Brian's Photo Blog — Article 568
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Portland Central Eastside Mini Pub Crawl
Saturday 4 June 2016   —   Category: Dining Out
Between February 25 and May 5 of this year, I made six trips to Portland to volunteer at Free Geek, located in the Central Eastside. Because this was a part of the city that I had not explored before, I took those opportunities to walk around a bit, see the sights, and enjoys the tastes of this rapidly-changing industrial area.

The 145 square miles within Portland’s city limits are divided into 95 official neighborhoods (map here). If you look carefully at the list of southeast neighborhoods, you will notice that not one is called Central Eastside.

Although it is not an officially designated area, I suspect that most Portlanders know where and what it is. How­ever, finding specific information about Central Eastside proved difficult. Based upon a map I found in this article on, I have come up with this map and definition of Central Eastside. It may not be totally ac­cu­rate, but I think it is pretty close: The Central Eastside is divided among a few neigh­bor­hoods, from top to bottom:
Now that we have taken care of our geography, let’s get on with my mini pub crawl inside its borders.

Between lunch at Zoiglhaus and my afternoon appointment at Free Geek, I decided to make good use of my spare time by pay­ing a visit to Lucky Labrador Brewing’s flagship SE Haw­thorne Brew Pub, just two-and-a-half blocks north of Free Geek.

With this sign hanging over the door, I definitely knew where I was at. For my own safety, I decided to keep to myself how much I hate dogs — pooch-loving humans can be vicious! Fortunately for me, there were no canine customers that day.
At the bar I tried a few small samples of their beers, none of which really appealed to me. Feeling a bit embarrassed about not particularly liking anything I was tasting, I finally just went ahead and chose their Crazy Ludwig’s Alt. According to the brewer:

“With three malts, crystal, munich and chocolate, dry-hopped with centennial and cascades, and dark amber in color, this ale is truly one of our finest.” Meas­ure­ments: 6.5% ABV • 65 IBU

It was OK, but I would not try it again. I usually avoid anything over 50 IBU, but they didn’t have the IBU listed on their menu, so I didn’t know at the time.

After this first visit I haven’t found a Lucky Labrador beer that I like, so I guess I’ll have to go back and try some of their more than 40 varieties until I find one that pleases my palate and tick­les my tongue.
Although it was quite empty in the middle of a weekday afternoon, the rustic interior of the pub had a warm, homey feel.
After my time at Free Geek and before the Sellwood Bridge bagpipe funeral procession later that evening, I headed over to Vie de Bohème, (French: “ The Bohemian Life”) on the corner of SE 7th Avenue and Clay Street, four-​and-​a-​half blocks northwest of Free Geek.

They describe themselves as “a chic, spacious European-styled venue with outstanding live music, wine tastings, full bar, and well-stocked wine shop / ​library, along with great food, plenty of dancing room, wine classes, dance lessons, and private event space.”
When the manager took my order at the bar, I told her I had only an hour or so before I had to leave. Which was good timing, be­cause a group of well-​known jazz singers were giving a concert around the time I was going to be heading out.

While I was eating my meal, one of the singers, Paula Byrne, came to greet me personally and thank me for coming to see her perform. I was greatly embarrassed to admit that I had just walked in off the street and didn’t know anything about her or her concert! Oh well!

This place seemed a bit snooty and artificial ... I’m not sure that I would go back. Even worse, the hostess wanted to kick me out at 6:00 because there was a $15 cover charge for the concert, but the manager intervened and said I could stay for free for the 15 minutes until my bus arrived at the stop across the street. How generous!
In contrast to the weird interactions I had with the people there, the meal was the highlight of the visit. Just leave me in peace and let me enjoy my food and drink!

I had a light supper consisting of brie cheese, prosciutto, sliced baguette, strawberry and grapes, with a glass of dry riesling. It was truly scrumptious, and the $15 price was not too bad for Portland.
A few months later in early May, after another volunteer session at Free Geek and before my return visit to Zoiglhaus in Lents, I walked the long way, nearly a mile via SW Grand Avenue (Oregon Route 99E), to The Commons Brew­ery on the corner of SE 7th Avenue and Bel­mont Street.

I forgot to take a picture of the exterior, but it’s a nondescript ware­house-​look anyway, so it wasn’t any big loss.
I tried their spring seasonal Bière de Garde. According to the brewer:

“Our Bière de Garde is a malty French amber ale inspired by the farmhouse beers brewed in Northern France and our friend Steve Jones, proprietor and cheesemonger at Cheese Bar in Portland. Traditionally, Bière de Garde was brewed while the climate was cooler, then ‘garded’ (lagered) during the cool months. This beer offers a soft and clean, malt-forward flavor with a reserved hop profile.” Meas­ure­ments: 5.3% (web site) / 7.1% (chalkboard)! ABV

My notes from that day read: “It tasted pretty hoppy, even though it was not supposed to be. I wouldn’t order it again. I should have tried their Holden Rye Ale, Pils, or Urban Farm­house Ale.”

There’s always next time! At least the beer found a nice corner to pose in.
Out the 18 pictures I took at these three Central Eastside establishments, the best 8 (larger versions of the above photos) have been added to the burgeoning Oregon Pub Crawl 2016 album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 568
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