Documenting Portland’s beer culture

Two weeks ago McMenamins Mission Theater hosted a screening of It All Starts with Beer, a Dutch-made film about the beer cultural exchange taking place between Dutch and American brewers—primarily ones from Utrecht not far from Amsterdam and here in Portland as part of the Portland Utrecht Network (PUN intended). The film and the screening were made possible, in large part, to Dutch brewer and artisan Rick Nelson from Oedipus Brewing and Portland-based PUN president Greg Raisman. Plus, of course, none of it would’ve been made possible without Cascade Brewing founder Art Larrance and the Oregon Brewers Fest that he co-founded 28 years ago.

I was invited to speak on the panel following the beautifully-shot documentary simply because I had the good fortune to be at the right place and the right time, that being Holland in 2014 for a front row seat as their craft beer culture took a giant leap forward to the point where industry members call their scene “20 years behind Portland’s.” (For Larrance’s part, he tried to persuade me to move to Utrecht, not Amsterdam, because of how cool their brewing scene is, which nowadays benefits from the proximity and relationships with Amsterdam’s community.) Keep in mind there were already almost 20 breweries in these parts back then.

But this Saturday, I’m jumping from the panel into the doc itself. I’ll have a back row seat in the car, cars, or van that will transport John Lovegrove and filmmaker Thom Roholt to 77 breweries throughout Portland Metro. Portland? Why John? Why 77?

Lovegrove is the underground local legend who quaffed a half pint at all 34 breweries in Portland in 2009. Yes, he blew hopped chunks by the end! Two years later he surpassed his own stunt and found himself at 50 in a single day (and spewed at the end again). Fifty, today, seems more doable (not recommended, just doable) considering the clusters that have sprung up in areas like Buckman and Boise and the Pearl. Heck, Oregon City has three operating breweries today (and soon five) that didn’t exist the last time Lovegrove and Roholt undertook this most epic of pub crawls. As for the number they’re attempting in four days and the reason I’m along for the ride, vowing to drink just 1-oz of a house-brewed beer at each stop: I’ll simply be LiveTweeting the ordeal. RIP City!

Speaking of financing, Roholt’s documentary, which is about the who, how, and why PDX became Brew City in the first place and not about the foolhardy pub crawl, is accepting pledges on the website, PDXBrewCity.com. The IndieGoGo crowdsourcing campaign is raising funding for the film itself. The top tier donation includes a mini version of the crawl, to three area breweries, where patrons will undoubtedly get to enjoy more than a total of three ounces of the stuff that makes Beervana “Brewtopia,” I mean that makes Brewtopia “PDX Brew City.”

As for the 77 part. The film will be tied together with a world record attempt at visiting 77 breweries in one day because A) we can and B) the 1977 NBA Champoinship Trail Blazers emblazoned this city with the Spirit of ’77. #Spiritof77Breweries!

Lastly, why do I even get to tagalong? Because I vociferously doubted their ability to complete the 77 brewery challenge but upon realize I couldn’t talk John out of it, I talked myself into it. It’ll be a great way to hit a handful of the area’s newest breweries that weren’t open in time for Oregon Breweries and that I haven’t even been to yet such as Back Pedal, Red Ox (Tigard), Oregon City Brewing, nearly all of the ones in Vantucky, and, the newest among ’em, adjacent to Back Pedal: Splash Bar!

Hope to survive to blog about the experience.

One thought on “Documenting Portland’s beer culture

  1. For the record, there was NO puking while completing the 34 or the 50. I completed the mission first. I actually stayed relatively sober for the first 45. Friends joined the party later in the night and it got a little crazy. This time, I also am aiming for 1 oz per brewery. Cheers!

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