|The best beer places in
Brewtopia Events LLC
Posted - February 2004 / Updated - June 2008
Our hophead friend Gail Graves sniffs the wonderful hops at Bridgeport Brewery in 2008.
Portland, OR is one of the great beer destinations in the United States -- it has so many brewpubs and microbreweries that it has been called "Munich on the Willamette." The American beer renaissance began in the Northwest and is still in full swing in Portland. Held on the last full weekend of July each year, the Oregon Brewers Festival draws attendees from all over the world to sample some of the best beers of the Pacific Northwest. Because the city covers such a wide area, you will really need to have a designated driver or spend some money on taxis to see all of the best beer spots in Portland -- but rest assured that it will be worth it! In January of 2004 Owen, Kerri, Thel, and Lari flew to Portland for a long weekend filled with superb beer. Read on about our adventure and be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see our 2008 update.
Photos and text by Owen Ogletree
Owen always welcomes your e-mail and input.
4765 NE Fremont
ph: (503) 460-9025
Alameda is an attractive brewpub located in what looks like a remodeled warehouse. It is a bit stark and industrial looking on the inside, but very clean and friendly. Head brewer John Eaton got his start at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA and is a graduate of the UC Davis Master Brewer's program. His well-crafted and flavorful beers include: Siskiyou Golden Ale, Wilshire Wheat Ale, Klickitat Pale Ale, Wasco Indian Summer Ale, Turk's Head ESB, Irvington Juniper Porter, and Black Bear XX Stout. Sandwiches and interesting seafood dishes highlight the menu.
1313 NW Marshall Street
ph: (503) 241-7179
The photo to the left illustrates the old bar and handpumps that used to grace the Bridgeport brewpub in 2004, and on the right is the sparkling, new bar in 2008. Bridgeport was once full of soul and great pizza and beer - the quintessential northwestern brewpub, but after its sale to the Gambrinus corporation, the glitzy, remodeled brewpub seems somewhat sterile and cold. The brewpub is located in an old warehouse district of Portland (the Pearl District), and the microbrewing facility is just next door. The lineup of Bridgeport ales looked like this in 2004: India Pale Ale, Porter, Stout, Old Knucklehead Barleywine, Blue Heron Pale Ale, and ESB. Be sure to sample all of the cask ales (unfiltered beers matured and naturally carbonated in small kegs). Bridgeport was started in 1984 and is one of Oregon's oldest craft breweries.
307 SW Montgomery Street
ph: (503) 220-1865
Full Sail has a small brewery in Portland's Riverfront mall area attached to McCormik and Schmicks seafood restaurant. To taste the excellent Full Sail beers you will have to visit the Harborside Restaurant / Pilsner Room bar (next door to the brewery) which stocks the full line of Full Sail products -- including some selections on cask. Thel, Lari, and I made it to the Pilsner Room around midnight after our plane landed in Portland, and even though our bodies were still on east coast time, we still managed to close the bar. Try the happy hour appetizer plates or raw oysters at the bar for some nice accompaniments to the beer. Pictured above is our buddy John Harris - the head brewer at this Full Sail location in 2008. The extensive beer list at our last visit in 2008 included Amber Ale, IPA, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stout, Nut Brown Ale, Doppelbock, Session Pre-prohibition Lager (bottle only), and many seasonals.
4534 SE Belmont Street
ph: (503) 223-2202
Horse Brass is a beer bar that is loaded with personality -- not polished glitz. It looks like a standard English pub from the outside, but be sure to venture inside for a great selection of fine imports and regional microbrews (try the amazing cask ales). Play a game of darts, enjoy a delightful pint, and then head next door to Belmont Station retail beer store for an amazing selection of beers to take home. Pictured above is Don Younger from 2008, the legendary owner of Horse Brass.
1728 NE 40th Ave.
This brewpub is located in a quiet, suburban area of Portland and seems to be very popular with families (there is even a kid's play area tucked away in a corner). The food at Laurelwood is tasty, substantial pub fare; and the beers are all clean, flavorful, and pleasant. When we visited, the beer menu included: Belgian Specialty Ale (malty and spicy), Imperial Stout (rich, full-bodied and roasty), Barleywine (intense with good malt/hop balance), ESB, Winter Warmer, Alt (true to style), Red Ale, IPA, Porter, and Stout.
1616 NW 23rd Ave.
ph: (503) 225-1855
Housed in what looks like an old house on NW 23rd Avenue, New Old Lompoc brewpub has tons of personality and character. There is a very casual, relaxed atmosphere here at this very small establishment. The menu has a plethora of interesting food items, and the beer list shines with nice brews such as C-Note Imperial Pale (full of NW hops), John Outhouse Special Bitter (named after Portland's first school teacher), Bald Guy Brown (with spicy American hops), Centennial India Pale Ale, Lompoc Strong Draft (also known as LSD), Sockeye Cream Stout, and Old Tavern Rat Barleywine.
915 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
ph: (503) 236-3555
This friendly brewpub is adorned with dog paraphernalia and photos of patrons from all over the world wearing their Lucky Lab garb. This brewpub is located near the Horse Brass Pub (see review above) a bit outside of downtown a features an open beer garden feel with an inviting deck out back. Beers included a Best Bitter (our favorite of the litter), Extra Pale Ale, Porter, IPA, Organic Golden Ale, and Stout - many with a touch of buttery diacetyl notes. Lucky Lab usually has one beer on cask most days and one guest tap. Head over and fetch a pint. There is also a Lucky Lab location at 7675 SW Capitol Hwy.
2730 NW 31st Avenue
ph: (503) 226-7623
This beautiful brewpub features two shiny copper vessels shipped to Portland from Bavaria where they were originally used at the Sixenbrau brewery. It would be hard to imagine a more charming and pleasant brewpub than this one -- Portland Brewing is known for their delicious menu and line of MacTarnahan's ales. In January of 2004, their house beers included: Highlander Pale Ale (with a touch of heather), Mac's Amber Ale, Blackwatch Cream Porter, ZigZag River Lager, Woodstock India Pale Ale, Oregon Honey Beer, Mac Frost Winter Ale, Uncle Otto's Weiss Beer (a true Bavarian wheat beer with complex yeast character), Nor'Wester Hefeweizen (American style wheat), and Saxer Bock (in bottles). Highlights of the outstanding food menu were garlic rosemary fries, dungeness crab dip, Scotch eggs, rotisserie smoked pot roast and pork loin, Scottish pie, schnitzel, salmon, and fish tacos. Plan to spend a few hours here enjoying the fine beers and food.
1339 NW Flanders
ph: (503) 222-5910
The Rogue brewery is located in Newport, OR, but you can still enjoy a little piece of Rogue in Portland at their beer bar and pubic house. This place features a gift shop, bar area, distillery (yeah, that's right), and dining area. Many of the hard-to-find new Rogue beers and experimentals are here along with some very tasty pub grub and cool conversation with the locals.
929 N. Russell Street
ph: (503) 281-2437
Widmer makes one of the most popular American wheat beers produced today, and the microbrewery was started by two homebrewing brothers who decided to take their love of beer to the next level. The guest house restaurant is located next door to the microbrewery just across the river in the northside of downtown. The photo to the left is of Rob Widmer in 2008 discussing the current house beers at the brewpub, and the image on the right shows Kerri and Thel in 2004 enjoying the Widmer sampler tray that boasted 12 fine house brews: Blonde Ale, Hefeweizen, Altbier, Amber Ale, IPA, Widberry (with black raspberries), Doppelbock, Milk Stout, KGB (roasty Russian Imperial Stout), nitro tap selection, seasonal, and a brewer's special. If you are a fan of well-prepared German food, you will absolutely love the menu at the Gasthaus. Brewery tours are offered on Fridays at 3 pm and Saturdays at 1 and 2 pm. A tour of the sparkling new Widmer brewery across the street from the brewpub is a must.
Jerry Garcia statue at McMenamins Edgefield
(McMenamins also has multiple locations in downtown Portland - all serving a similar range of their brews.)
2126 SW Halsey Street
ph: (503) 669-8610
You'll find it hard to walk a couple of blocks in Portland without running across one of the brewpubs in the McMenamins chain. McMenamins is known for purchasing old buildings that are close to being condemned and transforming them into outstanding pubs and restaurants. McMenamins Edgefield can be found in Troutdale (about a 20 minute drive from downtown Portland) and is very much worth the trip. Edgefield is housed on a 38 acre facility that used to be the Multnomah County Poor Farm in 1911, but now houses a brewpub, winery, distillery, golf course, gardens, and a gorgeous European-style hotel. Every shed and old building has been converted into a bar or gift shop, and the old Power Station is now home to an inviting brewpub and theater. When you are done with your meal of sandwiches, burgers, pasta, or fish and chips at the Power Station Pub, grab an IPA, Hammerhead Ale, or Terminator Stout in a plastic cup and stroll the grounds of Edgefield. The McMenamins chain is a big part of the beer scene in the Northwest, and any McMenamins pub will have pamphlets with information about all their locations.
2008 Brewtopia Events LLC