Friday, Mar. 26, 2010

3. Microbrews and Spirits

In certain hoppy circles, Portland is known as Beervana, due to its high number of top-quality microbreweries: 31 breweries operate here, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild — that's more than any other city in the world. The beer scene is undeniably awesome, and you can get a good sense of it by touring local pubs such as BridgePort Brew Pub, MacTarnahan's Tap Room or one of the many McMenamins pubs around town.

But if you are after The Next Big Thing, skip the suds and head for the hard stuff on Distillery Row in Southeast Portland, where the city's passion for entrepreneurship, culinary excellence and getting sloshed come together with great results. Many of the microdistilleries here offer tours and tastings on Saturday, and some have weekday hours by appointment. Leading the charge is House Spirits whose credo is: "Old World Philosophy for the New World Palate." Whether pumping out its pre-Prohibition style Aviation Gin or its small-batch Apothecary Line of one-of-a-kind liquors, House Spirits is top-shelf central. Also of note is New Deal Distillery, whose line of vodkas has become de rigueur for aficionados in Portland and beyond.