Yard House Portland

I am a proponent of visiting local taprooms and breweries and drinking local beers. This philosophy extends both to when I’m in my home city, or when I’m traveling for pleasure or work. But, I am also a big fan of The Yard House – and I have been for many years. It is a national chain – I’ll disclose that upfront, and owned by Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze) – restaurants you may recognize from suburban retail and tourist areas. However, there is still a place for it, even for a craft beer lover. Here is a look at why and what you can expect from Yard House and Yard House Portland.
Some of the taps (but not all of them!) at Yard House. This is likely the most taps you will ever see in one place - an average of 130 at each location. Yard House Portland offers 130 taps with a keg room holding over 5000 gallons of beer

The Yard House was founded more then 20 years ago in 1996 in Southern California, and since then the national chain has expanded to more than 66 restaurants and 23 states. Before I moved to Portland, Yard House was a major gateway for me to try beers besides the buckets of Bud and Corona of my college years, and for that I am still grateful. Plus, I know that for many just dipping their toes into craft beer, Yard House still serves that purpose of being an introduction to what is available in beer flavors, and that is something craft beer aficionados should give Yard House credit for, it’s nothing to sniff at.
Yard House Portland offers 130 taps with a keg room holding over 5000 gallons of beer. You can order beer in multiple sizes, including putting together your own sampler tray

There are 5 big things you can expect from every The Yard House experience, and which you’ll see some examples of from our local Yard House, Yard House Portland located on the first floor of Pioneer Place Mall (entrance is on on SW 5th and Taylor, a few yards away from the street level shiny Apple Store).
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Portland Beer Week 2017 Highlights

Portland Beer Week this year starts on Thursday, and runs from June 8 – June 18th 2017, 11 days of beer events happening all over Portland. This is not an exhaustive list of events – visit the Portland Beer Week website for all the events – but I wanted to highlight what I think are some unique events and my own personal take on Portland Beer Week 2017 Highlights.

This is just one of many events celebrating libations in June: I shared highlights for Negroni Week June 5-11 yesterday, and then for tomorrow I have a post about  Sake PDX Festival, which is coming up on June 21. And there’s Oregon Cider Week (June 15-25), PDX Margarita Festival (June 17) and then the beer festivals of Portland International Beer Festival (June 23-25) and Kriekfest (June 24)! All these events are just running into each other back to back this month!

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Imperial Session New England Beer Pairing Dinner

This quarterly dinner series by Imperial Session duo Advanced Cicerone Ryan Spencer (Bailey’s Taproom) with dishes from Chef Spencer Watari (Clyde Common) pairs beers and food. Unlike many beer and food dinners, this pop up concept does not beholden itself to any particular breweries or restaurant so they can select any beer or dish to make an interesting pairing without worrying about representing or promoting any business. The last dinner focus was on beers from New England.
Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner, Ryan pouring beerse for one of the courses Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner

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Curse of the Haunted Curds 2016 at Portland Brewing

Two years ago I attended the first Curse of the Haunted Curds event at Deschutes. Although I missed it last year being out of town, this year I’ll be attending again and I’m super excited about it! The Curse of the Haunted Curds 2016 will be taking place at Portland Brewing Company Tap Room at 2730 NW 31st Ave. From 11 AM at lunch to the 8 PM evening on October 27, guests can choose to sample a flight of 5 poutines (fries, gravy, and cheese curds), each created from 5 competing chefs for just $10. You can optionally enjoy the poutines with beer pairings for an additional $6.

The Curse of the Haunted Curds at Portland Brewing 2016, 5 poutines from competing chefs of 5 breweries using beer in their gravy and Face Rock Creamery Vampire Slayer cheese

As before, Curse of the Haunted Curds continues to be for a good cause. 50% of all poutine and beer pairing proceeds go towards Friendly House, a non-profit neighborhood center and social service agency. Founded in 1930, Friendly House provides programs and services at no charge or on a sliding fee scale to ensure access to all members of the community of all ages and backgrounds in three program areas: Children’s Programs, Community Recreation and Education, and Community Services.

You’ll be sampling the 5 poutines from competing chefs from

Then cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award for Curse of the Haunted Curds 2016. The winner of the live judging as well as People’s Choice will be announced at 7:30 PM. Each of the poutine recipes must use one of the breweries’ beers from the competing brewery in the gravy.

Curse of the Haunted Curds, a Poutine Pop-up with proceeds to the D Wright Way Foundation featured 5 poutines from 5 chefs for $10 at Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House
My flight of 5 poutines from 5 chefs from 2014 Curse of the Haunted Curds

Teaming up with them is also local (Bandon Oregon) Face Rock Creamery with their Vampire Slayer cheese curds, which took 1st place at the American Cheese Society’s 2013 Competition. Face Rock sources grass-fed cow’s milk from Oregon dairy families, and they make cheese the same day the cows are milked. Face Rock cheese, including these curds, are available at their creamery, in more than 3,000 stores, and online at their website.

At $10, there’s a huge value with the amount of poutine you get, definitely enough for 2 to share. They are also doing a costume contest!

If you haven’t been to the Portland Brewing Tasting Room before, parking is easy in this industrial area and they offer not only their own brewed beers but also beers from their sister brewery the Pyramid Brewing Co. Their Thursday daily special is “Throwback Thursdays” with $2 pints from 6 PM to close – they have one daily special every day, ranging from Kids 12 and under eat free for each adult Sunday to matching a purchased flight or pint or growler with a free one on other days and “hoppy hour” every day 3 – 6 PM and 9 PM – close.

This entire month of July 2014, Portland Brewing is donating a portion from every case or growler of ZigZag River Lager (growlers must be purchased at the Portland Brewing Co Taproom, cases must be purchased in the state of Oregon) sold back to our Northwest waters via Sandy River Basin Watershed Council.

Have you been to Portland Brewing? What do you think about this upcoming Curse of the Haunted Curds 2016 at Portland Brewing event?

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Beer for Breakfast

Beer is the perfect accompaniment to dinner or lunch. But it also goes great with breakfast! Especially when the beers themselves taste like some of our favorite breakfast treats.

The Beer for Breakfast special event on September 25th brought together beer and food pairing in a meal many not think to pair with beer. With two seatings available at 9AM and then 11AM at Great Notion Brewing, the event offered for $50 a grand 3 courses with literally a dozen beers – 4 beers with each course!
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016 with 3 courses (omnivore or vegan) along with 12 beers with beers from GNB as well as guest breweries

Great Notion is not usually open for brunch, though I hope they might consider doing so after tasting how great these dishes were and how well they paired with beer. I also greatly appreciated that there was an omnivore option as well as a vegan option, which allows the meatless eaters out there to also be able to enjoy the deliciousness.

Course 1

Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar.
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 1 Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa, Reverend Nat's Tepache with Prosecco, Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise Imperial Wit with Pineapple, Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 1 Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa, Reverend Nat's Tepache with Prosecco, Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise Imperial Wit with Pineapple, Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 1 Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa, Reverend Nat's Tepache with Prosecco, Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise Imperial Wit with Pineapple, Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes

Beer Pairings

  • Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa
  • Reverend Nat’s Tepache with Prosecco
  • Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise, an Imperial Wit with Pineapple
  • Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes

By itself, I liked the hint of spicy of the Tepache with Prosecco with its effervescence. But, it seemed a bit much with the yogurt unless you made sure you got a spoonful of the ginger with your bite. The Blueberry Pancakes, the stout of these four, went best with the blueberry muffin, no surprise there not only for its hint of blueberry but because it’s stronger sweet maple syrup could then be balanced by the crumb of muffin.

Meanwhile I liked how the Imperial Wit with Pineapple highlighted the berry and the yogurt with its fruit and bit of funkiness in the flavors of the beer. I’ve always like the Tepache, but since it’s not a beer even though I adore it it won’t make my list of best beers of the brunch, though it is a fantastic mixer for many a beer.

Of all four beers, my favorite of them all in this pairing since it went with everything was the Barred Aged Apricot Mimosa that was tart and refreshing with a fruitiness that went well both with marionberry and with blueberry. This beer also makes the top 2 faves of the whole meal.

Course 2

Oatmeal Brulee with grilled peaches, caramelized brown sugar, Double Stack Stout reduction and either housemade sausage or vegan sausage
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 2 Oatmeal Brulee with grilled peaches, caramelized brown sugar, Double Stack Stout reduction and either housemade sausage or vegan sausage. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Bellini, Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale, Scout Beer Porridge Oatmeal Pale with Vanilla and Raisin, and Great Notion Brewing Double Stack Imperial Breakfast Stout Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 2 Oatmeal Brulee with grilled peaches, caramelized brown sugar, Double Stack Stout reduction and either housemade sausage or vegan sausage. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Bellini, Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale, Scout Beer Porridge Oatmeal Pale with Vanilla and Raisin, and Great Notion Brewing Double Stack Imperial Breakfast Stout

Beer Pairings

  • Great Notion Brewing Bellini
  • Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale
  • Scout Beer Porridge Oatmeal Pale with Vanilla and Raisin
  • Great Notion Brewing Double Stack Imperial Breakfast Stout

My #1 favorite beer of the entire Beer for Breakfast event is definitely the Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale which perfectly mimicked a bloody mary. I found the Bellini to carry peach flavors well, but also had a slightly harsh finish as if it was a Bellini made with a cheap prosecco? Ha ha I still finished it though. The Oatmeal Pale had a great texture, but I was hoping for more vanilla and raisin then I got than just porridge.

The best pairing of the four was the Double Stack Imperial Breakfast stout with its sweet maple and roasty coffee – since the oatmeal has reduced Double Stack reduction the fact these two were complimentary – with the reduction being sweeter and thinner so you could detect more body and coffee (including natural coffee bitterness) in the beer – was intriguing for me.

Course 3

House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 3 House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss, Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle, Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter and Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 3 House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss, Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle, Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter and Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 3 House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss, Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle, Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter and Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout

Beer Pairings

  • Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss
  • Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle
  • Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter
  • Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout

The Orange Creamsicle here boasts strong orange flavor, but a hint of bitterness like from the rind ratehr then vanilla creaminess like I was expecting – still an enjoyable beer, but I was mislead by the name of the beer.

The Barrel Aged Coffee Stout had the most coffee of all the coffee beers this day, but it does have the extra advantage of using barrel aged coffee beans and that extra depth from bourbon. Of all the coffee beers though I still preferred of all of them the Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter because I liked the strong smokiness and I thought the mouthfeel was so smooth with a nice body.

I was surprised to see the Blueberry Muffin here as really does taste like a muffin, but with extra tartness from the Berliner Weiss – perhaps juxtaposing it with the actual blueberry muffin in Course 1 was too on the nose. I really like the beer – but was a little confused on how it went with eggs or an empanada. I might have swapped the Tepache with Prosecco of course 1 with this one.

Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016 with 3 courses (omnivore or vegan) along with 12 beers with beers from GNB as well as guest breweries

Overall, a fantastic event. One thing I wish had been clear is that although the ticket purchase via Mercury Tickets had described the price as all inclusive, we were asked at the end to drop some cash tip to show appreciation for the staff – fine to ask for, but wish we had known before hand so we could have been better prepared.

The other wish is that it would have been nice to hear a little extra about the beer or the food on why they were chosen or why the particular food preparation based on the beer. On one hand it is nice to taste everything on your own to see what you experience without being told what to look for, but on the other hand it can be educational since some might have finer palates to hear on what they might pick up on.

Ok, maybe one more wish. I wish this event, or the ability to at least have Great Notion Brunch, would be available again, not just this one event – maybe even if it’s just the last Sunday of a month, or quarterly, I would so love to experience this again and not have to wait a year. Particularly many of the GNB beers as you saw from this list are so perfect for a brunch pairing!

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