West Coast beer trip 2018


A week and a half after retiring, I embarked on my longest trip ever, accompanied by my old friend John (also retired). We would travel from San Diego to Portland Oregon, seeing the Pacific Coast Highway and visiting breweries along the way. (I had been to San Diego in 2015 and Portland in 2013 but had never traveled from one to the other.) I spent about a year planning this trip, researching brewery ratings to see which were worth visiting, mapping out driving routes with Google maps, coordinating arrival dates and times in accordance with breweries' days/hours of operation, finding motels to stay at along the way, and making reservations. I printed all the directions so we wouldn't be dependent on technology when we were on the road.

Monday June 11. We left Maryland on a very rainy day. After landing in San Diego we got a rental car and drove to Mikkeller Brewing. They have several locations. This one opened in 2016, which is why I hadn't visited them during my 2015 trip. They had 7 stouts and 5 New England pale ales / IPAs on tap, plus several other beers. (Most breweries in this area use the term "hazy IPA" instead of "New England IPA" to describe the style, probably because they're so far from New England.) We tried:

Water station.


We drove 3 minutes to AleSmith Brewing. This location was brand new when I visited in 2015 and the tasting room wasn't open yet. We sampled:


We then drove another 3 minutes to Ballast Point's Miramar location. They have several locations in the San Diego area, as well as other areas, including Daleville Virginia, which John and I had visited the previous summer on our way to Asheville. They had about 50 of their own beers on tap, including 15 sours. They have a robust sour ale program, with Berliner weiss being produced in San Diego and spontaneously fermented ales being made in Long Beach. They also have a "Roots to Boots" series of beers, where any employee can come up with a recipe and they'll brew an experimental batch of it at their pilot brewery in San Diego's Little Italy. We tried:


Around the corner is Pure Project Brewing, which opened in 2016 and is highly rated. Unfortunately they were closed for a private event. But the beer gods were with us because right next door is Amplified Ale Works, which also opened in 2016. The place has a great vibe with a music theme. Our bartender Doug was from Ellicott City MD, only a half hour from Severna Park. We tried:


We checked in at the Extended Stay America, then went to Green Flash Brewing, where we met my friend Jamie. She and her boyfriend had moved from Baltimore to San Diego several years earlier.


Afterward we picked up some food at a couple of supermarkets (when we travel we tend to eat in the car and motel rooms) and went back to the motel to crash.


Tuesday June 12. I was up by 4:00 AM due to jet lag and the fact that I don't sleep a lot anyway. I was hungover because I had forgotten to eat between breweries. The key to successful drinking is to eat!

It was a beautiful sunny day. There's a Marine air station nearby so many fighter jets were flying loudly overhead. We walked around the area and stumbled upon a Jewish cemetery whose headstones were on a hill called Mount Shalom. We drove to a cannabis dispensary because, well, you know. Security was tight, as I assume it is at all dispensaries: a police officer wanded us, employees took down our drivers license information before letting us in, and the store was locked away in a windowless room. We found out later that dispensaries accept only cash because cannabis is federally illegal so credit companies won't process purchases made at dispensaries. This means that dispensaries have lots of cash, hence the need for security.

We drove to Pure Project, which had people waiting to get in when they opened at noon. The reason: their weekly crowler release. They had several murky IPAs/DIPAs on tap, so we tried 5 of them:


Next we went to Societe Brewing, which opened in 2012. In addition to their regular beers they have their Feral series, which are fermented in various barrels. We got samples of:


We then went to
Modern Times, which has two locations in San Diego (as well as locations in Los Angeles and Portland). We went to their Lomaland Fermentorium, which has a cool vibe with couches and unique decor such as book spines built into the bar. They had many hazy IPAs/DIPAs on tap, but since I was hurting from the previous day we got just 2 DIPAs, both of which were outstanding:

I liked how they included tax in their draft prices. They had Mortal Cloak for sale to go, so I bought a 4-pack.


We headed east for 30 miles to
Alpine Beer Company. They have two locations about a mile from each other. First we visited their Tasting Room, which is in a small, old, rustic strip of businesses. It opened in 1999. We tried 3 IPAs:


We then checked in at the Alpine Motel/Apartments, which is literally a stone's throw away. Our room was small, with just one queen bed and no wifi, but what do you want for $71 a night? We rested a bit before heading to Alpine Beer Company's Pub. It's a basic restaurant/bar with a boulder garden and pond out back. Like their other location, they serve all clean beers, mostly classic pale ales and IPAs. We ordered 4 IPAs, all of which were good:

All food and beer samples were served on aluminum pans, with the food on flat pans and beer samples in muffin pans.


Afterward we picked up more food at a supermarket called Albertson's, then drove to nearby Wright's Field, a prairie-like area with trails, boulders, and mountain views.

Artsy panoramic shot with my shadow in it.


Wednesday June 13. Felt much better from drinking less and eating more the day before, plus a good night's sleep. We went back to Wright's Field for a morning walk. It was warm and sunny and there were some nice views. The whole Alpine area has lots of boulders, which are so round that they look almost sculpted. We encountered a rattlesnake. I don't know whether it was alive because I poked it with a stick several times and it didn't move.


Later we took a scenic ne-hour drive to Wild Barrel Brewing, which opened on September 30, 2017. At the time they served clean beers and also a line of Berliner weisse beers with various fruits which, since they're over 5% ABV, can't technically be called Berliner weisse, so they're called San Diego Vice ("weiss" is pronounced the same as "vice"). They had about 20 barrels with sour ales fermenting in them that wouldn't be ready until the end of the year. They experiment with various wild yeast and bacteria strains. For example, they cultured microbes from apple skins. We tried many of their beers but some were small freebies so we didn't drink as much as it wuld appear.

Water!


In the middle of the pub is a round room that looks like a barrel from the outside. Below left is the outside and below right is a panoramic shot from the inside. There are photos on the wall from someone's trip to Cuba.


I bought a crowler of the San Diego Vice with black currants to go. On a tip from our bartender, Jim, we went to a nearby Shell station that had lots of craft brews for sale and bought some beer.

Then it was off to Port Brewing, more commonly known as Lost Abbey. They use Port Brewing to refer to their American-style beers and Lost Abbey to refer to their Belgian, high-octane, and barrel-aged beers. They also have another line of beers called Hop Concept, which are hop-forward beers. They had 29 beers on tap and there were so many we wanted to try but we would be hitting 5 breweries that day and we couldn't spare the liver power, so all we sampled were:


On our way to the next brewery we stopped at Sunset Park in San Marcos to enjoy some sunlight and greenery. It has a splashpad, a playground, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, and fields.


We then went to Toolbox Brewing. When I visited in 2015, all the tap handles were old tools and tool handles. They switched to normal tap handles because the old metal tools were so heavy that they were breaking the taps. We tried 3 milkshake IPAs and a stout:


On a tip from a couple of guys at Toolbox we went to Burgeon Beer Company, which opened in the first half of 2017. It was fairly crowded and festive. We tried 3 NEIPAs and a NEDIPA, all of which were good:

Bathroom sink.


We checked in at the Vista Inn, then went to Black Plague Brewing. They opened in June 2017. Their theme is death. They played classic rock music, mostly 60s and 70s. Several of their beers have 1347 in the name, which is the year that the Black Plague was most prevalent. The bar has a glycol-chilled strip where you can lay your beer to help keep it cold. All the beers we tried were solid:


We drove over to Oceanside to see if there would be a good sunset but it was cloudy, so we returned to the motel.


Thursday June 14. Got up at 2:30 AM, which gave me plenty of time to work on this web page. It was nice and sunny when we left Vista around 9:00 AM, but as we approached the coast it got cloudy. I believe this has to do with something called the marine layer. When we got on the Pacific Coast Highway there was very little ocean view, and the traffic was heavy. We stopped at Laguna Beach, which has a beach park with nice walkways. There was even a private lawn bowling club. People were surfing, paddleboarding, playing volleyball, and walking their dogs. A bulldozer would periodically traverse the beach, clearing the seaweed and evening out the sand. It remained cloudy at the beach, but inland it was sunny. The beach was okay; the walkway above the beach was prettier. I took a brief video of water splashing onto rocks that you can view here.

Clouds linger over the beach (right) while it is sunny inland (left).


We drove inland and in less than a mile we were under bright sun without a cloud in sight. Around noon we arrived at The Bruery. The name's spelling came from owner Patrick Rue. They make clean beers under the Bruery label and sour beers under the Bruery Terreux moniker. Wort is brewed and fermented at this location, and some of the wort is shipped to another location to be soured in barrels. They also have a label called Offshoot Beer Company, which is not another brewery but refers to their hoppy beers (kind of like Lost Abbey's Hop Concept line). This location has over 40 taps. We sampled:


A few minutes away is their other tasting toom, Bruery Terreux, which has 47 taps, hundreds of sour barrels, and also some foudres. There are actually two additional locations: one has sour barrels and the other has 1500 barrels for aging clean beers, but these places don't have tap rooms. We ordered a flight of 5. We talked with our server, Ryan, about the beer quest we were on, so he gave us 7 free samples, most of them special beers that are reserved for members of their Reserve Society and their Hoarder Society.

Order window for outdoor customers.


Five minutes away is Bottle Logic. We had:

Control panel is part of the décor.


We drove in rush hour traffic to Torrance. We were able to use the HOV lane because there were two of us, but it still took an hour for what would normally take 45 minutes. We checked in at the Del Amo Inn, picked up some food at Trader Joe's, and drove over to Monkish. It was cool and windy as the sun began to set. Monkish was crowded and lively. We sampled:

Monkish had had a can release of Unfold the Scroll earlier in the day. They sold 1200 4-packs at $25 each in one hour, their fastest sellout ever. Not only was this beer great but it got better as it warmed up.


Less than half a mile away is Smog City Brewing. It was crowded and festive, and there were several dogs. We saw dogs in many breweries throughout our trip. We tried:


Friday June 15. Another 2:30 morning. I wrote while John snored. We drove in shitty traffic to Venice, parked at Firestone Walker's Propagator location, and walked down to Venice Beach. It was somewhat cloudy but the temperature was pleasant. Along the way there were bikes and scooters that people could rent via a phone app. There were many types of people: tourists, joggers, beach bums, and homeless. Inside a fitness studio there was an exercise class full of nothing but hot women, and the instructor was movie star gorgeous. The beach was somewhat sunny and it didn't smell bad like some East Coast beaches do. We walked on the Venice Pier and saw lots of people surfing and paddleboarding in the water, jogging on the beach, and fishing off the pier. Not a lot of people just sat on the beach; most of them were involved in some sort of activity. The end of the pier was disgusting: covered in seagull crap and full of unattractive people fishing. There were signs warning that many of the fish were contaminated.

We walked along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, which is a misnomer because it's not wooden but paved. There were all manner of things for sale such as food, T-shirts, massages, tattoos, vapes, etc. There were basketball and tennis courts, and of course the famous Muscle Beach Gym. The streets that parallel the beach are trafficky, but the side streets that run perpendicular are quiet and pretty.

Side street.


We walked back to the car, ate some food to lay a base, and went into the Propagator. We got samples of:


We left around 1:00 PM and drove in horrendous traffic to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Once we got on the PCH traffic was still horrible for a while, and the scenery sucked because buildings blocked our view of nature. Once we got north of Malibu things started to improve: traffic lightened, and there were some good views of ocean to the west and mountains to the east. There were also several beaches, none of which were congested. We paid $3.70 per gallon for gas, and some places were charging $4.20. Things got congested and ugly around Oxnard and again around Santa Barbara, adding more time to our trip, but other than that driving was smooth and there was lots of nice scenery, mostly mountains but occasional ocean. I took some photos along the way but they really can't do the scenery any justice.


It took us 4 hours to make what should have been a 2½-hour trip to Buellton. We checked in at a Motel 6, which was the most expensive Motel 6 we'd ever seen at $200 a night. Turns out that they increased the price by over $100 because it was Father's Day weekend and every hotel/motel in the area was gouging visitors. We walked a half mile to Firestone Walker's Barrelworks location. It has a "normal" tap room where they serve their usual stuff, and the Barrelworks tap room with their wild and strong ales. Guess which tap room we visited. It had a nice dim, wooden décor. All of their wild ales are fermented in oak barrels, mostly French with some Hungarian and a few American. We sampled:

It was windy and chilly when we walked back to the motel. Maybe if we'd sampled more beer we'd have been warmer...


Saturday June 16. Woke up around 3:00. We left on a cool, cloudy morning and drove along the PCH. It was beautiful, with mountains on both sides. The grass was yellow but there were lots of green trees. We passed some vineyards and the occasional horse farm. Eventually we drove through Fort Hunter Liggett, which is in the middle of nowhere. Then we passed through Los Padres National Forest on a long, winding, mountainous road with lots of blind curves. We stopped at one spot for a nice view.

Panoramic shot.


As we descended toward the PCH we got some great views such as these:


After 3½ hours of driving we stopped and hiked at Partington Cove. There are nice views from above and a trail that leads down to two coves. There's a big one...


...and a smaller one.


It was windy and cool up on the PCH but became less windy as we descended. I took two brief videos of water splashing on the rocks that you can view here and here. I took note of how if we hadn't been on a beer quest, we wouldn't have visited this place. I made up a short poem:

If it weren't for beer, we wouldn't be here.


We stopped at a spot that had two restaurants (Nepenthe and Café Kevah) because I'd read that there was a great view from there. It was very crowded because it was lunchtime, so we had trouble parking. In the outdoor seating area at Nepenthe I saw a bird steal a bread roll from a serving tray and fly off with it.


Next we hiked at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It has lots of redwoods (Sequoias) and a trail that leads to a valley view. There is also a trail to a waterfall but it was closed due to fire and flood damage. Many of the redwoods had char marks from previous fires.

Charred tree.


Afterward we bought gas for a mere $5.06 per gallon (there were only 2 gas stations in the area so they could charge anything). The PCH from Big Sur to Carmel was beautiful, with mountains to the east and ocean to the west.


We then stopped at our only brewery of the day: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales. It's a small place that opened in 2012. We tried:


Then we drove to the home of my old friends Anne and Russ, who have a horse farm, and stayed overnight.


Sunday June 17. A cool, cloudy morning. We hung out with Anne and Russ for a few hours and had a great conversation about many things, including our 2005 trip to Belgium and Germany. Then John and I headed north. The traffic was awful at first but eventually lightened. As the PCH neared the ocean we had mountains to the east and water to the west, although it wasn't quite as pretty as it was just north of Big Sur. There were many state beaches, but it was so cool and windy that they were good only for photos or surfing if you had a wetsuit. The photos below are from Pescadero State Beach.


We drove to San Francisco, the traffic getting worse and worse as we approached. It was fairly warm and very sunny. We went to the Almanac Beer Company. They have two locations: a barrel house / brewery / tap room in Alameda; and a tap room / beer garden / kitchen, where we were. This section of San Francisco smelled like urine. We ate some food, went in, and sampled:


We got back on the highway and endured horrible traffic on the way to our next brewery: Fieldwork Brewing in Berkeley. This place was crowded and festive, with dogs, kids, and classic rock music. We tried:

I bought a crowler of Losers' Club Vol. II, then we headed to the Channing Guest House. If you ever visit Berkeley, you must stay here. It is run by a nice little old lady named Judy. The house is her private residence, and it is simply lovely, rustic, and cozy. She has a hot tub out back, and told us that no one ever wears a bathing suit in it (this is Berkeley, after all). She also keeps chickens out back. She made us feel at home by providing food and allowing us to raid her fridge whenever we wanted. There are no screens in the windows so flies get in, but they aren't active at night when it cools down.


There are two craft beer places within walking distance. Walking around the neighborhood reminded me of the suburban neighborhood I grew up in: quiet, pretty, with old-style houses and lots of shrubbery. When we got to the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room, we discovered that was "temporarily closed while we upgrade your experience". Oh well, it is only a pub; they don't actually brew here.

We walked over to Rare Barrel, which makes nothing but sour ales. They've been brewing since 2012 but didn't open until 2013 because sour ales take a long time to age. They have about 1000 barrels, 750 or more of which are full at any given time depending on when their last bottling/kegging run was. They ship bottles to customers via a company called Golden State Overnight, but only in California due to legal issues. We sampled:

Awards from the World Beer Cup.


On the way back to the Channing Guest House we noticed that some folks leave books outside for people to take.

When we got back I opened my laptop to do some writing, but Judy's cat Cupcake had other plans.


Monday June 18. Judy cooked us a nice breakfast and we talked with her a while. She said that while her Berkeley neighborhood is nice now, it had a lot of crime when she first moved there in 2004. It has been gentrifying, and home values have gone way up. Also, she's been married and divorced 6 times! She told us about an old hippie food store just down the street called Berkeley Bowl West that has lots of food. John and I went to pick up food for the road. It is quite large, and it has more produce than you can shake a stick at, with every kind of fruit and vegetable grown in America. It was 9:00 AM on a Monday and the place was very busy. Does anyone in this town work? Many of the shoppers were unusual, crunchy granola types, which is just what one would expect in Berkeley.

On our way up the PCH we stopped at Muir Beach, which was fairly nice.


Apparently there was a closure along the PCH north of us as we got detoured to Frank Valley Road. We passed Muir Woods, which has big redwoods. It was packed, and a sign said that to get in you need a reservation. The road is very twisty, and has some gorgeous views such as this:


We made it to Stinson Beach, which is several miles long and has a beautiful mountain backdrop.



North of there it got sunnier and there was great mountain scenery. We eventually made it to Bear Republic Brewing, which has 3 locations. We were at their brewpub and small production facility in Healdsburg. It's set back off the street in a quiet area behing the main strip of stores. It has an outdoor patio and inside they played classic rock. To get small samples you have to buy all 9 house ales, or all 6 specialty ales, or all 4 barrel-aged / limited edition ales. We got the 6 specialty ales. All 4 of the hoppy beers were clean and well-made.


We drove to the Hotel Azura and checked in. The room was large and had high-quality beds. We ate some food and then walked to Russian River Brewing. If you know craft beer, you know that they have a great reputation for hoppy and sour ales. Even with their reputation, they don't gouge on prices. Normal prices are $5.25 for a full pour of non-sour beer. Sour/funky beers are $6.50 or $7.50 for 14 ounces, and 3-ounce samples are $2. We were there during happy hour (4:00-6:30 Monday-Friday and all day Sunday) when their non-sour beers were only $4 for a full pour. By the way, there were some beautiful women in there. I can say that because I don't have a girlfriend so there is no one to get upset at me. We drank:

A note on Pliny the Elder: It has been highly rated and sought after for many years. There are two main reasons for this. First, it made its reputation in the early 2000s, when there weren't nearly as many great hoppy beers as there are now, so it didn't have as much competition. Second, Russian River's beers aren't distributed very much outside the brewpub, and the more difficult something is to get, the higher its perceived value. It is a very enjoyable beer, but with the explosion of craft breweries, a lot of delicious IPAs and DIPAs are now being produced, some of them better than Pliny (for example, we had better DIPAs at Lost Abbey and Monkish).


Tuesday June 19. I slept until 4:00 AM, which was the latest I'd slept since the first night of the trip. We drove more than 150 miles along the North Coast through beautiful mountain scenery to Avenue of the Giants, a 31½-mile road running alongside Route 101 that has lots of giant redwoods. The trees there are even bigger than the ones we saw at Big Sur. Although there are millions of them, only 4% of these old-growth redwoods are left - the rest have been cut down for lumber. The tannins help repel insects, which makes the wood desirable. The bark has a lot of moisture, which helps protect the trees against fire. However, once the bark has been breached, the wood burns quickly. Many of the trees are scorched from past fires, and some are hollowed out from some of the wood burning. New species of life are being discovered up in the canopy. They weren't discovered until recent decades because they spend their entire lives up there. We stopped at 3 areas. The first was near the visitors center.

Nearby river.


Next was Founder's Grove.

John next to the fallen Dyerville Giant...
...and me at the base of it.

The forest floor has lots of ferns...
...and clover.

Finally, the Big Trees Area. (Isn't the entire place a big trees area?)

As we left the Avenue we stopped for this overlook.


We drove up to Arcata and checked in at the Hotel Arcata. I'm not sure how old it is, but there is a photo on the wall with someone in front of it on horseback.


As we went out we saw several beatnik/hippie types with long hair and dressed in ratty clothing. We drove to Redwood Curtain Brewing, which opened in 2010. They played 60s music. We tried:


We drove back to the hotel and walked to the Dead Reckoning Tavern, a neat little beer bar with a sort of black-light-poster décor and dozens of craft brews on tap, as well as several in cans and bottles. A bartender from Redwood Curtain and his girlfriend, the latter of which we had talked to for a while, showed up a few minutes after we did. We tried half-pours of:


Wednesday June 20. We drove to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to see more redwoods. On a tip from our bartender at the Dead Reckoning Tavern, we first drove to Fern Canyon, which is an area of this park that is known for - you guessed it - ferns. The last part of our drive was 6 miles of twisting, winding, dirt road. The area was lush and green and kind of dark due to it being a cloudy day. John commented that it reminded him of Jurassic Park. We found out later that Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World was filmed here. The signs told us that the area had bears, mountain lions, ticks, and poison oak, plus elk that will attack if they're protecting their young, so naturally we went for a long hike. We befriended a woman named Regina, who grew up in Boston and was currently living in Santa Fe. She had a trail map so she helped us find our way. It was a gorgeous hike, with zillions of beautiful green ferns, plus some redwoods and clover. The temperature was in the 60s, which was good hiking weather. We hiked about 6 miles.

The clover was purple underneath.


We then drove to the visitors center and hiked a few miles among some huge redwoods. I was even more impressed with them than I had been the day before because it was becoming more apparent how magnificent they are. The photos below can't capture any tree in its entirety, so I attempted to do so in this video.

There was lots of moss.

In the middle of the forest the redwoods have foliage only towards the top because there is little sunlight further down. However, the trees at the edge of the forest have foliage most of the way down due to the presence of sunlight.


We then started our 4½-hour drive to Crater Lake National Park. As we drove away from the coast the weather went from cloudy and cool to sunny and warm. We meandered through mountain roads in southern Oregon and made our way northward. At one point it was 80 degrees out. However, when we got up to the park just before sunset, it was 47 degrees. There were even a few patches of snow. We checked in at the Cabins at Mazama Village. Our room was nice but it had lots of large mosquitoes. John killed at least a dozen of them. We got a good night's sleep after a long day of hiking and driving.


Thursday June 21. A late morning. I slept in until after 4:00 AM and stayed in bed until 6:30.

We drove up to the actual lake and hiked to Garfield Peak, a steep climb at 8000 feet above sea level that was challenging for two people with a combined age of 113. Crater Lake is a beautiful shade of aqua blue and is surrounded by steep rock faces. It formed 7700 years ago when a volcanic eruption turned 12,000-foot Mount Mazama into a large crater. The island you see in the lake is Wizard Island, which is a volcano within a volcano, with its own crater at the top.

From Garfield Peak there was a great view of mountains in the distance.

We found a small moth/butterfly up there.


Next we drove more than 2 hours to Bend, where it was 85 degrees, and visited two breweries that are walking distance from each other. First was GoodLife Brewing, which has a kitchen, a brewery, and a column still that they use to make vodka under the trade name Backdrop Distilling. Our bartender gave us a small sample and it was good and smoooth. The place has a happy vibe, with a light wooden interior and music. They've been in business since 2011. It wasn't even 4:30 yet and there were already a good number of folks, including kids. Their beers were what I would call "safe", meaning that they probably wouldn't win any awards, but they were well-made and had no flaws.


Around the corner is Ale Apothecary, which has also been in business since 2011, though this tasting room didn't open until 2017. All wort is brewed 10 miles west of Bend in small batches in a wooden mash tun in someone's garage (this would be illegal in many states such as Maryland) and trucked to this location for barrel aging with souring organisms. The water is pumped from a well and carbon-filtered but no brewing salts are added. The brewer worked at Deschutes for 15 years and left when their process became too automated. Ale Apothecary beers are very pricey: $26-30 for a 750-ml bottle and $6 for a 4-ounce sample. We tried all 4 of the beers available for sampling that day.

The first beer was served from a firkin, but unlike other firkins this one had CO2 pumped into it (see photo below center). The beer was still light on CO2 though.


We checked into the local Motel 6 and then walked to the Safeway to stock up on road food.


Friday June 22. The sleep deprivation finally caught up with me. Slept until 6:30 AM. It was a beautiful sunny day. We walked into town. On the way we saw a cannabis dispensary. Unlike the one in California, there was no security there. Gas was $3.05 at one station, which was considerably less than in California. Eventually we arrived at the Platypus Pub, not to drink beer, but to shop at its attached business, The Brew Shop, which sells many bottled and canned craft beers, as well as homebrew supplies. I used my phone to look up beers' ratings on Beer Advocate and selected 5 cans. The Internet is a beautiful thing.


We walked down to Drake Park, which is located next to the Deschutes River.


Afterward we headed to Deschutes but happened to walk by Bend Brewing, which didn't get high ratings on Beer Advocate, but, what the heck, we were here. They've been in business since 1995. Outside they have a patio and a grassy area. We only wanted a few samples but at this place you must buy 6, so that's what we did. The beers were rather pedestrian. On the wall they had numerous beer awards, which was a bit puzzling. The beer that got the most awards is called Outback X. We had ordered it as part of our beer flight but they ran out.


We walked a few blocks to the Deschutes Public House, one of two Deschutes locations in Bend. This is their original brewery and pub, which opened in 1988. It was expanded in 2012, and the place is huge. There were lots of people eating and drinking. Like the place we'd just left, we had to buy 6 samples, and the beers were pedestrian.

Guitar tap handle.


At this point John went back to the motel to use the pool and I walked to the other Deschutes location because I was sure that it would have better beer. As I crossed the Deschutes River I stumbled upon McKay Park, a riverfront park where people were rafting on the river and surfing on the rapids. A brief video of the park is here and videos of people surfing are here, here, and here.


I had lunch in the park. There was a rainbow that encircled the Sun. I'd never seen that before. My camera couldn't capture it because of the glare.

The Deschutes Tasting Room is Deschutes's main production facility. It was crowded, and a tour was being given. Since I was alone, I didn't want to buy a bunch of samples. Well, at this location, not only can you choose how many you buy, you don't have to buy any at all because they give small samples for free. I tried:


I headed toward Boneyard Brewing to meet up with John. As I crossed back over the Deschutes, I saw lots of people rafting upstream.


Shortly thereafter I happened upon a cannabis dispensary, so I stopped in. Just like the other one we'd seen earlier, there was no security there. Unlike the one in California, they do take credit cards. Perhaps security isn't needed because they don't handle as much cash, or maybe it's becuase Bend has less crime.

Down the street I saw Immersion Brewing, so I went in because, well, you know. In addition to a brewery it is also a brew-on-premise.

Posted on their walk-in cooler.


Right next door is Avid Cider Company. It had been called Atlas Cider Company until just a few weeks earlier, but changed its name due to a trademark complaint from Washington DC brewery Atlas Brew Works. The Bend cidery filed the name "Atlas Cider" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in early 2013, but the DC brewery had filed a trademark for its own brewery just three weeks before that. Anyway, the bartender let me try some tiny samples for free.


Then I met John at Boneyard Beer. It's located just off of a residential neighborhood, and it is not well marked. It's popular though. Quite a few customers were constantly coming and going, trying samples and getting growlers filled (they don't serve pints). They didn't have a bathroom; there was a port-o-potty outside. They were getting ready to move to a new locaton. We tried all their beers:

Soap made with their beer.


Then we walked to our final brewery of the day, Crux Fermentation Project. In addition to the bar there is a big grassy area where there were lots of people. We sampled:


We walked back to the motel and turned in early.


Saturday June 23. Got up around 2:00 AM and wrote for several hours. It was another lovely day. We drove north almost 3 hours to Hood River, surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. We stopped along the way to take photos of Mount Hood.


Hood River is a bustling little town situated on the south side of the Columbia River. The streets are hilly and there's a lot of traffic. There is a waterfront park that has a great view of the river and the mountains in the background. Kids were playing on the playground and adults were kite surfing. It was fairly windy out.


Across the street is pFriem Family Brewers. It was noon and the place was packed. There is a restaurant with a bar, and there is a separate bar for only beer called the Bear's Den. That's where we drank. We got samples of:

pFriem gets fairly high ratings on Beer Advocate, but the beers were just good, not great. Good thing the town has pretty scenery.


Another well-rated brewery called Logsdon Farmhouse Ales is less than 30 minutes away, but unfortunately they do not accommodate visitors, so we drive to the nearby Volcanic Bottle Shoppe, which sells some difficult-to-find beers, including some from Logsdon. They also have several beers on tap, so I tried a few. I bought 4 Logsdon 750s, plus 2 cans of NEIPA from a more highly rated brewery called Revision Brewing, for a total of $100. But they gave me a 10% discount. So I got that going for me. Which is nice.


Then we drove 2½ hours to Tillamook, passing gorgeous mountain scenery, including the Tillamook State Forest, to de Garde Brewing, because a friend told me they make great beers, plus they are very highly rated on Beer Advocate. They had 6 of their own beers on tap and 6 guest taps, plus a whole lot of bottles. Prices were reasonable for sour/funky ales: $4 for 6 ounces and $6 for 12 ounces. We sampled 5 of their beers and 2 guest beers.


Tillamook is the one town where I didn't get a motel reservation. Most of the motels don't even answer their phone. We called the Inn at the Convention Center in Portland, where I'd already reserved a room for the following week, and added this night to the reservation. This meant another 1½ hours of driving back to Portland, but at least we wouldn't have to get up early and drive the following morning. We were once again graced with beautiful greenery. Traffic got heavy as we approached the city. We checked in and emptied the car of all our stuff, including about 40 cans and bottles of beer.


Sunday June 24. A cool, cloudy morning. John and I walked over the Steel Bridge and along the trail at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. We saw a lot of joggers, and also quite a few homeless. We returned to the hotel and then drove to John's final brewery before he flew home: Columbia River Brewing. (I would be staying in town another week to visit breweries and attend HomebrewCon.) We got there right when they opened at 10:00 AM. Hey, sometimes you gotta get an early start. The place smelled like cleaning solution. We tried:


Afterward we drove to a very nice residential area called Laurelhurst and walked through Laurelhurst Park. There were lots of joggers and walkers. By now the clouds had burned off and it was sunny and warm.


I dropped John off at the airport, which was busy, then drove back into town, returned the rental car at Enterprise, and walked back to the hotel. On the way I found a strip of linden trees whose flowers were in full bloom and smelling lovely. This species blooms in June each year. We have them in Maryland too.


I contacted my friends Chris (who owns Maryland Homebrew) and Mike, who were also in town for HomebrewCon, and met them at Upright Brewing. This is a confusing place to enter if you've never been there. I got to the address and saw no sign of the place. I walked around the building and finally saw a little sandwich board on the sidewalk. I went through the unmarked door, and some guy asked if he could help me. I said I was looking for Upright Brewing. He told me to take the elevator down. I found Chris and Mike and joined them. The place looks like a large residential basement. Unlike all the other breweries I'd been to, this place allows people to walk among the brewing equipment. In fact, it encourages it by putting chairs and tables next to the tanks and barrels. The beers we sampled are listed below. I didn't take any tasting notes because I was busy socializing.

They do open fermentation.


We walked in increasingly hot weather to meet 3 other Maryland homebrewers who were in town for HomebrewCon: Kevin, Margie, and Mark, at Ex Novo Brewing. It was crowded and we had to wait for a table. We ordered beers at the bar and scattered to drink them wherever we could find room. We met a guy at the bar named Sean, who was also in town for HomebrewCon. He joined us when we got our table and would accompany us to every brewpub thereafter. We drank:

Incidentally, there are a lot of tattoos in Portland. Check out this woman. The photo is a little blurry because I had to take it quickly and discreetly.


It was getting hotter out, and since this place didn't have air conditioning we walked to Ecliptic Brewing. We were hot and sweaty when we arrived, and fortunately they had air conditioning. We got some food and the following beers:


We then took another hot walk over to Stormbreaker Brewing and sampled:


Next we walked to Hopworks BikeBar. This one of Hopworks Urban Brewery's (HUB) 3 locations. There is another HUB in Portland and one in Vancouver. The weather was cooling off as it was about 7:30 PM. We got food and the following beers:


Around the corner is Fifth Quadrant, which is one of Lompoc Brewing's several locations. Next to it is Sidebar, which is their barrel tasting room, but unfortunately it's closed on Sundays. We went to Fifth Quadrant and tried:


It was getting dark out and we'd had enough brewpub hopping for the day so everyone Ubered back to their respective hotels/Airbnbs.


Monday June 25. A cool, cloudy morning. Picked up some food at a grocery store called the Green Zebra. There sure wass a lot of construction going on in town. Many sidewalks were closed. Crossed the Willamette River on the Steel Bridge and took this photo:


Met the same group of folks at Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House. Just like their Public House in Bend, to get samples you have to order 6 at a time. We drank:

Fancy urinals.

Mike and Chris bought me this Deschutes 30th anniversary shirt as a retirement gift:


We walked a few blocks to Von Ebert Brewing, which used to be Fat Head's. In March 2018 the owner of Fat Head's opened his own franchise. Several of their beers were good and the food was great, especially the onion rings. We sampled 11 house beers and 3 guest beers:


Next we walked to Rogue Pearl Public House. They make not only beer but also cider, wine, gin, whiskey, and vodka. They had 39 beers on tap. We tried:


Across the street is 10 Barrel Brewing. It has both street level and rooftop seating. We sampled:


Next door is Back Pedal Brewing. They have a "Brew Cycle" that people ride on the street via pedal power. We tried:


Mike likes whiskey, so we went to the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library. There was a 20-minute wait to get upstairs where all the "good" whiskey is. Apparently the downstairs level has nothing but crap. Like I'd know the difference.


We sallied forth to Bailey's Taproom, which is a bar, and had:

They have a bar upstairs called The Upper Lip, which has as a great selection of beers both on tap and in bottle. Also, there happened to be a bottle share that night, so we got to meet other beer enthusiasts and share some beer. We had:


Chris and Mike dropped my drunk ass off at the hotel in their Uber at around 11:30.


Tuesday June 26. Nice weather: in the 70s, partly sunny, and dry. Walked to Burnside Brewing and had beers with Mark, Sean, Chris, Mike, and also Les, who had driven into town that morning after a brewery trip that started in Seattle. This is one of those places where you have to get a pre-set flight of samples instead of choosing your own. It has to do with the type of liquor license they have. We tried:

They also gave us several samples of fruity beers from other breweries that were left over from a fruit beer fest.


We walked a few blocks to Base Camp and sampled:


Next we walked to Cascade Brewing Barrel House, where Kevin and Margie were waiting for us. This place makes mostly sour ales but also some non-sours. The beers were impressive. We tasted:


Our next stop was Modern Times Belmont Fermentorium. Just like at the Modern Times in San Diego, the NEDIPAs were stellar. We drank:

Art done with string.
Supposed to be Randy "Macho Man" Savage.


Next was Hair of the Dog. Ed met us, having just flown in from Maryland. We tried every beer this place had on tap:


We walked to Lucky Labrador. They have 4 locations. We were at their Brew Pub on Hawthorne Blvd. We had some food and many of their beers, most of which were rather generic.


We headed to Baerlic Brewing and tried:


Our last stop was Beermongers, a beer bar with a great bottle/can selection, as well as several taps. We had:


Wednesday June 27. Another beautiful day. We all checked in for HomebrewCon. Margie, Kevin, Mark, Ed, and I Ubered to LABrewatory, which opened in 2016, and got glasses of:

Also, the brewer came over and gave us samples of an experimental funky beer right out of the barrel, which was good even though it was warm and flat.


Next we Ubered to Breakside Brewing's Slabtown location and got:


Ed Ubered to the Convention Center to join Chris and Mike at an industry event. The other 4 of us Lyfted to 28th Avenue because, according to our beer map, Great Notion Brewing had a location there. Unfortunately it was still under construction. But good luck was with us because our driver drove us around the corner where there were 2 breweries. First we stopped at Portland Brewing, a generic brewpub that's owned by Pyramid Brewing, which in turn is owned by North American Breweries. (That's the short answer. For the long answer, see their Wikipedia page.) We were joined by some other folks named Keith, Mike, and Maria. The beers were expectedly pedestrian but the food was good. We sampled:


Les Ubered over to meet us after his BJCP luncheon, then all 8 of us walked across the street to Sasquatch Brewing, which I had reservations about going to since Sasquatch is how I refer to my ex-wife. The brewery opened in 2011. They also have a cidery called New West Cider. We tried all their beers and ciders:


Then the 5 Marylanders Ubered to Von Ebert Brewing because we had enjoyed it so much a few days earlier and Les had never been there. It was much more crowded this time because it was dinner time. Both the onion rings and the wings were to die for, and we enjoyed the beers, especially the Mexican stout.


Les went back to his hotel to rest up for the following day's beer judging and the rest of us Ubered to The Upper Lip to partake of more of their offerings. Mike, Chris, and Ed eventually arrived after their industry event, and we were also joined by some other Maryland folks whose names escape me. We tried a bunch of drafts, cans, and bottles:


We all Ubered back to our hotels/Airbnbs around 10:30 or 11:00.


Thursday June 28. First day of HomebrewCon. Somewhat cloudy but good temperature and low humidity. I went to the homebrew expo where there was the usual plethora of homebrewing products: kettles, mash tuns, fermenters, mills, cleaners, sanitizers, pumps, faucets, chillers, flavor additives, etc. Hops and grains were given away. Both commercial and homebrewed beers were served.


In the evening was the Kickoff Party, featuring dozens of breweries serving a shit-ton of beer. I ran into folks from several Maryland homebrew clubs who had arrived in Portland either that day or the day before. I sampled:

  1. Samuel Adams NEIPA
  2. Samuel Adams KMF Grand Cru (KMF = Kosmic Mother Funk)
  3. Coalition Space Fruit
  4. Crux Fermentation Project Wild Farmhouse
  5. Mazama Juicy IPA X.12
  6. Ninkasi Whiteaker Series #2 Double Hopped IPA
  7. Ninkasi Ground Control (bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout)
  8. Look Long IPA
  9. Ecliptic Carina Peach Sour
  10. Caldera Mother Pucker (raspberry sour)
  11. Breakside Stay West IPA
  12. Ex Novo Sun's Out Buns Out (very good NEIPA) (collaboration with Bootleg Biology and Urban Family)
  13. Logsdon Zuur Pruim (plum sour)
  14. Logsdon Table Bretta
  15. Logsdon Orchard Lane
  16. Logsdon Straffe Drieling
  17. Logsdon Rupert's Rye
  18. Oakshire Alternate Reality
  19. Hopworks Ferocious Citra IPA
  20. Falling Sky Sugar Shack Belgian Maple Quad
  21. Bear Republic Tartare Noir
  22. Sierra Nevada Friday the 213th
  23. Ordnance EOD IPA
  24. Fremont Lush IPA
  25. Zoiglhaus Hopfenbombe
  26. pFriem Oude Kriek (better than anything they had on tap at the brewery)
  27. pFriem Oud Bruin
  28. Oregon City Great Glass Elevator (triple IPA)
  29. Oregon City Coming to Fruition (cherry version)
  30. Oregon City Coming to Fruition (marionberry version)
  31. White Labs Frankenstout (with 96 yeast strains)
  32. Base Camp Helles Lager
  33. Fort George Three-Way IPA
  34. Fort George Vortex IPA
  35. Golden Valley Beaverton Blonde
  36. Golden Valley Alphaville Imperial IPA
  37. Rogue Combat Wombat
  38. Rogue Cold Brew IPA
  39. Rosenstadt Helles Lager
  40. Rosenstadt Weissbier
  41. Thunder Island IPA
  42. Thunder Island Witbier
  43. Three Mugs Death Star
  44. Three Mugs Zesty Lass Grapefruit IPA
  45. Stickman Socks and Sandals
  46. Stickman Infinite Jest
  47. Stickman Rupert
  48. Stickman Cloudy With a Chance of El Dorado
  49. Free Bridge Pulpit Rock Pilsner
  50. Free Bridge Bake Oven Black Lager
  51. Baerlic Oatmeal Pilsner
  52. Baerlic IPA
  53. Golden Valley Red Thistle
  54. Golden Valley Bald Peak IPA
  55. Gigantic Gin Barrel Aged Beer
  56. Gigantic Fantastic Voyage (Brettanomyces saison)
  57. Gigantic Big Brett Love
  58. Hair of the Dog Green Dot (triple IPA)
  59. Hair of the Dog Beer Week
  60. Hair of the Dog White Peach Adam from the Wood (13½% ABV version of Adam aged in barrels with peaches)
  61. Ex Novo Cactus Wins the Lottery (quite good Berliner weiss)
  62. pFriem Golden IPA
  63. pFriem Japanese Lager
  64. pFriem Pilsner

I was too busy drinking to take many photos.

I look weird when I drink.


Friday June 29. A beautiful sunny day. Went to the homebrew expo. Drank some homebrews and commercial beers. Someone shared a bottle of Side Project Biere du Pays with me. The expo was held in two exhibit halls, and due to licensing, beer obtained in one hall could not be brought into the other. They had "alcohol monitors" who would stop you from crossing the imaginary line.

Wing eating contest.


Went with my friends Keith (head brewer at Grail Point and Caitlto a place called Fido's, which had just opened about 3 weeks earlier. It's a beer bar where you can play with dogs while you drink, and if you want you can adopt them. There were 3 of us and there happened to be 3 dogs. Coincidence?


After that it was Club Night, where dozens of clubs from all over the nation, plus Canada and even Australia, served homebrew. Many of them had theme decorations and costumes. This is always a great event. Someone coined the term "international dankness units" (IDUs). We'll see if that catches on.

Fishing rod tap handles.
Australian homebrew club.
Traveling beer station.
Nice.


Saturday June 30. Last day of HomebrewCon. A cloudy morning but nice weather. Went to the homebrew expo one last time. Several booths were giving stuff away or selling it cheaply so they didn't have to lug it home. YCH HOPS was giving away both regular and cryo hops, so of course many of us lined up for those. I grabbed about a pound. Had some good beers from the Maltose Falcons, who are possibly the oldest homebrew club in America (they were founded in 1974), and also some other clubs. FastBrewing held a FastRack tournament, which was entertaining. You can see a little bit here.


After that I returned to my room to eat because I had to lay a base for the Knockout Party. They arranged the leftover competition beers better than in previous years by putting them out in order by style number, placing big signs telling us which beer styles were where, and leaving us bottle openers. I tasted most of the sours, as well as many of the Belgian strong ales and American wild ales. The beer got consumed in less than 2 hours, causing most folks to leave well before the scheduled end of the party, but the staff kept bringing out large amounts of food, most of which got thrown away. There was a bottle share as well, with many commercial craft brews.


A few hours later about a dozen folks, most of us from Maryland, had a bottle share in my hotel room. Also, since I had a lot of beer packed in my luggage, Craig lent me his luggage scale, and I found that one of my bags was 20 pounds over the 50-pound limit. Thanks to him I was able to do a little shuffling of items to avoid an extra fee at the airport: I gave him several beers to put in his luggage, and decided to throw out some of my old T-shirts. During the evening we drank about 15 various craft brews. It was a great way to end the conference.


Sunday July 1. I walked around town (which was fairly deserted because it was Sunday morning), found a bag lady, and offered my old T-shirts to her. She turned them down. That's right - MY CLOTHING WAS REJECTED BY A HOMELESS PERSON. I walked to a park where there were homeless people's tents and left the bag there with a sign saying "Free clothes".

I schlepped about 150 pounds of luggage (2 checked bags and 2 carry-ons) to the subway station and rode to the airport. Several other Maryland folks were waiting for the same flight. I sat at a café with CRABSters Craig, Rachel, and Brian, who all ordered beer. I couldn't even look at a beer after this trip.

When I retrieved my luggage after the flight, all my beer was intact except one can, which had punctured (it was in my backpack, which doesn't offer the protection a suitcase does). There was still some beer left in it, and it tasted good despite being warm and flat. The other 35+ bottles, cans, and crowlers survived (though some of the cans were dented).

What a fantastic trip. Beer. Nature. Hiking. Friends. 62 breweries. 800+ beers (600+ commercial, 200+ homebrewed).

And they told me retirement would be boring.