Destinations – Beering and Running in Portland

Yes, “beer” is not a verb but if it were ever to become one then Portland will be the place where it first occurs.

My partner Keith and I spent a 3-day weekend recently in Portland. A year ago I wrote a post about Portland but this trip was different. It was an actual visit to Portland and not simply an overnight turnaround point on a larger trip.

The trip had been planned for a couple of months, but structure was added to it after we read the post of our friend Rich Milliron. In the summer of ’08, Rich took a train trip to Oregon for the express purpose of discovering why it’s called “Beervana”. He found out that the title is well-earned. Find out for yourself by reading his post – you’ll enjoy it. (If you don’t start reading his post with a beer in hand, you probably will by the end of it.)



We didn’t have the time that Rich had to explore so we in fact just went to two of the places Rich wrote about. One we liked so much that we went there two evenings in a row!

That place was the Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. at 915 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. The Lucky Lab is all about dogs, with photos and other iconography that point to a love of dogs, labs in particular. In nice weather there’s an outdoor area in the back of the building where canines and their well-behaved humans are welcome.

The Lucky Lab’s home is a former sheet metal warehouse, a big old friendly barn of a place with lots of adults of all ages and kids, too They serve simple food but it’s tasty, plentiful, and inexpensive. Two good sized sandwiches, a plate of hummus and bread, and a salad came to about $20. The menu is small, but with enough choices to make both carnivores and vegetarians quite happy.

Keith asked for their hoppiest IPA and boy did they deliver with Superdog! Excellent!

Sadly I didn’t take any pictures of the Lucky Lab but what looks ordinary from the outside is anything but after you step foot within. Since it’s Portland you could easily find a way on Trimet to get there via transit, and if you drive you’ll find parking in the area is easy, but we actually just walked from our downtown hotel. It’s an interesting and pleasant stroll across the Willamette River on the Hawthorne Bridge.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Roots Organic Brewing Co., just three blocks from the Lucky Lab at the corner of S.E. Clay and S.E. 7th. Roots is an organic brewery with a surfing, Hawaii, beer-tiki vibe going on. We split a pint of the delicious Woody IPA and then walked back across the river quite satisfied with our first night of beer in Portland.

The next day we met an old high school friend of Keith’s for lunch at the Rogue Distillery & Public House in the Pearl District of Portland. Rogue is a multi-location beast. Its main base is Newport, Ore. but there are a number of other Oregon locations, one in Issaquah, Wash. (a Seattle suburb), and, as research for this post revealed, one here in the Golden State in the North Beach area of San Francisco.

As the name of their Portland location conveys, Rogue is now not only about beer but is also a craft distillery. We stuck to beer and had a tasty IPA to go with our quinoa salads. (This was an exercise in food balancing since the night before at “the Lab” we both had pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches.) The young woman that waited on us was a good server and a lot of fun, making the meal with our friend a fine experience.

On Sunday other local friends gave us an all-day tour that stuck mostly to the Columbia Gorge area east of Portland. We drove both the Washington and Oregon sides of the river for some breathtaking views, including a stop on the way back at Multnomah Falls.

COLUMBIA GORGE (looking east from the Washington side)


The turnaround point and lunch stop for the day was at Full Sail Brewing Co. in the windsurfing capital of the world, Hood River, Ore. Faced with a 20 minute wait for a table, we went for a walk to kill time that included a brief stop at another brewery I’d spied just two blocks away. Our friends David and Christy egged us on to try something at the other joint so we somehow managed to split a half-pint of Double Mountain Brewery’s outstanding but soon-to-be-sold-out-for-the-season fresh-hopped IPA. Ooh, la, la. We’re coming back to Double Mountain one fine day for a larger serving of beer and an order of the pizza we saw so many customers devouring.



Lunch for me back at Full Sail consisted of a huge Reuben sandwich (goodbye to balanced eating that day), washed down with a nice IPA, while overlooking the Columbia.

How did we burn off our beer-induced calories? Through running, of course!

Portland is the most running oriented major city I’ve experienced.

On Saturday we did an 11-mile run I found on (see below). It involved running north up Waterfront Park (west side of the Willamette) to the Steel Bridge, crossing to the other side and then down Springwater Corridor to the Sellwood Bridge, and then back up the South Waterfront area to end where we started.

With the exception of a stretch on sidewalks along S.W. Macadam Avenue, it was entirely along dedicated walkways or pedestrian/bike paths. If you’re staying in or near downtown Portland I highly recommend this run or some variation of it. You can easily cut the distance by skipping the long stretch down to the Sellwood Bridge. I can assure you that you will see many other fellow runners.

Sunday found us doing our usual powerwalk in lieu of running and we happened on a big race that had just begun: the Run Like Hell. A few of the runners wore costumes but otherwise the rest were in the usual shorts-and-t-shirt attire.

Doing our speedy walk and able to ignore the direction of the race itself, we followed a good deal of the 10K course as it went out north along the waterfront park, past the train station, into an industrial area, then looping back through the Pearl District and back to downtown. Late I looked at the map of the half-marathon event and saw the second half had a tough stretch up (and then down) Terwilliger Boulevard.

I know we’ve just scratched the surface of running in the Portland area. I hear a lot about the great trail running in Washington Park to which I’m a complete stranger.

Portland has too many breweries we haven’t tried and too many places we haven’t run to allow for a long gap until our next visit.

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