Earlier this month, we reported on Nathan Yau’s ultimate brewery tour: a look at the most efficient way to hit up 70 of the US’s top rated breweries in one trip. That post resulted in nearly 100 comments, and one email directly to my inbox with the subject, “70 breweries in one trip? Try 77 in one day.”
That’s how I met John Lovegrove, a Portland, Oregon-based beer enthusiast who earlier this year, on Saturday, August 15, drank at 77 breweries in one 18 hour period.
This was not Lovegrove’s first foray into banging out as many breweries as possible in a single day. “In 2009, I set what I believe was a record when I visited 34 of the Portland metro area's 36 breweries/brewpubs in one day,” he told me via an email correspondence. “In 2012, we upped our game, and visited (and again drank at) 50 breweries in one day.”
But Lovegrove had an even bigger dream: hitting up 80 breweries, all between first and last call – his self-imposed rules. Some skeptics said it wasn’t possible, but as he reached out to friends, he found a few believers. Thom Roholt, who had helped film his previous drinking adventures, decided Lovegrove’s extreme brewery crawl would make for an interesting centerpiece for a documentary on the growth of Portland’s brewing scene. And so the planning began.
It took weeks, according to Lovegrove. “Opening hours and traffic were huge considerations, although we pulled some strings to get a handful of breweries to open their doors early for us,” he said. They settled on a final route of 77 breweries.
The end result was 17 hours and 55 minutes covering 301 miles, an average time of just about 14 minutes per brewery, starting at 7am at the McMenamins brewpub in Edgefield and, fittingly, ending with the McMenamins Crystal Brewery. Overall, the trip ran surprisingly smoothly. “There were very few hiccups along the way,” said Lovegrove. “We missed a couple of last-calls – but customers offered us their beers to help us out.”
And intoxication was surprisingly minimal. “I carried with me a one-ounce stein,” Lovegrove explained. “I had a pint at the first brewpub, and again at the 50th, but stuck with a single ounce at almost all the others… Seven to eight pints over 19 hours is not that excessive and we had a lot of downtime.” The decision was purposeful. “I want to stress the point of this was to show how many awesome breweries Portland has, and not to get drunk. I love these breweries and didn't want to get anyone in trouble for overserving.”
Unfortunately, despite Lovegrove’s impressive accomplishment, he’s yet to see much acclaim for all his hard drinking… excuse me… hard work. “The Guinness Book won't recognize these as records, as they don't create new alcohol-related records, for fear of encouraging overindulgence,” he laments. It’s a bit ironic: A beer brand refusing to recognize beer records.
Still, Lovegrove hopes Roholt’s documentary, tentatively titled PDX: Brew City and hopefully set to be released next year, will shed some light on his 77-stop brewery trip. “I'm just one of Portland’s biggest beer fans,” Lovegrove says. I think he’s proven that.
Check out the full details of John's tour here.