Thursday, February 9, 2012

Portland Beer Carts

Today's Oregonian has a front-page article about the new Cartlandia food cart pod on 82nd applying for a liquor license from the OLCC.  Since the modern style of news reporting mandates that every story must convince you that you are in grave and immediate danger, the article sets the scene with phrases like "the issue has new urgency now", "waves of concern among Portland officials", and -- the pièce de résistance -- "they envision alcohol flowing from nearly all of the 700 carts across town, creating a new source of public drunkenness and neighborhood disorder".  Run!  You are in great danger!  Your neighborhood is being overrun by barbarians right now!

What the article glosses over is that there are already beer carts quietly operating alongside food carts, with no apparent ill effects.  Captured by Porches has been selling beer from their beer buses for a year and a half now, and Buckman Brewery (a.k.a. Rogue's Green Dragon) has a cart at the food cart pod just up Belmont from the Horse Brass.  The article does mention that "carts asked the OLCC about regularly selling beer and wine" two years ago, but it fails to point out that carts are already selling beer under temporary licenses, though the online version links to an earlier story about CbP's cart near 33rd and Division.

The online version has a fairly staid headline, but in the print edition today it is "Alcohol with food carts gives city indigestion".  What gives me indigestion is the podunk worldview of our local paper -- and friends, I lived most of my life in Oklahoma and Texas.  The Oregonian is an unending source of disappointment for me in many ways, though their declining beer coverage -- they're cutting back John Foyston's The Beer Here column in the Friday entertainment section to once every two weeks, and last year they referred to Colorado as "Beervana" -- seems ill-advised when the local beer culture is continuing to grow at a healthy pace.

I mentioned the CbP and Buckman carts.  Are there any other beer carts around town right now?  [Update: Jim points out in the comments that there is a Lompoc beer cart at 51st and Foster.]


  1. not sure if it's still there, but this summer there was a Lompoc cart at the pod at SE 52nd & foster.. it was in the back, and now there's more carts, so when i drive by where it was is blocked from view.

  2. The media is all about causing hysteria. You think The Oregonian is bad, take a gander at the local TV news. It's mostly cops, robbers, crashes, fires, floods, etc. They really have very little interest in informing the public. They prefer to scare you with sensational reporting. Forget the facts. It's sad.

  3. Hmm. Take another read of the article. I think it makes clear that *Portland officials* e.g. Sam Adams, Amanda Fritz are the ones who are worried about the implications and envisioning alcohol at the 700 carts, etc. It also includes the OLCC response and the Whiffies cart owner both pushing back against that assumption. Not really a call to whip up the masses in my opinion.
    Helen Jung
    (Oregonian breaking-news reporter but responding in my capacity as an avid beer drinker)

  4. @Jim: Thanks, I'll add that!

    @Pete: Totally agree about the TV. Just hoping for better from the remaining print media.

    @Helen: Thanks for the reply. I did reread the article, and I still maintain that the spin is "Oooh, dangerous alcohol is coming". Why do I say that? 1. The headline (print: "indigestion"; online: "officials fret"). 2. The first 9 paragraphs have a negative view of the matter, with words like "urgency", "drunkenness", "disorder", "ramifications", "can't rely on", and "broken". 3. Nowhere - nowhere - does the article mention that there are already carts serving beer, and that apparently they haven't caused drunkenness and disorder in their neighborhoods.

    I don't begrudge a writer a little "man bites dog". I do it myself, and this rant is an example. It's hard to get attention without some kind of conflict.

    But Helen (if you're still reading), why is the Oregonian so tone-deaf about beer? It's a major part of the town's cultural identity -- actually, even that of the state and region -- and it's on the rise. Why won't there be two beer columnists moving forward, instead of moving John to freelance, and now cutting his print columns in half?

  5. It is interesting. On one hand we have a group looking to expand the availability of beer via food carts on the other hand we have a group (the city) trying to create an alcohol impact area banning all beer over 5.75% from down town, 23rd and the pearl. Originally there was going to be an exception for craft, but the city has taken that out of the petition due to possible legal issues. Also leaving if passed by the OLCC would be ALL 16 oz cans, 22 oz bombers and 24 oz cans regardless on alcohol content.

    I think beer carts are facing a tough battle

  6. It's only a matter of time till they come to some kind of conclusion on this issue. Hopefully nobody important jumps on the band wagon against this proposition.


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