Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Week 2 - Portland
I have always been pretty alarmed at the general standard of US beers that we get in the United Kingdom. Budweiser.....Miller.....Rolling Rock!!
So I was looking forward to getting to Portland, Oregon, where there are more breweries than any other city in the USA - perhaps even the world.
On the train from San Francisco (the one that took 17 hours), there was a guy with a t-shirt that read "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." If the Beer God really exists, I think he set up home in Portland.
The first I tried was a Black IPA in a bar called the 'Blue Moon' on 21st Avenue. It tasted good, but that might have been because I didn't pay for it. And no, I didn't steal it.
I was sat at the bar and there was basketball on the TV. I could see that Portland Trailblazers were playing, but couldn't make out the opposition. On the screen, the score said POR - GSW. So I had to ask who GSW were (Golden State Warriors), and the guy who told me bought me a beer.
The Black IPA was good. In fact, during my brief stay in Portland I didn't taste a bad local beer. It made me wonder why the soccer team isn't called the Portland Beermen or something ....
Actually, they're the Portland Timbers - and they were the first non-MLS team I would speak to on my trip. The Timbers play in the United Soccer Leagues (USL), the second tier in the American Soccer Pyramid. They have actually applied to become an MLS expansion team for 2011, and are set to find out by March whether it will be them, the Vancouver Whitecaps or a Miami-Barcelona franchise who gets the spot.
The Timbers home stadium is the PEG Park, plonked slap-bang in the middle of the city they call 'Soccer City'. The PEG doubles up as the home ground of the Portland Beavers baseball team, and is also used for American Football. It's been there since 1926, and if you're one for pub quiz triva, Pele played his final competitive match here.
The team had not yet begun pre-season when i got to Portland, so I had a chat with Marc Kostic, the team's media manager, about the team, the past, and the future. I will be speaking with a couple of their players over the coming weeks, and will also have the honour of meeting legendary team icon 'Timber Jim'.
I knew nothing of the man before I arrived, but my Portland friend Bob assures me that Jim 'abseils from the rafters, climbs a huge tree trunk and does a bunch of crazy sh*t with a chainsaw.'
Jim, you sound like a maniac. Can't wait to meet you!