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PDX: The Strategy Guide

Making time fly at PDX's brilliant bars



As anyone with a love for beer and travel knows, attempting to find something decent to drink at an airport can be a harrowing experience. At Dulles International in Washington, there's a bar that's enticingly titled "DC Craft Beer" on the far end of one terminal. It contains a whopping three taps, one of which is Stella Artois. And woe be to the unfortunate traveler who winds up in the international terminal at LAX—it's exclusively an AB-InBev shop, and the best beer you'll find there is Goose Island's 312 pale ale, a mere $8.99 for a pint.

This isn't the case at Roberts Field, the Redmond Municipal Airport, where the restaurant serves Central Oregon beer almost exclusively, and it definitely isn't the case for good ol' PDX. Portland International Airport installed a giant cuckoo clock just past security featuring (among many things) a wooden carving of a man holding a beer and riding a barrel to parts unknown. The Made in Oregon shops allow you to fill up growlers and bring them on the plane as carry-on souvenirs. How many other airports can say that? None, is how many. That's the wonder of PDX, without even bringing the restaurants into the picture.

Striking out on a theoretical airport pub crawl at Portland International, one would do well to begin at Laurelwood Brewing Company. Laurelwood tends to fall below many Oregonians' radar, perhaps because it's been around a while and doesn't offer a ton of innovation with its offerings. That's perhaps unfair, because its base lineup—including the ever-lovable Vinter Varmer—is solid and just the thing for the kind of early-morning drinking people at airports often do. The same can be said of Rogue Ale's Public House in Terminal D—Rogue may not be the favorite of many people in Oregon, but who can turn down Rogue's 7-Hop IPA right next to the gate.

Meanwhile, for something more substantial food-wise, a couple of PDX's restaurants will fill the bill. The Country Cat Dinnerhouse has great omelets and Phriem's pilsner and Deschutes' Jubelale on tap. The largest selection in PDX, though, is at Henry's Tavern, the airport outpost of the 12th Street classic. Two dozen Oregon beers are on tap there, and (just like the original place in the Pearl), there's a refrigerated surface on the bar to keep your drink cold while discussing politics with the adjacent stranger who's heading to Chicago. Good times.

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