Saturday, July 5, 2008

An Easy Bicycle Pub Crawl

This week we had a house full of old Texas friends. In honor of Lee's upcoming 40th birthday, Bret, Todd, and I took him on a bicycling pub crawl accompanied by his Portland friend Eric. No, not a 78-beer decathlon, just a little loop Wednesday evening through Southeast. Since Todd moved away shortly after Lee's visit last summer, I wanted to show off by including a couple of great pubs that have opened in the short time since then: Hopworks and Green Dragon. Bret was having a little trouble with his helmet by the end of the ride.

It probably shows a lack of good judgment that I led us across Powell Blvd. to Hopworks right at the five-o'clock rush hour. We were able to turn left from 26th onto the Powell sidewalk just as the light turned green for the cross traffic. For future reference, I have since found a better way -- especially if you're in a group -- to bicycle to Hopworks. Continue across Powell on 26th and turn left on Rhone. That dead-ends into 28th Place; bike back up the hill to Powell and walk the last block on the sidewalk. The left turn on Rhone has you battling much less traffic in all directions, and you get to enjoy a few blocks more of the Texas-sized bike lane on 26th. You may have heard that everything is bigger in Texas, but when referring to a bike lane, "Texas-sized" means it's about half the width of the Portland standard -- really it's just a little strip of pavement used to keep all the broken glass and roofing nails out of the automobile lanes.

After Hopworks, we went around the corner to a place I'd never been before, the Pub at the End of the Universe at 28th and Gladstone. You'd be forgiven for looking at the outside of the pub and thinking it was out of business, but inside it's a funky, comfortable dive. The mission was to try the Ozzy Osbourne-themed beers from Off the Rail, since the P.E.U. is one of the few places nearby that serves them. They had a bunch of them:
  • Mad Man IPA: smooth, a little hop edge, malty
  • War Pigs Wheat: mild banana flavor, nice
  • Sweet Leaf Amber: caramelly, not bad
  • Over the Mountain Stout: chocolate stout, didn't try it
  • Coal Porter: didn't try it; someone please explain to me the Ozzy connection in the name
I was impressed by the Off the Rail beers, the ones we had were well done. Oddly, there were posters up using Ozzy's picture not to sell Off the Rail products, but Coors' Blue Moon Wheat. We were disappointed by the jukebox: absolutely nothing by Black Sabbath or Ozzy. Zero.

The P.E.U. had an interesting beer selection, they are clearly trying to be original. No Widmer, no Bridgeport, only one Deschutes; but they did have Mac and Jack's Amber, a couple of Pike ales, and Lazy Boy IPA -- I've seen bottles of Lazy Boy around town, but that's the first tap. Community service points for that one! It's a little smoky in there, but definitely worth a visit for the offbeat selection and the laid-back atmosphere. They have a few pool tables and two soft-tip dart machines -- another unusual choice.

We rolled back up 26th and ended up stopping at Clinton Street Brewing. The Wit was a better batch on this visit than the last couple times I tried it, and our crowd generally liked the Amber and the IPA. We had the place pretty much to ourselves, it was a good time. They're still brewing in the tiny back room, but you can understand why the brewmaster wants to head for more capacious digs in Northwest.

Continuing up 26th, we went left on Harrison so that we could take the bikes-only crossing of 20th and bike past the east rose garden in Ladd's Addition. On summer evenings there's always some kind of activity in Ladd's center circle -- there were some jugglers this time -- so I made us do 1 and 3/8ths laps of the circle, turning right on Ladd Avenue. I think it's fun to stop in at all four of the rose gardens, but by this time we needed to get some food.

We took the bikes-only left turn onto Clay, and headed up 9th to the Green Dragon for the best pub food in the neighborhood. Todd and Lee were thoroughly excited by the recently-installed shuffleboard table at the Dragon. Yee Haw!

Then it's just four blocks down 9th to the back porch of the Lucky Lab. A cool summer evening on the Lab's patio with imperial pints and a bowl of peanuts in the shell: it doesn't get any Portlander than that. Roots beckoned from around the corner, so close that we just left the bikes at the Lucky Lab and walked over. When Jim turned off the lights, we realized it was time to call it a night and roll back up Main Street. Happy 40th, Lee!


  1. Sorry I missed the ride; at least my bikes got to go...they love the pub tour.

    The internet coughed this up:

  2. Oops, should have made that link more clickable:

  3. Bill, if you go to the Pub at the End of the Universe late on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll understand the choice of soft tip dart machines.....

  4. Jill: I guess the toy darts are better for drunks. Years ago in a bar near the Munich train station, about midnight, I watched some women throwing soft-tip darts. They were so trashed that they had to cover one eye before throwing.

    Dave: I'm not buying it. Maybe the Off the Rail people just like to mellow out with some Cole Porter occasionally. They'll probably come out with a Jackson Browne also.

  5. Thanks Bill. That was damn good time.