What Portland Can Teach L.A. About Craft Beer

Craft Beer Portland

Portland offers any-brewery-goes growlers, which would be a boon to L.A.

Whenever I travel to Portland, aka Beervana (or any great beer city like Denver or Chicago) I always make notes of what I would pack in my suitcase and bring home.

That doesn’t mean just beers. Though I did cart a few back with me. What struck me this time was the vast advantage in grab and go beer selection that Portlanders enjoy.

Growlers are not as cool as Crowlers are here in Los Angeles and one reason that Portland has that L.A. doesn’t is growler bars. Though I grimaced at the sign proclaiming the site of The Big Legrowlski, I had to admit that it was great to see a plethora of growler bar locations scattered across the city where one could take an empty growler and fill it with a wide variety of beers while you enjoy a pint. Every community seemed to have one (or two)! I would certainly use a growler more if I had a stop where one week I get a sour from Carson or the next week a downtown brewed IPA.

Another place where we have a beer deficit is in our grocery stores. The grocery chain New Seasons Market has a few locations that have taps for growlers and though the beers might not turn over as fast there, it is another choice for those seasonal/unpackaged beers. Or if you found the right store, you would find a beer and wine bar. Go in for a few groceries and wait out traffic with a local beer. Even the less organic/more everyday grocery stores like the QFC chain had a variety that had me green with hop envy.

That being said, Los Angeles has been the lucky recipient of many great out-of-state beers of late but our whale hunting tendency makes for lines and higher prices. Supply meet demand. In Portland, at the famed Belmont Station, they have a mountain of beers on the shelf you could walk in on a weekday and spy both Bell’s Hopslam and Russian River Brewing‘s Pliny the Younger on tap with no wait. None. Plus Sixpoint and Southern Tier Brewing cans and bottles from New York. Those are breweries that I wish distributed here.

This is no gripe session of a L.A. hater and I sincerely hope that in years to come, Los Angeles will pioneer its own craft beer trail while emulating some of the better points of the beer cities that came before us.

The clock is running on the Beer of the Week. Luponic Distortion is the newest IPA from Firestone Walker. That would be good enough for most people to seek it out and fast but this beer has another twist . Every 90 days the hop blend will change. Revolution No. 001 will debut in March, followed in three months by Revolution No. 002. The base beer will be the same with each revolution but one hop will be the guitar solo, dry hopped in greater amounts than the others in the blend.

Your Homework today is to celebrate a Belgian beer style. There is an IPA Day, a Stout Day and add Saison Day to the list. On March 12 at Stout Burgers & Beer in Hollywood, you can devote the day to Saisons from breweries far and wide such as Almanac Beer Co., Boulevard Brewing Co. and Monkish Brewing Co. as well as the standard bearer for the style Brasserie Dupont and their Saison Dupont.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.


Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman's writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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