even more satisfying is the little-bit-country-little-bit-rock-‘n’-roll attitude they have there. Located in an area of town where skinny jeans walk the streets on both women and men, it’s good to have a dash of country thrown in. And while they do fill growlers and quarts, their main requirement for a to-go beer receptacle is that it has a lid. If the law says they can fill it with beer, the folks at Amnesia will do it with a smile.
Growler Glass: Not for sale
Growler Refill: $13
Quart Jar: $1
Quart Jar Refill: $7
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

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