Monday, June 04, 2012

LC's West Coast Adventure, Part 1

Little Chuck's first real travel adventure got off to a good start Wednesday night. A six-hour cross-country flight with an infant is a tenuous situation. KJ and I knew, going in, it would either go really well or really badly. Well, I suppose there was the potential for some middle ground, but it turns out the former was the case.

LC slept for the entire Boston-to-Portland flight, proving the naythinkers wrong. Of course, the "naythinkers" may have been a figment of my/our imagination, but it was hard not to think everyone sitting near us on the plane was dreading their luck when they saw us board.

There is one kind of funny story regarding that. The gentleman sitting in the aisle seat in our row was offered and accepted the chance to switch seats once it was determined how many empty ones there were. I can't say I blame him, but it turns out, he should have stayed put, as his new spot had him in the row in front of a two-year old who didn't travel as well as LC.

Some of the credit goes to LC's parents—OK, his mother—for the successful strategy of choosing a flight that departed right around his bedtime. You can probably do the math, though, and realize six hours is not a full night's sleep for an infant. Given that his sleep was interrupted, it probably comes as little surprise the remainder of the night was not as easy as the flight.

Another obvious side effect of traveling to Portland with a baby was to make it more difficult than usual to take advantage of one of my favorite aspects of the city. So, my first beer of the trip was a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA I had left in my in-laws' refrigerator the last time we visited.

Speaking of side effects, an unintended and unnoticed (until now) result of my new beers resolution is that I'm drinking less. For instance, after the Total Domination, I was offered a Fat Tire by my brother-in-law. I declined, partly due to parental responsibilities, but also because I knew my father-in-law's refrigerator is always well-stocked with Fat Tires and I needed to save that one for later.

On Friday night we met up with a bunch of KJ's friends and ended up at Burnside Brewing Company, another new brewpub to me. I was planning on grabbing just a pint, but there were so many interesting sounding selections on the menu (many of which I wouldn't risk my only pint of the night on) that I decided to go with the sampler: 4-oz. tastes of all nine beers currently on the menu.

I like that all of their lighter offerings are a little jazzed up, and although I'm not generally a fan of fruity beers, all three that fall into this category are subtly and well done. I particularly liked the Fruity Monk, a Belgian Ale aged on pineapple, mango and papaya, although at 5.9% ABV I probably shouldn't be calling it light. Hard to believe by the description, but the fruitiness, while recognizable, was not overpowering and added a distinct pleasantness to this one.

Of course, I was working my way up to the darker and/or hoppier beers, and I was equally impressed at that end of the spectrum. The Oatmeal Pale Ale had the most pleasing aroma of all, citrusy with subtle hints of its malty sweetness. Ultimately, though, Burnside's IPA and Alter Ego Imperial IPA were not disappointing in their roles as headline acts. Both were above average representations of the style and good enough to interest me in returning for proper pints of one or both. We'll see if I have the time for that.

But, would doing so break my new beers resolution? That is, do I consider each of the nine as my one and only for the year? I did, in fact, have a little help with the sampler, so I really only had 2-3 ounces of each. Therefore, I'm inclined to just count it as one beer in total and say it would be OK to have any of them again. It will probably turn out to be a moot point, as given all the great beer options in this town, I'll likely opt to keep exploring others rather than return.

On Saturday, we visited the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville. I share this not because I have any intention of describing the experience, but because I don't want you to think all I do in Oregon is drink.

On the way back to the in-laws' place for dinner, we decided to pick up a growler of fresh beer. So, we pulled off the highway in Portland and I pulled up the Find Craft Beer app—which uses data from the Beer Mapping Project—on my iPhone and asked it to find the nearest brewpub. Just three-tenths of a mile away was Migration Brewing, so we Google-mapped it and headed there for a gallon-to-go of their MPA (Migration Pale Ale) and Luscious Lupulin IPA.

This, to me, was the ultimate use of a smart phone.

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