Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#SpiritOf77Breweries Challenge Recap

I don't even know where to begin writing about my experience Saturday. In short, Brian Yaeger and I, along with a great film, sound, photo and support crew, visited 77 Breweries in One Day. Brian and I had at least an ounce of beer at each one.

I've set records every three years. In 2006, I visited 22 Breweries in One Day with my buddy Graham. In 2009, I visited 34 Breweries in One Day, which, at the time, was almost every brewery in the Portland metro area. In 2012, I visited 50 Breweries in One Day. God knows what will happen in 2018. Breweries 101?

This post is going to read part travelogue, part Academy Awards speech. Don't play me off, Maestro!

The core crew for the day were filmmaker Thom Roholt, cameraman Aaron Filipowsky, sound guy Jason “Doogie” DeLude, writer/blogger/social media man Brian Yaeger, still photographer Bill Dickens, drivers Ashley Rose Salvitti of Brewvana, Dean Beech, Bill Barry and Peter Gray with additional support from Chris Mesker.

My day started with alarms set to go off at 5:00, 5:01, 5:02, 5:03 and 5:05 a.m. Thom was on my doorstep 20 minutes later and we loaded up the minivan. I went to get something in the garage and put my flip flops on to make the journey. I forgot to take them off and so they would be my footware for the entire brewery marathon. Hardly the right shoe for the challenge.

At 6:05 a.m. we picked up Brian Yaeger and by 6:30 a.m. we pulled up at McMenamins Edgefield next to the amazing Ashley Rose and the appropriately named Lil Johnny, Brewvana's flagship bus.

Brewvana is an amazing company and really came through for us on Saturday. I had concerns that the bus might not be as fast getting around town, but those fears were unfounded because we hit nine Breweries from Troutdale to SE Portland, N Portland, SW Portland, Tigard and Sellwood, and we were typically a few minutes AHEAD of schedule!

My day started with a quickly-downed pint of McMenamins seasonal Copper Moon, while Brian enjoyed a half pint of Ruby.

From Troutdale, we headed to McMenamins Kennedy School, then used our time between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. to visit Natian Brewing, typically not open to the public, plus three other home-based breweries, Humble Brewing, Leikam Brewing and Red Ox Brewing. You may not know these brands now, but you will. We count them because although they are home-based, they are fully licensed production breweries with public distribution.

Note the teeny tiny beer stein I am holding in most pictures. These are 1 oz. sample glasses I picked up many years ago in Salzburg, Austria, and we used them at most breweries.

The next big shoutout goes to Ian McGuinness, Owner/Brewer at Natian Brewing. We discovered a couple of weeks ago that Ian and the entire Natian crew would be enjoying the weekend out at Bend Brewfest, but we still found a way to visit the brewery in his absence — can’t say too much, but look for the film next year!

Ashley Rose dropped us off at 13 Virtues in Sellwood, where our next driver Dean was waiting for us and had pre-ordered our first meal, Turkey Hoagies and Philly Cheese Steaks for all of us.

Rather than spending the rest of my night boring you with too many details, I’m going to pick 20 of the breweries we visited the rest of the day with a brief memory of each:

Raccoon Lodge: Alissa Larrance had Facebooked earlier in the day that she would meet us there with a Bloody Mary in hand. Sure enough, she did! Art Larrance has been a big help with our film project PDX: Brew City, and the Raccoon Lodge crew are super nice./p>

Backpedal: Owner Andrea Lins was excited to see us and poured our beers. We got some great shots of the Brewcycle pulling out for a tour.

Fat Heads: Brian realized the day before that I had scheduled our visit to Fat Heads 15 minutes before their opening time! I sent an email off to their generic email box and got a fast response from Fat Heads VP Tom Cook telling us come on in and they’d hook us up! We busted in during their staff meeting but they were quick to grab us a beer and we were on the road again.

Pints: An unusual experience here as the bar was unattended for a few minutes when we arrived. One customer, however, shared her beer with us while another documented our visit.

Old Town: A couple of days ago I was planning out our meals for the day when I decided, in it-can’t-hurt-to-ask spirit I reached out to see if Old Town would comp us a couple of pizzas. Owner/Founder Adam Milne responded immediately and hooked us up! We love Old Town and they loved us right back! Cheers Adam and the crew!

Mt Tabor Brewing (Vancouver): they’re usually not open on Saturdays, but owner Eric Surface came in on his day off and shared his beers with us, cheers Eric! We couldn’t have done 77 without you.

Elsewhere in Vancouver, the folks at Ghost Runners were super excited to welcome us and share their beer. One other nameless brewery — not so much.

Mash Tun (soon to be Great Notion Brewing): It was great to hit the good old Mash Tun one last time before they reopen as Great Notion. The guys behind the bar remembered us from both 2012 AND 2009! We love these guys.

Let's Brew: Kim and Brian at Let’s Brew remembered me from when I used to brew on-premise there many years ago before switching to home brewing. They welcomed us right before closing and shared some of their house-made beers with us.

Montavilla Brew Works: one of Portland’s newest breweries and already a hit. The owners were excited to see us, and we were not only excited to see them, but also at the bar was none other than Portland craft beer pioneer Fred Bowman, who opened Portland Brewing Company with Art Larrance in 1986.

Breakside Milwaukie: Breakside is my favorite Portland brewery, and the staff at Milwaukie is super nice and super helpful. Throughout the day, Brian and I ran into dozens of people we knew behind and in front of the bar and this started for me at Breakside in Milwaukie.

McMenamins West Linn, John Barleycorns, Oak Hills and Cornelius Pass Roadhouse: We hit these 4 all in a row on our road trip out to Hillsboro. McMenamins Twitter handle, @captainneon had been tweeting back and forth with us throughout the day and they got really excited when we hit these McMenamins sequentially. We also hit our 50th brewery of the day at John Barleycorns and I celebrated with a full pint.

Vertigo: Mike Haines @vertigomike1 had also been interacting with us on Twitter and was beginning to wonder if we were going to make it!

By this time it was after 8:30 p.m. and both Gigantic and Coalition were closing at 9pm! The race was on, We hit Gigantic first then raced to Coalition right before close. Coalition's resident Irishman, Phil, was in super-charming mode and hooked us up big time with a sample and a bottle to go!

Migration: Sipping a sample and watching the Timbers score their game-winning goal!

Hair of the Dog: Of course, we ordered the Fred and made a toast to the late, great Fred Eckhardt. New School Beer’s Ezra Johnson-Greenough was at the bar. Ezra was the first to publicly share our IndieGoGo fundraiser for our film so we Cheers’d to him too! We hit our fundraising goal while on the road. Please chip in here if you have not already done so.

Baerlic: We got a hero's welcome here. The bartender and a group of customers whoop-whooped and made our night! I handed out a bunch of my specially-made business cards:

Tugboat: Thwarted! It was past last-call and they’d already cleaned the taps. As they told us six times. Some amazing customers noticed our plight and shared their drinks with us. Great success! Strange old place, Tugboat.

Splash Bar: Thwarted! Big line, lots of security, even a police presence! We asked security if we could skip the line and they directed us to owner Robert John, and he personally escorting us in and quickyly got us our samples.

Finally, No. 77 - McMenamins Crystal Ballroom: @captainneon John and @themetalbrewer Drew were there to greet us with our final beer of the night. McMenamins was super nice to us all day and the night ended with a lot of smiles and a great time.

1 comment:

  1. Or customers had a great time when you showed up. The paparazzi showed up for the band! Thanks for including us in the 77. Can't wait for the next one.