18 May 2010

Day two, part two

After stopping by food-truckopolis I rested for a while and then headed out in search of Portland's other claim to fame: beer.

First stop was Bailey's Taproom. With 20 rotating taps and plenty more in bottles, I knew I was going to try something new. This was a cool place with a modern atmosphere and a very helpful bartender.

One of my favorite things about this place is that they served beers (mostly) in two sizes: 10 oz. and 20 oz. The smaller sizes allowed me to try a few different beers without getting super hammered. Here's what I tried:

Golden Valley Black Panther Imperial Stout (McMinnville, OR). Not sure if it's the same thing as this video shows, but it was really good:

Cascade Lakes Riverside Red (Redmond, OR):

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild (Petaluma, CA). A new release from Lagunitas. I liked it:

Fort George Working Girl Coffee Porter (Astoria, OR):

Tugboat Brewing Company brewpub in downtown Portland was up next. (It's actually right next door to Bailey's.) Really comfy space, friendly bartender, and the menu looked pretty good. Since it was Monday they were doing "Cheers Monday" where if you cheered for everyone who entered and booed everyone who left you would get a free beer (at some point, I got booed before getting a free beer).

Think this one was called the Golden Ale:

Tugboat's (13%) Chernobyl Stout:

All in all a good evening of beer drinking, still back to the hotel early enough to, well, go to sleep. Day three's all about coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Northwest Coffee House, another Stumptown location, and plenty more coming next.

T-bird does Portland, Day Two

The two-hour time difference here had me awake pretty early. I started off with a great 8 oz. Americano downstairs at the in-house Stumptown along with an amazing bacon-cheese biscuit. Wherever they're getting their pastries from (I think it's Nuvrei) is doing a killer job.

From there I went over to Billy Wilson's Barista, a heavy-hitter here in Portland. It's a great-looking shop, and they're doing it right. Check it out:

That's right, they've got three espressos on. I don't think any of them were decaf. I tried a Coava single origin, and it really hit me with some nice apple and chocolate flavors. I'm planning on checking out the recently opened Barista II on day three or four.

From there I went over to Sip & Kranz, a coffee and wine bar also in the Pearl District. I went ahead and had another double shot of Stumptown's Hair Bender (might as well have as much as I can while I'm here). They had a couple of beers on tap and in bottle as well as a couple of wines, so I asked the barista if they did a lot of beer and wine business. She looked a little dismayed as she told me that she felt like people didn't really know they were open in the evenings, so it wasn't a huge part of their business as of now. Here's Sip & Kranz:

The obvious thing to me here is that while this place is spacious and charming, it feels like a cafe or coffee shop, not a place to drink beer and wine. One of the main things that I find is a struggle with shops who want to do both beer and coffee is that they usually do one with full force and the other almost as an afterthought.

Which brings me to Blitz. I might have just passed Blitz by if it weren't for the giant Gimme! Coffee sign out front. I walked up to the bar and chatted with the bartender/barista and found that they also serve Doma Coffee, which is a roaster out of Idaho. I had a double shot of the Doma (very smooth!) and a pint of the Mack and Jack's African Amber. I hadn't had the African Amber before, but it was a nice beer, with a citrusy sweetness and good mouthfeel.

It's definitely worth noting that while Sip & Kranz was definitely more of a cafe that served beer and wine, Blitz is definitely a bar that also serves coffee. Props to the owners for getting me in the door and for putting a little effort into their coffee. (I also thought it was cool that they went out of their way to serve Doma and Gimme! given that everyone else in town serves Stumptown.)


Now it's lunch time. If you haven't heard about the giant square of food trucks in the Pearl District, it's definitely worth noting. It's basically just that: A few dozen different food trailers that line the perimeter of a city parking lot. This place was swarming with people during Monday's lunch. Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Polish, burgers, sandwiches, coffee, yogurt, pretty much everything you could ask for. It's like the South Congress trailer area on steroids. I got an amazing gyro and ravenously ate it while sitting on the curb.

There's plenty more for day two, but I'll go ahead and break this post up into two parts, especially since the rest of the day mostly involves drinking beer at some of Portland's coolest brewpubs.

17 May 2010

T-bird does Portland, Day One

Day one couldn't have been better. I'm staying in the Ace Hotel on Southwest Stark Street in Portland's Pearl District. If you've ever been to Hotel San Jose in Austin or the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, you'll have an idea of what this is like: modern, minimalist design, unique feel, very cool environment.

I started my trip with a visit right next door: the Stumptown Coffee Roasters that adjoins Ace. Check it out.

Had a really nice espresso there. After that, headed right next door to Kenny and Zuke's Deli for a local beer (can't remember which one) and a great Ruben.

From there I wandered around the city a little. I'll tell you, I picked a good spot in the Pearl District. Here's a view from the street:

Everything is here: Cafes, coffee shops, bars, movie theaters--and of course, Powell's Books. I stopped in that evening and it turns out that comic-book legend Dan Clowes was speaking and signing copies of his new book, Wilson. Clowes is a funny and interesting guy, and had some cool stuff to say about his work and comics today.

After that I ran into another coffee shop I wasn't familiar with, Public Domain. Turns out that there's a good reason I hadn't heard of it: It opened up about five weeks ago. Beautiful place:

Had a very tasty espresso here as well. Will definitely return before leaving.

Tomorrow I'm planning to hit up Barista, Sip and Kranz, another Stumptown location, and the Deschutes Public House Brewery. All in a day's work. If you know any great spots in Portland I should check out, please let me know in the comments section or via our Twitter account.

05 May 2010


Thunderbird wants to make a correction to our previous post. We were a little rushed and spoke out of turn. Of course Medici has been making individual press pots for years, so has JP's Java. Frank has been brewing single cups of Intelligentsia to order since they opened last year. We salute these pioneers of coffee and are pleased to follow in their footsteps. We sincerely regret the error.

We are also proud, however, to truly be the first coffee bar in Austin (to our knowledge) to use multiple roasters and single-cup brewing methods.