By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Let’s face it, Portland State football fans — our team is never going to get the attention received by those two Pac-12 schools elsewhere in Oregon. Our playing field isn’t bark dust blasted with $100 bills from Uncle Phil Knight’s money vault like the University of Oregon (even though he taught at PSU before founding Nike). You won’t find ESPN sat trucks lining the blocks around Providence Park on game day or Viking shirts hanging from the racks at most national retailers.
It takes grit and heart to passionately follow a team nobody else gets excited about. But that’s what makes a PSU fan so remarkable. We manage to carve out a sense of community in the core of a bustling city with a non-traditional student body made up of people who primarily commute to campus while holding down jobs and raising families. Finding time to support the home team, while also juggling classes, can be a challenge, yet many do. Oh — but there’s one big thing that PSU fans have during games that no other team in Oregon does: access to craft beer. In the stadium. While watching the action.
While you don’t need to leave the venue to get a great drink, the following itinerary will help you make the most of your football experience on any given Saturday, both before kickoff and after the final seconds have slipped away on the play clock.
1717 SW Park Ave., 503-219-8000, rogue.com, 11 a.m. to midnight
There aren’t many colleges with a bar in the middle of campus, but not a lot of college campuses are as woven into the fabric of a city as PSU. Rogue Hall occupies the ground level of a multi-story apartment building towering over the South Park Blocks just across from Smith Memorial Student Union. While this space used to house an Italian-style bar and a greasy spoon (complete with rotating pie rack) featuring a speakeasy-style watering hole tucked in the back, the latest incarnation finally has a collegiate feel. Warm-toned wooden floors and ceiling beams are the perfect neutral backdrop for Rogue’s usual mashup of self-promoting banners, bottles and flags. But this location also recognizes its customer base and displays an impressive array of PSU swag.
Begin your day drinking at one of the tables cozied up to the indoor fire pit. You won’t miss any of the early college games since a TV behind the bar is still within sight. If it’s a crisp fall day, head to the back patio equipped with long picnic tables and heaters. Snack on juicy Kobe Blue Balls stuffed with cheese made at the Rogue Creamery. And since you’re on campus, complete your assignment by ordering a Rogue Portland State IPA.
PSU Football Urban Tailgate
2021 SW Morrison St., three hours before kickoff
Since Portland State plays its games at Providence Park, there’s no sprawling parking lot for tailgaters to spread out and set up camp. Hop Valley Brewing Co. helped remedy the lack of open pavement last year by hosting the first PSU Football Urban Tailgate. The party proved to be a hit because they brought it back this season, now before every home game. A stretch of Southwest Morrison Street between 20th Avenue and 20th Place is taken over by fans clad in green, black and silver for three hours leading up to game time.
Inside the gates you’ll find a one-stop-shopping experience that includes a beer garden; games ranging from cornhole to a giant inflatable Quarterback Toss in the shape of a football helmet; food vendors cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers; and even a booth selling shirts, hats and scarves so that you’re appropriately decked out for the matchup. River Pig Saloon’s beermobile is on site pouring $3 Bud Light and $4 Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA. Entry is free, but there’s a $5 suggested donation. If you’re not listening to live music or gazing at the TVs under tents, it’s actually entertaining to watch sleepy old men nurse beers at the nearby Kingston Sports Bar & Grill. They’re surely scowling at the riffraff who’ve invaded their Saturday routine.
If you prefer a DIY tailgate, there’s a plot of land across from the stadium for people who packed coolers and grills. You’ll be able to spot the sea of blue E-Z UPs in the space just behind The Cheerful Bullpen.
1844 SW Morrison St., providenceparkpdx.com, hours vary
Yes, the beers are $9.50. But there’s beer! On a rain-blowing-sideways, Pacific-Northwest-kind-of stormy day, you can remain in the comfort of Providence Park when grabbing your next brew rather than leaving the stadium and braving the elements to obtain a refill in a neighboring building (NCAA regulations, most stadiums). Widmer Brothers Brewing Replay IPA, at 4.5% ABV, is a beer that will get you through the entire game. If you’re a Bi-Mart member, bring your card to the box office for $10 general admission. The price break will help justify spending nearly $10 for 20-ounce pours inside. And if the Viks win, Coach Bruce Barnum will buy your next brew at Kingston.
The Civic Taproom & Bottle Shop
621 SW 19th Ave., 503-477-4621, thecivictaproom.com, noon to midnight
After the game, take a short walk to the next block and soak in some of the history associated with the venue where you just watched PSU play. The Civic Taproom & Bottle Shop’s name is a nod to Civic Stadium, one of many monikers given to the site before Providence Park. The business’s high ceiling creates plenty of space on the walls for black-and-white and sepia-toned photographs that documented life in and around the neighborhood. Some images are now iconic, like the player who crashed through the Flav-R-Pac wall trying to make a catch during a baseball game. Others reveal some fun bits about the city’s past that haven’t gotten as much recognition (see if you can find the picture of actor Kurt Russell when he played for the Portland Mavericks). Order a beer from one of the 22 taps before you examine the photos. Also feel free to explore the bottled selection behind seven cooler doors.
The Cheerful Bullpen
1730 SW Taylor St., 503-222-3063, cheerfulbullpen.com, 9 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
The neon markers of big domestic beer makers like Bud, Coors and Miller may rule this realm, but craft is on tap at the divey sports bar with a sister location across the street from one of PSU’s larger dorm buildings. The Cheerful Bullpen is the place to finish your night since it’s right on the MAX line. There’s also a pool table and pinball machine in the back of the bar, which will look like a good way to lighten yourself of any pocket change after drinking all day. And if you’re still watching any late football games, you’ll appreciate the unobstructed view from booths equipped with their own TVs. Regulars will look you in the eye and size you up when you walk in, but the service is as pleasant as Wilbur the smiling tortoise who greets you on the front door.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.