I wrote 30 reviews on Google Hot Spots to take advantage of a promotion at the time that Google Places was doing in which I could then sign up for a free (FREE!!) tour with Brewvana, who I had first been introduced to during Zwickelmania earlier this year as the Brewvana bus was the shuttle for the route I chose. So I along with about a dozen other frequent Google reviewers were taken on a ride to four breweries and able to sample some brew and food at each stop. The people who signed up for this are all opinionated and tech savvy, which led to conversations where discussions of "what is the best CDA in Portland" and "what should a Porter really taste like and is this Porter right now really tasting as advertised by label" and "what is your normal beer haunt" and no one batted an eye when asked what ESB stood for and you would see phones come out to check in on (seriously we were checking in at every spot in Foursquare and Twitter and Google Places and you know we'll be writing Google reviews too). We were led by Google Places community manager Christina Collada (who got cornered to getting some G+ feedback too from some of us) and the perky and energetic Brewvana mistress Ashley Salvitti who made sure we had enough beer and food.
First stop on the Brewvana and Google Places Tour- The Guild Public House. I had just been there the past weekend for the first time thanks to the Cans Beer Festival, but had not ventured inside as it was busy… so it was nice to come back and get to see it in non-festival setting. Thankfully, along with the pitchers of Ninkasi Maiden in the Shade, Double Mountain IRA, Beetje Flemish Kiss, and Deschutes CDA Hop in the Dark we were also given some tasters of their hummus, BBQ sliders, and pesto chicken skewers.
Our next stop was one I had never heard before either, The Broadway Grill and Brewery (their website lists them as The Old Market Pub & Brewery and they are both), so a surprise. It is a more restaurant atmosphere that is family friendly, and we were able to sample many of their appetizers and also their beers, of which the Mr Toad's Wild Red Ale was a highlight from the other tastings of their British Bombay IPA, Pacific Porter, and Rat Dog ESB. Too bad we didn't get to try some of the other ones that sounded interesting, such as Old Granny Smith which was a Golden Ale with Granny Smith Apples, and the Mr Slate's Gravelberry Ale a Wheat with Raspberry. I didn't try the hot wings or Caesar salad they also were passing around, but I did try their artichoke spinach cheese dip and tiny bit of cheese pizza, which tasted just as warm and cheesy as they appear in the photo.
Our next stop was Coalition, and was my favorite stop. We sat in the back outside and enjoyed the perfect weather of 70 degrees while sniffing the aroma of grilled buttered bread and melting cheese and having samples of various beers. You can tell we are all closer now and having fun as the beer pitcher was given bunny ears in the picture while discussing how one of the tour participants has a goal to visit a brewery for every day of the month in July… though the fact we had visited several today counts (31 breweries in 31 days doesn't mean necessarily 1 a day) and discussed how great G+ integrates with Google Docs (which is where he had his spreadsheet of breweries visited). Yes, this was in the same conversation thread. Because we enjoy life but are also organized, so what?
Besides the great diversity of beer, we also were able to sample various grilled cheeses since Coalition is located right next to the Grilled Cheese Grill double decker. This time, I had a chance to try several new combinations of sandwiches of the GCG's that I had not previously. I can't complain about the classic simplicity of the Kindergartner with Portland French white bread with Tillamook Cheddar so straightforward but also so local. Meanwhile, the The North Sider with Provolone, Fresh Tomato and Basil Pesto on Sourdough almost seemed healthy with the tomato and basil. I'll continue to tell myself that.
My favorite was the Moondog with the crispy edged grilled meat adding an extra crunch of this sandwich of Provolone, Hard Salami and Pepperoni, and Chopped Olives and Peppers on Sourdough. Also, I probably would have never thought to order this, but the sweet grilled cheese of the Jaime, with Mascarpone, Nutella, and Grilled Banana on Cinnamon Swirl was YUM, I would need to share it with another because of the sweetness but it worked wonderfully and I'll remember it in the future. And everything paired awesomely with the Coalition beer. I didn't really want to leave.
But onto our last stop- Laurelwood Public House & Brewery. Along with our pitchers of beer, we finished up with sweet bites of mini cheesecakes and chocolate cupcakes. At this point it was later on a Tuesday evening then I had anticipated and I have been here before, so I slacked off on the photos, sorry.
Thank you Brewvana and Ashley (the beaming face in the lower left of that first photo of our group at Guild below) and Google Places and Christina (shown dispensing beer from a pitcher earlier in a photo at the Guild) for the beer and little bites all over town adventure, thank you Guild and Broadway and Coalition and Grilled Cheese Grill and Laurelwood for being awesome. All the photos that have people in them/me below are from the camera of Google Portland except for the one at Coalition with the hotspot on the table.
You can see Ashley and Christina switching places as conductors of this tour by the Google Places sign below. The Brewvana bus is in the hospital, so we rode in a big purple wine bus instead. And, let me point out the cat that photobombed our picture in front of the bus as we were arriving at Coalition. Thanks cat.