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The Oregon Trail
By Lisa Morrison

BridgePort Closes Doors at Landmark Brewpub
Nooo, not forever! (Scared ya, didn't I?) The historic BridgePort Brewpub on NW 14th and Marshall closed its doors on December 23 — but only for 10 months. The plan is that the brewpub will rise like a Phoenix out of the construction dust as a brand-new upscale establishment more closely resembling the oh-so chichi Pearl District digs that have sprung up around it the past few years.

Part of BridgePort's vision includes the creation of an on-site bakery, with freshly prepared breakfast pastries, the ubiquitous espresso drinks and express lunch service. The bakery will act as the daily wholesaler for all of the breads, rolls and pastries offered at the pub and its sister restaurant, the BridgePort Ale House, on SE Hawthorne Boulevard.

Additionally, a large glass atrium will pierce the rooftop in the middle of the pub, shedding light on the once-cavernous space. The main bar will expand to two stories, highlighted by a vertical display of five stainless steel 10-barrel serving tanks with a brewery-designed draft system. Initial plans called for a rooftop garden, but those were quickly scrapped because of cost issues.

However, the beloved loading-dock outdoor seating area will remain, and will see a facelift as well. Plans call for increased seating capacity and radiant gas heaters to extend Portland's "al fresco" season. Also, the second-floor events space will expand as a multiuse facility with ceiling-mounted LCD projectors for media events.

If it sounds like a Cinderella story, it is. BridgePort will reach legal drinking age in May. In those nearly 21 years, BridgePort has seen its surroundings transform from a rundown, rickety warehouse district to one of the swankiest enclaves in Oregon. No surprise that the brewery's historic former rope factory digs might feel a bit, um, dowdy among the Pearl District destinations.

Nonetheless, many regulars don't want to see their cherished BridgePort brewpub, with its notable brick-and-timber construction (and huge beams that were hewn just blocks away), comfortable environment and, allegedly, the funkiest urinals in town, to disappear.

Have no fear, says BridgePort, which promises to "retain the soul of the building while broadening the appeal of the pub to the booming population of the surrounding neighborhood," according to a recent news release. Much of the brick and beams will be retained, they said.

"Our aspiration for the renovation is to provide a drinking and dining establishment that is an engaging experience for the consumer," said Bob Negele, general manager of retail operations. "We want to offer interesting, quality food that complements our beer, in a space that connects with the guests."

Also, word has it that the famed urinals in the men's bathroom will be retained and joined by another one being sequestered in a secret location until the dust settles.
Will BridgePort become the new Cinderella in the Pearl, or turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight? Tune in for updates on this historic remodel.

Festival Gets a Jump on Easter Bunny
The Spring Beer & Wine Festival at Portland's Oregon Convention Center is always held around Easter: The bunny will be hopping to it early this year, and so will the festival.
Mark your calendars for March 25–26. The event (in its 11th year) runs from noon to 11:00 p.m. both days. In addition to 50 beers served, there also will be a selection of wine, cider, mead and distilled spirits by Bendistillery, of Bend, Ore. Additionally, the festival features a heated cigar tent, cooking demos, live music and a number of local vendors.

Admission this year is $6. Beer or wine sample glasses are $6 and $3, respectively, and plastic beer mugs are $3. A package deal includes admission and glasses of your choice for two and 40 tokens (needed to purchase samples and other goodies).
Log on to springbeerfest.com for additional details and updates.

Notable Potables
For you hop-heads who believe you can never get enough of a good thing (and you know who you are), Randall the Enamel Animal and publican Don Younger want to see you at the Horse Brass on Friday afternoons.

Younger has managed to get his hands on a Randall, one of the hop filters invented by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head brewery that allows beer to run through a filter filled with whole hops before hitting your glass. The alcohol strips away the oils from the hops, making the beer heading into your pint glass even that much more aromatic and hoppy.

At the Horse Brass each Friday, Younger runs a different beer through the Randall (packed with a specifically chosen variety of hops), creating a beer laboratory of sorts and turning patrons into Guinea pigs. Recent runnings have included Full Sail's Wreck the Halls (with Centennial hops), Widmer's Collaborator Sled Crasher (with Fuggles) and Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA (with Amarillo hops). Who ever said the science lab was no fun? And who said you can't learn anything while drinking beer?

Out in McMinnville, Golden Valley's head brewer, Mark Vickery, recently got together with his neighbor, vintner Rollin Soles of Argyle Winery (best known for making sparkling wines), for a little experiment of their own. What resulted was Golden Valley IPA VS Brut, an IPA that was brewed at Golden Valley and then taken down the street to Argyle for aging in wine barrels and finishing in the methode Champenoise, complete with disgorgement — removal of frozen yeast sediment from the neck of the bottle after secondary fermentation. The result is a smooth yet hoppy brew that's reminiscent of a glass of bubbly!

Talk about bringing coals to Newcastle. Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colo., just began sending its Dick's Pale Ale and Old Chub Scottish-style ale — in cans — in hopes of staking a claim in Beervana. Brewery spokesman and fellow Celebrator writer Marty Jones said they believe the market is ripe in Oregon for the addition of more craft beer available in cans (Portland/Pyramid's MacTarnahan's Amber and Highlander have been in cans for a few years now).

"I think it'll help us greatly that MacTarnahan's has been hipping beer fiends in Oregon to the joys of good canned beer. Thanks to them, unlike in most states, people in Oregon won't scratch their heads when they see our canned gonzo beers," Jones said. "We raise our cans to Portland/MacTarnahan's; we salute them for their moxie and smarts for having their beers put in cans. That was a gutsy move."

Look for Dick's Pale Ale and Old Chub in the Singing 12-packs, which include a free CD of indie music, including a track by Seattle's legendary Supersuckers.

Glen Hay Falconer Scholarship Expands
Two brewers will be chosen as recipients of the Glen Hay Falconer Brewing Scholarships this year — instead of just one, like last year. The full-tuition scholarships are for the 2005 World Brewing Academy Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. Created in honor of former Wild Duck head brewer Glen Falconer, of Eugene, who was killed in an accident a few years ago, the scholarships are open to professional brewers as well as homebrewers from the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska) and Northern California regions (San Francisco Bay/Monterey Bay areas and north).

For more information on the application, log on to siebelinstitute.com. Much of the funding for the scholarships comes from the annual Sasquatch Brew Fest in Eugene – always the Saturday after Memorial Day (June 5 this year). For information on the fest, visit sasquatchbrewfest.org.

Writer Lisa Morrison covers the Oregon beer scene from her hometown of Portland, Ore. You can also reach her via email.


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