Catching up

by Heather Vandenengel

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SALEM, OR — I’ve been off in my own world this past week, mostly preoccupied with future plans (or lack thereof) long and short term. Portland seems a long way off now, but for bookkeeping’s sake, here are the beer spots I hit:

–Hair of the Dog
–Burnside Brewing
–Deschutes
–Breakside
–The Commons
–Hopworks Bikebar
–Saraveza
–Bailey’s Taproom
–Belmont Station

Needless to say, I missed some spots. Most noticeably, Cascade, which I was bummed about but I got caught up at The Commons after talking to some of the Fat Head’s Brewery crew (who are opening a brewpub in Portland) and was running late to meet the awesome Lucy Burningham at Hair of the Dog (name dropping, heyo!).

This list actually feels pitifully short in retrospect, considering how long I was in town and how many breweries there are, but I didn’t want to make my week all about brewery hopping, and I was pretty burned out even from visiting one or two every day.

I did drink a lot of beer that week and it’s interesting how clearly the very good beer stands out. I loved Breakside, which won GABF gold for their excellent IPA, and also had a few very good, if strange sounding, beers like the Birra Minestra, brewed with tomatoes, basil and plums. The Commons was my other favorite–I wish I could get their dry, yeasty Urban Farmhouse Ale on the reg, and they had the best gin barrel-aged beer I’ve ever had. Adam from Hair of the Dog was every bit as luscious and smoky as I’d had hoped and the brewery was a lot more spacious and brewpub-y than I expected. Saraveza was my favorite bar, perhaps because it was closest to my hostel, but I liked the neighborhood bar vibes and dug the selection.

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Cheryl Strayed didn’t make it to the reading at Powell’s, but I did spend two hours wandering the shelves. It is a lust-worthy bookstore and has the best narrative travel section I’ve ever seen. I did rent a bike one day and bombed (read: chugged) around Portland’s East side. It was nice–really like biking around a less hilly Brookline. Suburban vibes, for sure.

I also made a mad dash to Hood River one day, with a stop at Multnomah Falls along the way. The drive was gorgeous and I hopped around the town’s breweries–Full Sail, Double Mountain, Pfriem and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. Double Mountain’s fresh hop ales were the best I’ve had this trip and Logsdon is a new favorite brewery visit, even if I did get quite lost en route.

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And now I’m WWOOFing again on a small homestead and vineyard in Salem, Ore., which deserves far more words than I can stay awake to write right now. It’s a lovely home and unbelievably gorgeous out here, and really a different kind of scenic beauty: rolling hills, vineyards, Christmas tree farms, early morning fog and trains going past. Twin Peaks-ian at times, but with more farms. I love their little gang of animals–two goats, two alpacas, one sheep, two chickens, two ducks, two cats and fish–and will miss the relaxed and comfortable vibes of this place.

I think that catches me up for now. I’m spending a night on the Oregon coast Wednesday, then will head to Bend and then down to San Francisco. Onward, southward.

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