Friday, January 23, 2009

Division Street Pub Crawl

Tuesday night the Pub Night gang checked out the Victory Bar at 37th and Division -- first visit for most of us. Contrary to its laid-back reputation, the Victory was crowded and loud that night -- I guess Bryce isn't the only Portlander whose neuron for "Victory" is connected to the "no more Bush" neuron. Some of us wandered down the street to the Matchbox Lounge afterward, and I realized that recent new additions to this mile-long stretch of Division make it a very walkable pub crawl.

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I've listed the pub crawl from east to west since it's downhill and towards my house. You could turn it around if it's more convenient for you. If you skip the Matchbox, you don't even have to cross Division, everything else is on the south side of the street.

A: Victory Bar: Inauguration night was an unusually crowded weeknight for Victory, as I mentioned. As a result, three of the six kegs were blown, leaving only HUB Lager, another beer I didn't want and can't remember, and a spendy Belgian (Nostradamus). They have a respectable bottled beer list, but it was a little Euro-centric and expensive for my tastes -- very few quality American beers. So my first impression isn't that great, but a lot of Portland beer snobs love this place: Jeff and Angelo both raved about it, and I heard Full Sail's John Harris say it's one of his favorite places in town. I'll give it another shot on a quieter night.

B: Hedge House: A couple blocks down the street is our local Lompoc outlet. It's a classic. If you're a large group, you'll probably have to go when the weather permits outside seating (there is also a heated patio, but it fills up almost as fast as the inside).

C: Pok Pok: This isn't a beer place -- they might have a tap or two -- but I put it in here as a potential food stop. Amazing Thai food -- far beyond your standard noodle/curry/rice standards. If you need some pacing on the pub crawl, order one of the drinking vinegars instead of a beer. This is part of your Portland lifestyle. Get in there and enjoy it.

D: Matchbox Lounge: Mainly a Pabst and cocktail dive, but they give a nod to quality with Walking Man IPA on tap -- yes, there really is a Walking Man beer without a cute name, just "IPA". Brian said they usually have three good Belgians on tap, but they weren't in evidence Tuesday.

E: Clay's Smokehouse Grill: Not primarily a beer place, but they have about four taps. One tap is usually a Leavenworth beer from Fish Brewing. Good barbecue if you didn't get a seat at Pok Pok. Open until 10 PM, closed Monday and Tuesday.

F: Reel'M'Inn Tavern: I've never done more than poke my head inside here, and that was before the smoking ban, so I poked my head right back out. Nothing outstanding beer-wise, but if I remember right they had at least a Widmer and a Deschutes on tap. Now that smoking is out, I need to get down there and try the advertised Chicken and Jojos. [Update 2009/02/19: Been there now. Only Mirror pond on tap, but delicious fried food!]

G: Bar Avignon: Oops, another place I haven't been. I'll admit, I'm unsure whether I should patronize a place that capitalized on the demise of the Red and Black Cafe -- anyone have an opinion on that? It's mainly a wine bar, but they have a nice rotating selection of beers on tap, and a beer engine for cask beers. The Barfly review mentions 20 oz. pints, so it seems like it could be a winner. Anyone been there yet?

That seems like a pretty decent pub crawl. If you need even more action, it's just a block south to Clinton Street, there are four or five more options right around 26th and Clinton. Is Division the new Hawthorne?


  1. Tuesday was my first visit to the Victory, too. I was there fairly early (like, 5.30pm) and it wasn't that crowded.

    But I wasn't thrilled by the place, either. Felt a little neglected by the staff who didn't bother to wander over and see if this solo woman wanted anything for about 15 minutes after I sat down.

  2. I had the good fortune to visit the Victory on a Monday or Tuesday. It was cold outside and lovely inside. Bide your time, my friend, and strike when the crowds are small.

  3. A Tuesday when we haven't just inaugurated the first black President in 233 years, that is.

  4. We WILL go back to Victory...I liked the vibe (and those 'spensive Euro beers) but agree it was too crowded/loud for my tastes.

  5. Brian: Do you remember what the other beer tap was Tuesday? I want to say it was something pitiful like Pabst, but I can't remember.

  6. I like to bring my beer friends to Pix Pasterie for some incredible beer and dessert pairings. The St Honore with Westmalle Triple is amazing...or the Royale paired with a Hair of the Dog Adam...

    Right next door to Hedge House.

  7. I thought about adding Pix, but I'm a fiend for draft/cask beer and Rogue Shakespeare Stout is their one and only tap.

  8. Homo Erectus is actually Walking Man's Imperial IPA; their normal one is just… "Walking Man India Pale Ale," according to their web site.

    Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever actually tried their normal IPA… I guess I'm spoiled. :)

  9. …err, sorry…


  10. Never crossed my mind to do a Division Street pub crawl. Gotta love Portland.

  11. Does any pub on Division have a cask tap/Beer engine???

    Where can I find decent Cask ale in Portland?

  12. Angelo: I do love it!

    Sphincter: I know I ramble on a bit, but if you had read to the end of the post, you'd know that Bar Avignon has a cask engine.

    I think you're yanking my chain by asking where to get cask ale in Portland, but I'll bite. To name a few: Horse Brass (x3), Full Sail Pilsner Room (x3), Bridgeport (both locations x3), Hopworks (x2), Deschutes (x2), Bailey's Taproom, Lucky Lab, Higgins, Rock Bottom, Tugboat....