Barley Mowat 

Portland Tips Part 3: The Search for Beer

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Alright, time to move on to The Show. Part 1 was about simply getting to Portland and finding shelter. Part 2 was about not dying from malnutrition while you’re there. All those pointers are fine and dandy, but they’re really just in support of the main adventure: drinking some of the best craft beer on the planet. So, without adieu, I present Portland Tips Part 3: Drinking.

Map: If you’re getting lost, here’s a handy dandy map I put together. It’s swell.

Brewpubs – Rogue – 1339 NW Flanders
Despite actually being from Ashland, Oregon, Rogue is one of the older brewpub presences in Portland. Nestled in the trendy-but-not-quite-Yaletown area of town known as The Pearl, it’s been serving up pub grub and craft beer for as long as I can remember and, frankly, the food and beer taste like it. Seriously, the beer is poorly conceived/executed, the food is bland and the service is inconsistent but consistently slow. Avoid unless you’ve never had any Rogue beers.

Brewpubs – 10 Barrel – 1411 NW Flanders
Okay, fine, 10 Barrel is owned by AB-InBev now. So is Goose Island, and so is Elysian. All three still make pretty good beer. In the case of 10 Barrel, up “pretty good” to “fairly excellent.” The irony of the largest brewery on the planet owning a brewery named for how small it is, is delicious—almost as much as the food coming out of the kitchen. Sure, this whole slick establishment couldn’t even exist if it weren’t for AB-InBev, who footed the bill for this larger-than-the-actual-brewery expansion to the Bend-based 10 Barrel, and I thank them for writing the cheque. It’ll be interesting to see how the 10 Barrel/Rogue dynamic develops over the years, as they’re literally across the street from one another.

Brewpubs – Bridgeport – 1313 NW Marshall
Speaking of old school Portland breweries, Bridgeport has been serving suds in Oregon since 1984, and from their North Pearl location since… sometime after that; getting dates for pub openings is hard. Take the same starting lineup as Rogue, but instead of putting freaking Sriracha in your beer as “innovation” perhaps play around with hopping or grain bill. The result is a much better, more consistent lineup of craft ales.

Bottle Shop – Whole Foods – 1210 NW Couch
Yes, Timmy, that’s correct. I’m putting a freaking grocery store on a list of great beer places. Portland is THAT cool. Seriously, though, the Pearl Whole Foods has a great beer selection, a giant walk-in cooler and is conveniently located to boot. How good is the selection? Let’s just say that I actually almost started crying when I first saw it.

Pro-tips: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the selection of beers you’ve never heard of. Check those out on ratebeer.com before buying to ensure quality. As the cooler is at the back of the store, use Whole Foods’ free WiFi instead of repeatedly walking to the front to use cellular.

Bar – Bailey’s Taproom – 213 SW Broadway
If one pub could be described as the beating, beer-pumping heart of Portland, it would be Bailey’s. Nestled into the pointy corner of a building with 20’ tall windows on all sides, this tiny space combines 40 seats with 25 well curated taps. In Vancouver, any space this cool would be a coffee shop, not a bar. Of course, Bailey’s no kitchen and no table service policies would prevent it from opening in Vancouver regardless of how cool the space.

Pro tip: If Bailey’s is full, go down the side street about 30 feet to the mostly unmarked, glass door entrance to Bailey’s Upstairs. With only six curated taps, it’s not quite Bailey’s, but at least there’re seats.

Beyond this door lay riches
beyond your wildest dreams.
Just kidding, it’s beer. Lots and lots of beer.

Brewery – Upright – 240 N Broadway
You know that dream you sometimes have of starting a craft brewery in your basement? Nothing too fancy, just a small kit with a few barrels, an open fermenter and a hand bottler? Maybe you’d have a picnic table set out so you can pour your friends a pint from your 4-6 taps while you spin a record on a turntable you picked up at a garage sale. Well, that’s Upright, only their beer is waaaaayyy better than the infected schlock you breathe into life in your garage.

Pro-tips: Upright is cash only, so come prepared. If you’re Car2Go’ing here, parking can be hard to find since Upright is close to the stadium. However, smart car-only parking can be found in the lot across the street.

Brewery – Burnside – 701 E Burnside
It’s a cute brewery just down the street from Fire on the Mountain, and their tasting bat is priced at a very attractive $1/sample for 10 samples. However, I’ve never really been a big fan of Burnside’s beers. They’re a bit too mediocre to stand out, and that makes a hard argument for spending some of your limited brewery-visiting time here.

Brewery – Base Camp – 930 SE Oak
The bar here might be built from some of the biggest slabs of granite I’ve ever seen, and the small outdoor patio does provide a nice setting for a cosy pint or two. Still, I’d skip these guys in favour of a lot of other breweries. Having said that, if you’re biking/walking from Upright or FotM to Cascade, Base Camp is basically the perfect half way pit stop.

Brewery – Hair of the Dog – 61 SE Yamhill
The beer is world class. The food is excellent, and the cellar list is the stuff dreams are made of. Hair of the Dog has a consistent lineup of outstanding brews, plus one or two special releases on tap at all times. If you’ve been to HotD enough that this doesn’t excite, the cellar list is long, deep, and full of amazing rare gems. HotD earns the coveted “Barley Mowat Best Brewery on the Freaking Planet” award for good reason.

Pro Tip: Order the bread, it’s almost always one of the best things on an already-great menu.

Brewery – Commons Brewery – 630 SE Belmont
This is Commons’ brand spanking new, 30′ ceiling-sporting brewery. Room is tight here, and there aren’t many tables, so you might end up standing, but that’s okay as it’s basically a bar with a bunch of great farmhouse beers on tap, plus a kitchen booth called “The Cheese Annex.”

Pro Tip: There is no AC and it can get quite brutally hot.

The Cheese Annexation was the last stray before all-out Cheese War.

Bar – Loyal Legion – 706 SE 6th
LL came to Portland to serve two things: beer and sausages, and they’re almost out of sausages. Just kidding, the meat tubes are good and plentiful. Both beer and sausages are $6. That’s $6, CASH, no tips, no exceptions. Any beer from the ~100 on the tap list? $6. Any sausage on the menu? $6. It’s reassuringly simple, even if it does mean you wind up with a giant pile of singles in your pocket at the end of your visit.

Pro-tip: Like all cash-only places, they provide an ATM… for a hefty price, best to come prepared.

Brewery – Cascade Barrel House – 939 SE Belmont
Sours are just taking off in Vancouver, but Cascade is a brewery focused on making nothing but for many years. This is one of the best sour beer houses in the world, period, with a list of sours cellared 2-3 years as long as your arm. That, plus they have one or two beers being served straight from the oak barrel at all times.

Pro-tip: No AC, but not as bad as Commons. Giant patio.

Bar/Brewpub – Green Dragon Bistro – 928 SE 9th
Just across the street from Cascade is that venerable Portland institution: Green Dragon. Green Dragon is the bar side, and Buckman Botanical Brewery is the Brewpub half of business. Buckman’s beers are solidly okay, but if you get the desire to stray there are about 50 other beers on tap, plus one of the best garden patios anywhere.

Pro-tip: Green Dragon, HotD, Loyal Legion, Commons and Cascade form a tight little brewery/bar circuit that just begs for you to spend an afternoon in it. Or two.

Bottle Shop/Bar – BeerMongers – 1125 SE Division
Okay, LCLB, listen carefully to this. The BeerMongers are one of many establishments in Portland that serve as both a bottle shop AND a bar. The room is lined with coolers, out of which you can pick a bottle, take that bottle to the counter, pay, and then open and drink it. Society has not collapsed. Children are not harmed in any way. Instead of dangerous, it is simply awesome. Get it? No, didn’t think you would.

Look! The beer is right there! What’s to stop someone from grabbing a bottle, breaking it on the counter and stabbing another patron in the neck!?!?

Bar – APEX – 1216 SE Division
Do you like metal? I SAID, DO YOU LIKE METAL? If you screamed YES in answer while holding out the horns with one hand and a heavy test beer in the other, then man oh man do I have a bar for you. Metal, motorbikes and craft beer come together in delicious, loud harmony at APEX, a bar so hardcore the name itself is capitalized so it can shout itself at you from the page. The inside is tiny, and cramped, with most of the space being taken up by a long bar of absolutely amazing craft beer. Luckily for you, though, outside is a giant patio featuring row upon row of picnic tables.

Pro-tip: APEX is loud. Deal with it. There are free ear-plugs available the bar if you can’t. Cash-only.

Bar/Brewery – Lompoc Hedge House – 3412 SE Division
Lompoc Brewing operates a number of tied houses in the Portland area, and Hedge House is one of them. Yet another Thing That Can’t Happen in Vancouver, the Hedge House is literally a house that’s been converted into a bar, surrounded by other, people-still-in-them, houses. The food matches the semi-rundown exterior and interior, but the beers are surprisingly decent given their surroundings. Not a bad pre-Pok Pok rest stop.

Brewery – HopWorks – 2944 SE Powell
As much as I hope the Highly Hopped Beer Trend will never end, at least I didn’t go out and start a brewery with the word “Hop” right in the title. Luckily for HopWorks, the trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, and luckily for us that means we can continue to enjoy their excellent lineup of beers. They’re far enough out in SE Portland that getting there is a bit of a trip, but believe me they’re worth the effort.

Pro-tip: Happy Hour Pretzels. Do it.

Bar/Bottle Shop – Belmont Station – 4500 SE Stark
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: the food is terrible. Whatever you do, do NOT order the food. Drink extra beer if you have to. Okay, now that that’s done, the bottle shop isn’t terribly cheap either. Okay okay, so what’s good? Selection and rarity. The bottle shop is subject to the whims of the public like any other, but even so rare and/or excellent beers seem to dot their shelves with some degree of regularity. However, the thing that keeps me coming back is the taplist. Obscenely rare beers are tapped with shocking frequency. Just keep an eye on their Twitter account.

Pro-tip: Seriously. Don’t. Eat. The. Food.

Written by chuck

August 27th, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Beer and You

3 Responses to 'Portland Tips Part 3: The Search for Beer'

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  1. Went to HopWorks’ new(ish) bike bar in the north east. It’s a bit closer to Pearl than the original spot. It was pretty great, the patio comes complete with a play area for kids.

    Dave

    27 Aug 15 at 17:09

  2. When you mention the Green Dragon, HotD, Loyal Legion, Commons and Cascade circuit, you left off Sassy’s. They usually have some great stuff on tap, and they can definitely help with that giant pile of singles.

    Simon

    27 Aug 15 at 18:12

  3. Rogue is always hit and miss for me. The food has gone way down hill, I’ve stopped going to the brewery in the coast because of this although I still enjoy most of their beers. Agree on the service and in general almost everywhere in Oregon this is the case, but at Rogue it is exquisitely bad!

    I think it honestly suffers from being surrounded by so many better beers, that other than a spot to get a simple sampler tray it’s no longer worth a visit. Still their Barleywine and Imperial Stouts are quite good, just a bit too over priced for what they are. I’ll take a Thor’s Hammer over them any day, for like half the price too.

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