Best beer-related activity or event in Portland, Oregon?
April 27, 2014 11:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading to Portland in July (hooray!) and am already ecstatically excited about all the awesome things there are to indulge in (kind of feel like this city is where I was supposed to live - too bad I live many timezones away). The town is overrun with amazing breweries and my partner who is joining me is a massive beer geek. We're already planning on visting as many breweries as we can and the Oregon Brewfest is on while we're there (double hooray!). However, I'd like to surprise him with the best beer related activity, event, or venue Portland has to offer (which is also acting as a consolation prize as I nixed the idea of staying at the Bed 'n' Beer in Newport). Ideas, suggestions, advice? I know there are a lot of Portland Mefites with wonderful taste - so I'd love any help!

If it helps at all: He is a home brewer, a former beer blogger, is interested in both the tastes, techniques and politics involved in beer making and favours dark and rich beers such as imperial stouts and porters (although this may not be appropriate given that it will be summer). If it's an activity related event (like a tour or exhibition, anything that can be booked online in advance would also be great).

We won't have a car while we're there, but happy to travel via public transport to get somewhere worth it. :)

I read this question which was posted back in 2010, but I know how the craft brewery scene has exploded in the past few years, so thought it would be okay to ask something similar.
posted by liquorice to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a huge beer fan, but maybe the U Brew venue? They have a pub, brewmasters, and you could make a batch, even a really strange one.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 12:40 AM on April 28, 2014

The Lucky Labrador Brewpub used to have excellent dark beers, mediocre food, and hot if hipstery bar staff. Their flagship is just off Hawthorne Street and is accessible by the #14 bus. (There's also a couple of McMenamin's joints on Hawthorne if you are into that.)

The Gigantic Brewing Company is great, and you can get to it by the #17, #19, or #70 bus plus a variable bit of walking.
posted by gingerest at 1:01 AM on April 28, 2014

You'll have to go to the Deschutes Pub while you're there. It's pretty close to the Brewer's Festival location. It's probably obvious, but you'll want to go to the festival on the early weekdays before, say, 6:00pm for maximum enjoyment. I haven't been in a while, but in the past at least the evenings and weekends are incredibly crowded and full of increasingly annoyingly drunk groups of bros.
posted by sevenless at 6:16 AM on April 28, 2014

Check out the "brew cycle" tours in NW Portland!
posted by girlalex at 8:36 AM on April 28, 2014

Go into Fred Meyer and marvel at the beer aisle. Seriously. When I first moved here, I was amazed to discover how many different beers they could fit in one grocery store.
posted by ainsley at 9:34 AM on April 28, 2014

July is Oregon Craft Beer MONTH, so you are timing your visit right! Keep your eye on this site. Look out for any events at Saraveza or Belmont Station, or just go for a visit; I've never been disappointed!
posted by medeine at 11:07 AM on April 28, 2014

I used Hop in the Saddle as a great resource for combo bike trails and brewery hopping.

My favorite bar was Bailey's Taproom right downtown. Across the street is Tugboat Brewing which we also thought was pretty fun.
posted by forkisbetter at 12:51 PM on April 28, 2014

In addition to all the suggestions above, check out the excruciatingly named but awesome Brewvana tours.

Also, a couple spots people haven't mentioned yet:

The Green Dragon, which is owned by Rogue but is by no means limited to Rogue beers

Hair Of The Dog Brewing, home of the best beer in Portland

Breakside Brewing, in North Portland, home of some great experimental brews (the brewer committed to making a different beer every day last year, and did it).

If your partner likes sours, Cascade Brewing is a must stop.

The great thing is that any and all of these places would be happy to talk beer with anyone, as long as it's not too crowded.
posted by pdb at 1:19 PM on April 28, 2014

I might be a sort of secret hipster, but I would skip Deschutes and all the breweries on the so-called "brewery blocks" downtown. They're super touristy, crowded, generally annoying, and the beer is sort of meh. I would skip McMennamins probably, unless you want to drink some microbrews and watch a movie, which is super fun, to be fair. I would probably also skip the brew cycle tours, because those look really annoying to me. The brewfests can be okay, but be prepared for lots of wasted bros and looooong lines.

There are breweries, and then there are bars with tons of local beers.

Breweries I recommend: Breakside, Hair of the Dog, Hopworks, Burnside, Migration, Fifth Quadrant (or other Lompoc), Lucky Lab, Base Camp, Tubgoat.

Places that aren't breweries but have lots of awesome beer: Bailey's Taproom, Produce Row, Green Dragon, Horse Brass, Saraveza, Bottles. Also Sassy's has like 20 taps if you are into strip clubs (Oh Portland).

Edit: RIP Amnesia Brewing.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:11 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just jumping back in to recommend one I forgot: Occidental Brewing. They make amazing German beers.
posted by pdb at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2014

I don't know if this will help at all, but I stumbled upon a BevMo store in Vancouver, Washington a week or two ago. It's a huge store and had a great selection of bottled beer, growlers, and kegs. It's about a 30-minute drive from downtown Portland, though...
posted by tacodave at 3:31 PM on April 28, 2014

Wow, there are some excellent suggestions, guys. July can't come fast enough!

I marked Lutoslawski's as best answer because my partner and I absolutely hate crowds, wasted bros and loooong lines. If that's what the brewfest is going to be like, we may have a quick look before bypassing.

I marked pdb as a best answer because bars or breweries where we can have a chat to people about beer, while sipping on fine ales, sounds like the ideal type of place to go!

We will try and check out as many of these places as we can. Thanks everyone!
posted by liquorice at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2014

I should qualify that of all the beer festivals over the summer here, the Oregon Brewers Fest probably has a reputation for being the least annoying, so I wouldn't totally rule it out. But yeah, it may be worth a sort of preliminary fly by to see if it's your bag. I will say that the beer list for this year looks pretty amazing.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:58 PM on April 28, 2014

I wouldn't eat dinner at McMenamin's when you've got the rest of downtown Portland to choose from, but if your husband is mourning a beer-themed B&B, you might check out their hotels. I've stayed at the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, which was a lot of fun. And it looks like now they have one near the Crystal Ballroom, which means right near Powell's Books.
posted by yarntheory at 8:01 PM on April 28, 2014

I've been told that the Oregon Brewers Fest is the least annoying at the earliest times on the weekdays that it is open. Steer clear of it on the Saturday. That is amateur hour.
posted by montag2k at 9:14 PM on April 28, 2014

Is the beer b'n'b in Newport the one over the Rogue Pub? You are right to skip it. The accommodations are fine in a beat-up, beachy kind of way. And there's nothing that feels like you're *more* close to beer than you would be anywhere else. So: meh.

My favorite little brewery with fantastic beer is Upright Brewing. Limited hours, check their website. I don't think they have food. It's a great place to hit before dinner.

The beer festivals all have their own character and everyone likes 'em better last year or, 10 years ago, or whatever. You should absolutely try to "time it right" but they are fun if you do and if you haven't been to a beer fest of note, Portland is probably a little unique.

There are soooo many opportunities for beer, the trick will be choosing not too many. :)
posted by amanda at 9:20 PM on April 28, 2014

« Older Off the beaten path in Saigon   |   Let's Take Some Tests! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.