What beers should I try while in Portland/Oregon?
July 28, 2009 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Heading up to Portland and then the rest of Oregon for the better part of a week. Coming from San Diego and hoping to get some suggestions for good beers to try that you might not be able to get down here as well as the best pubs/breweries to try them at.
posted by JoeGoblin to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:23 AM on July 28, 2009

posted by palomar at 9:26 AM on July 28, 2009

You might want to narrow down what styles of beer you really like, because there are SO MANY good breweries in Portland. The first one that comes to mind from my trip there is the Rogue Brewery. Their menu had several dozen beers on it, many of which were limited run or not distributed.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:26 AM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: Am a big fan of IPAs, but am curious to try anything up there that is highly regarded and different from what we can get in SD.
posted by JoeGoblin at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2009

I loved Inversion IPA from Deschutes. You can get it bottled, but it's better on tap.
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on July 28, 2009

Hopworks Urban Brewery has a lot of yummy beers. They use organic ingredients, and designed their restaurant / brewery to be sustainable and eco-friendly. Their pizzas are pretty good too.

Amnesia has some good beers to try. They have an outdoor area with picnic table which can be a great place to sit outside and have a brat.

Not a brewery, but a good place to go try things, and frequently the spot for MeFi meetups: the Green Dragon - lots on tap to try.
posted by ugf at 9:49 AM on July 28, 2009

Another +1 for Lompoc.

I'm not a big IPA fan because I can't handle the hoppiness.

HorseBrass usually has good IPAs, and if you hit them at the right time, you might catch them dry-hopping a keg of something. The Lucky Lab also has good hoppy beers... in fact, I thought everything was flavorful but bitter there.
posted by SpecialK at 9:50 AM on July 28, 2009

O! And if you go to Rogue (in Portland, their public house is on 13th and NW Flanders), try their I2PA which is an overproof IPA. Super yummy. You can sign up to join the Rogue Nation there too, and then you get 10% off of drinks and food.
posted by ugf at 9:51 AM on July 28, 2009

If "rest of Oregon" includes the coast, you can go to Rogue there rather than spend the time in Portland going to it, as Rogue is brewed in Newport. They have a restaurant / pub on the historic bayfront in Newport, as well as their big brewery just over the bridge. I'd go to the brewery myself, it's fun to walk around the mash tuns and check out the specials they have in the gift shop.
posted by ugf at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2009

Hop around to a bunch of different brew pubs, and try the things that you can't buy off the shelf. IPA-wise, I'd say the cask-conditioned IPA at Bridgeport. They have pretty tasty food, too.
posted by madmethods at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2009

Portland is pretty much IPA town.
I'd say +1 on the Bridgeport IPA, it's my hands down favorite go to beer...especially because it's not so intensely overhopped like many of the others around town.
Of course if you like those extremely hopped IPAs there is no shortage. Lompoc's C-note is pretty tasty in that category.
posted by dan g. at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2009


Rogue is also good, but if you come to Portland and do not go to one of the Lompocs (I prefer the New Old Lompoc on 23rd but they're all good) you have failed. Amnesia's also worth going to, as is Roots.

No matter what anyone tells you, if you want good beer, do not go to local ubiquity McMenamins. I admire what they do (restore old buildings into pubs/hotels/theaters), but their beer is just so...mediocre. If it were the only game in town, I'd probably love it, but in a place like Portland there's no excuse for mediocre beer. And their food is execrable.

So yeah. In order:

1. Lompoc
2. Roots
3. Amnesia

Also, if you are downtown, Bailey's Taproom has a ton of great craft brews (but no food). If you happen across a Ninkasi beer give it a shot - they're a Eugene brewery but their stuff's pretty common up here, the Green Dragon or Bailey's usually has at least one Ninkasi on tap.
posted by pdb at 10:21 AM on July 28, 2009

I would recommend Terminal Gravity IPA. Look for "the stick" - I think they have it at Horse Brass... though I haven't been there in a while since I don't live in Portland anymore :(
posted by baxter_ilion at 10:23 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Every time I go to Portland I try to go by the Bagdad Theater. Yeah, McMenamins is a bit large for the beer snobs. But the beer is still pretty good and it's a great place to watch a film and relax.
posted by Nelson at 10:35 AM on July 28, 2009

Snap you just missed the brewers fest. Well, you can't really go to wrong with any of the local beers, in my opinion. That said: I'd try to steer clear of the big breweries (not their beers, just the locations), as they're pretty yuppy-ish and touristy.

Nthing these beers: Lompoc (I recommend the 5th quadrant on N Williams and N Failing...great beer sampler and great food as well, also next door to Pix - one of the best bakeries in town). Hopworks Urban Brewery - fantastic beer. Roots (you must). Terminal Gravity. Laurelhurst Yes. Amnesia is great as well.

I also recommend Lucky Lab.

Lots of bars offer great happy hours where you get good micros for around $2 a pint. The best recourse for PDX happy hour info is Bar Fly.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2009

Folks already pretty much covered my faves in Portland. I also like to go to Saraveza, which is mainly a bottle shop but has some great stuff on tap too.

If you are going to the coast, Bill's Tavern in Cannon Beach has some unusual beers on tap. Or try the Pelican Pub in Pacific City. Kind of thinking of playing hooky and going to one of those places today, as PDX is in the middle of a heat wave, and the coast is cooler...

Oh, and there's Full Sail brewery/brewpub in Hood River, OR and Walking Man (awesome!!) in Stevenson, WA if you're headed into the Gorge.
posted by medeine at 10:47 AM on July 28, 2009

For Portland recs:

If you are at all interested in a retail outlet, Belmont Station has a great selection and their staff should be able to point you towards stuff you haven't heard of. They also have a small bar in the back. If you find a bottle you want to buy but don't feel like lugging it back with you, they will open the bottle for you at the bar (I'm guessing a corkage fee applies). Ninkasi is great, and I also would add Heater Allen...everything of theirs I have tried has been wonderful and can be found at Belmont Station.

I second the suggestion of Bailey's Tap Room - no food, as was mentioned, but there's a pretty good taqueria next door that will bring your food to Bailey's for you. They also let you bring in your own food. A lot of the breweries mentioned here are on tap often, but it's a rotating tap selection so check out their site for what's on. The server will be able to recommend stuff and will put together a tasting tray for you. Collaborator is another brewery that makes an appearance and is worth looking out for.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:54 AM on July 28, 2009

Caldera is made in Ashland, and is excellent. Some is sold in cans, but most of it is available only on tap.

Also check in at the Standing Stone brewery--they have a restaurant with a mean black-bean nacho.
posted by everichon at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2009

Yet another vote for Lompoc. I heart the New Old Lompoc. Their LSD is particularly tasty (Lompoc Strong Draft).

I also highly recommend the Rogue.

The New Old Lompoc and The Rogue are great places to order samplers (half a dozen or so tasters). I know it's not the same as ordering a pint, but you'll get to try so much more that way.

posted by 2oh1 at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2009

Oh, and definitely DO drop by McMenamins, especially the Baghdad Theatre or (even better) The Kennedy School.

The moment anything becomes popular, there's a predictable cliche backlash from the too-cool crowd... but the Kennedy School really is fantastic. The McMenamin brothers took an old elementary school and turned it into a hotel, movie theatre, restaurant, bar, etc.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:12 PM on July 28, 2009

I love the Kennedy School, and I was there about a week ago to see a movie. I just think that in a town like this, a town that's hip-deep in amazingly good beer, the McMenamin brothers need to raise their game if they want to be in the same conversation as the rest of the craft breweries in town.

There's nothing really wrong with McMenamins beer, it's just not exceptional, and in Portland that's not good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as the Rogue or Deschutes, or the Lompoc. It's not snobbishness (at least not on my part), it's just a matter of taste. If I'm after great beer, why would I go to the McMenamins on NW 23rd, for instance, when there's a Lompoc two blocks away?

As I said above, if it were the only game in town I'd be more inclined to love them, but there are better options for really good beer in Portland, most of which have been mentioned in this thread.
posted by pdb at 12:24 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're heading to Hood River, definitely check out Double Mountain Brewery. They have some of the best beer I've ever had in Oregon.
posted by Delfena at 12:35 PM on July 28, 2009

I've gotta third the Kennedy School as a great place to eat and catch a beer, and perhaps some entertainment if you've got the time. And don't do any research on the place before arriving, just go explore it, and be surprised.
posted by ferdinandcc at 3:36 PM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone, will definitely print this out and bring it along.

We are going to be driving down the coast (probably starting around Newport) so will probably hit up Rogue there as well as the Mt. Hood area, so thanks for those recs. Hotel is about two blocks from Bailey's as well so will check that out.

Didn't know about the McMenamins place, but am not ashamed to call myself a beer snob, so it's probably for the best to avoid places that might be mediocre. Again, many thanks, this is my first question asked on mefi and I'm very happy with the volume/quantity of responses.
posted by JoeGoblin at 3:51 PM on July 28, 2009

Rogue . . . and Kennedy School (McMenamins).

I am a Portlander and I dared to say it in the same breath. Rogue is it for the beer snobs, but it would be a shame to visit Portland and skip Kennedy School (and the cajun fries with a pint of Hammerhead).

Also Mt. Hood for Full Sail.
posted by ainsley at 6:12 PM on July 28, 2009

McMenamin's is mediocre beer. for Portland. For IPAs, definitely Bridgeport IPA (although the renovated brewery is a little hoity-toity. If you do end up there, upstairs is way more normal than downstairs). If you make it to Rogue (either downtown or on the coast), I prefer the Brutal Bitter (be forewarned: will knock you on your ass. 9.5% alcohol and AWESOME)
posted by misterbrandt at 7:40 PM on July 28, 2009

I'm going to have a free day in Newport, Or next month and am so happy for this thread as now I'll be able to visit ROGUE and enjoy some great beer. I always thought it was brewed in Southern Or, not on the coast.
posted by IndigoSkye at 8:21 PM on July 28, 2009

Deschutes' Black Butte Porter is world-class, imo, and very available.

I also like some of the beers at the Tugboat, downtown. It's a great atmosphere, too--very, very Portland (read: not trying to be "British" or "Irish" --not that there's anything wrong with that...)

I agree completely with pdb about McMenamin's.

posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:17 PM on July 28, 2009

Just to reiterate, McMenamins is not bad beer. It just isn't a Portland favorite (and it sure as hell isn't as good as Eugene brew like Ninkasi). If you're a beer snob, I think you'll still like McMenamins ... I've never been to anywhere outside of Oregon where the beer is even approaching Portland/Eugene type goodness ... except maybe this crazy bar I went to in Little Rock where they had like 200 beers on tap ... they didn't make any of them there, though.
posted by Happydaz at 9:56 PM on July 28, 2009

Go to beer bars, especially independent ones (i.e. not run by specific brewers). Most of the good ones have been mentioned (Bailey's taproom, Belmont Station) but there's also Seraveza in North Portland. The Green Dragon, recently bought by Rogue, still tries to juggle the non-Rogue beer to find good stuff.
posted by markovitch at 4:43 AM on August 2, 2009

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