By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
If you’ve never had the chance to attend BridgePort Brewing’s Ebenezer Pub Crawl, you might be feeling a little bitter.
The brewery may have just hosted its eighth annual event in Portland’s Multnomah Village on Dec. 1, but if you missed it I’ve got just the idea that will lift your spirits.
Perhaps you’re looking to celebrate BridgePort’s seasonal Ebenezer Ale or to simply check out all the cheerful bars this neighborhood has to offer. The good news is, it’s never too late to recreate the pub crawl on your own!
Described by the brewery as “an appropriately rich and complex winter warmer,” Ebenezer Ale is quite the old guy — he’s been around for 17 years now. So it only makes sense that the 6.4%, 40 IBU seasonal comes from the self-proclaimed “Oregon’s Oldest Craft Brewery.”
Much like how “A Christmas Carol’s” Ebenezer Scrooge is tipped off that he’ll be visited by the spirits of past, present, and yet to come, I’ve outlined a (much less stressful) evening for you to get the most merriment out of bar-hopping this holiday season.
The pub crawl is divided into five stops. Interestingly enough, Charles Dickens’ novella is also divided into five chapters, or staves. Coincidence? I think not.
Pro Tip: Although the below stops are listed in the same order as the official pub crawl, I’ve made a few suggestions that will please all the penny-pinchers out there. It isn’t called “happy hour” for no reason!
3535 SW Multnomah Blvd., 503-244-2617, johnsmarketplace.com
While you may have missed out on the special pouring of BridgePort’s 2011 Old Knucklehead Barleywine during the first stop of the pub crawl, I have a feeling this market’s massive selection of more than 1,000 different bottled beers “and a heck of a lot of cans” will help numb the pain. I’d recommend returning here to make purchases at the end of your crawl (they’re open until at least 10 p.m. every night). That way, you won’t have to drag your stash of rare and exciting bottles with you everywhere you go like some heavy chains.
0.1 mile, 3 minute walk to:
7771 SW Capitol Highway, 503-929-0229, multnomahvillage.org/listings/journeys
Since this cozy pub doesn’t open until 4 p.m., I’d recommend starting your crawl at Renner’s or O’Connor’s. But save room for happy hour at Journeys — which lasts until 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The pub’s several variations of cheese bites (grilled cheese sandwiches cut into bites and served with dipping sauce) are so good, you’ll want to order more than just one kind. My favorite? The “Pickle.” Dill pickles, havarti cheese, spicy brown mustard and ranch are combined to make the perfect snack for a night of beer-drinking. If weather permits, be sure to sit by the fire pit on the ample patio.
295 feet, 1 minute walk to:
7819 SW Capitol Highway, 503-246-9097, rennersgrill.com
The oldest continuously operated business in Multnomah Village, Renner’s Grill was established in 1939 and is affectionately referred to as a “five-star dive bar.” It’s easy to see why — the bar may be unglamorous with a laid-back, no-frills vibe, but their hearty food, generous drinks and friendly service would put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces. All beers are proudly served in 20-ounce imperial pints, which feels like a steal when you order Full Sail’s Session as a $2.75 buffer beer during happy hour.
190 feet, 1 minute walk to:
7850 SW Capitol Highway, 503-244-1690, oconnorsportland.com
A lot has changed since O’Connor’s was originally located in a different area of Portland as a “service-to-men-only” establishment in 1934. Now in the Multnomah neighborhood for more 20 years, both men and women alike can saddle up to the bar and shoot the breeze. As soon as I sat down, I felt at home with the regulars. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was some kind of premature holiday spirit. Between that and the abundance of $3 to $5 happy hour food specials, I wish I could have stayed longer. But alas, the night must go on...
410 feet, 2 minute walk to:
7827 SW 35th Ave., 503-244-7345, mvship.com
The building that houses this tavern was originally part of John’s Marketplace, and as with most stops on this crawl, has a long history. But like Ebenezer himself, it has gone through a lot of changes, especially since being purchased by new owners more than a year ago. There used to be only one beer on tap and a few in the cooler, and now there are 24 beers displayed on a digital menu (many of which are from Oregon). From the outside, it might look a little divey, but on the inside, it’s a lot of fun. End your pub crawl with some pool or Big Buck Hunter and order a half pint of one of the Oregon beers on tap (you’ll thank me later).
Once you’re all gamed-out, head back to John’s Marketplace next door for more supplies to keep the festivities going at home. As of press time, Ebenezer Ale was sold in both 22-ounce bombers and six-packs at the bottle shop. As BridgePort warns, “Make sure to stock up before the holidays. If you thought Scrooge was angry before, you should see him when he’s out of beer.”
Note: Every year, the pub crawl features a different charitable partner and encourages participants to donate. This year, the brewery partnered with LifeWorks Northwest, which promotes a healthy community by providing quality and culturally responsive mental health and addiction services across the lifespan. This is a friendly reminder to not be a Scrooge and to spread some holiday cheer this season!
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.