Sunday, April 12, 2015

Do's and Don'ts for PDX Craft Brewers Conference Visitors

Welcome to Portland!
The 2015 Craft Brewers Conference is coming to Portland next week! Wee! Good times! Breweries and taprooms throughout this wonderful beer town will be rolling out the foamy headed carpet for 11,000 craft beer professionals from all over the world. The main event will be held at the Oregon Convention Center, so I imagine the Lloyd District is going to be jam-packed with folks wearing t-shirts from breweries I've never heard of before. Timbuktu Craft Brew and the like. That's cool.

A multitude of special events have been planned all across the city, and I expect it will be quite a chore to find an empty bar stool at many of my most favorite beer emporiums. That's okay, I can share Beervana for a week...sigh. (I have to remember that it's not all about me...even though it is all about me.) In reality, the conference is for members only, as are many of the planned special events. Thus, it's not such a big deal for us local beer consumers--not like a full-on public beer festival or anything. For the average citizen of Portland, it might just as well be a convention packed with dentists and plumbers. Only a select few have those golden tickets. But, of course, the influx of bucks into the local economy is always welcome, so THANKS, CBC!

I've been contacted by a few soon-to-be attendees who have expressed an interest in grabbing beers with locals and checking out some of the real Portland flavor. I'm more than happy to oblige! However, I must inform you that we don't use the phrase "Keep Portland Weird" for nothing. You will find that while very friendly, Portlanders are largely reserved and a bit stand-offish, until they get to know you...or you buy them a beer. Most of the denizens of Rose City are very comfortable in their own skin, prefer function over fashion, and have a high level of respect for individualism. That's just how we roll.

If you've never been to Portland before, I have a few unsolicited tips for fitting in with the locals, if that is your desire. 

1) DO use public transportation. Portland's public transportation is top notch. There really isn't anywhere in the city that can't be reached by train, bus or streetcar. Parking can get scarce downtown and there's often a shortage of taxis at peak hours. We don't have Uber in Portland--an ongoing issue that won't be resolved before CBC begins next week. For some reason, I get the most resistance on this particular tip than anything else. It's like visitors think I don't know what I'm talking about. (Here comes the eye-rolling and the upturned noses.) Yes, I understand that some folks just can't imagine living one week without an automobile and that rubbing elbows with the unwashed masses in a city bus is their worst nightmare. Seriously, though, I live in this burg and I don't even own a car. $5.00 will get you a full day pass that works for all modes of public transit. It really is the best way to get around town, not to mention that a bus driver is the most dependable designated driver EVER.

2) DO visit a few dive bars. I would love to see some CBC attendees spread a few tourist dollars among the little guys. You will find that many smaller pubs and bars have damn good tap lists here in Stumptown. We enjoy drinking our favorite local brews in friendly, familiar places. And if you're really interested in getting to know some local folks, spending time in a local watering hole is the best way to do it. If you want to get off the beaten path, drop me a DM and I'll hook you up.

3) DO get out of town, if you can. Many of Oregon's best craft breweries can be found in other cities near Portland, within a 1-2 hour drive. Astoria, Hood River and Bend--the most prominent "other Oregon beer towns"--are worth a visit just for the gorgeous, scenic drives; (You might actually see a Bald Eagle!) but there is amazing beer to be had from breweries like Fort George, Buoy, Double Mountain, pFriem, Logsdon, get the idea. 

4) DO keep your politics to yourself. When George W. Bush visited Portland in the early 90's he was surprised by the large number of protesters that greeted him. That vociferous rabble prompted Prez B to refer to Portland as "Little Beirut". (I'm just trying to give you a little background and perspective about the overall political atmosphere here in Portland. It's Generally, Portlanders don't like to talk about politics and consider it inappropriate public discourse. Thus, I strongly recommend leaving the Ted Cruz for President t-shirt at home, if you really want to enjoy rubbing elbows with the local folks. I'm just sayin'.

5) DON'T wander around under bridges at night. Portland has a relatively low crime rate and it's a safe town under most circumstances. Walking across the beautiful bridges that span the Willamette River after the sun goes down is generally safe, but don't venture underneath them. Nothing good goes on near the water at night. Stay safe, walk the streets in groups and know your route before you hit the sidewalk.

6) DON'T use an umbrella. If it rains next week, and it probably will, act like a real Portlander and walk through the drizzle like it's sunshine. Only tourists use umbrellas in Portland.

7) DON'T talk about Portlandia (Grimm is okay, though). We are SO over Portlandia. Well, we were actually over it two years ago. Nobody wants to talk about that show. Yes, I saw Fred and Carrie at the medical marijuana clinic last week, but who cares? Now, Grimm is cool and we still like that show. We are also still mourning the loss of Leverage. Please feel free to commiserate and buy us a round. 

8) DON'T use the word "hipster". Hipsters are mythical creatures that don't really exist. Much like gnomes and Republicans.

9) DO take a PDX carpet pic. DON'T post it to Instagram. I'm just imagining a multitude of PDX carpet pics with the hashtag #CBC15. Let's not see that happen.

Enjoy yourselves, oh intrepid craft brewing professionals! Welcome to Portland! Drink up all the beer! Our local brewers will make more!

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